Success tips from a disgruntled musician turned growth marketer

Why businesses should pivot, tap unconventional employee candidates, value diversity, and not get hung up on failures or disappointments.

Musician turned marketer’s unusual route to success

Would you hire a disgruntled musician to manage your company’s growth marketing? You would if the musician was the mastermind behind the success story of Sales Hacker, a company that was acquired by Outreach.io after experiencing 400% growth in less than 2 years.

But how did a musician who first went into the recording studio at age six and worked for five years as a full-time music producer and songwriter in New York with artists like Shaggy, Ryan Leslie and Fat Joe end up in marketing?

Gaetano DiNardi said: “Ultimately, I transitioned into marketing because making money as a musician is extremely difficult. Most people don’t know this, but it takes millions of streams on Spotify just to earn $1,000.

And he realized that the challenges he faced while promoting himself as a musician were the same challenges for tech companies.

“Don’t get hung up on failures.” That is what DiNardi advised after he was ghosted by Atlantic Records. The meeting seemed so promising, but nothing came of it.

Some would argue that a musician makes an unlikely growth marketer. But musicians have to constantly create and capture their own demand.

So it makes perfect sense for a musician to become an expert at demand generation. They are creative self-starters – which also makes them effective managers.

He realized that the challenges he faced while promoting himself as a musician were the same challenges for tech companies.

DiNardi has lost none of the employees he manages. His flexible, easy-going, open work culture leads, respects and guides the people who report to him.

If you want to retain exceptional people, you can’t micro-manage them. The more you expect of them, the more you will get.

And it all starts with hiring the right people:

Do they have initiative? Will they need babysitting and hand-holding? Can they exhaust every possible route before coming to you? Have they demonstrated leadership or gone beyond what they were hired to do? Ask what they do the best – what specific skill. Who do they admire (companies, thought leaders) and why? What do they create without being told to do so (personal projects, large social following, etc.).

You are looking for people who specialize. Anyone who is vague about what they excel at most likely doesn’t excel at anything.

DiNardi seeks out unconventional candidates and values diversity in his team. But exceptional people are just the start.

Marketing growth strategies are key. Businesses can learn much from DiNardi’s wisdom.

He isn’t a fan of relying on short-term strategies. The best long-term play is organic reach, so he focuses on building content that ranks well in search.

That means content strategy is a top priority. Start with optimizing the highest traffic pages on your site that aren’t converting.

For most businesses, that will be service, product, pricing and informational pages. If your business doesn’t offer services or products, it might be pages for events, sales training and online courses.

When it comes to paid marketing strategies, DiNardi is a fan of aligning PPC with SEO for maximum results, as he writes in this guide for HubSpot.

He also advises using tools like HotJar to see where people click on your site and where they don’t so you can continually improve your website user experience.

Focus on what your customers want. The best way to find out is to ask:

What caused them to buy? What almost caused them NOT to buy?

DiNardi sat near the sales reps when he was an SEO at Pipedrive to learn what customers wanted. Ask your sales team for the top five customer objections. Address those as your secondary content strategy.

These strategies contributed to Sales Hacker’s growth that led to their acquisition by Outreach.io. As Director of Growth Marketing at Nextiva, DiNardi has a significant pay-per-click (PPC) budget.

He realized that short-tail queries with high cost-per-click (CPC) for products like “VoIP” is like playing the black jack tables in Vegas.

Instead, he builds out vertical-specific landing pages such as “VoIP for customer support teams”. Make them persona-specific.

With pay-per-click (PPC) bids spiralling upward, focusing your ads on specific customer segments and buyer types can generate higher return-on-investment (ROI).

Grow your business by being different. “Don’t always talk about your product/services. Who are your target audiences/your buyers? How can you help them? Write about that.”

DiNardi surveyed Senior IT Managers and CIOs to produce exclusive data with rare insights in this State of Business Communications report. What unique data can you produce for your own business?

Your content strategy extends beyond your own site. When members of your team have built an online following, they can help attract new business.

For example, DiNardi publishes frequently on LinkedIn. Here are some tips to stand out there:

Be willing to talk about what no one else talks about. Avoid being generic.

Every single post must deliver unique value. Begin with a strong hook. Make sure your story line has a nice flow.

Don’t be afraid to go to extremes if you have to prove a point.

DiNardi definitely considers quality over quantity. He compares his content to what’s #1 in Google no matter where he will publish it to make sure it is better.

He is always himself and ignores what haters may say.

Remember to consult your diverse and unconventional team, too. Don’t let their unique perspectives and insights go to waste.

Find out from them what else you can do to improve your business, their working environment, and most of all to appeal to more customers.

Avoid growth hacks like the fake “how I got rich” stuff you see online. “Business owners and entrepreneurs are struggling – no one is cruising to the top easily.”

It takes wisdom, strategy and hard work. But it can be done.