Edition 33: Keep the noise down.

My toddler just went for his nap.

First of all, I hope everyone is safe, home & staying cautious. I am not even sure what day it is anymore. Being under quarantine, the days sort of blur together & you slowly get into the rhythm of things. Productivity is down though. Most of my days is spent with my 2.3 years old who seems to have endless energy to jump & play all the time.

We live in weird times. I was talking to my parents in Pakistan (Whatsapp not zoom, not sure why people use Zoom for family calls) & my dad mentioned one of our distant relatives who drives a taxi for a living. The civil government was lax & dilly-dallying but the military stepped in and imposed a lockdown + checkpoints across the country. They stopped all cabs, public transit (privately owned vans & rickshaws) hitting my distant relative hard on the source of income. Naturally, the extended family is helping out as much as they can but in a country like my motherland, there’s little in way of government support & the already poor are being hit the hardest (like it is across the globe). It made me realize how fortunate I am to be able to make my living on the internet, even though my pipeline went poof, I see signs of folks starting to fall back into the rhythm of things. On the note of Pakistan, here’s a read by the NYT.

Writing WFH guides & COVID survival guides is NOT a content strategy. Lots of companies are working remotely for the first time & honestly, there’s folks who have been doing it for longer. Everyone writing WFH guides like they are the experts all of a sudden just creates more noise.

And if your WFH home looks a lot like working from the office you are likely doing something wrong. Sitting on back to back Zoom meetings is not how it works. Try to communicate async. I was on CMO Office hours today for a bit before #dadduty came up (Anthony @Front ex Gainsight arranges it) & one of the panelists spoke about delaying meetings by 5 min so folks can get off their chairs and grab a coffee or a walk because back to back zoom meetings. All I could think of was, man there’s something fundamentally wrong if that’s what your week looks like.

ALSO using any of what is going on in your marketing/sales messaging is slimy. A lot of companies are changing their approach in the light of what is happening but I wonder how the GTM will change after everything goes back to normal - whatever that looks like in a few months. By changing I mean adding ‘Hope you and your family are safe in their tough times’ to their sequenced marketing/sales automation emails 🙃

Want to do something different - Amrita (VP @ CrowdRiff ) hosted a call with 200 DMOs (customers/prospects) who are effected COVID19 to share experiences & stories & put together their stories.

Staying on COVID topic for a hot second:

I’ve seen a bunch of VC’s, Tech/Startup folks (mostly men sadly) comment or write about COVID. For the love of God, leave it to the experts. We don’t need half baked opinions based on some growth model you used for your tech startup. There’s folks who research, model & study these for a living & have for years. But tech folks do have the ‘smartest person in the room’ mentality and of course, they think it’s just a problem like any other they can solve. For they are the new messiahs. I can’t find that article that was circulating across twitter & later mainstream media by some Everlane ‘growth dude’ about how the experts were wrong or something.

I disagree with Juliana here. This is something I struggled with but in the end, I think it’s ok to cut down rates if you need cashflow & don’t have the money in the bank to find the right clients. I’ve debated reducing my project rates just to get more work in the door (which reminds me I need to start building a pipeline). I am sure folks will disagree. We all need to adjust our expectations to what your realities may be.

I really believe Mark (Freshbooks) came from a good place when he said he spent $3,000 buying gift cards for local businesses but when Jess (hey Jess) forwarded me the email, I couldn’t help but think - they should likely put the subs of the freelancers who are likely struggling to close more business on hold - not boast about spending 3K on gift cards. Mark did apologize on twitter (and he got some heat for it) but I truly believe it came from a good place & it was a misstep.

Every so often, the marketing world comes back to MQL’s are evil. Some years ago someone suggested PQL’s (product qualified leads) as a replacement. The thing is though, PQL’s/MQL’s can all be gamed even Opp creation / sale activity. Here’s an example:

  • MQL = Demographic + Behaviour. But if you say - anyone who opens a single marketing email is an MQL then it quickly becomes bloated & meaningless.

  • PQL = Demographic + Product Engagement. But if a login >= 1 makes someone a PQL you run into the same issue.

  • Opportunity Rate = Qualified Opps. But if you are creating bad opps just to fill your pipeline without a proper process like BANT & have a timelime / $$ associated with it, your inflating your pipeline & your close rate will be shit.

At the end of the day, the funnel & stages like MQL/SQL are at best leading indicators of pipeline & revenue. Use them to identify big dropoffs b/w stages or dives in handoffs / conversion rates & dive it deeper to solve the underlying issue. Any metric can & will ultimately be gamed.

Mayur is (ex Spotify) has an interesting take here. Why did I share it? Because it’s really not brand vs performance or brand vs growth or Ads vs Organic etc. Brand creates demand. Performance/Growth/Demand Gen captures it.

Other assorted notes:

There’s been alot of layoffs & hiring freezes given the current climate. LeadSift used their tech to create this spreadsheet of companies currently hiring. (Canada only)

You want to do PR? Read this by Janessa first.

Self Service (dare I say PLG) vs Enterprise. Love this post from Brianne on her Substack. Every company eventually goes up-market, Slack did (had to as the company evolved) & even Notion is (earlier then I expected, I suspect current conditions have accelerated usage & created an early opportunity). Like with marketing (brand vs performance), its not a zero-sum game.

On a personal note. My consulting/micro-agency turned 2. I didn’t think I would make it but here’s to another 2.

The soundtrack for this edition was the me being disappointed at Birds of Prey which could have been fantastic. Margot Robbie is the perfect Harley Quinn though. I wish DC would really get their universe together.

Till hopefully next week. Stay home & stay healthy.