March 05, 2024

Content Marketing and Advertising: Be mindful of the ‘curse of knowledge’ (podcast episode #89)


I spoke with to Purna Virji, Principal Consultant of Content Solutions at LinkedIn, and author of the book ‘High-Impact Content Marketing’ on episode #89 of the How I Made It In Marketing podcast.

Listen now to hear Virji discuss measurement planning in content marketing, authentic storytelling, and collaborating with Sales.

by Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute

Content Marketing and Advertising: Be mindful of the ‘curse of knowledge’ (podcast episode #89)

Need help with your content marketing? Try the Social Media Pro expert assistant in MECLABS AI. It’s totally FREE to use, for now. (MECLABS is the parent organization of MarketingSherpa)

You know too much. You know too much.

No this isn’t dialogue from a spy movie, I mean in your role as a marketer. You know too much about your product or service or whatever you’re asking your customer to do.

And it makes it hard for you to see your advertising and your conversion funnel through the customer’s eyes.

Or as my next guest put it in her podcast guest application – Be mindful of the ‘curse of knowledge’ (which could itself be a good name for a mystery movie).

To hear the story behind that lesson, along with many more lesson-filled stories, I talked to Purna Virji, Principal Consultant of Content Solutions at LinkedIn, and author of the book ‘High-Impact Content Marketing.’

LinkedIn recently crossed 1 billion users. LinkedIn is owned by Microsoft, which recently surpassed a $3 trillion market value. Virji functionally manages a cross-functional, global team of 16.

Listen to our conversation using this embedded player or click through to your preferred audio streaming service using the links below it.

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Stories (with lessons) about what she made in marketing

Here are some lessons from Virji that emerged in our discussion.

Be mindful of the ‘curse of knowledge’

This is a cognitive bias where once we know something, we find it hard to imagine others not knowing it. It's an easy trap most marketers will fall into from time to time, which inadvertently kills results. Virji shared detailed examples of what she sees, the trap she fell into, and what she does to overcome it now.

Have a measurement plan in place *before* even creating content

Why is it that most marketers only think about measurement as the last step? The true path to high impact starts with aligning content goals to business goals, and then determining key outcomes and how you'll measure them. In her book, Virji talks about the concept of backward design, and she shared details and examples of how to put it in place, along with an easy-to-replicate framework the audience can follow.

Focusing on inclusion is of absolute, critical importance

DEI isn't just a fancy corporate buzzword – the content we marketers put out into this world can either reinforce stereotypes or ideally, can help break them and help more people feel seen, valued, and included. The best part? It's *great* for business. Virji shared an example of how she applied this to her creatives. Also, as an example of the business opportunity, she discussed Rihanna's Fenty beauty campaign.

Virji mentioned that the focus should always be on authentic stories that ring true. As an example, she discussed Jay Leno’s interview of Rita Wilson. Wilson discussed the movie ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding.’ She knew it would be popular with the Greek community, but then was surprised how widely it resonated. Virji credits that success to having a story about a specific community that had universal truths, so everyone could see themselves in it. “I totally have an aunt like Aunt Voula,” she said.

Lessons (with stories) from people she collaborated with

Virji also shared lessons she learned from the people she collaborated with.

The best performing marketing can come from aligning with Sales folks

via Drayton Bird, Director of Drayton Bird Associates

Virji said that Bird has been a mentor to folks like Rory Sutherland, and she considers him one of those fathers of advertising and direct response marketing. She shared a story of Bird's about how they pretended to be a prospective customer, rented out a flat, and then turned the salesman's pitch into what would be top-performing content that remained unbeaten for over a decade.

Make the case for resources on a project to get leadership buy in

via Brinda Mehta Malvi, VP of Product at Everly Health

Virji shared how Malvi’s advice helped her turn a broken relationship with her manager into him becoming a huge sponsor and advocate of her work, including allowing her to take a small program and turn it into a global, X-segment, X-functional behemoth.

If someone sends the elevator down for you, then it is your responsibility to send that elevator back down and lift others

via Wil Reynolds, VP of Innovation at Seer Interactive

Virji calls Reynolds – along with Rand Fishkin – her ‘Oprah,’ since just as Dr. Oz, Rachael Ray, etc. all went on Oprah's show and then were able to go out and build huge solo careers too, so too did Reynolds and Fishkin do that for her. They gave Virji’s career a huge start, put her on the map, and then championed her throughout. And then Reynolds gave her the best advice that she follows to this day to sponsor and lift others up.

As a result of his teachings, Virji has long been a highly active mentor and sponsor, which has been one of the most rewarding things she does.

To find her public speaking style, Virji focused on speakers she was really drawn to – Avinash Kaushik, Joanna Lord, and Paul Corkery – to determine what they were doing that made them such good speakers. She wasn’t trying to copy them, she just wanted to understand effective tactics.

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Not ready for a listen yet? Interested in searching the conversation? No problem. Below is a rough transcript of our discussion.

Purna Virji: Daniel. Like most things I learned in my life, the very hard, difficult school of hard knocks. I am the valedictorian and sadly, doesn't make things easy. But I never forget a lesson once I've learned to, you know, one of my previous jobs, I got hired and I was told to go out and, you know, sort of engage with different customers.

At one point, I was finding myself doing like 8 to 12 customer engagements every single week. And I'm like, I am spending just ridiculous amounts of money, like flying and traveling everywhere and repeating the same thing time and time again and what is it or what is it doing? And we were no doubt well loved, well liked, but our our team couldn't sustain the funding because we couldn't show really results.

At the end of the day.

Intro: Welcome to how I made it. In marketing from Marketing Sherpa, we scour pitches from hundreds of creative leaders and uncover specific examples, not just trending ideas or buzzword laden schmaltz, real world examples to help you transform yourself as a marketer. Now here's your host, the senior director of Content and Marketing at Marketing Sherpa Daniel Burstein, to tell you about today's guest.

We've been, you know.

Daniel Burstein: Too much. You know too much. Now, I'm not reading dialog from a spy movie. I mean, in your role as a marketer, you know too much about your product or service or whatever you're asking your customer to do, and it makes it harder for you to see your advertising and your conversion funnel through the customer's eyes. Or as my next guest put it in her podcast guest application, be mindful of the curse of Knowledge, which could also make a pretty good movie title, maybe a mystery.

You're to share the story behind that lesson, along with many more lessons filled stories, is Purna Verjee, the principal consultant of Content Solutions at LinkedIn and author of the book High Impact Content Marketing. Thanks for being here, Brenna.

Purna Virji: Thanks for having me, Daniel. I'm excited.

Daniel Burstein: Let's take a quick look at your background so people understand who I'm talking to you. Way back when you start out, you were a producer of Student Voices on PBS TV, which is at the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. So start in content very, very young. You've been, among other things, director of communications for Pet Plan, Pet Insurance, North America.

You've been a senior manager of global engagement at Microsoft. And for the past three years, partner has been at LinkedIn, where she is now principal consultant of Content Solutions. I mentioned LinkedIn and Microsoft, two separate organizations. But of course, LinkedIn is owned by Microsoft. And fun fact, Microsoft recently surpassed a $3 trillion market value and LinkedIn recently crossed 1 billion members.

Her herself. Yes. Congratulations, partner herself. She functionally manages a global cross-functional team of six teams. So give us a sense, what is your day like as principal consultant of Content Solutions, Working with that team?

Purna Virji: Well, I am. I have the good fortune of being able to lead the customer science, which is the org that I sit in under LinkedIn. Our flagship customer empowerment program. So I get to work with incredible teams such as SEALs or Insights or B2B Institute, and to create a global program that helps educate, empower and uplift our customers and prospects on LinkedIn.

So most of my day to day is just getting ready for the next season as we're creating these, like live events with a follow up or a meeting with sales to understand some of the challenges here and a little bit more about what customers see. And then just connecting with my team and hearing their incredible, brilliant ideas that we can put into play to drive more impact for our audiences.

Daniel Burstein: I always think that's a fun place to be in an organization where you can hear directly from customers, isn't it? Cause I mean, there's all these people working the organization or building this thing. They don't always know what's going on, but you get you get to hear from these customers every day. It sounds like.

Purna Virji: I make sure I find a way to hear from customers, whether it's directly through like 1 to 1, one to many engagement with customers or whether it's working with sales and, you know, actually living the sales and marketing alignment and best practice advice to hear like, what are you hearing? Like what are the biggest questions about, you know, the people you talk to have, What are the concerns?

How are they thinking about approaching that marketing? And that once you hear from customers, once you hear from sales, that you're as a marketer, are your pitches, your content, they practically write themselves?

Daniel Burstein: That's awesome. Well, let's we're going to unpack your career. Thanks for letting us go through it to see how you got to where you are today, and most importantly, to see what our audience can learn from it. So first, let's take a look at some lessons from the things you made. I've said before, you know, I've never been in another industry.

I've never been like a podiatrist or an actuary, but one great one thing is marketers, as we get to make things their first lesson is I mention this in the open. Be mindful of the curse of knowledge. It sounds scary. What is the curse of knowledge and how did you learn this lesson?

Purna Virji: So the curse of knowledge is a legitimate cognitive bias where it just indicates that once you know something, you assume either everyone knows it or you can't fathom somebody else not knowing it. And when that happens, when you're overestimating somebody else's level of awareness and interest, that's where balls are likely to get dropped. And it can be something as small as.

I'll give you an extra example. I was putting together a brand new cross-functional team, a little project team on something I was working on. It was global. I came within a decade of working global experience and I was working with some folks who were, you know, newer and eager to have this experience but maybe hadn't done it before.

And the first thing I was seeing is that, this is your sort of and this is your you know, we were going through the the rapid, the the regime or whatever you prefer, like the scope and one of the asked of them was, hey, don't forget for next week, can you please take the lead on setting up this meeting with these four people, all of whom were based in different time zones.

And to me, I'm like, okay, it's just setting up a meeting, an outlook. It was such a cross of knowledge thing where because I've done it for so long, it never occurred to me that somebody who hasn't and then it was just led to like some silly mistake, not even a mistake. It was my fault as a leader for not setting up my team for success.

In that case, where they set up a meeting that was, you know, middle of the night for some people on a holiday for some people. And it just led to some chaos later. And so it's just one of those things that if you think you know something, make sure that there's clarity. And the reason I bring it up, both from a leader point of view, is, you know, don't give your team an necessarily stumbling block.

They just double check that even if it's something as simple that I learned was like, So what's your next step for setting that up? And you can almost hear from them like how they're planning and then you can coach and help make sure that they feel very set up for success. But if we don't do this in every single day, on every approach that we do, what happens is we'll go out with content that will just alienate our audience.

And I've seen that happen. I was trying to do a session that was all about measurement, which again, we have subject matter experts there. I brought them in and, you know, going very, very deep in something that was very new to me at the time. So I just deferred to the subject matter experts. And then what I realized was so many acronyms thrown in there were some stuff that just actually lost the audience.

I saw that in the feedback after with this went above our heads. And so I'm like, such a good lesson. Like ask the questions. Even if you think it's a, you know, dumb question or it makes you feel weird, just just ask the clarifying question. It's like the break it down for me or explain this to me like a five year old.

And that can be the most empowering thing you can do for your team and for your audience. I advocate for them.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah. So. Well, first of all, when you mentioned time zones, it's so funny. I mean, that's one thing I've noticed to people new to a global organization. The other thing, they don't do the curse of knowledge. They don't want the time zone. They don't even think of that. They're like, minute two. And it's like, well, wait a minute.

Like there's people from like three different time zones who's 2:00? Like, Yeah, but so I want to talk about the curse of knowledge, too. So I love your example. That's very impersonal. What do we do? How do we overcome the curse of knowledge when it's something where we're not directly interacting with a customer? For example, our digital experience is our apps or our website.

You know, Is there anything that you found in your experience to help overcome that? Because one example I can think of, we're working with a nonprofit organization, actually the parent organization, Marketing Sherpa Labs, which is where we have something called the conversion your stick. And it kind of the whole idea is to help to start to help overcome the curse of knowledge, to look and to see like, Hey, are you looking at these factors on your landing page?

Overcome them. And it was a marketing leader at a nonprofit organization, and they did a lot of AB testing and they had a pretty good flow and conversion funnel and stuff. And it was the end of the year and one of the executives called him up to his office and said, Hey, I'm trying to donate on the website and I can't figure out how.

And get Curse of Knowledge. As marketing director, he knew the flow backwards and forwards. He's tested all different ways. He's like, What? It's right here. So obvious. And then but seeing that, you know, executive kind of struggle through, figuring out where it was, you know, the light bulb went off in his mind of something he hadn't noticed before.

Right. So I guess that's one way of saying anyone on the, you know, listening, it's this is difficult. We're all facing it. It's just human nature when you know something so well. So for you personally, I like when we're talking about maybe a digital experience where we can't directly interact with our audience. How how have you overcome the curse of knowledge by, you know, trying to learn from them?

Purna Virji: So there's three things that I do to help overcome that. So the first thing I will do is, one, make sure that any time that there's any acronyms used, I'll spell it out and then I can almost link it to something like Learn more or More info. Even working when I worked at Microsoft was working with Bing, people were like, PPC, what PPC?

And there's there are new marketers who change disciplines and then like paperclip marketing is not there. They're no, I'm so just spell it out PPC and then maybe link it to something else, avoid jargon, like understand your audiences and how they talk about a subject and speak using their language. So maybe I might want to call it something like this.

you know, just use this tele, which is called leader ads or something, but like, No, let's break it down. Like elevate your presence and do that. And then the third thing I'll do is I aim for my writing to be not higher than a sixth grade writing level. In fact, research time and time again has found that it's a much more inclusive and accessible things to do, because the simpler your message, the easier to understand for most people.

But also if we think about our audiences as people who maybe the language you're creating content in is not necessarily their first language. And so if you use, you know, words like utilize, just switch it to use words like leverage, you know, don't use these like big jargony words. I've tried to use simple live by and that is what can provide a much better friendlier user experience.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, you mentioned pay click. I remember that this was back in the early days of digital marketing, but we were doing something which was audio. I forgot what it was. We got some follow up email from someone asking about pay per click and that person spelled it p a PR people like I've.

Purna Virji: Heard a paper clip as well, that.

Daniel Burstein: Clip.

Purna Virji: And I was like, No, no, no, it's pay per click click. And yes, it's like we assume because we live and breathe it every single day, but our audiences in general are just not paying attention to it with that level of interest, right? They're going about their day like they just does it hit? Does it resonate? No. And so I've always learned like meet people where they're at.

And the example that I always share with my team is that if you're sharing what you do, would you change it If you were talking to like a ten year old versus a fellow marketer? And they're always like, yep, something like exactly. Like try to understand the level of awareness and interest your audience has and meet them where they're at because your content is never about you.

It's always about your audience. And that's such a big lesson that I find that I have to repeat constantly at work or even to follow marketers.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, it's true. And have empathy for lack of a better word. The newbie. I mean, now there is a point where, you know, when you're creating like we're creating marketing content all the time, we're trying to keep getting better and better and just like, you know, impressed at the top level marketer make it, you know, so, you know, amazing for that like really experienced marketer.

And then at one point I rolled out some marketing 1 to 1 content that did the best because, yes, there were a lot of people who just just want to know the basics. And you forget when you're in a certain amount of time, right? You're not you know, as you said, I like this extra level of content, right?

You're looking at like, who's that? Like HD level, right? I want to impress that person versus just not most of your audience, probably for most audiences. But, you know, along the lines of that is making sure you understand what your goal is going in. Why are you creating this content, what you're trying to do with it? And one of your lessons is have a measurement plan in place before even creating content.

So how have you learned this lesson? Have you done this in your career to Daniel?

Purna Virji: Like most things I learned in my life, the very hard, difficult way school of Hard knocks. I am the valedictorian. Sadly, that doesn't make things easy. But I never forget a lesson once I've learned it since. You know, one of my previous jobs, I got hired and I was told to go out and, you know, sort of engage with different customers.

At one point, I was finding myself doing like 8 to 12 customer engagements every single week. And I'm like, I am spending just ridiculous amounts of money, like flying and traveling everywhere. I'm repeating the same thing time and time again. And what is it for? What is it doing? And we were no doubt well-loved, well-liked. But our our team couldn't sustain the funding because we couldn't show really results.

At the end of the day, they're like, you're spending thousands and thousands every single week, every second month, not week, but going around to different places, different customers, flags, working with you, but like, what's the money, what's the revenue impact? And then we actually had our team got downsized and it was such a terrible lesson. And I've always learned that even when I was startup, like one of the biggest things we would do with our limited tiny budget was like, let's just test that.

Let's just test everything like you've heard. So to I'm sure working with, with, especially with what you do with marketing, Sharp is like, these people are like, let's just test that or always be testing. And it's like, No testing has an opportunity cost as well. So you want to be much more deliberate and strategic in your efforts.

There needs to be a clear why. And then I, I tried to make the case for like, I think I could up, you know, our click through rate or I could up this. And my CMO was like, go kick rocks. Like, I don't care because this is just one channel in there like marketing reel. And so I'm like, okay, how I need to get better, like the best way that I can get buy in and support and actually grow a team versus be at risk of shrinkage or, you know, resources.

Being able to go to somebody else is to tie it back to revenue. And so what I did was, let's say if I build a customer engagement program right now, I will first go at like what the like what do we want to do with like, I'm not working in sales, but I'm a cross-functional partner to sales. So my job is to help them drive the customer outcomes that they're looking for.

So for me, it starts with talking to sales and understanding our customers, but like, okay, you said you want us to talk about AB, but like even like account based marketing is you could come at it from a thousand different angles, like it's such a broad or sometimes would be like our customers have questions about measurement. Like what does that mean?

Like what are the actual questions and what questions, if we answered, would drive the most business impact for you. And so now, before we even create any content, I have this whole brief the model and I work with the sales a few sales advisors to help me knock it. I'd be like, okay, we want to talk about account based marketing.

Like what are the big questions that they're asking? What's the core outcome? Because every content we put out, it needs to drive one behavior change, whether even it is like go read something else or go a little further down the funnel or remember us, it's got to have a next step. So I'm like, What's the next step that we're trying to drive?

And so maybe we want people to do an AB test of ABM campaigns or set up a 1 to 1 maybe campaign. Then how will we measure that based on that outcome? And if I have those goals in place, then when I create my content, I have not stored that I can go double check back like, if I include these slides in my deck, does that go back and address our goal?

Is that going to help them? And when we created with that in mind, it's so much easier. It makes it less subjective, it makes it very objective in what I have to create and I can go back and be like, I am doing X, Y, and Z and for each of them, here's the outcome. It's going to drive.

And guess what? I now get so many more people excited on wanting to invest in the content or in my programs and supported and it helps drive a lot more sort of buy in internally as well as it hits the goals that it has to reach. Because we have the clear goal is it a pain in the neck to spend, you know, a few days getting that exactly mapped out before we create content?

Yes. If it so much easier and tempting to just go create the content first, then come back also. Yes. But is it worth taking that time and doing that sort of due diligence beforehand? Hack Heck yes. Like don't do it any other way. Like I wouldn't create content any other way without knowing. Here's what I'm trying to do.

Here's the audience, here's how I'll add value for them. And here's how about add value for me, my business.

Daniel Burstein: So I like where you're coming from, setting those goals ahead of time, having almost a value proposition for what you're creating ahead of time. I totally agree. But you mentioned the measurement having the measurement plan in place. And so the thing I want to ask about, and maybe you can help here is the thing I struggle with forecasting right?

Do you have any stories or examples of how you forecast to kind of get an accurate measurement plan in place or get in the ballpark? Because let me I would struggle with it's something you've never done before, right? So you end up either yourself or you're around a lot of rah rah people who are like, We're going to do this and we're going to do that.

And you forget like, you know, it's our content, it's free, and it'll come to you if you get like, you know, how much content these people are seeing. They're not just going to come to it because it's free, you know? So I like I like to look at historical data. You mentioned testing has an opportunity cost. I agree, but it can help before casting.

These have a pilot or some sort of early test to get a sense of how it's performing, to get a sense of what we can do with that. But it's always a challenge. I mean, it's always been a challenge for me. I'm not a numbers guy. I'm a content person, I'm a writer. I have. So do you have any advice or examples You've, you know, projects you've done before of how you forecast that actual measurement plan, what numbers you're going forward, what numbers you're going to hit?

Purna Virji: Yeah. So of course there is a hypothesis that you build. I'm not saying never test, but make sure your you have a really good reason for why you test. So let's say if I'm forecasting, let's see, I'm trying to build a you know, I'm trying to make the case let's, let's make something up or a machine maybe. Let me give you a more real example.

So in one of my jobs, I wanted to create this new sort of program to educate customers on on something, on a key topic. And then I was like, All right, but this is going to be a one off and it hasn't existed before. How can I go ahead and make my business case? But then I will try to look at how many of our target audience or how many customers would have this issue.

So I could go back and look at that. Hey, a certain amount of calls, certain amounts of support, tickets or anything are coming about this. Then I can look at it on multiple levels. I'm like, What's the upside? Like, if we wanted customers to e test this tactic out or spend more money with us as a publisher, then if they had to test out this new ad format, what is the minimum upside like?

How many customers do we think we could get? We could reach how many could we influence? What's the potential upside to us? So could we get 1% of customers to spend an extra like five K? We passed? And that's almost and you map out that number. So what does 1% of customers multiplied by 50 B Is that the business case?

We can look at precedent from any other similar initiatives where, you know, an initiative that did this, this was the next result of that. So we can extrapolate. I can even go ahead and look at other initiatives that may have happened about the same thing to pitch. So the net net is going to look at how many people you can reach.

What's the potential upside, how much more can we hope to gain, extrapolate it and make sure that you're going to reach that amount of people? And then what is pretty much like the sales, like I like my conversion rate, how do I get them to do that? And then what actually even can I influence? Because sometimes as marketers, we're not always able to drive the conversion and but can we get enough people to be aware and understanding the four step that they take to start with something?

And what's that fourth step going to be? So like, I literally made a business case once for four. I'm trying to the reason I'm stumbling over my words is I want to be careful about confidentiality and not doing anything that might get me in trouble. So that's why.

Daniel Burstein: While you're thinking of that, let me ask you to you know, General, I don't want to say anything private. Also, like, is there a point in there where you pivot based on that data you've gotten so far? Like, you know, so for example, some people say, well, when we do a pilot, right, we'll see the first three months and then we'll see how it goes.

And then, boy, then we'll have like a firm or forecast or is there like, you know, we're just in Germany, we're six months in, what are we doing? Okay, now we can plan our next fiscal year. I'm like, I like, is there a point in there where you're like, like, okay, I had that plan. But now let's circle back to see, like, where I can get a tighter forecast.

Purna Virji: Yes, exactly. So what I would do then is I would do a proof of concept model even before I do a pilot in some cases. But depending on the risk and the resources involved, I'm like, if I know this is going to be something that's global, like many teams, logical, I'm like, Let's start small. Let's do a little proof of concept, because that can also help me get by in a little bit of resources.

And then I will try to set like when am I likely to see the results? And then I'll get even the input from sales on when they think the lifecycle and all of that. So then like 45 or 90 will check if I'm doing that. Well, look at it. What are the key metrics of success? Is it, you know, of course rich sentiment, but like revenue impact tangibly or even behavior change, Maybe they adopted something that they hadn't before, which won't give you direct revenue.

But if they're adopting, like, say, if I were, you know, whatever, like some tag or something like that, that would be great. Then I will do a pilot and then usually the pilot will be a larger scale, but still not a fully rolled out one because I can there's always learnings because it's not just the results, it's also operational efficiencies that you can gain.

So the two things I can influence are the cost of doing business as well. People forget that. That's another metric. So I said that, hey, five different teams globally are doing the same motion, like if we consolidated them and we could stop doing duplicative efforts, but almost put all these minds together on the same workflow, could that work?

And we're like, we don't know, but we can test it. I can do a smart proof of concept with maybe one or two teams. I'm like, We tried this. This is a string worth pulling. Now give me buy in to go do a pilot and I'll go do the pilot if it works. 4590 days, like whatever, I think the measurement will come.

I'll have my sort of KPIs in advance. Like I know I want to try, you know, does this have the legs to reach as many accounts? Does this get a decent enough sentiment response from the audience to make it worth their like? Do they find it valuable and then third would be cost of doing business. Has it helped save sales this time from having to make the same pitch over and over again rather than them just using something that marketing has built to be able to go out to customers and add value if that giving them more time to focus on selling rather than going in and creating decks, etc. that's another one.

Did it help them open new doors or new relationships? Like that's just another like ease of doing business metric and I can find that out through surveys, through to the salespeople, right? It's something super simple internally, like did it help you open doors? Did you find it valuable? Like, would you want this to come back? And if they have, then I'll go in and look at like, this worked well.

Or when we in theory it would have worked like this. But when we executed, we learned that it's actually better to do it this other way. And then I will have a more take all those learnings, bake them in and then we'll have a more go to market that's more broad and generally rolled out to G to use generally available to use the product term.

Daniel Burstein: No, I like that. I like because you know, a lot of people in the working with the B2B sales team, they're just it's just pipe, right? It's pipe it's MQ outside of your body boom. So I like that you're bringing in some other metrics here that we can consider as well. All right. Let's talk about AI. Here's another lesson focusing on inclusion is of absolute critical importance.

So tell us, how did you learn this? What how did you do this in your career partner?

Purna Virji: What It was something that look, I'm not only of women in tech. I'm a woman of color. I'm an immigrant. There's you know, I've been the only one like the double only in rooms. And for all of us, I think we, no matter what sort of place or walk of life you come from, like there's we've all at one point or the other, felt ordered and it's just not a good feeling.

So in terms of just wanting to make it the right thing to do, it's that. But second, there's such a big business upside in doing that. I would say the first thing that really sort of hit that for me in terms of the opportunity available was Rihanna's Fenty beauty campaign, where she this is something that's so well known.

So I know I don't have to give it much explanation, but the entire beauty industry used to you don't really know people with my sort of skin color generally had very limited options in terms of what they could do, like growing up, you know, like the blue makeup and everything, the blue eyeshadow, the far to light makeup, like I'll see pictures of myself at 15 and I'm like, good God, like, what was I wearing?

But it was all that was available at the time. So anyway, she came in and launched, but like 40 different shades of makeup. And in the first like months she made $100 million. I'm like, This is something. Then we saw so many examples, like Walmart when they launched this sweet potato pie. They made so much money like everybody during the holidays, it was all about pumpkin pie.

And then there was somebody who worked in the department that had grown up with eating sweet potato pie. And there was she advocated for it to be there and it just flew off the shelves like we're onto something. And then at Microsoft, they started talking about it a lot. And I actually looked to get educated there. And one of my favorite campaigns that I saw was from X-Box, where they created this adaptive controller and, you know, their commercial, which for it was just the most beautiful one where they're like, if everybody plays, we all win.

And it wasn't just the controllers. They made the controller that was more accessible then people could use it. But then what was super interesting in reading about was how they designed the packaging. So one of the focus groups that they were working with, one of the mothers had actually made the suggestion that, okay, but what about the packaging?

Should we know how it is that to open a pack of scissors? You actually the irony is you need a pair of scissors to cut the back of scissors, right. So like, what do we do? And the three part and re-engineer the packaging so that way it was very accessible, but it didn't stop. That's easy to open for everyone.

Everyone benefited. Like, who wants to keep looking at those clamshells that are impossible to open and wrestle with? And so just these little details then what did you want to be known for? Like all of us in marketing, we may think like, we're just marketers and we have no power. And to do all of this, like, I'm not a maker, so if I can build stuff, I'm not Rihanna, I can build a makeup line or, you know, I'm not Walmart, but we have to think that the words and the imagery that we put out every day, that's what really shapes perceptions and it can reinforce stereotypes or it can't.

I'm going to ask all of you to just do this activity and you don't really have to close your eyes. You don't have to do anything. But if I had to say that, hey, can you just picture these can you visualize these four professions in your head? A CEO, a ballet dancer, a kindergarten teacher, and a pilot? Chances are you pictured the ballet dancer and the kindergarten teacher as female and the other two as male.

And chances are for all four, you pictured people who are fully able bodied, right? And that it's just because that's what we see. That's what we've been subjected to all the time. And imagery like as a plus size woman, if I look at representation in the media, I'm like my the only plus size women that you see in TV or films, they're all like the best friend.

And so I'm like, Hang on a sec. They're like the funny, dorky best friend. Like there's never anything meatier for them. Like, we get stuck in this single story about people, and all of us want to be known for the full aspects of ourselves, right? Not just one aspect. And so that I went down that road and doing a lot of research into like, what can I do?

Like what can I do in my campaigns? And so whether it's the visuals I choose, I want to be really careful that I'm showing a true, accurate representation of the world around us. You know, I don't just have a picture of somebody in a wheelchair and be like, Zach, I'm so accessible because, you know, so diverse because it's not that you don't want to do.

The people see people see the check the box, right? And, you know, you and I had chatted earlier. It's so easy to like poo poo or make fun of something like a Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad or something. But it just that's not what we're thinking. It's like pink every single day, like every piece of content. It's not that much harder to ensure that your the language of the words you use, you know, are able to be read at a sixth grade reading level.

It's so much more accessible or you know, if you are building content offered in different formats now, I even makes it happen. If you're posting a video, make sure there's closed captioning along with it or a transcript below. Right? People have different content consumption preferences as well. So the best thing that you can do is offer what you have to offer in different ways and let people choose the next objection I'll get from people.

It's like, but the opportunity is so small. There's only like a small amount of people might have a disability. And I'm like, Well, if you solve for one, this is a great microsite. This was a microsoft solve for one, you actually solve for many. It's their design principle. And I think that that makes so much sense because if if I add in the closed captioning to my video, it helps somebody who maybe might have a hearing condition.

They can now absorb your content with the words If there's a transcript, same thing. But if I'm on public transport, I don't have my AirPods or something, but I still want to consume that video. There will be closed captioning. I can or sometimes I don't want to sit through the whole like ten minute or 15 minute video. I just want to skim through like I must be a reader.

And so I'm like, I just want the information fast, for example, and others. I like that too. So it makes it easier for everybody to access your content. It doesn't just target that one person in the same way the Xbox packaging didn't just help make it accessible for everyone. We all benefit from easier to open packaging. And so that's something that is truly like very I'm very, very passionate about, you know, I'll try to make sure that I infuse it in things that I put out myself.

If I'm working on the team that will say that, hey, you know, if I'm offering content, let's say in a market like Europe, where there's different countries and different languages, spoken like, Hey, don't forget, did you know that in teams you have the ability to change the language of the closed captioning that you are seeing, right. I'll just will call it out.

So simple, simple, small changes that you make can make a really big difference. Yeah. So I got a lot.

Daniel Burstein: Daniel and I want to dive into this. I got a long question for this because you know this, this is, you know one thing as I mentioned with just how I mean, in marketing, we try to kind of get past the buzzwords, right? And this is a pretty big buzzword. So I want to dive into this. Some of the things you're talking about are generally good accepted principles of making your content available to a lot of different people, right?

Even if you didn't call it inclusion, we would want to do, you know, audio, video, text in different ways, content. But sometimes it's it's a choice that you make in how you put out your brand or how you put your marketing, your advertising. And so I want to ask, can you give us an example of how you learn about an audience to make sure that inclusion comes off as authentic and not exploitative?

I think that's a big challenge because, you know, we're marketers, we know the power of words. I think the challenge with this term, you know, DTI and inclusion itself is unfortunately become politically charged. Right? And so because of that, you know, half the people listening, they're like, yeah, they're turned on. The other half are like, forget it.

You know what I mean? But at the end of the day, by unpacking this, I think we're talking about is what we should do as good marketers. What we should always do is good marketers we're talking about right, is to understand and serve an audience and an audience that is sometimes different from us, right? Even though the water that we're swimming in with DTI is all about politics, right?

Let's get away from that. It's understanding people who are different from us and how can we serve them. And and so I want to get your your your thought on that about how we can be authentic and not exploitative. And that one specific example, while you're thinking, I interviewed Christina martin, executive director of marketing for Chase Auto at JPMorgan Chase and Company on how I made up marketing.

One of her stories was great. Brands consistently tell their story and she was giving example working at USAA and they were working on the VA loan campaign and they were casting for Wounded Warriors. Right? And so one of the key things that key requirements in the storyboard that they had to figure out, they wanted it to be an authentic, real world situation, right?

Because that's what we want to do with a friend like nobody. You know, there's that fine line right between feeling like, I am included in in a company sees me, a brand sees me, I'm being communicated to versus I'm used as a prop, right, or a gimmick or they're just trying to, you know, increase their sales or something like that.

So have you, you know, dealt with that? How do you figure that out to figure out how to about someone who may be different from yourself too, to include them, too to be authentic to their true self, versus again, making them feel exploited, like they're just being sold to.

Purna Virji: 100%. And I think it's the secret and it's it's simple, which doesn't necessarily mean it's easy to do, but it is really simple, which is try to talk to and learn about the different groups you serve. Because sometimes you, me, me going back to the crest of knowledge. So let me connect the two dots. I'll give you a case where we were working with each customer who was it was a cruise line and they were trying to sort of offer up and reach the LGBTQ community.

And so I am not personally of the community, but I'm very much supportive and I'm a big, strong ally. So then me going in with my cross of knowledge between like, I want to make sure like I sound very accurate and I was trying to think about some keyword research for them. Again, this is going back a few years and I remember being like LGBTQ plus cruising was, I thought, the very big key word to use.

And then I just sanity checked it with a teammate on the project as well. And she looked at me. She's like, You know, we don't type like that, right? We would just type gay friendly cruises. And I'm like, my gosh, that's exactly. That's a soul important. I was such a good learning. Were you not for us without us really should be the concept where if you're trying to create something for a certain demographic, they make sure it's very authentic.

And one of my favorite examples is an ad from Cadbury, the Chocolate Company, where they invite loved people of the community. So there it was for Cadbury Fingers, which is one of their like cookie chocolate covered cookie things which shaped fingers in the UK. And they were trying to do a campaign around to encourage people to learn British sign language as one of their sort of corporate campaigns.

They ended up it's a 32nd commercial, but it's so powerful. What they do is they have a girl, a young girl signing and there's closed captioning below, which is sort of for anyone who doesn't speak British sign language to replicate. And in the video the girl is talking about how even in parts of conversation where she's she has deafness.

So she's trying to talk about how is she signing that, you know, being deaf so many times in conversations she'll miss parts, words or sentences that make it harder to keep up. And in the commercial, as they're showing her, telling us this through sign language, parts of the closed captioning are getting covered up by different elements on the screen.

So what we did as the watcher of that ad is it replicated the experience of her missing parts of, the commercial of conversations because of that. And so at the end they were like even if people learned a couple of words, it just makes it such a big difference for us. And it was such a powerful, simple like non preachy non war god.

But it, it almost allowed us to understand and what their lived experiences were like. And then it just made the case that, you know, Cadbury has like pre British sign language lessons and it had won awards, it was super well received. And the creatives behind the ad included folks, you know, members of the deaf community were the ones who actually were part of creating and bringing the ad together.

So that's why it rang so true. Authentically. If we think about a movie example, think about this is going back in time. But my Big Fat Greek Wedding, I'm not sure if you remember that story. Yeah, that's a good movie. So well-loved. And I remember watching this interview with reader who produced a movie on Jay Leno, and she's saying how they were so surprised.

It was a big hit because she literally thought that it would only really be popular. It was a very small movie made on a small budget, and she really thought it would be well received by the Greek American community. But because it was so authentic and it the stories that they told felt so true that so many people could resonate with it regardless like I mean did.

And I'm like, my gosh, I totally have an aunt like on Voula. Like my dad said these things to me. Like we all fell in love with the family. We all related to them just like I'm not Greek by any shape or form, but, you know, we all felt like we knew them or we could relate to an aspect of it.

And so that's what you want your content to do. As your previous guest said, like everything you put out builds your brand, whether it's even if it's a legion campaign, even if it's just a tweet, everything tells the story about who you are. And so everything that you put out, just learn about the audience. Try to bring in members of that community, try to get it there.

And that is what's going to help. Plus, it'll help you avoid, you know, language, potholes. Like there's some you know, communities have had have preferred ways that they want to refer to themselves. And so you can really go back and choose the language and the words that they want to use. That helps to be much more authentic. And there's nothing walk about it because your content, again, it's not about you, it's about your audience.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, I agree. And I think my big Greek wedding example that was that's about finding the universe reality and then as well, right. Yeah that's why it can be powerful is that you know not assuming like okay like this. So this group of people are different from me in some ways. And so I have that challenge and I need to learn about them and serve them better.

But where is that universal reality to where it will be applicable to everyone? So people, you know, our our customers, our audience, that's an important group that we need to learn about. There's also people we collaborate with in our career and we learn from them. And in just a moment, we're going to get to that section of the episode where we find out who Pranav learned from and what she learned.

But first, I should mention that the How I Made It and Marketing podcast is underwritten by McLeod's Institute, the parent organization of marketing Sherpa Mech Labs. I can write your headlines, prop competitive analysis and more based on a methodology built on the results from 10,000 marketing experiments. It's totally free and you don't even have to register for now.

Just go to MEC obs ICOM and start using it. That's NBC, ABC, ICOM to start getting artificial intelligence working for you. All right, let's take a look at the first lesson here from someone you collaborated with. You said The best performing marketing can come from aligning with sales folks. And you learn this from Drayton Berg, the director of Drayton Bird Associates.

How did you learn that from Drayton?

Purna Virji: So Drayton is somebody who's been a sort of like mentor, teacher guide for many, many years. When I was in, I started the same startup that I was working at when the language learning company when we had worked with my clubs. So it's such a such close ties was when I started reached out to Drayton. Now, as he likes to describe himself, he's older than God and he has been a mentor.

He's worked with David Ogilvy. He's been a mentor to folks like Rory Sutherland, So he's really like one of those fathers of like advertising and direct response marketing. I have learned from him over the years, and he was the one that always has said that, listen, copy is just salesmanship in print, right? If you want to be a good marketer, you have to really understand selling because ultimately that's your goal.

Like certainly you can entertain with your content and you can educate with your content, but never forget why you're there and that you're there to sell. And so the best marketers are the ones that actually, you know, don't look at sales and marketing, you know, sales and marketing alignment as the buzzword. They actually live it. And one of my one of my favorite stories that he has told me and I even put this in my book, was about this time where he had worked with this.

It was like a window treatment company and he said that he created this offer, which was the best performing offer that remained unbeaten for like years and years and years, like decade plus and. He was like, how I came up with it was he's like, we were sneaky about it. We we rented an apartment, our flat, as they called it in the UK, and they called the company and asked for them to like send their best salesperson around.

And so he came on thinking that they was talking to a prospect and he was like, you know, he just walked around the apartment asking questions, making good conversation. And then he started, you know, talking to us. And he's like, he did something that was so powerful where he first was like, so we're looking at this.

It's going to be this like exorbitant, like this exorbitant, wildly like eye wateringly expensive quote. And then he's like, the salesman was like, but if you do this, then it'll come down to this. And if you do that, it will come down to that. And he's like, he used surprise, which is a really powerful emotion and like selling and he was able to now bring it down to a price that was still expensive, But in comparison to what was originally quoted was seemed practically reasonable.

And he did that. And so he said my copy that he created for the offer was literally a replication of that salesperson's conversation. How he did that. And, you know, that's what's worked time and time again. You know, if you look at any quote from David Ogilvy, it's like, you know, it's advertising. You're there to sell. Like never forget why you're there, you're there to sell.

And that I think many marketers have this misperception that especially with content marketing, right? It's the newer, newer industry where they're like, we're just here to turn companies into publishing engines or, you know, we can sell in our content or, you know, it's just there to educate or entertain. But no, no, no, you're there. You want to have a clear next step.

You know, it's easy to make a lot of noise, but noise isn't success, right? Success or success of your content has to work and add value for the business. Otherwise, what's the point of putting out random words? And so that was one of the biggest lessons that I learned from Jordan. And since every job wreck Richard's starting from the startups from scale up that I first decade of my career were really like start ups and scale ups.

The second decade of my career is literally like large global enterprise matrix organizations, and it's the same principle has remained true for me, regardless of all of them is asked the same four or five questions to a few salespeople, and you'll have such a huge advantage as a marketer. What I ask them is, Hey, what are you prioritizing to focus on?

Because salespeople there, their salary is not just rate, it's really based on commission as well. And so they know their money, they know what's going to work. So talk to them. What are you focusing on to pitch these topics? What our customers are asking about and what are the most common objections they have, what our questions are asking.

What do you always say that helps you close the sale? You know, who are other competitors that they may be looking at? And then for me, I'm like, Now I have so much information into the mind of the audience. And now my marketing is like, okay, I need to find a way to proactively address this objection, or I know the level of awareness or interest they may have.

So I how to position my copy because I can go anywhere from if I don't, if you don't know you have a problem, then I need to sort of educate like, hey, here's why I, you know, in the nonprofit sector, you need to be paying attention to copywriting tools. For example. Maybe they want to talk about it, or I could come at it from a more like they know about the problem, they know the solution, they just don't know you exist.

Then I could do an awesome post like a real one from a microsoft blog where they said, Here are our product managers who built this product. Let's hear from them firsthand, how they're using it to drive creativity and efficiencies in their day. Right. It's just a different angle of selling that versus if somebody is like really ready to buy, you are short listed, then it's more like the case studies, your social proof.

It's like, look at this, here's what we did to go drive X, Y, Z results. So if you understand this from your sellers about your audience, your content, you can find the right angle, you can find the right approach.

Daniel Burstein: So you mentioned day I so I got to ask, right? You know, so I agree that you talk about like aligning with sales folks and now we've kind of got this new, I don't know, nut sales for a new member of our team, let's say artificial intelligence. Right. And I wonder, how do you use artificial intelligence in your day to day?

What have you figured out? Because Microsoft, boy, that has been the company that has been at the forefront of this. I mean, I mentioned in the beginning $3 trillion valuation, I think 33% increase in revenue or something. A lot of this has come from AI. They've really been early adopters, really push this investments and open and all that stuff.

I'm sure there are some conversations you've had with Sam Altman or whatever that you can share with us and share some secret things. But what can you share? Do you use AI in your day to day? How have you figured out using AI as a member of your team to create content to learn about the customer, what have you?

Purna Virji: I will just caveat that those converse and I really wish I had ever gotten to talk to Sam Altman. But that's that's several levels above my pay grade ideal. And from a completely different department. So I'm very happily selected by Cross-functional Partner content team and. So for me personally, like I am, I've been a big believer, right? Even like working at Microsoft, like it's always about what I can do to empower us to do.

And so, for example, how I personally use it is I've been really loving the Microsoft that the Bing image generator that's been super cool. So I've been having to do a presentation or something recently, or if I'm trying to create some posts for social, I'll, you know, it's so awesome to get, you know, put in a prompt and play around and see what that is, whether it is sometimes using like a app like Hemingway, for example.

I'm like, Listen, this is a big run on sentence, which is one of my weaknesses. And then I would take like four rounds of edits to come back. But I'm like, Let me save my brain. Can you help me condense this very big run on paragraph long sentence into something smaller, like those things like that. But honestly, I'm still learning and I'm still playing around and I'm still discovering, so I certainly do.

I think it has lots of power and potential for sure. And where we are is, you know, it's very nascent and it's for each of us, we're in different stages of our journey. And so I'm excited for what's to come. I mean, certainly things always get worse before they get better. So I'm sure we're going to have to see some kind of tons of sort of low quality content or comments or something going out there too.

But the ones who win will be the ones that prioritize emotional intelligence and then just be able to be more effective with the power of AI. So anyway, I'm still learning is my net net of the answer.

Daniel Burstein: I think that's a great answer for anything in marketing. Right. We're all still there. Yeah. All right. So a lot of we talked about a lot of great things today, but very few of them would be possible without a budget, right? First, we need to get that budget to make them happen. When your lesson does make the case for resources on a project to get leadership, I am learning this from Brenda Mettam.

I'll be the VP of product at Everleigh Health. What did Brenda teach you about how to make that case and get that executive fired?

Purna Virji: So just Brenda is an incredible, a brilliant leader and mine she's worked at like Uber and Netflix and Marta and a whole bunch of companies and building their biggest products that you and I use all the time. And so it was so interesting to learn from her. What I remember going to her several years ago at this point being like I am struggling to make the case.

And that actually was before my tie everything back to measurement and understanding how to tie my marketing goals to business goals. And then one of the biggest things that she taught me was like how to make an effective business case and exact have no time like three or four slides and learn to tie your marketing goals to overall business goals and so then I thought of the best ways to do it because there's so many different ways to do it.

And I actually found the approach from the learning and development industry because I spent a few years working in Ellen and understanding. So within Ellen, there's this concept called backward design, which is when you figure out the behavior change or the learning that you want to like, if I gave a training to these people, like what would they do differently?

And you start with that. So I'm like, I could apply this to marketing to make it a lot more clear. And let's use an example that's easy, that's more broad. Let's see, we were a car company then and we were coming up with a brand new car. Daniel Then our goal would be sell more cars. But so that's the business goal, of course.

But then I'm like, okay, so what's the audience outcome that me as a marketer can drive because I'm not, you know, omnipotent, Like I'm not sales, I'm not going to close the deal, but what can I as a marketer do? So like one behavior change is like, what's the step before they buy a car? If I could get people to come take a test drive in the showroom or even try configure the car on their on the phone up, that could get them one step closer to then talking to a salesperson.

So I'm like, that's the audience outcome. I can drive. And then if I knew the business numbers that, you know, if people do come to the showroom, that's like an X percent conversion rate, all of that, we can go back and, extrapolate into the business impact. And so then for me as a marketer, my final thought stage would be where most people start us, which is who am I talking to now and what do they want to see and where do I reach them?

Because knowing now that I'm trying to get more people to take a test drive of my fancy schmancy new electric car, I'll have a more clear vision. It's like, who is the audience of most likely to come in and take that test drive? Where do they hang out? What do they what interests them? How do we talk to them in the right way?

And so then I can tie my marketing metrics to my business metrics. And so now I can say like this is we're doing this and our ultimate goal is to drive this sort of X million in.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, so I agree. I think that's a great example. So that kind of gets the numbers in and that gets the kind of logical, you know, kind of, yes, you want. But what about the story, too? What about kind of, I don't know, the emotional part, Right. So, for example, we as marketers, you know, we when we think about a value value proposition, we yeah, we think about it externally.

What's a value proposition for our customers? But have you ever crafted or you have an example of crafting a value proposition internally, right? So for example, we publish a template to help marketers get buy in. And the whole point that template was we use the methods value proposition methodology, right? We said, what's the appeal? What's the exclusivity, what's the clarity, what's the credibility?

Not for the customer but for the executive and making that decision. Right? What's the appeal for that executive? Right. How is this exclusively how is this project exclusive compared to other projects they could decide on? Because again, we know marketers use that externally, but sometimes internally we kind of forget to use those skills. We just go to the numbers.

But we you know, we're not content marketing, right? We got that that storytelling ability, that value proposition crafting ability. So for you personally, do you have any example of crafting and communicating an internal value prop to get by in.

Purna Virji: All the time? Every six months? So let me share the template that I use most often. So my slide one, of course, after the cover slide would be, What's our goal? What Our guiding principles for making this fit is like, Here's where we are, here's a current reality, here's a desired reality. And then I'll be like, Okay, so how do we get there?

And then it will be This is how we get there. These are the audiences we're targeting. This is what we're how we're going to measure it, what will be our measures for success. And then I'll walk them through really like this is what we holistically are going to do and target, how will we reach them? And then really just like timelines and then I'll ask for what are the resources, etc. that I need, What's the upside, what's the business case, what's the value, prop, past performance, etc.?

Why does nothing exist? So, you know, like I've identified this gap that is not being filled and so it's like finding the gap or if it is iterating or evolving from something that we've existed, we're like, okay, here's what we've done, Here's what we're able to do so far, and here's what I believe we add on here is the additional amount of revenue impact that we could drive if we did that.

And then here's the sort of case for how many people or how much budget that we have. And the good thing from working the first ten years and startups and scale ups is that I've never had budget. And so a lot of my cases like I, I think one thing I specialize in is just taking two pennies and rubbing them together and making them really look like $100.

And so how do we find those force multiplier? It's like if I'm doing one thing here, where else can I distribute it to get more reach an impact, or who's doing something similar that I can partner with to find win win? And so then I'll also try to make the case for this is how it can be addictive.

Well, here are similar things that exist and here's how we're different here. So what's this new design reality like? Why? What proposal do you have? Why this solution versus what exist? How will you get there? What's the timeline? And then what do you need to make it happen? And if you can just answer these few questions in the slide format, it's super much easier than you think to tell that whole story because it's you answering every single question and you're also putting in the numbers.

Daniel Burstein: Well, you know, one thing you said that really resonated with me was kind of like, why hasn't this been done before? I'm like doing that work and understanding that is really important because the worst thing you can do to an executive internally or to a client externally is you present that great idea you want to do. And they're like, Yeah, we tried it and it didn't work, right?

And so sometimes it's true you want to work on it, but other times it's like, Well, why didn't it work? It's not because of the idea. And I remember we were doing a value proposition workshop once with our home security company, right? And they had this TV commercial and it was just very like kind of funny, jokey, like this burglar comes in hahaha, you know?

And it was trying to get them to like, Hey, we should try something else with the TV commercial. They're like, No, we tested it. It's it's great. And so I was like, okay, let's I'm like, How did you test it? And so when they used the word test, that can mean a lot of things. They were talking about a focus group and it was like, okay, so I could get how a focus group, you know, you're paying them, you recruit them online and all whatever you did right.

And like, okay, this is this is an entertaining commercial. It's a funny commercial. I could get how it would test hi with them. What is that? The target customer is a target customer. Someone who, you know, who's been out of town gets home. His house has been broken into. You know, stuff has been stolen. You know, his he's looking at his family is like, how can I protect them?

What can I do? You know? And then you see that ad, which is this jokey burglar, you know, like, no, like that's that's not really testing. Yeah. So, again, it's understanding. I love that. Okay. Why hasn't that been done before? What you might find out, there's a good reason and I need to pivot. I need to do something differently.

Or too you can find out like, well, they didn't really execute it in the way I'm talking about. And when I present to that executive or that client, they need to understand that difference in how we're executing it and why it didn't work before. Right? So I love I really love that. I don't want to overlook the part of what you mentioned.

Everyone needs to do that. Any time they're going for buying. You really got to understand the lay of the land. But I have one last lesson here. If someone sends the elevator down for you, then it is your responsibility to send that elevator back down and lift others. And you learned this from Will Reynolds, the VP of innovation at Sphere Interactive.

So how do you learn from Will?

Purna Virji: So funny story I always called Will Reynolds and Ron Fishkin, formerly of Malls. Now it's Bob True. I call them both my Oprah. And the reason why is because you know how, Dr. Phil and Rachael Ray and Dr. Oz, like all went on Oprah show Forrest and then went out and got their own shows and have built their own careers and that is exactly what Rand and Will did for me, like going many, many years ago.

Now at this point, you know, a dozen plus years where as your models, as they were called at the time, I was doing this roadshow in Philly, in the city area where I live, and Will and Rand put out this call for local speakers. Now, I literally only raised my hand to speak as a way to impress my boss because they had this whole like being the best like valuation and showing that you're, you know, active in the industry.

And I'm like, look at you, my boss, I'll never get picked. And then I got picked and it was like, holy, like, curse word, curse word, press password. What do I have to do with like, I'm terrified of public speaking. I don't know what I'm going to talk about, but then the end of the day, like they help the provider so much support and guidance.

And I went out and I did this nine minute talk and I was terrified throughout, but it was so good at the end. And then as a result of doing that talk, there was a search engine, which was a big industry publication at that time. They were in the audience and they were like, Do you want to contribute a post or something?

And it got me started. Like they gave me a platform. They empowered others and not just me. So many times they did roadshows everywhere, empowered new speakers, gave them a chance, put me on to speak at on, gave me awesome speaker training will and I have and Randy we've all chatted and become friends through the years and Will's always been this advocate like both of them.

You don't just give somebody a chance, but you really want to invest in them. And he would give me awesome feedback. I remember there was one time I was talking about like a lot of like futuristic stuff, like voice search and I like very early like 2016 and, well, it's like you should, you know, don't talk about this is also applicable like you're going to blue sky like you need to be, you know, more down to earth or do this like he would.

Constructive feedback is such a gift and very few people are willing to do that. And he would do that. They would advocate for somebody like anytime there was a speaking gig, they would recommend me. Right. That's how you you spend your privilege in doing that. And I remember I was sitting in Edinburgh in a pub after an event that actually Rand had introduced me and Will Rand and I read there and I was just like, you know, thank you so much.

This is so awesome. And really had told me this is like personally, like if you were lucky enough to have somebody send the elevator down, you need to make sure you do that. And I've never I've never forgotten that. I'm like, I was super lucky because I've had giants whose shoulders I was able to stand on. How can I repay them best is by giving that opportunity and paying it forward to other people.

So I've been a I love mentoring, I love coaching. I, you know, I will have within Microsoft, I used to run of women in leadership mentoring here. I you know, LinkedIn has a thing called impact in which is, you know, be a mentor for folks from underrepresented backgrounds. Right. It's like, how can I give back? And it's so rewarding.

In fact, I find that to to teach us to learn twice and it's my big motto. Like that was also why when my publisher reached out and Google Page reached out and said, Do you want to write a book on content marketing aimed at practitioners, I'm like, my gosh, yes, because I have a graduate school of hard knocks.

If I can save somebody those hard knocks and learn in a much less painful and stress less stressful way, and that's what I'm going to do.

Daniel Burstein: Yeah. So I like how you said use that analogy. How will Reynolds and I guess Ryan Fishkin was your Oprah and how about gave like Dr. Oz and Rachel Ray those opportunities? And I wonder, like, what have you learned from like seeing Oprah, Dr. Oz and Rachael Ray that has affected your content? I wonder if there's anything there.

Because one thing for me, like as content marketers, you know, I think we make a mistake if we just look at the marketing industry, if we just look at other content marketers. One place I really look is other creators. I mean, for me it's STEM comedians. I love that. I think we can learn a lot there. I mean, see them again, like you said, Oprah, Dr. Oz, Rachael Ray.

I mean, there's probably a lot of lessons we can learn, actually. But I just wonder if, you know, you threw those names out there. Was there anything you saw from them that has affected how you've created content?

Purna Virji: so much because I love that you said that because we can always learn very often on working out with a see with the customer in a certain industry, and they'll be like, just show me like a best in class examples of other people in our industry. I'm like, But if they're all terrible, like, why do you want to learn that?

Like, you know, you may think you're in a completely what do you want to do?

Daniel Burstein: What they're doing there you can see.

Purna Virji: Something, you know, find a different way to stand out. But I worked in pet insurance, for example. I'm like, I'm not just going to look at other pet companies and how they talk to it. Like, let me go look at how a pet food company or a pet toys company is going out because they're still reaching the same audience, but they are coming up with creative, fun ways.

Or forget that. Look at how we're going to look at how Microsoft. Look at how a big company look at STEM. Rush, who is doing awesome content. You can learn from them. That's always transferable skills and learnings that you can take. And so, for example, when I was trying to improve my public speaking skills, I tried to I hadn't found my public speaking style.

It took me a while to find it. And what I did was I observed different speakers who I really enjoyed watching and I'm like, What is it that they do that I really like? What draws me to them? And my goal is not to copy them, but maybe if I can figure it out. So I was like, Avinash Kaushik from Google, formerly, right?

He was the Google Analytics evangelist. I'm like, Avinash makes it funny. He does stories like he'll use words like sexy while talking about data, like he'll make it so compelling and relatable and fun or I looked at Joanna Lord, who's the who is the CMO right now. She talks like a very humbly and with like passion and com or you know, this one of the different styles and then I can find mine I'm funny advice that well not funny per se it was just unusual advice that I got was from one of my former coworkers at Microsoft called Paul Corkery.

Paul was like, you know, Purna, go and watch these like evangel, like preachers and ministers go out and talk because they're so compelling and how they speak that look at how they command the stage. It's like, doesn't matter if you believe in the religion or not. Like literally just watch how they tell their story and do that. And that's been you can learn something from everybody.

And so definitely to go out and look and learn and don't limit yourself to just your competitors and your little bubble because your chances are like, if I am nation wide, maybe some prudential who's going to, you know, steal my chunk of business is probably some incumbent. Maybe it's like a lemonade that's coming out and speaking to a millennial audience.

For example. Right.

Daniel Burstein: Well, you know, it's funny you say that because what you most software companies call the people that go out there and speak on their behalf, right? Yeah.

Purna Virji: Evangelists.

Daniel Burstein: So yeah, exactly. You know, that's what they got. So our journey, we've covered a lot of different things. Thank you for letting us unpack your career. What about what it means to be a marketer? If you had to break it down, what are the key qualities of an effective marketer in your opinion?

Purna Virji: One is a let me give you three. So one is a desire to always be learning like, you know, never be a know it all the the whole learn the learn it all mindset growth mindset is absolutely important to. Genuinely care about your audience. And I know it sounds so trite, but if you really put in that effort, then you will care about the little details.

And if you care about the little details during execution, not during planning, that's a different story. But plan while you're thinking big. But when you execute, care about little and that way the overall end result will be awesome. And the third one is like, think strategic, like understand the business. Don't just be a niche expert in marketing, but really understand how the business works, where the business is at, what are the key drivers that you know, the overall corporate, you know, whatever organization that's trying to drive and then see how you can map back because you have a lot more power than you realize as a marketer, you know, you may feel like you're in

a silo creating the blog or working on the SEO on the side. Give yourself a bigger seat on the table. Understand what different marketing teams are working on. Understand what different like product or biz dev teams and you'll be 100 X more successful.

Daniel Burstein: Well, thank you for caring about the how I made it and and the audience and sharing your career with us and everything you learned.

Purna Virji: Thank you for having me. This was so much fun. The time just flew by.

Daniel Burstein: Absolutely. And thanks to everyone for listening.

Outro: Thank you for joining us for how I made it. And Marketing with Daniel Bernstein. Now that you've gotten inspiration for transforming yourself as a marketer, get some ideas for next marketing campaign from Marketing Sherpa Sherpas, extensive library of free case studies at marketing Sherpa dot com That's marketing SRH, ERP Ecom been.

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