Morgan DiGiorgio, SVP of Sales and Marketing at DirectMail2.0, was featured on this episode of the Content Strategies podcast called “Cracking the Code: Unified Sales & Marketing Revenue Strategies.” Thanks to host Steve MacDonald of B2B Marketing Perspectives for inviting Morgan to share her unique perspectives and successes at sales and marketing. Enjoy the video and transcript!
Steve MacDonald: Welcome everyone to the B2B Marketing Perspectives Podcast. I’m Steve MacDonald, your host. And we’ve got a really special treat today because we have Morgan DiGiorgio on.
Morgan is the SVP of Sales and Marketing at a MarTech company called DirectMail 2.0. And here are a couple of things that I’m just going to give you as a pretext for what you’re going to hear today. Not only is Morgan overseeing sales and marketing, but Morgan gets to decide, if I was going to run sales and marketing together, how would I do that?
And there’s so much talk in the industry about the friction between marketing and sales. But how would you do it if you had the opportunity to run both marketing sales together? We’re going to hear that from Morgan today. But also, Morgan, you’re going to talk a little bit about the irony in your business model, right? And how that plays into a marketing and sales strategy that you use in the company. So with that as a crescendo, maybe tell us a little bit about yourself beyond that brief introduction.
Morgan DiGiorgio: Sure. Thank you for having me, Steve. I’m really happy to be here. To expound on my background, I have over 18 years of professional experience in various business sectors, where I’ve been positioned in several leadership roles, whether sales, marketing, operations, or ownership. I am a co-founder of a technology-based medical group, but I have had the opportunity to play the oversight role of sales in conjunction with marketing in a couple of different industries.
So I’m pretty well versed in that regard. And I’m happy that I also get the opportunity to do that in this organization.
The irony of selling online to offline
Steve MacDonald: I’m dying for you to tell us all about kind of this irony in the business model, right? What does that mean?
Morgan DiGiorgio: Sure. So there’s historically been a proverbial tug of war, so to speak, between offline and online channels, right?
Whenever we’re approaching a client as a marketing company, or if there are different marketing agencies vying for those marketing dollars or budget from a client, we’re always trying to talk them into putting more budget into what we are selling, right? Maybe that’s direct mail, which is offline, or maybe we’re talking about digital.
So we are a technology marketing automation company that sells digital marketing to printers and mailers. So we don’t actually print or mail anything. Typically, digital marketing is a big no-no in the print and mail industry because these print and mail sales reps are always vying for the same marketing dollars that the digital agencies are.
So it’s so ironic that we not printing or mailing anything. We work within an industry that typically does not like their clients to utilize digital marketing, but they buy a license to resell a digital marketing product to their direct mail customers.
Steve MacDonald: That is a really interesting challenge, right? Going into a market that’s predisposed not to want to do what you’re selling. Sign me up for that sales job. So that then lends itself to, okay, if that’s kind of the state of the industry and the challenges, the irony of what you’re trying to do there, tell us a little bit about how you bring marketing and sales together.
Building the business through content
Steve MacDonald: And, I’ll say that was something you said before we started the recording here. And it was about how content was how you started and grew the business. So, with that intro, I’ll let you take it from there.
Morgan DiGiorgio: Well, so in telling my story about the irony of our organization, its inception, our target market, our ICP, and what it is we’re selling to them. When we started this organization, we started to create and market content that was relevant to offline marketing. We started talking about how affluent and effective offline marketing is, which is the complete opposite of what it is that we’re selling.
We’re selling digital marketing, but we are selling digital marketing to integrate with direct mail to make direct mail better. But in order to be able to capture our audience’s attention, we had to go out there and be cheerleaders for direct mail. And so we started creating content that was putting out statistical information about the effectiveness of mail.
Not digital, right? We sell digital marketing. You would think that we would be going out and talking about how effective digital marketing is. And this is why you should want to buy and resell our platform. But we were talking about the efficacy of mail and what a powerful tool mail was. And it started to grab the attention of the print mailers that would potentially be a customer of ours.
Steve MacDonald: So grabbing their attention is what you have to do, right? And what are typical companies doing, talking about your product or technology that you’re representing, right? We know a lot about that. We’re subject matter experts who can talk about that all day. And obviously, as soon as somebody knows, they’re going to want to buy, right?
So it’s easy for marketing to produce a lot of product marketing level content, right? But what you’re talking about is the epitome of saying that I need to serve my audience first and foremost. I need to educate my audience. I need to let them know I understand their industry and let them know that I actually understand that in a way that I have a point of view that adds value to what they’re doing.
What is a marketing powwow, and why does it work?
Steve MacDonald: So tell us about the marketing powwows you did, what that was, and how that worked. Throughout the conversation here, we’re going to constantly be connecting marketing and day-to-day sales activities because what you were just talking about could have been put into the category of lofty, brand thought leadership, add value, takes time, right?
We need to have patience, but you are doing all of that: building your brand, establishing expertise, and getting into conversations. And that content is used very specifically in the sales group on a daily basis. So you’re not talking about doing something that we’ve got to wait a couple of years to benefit from.
You’re talking about something that is hitting all stages of the buyer’s journey. So these marketing powwows, sorry.
Morgan DiGiorgio: Oh yeah, no worries. Well, so we’ve always tried to seek ways that we could really be of service to the industry or ways that we could just be helpful in general, not just to our existing customers, who we call partners, but to the industry as a whole, anybody in the print and mail industry.
And the industry has suffered significant challenges over the last few years. Several businesses did, especially post-COVID, but the print and mail industry suffered some significant impacts for a couple of different reasons. One of the first things to go during an economic downturn typically is marketing, which I feel that you should be out marketing everybody else in an economic downturn due to all the opportunities available to you at that time.
But, people perceive print and direct mail to be more expensive than digital, so they had a more challenging time as their customers were pulling back on budgets. Not to mention the fact that we had supply chain issues, and they didn’t have the ability to get paper. So even if a customer wanted to run a direct mail campaign, they couldn’t even get the paper to fulfill it.
They were getting hit from all angles. And this is actually carried over even into today’s current time and space. In addition to that, USPS was in such a larger deficit than in addition to them not being able to get the supplies they needed to be able to fulfill their jobs. USPS keeps increasing the cost of postage, which is adding costs on top of everything else.
So they’ve just been getting pummeled with so many different challenges in the industry, but during COVID, when they were experiencing quite a significant amount of pain, we thought to ourselves from a marketing perspective, why don’t we put together a venue or forum where people in the industry can get together and they can share the challenges that they’re experiencing.
All of them, being their own subject matter experts, can share the solutions that they’re implementing within their organization. Hey, this is where I’m getting the paper. Hey, I have a resource here. And we called it a print powwow. Now that was the marketing element of it. I mean, we were not garnering any type of revenue from that.
It wasn’t a sales webinar. We were facilitating something to be of service and helpful so that everybody could get together and share solutions. Now, from a sales perspective, we were able to take that content that was shared, and we were able to have our sales reps either take that to our existing partners that they’re working with, so our account managers, and they could share that information if they didn’t have an opportunity to join, or they could take these little tidbits of information, and they could utilize it in the prospecting process.
I don’t know if you’re aware we’re running these print powwows. Some really useful and valuable information was shared. I thought that I would share it with you here and try to open the door to extending that conversation or prolonging that sales cycle.
A new way to be a thought leader
Steve MacDonald: So the way that you can take content like that and extend its value.
Tell me, though, in one aspect, what do you think that did? You were the facilitator, right? So you weren’t the subject matter experts. You were the facilitator of this. But what did that have in terms of an impact on your perception as experts in the industry?
Morgan DiGiorgio: Oh, well, it definitely was another notch on our belt in terms of positioning us as a thought leader in the industry, and we do tend to go out and seek resources so that we can provide solutions or things that we will help overcome those challenges.
So we did provide a little bit of our own input that we had garnered or gathered from our own resources within the industry. But it was just another, like I said, notch on the belt, so to speak, that really helped solidify us as a thought leader in the industry. We’ve done several things to try to expound upon that, whether it’s formulating relationships with the United States Postal Service.
Now, again, we don’t print or mail anything. Why would we have a relationship with the United States Postal Service? Well, we’ve created these relationships with some of the very high-level leaders in the organization so that we can build technology and create solutions that align with some of the challenges that they’re experiencing in the industry.
For example, we’re experiencing postage increases twice a year. It’s getting harder and harder for our customers to want to pay for direct mail because you keep increasing the cost of postage. We can’t get paper. The cost of paper is so high. So we go out and create technology that aligns with postage incentives that USPS rolls out so that these mailers and their customers can use our platform. Send out mail and take advantage of postage discounts.
Or maybe we’re on the board for the Postal Customer Council, and we make sure that we’re in the know of all of the intel going on in the industry so that we can pass that along to other print mailers, or we can utilize that internally so that we can put together marketing pieces or sales products; sales prospecting or sales outflow cadence. And we’ve just interwoven ourselves in the industry in almost every aspect we can.
Steve MacDonald: So smart. So these are typically things that some maybe C-suite leadership in companies would say, that’s not our core competency. That’s not what we do.
Here’s my takeaway from what I’m hearing you say is you have digital services that you’re providing that enhance the services of the direct mailers, the printers that you serve. You’re creating a whole second value proposition behind the product you offer, which is the service component, right?
That is the knowledge, that is the expertise, that is the advice, that is your brand, right? You do that through content, and then that content is sliced into various sizes, bite-sized pieces, and shared on a daily basis through sales.
That aligns with, I have to tell you, because it’s so exciting. I have a call with a CEO tomorrow, but he’s the CEO of two international companies and was a CMO at his previous company. And the whole idea was, what do CEOs want from their CMOs? And this number one thing that he said was exactly what you’re doing. He said, “I want my CMOs to add value that we provide from our company.”
Service first mentality: don’t tell me, show me
Steve MacDonald: That could be value from the actual product itself, right? It can be value and how you serve. And you had told me that you have a point of view of a service heart. You aim to look at how I serve my customers and prospects. Because if I do that, then everything else falls into place.
Morgan DiGiorgio: 100%. No one likes a salesman. They can smell a salesman from a mile away. Nobody likes that. But when you go about your sales cycles, you’re putting yourself in a position where you can be helpful and help your prospects, which will initiate a conversation that will get their attention.
And I just want to say one other thing, too, is that we can say any person or any organization or anyone can say that they care about their audience, or you can put a CEO on some YouTube video dressed up in a suit talking about how much he cares about his customers and the organization, and that’s great.
It’s one thing actually to say something, but it’s another thing to take action and actually do it. Don’t tell me what you are or what you like, or what you care about. Show me. Go out and do it. And when you do that, you will initiate an element of attraction within your organization that will just help your marketing and sales funnels tenfold.
Sales and marketing content alignment
Steve MacDonald: Now you’re SVP sales and marketing, you have that point of view. What are you saying to the marketing department to fulfill that promise? And then what are you saying to the sales department? And potentially together to tell us a little about how you train your teams to deliver on that promise.
Morgan DiGiorgio: Sure. So, I mean, from a marketing perspective, right? I mean, there are numerous things that we could be doing as an organization, right? But I tell them that I want our marketing efforts to align with our organization’s core values and how we’re serving the industry and positioning ourselves as a thought leader.
So what events can we go to that we can add value, not just go there and do a sales presentation and talk about our company? Where can we go and provide some educational content? Maybe we throw in a piece here or there about our organization or our tech stack, but I want speaking events that are educational in nature.
I want content going out that is educational in nature. We do a webinar series on a monthly basis. We, of course, here and there, do a webinar series that talks about our product and our service offerings. But for the most part, we ask the industry, Hey, what are you guys interested in hearing about? And we’ll go out, find experts in the field, and put on a webinar that doesn’t have anything to do with DirectMail 2.0, just so that we can provide educational contact.
And then, from a sales perspective, we utilize this content. We share it with them to follow up with our sales prospects, whether in the channel. And how can we help you implement this in your organization? And then, from a prospecting cadence, Hey, I would really love to share this information with you. And can we have a conversation about this?
Steve MacDonald: Yesterday, I was talking to a gentleman, and he founded and runs a marketing attribution company. So he’s all about tying marketing and attributing it to how it influences pipeline development and revenue. And from across all of their clients, he said, on average, from the first touch point to a closed sale is 192 days, six and a half months.
And then he says it can be a year in a more core ABM environment, right? So your sales team is in a situation where I don’t know your average deal closing rate. You don’t have to talk about that, but it’s long. So your salespeople are constantly having to think, how do I keep in touch?
Steve MacDonald: And it can’t be through a sales message. Every touch point, I’m taking from what you’re saying, is also building their credibility as an advisor, as a server, somebody who’s there to help. And he said the first touch points, the first series of touch points, have nothing to do with the company.
Steve MacDonald: Agreed. Agreed. And that’s what you’re echoing here. Yeah, but you’re actually executing it, right?
Morgan DiGiorgio: Sure. I mean, think about it. How many emails do you get a day that you just delete, delete, delete, delete? You know, Hey, just checking in with you. Hey, I just wanted to follow up. That’s not going to get anybody’s attention.
But, Hey, we put together this 14-page white paper with a ton of relevant content and data that I think is viable and useful for your organization and something that might be used as a sales tool to pass along to your clients. Hey, I thought I’d share this with you. Do you have some time where we could review this? That’s impactful. That is going to get somebody’s attention.
Steve MacDonald: This is our mantra or point of view that we stole from a Forbes magazine article. Somebody else said it very eloquently. And it was that content marketing solves problems. Thought leadership sparks conversations, right?
So you’re going to spark a conversation when you’re serving someone. And it has to be worthy. That content has to be worthy of them saying, I’m going to spend my time. reading this or watching this, or attending that event. So I’m dying to ask you this question because I ask it at every podcast episode that we do.
Content is a must-have 10
Steve MacDonald: And I think I know what the answer is going to be by what you’ve been saying here, but if you could rate, literally put a rating of 1 to 10 on the importance of content and the overall success of your company, the overall growth and success of the company, 1 not important at all, 10 it’s vital. Where would you put it? Why?
Morgan DiGiorgio: It’s a 10 before you even start marketing or sales funnels. All you do is put out content. That’s first. It’s first and foremost, it’s content. And then, you inject the content between the sales and marketing collateral you’re sending out. So it’s one of the most important things.
Steve MacDonald: And would your sales team, if I individually called up and I was talking to somebody in your sales team, and I said, what’s the importance of content into what you’re doing and how effective it is as a salesperson, what do you think they would say?
Morgan DiGiorgio: I would say that they would say it’s a 10. Now, in all fairness, they are marketing and sales consultants. And so they’re marketing experts. So they are going to say it’s a 10 because they’re knowledgeable about that. But they’re selling a Martech solution, in all fairness. But they understand that as a core competency within the organization’s marketing and sales funnels.
And they know how important it is. And my sales team heavily relies upon us to put out that content marketing so that they can take advantage of it on their sales lines. So without it, they would be screaming at me. Hey, where’s our marketing? Where are our leads? What are you guys doing over there?
They wouldn’t be very happy when you were talking about sales versus marketing.
Steve MacDonald: Well, I think this is a tribute to you running both organizations because, as a B2B industry, the stats are that over 55%, almost 60% of thought leadership content that B2B buyers don’t think adds any value. And really almost 60% of sellers say that the marketing content that they’re getting from marketing doesn’t have any value. So that’s the industry. That’s the foundation that we’re talking about here.
And I can’t tell you how many times, as a fractional CMO, I’ve been in organizations where they are literally second-guessing the value of what we are getting out of our content work.
Morgan DiGiorgio: Well, you know, not to toot our own horn here or anything, but I think that statistics and numbers get people’s attention, and what I’d like to share is that the entire foundation of our organization from the infancy stages until now was created around this content marketing strategy and approach and positioning ourselves as thought leaders within the organization, and we have had 152% three-year growth.
We’ve had double-digit growth over the last three years. We’ve been on the Inc 5000 for the last three years and started in 2016. And as you continue to grow as an organization, it becomes more and more challenging to maintain that type of growth. So, from a revenue and growth perspective, I would say that it’s working quite well for our organization.
Takeaway: work together
Steve MacDonald: So one of the last questions that I want to ask here is, we’ve talked about a lot, and yeah, pretty amazing the results that you just articulated to us. If you were going to say, here’s the one takeaway, if you’re running marketing in your organization, you’re working with sales.
You’ve got to talk to the CFO about what you’re doing, right? You’ve got to say to your CEO, this is why I’m doing what I’m doing, right? What’s the one piece of advice, the takeaway that you’d want us to have?
Morgan DiGiorgio: Yeah, I think that it’s just so important that you’re having these conversations with the other departments within your organization because I could see how if I was only managing marketing, I might have the ability to get tunnel vision, right?
I’m employing the best practices for marketing from my standpoint and what I think is going to be effective overall for the organization. But I think it’s so important to kind of take your marketing hat off and talk to that VP of sales or have some conversations with some of the sales reps, ask their opinion, ask them what they think would be valuable, and really just take yourself out of that so that you can get that feedback and start employing some of that into your marketing funnels.
Steve MacDonald: Yeah. I’ll give you my one-sentence takeaway from this whole thing when you said that if I weren’t doing that, sales would scream at us.
Morgan DiGiorgio: Yeah. I mean, yes, they would be unhappy.
Steve MacDonald: I think that’s every CMO here saying, I want my sales team screaming for the content I’m creating to help and serve them. That is overall serving our clients.
And so very valuable insights. Morgan, if people had questions and they wanted to get ahold of you, would LinkedIn be a good way to do that?
Morgan DiGiorgio: Absolutely. Sure.
Steve MacDonald: Okay. Fantastic. We’ll ensure that’s up on all the recordings and everything. This is going to go up online, and just thank you for sharing your insights like your print powwows.
You have literally just done a powwow and shared it with the rest of the community, and that’s what this podcast is all about. So thank you for coming on today and doing all of that.
Morgan DiGiorgio: Yeah. Thank you so much for the opportunity. It’s been a pleasure.