Meet Dani Woolf, Director of Demand Generation at Cybersixgill. If you focus on the mission, you will make the money. Go talk to your buyer. Pick up the phone. Start building relationships with your buyer. Get out of the echo chamber right now. Do yourself a favor. You owe it to the world to unmute your mic. Becoming more technically literate to geek out with your buyers. Getting the team to simplify, then simplify again. The order in which you do things matters. Parkinson’s law of triviality.
16 Insights. 6 rapid-fire questions. Show transcript.
Here’s what Ryan Paul Gibson said about Dani:Dani Woolf. Dani is Director of Demand Generation for a cybersecurity company. I like her because I can tell we align with our philosophies on things around demand, which is you can't just ram a product into someone's face and expect them to think that they'll buy it, because that's not how B2B works. People just don't wake up and want to buy a solution. There's a process they go through of decision-making. Some of it's rational, some of it’s emotional, to eventually land on a list of solutions when the time is right. So, I think she'd be cool to talk to.
What are 3 ways that your team converts your market into revenue?
That's a great question, and it really got me thinking.
1) We provide as much simple, practical—and the key word here is practical—honest, and ungated information as possible. In ways, or angles, that allow our buyers to learn something new that could be applied to their daily job. The key here isn't to expect that that there will be an immediate transaction. I just spoke to a buyer last week who said, and one thing that really resonates with me, “Time is the most valuable asset.” And so with that insight, we're letting buyers decide when their time can be used for our resources and assets, as well. It's that “pull in” versus the “push for” attention mindset. I think more organizations are catching onto that more simple, pragmatic approach to their strategy. Those are the companies who are really going to win, in my opinion.
2) We're building a safe space community and boardrooms for our buyers in our niche to have conversations amongst themselves about those challenges that are they're experiencing, that they're going through. And what that does is it allows them to ping pong new ideas on how to solve those issues. We’re they're, obviously, to join the conversation and help them find solutions to those problems in closed face-to-face intimate forums and areas. It's really been rewarding to see business grow from that.
3) Collaborating with customers and end users to champion our point of view in different channels. This is my favorite. If you're in the security field, word of mouth, trust, and credibility is everything. As a startup, it really takes a lot of time to build that credibility. So when you build authentic relationships with your customers, with your audience, with your end users, who then get excited by the opportunity to do really creative things in spaces that resonate with them and their audience, more trust, more visibility to your point of view will then occur. And that's been really, really pivotal for us since the start of 2022, especially. We're really doubling down on that into 2023.
What are 3 hard problems that you recently overcame?
1) Getting access to my buyers. It's really why I created Audience 1st podcast. For years, I wasn't able to get in front of customers, believe it or not, due to constraints from customer success or sales. It blows my mind to this day. It really does. So I just went out by myself and started engaging with buyers to understand their motivations. I wanted to know what their goals were, their challenges, what makes them tick, right?How do they go about evaluating solutions? What triggers them to even start exploring tools? To me, that was critical, so that I could use that information and those insights, along with my teammates, to create more thoughtful experiences and think about how to go to market versus just building a strategy solely based on assumption.
2) Break out of the echo chamber. To top that off, I found it frustrating and still do at times that other cybersecurity marketers in forums or on LinkedIn, talk to other marketers about how to do things. When I know for a fact that these strategies and tactics do not work in the cybersecurity industry. So I found it the responsible thing to do to break out of the echo chamber and share the insights that I'm learning on the podcast with other marketers and sellers, because it's crucial that they engage with security buyers in a more moral and ethical way. In the long run, and I think in the short term, that's going to provide them with that exponential growth that they're looking for in the first place. So, it's been one month since the launch of audience first and it's resonating so hard, which is really great to see finally.
3) Instilling my core values throughout my current organization. As marketers or sellers in cybersecurity specifically on the vendor side, we are equally responsible for protecting people. And if we're all about the profit first, before the mission of protecting people, we are going to lose the battle real fast as an organization. And so, when you come into a company that's fueled by appeasing investor profits, because we all know that loads of security vendors are just gushing with cash from investors, it's very hard to instill that mission-before-money mindset throughout the company. Because we're all stressed to double triple. I mean, I've even heard someone say that he has to 5x revenue, which is crazy. Fortunately, I've grown really comfortable to speak up and relay my core values across organization. And I see that it's sticking in the right places. So, so I'm very hopeful that the customer first, the mission-before-money mindset, will continue to thrive and grow at my company. It's a process, and it takes time, and you just gotta be comfortable with that.
What are 2 roadblocks that you’re working on now?
1) Becoming more technically literate to geek out with my buyers. It's one thing to have soft skills, which I think is needed on the buyer-side in security. Actually, and the marketing and sales side, to be honest. But, it's another to be able to geek out with your buyer and speak their language. I think marketers and sellers who are able to articulate challenges and solutions in buyer terms, and in more technical terms, I strongly believe that's a differentiator on its own. Like why wait for a sales engineer to answer a more technical question, if a potential customer approaches you and they have that question, when you can do it on your own, and much earlier in the buying process? Because, who knows if that security buyer will even have time for you again later down the line. Sometimes there are no second chances.
2) Getting the team and myself to simplify, and then simplify again. Because I do not want to over promise and under deliver in the organization or to my buyers. So, as a marketing team and an organization right now where I work, we're going through a lot of changes and transformation. Definitely for the good. And so that requires us to do things a little bit differently which is hard sometimes for people because we're so used to doing things a certain way. I'm notorious for biting off more than I can chew because I have so many ideas and I want to execute with my team. But it's not scalable. So now we're making it a habit to consistently identify and cut out trivial tasks, projects, programs that aren't making an impact on the business goal. And on top of that, simplifying the process of execution as well.
What are 3 mental models that you use to do your best work?
1) I strongly believe the order in which you do things matters and the biggest gains are at the bottom. And what does that mean? Think of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Which is a five stage a psychology model. It states that the basic needs lower down in the hierarchy (and the pyramid), like food, water, shelter, security, and rest, must be satisfied before individuals can attend to needs higher up in the pyramid, like relationships and accomplishments, and then, finally, that self-actualization. Achieving your full potential and creative activities. I like to look at the attainment of organizational success as if it were a hierarchy of growth needs. My strong belief is that most marketers skip to the sexiest part of marketing, which is the persuasion part. The copy, creative design, landing page design, channel optimization. Those hooks and triggers. Which, if you look at Maslow's pyramid, would be the equivalent to self-actualization. They skip the foundations, which is essentially validating everything you're going to do in the persuasion phase.
1) The basic need. Start with the goal. Do you even understand where you need to be in order to sustain and grow business?
2) Customer fit. Do you even know who your target audience is? Do you know their motivations and needs? What is their journey? Where do they evaluate solutions?
3) This is a huge one. Data and analytics. Do you have the infrastructure in place to understand if you're even investing money in the right place?
4) Function and delivery. Are your customers even able to interact with your organization correctly, digitally and offline? And then, usability optimization, right? Are your experiences usable and intuitive based on customer buying preferences.
5) Persuasion. Only then, can you get to the sexy part, which most start with first. The persuasion. Does your message even resonate with your audiences, motivations and needs?
So, the order in which you do things matters. The biggest gains are definitely at the bottom. If you focus on the foundations, if you can hone in on the foundations first, your conversion and business goals will be met. Then you can ask the question, “can we retain them now?”
2) Parkinson's Law. The second model that I like to focus on is Parkinson's law about triviality, or bike shedding, which is an observation about the tendency to waste time on trivial tasks while while important tasks go unattended. And I first heard about this model a year or so ago on the podcast, “Everyone Hates Marketers” by Louis Grenier. By the way, I really urge anyone listening to this episode to head over there and dig in. So much of what I do now is influenced by the no-bullshit information there that he shares. So when I heard that episode on bike shedding, and why marketers spend time on trivial tasks versus the important ones. I was like, “Holy crap. This is a really refreshing slap in the face.”
3) If you focus on the mission, you will make the money. I don't know if it's a mental model. it’s just something I say to myself, “If you focus on the mission, you will make the money.” A few of my guests on Audience 1st have said that, security practitioners, “If you focus on the mission, you will make the money.” And that's something that has really allowed me a breath of fresh air as a marketer, because I've seen in a very short period of time, if you do focus on the mission, you will start seeing that exponential growth that as a startup you're required to achieve.
What are 2 techniques that GTM teams need to try?
1) Listen more, talk less, and actually apply what you've learned. It's not enough just to listen. You definitely have to process what you're hearing from your customers. Take those insights and apply them, selectively. Many buyers in this market, specifically in cybersecurity, are bitching about what vendors are doing publicly. Yet, vendors continue to run these shady tactics and it drives me nuts. So just listen and apply.
2) Do not focus on displacing competitors. It is a very expensive play and in most cases, security teams aren't even looking to replace solutions. Unless they're absolutely, incredibly disgruntled, then maybe you got a chance. They don't have time to replace solutions. It's heavy up, you know, it's heavy lift. They don't have budget or they're likely just needing to compliment your solution with your competitor, to be honest.
Who are 3 operators that should be our next guests and why?
I haven't met these wonderful people, but I've spoken to them on one occasion or another.
1) Vladimir Blagojević. First, I definitely recommend Vladimir Blagojević. He's the co-founder of fullfunnel.io. I actually follow him on LinkedIn and he's helping B2B marketers who market to people in accounts that have a long sale cycles, like me. Helping us do things a little bit more strategically and methodically. I think the way he educates B2B marketers with his smart playbooks is awesome. It's so useful. And he's one of those people who understands the value of simplicity and practicality. And again, people who do that are going to win.
2) Andra Zaharia. Who is just a rockstar gal. She is a cyber security content marketer. A pro. And host of Cyber Empathy podcast. She and I subscribed to the same mission. She's helping those in tech really understand how, and why, people connect through technology. And, helping us to really understand and make wiser decisions and be human at the end of the day. Which is required in in security and in technology.
3) Gaetano Nino DiNardi. He’s been off grid for a little bit. I hope everything's okay there. I really liked that he's not comfortable with the status quo. I like that he speaks up and challenges the audience. I think he is thinking about doing things differently as a marketer which is really refreshing. He’s been down low, so definitely worth having a conversation with him.
Work with Dani → Cybersixgill is hiring!
Listen to Dani’s podcast with her buyers → Audience 1st