Palmer Houchins (G2) - Rarely a Straight Path

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This is a podcast episode titled, Palmer Houchins (G2) - Rarely a Straight Path. The summary for this episode is: <p>Palmer Houchins, Head of Marketing at G2, talks about acquisition, leads, and opportunities created by a strong team, and how customers are advocates allowing for opportunities to grow. Ajay dons some glowing orange Stirista apparel, and Vincent is happy to have friends.</p>

Speaker 1: Maybe big data has gotten too, big. Whether you're a B2B marketer or a consumer brand, your data needs to be viable, relevant, and accessible so that Stirista can help you retain customers, acquire customers, and make it personal.

Vin: Welcome to the Marketing Stir Podcast by Stirista, probably the most entertaining marketing podcast you're going to put in your ear. I'm Vin, the producer here at Stirista. The goal of this podcast is to chat with industry leaders and get their take on the current challenges of the market, and we'll have a little fun along the way. In today's episode, Palmer Houchins, head of marketing at G2, talks about acquisition, leads and opportunities created by a strong team and how customers are advocates for allowing for opportunities to grow. Ajay dons some glowing orange Stirista apparel, and Vincent is happy to have friends. Give it a listen.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to another episode of Stirista's The Marketing Stir. I am your host, Vincent Pietrafesa, the Vice President of B2B Products and partnerships here at Stirista. It is so great to be talking to you all again. I love the great feedback that people have been giving us about this New Year's episode, so thank you for all of that. We do appreciate it. Let's pause just for 10 seconds to talk about Stirista. That's the only time we talk about it. That's okay. We try to pay some bills around here. I'm kidding. That's not really a thing. We're not a professional radio network, but Stirista, we are a marketing technology company. We own our own business to business data, business to consumer data. We help people access that data to help get their message out to them, to help them get some new customers, through our own technology. ESP, DSP, we own. You could do email, display, connected TV, OTT. Email me vincent @ stirista. com if ever interested in any of our services or interested in being on the podcast, let us know. Ladies and gentlemen, I am confident about what I just told you and I'm also confident about this next guest. He is coming in hot with the orange, ladies and gentlemen. It's our one and only CEO, our founder, Mr. Ajay Gupta. What's going on, Ajay?

Ajay Gupta: Besides my orange glow. I look like a big blob of orange, but luckily most people listen to this podcast and not watch it.

Vincent Pietrafesa: I know. I was telling that to our guests, most people, and there's a lot of you. Thank you so much. Who would have ever thought that people would want to listen to us, Ajay? Actually, we always thought, wow, more people should just listen.

Ajay Gupta: Yeah, let's not kid ourselves. We love hearing our voices.

Vincent Pietrafesa: I know. Yeah, you're right. I shouldn't sugarcoat that. I'm surprised, but I'm also like, " Yeah, we got something to say, so let's rock."

Ajay Gupta: Just because our wives don't like to hear our voices doesn't mean we don't have fans.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Oh, I know. The other day someone, and I think I said this in the podcast. I was with a group of parents, you hang out with parents now, when you have small kids. Whether you like them or not, that's a whole other story, but one of the moms said, she's like, " Oh, your wife must laugh all the time." I said, " She does not. She does not. You would think that she would laugh and enjoy me and my personality. She does not." But it is good to see you, Ajay. You do have a glow, whether you're wearing black or whether you're wearing white or orange, you always have a glow. And I'll see you soon. We're having a sales summit down in San Antonio. I'm coming down there. The time this airs, I've already been there, so I had a great time. I'm sure my presentation wowed the crowd, but yeah, we'll be back in San Antonio. This is the time I like coming to San Antonio when it's like Jan/ Feb. I don't like coming out there in August, I got to tell you.

Ajay Gupta: Yeah, I was in Colorado, so God knows what the temperature was. It was in the negative, I think. Then I was back home in San Antonio for a day or two, and it was 75 degrees, and then I had to leave for CES to go to Vegas, and there it was 40 degrees, so I definitely missed out on some of the good weather in San Antonio. But luckily, it's continuing, so hopefully, it stays warm for you.

Vincent Pietrafesa: That'd be nice. Yeah, bring some good weather, some good conversation. We'll have a good time. Looking forward to seeing everyone out there. Ajay, I'm also excited about this guest. Let me tell you something, because oftentimes we talk about this on the podcast, in our industry, there's a lot of companies that you hear about. I remember when we had someone from Zoom, Zoom has become part of the vernacular. You hear companies like a Snowflake, and also G2. G2 is one of those companies that so many people talk about. We're so glad that we have someone on from G2. This gentleman, he used to live in New York City. I wish he still lived here. We could do this podcast, live over a beer maybe, but he's with us today. He's in another cool city. He's calling in from Atlanta. Ladies and gentlemen, the head of marketing at G2, Palmer Houchins. What's going on Palmer?

Palmer Houchins: Not too much. Thanks for having me. I wish we were doing this over a beer in New York, too.

Vincent Pietrafesa: It would be fun. We've never done a live episode. Ajay and I, we were talking about it. Maybe at a conference near you, ladies and gentlemen. Coming to you. Let's get on that marketing department. We have thousands and thousands of listeners get us in front of people. But anyway, yeah, it would be fun. Palmer, you and I, great conversations already. We bonded over New York. We bonded over your alma mater Ole Miss, for which I did not go to, but my favorite quarterback of all time Mr. Eli Manning did. I'm a big Giants fan, as the good people who listen to this podcast know. But Palmer, I'm not lying when I say people are talking about G2. People are like, " Oh, I went to G2." "Oh, my company's up at G2. I did all my research there." So for those of the listeners who maybe know the brand, know the company, tell us in your own words, G2 and your role within the company.

Palmer Houchins: Yeah, sure thing. G2, we think of ourselves as the world's largest and most trusted software marketplace, put that simply. Because it's a marketplace, we have two sides. On the one side you have software vendors, folks like yourselves, who list their products. We've got about 145, 000 of those on the site, so just a really big critical mass, reflects the global software market there, and those are spread across 2000 categories. So a lot of coverage there. And then on the flip side of the marketplace, we have the software buyers. What I thinks really unique about that is we have anybody from a mom and pop shop who's just looking for an email marketing solution or something very small, all the way to the biggest Fortune 500 enterprises out there who may be researching a highly specialized cybersecurity solution. So the beauty is being able to bring those two sides together. That's the company at large. From a commercial solutions perspective, we have a marketing solution that helps those software vendors reach those software buyers. We have a data solutions offering that gives a bird's eye view to folks like investors and they can get a better sense of what's happening in the software landscape or specific categories or companies that are really emerging. And then we have a traditional SaaS solution called G2 Track that's just a software spin management product that's in the climate that we're in today is very, very popular as folks are looking to trim their spin and make sure that they're as efficient as possible. From just a company perspective, we have around 700 employees. Headquartered in Chicago, but offices in London and Bangalore as well, and then quite a few folks like myself who join remote every day, as most of us are used to doing for the past two or three years. I joined in the summer of 2021 as the VP of brand and comms and recently moved into the head of marketing role here, so lead our brands, product marketing and demand teams.

Vincent Pietrafesa: That's awesome. And congrats on the promotion it seemed like. That's good for you. And thanks for that breakdown. I kind of knew one piece of the business there, but thanks for clarifying for myself and the listeners. Palmer, one of the fan favorite questions, because a lot of people, it's not a traditional path, but maybe it was for you. I mean you worked at some great companies, it looks like Mailchimp, so you know a little bit of our world and that we're different from them, but talk to us about how you got into marketing.

Palmer Houchins: It's funny, I feel like it's very rarely a straight path for folks in marketing. I mean, you meet the occasional marketing major who then goes into it, but I didn't have that straight path. I studied history and journalism in college and if you'd asked me at the beginning of school, I thought I wanted to be a writer, going to be a journalist somewhere. Simultaneously, while I was in school, I had a little bit of an entrepreneurial streak and I got interested, I was always interested in music, but started doing concert promotion, artist management, just fun stuff to do when you're in college and you have the time and staying out till 1: 00 AM to put on a concert is no big deal, which sounds like my worst nightmare today. But that kind of led me into the world and it's sort of the earliest forms of digital marketing. I mean, this was back in the early 2000s, so MySpace and Yahoo groups and things like that that have gone by the wayside. I started getting interesting in marketing that way and by the time I finished college, I realized, you know what, I don't think going to be a journalist at a small newspaper somewhere is really what I want to do. And I built up this skillset in marketing, so I found a role right out of school with a startup. It was a digital music startup and worked with them for a year before everything went under there, which is a good lesson in both startups and entrepreneurship there. And then moved over to a magazine and an agency doing various marketing roles focused in the music and entertainment space. About 11 years ago, I just kind of wanted to make a change. I was actually in the process of going back to get my MBA and to move into the software technology space. And around that time a friend had connected me with this company MailChimp that I wasn't really that familiar with, but in the early days of the company, joined as a brand manager, marketing manager role there. And that's what pivoted me into the SaaS space. Worked there for about seven, eight years, worked at another company herein Atlanta called CallRail, leading their marketing efforts. And now I'm here at G2.

Ajay Gupta: Awesome. G2 obviously has such a good brand name and a big brand name. Tell us a little bit about how you're marketing and what are some of the channels and strategies you're using.

Palmer Houchins: Absolutely. If you had asked me this question six months, a year ago, I would say, really our marketing is focused on acquisition only. We just want to get new leads in, get opportunities for our sales team created. We're absolutely still doing that, but I think given the climate that we're in, we have a renewed focus on retention and expansion. So the scope of marketing's gotten bigger. We're really trying to better engage our customers. We, just as G2, are pretty strong believers in what we would call customer led growth, so use your customers as your best advocates and use them as your opportunities to grow. So we're trying to practice what we preach there. From a tactical level, we're digital natives. We're obviously using all the different acquisition channels we can there, whether it's paid search, social, display, ABM, those are all areas for us. But I think as I reflect on that, it all starts with great content for us, whether it be SEO or just something to drive all of those acquisition plays. So we spend a lot of time focused on content that's going to be relevant for our audience. We also look for opportunities to engage through webinars, and in the past year through in- person events and PR a little bit more. And then have underneath that all a robust email marketing and marketing automation strategy to help continue to engage those folks who may have shown some interest.

Ajay Gupta: And what does your ideal customer look like?

Palmer Houchins: The ideal customer for us is obviously a B2B software company or service. Which is a very wide total addressable market, but when you really narrow in on that, for me, what I'd look for is a company, and it doesn't really matter the size. We have small startups to very large enterprises active on G2, but it's folks who understand the value of customer marketing, customer advocacy, and then also the value of demand generation. So they're able to leverage some of our more, what we would call our essential tools, building out a profile, getting those reviews, building up a presence there, and then slowly be able to graduate or use our more demand gen focused tools, so leveraging buyer intent data to make more, to do more informed marketing for yourself. It's somebody who fits into both of those camps and understands the value of both, not an either or scenario there.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Palmer, is this a little bit of both? Your role as head of marketing, are you twofold, A, helping G2 market itself, as well as helping some of those software companies? You're kind of involved in both?

Palmer Houchins: Absolutely. I mean, certainly as anybody's role would be on the marketing side. My chief role is to grow G2, grow our brand, grow what we're doing from a marketing perspective. But I think what's unique about myself, and frankly most of the other marketers on our team, is that we were either users or customers of G2 before we worked here. I certainly was at MailChimp and CallRail, we were customers of G2, so I understand what it's like for folks who are either in that customer or prospect side. And our VP of revenue marketing is just another long time G2 customer, and she's really the wizard who can sit down and show you a, here's how you can make the most of G2. And she spends a lot of her time not only growing our own demand gen strategy, but talking to customers, helping them understand the value. That's the great thing. I've had the uniqueness throughout my software career of being a marketer who's mostly marketing marketing products and it helps to speak the language. And frankly, I think our sales team appreciates having some marketers on staff who can go speak the language there with prospects.

Vincent Pietrafesa: No, that definitely makes sense. Like you said before, you're practicing what you preach at the same time. Palmer, tell us what makes G2 stand out against its competitors. And I got to tell you, a competitor, obviously you know better than me, and we don't have to mention those competitors. No, they're not in the podcast, you are. But I couldn't even tell you what a G2's competitors. It's not obvious to me. We've had Pepsi on the podcast. Everyone knows their competitor. We have had Lyft on the podcast. You know that. I don't know of G2's competitors, but what separates you?

Palmer Houchins: There are other review sites out there. I mean we were very early to market with G2 about 10 years ago. I'd say we have two advantages. The first one on that review site side is just our scale and reach. We've got 80 million software buyers visiting G2. com each year, and that's just huge reach and it's global. That gives us an advantage that we can really build on. We've got tremendous organic traffic in SEO because of that, and that helps us in demonstrating value to potential customers as well. So that's the review side. The other side of the coin that I'd say we compete with is the traditional research analyst firms. They've been around for a while and it's a very top down, you've got to get this access to this analyst who's going to then go into their ivory tower and figure out what the best solution is here. We think that we've got this bottoms up approach that really gives you perspective on all these different software solutions from a customer's vantage point, from the actual folks who are using it. And so that to me helps us stand out when folks are comparing us against a research analyst firm or trying to figure out what's our value. And listen, it's not an either or scenario for us, but I do think you've got to be looking at peer or customer voice. It's how folks are buying these days. They're not just going to select the first thing that they see. They're going to do their research, and we think that G2 plays a big part in that process.

Ajay Gupta: We noticed you guys also were on the Deloitte fastest growing list. We've made the list as well, so that's pretty exciting.

Palmer Houchins: Congrats.

Ajay Gupta: Thanks. What's some of the things that have attributed to that success?

Palmer Houchins: I think I mentioned it just a second ago, G2 was pretty early on. I mean, there were sites like TripAdvisor or Yelp around when G2 was started, but no one was thinking about this from a software perspective. And frankly, that was the genesis. Our co- founders had worked at a previous company together and after they sold that, they were figuring out what their next move was going to be, and part of the origin story is they were sitting there realizing, hey, I could go online and read 1000 reviews about$ 100 a night hotel room, but if I want to get more information on a piece of software that's going to cost me$ 100,000, I've just got to go to a sales rep or to a research analyst, these things that feel very far away or, frankly, just aren't what I want right now. And so that's where the idea of G2 was born. And I think, frankly, that's just such a great product market fit there that it's helped us grow over time. Once you attract those software buyers, get them to the site, start adding reviews, creating that community and that feedback, it's not hard after that to then go get the software vendors to come and say, " Hey, we've got this great community of folks. We think it's another way that you can engage and reach potential customers."

Ajay Gupta: One of the key things about our podcast is we have a lot of younger professionals that listen to the podcast. What's one advice you have for either your younger self or some of our younger listeners, early stage professionals?

Palmer Houchins: I've got a personal one and a professional one. The personal one, it's something folks told me when I was in college and it was, you're never going to have as much free time as you have now. I heard it, but I didn't believe it. And as I've gotten older, maybe until the point when I retire or my kids are out of the house, you never get that free time back, and so make the most of. Even though you'll feel really busy earlier in your career or when you're in college, you've still got more time to learn. Well, and that doesn't have to be professional focused. It could be, oh, I just really want to get into this hobby or learn how to do this thing and take that thing with me throughout the rest of my life. That's something if I could go back to when I was 18, I would definitely make sure I knew that and practice that. And then from a purely business perspective, my advice is spend time learning the business and the business model. I say that as someone who's always loved marketing and that bled into creativity design, even the product and engineering side. But I think I wish earlier on in my career that I had really learned the Xs and Os of business, not only the investor perspective, but just financially, how is this business run? What's important? What do we need to be focused on? I've had the luxury and the pleasure of being able to do that as I've gone on in my career, but I just think back, if I had mastered that at 23, 24, 25, who knows what I would be able to do with it now? Those are the two things, as I look back, I would probably do a little bit differently.

Vincent Pietrafesa: That's great advice both. I definitely relate to both of them, especially the personal side, time for sure. Palmer, talk to us about, I saw G2 does a conference called Reach. Tell us a little bit about that. You just recently had it. Is that virtual? Is that in person?

Palmer Houchins: This was our third time doing Reach. Pre COVID we did one of them in person in Chicago. This year we decided to bring it back as a virtual event and just was wildly successful. I was thinking about that, reflecting on, we did it in December 1st. It's still fairly recent and we saw registrations come from 60 different countries. And so when you're weighing that virtual versus in- person, I can guarantee you there was no way folks from 59 other countries would've flown to Chicago or San Francisco to engage in this. It was really a great opportunity for us to showcase a bunch of different things. We had a taste or a flavor for everybody. We had a CEO panel with our CEO and the CEO and co- founder of ZoomInfo. We had a VC panel with several of the leading VCs talking about what they're seeing, what software companies need to know, what the future looks like there. And then we brought in some software analysts who looked at what's happening in the MarTech landscape, what's happening in the go to market approach, and then dove into a bunch of marketing specific tips, tricks, how you can learn from some of the folks. We had the former CMO of Zendesk and Slack and several other folks, Atlassian and others, some just really great companies, who I think were able to provide some insights that, frankly, we just don't get in our day- to- day, and a lot of times we don't have those resources to lean on. We wrapped the whole thing up with a couple of master classes, just to help folks understand how they can make the most out of G2. From our side, it was a wildly successful event. Saw a lot of great engagement on the day of, and the beautiful thing for me as a marketer is that it's still sitting there at reach. It's all on demand. You can go engage with it when you want to, which is just the beauty of that being evergreen. And we'll be there until we do the next Reach sometime this year.

Vincent Pietrafesa: That's awesome. And you could go, listeners, you heard Palmer, go right to that site. Any plans for when that's going to be coming up?

Palmer Houchins: We haven't set a date yet. We'll do it in Q4. We did it December 1st this year. I think we found, as we're all getting back to what the new normal is post COVID, and it does seem like that September, October window gets really busy from an in- person event perspective. So it's sort of like, all right, November, December feel like a good time to put in a virtual event, as folks are maybe slowing down as they get into the holidays, but still want to engage in some way.

Vincent Pietrafesa: I know. It definitely is a good time. Especially December, you're right, because a lot of people are like, ah, that's cutting close to the holidays, but a virtual event around that time, because there's nothing, oftentimes you said it does slow down. So be on the lookout for that, the good people listening. Also Palmer, talk to us about challenges. It's 2023 now, early on in 2023, some marketing challenges, some marketing trends that you think are going to be coming up in 2023?

Palmer Houchins: Listen, every quarter can be a challenge for marketers. I think there's a couple things that we're seeing right now. I think a big ground shift that I think we're sort of at the tail end on, but it's been going for a few years, is just a lot of what's happening from a privacy perspective and changing for marketers with cookies going away and things like that. You really have to, not necessarily completely rethink your approach, but understand that metrics may change. There may be a little bit of an evolution in terms of what works, what doesn't. And staying on top of that is something that, listen, that's been a four or five year journey for me, but I still feel like we're not towards the end of that yet. I think when we're looking at B2B marketing specifically, I think one of the challenges that we face there is how do we act more like B2C marketers? And that's something that I think hasn't been embraced enough. I think a lot of times B2B marketers can get a little too in their own bubbles and what are my MQLs converting to SALs, what's that looking like? You're really selling to humans here and that's why you've got to frame it. It's a human to human motion and how do you do marketing that's going to resonate at that human level. Frankly, I think that that's starting to change, but that's a welcome change. But I think it's a challenge because it is, I guess, changing the way folks approach marketing. One of the trends that I'm seeing, and I think it's a great trend, is just when we look back to 15, even 10, 15 years ago, is just the issue used to be access. Where were you going to go learn? Where were you going to be able to stay ahead of the curve? You were maybe waiting for Seth Godin's new book to come out so you could go grab it at Barnes and Noble. And I think just what's happened from a social media, a podcast perspective, we're right here doing that, but just even beyond that, what I've seen crop up in the past two to three years are these online communities, whether they're Slack groups, Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, that really allow folks who are very connected or in similar roles to learn from each other and to share challenges. And that's just something that, I mean, it's always existed to a degree, but the circle may have just been really smaller. It may have been that conversation could only happen at that conference when you saddled up to the bar next to four folks who are doing the same thing you are. And now it can happen every day in your Facebook feed. That's a great opportunity for learning and I think it'll help accelerate folks in their careers.

Ajay Gupta: One of our signature questions is around LinkedIn messaging. I'm sure you get a lot of messages that you're not sure why you're getting. So we'd love to know what are some of the messages you respond to, and more importantly, what's one that really annoys you?

Palmer Houchins: I have a philosophy on LinkedIn. I actually enjoy LinkedIn, I think more than some folks do. But there are certain folks who just accept any request that comes their way. I need to know the person or have some connection to them, or I'm just not going to accept it. It doesn't mean we have to personally know each other, but hey, we were on that call together or we participated in that event together. I just need some connection point there. As far as connecting goes, that's one. In terms of messages that I get, what really stands out to me, and this applies on email too, is show that you've taken the time to either understand me or my business. And that doesn't mean just saying, " Oh, I see you went to see to school at Ole Miss, or I see you live in Atlanta." Say, " Hey, I saw G2 did this. That was interesting. We've got a solution that could help you do this." Most of the times what I see, the messages that don't work are that they put some mundane personal thing there at the beginning, and then they jump right into here's what our product does, without talking about how that could address a potential pain point or something that you're doing. For me, it's taking the time to understand you know something about what I'm working on or what G2 is working on and how your solution or opportunity would do it. I'm putting that all through a sales lens. If it's someone who's just like, " Hey, I want to connect and learn, or I'm a college student and I want to know more about marketing," I actually welcome and enjoy those. But it's more of that, most of those LinkedIn messages I feel like we get are from a sales perspective, so try and couch that in a way of, this is how you can cut through the noise and actually reach that person that you'd like to.

Ajay Gupta: You've worked at quite a few great places, Palmer. What's been a highlight for you in your career?

Palmer Houchins: I'd say during my time at Mailchimp, that was just a career highlight, joining that company in the early days and then leaving when it was huge, almost just a corporate leader, I guess you could say, in that space. There's a particular campaign that we ran, I think it was back in 2017. It was right after the serial podcast had come out, so Mailchimp was one of the advertisements on that, and that was a big zeitgeist in itself, but we ran this campaign. The kernel of that ad was, they did a man on the street interview and someone mispronounced the name Mailchimp, and we left that in the podcast ad and it turned out that was a great idea because it really resonated. So we ran a campaign after that, it was called Did you mean Mailchimp? And it was all these mispronunciations or just weird plays on the name Mailchimp. We made a song called MailShrimp. We showed how you could use a new beauty product called SnailPrimp. It was a very out of the box, big, integrated advertising campaign. That was just a really, it's a once in a lifetime campaign to get to work on. That was a fun one and it ended up winning a Grand Prix award at the Cannes Lions, which is the Oscars of marketing and advertising, so that was just a really awesome highlight for me. I say all that, it was crazy, out of the box, very creative, but it led to one of our best quarters ever at the time. And so there is a connection point between those two things. You can be super creative and different, and in a lot of cases you just got to have the courage to go do that. It'll spell business results in the end.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Oh, that is awesome. I do remember that, actually, the serial podcast that my wife made me listen to, but then I was like, " Oh, this is amazing." Mailchimp, and then, that's another one of those retention marketing, email marketing companies that are semi part of the vernacular, so that's great. Thank you for sharing that. Palmer, we've come to the time where it's get to know you personally. Talk to us about some of your hobbies. Well, you're originally, down south. Now, you're in Atlanta. You lived in New York for a few years. What brought you to Atlanta and what do you like doing in your spare time?

Palmer Houchins: I finished school at Ole Miss and I ended up in Atlanta just because I got a job at that startup I had mentioned. It was very coincidental and good timing that I also, around that time, started dating a girl who's now my wife who went to the University of Georgia, so we were a lot closer together there. So Atlanta worked out really well with her being in Athens and me being in Atlanta. That's sort of how I've ended up here for the long haul. As far as hobbies go, I tell folks I used to have hobbies and then I had kids.

Vincent Pietrafesa: That's true.

Palmer Houchins: I still try to get it in, but I used to run a lot, play basketball, and now I'm lucky to squeeze in a few minutes on the Peloton or get some pushups in or something. We'll see, maybe as the kids get older, it'll free up a little bit. Outside of that, I'm a big pop culture guy. Love books, movies, TV, try and stay up on that. As you can see, I got a lot of books here behind me, but again, with kids, you don't get to watch as many movies, or at least you don't get to watch the movies that you'd want to as much anymore or the TV shows-

Vincent Pietrafesa: Exactly.

Palmer Houchins: ... youmay want, so I try and make most of the little time that I have. And then I'm also, I'm a sports fans, so I do try and keep up with that. Love soccer, so the World Cup was a real highlight here over the past month. My productivity over November to December may have been slightly affected by the fact of how many soccer games were on during the workday, but that was fun to see. And then a big baseball and college football fan, so love the Braves here in Atlanta and then support my alma mater Ole Miss there, which it was an up and down year this year. But my wife's a UGA grad, so I can just keep... Well, I can follow behind her-

Vincent Pietrafesa: She had some fun this past couple days.

Palmer Houchins: I should bandwagon that way as just... Bandwagon my way to a national championship, I guess.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah, back to back national champions. When you said that, I was like, oh, your wife must be very happy with this recent outcome.

Palmer Houchins: She was up late on Monday night celebrating. I was like, " Listen, this thing's over. I'm going to bed."

Vincent Pietrafesa: Exactly. Palmer, are you still interested in music? Is that still a thing? I remember you said-

Palmer Houchins: Yeah. Yeah. I say that.

Vincent Pietrafesa: inaudible marketing.

Palmer Houchins: I don't find it's... I read something. There's interesting social studies or social science kind of studies out there that, the music you listen to from when you were 12 to 25 or something is what sticks with you? And I find that true. I still love music, and that's something you can fit into your life even while you're working, but I just can't keep up with what's new as much as I used to, so I find myself going back to those classics from either childhood, college, right out of college that I've enjoyed, whether it's alternative rock from back in the day, or stuff that you got into along the way. It's fun. That's great. But I can already see myself being the uncool teenage parent who's just totally out of touch with what my kids are listening to. They're not quite there yet. They're still into the kiddie music, but one day it'll come and I'll be very out of touch, even though I used to be very finger on the pulse there.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Everything you're saying there resonates with me. I just watched Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, that Tarantino film, I just watched it in 2022, but I've watched Coco about 77 times. I'm the same way. I feel like music today, sometimes I'll see a Grammy Awards and I'm like, " Who the heck is little this and little that or DaBaby? Who?" And I'm like, what? I'm more of a nineties hip hop guy, alternative rock, like Pearl Jam, Nirvana, all those.

Palmer Houchins: I had that feeling yesterday, I think they announced the Coachella lineup, and I saw the poster. One of the headliners, I truly have never seen that name before. Now, turns out it's a K- pop group, which that was just never-

Vincent Pietrafesa: Oh, wow.

Palmer Houchins: I know it's a huge world, but not a world that I was in. Literally I was like, I've never even heard of this group before. So I'm like, I'm too old. I'm checked out. I got to just stick with what's tried and true.

Vincent Pietrafesa: What's your music knowledge like, Ajay? I know you're a huge Beatles fan, but where's it go from there?

Ajay Gupta: Mostly I would say classic rock. I've been playing Heardle lately. It's like Wordle, but you guess based on musical tunes.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Oh, wow.

Ajay Gupta: So I've been expanding into more random songs like Palmer said, like hip- hop genre and whatnot. No, mostly I stick to classic rock and all my kids, especially my older one who is nine now, we had a long commute to his daycare before, and so he was forced to listen to Beatles and Queen and-

Vincent Pietrafesa: Nice.

Ajay Gupta: ...all those type of bands, so now he can identify it. In fact, his first concert was Queen + Adam Lambert.

Palmer Houchins: Hey, you're doing good there. That's a good-

Vincent Pietrafesa: That's cool.

Palmer Houchins: I feel like I'm glad you've been able to... My kids always force me to turn on the kids' music versus me being like, " Hey, check out this good stuff that you want to listen to." I've lost that battle.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Oh, I know. That's interesting. And then also I wanted to talk to you about, Palmer, I remember going to see the Giants play the Falcons in that beautiful stadium. It was a Monday Night Football, Monday night, but that Sunday, your MLS soccer team was more people there than at the NFL game. I'm like, what the heck is that? It's crazy.

Palmer Houchins: It's wild. It's been a real success story, the MLS team Atlanta United. I think the team started in 2017, so right around the time the new Mercedes- Benz Stadium that you mentioned opened. There's a couple things. I think there's a lot of folks who are just soccer fans here in Atlanta. There's a big youth soccer culture here, and so there's just some pent up demand. On top of that you had Atlanta, maybe even like New York, a lot of transplants, a lot of folks who didn't grow up here, so they have their sports teams that they support outside of that. All it takes is going to a Braves game when they play the Red Sox or the Dodgers or something. There might be more Red Sox or Dodgers fans there than Braves fans. So it's like no one had a dedicated MLS team, so this is the Atlanta team that I'm going to make. And then on top of that, the team was just really good. When they're successful, it's easier to get folks in the seats there. They, for a while there, were selling out the most of their home games. The team is not quite as good as they were two or three years ago now, so it slowed down. But it was really cool to see that, and certainly pretty rare. The attendance statistics, it's like, oh, here are the other MLS teams and then double all of that was what it was getting at theirs.

Vincent Pietrafesa: And then the year I was there, they had already won, they won the championship, I guess, the year before.

Palmer Houchins: Yeah, they won in 2019, which was their third, second or third year in existence.

Vincent Pietrafesa: That's awesome.

Palmer Houchins: That was pretty cool and pretty cool to see. And I think it'll... We're supposedly going to be one of the big World Cup sites when it comes to the US in 2026, so that'll be, I think just keep soccer on the forefront down here. And then obviously, like I mentioned, it's huge on the youth side here-

Vincent Pietrafesa: That's great.

Palmer Houchins: It's fun to see.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah, it's going to be there. And then looking forward, I think one of the finals is in MetLife Stadium right here in New York, so that's going to be-

Palmer Houchins: Oh, yeah. Awesome.

Vincent Pietrafesa: ... I think,great to see. Palmer, thank you so much for taking some time with us. We love what you're doing there at G2. Thanks for sharing your story. Ladies and gentlemen, that is the head of marketing at G2. Checkout G2, Ladies and gentlemen. Palmer Houchins, this has been awesome. That's Palmer, I'm Vincent, that's Ajay. This has been another episode of The Marketing Stir. Thank you so much for listening and we'll talk soon.

Vin: Thanks for listening to the Marketing Stir podcast by Stirista. Please like, rate and subscribe. If you're interested in being a guest on the podcast, please email us at the marketingstir@ starista. com, and thanks for listening.


Palmer Houchins, Head of Marketing at G2, talks about acquisition, leads, and opportunities created by a strong team, and how customers are advocates allowing for opportunities to grow. Ajay dons some glowing orange Stirista apparel, and Vincent is happy to have friends.

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