The Dark Side of Marketing
By Daniel Murray
Hey Marketing Bestie,
It’s time for a marketing story. (Grab your popcorn).
This story might be a little DARK. (Grab a blanket to hide under).
Pretend we’re sitting around a campfire in the middle of the woods, with the fire flickering, and it’s pitch black outside.
This is the story of DARK SOCIAL and how this company is embracing it.
This is not to be confused with the DARK FUNNEL. That’s a spooky topic for another time.
Let’s start with a little background about why YOU should care about Dark Social. Especially if you’re in B2B.
It all started with the change to how content is consumed, which altered what information your potential client trusts.
Marketers used to heavily rely on sources like Google and Gartner. They’d get trusted insights from their tech stack vendors. They’d then use those trusted sources to inform their buying decisions.
For the times they are a-changin’. PEOPLE TRUST THEIR PEERS AND OTHER PEOPLE LIKE THEM as their primary sources of information.
(I know I do!)
And, the places where people learn about new and interesting information have changed.
Where do these B2B buyers get their information now??
🔥: Social Media (Linkedin, TikTok, Twitter, Youtube Shorts, etc)
🔥: Communities (Facebook Groups, Slack, Discord, etc)
🔥: Events (Virtual Events, Meet ups, Dinners, Conferences, Mastermind sessions, etc)
🔥: Longer Form Content Platforms (Podcasts and YouTube)
🔥: Word of Mouth (Group Chats, 1:1 meetings, Texts, Email)
🔥: Inside their Company (Email, Slack, etc)
^ This is what we like to call “Dark Social”.
Dark Social is where major business decisions are made, but it’s a vertical that businesses choose not to heavily invest in… simply because IT’S HARD TO TRACK.
And, that’s why I’m so impressed with HOW this company has FULLY embraced Dark Social.
When everyone is zigging it’s sometimes best to zag.
Queue the hero of our story:
🌶️🌶️ Insert Chili Pepper Emoji 😉 🌶️🌶️
Chili Piper has embraced Dark Social. So much so that they have a marketer leading the charge with a brand new title you won’t see many places: have you met Arthur Castillo, Head of Dark Social and Evangelism?
Chili Piper realized that “People aren’t going through your marketing funnel in a neat and orderly fashion — they’re hearing about you from all over the place.”
Traditional B2B attribution software gives credit to a channel as the driver of the sale, as the channel that drove MQLs or specific revenue… but, that
might not be often isn’t the WHOLE picture.
Many actions (and many steps that inch your future customers towards purchasing) happen in the DARK.
That by no means means that those important actions AND steps forward (the ones that help turn your prospect into a customer) don’t have a big impact on the end result we’re chasing (BOOKED REVENUE, BABY).
So HOW is Chili Piper executing on Dark Social?
1. FOCUSING ON CREATING DEMAND
In the age of Dark Social, marketing teams should focus on CREATING DEMAND. Chili Piper is doing just that.
Instead of focusing on:
🫑: Collecting email addresses
🫑: Nurturing leads
🫑: Creating gated content
Chili Piper focuses on marketing tactics like:
🌶️: Creating content that’s actually interesting (and ungated)
🌶️: Building community on social media (not on a monologue, but a DIALOGUE)
🌶️: Testing messaging, AND FIGURING OUT WHAT COPY / TONE / MESSAGING so it resonates with buyers (at Chili Piper, they use both Wynter and the Chili Piper Customer Advisory Board – a board made up of real, power-users that are actually using Chili Piper’s tech on a daily basis)
🌶️: Co-collaborating with other marketing teams and communities (The Marketing Millennials collabs with them)
🌶️: Gathering user reviews from their happy customers (UGC, Testimonials, the whole nine yards).
Basically, anything that gets people curious about you so they decide to type your company’s name into Google and see what you’re all about.
And, eventually, they’ll schedule a demo.
2. Focus on Meeting, Pipeline, and Revenue > MQLs
Marketing goals should be tied to an actual revenue number. Not just MQLs. MQLs are just a leading indicator.
At Chili Piper, they measure marketing goals based on:
🌶️: Qualified Meetings Held: Meetings that prospects have booked with sales (and actually showed up to)
🌶️: Qualified Pipeline: Leads that have already spoken to sales, and sales has determined is ready to have a serious buying conversation
🌶️: Closed Won: Because if marketing isn’t tied to actual revenue generated, they’re chasing the wrong number.
3. Understanding most of your buyers aren’t ready to buy
What Chili Piper understands: most of your audience isn’t ready (YET).
The goal of Chili Piper’s marketing is to stay top of mind, so that when their audience is ready to buy, their audience will think of Chili Piper.
How do they do this? Education and showing up where marketers hang out.
This is where Dark Social plays its role.
Here is how Chili Piper does it:
🌶️:They create great, educating content (and distribute that content)
Go check out Chili Piper’s Linkedin page
🌶️: Employees are all over social with their 🌶️ emoji
🌶️: They have a podcast focused on their audience, called “Demand Gen Chat”
🌶️: A newsletter where they give deep insights for their audience, called “The Sauce”
🌶️: A killer blog
🌶️: Virtual Events
🌶️: Work with influential marketing, rev ops and sales voices that amplify their message
🌶️: Co-create content with like-minded SaaS companies
Chili Piper keeps their super fans close (and talks with their biggest customer advocates OFTEN via their Customer Advisory Board)
Chili Piper shows up in a natural way, both virtually and in person, via their events that bring marketers together
Chili Piper partners with communities where marketers hang out. The key is THEY ENTER INTO INFLUENCER AND COLLAB PARTNERSHIPS FOR THE LONG TERM.
Last, but not least Chili Piper has GREAT products.
I am a 4 time Chili Piper admin and have seen major success from it. And, not only have I seen success from Chili Piper’s tech, but their team has also listened to me as I’ve provided feedback over the last 6 years on product changes, and cool ways to implement the tech. (SHOUT OUT TO GAINES MURFEE)
To wrap this
love letter story up:
The techniques that Chili Piper has used to embrace Dark Social should be STOLEN (take their techniques, copy them, and make them your own –
that’s show biz baby marketing baby).
I would not want to miss the boat on implementing a strategy like this at your company.
The key takeaways:
The way people buy has changed. People talk to their peers in places that are hard to capture with traditional software, but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening.
Think about the last time you bought. It probably wasn’t just through a Google search or Facebook Ad. There were many, many touch points (and most of them came from the things we talked about above).
In summary, Chili Piper… love you, mean it. Dark Social LEGENDS.