How Bigtincan uses intent data to drive pipeline, ft. Rusty Bishop (Inbound Success, Ep. 210)

How does the marketing team at Bigtincan use intent data to influence and close deals?

Rusty Bishop

This week on the Inbound Success podcast, Bigtincan CMO Rusty Bishop breaks down the mechanics behind the company’s account-based marketing (ABM) campaigns, including the tech stack they’re using, and the nitty-gritty details behind their intent data.

Rusty says most companies look to intent platforms to solve their ABM challenges, but wind up spending a lot of money for poor results. In this episode, he gets into detail on the advanced keyword strategies Bigtincan is using to build an intent data set that they can then use to target in-market buyers.

The results have been impressive. For every dollar Rusty’s team spends on display, they influence more than $107,000 in pipeline, and more than $27,000 in closed won deals.

Check out the full episode to learn how they do it. (Transcript has been edited for clarity.)

Resources from this episode:

Check out the Bigtincan website
Connect with Rusty on LinkedIn


Rusty Bishop and Kathleen BoothRusty and Kathleen recording this episode.


Kathleen (00:02): Welcome back to the inbound success podcast. I am your host, Kathleen Booth. And today my guest is Rusty Bishop, who is the CMO of Bigtincan. Welcome to the podcast, Rusty. I am dying to know the story behind the company name. So let’s start with having you make a quick introduction of yourself because I’m going to scoop you a little bit and just say for my guests who are listening, this is going to be fascinating because Rusty has the software company, but he has been a biochemist. He’s a guitar player. He’s got a fascinating background. So stay tuned to hear about it. Rusty, tell us more about yourself and then also what Bigtincan is and how it got that name.

Rusty (01:01): You got it. So my background: so after undergrad, I did get a Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular genetics studying infectious disease research [and] for a big part of my research came out here to Southern California, to the University of California, San Diego, to do post-doctoral research and ended up being on the faculty and staff here in San Diego for about 12 years. So I did about 15 years of biomedical research in my past life. I no longer consider myself a scientist, although I think it does probably color everything I do for certain. After that, I started a company with a guy named Mark Walker, who is the head of sales at a company called Invitrogen, which went on to become Thermo Fisher, one of the largest life sciences companies in the world. And then we started a company based on the idea that when I was in the lab when I was a researcher, salespeople would come into our lab.

Rusty (01:55): And that was back in the days where you could actually walk in the labs. You can’t do that anymore. They’re all locked down. But they could literally just walk in and they’d be like, “Hey, I’m from this company and I want to sell you some stuff.” And they would literally break out a paper catalog and try to sell us stuff. And at that point iPad was coming out, iPhone was coming out, and we just thought, there’s gotta be a better way. Mark and I created a company called FatStax, which was geared and focused towards sellers, mostly in the life sciences space, those people who were coming to me and as a scientist and trying to sell me things. That went very well. We had a great exit to Bigtincan in 2018, and I’ve been there ever since. And I became the CMO less than a week and a half ago.

Rusty (02:41): I worked under our previous CMO, who is still here as the president of the company, and kind of fought my way up to being the CMO. So marketing is relatively new for me. All of that, totally new. I’ve been doing it for years as a founder. And of course, you know, here at Bigtincan running marketing for about two years.

Kathleen (02:58): Love it.

Rusty (02:59): Yeah. Lots of weird science stuff in my background. And as you did note, I was a professional musician for about two years before all of that. So it’s been a wild ride. I’m a multitalented guy. I like that. I like to do lots of things.

Kathleen (03:14): So tell me how the company got its name.

Rusty (05:24): Great question. Everyone asks that. So it reminds me that that’s actually a pretty memorable name. So the company was founded in Australia. And the original concept behind the company was when iPad applications were something that people actually wanted. So that’s the idea, was that I’d take all of your content and put it into an iPad application and the original founders, David King, who’s our current CEO, always talked about how people have this thing where they’re communicating through string cans and how you lose the communication. So they had the idea that if you put everything into the big team can, then you could communicate effectively across your company. So that was the original origin story. Now, of course, that was in Australia with two guys standing above a coffee shop in Sydney. So what the real name is, I really don’t know. So we’ll leave it at that for now. That’s how it got its name. And it’s been its name ever since then, publicly traded on the Australian stock exchange. If you want to go learn more about us as a company, everything you could ever want to know is right there. 

Kathleen (06:21): I love that story. And when I was little, definitely connected two tin cans with a string and tried to talk through it. It was a terrible communication method. I will say it doesn’t work. It’s sort of like a myth, right? Like whoever did that successfully, I don’t know, right? So switching gears, I love that you bring this sort of brain of a scientist to the way you’re doing marketing, and you and I talked a little bit before we did the interview about some of the things you’re working on. And I was really fascinated hearing you talk about what you guys are doing with intent data and how you’re taking this very scientific approach to figuring out what you’re going to search for within your intent data platforms to turn up results that are actually going to be meaningful. So let’s back up and start with … tell me what you’re using intent data for in the first place.

Rusty (07:18): Good question. So I’ll start with one thing which I want to clarify. I’m sure that everyone that listens to your podcast knows this already, but intent software is not ABM. Everyone seems to get that a little backwards here, especially in our company. They’re like, “yeah, we’re just doing ABM” and no, you’re not. You’re using an ad platform to detect intent out there in the world. So what do we use it for? So we are attempting to detect in market accounts at various stages … we have three different product lines that we can either sell together here on Bigtincan, or we can sell them separately. We also go to market in various verticals and the reason we needed an intent tool was because the amount of keywords that someone could enter into Google to find what we do or to solve their problems more accurately was astronomical. So the chances of us properly making our website SEO for all those keywords was approaching zero. And so in order to detect all those accounts out there in market, we do 6Sense and we chose 6Sense. I don’t know if that matters, not to the users. I think they all do very similar things. So our methodology from day one was, can we detect virtually every account in market using this type of software? And it’s in combination with other things like G2 and other intent data.

Kathleen (08:45): So just out of curiosity, you mentioned you chose 6Sense. Why that platform over any other ones?

Rusty (08:53): You know, it’s funny. I had a feeling you were going to ask me that and I tried to go back and look, and that’s a year, and remember why we chose 6Sense. I think at the end of the day, it was the combination of ease of use for us as well as the second part of 6Sense, which is the ability to do predictive. And that is, you know, once we know and we detected these accounts are in market and they’re searching for certain things, and they’re also making certain choices with you guys, Bigtincan, there might be opening emails or 15 people whose accounts are doing certain actions. We can now begin to predict how well those accounts are going to move through the funnel and if they are going to close and should we be working them or not?

Rusty (09:32): We’re about a year into building our predictive model. I will not say it’s a quick process, but it’s something I really wanted to get to core science brain. You know, how can we build something that would predict whether we should work these accounts or not, and where we should put more activities from a marketing side. And so that was the ultimate reason we chose 6 cents. You know, in hindsight, I don’t know if there’s any real reason to choose one over the other, except for, go and listen to, and really think about what it is that your company needs to achieve with these platforms. That’s the key. All the salespeople are really good by the way. Oh my gosh. That space, it must be really intense because the salespeople are all excellent and they will show you stuff that will blow your mind. And you’ll absolutely think that this is the greatest thing ever. And you’re going to look like a rockstar when you get to demo these platforms. And to me, it triggers one of my middle models, which when I start thinking software is going to make me look like a rockstar, I should probably stop and back up and realize it’s not true.

Kathleen (10:32): Yeah. The tool is almost never the solution. Exactly. So you’re using a platform to collect intent data, to look for in-market accounts. And then before we dive into exactly how you’re setting your platform up, I just want to talk through, once you get that data back and it flags these accounts, how are you adding that into your marketing workflow?

Rusty (10:57): There are a variety of different ways. It depends on where we detect them in the funnel. You know, if we detect them high in the funnel, they’re just coming into awareness that they have a problem. We’re mostly just doing marketing. We’re mostly doing ads, LinkedIn ads and those types of things. If we’re detecting them far down the funnel based on our predictive model and what they’re searching for, we’re going to be doing seriously active outreach. We might have salespeople going after them. We’ll be using things like Alyce to send them gifts, to have them have a conversation with us. We’re reaching out to our partners. We partnered with Apple, which is a great go-to-market model for us, and seeing if they’re working with them. So it really just depends on where they are in the funnel. When we realize that sometimes they come into the funnel really fast you’ll just see a flurry of activity. And so we have a person on that team, Tyler, who full-time monitors what’s going on in 6Sense. And then we do a lot of things automated, but some of it’s still manual, like, “oh my gosh, these guys are hot. Break the process and let’s go.” Right. So it really just depends on where we detect them.

Kathleen (12:00): Nice. All right. So let’s dig into it. So you make the decision to get an intent platform, and you’re right. I do think there is a tendency for marketers to look at these platforms and think that they’re going to be some sort of a magic bullet. Like I’m going to put it in, I’m going to log in to my account, and the leads are gonna rain down on me. So based on my conversations with you, I understand that that is not the case. So walk me through the process that you use to figure out how to get the right data out. 

Rusty (12:34): No problem. So the first thing I’ll point out is that when you demo these platforms, most of the time, they’re going to ask you for a keyword list so that they can show you what your data looks like in their platform. And it’s really powerful, actually the way that — I would demo it the same way now. So there’s a mistake there that it will — I will caution all, anybody who’s listening — which is this: your keywords from your website is probably what you’re going to give them. Right? You have, all of us have a data dump of SEO keywords we’re going after. You’re already ranking for a lot of those terms. You’re already detecting a lot of people that are searching for those terms. So you’re not going to find people far off in the market or far down in market.

Rusty (13:10): You’re not going to be able to segment a buyer, a group of buyers with your SEO keyword list. But that is when you typically turn these things on, it’s already in there for you. And so you think right out of the gate, “wow, we’re already doing great. We’re detecting all of these companies, all these types of things.” So, you know, for us, it took us maybe like two or three months before we realized this is not showing us in market. It’s showing us some in-market accounts, but it was nowhere near the universe. So my first recommendation is figure out a way to get a baseline. So, you know, but coming from my science background, you always need something that is, you know, zero, you need something that, am I going to get an improvement, or am I going to get a negative out of this?

Rusty (13:49): And that’s the way that baseline is. I don’t know what baseline might be for your listeners. Scaffolding, right? So for us, we get something like G2, where you say, okay, G2, tell us how many people you think are in-market. Right? And we might go to Forrester or to another analyst and say, how many, what is the total TAM for our market? And then we kind of do some back-of-the-envelope kind of math and say, “well, we think this many companies should be in-market today.” Now, if you’re a giant company that could be hundreds, thousands of buyers. If you’re a very focused company, that might be only 150, 200 people. So knowing a baseline to me is critical, because this is going to spit out numbers, 100% a good rule of thumb I like to think about is this: If your TAM is a billion dollars over the next five years, I seriously doubt $200 million worth is in market. 

Kathleen (14:40): Unless there’s a ton of churn for every solution out there.

Rusty (14:42): Yeah. This is massive. Like there’s always outliers, but just do some real back-of-the-envelope. you know, smell test kind of thing, where you say “could this many people possibly be out there trying to buy what we sell?” So that helps first. And then the next phase, I would say segmentation. So for us, we took the very simple segmentation, which was, on the top level, the buying stages for us, that’s awareness, which we defined as aware they have a problem. Okay. The second one is consideration, which means they’re figuring out they have a problem and thinking that what we sell might be one of the things they could solve it with. The next one is decision. Pretty obvious, right? They’ve already decided this thing can solve my problem. You know, now I’m looking at the various offerings that are out there. And of course, the last one is purchase.

Rusty (15:28): So for each one of those, what we did is we built a spreadsheet and that’s when we had a list of modifiers and then a list of keywords. So let me unpack that for you first, give some examples and understand what I mean. Here’s an example. So I don’t give anything away. I love Peloton. I’m all about it. I ride every day. I could be their marketer tomorrow — if you’re hiring, let me know. But so let’s just use a Peloton as an example. Right. So if I’m coming into awareness, okay. I might be searching for things like exercise programs. I might be searching for gyms near me. I might be searching for home gyms. Right. So I might not be actually searching for Peloton. Right. And so the things that I would add as modifiers there, especially for companies that generally sell things that people are trying to solve a problem, or have a pain, they’ll be searching for modifiers, like “solve,” “troubleshoot,” “decrease,” “increase” you know, and you build a full list of those modifiers. Okay. So with them, you’re going to have all of your actual terms that someone could be solving the pain for. So let’s say the pain is I need to exercise more. Right. So like “increase my exercise.” Now you just cross-referenced those two lists into your total list for your world of awareness.

Kathleen (16:45): Yeah. That’s interesting. So it sounds like, if I understand you correctly, it sounds like when you first start out, you’re probably going to want to upload all of what I would term your highest intent keywords. And those are the ones that are going to create the greatest amount of overlap with the prospects you already have in your database.

Kathleen (17:13): It’s the modifiers or other words making the search strings a little bit more long-tail that produce the best results. Do you do any research behind search volume or anything like that when you do that? Or is it really just intuitive?

Rusty (17:28): So we took a different tack. So we tried to do some search volume research long-tail. It just doesn’t register enough in Semrush or a Google Analytics or any other things that are out there. So we were trying to, as I told you, our goal was to detect as many in-market accounts as possible. It was not to detect the companies that are the hottest today. Right. So, you know, therefore what we decided to do, which could be completely different for you or for anyone else who’s doing this, is effective, we want to increase the word so that we cash long-tail, right. By long-tail, we mean that one person out there who’s searching for that one thing, which we solve for. But when you have lots of different offerings, as Bigtincan has, there’s a lot of things that we solve for, right.

Rusty (18:11): So there’s probably a hundred different pain points that we can go in and work with on a customer. So the modifiers give you, if you could imagine, you have to put yourself in your buyer’s shoes: I’m sitting down at my computer, I’m going to put something in the magic, Google search bar. I have no idea what I’m looking for, but I know that I want to get more exercise. And somehow I’ve got to get from getting more exercise to Peloton. So that’s where the modifier gives you the world of possible, right? Because you’re going to be running this platform ME. Just because someone’s not searching for it today doesn’t mean they won’t search for it tomorrow or the next day or the next day. 

Kathleen (18:49): So you put your keywords in then with the modifiers and then what? It becomes

Rusty (18:56): A segment. Right. So we might have an awareness segment. Okay. Let’s just take that one, for example, which has a giant list of keywords and their modifiers. So we’re trying to find people that, let’s say they’re searching for “increase daily exercise.” I’ll go back to the Peloton example. Immediately we know if we get information from them down the line, they come to our website, et cetera, they were searching for that originally. So their original pain was that. So that gives us the basis for all of that. But then that becomes a segment, right? So then the next step is the further you make it take your segments out. So you might have verticals, you might have geographies, you might have … well, however, it is that you go to market. So now I might have a segment that is say, people in California that are looking to increase their daily exercise. So you just keep taking your segments out further and further until your segments make sense for the way that your team goes to market.

Kathleen (19:56): Interesting. And how did that manifest in terms of the flow of leads coming into your go-to-market strategy? How long did it take?

Rusty (20:14): Oh, that’s a great question. That’s a very deep … that’s a multipart question.

Kathleen: Tackle it in whatever order makes sense. How about that? 

Rusty: How long did it take? So you will literally begin to detect things almost instantaneously. But especially if you have a broad enough net, OK. Now what will scare you Is when one of the … some of the things that happened immediately, once we did this was we had salespeople having the mind-blown moment, which is like, “Oh my God, my biggest account is about to buy our competitor.” You know, if we went in, because we, of course, put all those types of terms in there. So our biggest competitor plus pricing. And so that is instant. Like you can, you will literally get instant data, right? So if people are searching for it and how do you…

Kathleen (20:51): That’s super interesting. So how do you tackle that?

Rusty (20:54): It’s by priority, right? So if, I think we all know if someone is already in purchase phase, you’re probably not going to knock them off your competitor. Right? if someone is up and maybe just coming into decision, or they’re just into consideration phase, then you prioritize those over the other ones for outreach, everything else you tackle with marketing, with ads or emails and those types of things. 

Kathleen (21:18): So as the head of marketing, when you have these different leads and some of them are very top of the funnel, as you pointed out, they’re awareness stage, [and] some are more middle and bottom of the funnel, how do you parse it, like, are you parsing them all to your sales team? Or are you putting some of them into marketing nurturing? Like, how are you tackling that?

Rusty (21:38): So, two things here. So you do not detect leads. You detect accounts. Really important. I thought this too. I thought I was going to get a ton of leads. You do get a ton of leads, but you’ve got to know how to go look for them, right? So you gotta build a step. And we actually built this up. So when an account reaches a certain threshold for us, you know, on our predictability scale they immediately go out to a third party that we’ve hired. That’s LeadGenius. Probably shouldn’t give that away, but whatever. And then they go and pull the names of the leads based on criteria that we give them an advance that comes back into Salesforce, and then we start our outreach. So that’s the way we get an actual lead from it. And back up there, I forgot the first part of your question. I apologize,

Kathleen (22:23): How are you parsing it out to your sales team? Or are you putting them into marketing, nurturing flows? 

Rusty (22:30): So, parsing out to the sales team is when they come down into the later phases, like bottom end of our predicting their consideration or decision phase, those would actually .. so we actually took 6Sense to the next level and bought the piece that goes into Salesforce so that our sellers have access at the account level and they have a 6Sense dashboard so that they can choose accounts to go after, and we actually encourage them to do so. Our SDRs also have been trained on how to, you know, when they run out of inbound, which is very rare, but when they run up inbound to go and look for, you know, in-market accounts to go out and do outcome for everything at the top end. We’re using display ads through 6Sense or through other platforms to try to move them down. The funnel is a way that I would look at it, right. So how do we engage these people that we’ve detected who’ve hit the awareness phase and give them things that they might be interested in so that they come down into consideration and begin to see Bigtincan as a viable solution for their problems?

Kathleen (23:35): And what specifically needs to happen for some company to cross the line from an account that is in your ad nurturing to an account that you think is really ready for sales outreach. Like what indicators are you looking at?

Rusty (23:52): I’m looking for multiple people, which you can detect in these platforms by IP address, across the organization searching for the right types of terms. That could vary. Let’s say there’s multiple in consideration, there’s several in decision that are hitting our search terms that we’ve specified, visiting our website. This is an indicator that they have at least figured out that we have something that could solve their problem. So the trigger generally — I’m being vague because it’s all set in our predictive model and it immediately notifies us when someone has tripped a certain number of the triggers that we’ve given it to say, “all right, there’s X number of people at this company doing this there. Three people have come to the website, they’ve gone past the homepage, one of them hit the pricing page.” At that point, if someone hasn’t reached out, I’m probably getting upset.

Kathleen (24:44): So tell me about results. We talked a little bit about how this isn’t a really super fast thing to get stood up. You’ve been setting this up for how long and, and using it for how long?

Rusty (24:56): It’s a great question. So I’d say we did not use it properly for about a year, which is why, hopefully, this is helpful to people, so that getting this right out of the gate could save you a lot of time. But once I feel like we had a good [process] up and running, we probably had it completely running inside of Salesforce, the entire system like we want it since January. Let’s call it eight months, seven, eight months at this point, right? Now as a simple measure, right? So for the first time ever, we’ve detected more in-market accounts than G2 tells us are in account in-market. So that was a signal that I wanted to get to. So I wanted to say, all right, if people are going to G2 and things like that, right. I realize that you have marketers who may not use YouTube.

Rusty (25:44): It’s the review side for software if you don’t. So the people that go there are looking for specific things, right? I realized that once we went over that, that we hit a threshold of in-market, that was bigger than what we could get from other sources. So then we look at results. So right now for about every dollar that we spend on display, we’re influencing $107,000 of pipeline in our upper part. And for every dollar we display, we’re closing one about $27,000. 

Kathleen: Wait, say that last part again. 

Rusty: For every dollar we spend on display, we’re closing $27,000 influenced by our platform.

Kathleen (26:34): For every dollar you spend on display, you are —

Rusty (26:39): Influencing $107,000 of pipeline, and we’re influencing $27,000 closed-won over the last six months, per month.

Kathleen (26:49): Got it. Sorry. It took a minute there. Wow. That’s great. 

Rusty (26:55): Those are, you know, that’s our average right now. So for me, I gotta be really happy with that.

Kathleen (27:02): Has it reduced the amount of outbound prospecting that you needed to do?

Rusty (27:09): Not at all. In fact, it increases your outbound.

Kathleen (27:13): Just because you have a larger kind of target list to work?

Rusty (27:17): Yeah. You have a larger target list. The level of complexity that adds is you also have to train your outreach teams where, their SDRs are salespeople, to how to do outreach by looking at what people are searching for. So it does add a level of complexity. But what I like about it is one of the things that I truly hate is when people try to personalize things for me and they just go out and say like, “Hey man, you play guitar. That’s cool. Like you want to buy our stuff?” And that’s not cool.

Rusty (27:48): That’s not good outreach. Right. What good outreach is, you know, “I’ve noticed that people at your company are searching for these types of things. These types of problems generally indicate this. Would you be interested in talking about a possible solution?” That’s good outreach, right? So training your teams how to do good outreach is harder. But so does it, you asked me did it decrease the amount of outbound. The answer? No, it effectively increases it. Right? Because you’re detecting more accounts than market.

Kathleen (28:16): What impact did it have on inbound pipeline?

Rusty (28:19): That’s a good question, I don’t know. I don’t know the answer.

Kathleen (28:22): I mean, I would think it would increase it, because if you’re targeting ads at those people, at least presumably it would result in more inbounds.

Rusty (28:30): Yeah, yeah, yeah. I don’t have that. I don’t have that on my dashboard I’m looking at currently, but I will definitely go look at it. Because it does make sense that logically if they were becoming engaged with your brand, that they would eventually comment and be an inbound in some way. Yeah.

Kathleen (28:46): So if somebody is starting down this path now. Let’s say they purchase an intent platform kind of like you did. What would be your top three pieces of advice for somebody who’s starting today?

Rusty (29:01): Top three. Wow. That’s a good question. I love it. I think the first one is, make sure that your customer-facing teams know what to do with the intent data. And that means you probably actually need to go and build actual messaging for them.

Rusty (29:25): Because we as marketers know, I think, we sort of [know] if you’re running a campaign or you’re doing detection and you’re developing these keywords lists, you kind of intuitively know how people should be out doing outreach. But your customer-facing teams don’t, so that was a big one, right? Because they’ll go, yeah, they’re in-market and they’ll just reach out with, “Hey, do you want to buy [inaudible]?” You’ve ruined your chance. Right. You blew it. So I think that’s probably number one. Number two is what we talked about with the whole segmentation stuff, is failing to take into account the long tail is probably one of the bigger mistakes that I think that you could make. Now, look, if you’re one of these companies or just a magic product that you can sell it, you can go to tech, then 10 and go to town.

Rusty (30:09): But if you’re not, if you’re a person out there working for a company that solves problems for people that they don’t necessarily know that your solution can solve it, then that long tail is really going to help you. Final piece, not refining regularly. I mean, you have to constantly refine. I’ll give you an example of that. So when we first turned it on, our platform on pre-COVID, one of our SEO terms was remote learning. So as you can imagine, that’s sitting there in our 6Sense platform, right? So what happened with COVID? Do you know how many people search for remote learning and how can we distinguish that from someone who was looking for learning software, right? A much better modifier you know, “sales learning software,” and even much better modifier Then everyone who was sitting there trying to figure it out at work, “how I’m going to train the kids, get them in school?” So you’ll get these without … we’re finding constantly you run into a ton of false positives, and the false positives are really bad. Right? Because they’ll make you reach out to people who are in market. And you know, I don’t see any reason to blindly email people. It’s not something I do or we do. I guess it works for some people, but it doesn’t work for me.

Kathleen (31:22): So how often are you refining?

Rusty (31:29): Oh, we never stop. We take a look at it weekly, monthly. I mean, we have a person whose, about half of his job is to run that platform and to do account-based marketing on top of it. Not just run the platform. So the reason I say that is we go to market vertically and the words that various verticals use to describe things are dramatically different. And our salespeople will hear those words on a demo or on a sales call. And they might come back and say, “Hey, you know, so-and-so was talking about this thing called e-detailing.” And I’m like, “I don’t even know what that is.” Well, it’s the same thing as what we’re doing right now, except for it’s what happens when a salesperson talks to a doctor. But then there might be another 50 terms that are associated with e-detailing, for example, that you also need to add that, or you’re going to hear about it, and, you know, analysts are changing the way they talk about things all the time. Easy solution right there. The way that your competitors, right? What are they writing in their books? What are they saying? All of a sudden they change their messaging. I mean, you gotta be constantly refining it. I mean, I’d love to say we have a process where every week we’re refining.

Rusty (32:33): One of our mantras around here is if you see something, say something, and people are very good about it because we’re all remote, like everybody else. And just, you got to, basically these days. Bigtincan’s all over the world and everyone’s mostly remote. So Slack is a great tool, and training your people, right? If you see something, say something, and that refines your keyword list and these tools. So you said for three, you know.

Kathleen (33:03): You got me three, I love it. And I put you on the spot with that one.

Rusty (33:07): One more, which I’ll go for it. The fourth one, which is, don’t just blindly measure intent around your competitors. You will get really freaked out really fast. 

Kathleen: What do you mean by that? 

Rusty: So let’s say you just entered a competitor’s name as one of your search terms, which you’re going to do. I promise you if you installed DemandBase or 6Sense, that’s the first thing you would put in there, like “how many people are searching for my competitor?” But you have to realize that when people enter your competitor’s name in the search bar, like 80% of those are their users are there. People who’ve already bought their stuff. So you got to get … just blindly getting freaked out about competitors, names, and intent is not good business practice. But once you use your modifiers, now you can start breaking those competitors down. Right. And figuring out what people are actually doing. Right?

Kathleen (33:54): Yeah. I could definitely see where people would start to get spun up by that.

Rusty (33:57): Or for the fourth one. But that one actually, that’s a good one.

Kathleen (34:03): All right. So we’re going to switch gears and there’s two questions. I always ask my guests. So I’d love to hear your answers. The first being, of course, this podcast is all about inbound marketing. Is there a particular company or an individual that you think is really studying the standard for what it means to be a great inbound marketer these days?

Rusty (34:19): Wow. You know, I knew you were going to ask me this question and I went and listened to some of your podcasts and I thought about it. So I want to give you somebody that’s unusual that you might not have gotten. So one of my favorite people in the world is Tim Ferriss. Tim gets so many inbound requests that he has an automatic responder that denies them all, okay. On everything he publishes he says, don’t contact me because I won’t contact you back. So if you had to set a gold standard for inbound, I think that’s probably it, you know? So what does that … let’s unpack that, right. So what I’m not saying is you’ve got to be famous to be a great inbound marketer. What I’m saying is you’ve got to create something that’s so valuable that you had so much inbound that you’re fighting it away. I think that to me is kind of an interesting bar to set. Now, the other side of that bar is like, that’s such a —

Kathleen (35:11): It’s a very high bar to hit, though.

Rusty (35:15): It is. But I think that we all get caught up in, “I need to create this stuff so that people will click on it and download it.” And it’s not valuable. At Bigtincan we talk about valuable buying experiences every day. It’s one of our reasons to be. It’s written on everything we do. We tell everyone about it. And I don’t think it’s very viable to send email. One, “have you heard of this” email. Two, “why didn’t you respond?” email. Three, “let’s break up.” You know, so I set the standard up there. Like we should be creating content that’s so valuable that people are breaking down the door to get it now. Are we doing it yet? No, but we’re sure going to track. So that example I’ve been studying a lot lately is Qualtrics. And the reason I’ve been studying them is I think that their “Play Bigger” move — I’ll put that in air quotes — to move from surveys to XM as a category is fascinating. And the way that they became a category and did inbound around that, it was just amazing. If you ever get a chance to read their 10K that they put out when they went public, it’s just an absolute messaging clinic. I mean, it’s just awesome.

Kathleen (36:24): Now I’m super curious. I got to go hunt that down.

Rusty (36:26): Yeah. So a couple of unusual things. There’s so many people doing great inbound. I mean, you interview them every day. So I think those are two unusual ones.

Kathleen (36:39): Yeah. Those are some good ones. And I’m dying now to read the Qualtrics 10K. You’ve piqued my interest with that one.

Rusty (36:45): Well, when you make a decision to be a category, you gotta, man, you gotta do it.

Kathleen (36:52): A lot of people give big lip service to it and very few are able to really make it happen. So those are always interesting case studies to look at. Second question is, you know, marketers tend to tell me that their biggest challenge is just staying on top of everything. That’s changing all the time in the world of marketing, particularly with digital. So are there particular sources that you rely on to keep yourself educated on the cutting edge?

Rusty (37:18): Yeah. I am not a cutting-edge guy. I don’t know about that. [I’m a] just in time person, which means, you know and I don’t mean that in a way to like give you a flippant answer, but like if we need to figure out why our segments aren’t working in 6Sense, right, I’ll go and search like crazy and find the blog on their website, which talks about that as opposed to staying on top of the most modern stuff. I mean that being that, so my mental mode is more to read books. And I read absolutely voraciously, take notes. I tell my wife all the time, if I died, just sell the Evernote, it’s going to be … it’s worth more than we are. But there’s like a couple of things that I constantly refer back to, so one, The 4-hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss.

Rusty (38:04): I’ll just say it again. I love him to death. I think it’s the way it should work. I love Designing Brand Identity by Lena Wheeler. I go back to it. I feel like every day when we’re doing brand here at Bigtincan. Monetizing Innovation. I get asked about pricing all the time and segmentation of products. That book is the Bible. I probably have … I feel like I’ve broken my Kindle reader, trying to go back and forth to it back in time. And the last one is On Writing Well by William Zinter. Probably my most favorite book on how to write. My team is all the time, writing things and creating content. And they’re always saying, “how do I get better?” And I say, this is the Bible, effectively. So those four books. I realize that’s not how to stay on top of modern marketing.

Kathleen (38:44): No, that’s a great answer. And I love that there were some books in there I’ve never heard of. And I too, I’m a big book reader, as you can see, I’m sure if you’re listening, you can’t see this, but I always, in my interviews, I’m always sitting in front of my bookshelf that has all the books that I love in it. And they’re actually stacked two deep in the shelves that have books because I don’t have room for them all. So yeah, no, I love books. And thank you for being specific and mentioning titles and authors. That’s great. All right. Well, if somebody is listening and they want to reach out and ask you a question or learn more about what you talked about, what is the best way for them to connect with you online?

Rusty (39:22): The best way is through Linkedin. It’s Rusty Bishop, I’m on LinkedIn. It’s pretty obvious who I am. I do react to LinkedIn probably better than anything else. Like most CMOs, I probably get a thousand emails a day. I may or may not respond, but yeah, LinkedIn is great. That’s the best way.

Kathleen (39:39): Fantastic. And if you’re listening and you liked this episode, I would love it if you would head to Apple Podcasts and leave the podcast a review. And if you know somebody else, who’s doing amazing inbound marketing work, Tweet me @workmommywork because I’d love to make them my next guest. Thank you so much for joining me, Rusty.

Rusty (39:56): Thank you. I enjoyed it. 

Kathleen: I did too. Thanks.

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