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[Podcast] Prioritizing Value: Accelerate Success with Customer-Led Growth (Gia Laudi)

By Bob Sparkins  |  Published Dec 23, 2022  |  Updated Feb 08, 2024
Bob Sparkins
By Bob Sparkins

A marketer with 17 years of experience, Bob has taught over 1,000 webinars and spoken at over 50 events.

The Lead Generation Podcast Episode 46: Gia Laudi

We’re excited to introduce you to Gia (Georgiana) Laudi, a marketing advisor for SaaS who has helped companies like MeetEdgar, SparkToro, MarketerHire, and Wistia, grow sustainably. She's also the co-author of Forget The Funnel.

In this episode of the Lead Generation Podcast, she dives into her entrepreneurial journey, why customer-led growth is essential for recurring revenue companies, and how to get your ideal customers to fuel your marketing.

Key Takeaways

  • Marketing doesn’t stop at acquisition. Understand the value your company offers after a customer purchases.
  • Prioritize customer research over market research. People who appreciate (and pay for) what you offer should get a bigger vote in your business.
  • Ask pre-customers about the problems they’re trying to solve. Avoid asking for feedback about your product or offer, but focus instead on the “jobs to be done” that your product or program will address.
  • Create messaging and positioning for your ideal customers. Focus on the people experiencing the specific challenge your best customers have already used your product or program to solve.
  • Forget the funnel. Marketing is not just about acquiring a customer, but rather it continues as an ever-strengthening relationship between you and your customers.
  • Measure in milestones of value received. Your business grows by more people experiencing value at various milestones, not simply by how many people hand over their credit card information.
  • You can’t solve everyone's problems. Decide the direction of your business by listening carefully to what your ideal customers are saying, and ignoring the opinions of outliers.
  • Find the gold minds. The answers to your business’ most important questions are inside the heads of your best customers.

Resources Mentioned

Podcast Block Blog@2x

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Who is Gia Laudi?

Bob Sparkins: Gia, welcome to this episode of the Lead Generation. Thank you so much for joining me today.

Gia Laudi: Thank you so much for having me, Bob. I'm excited.

Bob: So we're going to dig into a lot of really cool, nerdy stuff around customer-led growth and how to grow sustainable companies, especially SaaS companies. Before we do that though, I know that as an advisor to a lot of the clients that you work with, you impact their lives in some way. Can you pinpoint or highlight what is a way that you transform the lives of the clients you work with?

Gia: Yes. So there's a number of things that we do, but I think at the heart of it, it really comes down to helping companies, teams, really get clear on who their best customers are and then how to reach and retain more of them. There's a lot of guesswork that goes into marketing and growth. We try to eliminate as much of that as we possibly can and make really informed decisions about what type of marketing we do, but also what kind of customer experiences we create for our customers and everything that evolves from there as well, customer marketing, expansion, retention. It really does come down to knowing who your best customers are, reaching, retaining more of them, high LTV, delivering lots of value. It's really about all of that.

Bob: Very cool. And I imagine that the breathing room that the leaders have after they've worked with you and Claire kind of expands what's possible for them, right?

Gia: Yeah, it's a lot about clarity and alignment and getting clear on what's important and what the priority should be. There's no shortage of ideas. When you think about marketing and growth, we all have lots of ideas. Everybody is marketed to. We all like to think of ourselves as marketers, marketing experts. There's a lot of experts in this space. There's a lot of ideas and channels change and evolve, and at the end of the day, while none of these, I would never claim that any of those tactics are bad ideas.

Where it gets challenging is that we have so many ideas, there's so many directions we could possibly go into. It's really a big challenge for teams to figure out, okay, what are the most valuable places for me to focus on? And the best way to get the answer to that question is to find out and learn from your best customers to figure out what's going to resonate most with them, what's going to be most valuable to them. It eliminates a lot of the guesswork and gives you and the team a lot more clarity on what to focus on and in terms of marketing channels of course, but also in terms of messaging, positioning, product marketing as well. So clarity, prioritization, that's really the name of the game for us.

Customer Journey Lessons from a Trip to Airbnb HQ

Bob: Very cool. Now back in the day before you kicked off this journey that you've been on for the last few years, you were out of college. What kind of job did you first have? I know you made your way towards SaaS. Talk to us a little bit about that journey of being an employee and then let's talk about your jump into being now an entrepreneur and an advisor.

Gia: Yeah. Wow, you want to go way back. So actually out of college I joined my father's retail business and he had a large... Still has to this day a large retail florist. And I don't know if this is still true, but at the time flowers were, I think it was the fourth most purchased thing online behind porn and books and I can't remember what number three was, but then it was flowers. So fiercely competitive space, a lot of small local players, a lot of big players. And that's really where I cut my teeth in terms of marketing and SEO. And what I didn't know at the time was conversion rate optimization and content marketing and social media marketing and all of that, that was the breeding ground for everything that I'm doing now. And that was very early days. That was in 2000 to 2006 or 2007.

And then I joined Twitter, which is a very close to my heart issue right now. And everything changed and I shifted from being very focused on fighting the good fight for small brick-and-mortar businesses, to having an online presence. I even wrote a column for an industry publication on the topic of online marketing back then for local businesses.

But Twitter did shift a lot of things for me and actually I shifted over into working for an agency for a little while, which really opened up the gamut in terms of the types of businesses that I was able to work with. But specifically, Twitter exposed me to this tech community and startup community locally here. And once I saw that, I couldn't unsee, it was when I was exposed to the software service business model, which is all based on recurring revenue.

And I was like, "Yes, my people", the people who understand post-acquisition marketing, the people who understand that marketing has a role to play in revenue growth and isn't a cost center and all those things. And I decided from that moment on that SaaS was the business model for me and I was never going to go back. And so I was freelancing and consulting at the time for a number of tech companies and then eventually I did go in-house and I was in-house at Unbounce for five years leading marketing there. Learned a ton, definitely got to experiment with a ton of my own limitations. I grew a ton. And that is also where I was exposed to honestly the realities of how challenging it is to not only do good marketing, but run an effective marketing team and how to make good decisions and prioritize and get that level of clarity.

I often described the way that I was working there, a chicken with my head cut off. I wanted to do all the things. I wanted to make everybody happy, I wanted to underpromise and overdeliver, and it was just such a wild environment. And actually while I was there, I was lucky enough to be... So Lenny Rachitsky who is quite big in the product management space, I happened to know him and I had this light bulb moment when I was visiting the Airbnb headquarters. He was a product manager there at the time. And I was visiting him and I went down to the product manager workspace at the Airbnb office and I saw their customer journey map taped to the wall. And remember I had been operating this chicken with my head cut off, couldn't prioritize, had a team of people looking at me saying, "What are we going to do? How are we going to hit our targets this month?"

And it shifted the way I really thought about marketing as less about lifecycle and MQLs and SQLs and building awareness of course, but more about how do we deliver value and measure our ability to deliver value at these critical milestones in our customer's relationship with us. So it very much shifted the way that I was thinking. We took it very, very seriously and we operationalized it internally and I was really, really helpful for us. So that was all what led up to what I'm now doing, which is Forget The Funnel working with Claire Suellentrop, my business partner as you mentioned. And she and I, we think a lot about B2B SaaS companies and really helping them figure out how to identify those customers and by doing some customer research, which I recognize is a bit of a dirty word.

But then how to operationalize that research so that we actually turned it into something that's actionable that a team can run with and be really effective with. So that's our MO is do away with useless customer research or customer research that goes nowhere. And also really help teams to figure out what's important and stop throwing spaghetti at the wall-style marketing.

Reframe Your Thinking About Market Research

Bob: I think most people who are in marketing know that they should do market research, but it's a little bit intimidating.

Gia: Yeah.

Bob: We've recently had Rand Fishkin on the podcast who I know is someone you're familiar with, obviously. We've got Tracey Wallace coming up soon from Klaviyo who also is big in market research. We have ‎Talia Wolf from the past season. So this is something that we've been trying to beat the drum for a while.

Gia: And the people... Yes.

Bob: And we hope that you're able to convince people of this as well.

Gia: Yeah.

Bob: Why do people freeze up when they hear the term market research, even though they know they need to do it?

Gia: So one thing that I will clarify and say out of the gate and context-wise in terms of how I think about this is that I do tend to prioritize customer research over market research, especially for SaaS businesses who are trying to get clarity around who their best customers are.

There's a couple of reasons for that and I do not think there's anything wrong with doing market research or audience research. I'm a huge fan of it, but I generally do believe that it should follow customer research and that customer research should inform what type of audience research and market research that we do. And actually SparkToro is one of the examples of companies that we have worked with where we were able to do customer research and continue that into market research and audience research and use, it was very meta, but use SparkToro for itself, right?

I got very “Inception'' in there, but the reason that we tend to prioritize customer research is because those are the people who had a problem. They were out in the world that had the experience and the problem that you solve, they made a decision to choose you. And so what were those reasons, right? And they get value from your product as it is today. And also they obviously have a willingness to pay because they're paying you.

So it's this validated higher quality type of person to learn from because they are your best customers. Now it's important to segment. So anybody who raises concerns or might be a little bit nervous to conduct customer research, generally, that's what I referenced first is these are your customers that are very happy. They're getting a ton of value from your product today. They'd be really upset if you went away. They want you to be successful.

And so in general, we find that customers are very happy to provide us with feedback and participate in the evolution and the growth of our businesses because effectively they stand to benefit and they get a ton of value.

So as long as you're talking to customers who are happy, I mean, look, there's conversations to have around win/loss analysis and surveying your customers who have canceled and things like that. But that's not what I'm talking about here. What I'm talking about really is: identify who your best customers are and talk to them and ask them questions about what's important to them. And there's specific types of questions that we can get into if you want to get into that. But really at the end of the day, if you're talking to your happy customers, what we find is they're very, very willing to jump in and provide feedback and participate in the evolution of your business.

Bob: Yeah, I think that's really brilliant. We have a think tank customer advisory board that we meet with quarterly. I can echo that sentiment.

Gia: Yeah.

How to Learn from Your Future Audience Before They Buy

Bob: And I want to dig into some of those questions that you may want to ask your customers. I want to take a quick detour, though, first because there are some people listening who don't have customers yet. They are getting ready to launch or they have been around for a little bit, but they just don't have more than a handful of people as they've worked with. How can they take a playbook from you so that as they get customers in the door, they're able to fuel that research a little bit faster than those that do not do?

Gia: Yeah. So in that case, what I would say... I mean, you're learning from your future customers and yes, going out and identifying where your customers are out in the world and trying to provide some value and in return collect some feedback, it's absolutely a viable thing to do.

The one thing that I would prompt everybody to think about before they do that though is ultimately what is the problem that your business is trying to solve, and get very, very clear on that space. You can't go into a research project, especially this type of research project with the solution in mind. It can't be like, "Do they care about this thing? Is this thing going to be valuable to them?" It really has to be about them and conducting research that's very much focused on what's valuable to them, what do they care about, what keeps them up at night, not specifics about your specific offering.

So that's a helpful lens to go in into it with. And then, yeah, find out where they're hanging out. There's lots of tools, the best of which definitely I would say is SparkToro for finding out what those watering holes are. And then there's a lot you can do on the social listening side of things. But if you are participating in those watering holes and providing value and learning as you're listening, it shouldn't be too big of a leap to eventually ask for some folks to jump on a short call with you. You just got to be really respectful of their time, make sure that you're well prepared, have a structured approach that you're taking with your research so that you're not wasting anybody's time. And what we have found when people raise, and this sometimes comes up on the customer side too, let alone on the audience side, is my response rate is not high enough.

When to Pay (and Not Pay) for Feedback

Should I be offering incentives? That comes up a lot. And in general on the customer research side, and this is not always the case, but typically we find that incentives aren't necessary for all the reasons that I already mentioned. But on the audience side of things, if you are going to be asking people to get on a call with you, even a short call, it could be really interesting to offer an incentive, but not maybe an incentive like a $50 Amazon gift card or something like that because you could be incentivizing behavior that isn't going to be advantageous to you in the long run. So we do find that offering to compensate people for their time can work quite well and letting them name their price and that gives you a choice on what you want to do.

Or what we've also found an idea that we love and that we have used a few times ourselves is offering to make a donation in that person's name. Now obviously you need a budget to do this type of thing, but those are two ways that you could possibly incentivize people to spend a little bit of time with you. What we have found on the offering to compensate people for their time is that people will feel very respected and they'll be more likely to say yes, but in most cases they won't even take you up on that offer. But it can go a very long way in terms of being respectful of their time.

Key Customer Research Questions to Getting Useful Answers

Bob: Yeah, I love that idea. Love to get into some questions now that you have your customer research folks do. And obviously when you're working with companies, what might be an off-the-wall question, if there is one that you think most people just don't really think about that the customers that they would have would be eager to share a response to?

Gia: I don't know if I would consider any of them off the wall. So the style of research that we do is rooted in the jobs to be done framework, the jobs to be done theory or framework, whatever you call it, that's basically this idea that people buy your product because they're buying the better version of themselves. They're not buying your specific solution, they're buying what your product enables them to do, ultimately that better life. So the research that we do is very focused on covering what is that job to be done. And that's goes back to what I mentioned before where I said if you can do this foundational type of research of what is our best customer's job to be done and get that foundational story and understanding about your customers, there's a lot of nuance in there that we can dig into for sure.

But when I was referencing it earlier, it's because once you have that foundation, there's a lot of directions you can go from there. You can say, "Okay. Now that I understand who our best customers are, I want to dig in specifically into the people who are out in the world experiencing this problem." And then you can do follow-on research to dig in a little bit further, or you might want to dig in further on expansion strategies. So we understand that this is our core, our best customer's job to be done, let's find out what they need help with next. And you could do a type of follow-on research to find out what your expansion opportunities might be for that customer. So I wouldn't say that there's any surprises in the type of research that we do because it is so structured, but in general what we're looking for is we want to documentary of their life, what was going on in their world that led them to seek out a solution, how were they solving their problem before?

Because then we understand maybe direct competitors, but more than likely some alternative solutions that they're using. So we know what solution we're asking people to fire in order to hire our product. So having that understanding of what life was like before, understanding what they did after that. So once they made that decision, where did they go? Who did they talk to? What were their watering holes? What were their influences in their life? And then once they found you, what was it about your solution that convinced them that you were going to be able to solve their problem? And then furthermore, we asked questions around when you signed up, what was that magic moment for them that they said, "Yes, this is going to work for me. I'm going to keep going, I'm going to keep investing in this thing." And then questions about now that you have our product or solution in your life, what are you able to do now that you weren't able to do before?

And so we get, as you can... I'm likely picking up on this is this documentary of what was going on in their world through their lens. We didn't ask anything about our product, we didn't talk about features, we didn't ask any specifics. It's really open-ended questions to find out why behind the things that they were doing so that we can figure out how to map that to what we do and make it really, really obvious to them so we can pick up what they say is valuable and then we can map it to the specific parts of our product or our solution that delivers that value. And that's how we come up with really resonant positioning and messaging to really be effective when we do go out in the market and market to them or the copy that we use on our website or even the early product experience and the product onboarding or activation experience, what do we use there?

All those answers can come out of what were very open-ended questions, but once we identify those patterns, we can really see our best customers are coming to us because they are in this situation where they're experiencing this very specific struggle. They're looking for these very specific things in a solution and then this is what they're now able to do that they weren't able to do before. And because we've got that picture, we can really lean into how to create that value and communicate that we can create that value.

Why You Should “Forget the Funnel”

Bob: This is awesome. What I'm hearing from you and what I love about this is that you're taking what could otherwise be a hypothetical pursuit of information, i.e., audience market research on the front end of top of funnel, trying to find people that might fit our product or service. And you're turning it into those that already show up and you're giving them the opportunity to tell you why they showed up and why in those experiences they continue to show up.

Gia: That's right.

Bob: Talk to us a little bit about why this concept that you and Claire are pursuing or are promoting is Forget The Funnel. Why is that such an important thing for people who are in SaaS or not in SaaS should be taking on?

Gia: Yeah. I mean, you're 100% right. You can think of it like reverse engineering success, right? It's like taking that ideal customer and then going, "Okay. Tell me what you did." What was that experience and then look back at what good looks like and what good looked like for them and at scale across all of your customers to figure out what is that most appropriate and truthfully highest converting experience that we could possibly create for them. The Forget The Funnel concept is really... I mean, it's rooted in the heart, in its heart in this idea that marketing doesn't end at acquisition. People who think about marketing at ending at acquisition are really missing out, particularly recurring revenue businesses. If you are in a recurring revenue business and you think about growth as acquisition, you are not going to be in business for very long because recurring revenue model is about building long-term relationships that are valuable to your customers.

And high LTV means for customers as well in addition to you. So really understanding that customer and building a valuable long-term relationship with them is the name of the game for software as a service. More and more even e-commerce brands and service providers think in this way as well, rightfully, right? It's not just about bringing a new customer in the front door. There's tons of stats on how much more an existing customer is worth to you than bringing somebody new through the front door. So I don't need to talk about that. I'm sure there's lots of studies that have been done that prove that. And I think that thinking about customers as being something... Thinking about customers as something that is in a funnel is it just doesn't do the relationship justice at all. I mean, I don't think I need to convince anybody of that.

There's a relationship there and it's cyclical and it's meaningful. And it's not just about pushing somebody through these buckets or these predetermined buckets. That's also my big issue with pirate metrics and typical lifecycle metrics that we tend to use is that they're very focused on the business. They're not as much focused on the customer.

So we tend to think about is somebody marketing qualified or sales qualified, but that has no bearing on whether or not we're delivering value to that individual. So that's another reason why I pick on the funnel a lot. And also for SaaS and for digital products... I mean, it's 2023 and we have all the tools in our toolbox now to measure value beyond just credit card entered. And we know how people are using our product and we can come up with and identify much more meaningful KPIs.

So this relationship that we have with our customers, what are their leaps of faith or milestones in their relationship with us, and then furthermore, how do we know that we're delivering value to them at each of those milestones. There's lots of ways for us to do that, especially in software.

Did they hit this critical threshold of product usage? Did they activate in our product? Did they get value? Were they delivered value in some way? The way that we measure activation is one thing and very important, and I don't take away from that, but it's hard to even think about how do we measure activation without thinking about how do we measure what a happy, healthy customer looks like? How does a happy, healthy customer use our product day in and day out, whether or not they log in or not might be completely irrelevant, right? Because you might have the type of product that is more successful when your customers don't log in, then what do you do?

Does weekly active user mean anything there? Daily active users means nothing in that scenario. So we have to identify what a meaningful measure of engagement and value our customer's relationship is with us so that we can do a couple things. We can measure our ability to help them move forward and get more value. But also if they fall out, we also have a way to trigger re-engagement or get in touch with them and make sure that we do what's needed to be done to help them get back into that experience.

I think a lot of companies... I don't think. I know a lot of companies, the software companies that we work with, very, very few of them are measuring product engagement in a meaningful way. They're relying on just these catchall KPIs like sign up credit card entered and daily active or weekly active. And that's their measure of success when they could be doing so much more if they were actually making sure and being able to measure their ability to help customers reach those value moments. So I mean, that's my funnel rant forever and ever.

Shifting Your North Star Metric Towards Customer Value

Bob: Well, I love it because what you're doing is you're putting a lens on the success people have by using the product or the service that you're selling and you're shooting for wins, right? You're not just trying to get revenue in the door, you're trying to get people to be successful in their life, which hits home for us here at Leadpages.

One of the things that we took on, I don't remember if it predates our work with you or not, but the idea of a north star metric as something that's we can focus on to know are our customers using our product in a way that it's both intended and that increases value over time.

Gia: Yes.

Bob: Will lead to referrals, will lead to upgrades, all that kind of stuff that do hit the revenue goals.

Gia: Yeah.

Bob: Can you speak to that idea of north Star metric for a moment? Because I think that might be a new term for many of our listeners.

Gia: So I find a north star metric at the end of the day when it is a tool for teams to help multiple people responsible for a holistic customer experience, really be focused on what matters in delivering value, like you said. So in your case, I mean, I can't say this for every company, but sometimes north star metrics, and I hope in most cases that north star metrics are really rooted in delivering customer value. That's not always the case. I don't know what yours is at Leadpages, but I'm going to assume that it's associated with your customers getting value, and that's great, but it's a top line singular measure of a success in a holistic way. I think what is especially valuable about customer experience mapping and identifying leading indicators of success is they all roll up to that north-star metric. They're all in service of that north star metric.

But why I like KPIs at each of the milestones in a customer experience is because it really helps the team compartmentalize and think about and go deep on delivering really, really great customer experiences. So those team members who are responsible for product onboarding, they can very much focus on that specific part of the customer journey, not disconnected from the rest of it and how it relates to the rest of it. But it's still very much rooted in what are the motivations, objections and anxieties that customer may be experiencing or feeling, what are the success gaps? What's happening inside of the product, but just as importantly, what's happening outside of the product. What might they be doing in their inbox? What solution might they be off-boarding from or needing to fire in order to adopt ours?

What other stakeholders might be involved? And that customer experience mapping is very, very helpful for basically aligning everyone around this holistic customer experience so that the individual team members responsible for them can build really effective strategies for influencing that portion of the customer experience. And that's true, I'm only picking on activation right now, but the same is true on the customer marketing side. Those teams who are thinking about, "Okay. Our customers have solved their primary customer job, but now how can we help them?" How can we help them be even more successful with our product? What are the other toys in the toy box? We can now show them parts of the product that we were holding back on a little bit at the beginning because it would've been too much for them. What can we now show them our product can do that helps them be even more successful? So it just helps compartmentalize, but helps the team be really, really strategic in a meaningful and also very measurable way. But again, all at the service of that north star KPI or that north star metric.

How Can Your Business Solve Their Most Urgent Problem First?

Bob: Very cool. And this obviously applies primarily in your work to SaaS companies as most of the things that we've been talking about, but there are analogous items over in service industries where you want the repeat buyer, you want the repeat customer to come in the door. So can you speak to that? What comes to mind for you if someone's a coach or a consultant and they do rely on recurring revenue, but from the delivery of a service instead, how do you help them to translate what we've been talking about?

Gia: Yeah. I mean, I think from that perspective, and I put that hat on when I think about our business, of course I don't tend to put it on when I think about the client's business, but if I try to put that hat on for a second, really the same is all still true. Something that I didn't actually mention earlier that is important for all types of businesses, but could be very advantageous within this specific context is what is the urgent problem that your clients are trying to solve. And think about ways to lower the barrier to help them solve that very specific and urgent problem and then grow from there.

So don't try to sell them on... I mean, this is true with software, it's just as true with software actually, but don't try to out of the gate convince a potential client that you're going to be able to solve all of their problems and that you do all of these things and there's a big menu of services that you offer and you can do it all for them and therefore they should just bring you on because all of this can be solved under one roof. You tend to be much better served, and this is true for every business. You're much better served by focusing on what is the urgent problem. They have a high willing, especially high willingness to pay for, especially because when we're talking about the lift at the front end and making a big decision with, when you're talking about services, generally the ask is bigger than in a software situation.

So helping lower the barrier to entry, build a relationship with them, solve a very urgent problem for them very, very quickly, and then let the relationship grow from there and think about what's the next most natural thing that a client might need after you've solved that initial urgent problem for them. And honestly, the customer experience mapping absolutely applies in this case as well because of that.

Getting Feedback from the Right Customers

Bob: So I'm curious, as you hear the customer research the responses to your questions and all this stuff, sometimes you hear things that lead you to not want to do what the customer wants. How do you know what the customers are telling you is not in best interest of your... In service of your company or your brand?

Gia: That is such a good question. It's so interesting. Honestly, I've never run into that probably because of the type of research that we do is so rooted in, what is that? Because it's so rooted in customer jobs, in the jobs-to-be-done framework. Because if you are learning from the customers that you want more of, if genuinely the voices that you're listening to are the voices of those customers that you want to clone, so to speak, they're the customers who, I hate this expression and I probably overuse it, but you'd have to pry your product out of their cold dead hands. If those customers are telling you something on repeat and you're hearing it over and over and over again, you should probably be listening.

Bob: Mm-hmm.

Gia: Right? Because if they're telling you something that you don't want to hear, they're probably not your best customers. So there's a balancing act a little bit with research, and I think that one of the objections to research often is the faster horses that the erroneously quoted, if we asked customers what they wanted, they would've asked for faster horses.

First of all, that's not true and that was not a real quote, but even so there's, just because a customer says it doesn't mean you have to do it. Because if you say just like a customer and they haven't been prioritized or they haven't been segmented into a group of customers you actually care to listen to, then don't listen to them. They don't matter. And if there's people who get value out of your product today that don't fall into that bucket of ideal customer, that's fine. If they're getting value from your product, that's fine. Let them buy your product and pay for your product and by brute force get value out of it in whatever way they want to.

That does not mean you need to solve for them. That does not mean you need to prioritize them. With a lot of companies that we work with, we have to make a decision on do you want to go a sales-led route or do you want to go a product led route? And it's not a binary, it's not that you can only do one or the other, but you do need to put one foot in front of the other and make a decision about which experience you want to build first. And so what I often tell founders and the companies that we work with is you have a decision to make. You can evolve your product in one way and build your team and develop your product in a way that goes one direction or the other. You have the decision.

I remember this was a very real thing for Rand when he first launched SparkToro, he made a very deliberate decision to focus on a very certain customer set, and he was very deliberate in ignoring the another. So I think it's a decision that you have to make as long as you care about that customer and are hell-bent on solving a very valuable problem for them, keep them in your mind's eye, their opinion matters. Forget everybody else.

Get Ready for Forget the Funnel (the Book)

Bob: Awesome. We're coming to the end of our time, Gia. This has been so fascinating. I do want to make sure people know about your upcoming book that you're currently in pre-sales for. Maybe you're listening to this, it's already been launch, but talk to us about the Forget The Funnel book and the work that you and Claire are doing with that.

Gia: Yeah. So the book really, the idea behind the book is we wanted it to be a very digestible and practical. So it's a very step-by-step process that we go through. Everything that I'm talking about, there's a process involved in it. Identify who your best customers are, figuring out the problem that they're trying to solve, operationalize that and measure, find your measures of success and then basically take advantage of the opportunities that you are. Then you become aware of all those growth opportunities because you understand your customer so much better and you now have a measure of success for it. So that process, the customer-led growth process and the framework that we've developed and we use with all the companies that we work with is what we cover in the book from beginning to end, honestly. But what we try to do as much as possible is make it very, very practical.

So there's a little bit of theory in there because there needs to be a little bit of theory, but for the most part it is like, no, this is what you do first. This is what you do second, this is what you do. Third, there's a lot of follow-on materials as well that we provide templates, checklists, email templates, survey templates, interview questions, things like that. There's a lot of follow-on materials to make it really, really practical. But we wanted the book to be readable in just a couple of hours right out of the gate, so somebody can get from beginning to end in a very short amount of time and really understand that, "Oh, okay, now I'm ready, now I get it, and I'm going to go back and go step by step through the process." So that's really the idea of the book.

Bob: I love it. And it sounds to me like it's essentially a culmination of two decades of work for you and however much time for Claire of being in this space and really paying attention to what works, what's not worked, and the importance that customers can provide to you if you're willing to ask.

Gia: Yup, that's right.

Bob: Right. That's cool. Now at the time of this recording, we're not really sure what the future of Twitter actually is, but how can people find you on Twitter and anywhere else online that you would like to send people to?

Gia: Yes. Oh, don't say that. I'm not ready to give up on Twitter. I've been on Twitter since like 2008, so I might go down with it.

Bob: I'm right here with you.

Gia: I might go down with that ship, I swear. So on Twitter, I'm @ggiiaa, even though I could have gotten my first name at that time, I did not take it. And so yes, very findable on Twitter, LinkedIn too, but much more so on Twitter. But forgetthefunnel.com is really the best place to go. You can learn about our sprints, our advisory, and of course the book. And we even have a pro membership. We didn't talk about that a lot, but we do have a community of practitioners and founders and service providers inside of our community that is super fun. And we do office hours and all kinds of stuff in there. So that's another thing that people might want to check out.

What’s in It for Them?

Bob: Very cool. And my last question is, as an entrepreneur, I'm sure you run into obstacles and things that require a little re-shift of any kind of mantra or thought quote that you'd like to turn back to get you over whatever that obstacle could be.

Gia: Oh, the first thing that comes to mind for me is really when in doubt what is in the best interest of your customers? And I feel like I'm a broken record with this, but genuinely, especially when you're thinking about marketing and growth, we tend to look outwards and we look to the experts and we read books, and we listen to podcasts, and we get all this inspiration. And I'm definitely not saying that we shouldn't do that. We need to continue to do that in an ongoing way. But as long as we can bring it back to is who is our best customer and what is the most effective and applicable and highly resonant experience that we can create for them.

At the end of the day, a lot of answers, like the answers to all of our questions. They live inside the heads of our best customers. We just got to know to listen and to get it out so that we can then take all that inspiration from out in the world in the marketing space and really apply it in a way that's going to be effective and stop the guesswork. So when in doubt, what is in it for your customers? What is the problem that you're solving for your customers? That tends to answer almost any challenge, especially when it comes to growth.

Bob: That's awesome. Thank you so much, Gia, for being here on the Lead Generation today.

Gia: Awesome. Thanks for having me.

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Bob Sparkins
By Bob Sparkins

A former high school history teacher turned entrepreneur and marketer, Bob has educated business owners worldwide on how to leverage lead generation to grow their brands for over 18 years. Bob is a conversion expert, specifically when it comes to landing pages. Hosting over 1,000 webinars, he has walked thousands of business owners through advanced strategies to help them optimize their pages and maximize their leads and sales. Bob works with Leadpages affiliates and users to ensure they have all the tools, knowledge, and resources they need to build high-converting landing pages that grow their businesses.

The Lead Generation Podcast Episode 46: Gia Laudi
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