A Conversation with Scott Douglas Clary of ExciteM, Swift Products, and Grass Valley
In today’s MarTech conversation, we speak with Scott Douglas Clary, the senior director of business development for Swift Products at Grass Valley—Swift Products provides software solutions for the broadcast industry.
Clary tells us about how the company pivoted to virtual events during COVID, how he manages his team, and how he sees content as the third pillar of marketing.
We build SaaS or software solutions for broadcast. We take broadcast applications that would be sitting in a control room for a studio and we bring them into the cloud. We also create broadcast adjacent products, which are products that serve the broadcast industry. That could be anything from audience engagement on air through to helping facilitate virtual events for people who are looking to stream.
The company was ExciteM for 10 years. It has since been rebranded as Swift Products. It was really a dev shop at its core—it was a bunch of developers, and the founder was the one selling.
I was brought on because Grass Valley—a 60-year-old, high-9-figure-per-year revenue broadcast company—signed an exclusivity agreement with ExciteM to sell ExciteM software products to Grass Valley's customers. It wasn't an acquisition yet. They liked the products and wanted to see if they would sell to customers like Fox, Hearst, Al Jazeera, BBC, NBC, and so on.
ExciteM’s founder, Belal Hummadi, decided to bring in somebody who specialized in sales to build out a process to sell these products. He doesn't have a background in sales—he's actually from a robotics background. So he brought me in about two a half years ago. We scaled the business, and we did really well for two years.
After two years, Grass Valley decided that the tech made sense and they liked our team. They formally acquired us about a month and a half ago and brought in our whole team. I was CRO at ExciteM, and now I'm a senior director of business development at Grass Valley. The best way to think of it is that I run an innovation unit within Grass Valley, because Grass Valley is about a 60-year-old company. They sell hardware; they don't really sell software.
Now, we're still developing software products for broadcast for Grass Valley's target customer, but I'm just doing that from within the company now.
Our focus has been more on virtual event setups for the past two years for obvious reasons. And that was very successful. We helped a lot of customers put on virtual events, because we have the web development, and we have the broadcast experience, so we can deliver live streams virtually for up to 4K, and we can build our web environments for customers as well.
We have a plethora of audience engagement tools that we would normally use—the kind of software that can support an American Idol-style text and vote. But also, we can use those tools in web environments. So, if you're hosting an online virtual event, we can also do polling, Q&A, and chat and interaction with the audience. We can gamify it.
There aren't many competitors in the broadcast space, which does differentiate us. In terms of audience engagement and gamification, we have some competitors that are not in the broadcast space, like Slido or Poll Everywhere. For virtual events, there are a million and one virtual event companies that have popped up over the past two years, so we also compete with them.
Even though we were acquired by Grass Valley, my job still requires wearing a lot of hats, because we're still a small team.
My role involves anything from building out the tech stack/sales opp to sales strategy to building an ICP and buyer persona for sales and marketing. And now I have a sales team and a team of marketers that report to me, so I'm also responsible for approving copy for landing pages, creating training for sales reps and for channel partners, creating marketing collateral, positioning battle cards for sales reps, jumping on some calls with sales reps if they need help because they don't know the product inside and out yet, working on RFPs—it's basically everything sales and marketing for my products.
I'm supplementing Grass Valley's existing sales and marketing leadership team and sales team. My products go out across Grass Valley's 100 sales reps and 400 channel partners, but I also have a very, very small and dedicated sales team who are focused just on my products that I brought over from ExciteM.
I report to a VP at Grass Valley now. On the team, we have two SDRs and two account executives on the sales side, and on the marketing side, we have a web designer, a copywriter, two graphic designers, an ad specialist, and an SEO specialist.
In terms of daily activities, I have sales team one-on-ones, a general sales meeting, a global team meeting, and a marketing meeting on a bi-weekly basis. We have a global team meeting bi-weekly. I also have a marketing meeting bi-weekly.
For project management, we use Asana. For our CRM, we use HubSpot internally, but Grass Valley uses Salesforce. We used to use G Suite, but now we're moving over to Outlook and Teams. For outbound sales, we use Apollo.io and HubSpot. We also use Anymail Finder, FindThatLead, Google Analytics, Hotjar, Confluence, and Jira. When you work in this space for so long, you see what works, what doesn't, and what's the most user friendly, and then everybody just ends up gravitating to that—which is actually a pretty good lesson in the importance of product lead growth! That's what wins at the end of the day: You have to have a good product.
In my two years at Swift Products, we scaled the team, hit seven figures in revenue, and exited to Grass Valley. From here, we're going to be trying to grow the business unit and achieve eight figures in revenue for the Swift family of products
In the past few years, our challenges have mainly been to do with COVID. Our customer profiles changed constantly because they were pivoting to virtual events, exclusively.
We overcame these challenges by constantly evaluating our ICP, constantly evaluating our buyer persona, constantly modeling out our most recent customers and bringing that model into our customer profile so that we can target the best people.
In COVID times, I think using your last 10 customers to model out the next 20, 50 customers is definitely the way to go.
We're trying to produce more video. I run my own podcast and I've already started doing this for my own brand. For the business, I want to do the same.
We're working on creating a content strategy that includes long-form interview content. We want to interview people who fit our customer profile and buyer persona. We'll ask them questions that our ICP and buyer persona would care about. We'll record that session, then turn it into content, whether that be a blog post, a YouTube video, a podcast, a social post, and so on. That's the core premise of my personal content strategy, and it's helped me build my own following to over 500,000—the podcast has millions of downloads and my newsletter has over four million subscribers now.
People are tired of B2B content on social. They want helpful content, educational content, useful content—not just product or promotional content. No one cares about that. It's just white noise. So that's one thing you really have to focus on in your content strategy.
We do use content marketing in our strategy. For us, it's about the process of breaking down one long-form piece into lots of smaller pieces that go across all of your social media. Content is the only way to be effective and competitive. For me, it's the final pillar of the marketing trifecta. You have on-page SEO, which is your inbound marketing, you have your paid marketing, and then you have your content strategy. A lot of people understand the value of driving traffic to your website with SEO, and a lot of businesses understand the value of paid ads, but content marketing is the one thing that I really think a lot of businesses could improve upon.
As I already mentioned, all content needs to be useful, educational, and helpful. In a B2B context that means something that teaches or helps the person you're trying to sell to learn something, accomplish a goal, understand a strategy, understand how to do their job better, or understand how to solve a pain point in their job.
You can find Scott Douglas Clary on LinkedIn and Twitter and get more information about Grass Valley on their website.
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