In EDGE of the Web Episode 300, EDGE hosts Erin Sparks (Site Strategics CEO) and Tom Brodbeck (Site Strategics Digital Media Director) speak with Dave Gerhardt, VP of Marketing at Drift to find out the secrets behind what it takes to be a successful digital marketer. You might just be surprised at what you learn!
Podcasting: A Window into Authenticity
Before deep diving into Dave’s background, expertise and career path in digital marketing, we take a moment to celebrate our 300th episode here at EDGE of the Web Radio. Dave Gerhardt knows what an accomplishment it is to have such a long-running podcast because he has one himself that he does with Dave Cancel, Drift’s CEO, called Seeking Wisdom.
Dave explained that when he became Drift’s first marketing guy, he was impressed with the CEO’s depth of knowledge about the industry and his big-picture insights into entrepreneurship, organizational culture, hiring practices and more. Realizing he would never be able to get the CEO to sit down and write blog posts, he thought the best way to capture it would be to just talk with him in a podcast format. Gerhardt already had his own podcast called Tech in Boston, so he was familiar with how it worked. A weekly interview with the CEO would surely yield lots of content for marketing. Seeking Wisdom has now published 150 episodes and its primary focus has become personal and professional growth. They talk about books they’re reading, lessons they’re learning, what’s happening at Drift, and lots of great guests to.
He also believes that the podcast is pure marketing gold. He doesn’t have hard data on this, but he knows it’s true because of how every candidate who comes to the office says how they love the podcast. Every customer they meet with says how they love the podcast. What Dave especially likes about it is how unscripted it is, which means you’re really being your authentic self. That’s important because it’s a shift that needs to happen for many marketers – authenticity. You’re being yourself and you’re making mistakes and it’s all good. There’s no spin. And if you’re committed to putting out a weekly show, you have to really work hard to make sure you’ve got material, so you’re always reading and researching and learning.
Dave Gerhardt: His Background and Experience
Dave Gerhardt is the VP of Marketing for Drift where he has helped pioneer the concept of conversational marketing and get more than 150,000 businesses using the Drift platform. He’s also been profiled in more than a hundred publications, including the New York Times, Forbes, and the Harvard Business Review. His new book, Conversational Marketing, co-authored with Drift CEO David Cancel, was released on Wednesday, January 30.
Dave studied journalism in college but needed a job and ended up in a PR internship which he then leveraged into an in-house PR job at Constant Contact. That is when he started to really get into the marketing mindset by hanging around the product marketing team, and demand gen, and product managers and sales. Meanwhile, social media was exploding and software-as-a-service (Saas) was on the rise and he found all of that fascinating, especially the technology side of it all. After Constant Contact he spent time with other companies, including HubSpot, and finally ended up at Drift. His career path has always on the B2B side of things.
Want to Be a Digital Marketer? Just Do It: The Art of the Side Hustle
It might sound as if Dave’s pathway has been about gaining particular skills along the way, but he’ll be the first to point out he’s never thought of it from a skills perspective. Instead, for him marketing has always been (and must be) about people. His career path in digital marketing was driven by being surrounded with people who were doing it and learning from them, but even more importantly by just jumping in and doing it.
This is the biggest mistake he sees aspiring marketers make: People read an article about this or that marketing technique and decide they need to become an expert in that technique, that they need to go and read and learn everything about that technique. That’s all well and good, but you won’t really feel until you just get out there and do it. You have to make the mistakes as you actually do the work and learn from those mistakes. Instead of talking about ideas or reading about them, you have to start executing those ideas. Instead of wishing you had your own podcast, start one. Instead of wishing you had your own blog, go ahead and start one.
But you can’t necessarily do those things within the framework of whatever job you currently have. This is important because if you make serious mistakes you’re only impacting your own thing. You wouldn’t want to inadvertently do something that takes down the whole company website, right? Dave learned his skills by doing them on his own away from the company job.
Dave’s path within digital marketing can best be described as a combination of being around the right people to learn from and then putting it into action by trial and error in side projects. Learning marketing theory is great, but just diving in and doing it is even better. Facebook’s CMO once told Dave that the best marketers are able to learn faster than everyone else, and there’s no faster way to learn than by doing.
Want to find out more from Dave Gerhardt about not how to become a digital marketer and how to do conversational marketing? listen to the full interview at EDGE of the Web Episode 300.
Connect with Dave Gerhardt and Drift
- Dave on Twitter: @DaveGerhardt
- Dave’s Book: Conversational Marketing: How the World’s Fastest Growing Companies Use Chatbots to Generate Leads 24/7/365 (and How You Can Too)
- Drift website: https://www.drift.com
- Drift podcast Seeking Wisdom: https://www.drift.com/seeking-wisdom
- Drift Facebook: @heydrift
- Drift Twitter: @Drift
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