Growth Marketing Camp
Growth Marketing Camp

Episode 41 · 7 months ago

How PDQ Won the Community Building Game Through Trusted Organic Content

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

PDQ.com is all about keeping it real. Not many companies can be praised for that. It’s a rare and unique skill that the founders nurtured and ultimately turned into the main driver behind content creation for their audience. Before they had their eye on podcasting, they launched a webcast that they still have going every single week. Kelly Hammer, Content Marketing Manager at PDQ, joins Growth Marketing Camp to teach our listeners how to create content that forges a strong community. He also shares his curiosity to explore the world of TikTok and the importance of turning your customers into evangelists and promoters. Dig in!

Welcome to growth marketing camp, or we sit down with our favorite marketers to do mystify growth and give you the insights to help turn your next campaign into a major success. Let's get into it. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Bobby and Ray, host of growth marketing camp. I am incredibly excited today to be joined by Kelly Hammer. He is content marketing manager at PDQ. Kelly, thanks so much for joining us. Thanks for the invite. Yeah, Shda, yeah, happy to have you. Want to get the audience started today with a little bit of background on PDQ. We were talking a little bit about this before we kicked off the show, but can you tell our audience a little about pdq doing what types of problems you're solving in the market place today? Yeah, we make a couple of software products. Actually we kind of have three now because we just acquired a company called simple MDM, but the company is made by system administrators to help system administrators, you know, folks that keep all of your your computers up and running, and what we do is we have software that keeps those machines patched and up to date and it does it silently in the background. So instead of doing what we used to call sneaker net, where you go around to each machine and manually update things. Yeah, we have what we call the package library. It's about two hundred fifty were so commonly use business applications that we keep up to date and in system. Administrators can go there, download those and then deploy them simultaneously to all the machines on their network, or a good chunk of the machines, and then they can automate that process. So it's almost like set it and forget it. If they know that they need to update chrome or firefox or whatever when a new version comes out, they can set it to automatically scan the machines and if the machine needs an update, grabs the package from the library. It either deploys it right then or on a schedule that they set to saves them a lot of time. Cool, okay, yeah, I can. I can absolutely see the the value in that. Tell me a little bit about your market. Why are they buying PDQ? They buy it for a couple of reasons. One, it's very, very simple to use. The time to value is like five minutes from the time you download it to when you start using it and getting value out of it. It's just ridiculously quick and is so it's easy to use, it's very affordable and it saves just an absolute ton of time. Absolutely really does. Absolutely and then in terms of selling to the market, you know, I remember having a conversation with a friend of mine who worked and I think the CTO's office at Bloomberg, and I remember asking him what the biggest budget line items were for his office and sure enough, it was always around security and different obviously vectors of that in their business. But when you're selling a security or a product that sort of speaks to system security, my thought is that the obvious route is sort of Fud fear and certainty and doubt is being...

...sort of a really strong sort of motivator. But I'm just wondering, like, when you think about content for your business, what are some of the ways that you're conveying value and message and in terms of your tone or overarching themes, and just kind of curious about how you approach that. You know, it's interesting because our founders were both system administrators and so they understand the space and they really had a great handle on, you know, the job to be done, the need and how to make it easier. They buy their own admission, were not like well versed expert marketers. They actually did a presentation at a conference called business of software and the title of it was oops, I did a marketing and they kind of tripped into success, as we like to call it. You know, they they decided, okay, our approach is going to just be trusted organic content. Yep, we are going to make sure that what we convey to our audience, to our users, is is valuable and it's it's real. And so they started out, you know, obviously with some written content, with blogs, trying to get the you know, useful information in the hands of users. But they also did something that a lot of people at the time weren't doing, and they started a weekly live webcast. Oh and they even took a different approach than what a lot of web casts are. You know, the text base isn't known for its creativity necessarily. A lot of times you'll webcast will consist of just a slide deck and a faceless voice that's got crappy audio on the back, going star. Now we're going to bladdle. Yep, been there. These guys decided, you know what, we're going to be different. We are going to have someone on camera because people like to see another live face and we're not going to prescript this. It's going to happen live and wow, if we make a mistake or something doesn't work, you know what, that's okay. In fact, it's all the better because we're showing people there's no smoking mirrors here. We're real. Yeah, and now we're going to show you how to trouble shoot. And so that approach really started to catch on with our users and our customers because they could see that we were real people and it just kind of grew from there and it's kind of a philosophy that we've continued with. You know, a good example is one day one of the CO founders was doing the webcast and he's his name Shaney, has this long, long beard, a goutifully groomed beard, as bad if it's in. But he had a I think it was drinking a heineken, and just had that over on the side and grabbed it and took a drink and they were like did you just and he was like Oh yeah, sorry. They're like no, let's let's just that's real. That's you will just keep it up so our guys. They sip very expensive whiskey during the webcast. Cool and they're just very real and authentic and absolutely resonated. It's built a...

...good community. So, so, so cool. And, by the way, the long beautiful beard is seems very on brand for system system administrator. Just hopefully no one takes offense to that. But that's in my mind's eye. I can see it. That is really, really cool. So I mean you started off by saying PDQ is software made by systems administrators for system administrators, and and I think that sort of sounds like there's residence there in what you're describing in terms of this webcast, because there are the guys. I mean that's the team, that's the team that's making the software. And sure enough, like they sound like you and they look like you and they'll even drink a beer like you, and that's really, really interesting. I'm just curious, like, talk to me a little bit about sort of how that sort of grew and they get them. Just curious about this because I know you know anytime you're creating content, I feel like one of the mantrasts you got to be consistent with it right and and that's how you sort of build that traction, you increase the footprint. Can you just share a little bit about sort of what that looked like for the team, like how did the webcast grow and what is the community look like today? Yeah, you know, it's interesting. When they first started they had trying to remember, I think we had just a very rudimentary green screen and we were shooting in a small little office. I mean it was is maybe a twelve by seven foot type of off sure, the audio wasn't that great. They were using just regular webcams and you would maybe get twelve people watching the webcast lot. Huh Uh Huh. Now, fast forward through the years. We move from one little office, yes, to a room that we converted into a pretty decent studio. Cool, using HD cams. We had a prosych green screen. Audio was much better. And the interesting thing you talk about consistency, and that is so key, because you start out with ten, twelve people watching your webcast every week and then it will start to grow. I mean we went from ten or twelve people and got really excited when you hit fifty. Yeah, and then from there, once you cracked a hundred, Oh man, it's like this is a party a we yeah, hundred people. Now you think about okay, is a hundred people a week watching your webcast? Is that worth the investment that you made in that green screen, in the cameras and audio equipment? Well, if you just looked at it from that perspective, maybe not. Okay, here's the thing. How valuable is it to have literally a conversation with your customer base? A hundred people, two hundred people every week? Consider distantly, that becomes incredibly valuable because part of what we do on the webcast, it's not just us, you know, giving a lecture. Yes, is interactive. We're taking their questions live...

...every single week and helping them overcome challenges that they have and in that process we get to learn what those challenges are and then we can better respond to those. Because the webcast is one aspect of it, we also do videos. We do a lot of video tutorials and things like that, and it's it's the similar format. I mean we have a live person in the camera walking through everything unscripted, and again it boils back down to that trusted, organic content and it it really creates that community. We have people that watch the webcast, have watched it and joined US religiously for years. Yeah, well, we turn you know, you turn the chat on early. Yeah, I kid you not. We've had people up to an hour and a half before webcast time on the chat talking to each other back and forth, helping each other with their problems. It's really fun to watch. That is so, so cool, and I think the point that you make about just having that dialog with your customer base. You know, one of the metrics we started looking at really closer this year, right open sense, was net promoter score and PS. And what's interesting about that is that sevens and eights the sound pretty good it, but they're actually considered like if you're just that's frowny face, a medium face and a happy face and their medium faces. And I remember looking at it that seven eight sounds good to me. But why? Well, the reason is because those people are not promoters. They're not the tractors. What they are is actually dangerous. They're indifferent. Yeah, and to me what you're describing is a way to kind of like not everybody good promoter. Maybe you'll have some detractors, but you're making sure there's not going to be anybody in there that's indifferent. They're gonna they're going to have to make like with that level of interaction you're not going to end up being indifferent about PDQ, like you're you know likely that it will be positive, but you're eliminating that opportunity for indifference and I think is like really valuable in a way. It's interesting you bring up net promoter score because we recently looked at our MPs and found that we had a pretty substantial uptick one month and our analytics people were very curious to see if that would maintain or if it was just kind of a bullep. Well, it maintained the next month and so they started to dig into it a little bit more and one of the biggest drivers of that uptick came from webcast participants. Yeah, you love that, and the great thing is when you're when you're looking at your customers, obviously you've got that customer and they've got there in the interest and eventually or ultimately, what you want to do is turn them into evangelist, into a Selors, and that's what we're doing with the webcast. Those are the people that are most engaged and are most likely to tell other system administrators about...

...what we are, what we do and how we can help them. Yeah, I mean, I this phenomenal. I'm wondering if this is the campaign or that with the theme that we're talking about today, because it's it's got unique and I've not like we've not spoken of anyone who's doing a live broadcast. And actually this might be a decent segue because I want to ask you a little about your your background. You spent a couple of decades, if not mistaken, in the broadcasting business and clearly you've brought that some of that skill set to your current role. I'm curious. Maybe you can articulate it explicitly, but tell me a little bit about sort of like your professional background and perhaps how that's either shaped your approach in your current role or what type of influence that's had on on your current skill set or the work that you're doing for PDQ. Yeah, I spent twenty seven ish years again in Radio Broadcasting, pretty much everything you could do from you know, being on air to production to programming. Eventually, that's that. That's primarily what I ended up doing, is programming radio STA and what radio people do is try to craft content that's really our main thing is we want to make sure that our content is compelling, that it brings people back. You know, you had mentioned consistency. Yeah, that is a big staple in radio. If you've listened to a radio show or a morning show, afternoon show, whatever a lot of times, you'll know that hey, at five hundred and fifteen, bob on the radio does this every day. Well, that's trying to make you set an appointment to come back, because that's what drives ratings, and so part of that kind of translates over into what we're doing with the weekly webcast. It is the same time every week and we want people to set the appointment and creating that fun environment, you know, just kind of pulls people in a little bit. You know, in fact, one of the things that we do the webcast is Thursdays at ten o'clock mountain time, but we got start streaming at thirty. We call that the pre show and it's a very unscripted just time where we have a lot of fun and viewers they'll join it and they love it. I mean we've done some little surveys and they just really enjoy the pre show. What they don't know is the pre show is really our time to make sure all the equipment's running, because there's something that you're not going to know until you start streaming. Yeah, you could have a problem with Youtube. So that gives us that thirty minute cushion. They think we do it just for kicks. Yeah, yeah, yeah, right, but you know, it's I've been able to take a lot of what I learned in radio and apply it to what we're doing. You know, part of what I did was coaching talent, you know, who would have your morning show, your afternoon show. You'd bring them in after a show and listen to the tape and then, if you would have to kind of critique it and say, okay, what worked, what didn't and how can we improve it? And we kind of do the same thing with...

...the webcast. You know, we'll take a look after the show and just go okay, how to go and we feel good about this, do we not? What can we do to improve it? And we're always trying to improve the show. In fact, that's one of my one of my goals for this coming year is to make some changes, because I think we want to stay ahead of the game a little bit. Sure, and it's kind of hard to do. As I've looked at where we've come from, we were ahead of the game five years ago with this format and how it's going. A lot of people have caught up to us and it's like, okay, so what can we do to give us that additional edge? And so that's going to be one of our main focuses this year. Well, it sounds like I'll need to have you on in a year's time to understand what that was and share that with our audience. I've imagine there's some competitive until there perhaps that I'm not going to you know. I'm going to ask you to share that with us right now. But I am curious, like I guess, as you look at two thousand and twenty one and compare where we are today versus, you know, when he started doing the show five years ago, what are some of the things that stand out to you that maybe you're different, or what are some of the things that you're observing other companies doing well that maybe sort of fit the theme of that consistent touch point with the customer? What do you see an out there that you like a lot right now? Well, I have seen a lot of companies in our space or adjacent to it, doing similar things that we've been doing for a long time with webcasts or with Webinars, and they've really honed in on that consistency, because I do think that's key if you're going to build that audience and that community. You know, you have to have that consistency. Some of the things that we're kind of looking at. You know, as I look at the media landscape, it changes so so quickly, sure, and in a business to business environment and he some things work and some things that may work for a BTC are going to work quite as well, but things that we're going to explore anyway. You know, we're we're getting into the podcast space and, granted, I think we're probably a little bit late into that area, it's not anything that we've done. You know what podcast has done. We've been doing on a webcast. Yeah, just going to use that as another kind of arm. I look at things like believe it or not, Tick Tock. Yeah, I believe it. Yeah, there's a there's a lot of momentum. Now you wouldn't really think from a beatob standpoint. Okay, is that effective? It's not as effective as it is be Toc, but is it worth looking into. Yeah, absolutely. I mean you have to look at these trends and the great thing about the company that I work for is we believe really in trying things. Sure, I mean I fiercely believe if you're not failing at some things, you're not you're just not trying hard enough or you're not trying enough things. It's going to fail. You should be failing at things because that's how you're going to learn. Yeah, you can figure out what works. So, you know, there's there's...

...tick tock, there's clubhouse there, I mean instagram, I mean all sorts of stuff. Social media hasn't been a big push for us, primarily, you know, we haven't seen it or it hasn't been as effective be to be. But it's becoming such a force that you can ignore it. Yeah, I mean, I mean why would you if you can gain some traction there, even if it's not huge, a little bit will help. Yeah, let's explore it. Yeah, I mean it's interesting because you know, the idea is always want to meet your audience where they are and so inevitably, you know, system administrators are changing as we are changing as a society. Right. So like eventually, like the young the young bucks who are, you know, just coming up. I mean they're coming up with social media being a huge part of how they consume media and spend their time. But my wife and hire this is too much information. I imagine. Her cousin is nannying for us right now and she's in her early twenties and I cannot tell you how much time I see her just scrolling through tick tock. And it's not for me, like I'm an Instagram Guy, I guess. But, like you know, it's just interesting. Just that's how media is consumed for particular age group and within that age group there will be system administrators and so if you can reach them, they're certainly opportunity there. I would imagine you are spot on with that. I was going to bring up the fact that we have a new receptionist. He is in her early s and she will recruit people to join her in doing some tick tocks. HAH, okay. And so we have one of our he's our graphic designer. Yeah, he's been helping her out a lot with that and they've been starting to make some post. They created something for PDQ and they're starting to do some some ticktock for yeah, our brand, but I had that same realization. I'm like, man, you have to watch these, these young people, because that's where the next generation of customers is coming from, sus. Right here are they spending their time? That's right, that's where we need to at least explore where we should be. So I'm really curious about this too, because I think you're making a pretty strong case for any baby company to have a radio man on the team, because I think there's there's a lot, there's a there's a fearlessness that comes with the experience that you undoubtedly have doing live programming for nearly three decades, and to me that sounds really valuable for a Bob Marketing Organization. There's a huge focus, it sounds like, on on a lot of this content, a lot of this programming as a part of the marketing strategy. I mean, is this what PDQ does for marketing? Like, what are some of the other things that the marketing team are getting into, because it just seems like a huge to me. It seems like it would be a huge production, like what you're doing, and I'm just wondering what time and resource are left over for other things. So what are some the other things that that your marketing team is engaging in. Well, the great thing about it is the company has been growing pretty quickly. Over the last eighteen months we have expanded, and the good thing is...

...when I started a PDQ, I was employee number eighteen and we had, that point, what we called s marketing. Okays, Marketing Department, Sales and marketing. Gott I managed both. got that. So you have a limited amount of time, right, and so you have to be careful where you put those resources. Now, since we've started to grow, we've been able to bring on additional people. We have someone who is actually handling what we call digital marketing now. Yeah, he's fantastic, cool at it. So it's it's one of those situations where it's like I can take off one of the hats. Yeah, I can hand it to somebody. We have separated our sales and our marketing departments. Have a sales manager. Took that hat off and so that that's been kind of Nice. So when we're kind of deciding where we're going to put marketing resources, it's been good that I can focus primarily on content generation, as far as video and blog content, and I can let someone else work on Lee generation through the website, through email marketing and some of those conventional means as well, because she's got far more experienced expertise in that than I do. It was quite a relief actually. I was a sweet yeah, going to kick some butt over there this yeah, awesome, but yeah, it's it's been interesting now that we can focus on different areas of content. One of the things that we've been doing for such a long time. Most of our written content was focused around our products, you know, pdq deploy and pdq inventory. We've acquired another company, simple MDM. They do for Mac what we do for windows and by cold so that opens up a whole new area of content. Absolutely, and we're also trying to broaden our net a little bit. We're writing and creating more content for general it topics. The thought behind that is, look, our system administrators. They do more than just update machines, right. If we can provide resources and help to them on a broader range of topics, you know, we can get more eyes on our product, for one, but we just we really just want to be able to help make their jobs easier, yea, and help them be more effective, and so that's been another area of focus and kind of push that we've just started in the last six months. Yeah, is trying to broaden that scope a little bit. It seems to me that if PDQ sets out to be the sort of trusted brand for the it professional in terms of like what's current, what's new and what you should be reading, probably also has a feedback loop, not just to sell more of the current product but I mean, shoot, that has to open opportunit duities to even consider getting into other spaces as well. I mean, like, if they trust you, you can arguably you could potentially sell them anything. I mean, I don't know, but it just seems interesting to me and really wise play. It seems well and it's been interesting to watch the trust I think. I think one of the places that we...

...go to where we can tell that we are a trusted company is read it. You know, and I don't mean this in a negative way, the reddit crowd is they can be a persnickety bunch, sure, nicely, but but because they're good at what they do in the very protective of their space as well they could be. It's been interesting when you look at mentions of PDQ on read it, because the vast majority of it has been very positive, but the interesting thing is if someone has something negative to say, we never have to respond. It's one of those situations where if I read some negative stuff going down, I kind of sit back and just go oh, look out now, because the fans take care of it for us because we've developed that community, in that trusted relationship with them and they're just they're fantastic. I Love Them. What an incredible barometer that is of the status of your brand within the community is the extent of the rabidity of their response to any negative comment about your brand. I mean that is absolute incredible. And, by the way, I know the subread a you're talking of about the ourlash a Sadmin. Yeah, I've ad yeah, that's that's the one, right one. Now, it's not to say that we're perfect. I mean one of the core values that we have as a company is ownership, and that would that's like, look, if you know, I'm going to own this, and also you know honesty. We're honest, even when it's embarrassing, and there there have been a couple of times when our product hasn't performed up to the level that we wanted it to. Absolutely level of expectation of our users, and in those cases we take those core values and really embrace we created an apology video, or our product was running slower than it should and it's like look, we know it, we admit it and our promised to use we're going to fix this, and also created this apology video. That was it was freaking hilarious. Yeah, two guys responsible for it or in our creative department and, oh my gosh, they just absolutely nailed that. That is awesome and I think your broader point is a spot on. I was mentioning to you off are we had an issue with with email delivery times a week for a pretty large subset of our our Google customers, and it's interesting. Definitely fielded a few calls of individuals were frustrated. However, once we got into our caidence of clear communication, taking ownership and just also providing transparency of what was happening, we walked away with our customers actually being happy. Like imagine that there was a service issue, but at the end of it all people were actually appreciative of the transparency, the consistent communication and just just owning it, and I think that's, like, you know, I don't know if that's necessarily related to growth marketing. I think that's probably just a general principle and a good lesson. It's that you know, with tech, invariably, you know the proverbial s will hit the the fan and...

...when it does, you just you gotta own it and you just got to be transparent about it and that's probably the best sort of play in that circumstance. That's the thing, the that the tech Po yeah, yeah, sure, smarts. Yeah, exactly. You're not going to be able to be as them right. I mean they will see right through that. You know, if you're really trying to care about your coxactly, it's the Yah thing, exactly exactly. I want to ask you just a couple more questions for wrap up tonight. Again, really appreciate you being with us today. What are some things that you would say that a BB marketing team, if they're not doing it today, they should absolutely start doing it today. And then the flip side of that is, what's something that you've observed perhaps other businesses that you're aware of, that that they're doing that perhaps they should stop right away. So it's kind of like a two part question. One is what should they start doing immediately? What should they stop doing immediately? MMM, be real for one. Hey. You know, it's interesting because a lot of that ability to be real and be nimble and pivot, it's starts to diminish as a company starts to scale and grow totally. They're they're inevitably become you know, there's a bureaucracy there that makes it very difficult to be as real as you would like to be. So for a company like ours, that really the foundation of what we did and what our marketing has been has been that Real, authentic marketing type stuff. As we continue to scale, that's something that we're very, very aware of and we're extremely cautious not to lose that brand good voice. Yeah, because it's very simple to slip into a very cooperate a type of approach, Yep, and it's I don't think it's as effective, yeah, as just authentic type of content. So be aware of what your brand voice is and, as much as you can, be true to that. Yeah, stick with it. If you're in situation where your your company is a little bit large, I know it's like, you know, trying to push a boulder uphill. Maybe, yeah, be an advocate for being where your customers are and hit them on their terms, on their ground, because your messaging is going to be much more effective, it's going to be more relevant and I guess some of it too, depends on who your target is. For us, you know, we're primarily talking to, you know, the system administrator. Okay, there are companies who's and some of this depends on price point. I guess some companies are going to be deliver delivering a message more to the CTEO. They're hot buttons. What's going to get them excited? Different things. So make sure you understand who your audience is and create the message around that. And you know, it's really key, because what is going to to excite and motivate that system...

...administrator probably a lot different than what's going to motivate the CTEO absolute head of accounting. Absolutely meet them on their ground. Yeah, in a way, that's actually a good way to kind of answer that two par question. It's be real, if you're not already and if you're and and stop not being real. If you if that's if that's what you're doing. I got to tell you that this is a this giving me a lot to think about. You know, we obviously we launched this podcast about a year ago and and that's certainly, I think, something that we're really proud of. I think this will be close to our four youth episode, if I'm not mistaken, which is, I pretty good. But you know, there's a there's a lot to think about with what you've described so far, because I think there's a level of professionalism that I'm sure you had an influence on the the webcast, but it just seems like such a smart way to again create that brand voice, that authenticity, put yourself in front of the customer, engaging with them, learning from them, making them rapid supporters of you. This is really, really, I think, incredibly smart and I imagine your team probably feels really kind of fortunate because there's not a lot of companies out there, I feel like, they are doing that right now like the way that you've described it, and so I got to say Kudos to you and to your team for having the foresight and then the skill set to be able to actually execute it and then the commitment to keep doing it, because that seems like a really, really unique approach, one that I've not seen before and certainly something to think about is to go for appreciate it. You know, we do have a really good bunch of creative people there and I have to give just an unbelievable amount of credit to our founders, hay on and shame, because this was the direction and the path that they set us on and they have been hugely supportive. I mean, Sean I'm and I were talking about this the other day and he was the one that brought brought up the fact that, you know, would a lot of companies stuck with it and stuck with the investment? Probably not, but he had the foresight to do that and we've been able to see the results. You know, when in some of the research that we do about how people hear about our product, for the longest time it was, you know, organic google search, which is great. Love that love having organic results. Below that was personal referral. Over the years, personal referral, believe it or not, has caught and in many, many cases overtaken organic google search. Amazing. So we've taken those customers and actually been able to turn them into promoters. Yeah, you know, because the products could the webcast, the interaction that we have with content and are our support staff our solutions. People are so responsive. It's just really created a community that people are comfortable enough with what we do and are, yeah, to tell other people about it. And, yeah,...

I'm just I love our customers so great. Yeah, it's phenomenal. It's just another way to interact with your brand. It's not just by using the product, it's literally interacting with the people behind the product and that that, I think, is probably a just a really important thought to to think over the weekend. Phenomenal. Will Kelly. I really appreciate you making the time to chat with us today to share a little bit about what you and your team are working on. I think it's, like I said, really, really smart and I'm excited to kind of dig into this with my team as well. Thanks so much for being on our show. Thank you as a lot of fun. Appreciate it. Thanks for listening to growth marketing camp. If you enjoyed this episode, we'd love it if you'd give it a quick five star rating or share it with a friend or colleague looking to give a little more inspiration for their next campaign. If you want to learn more about the company behind the show, had to open sensecom. That's OPE en se en secom will catch you on the next episode.

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