It’s Time to Wake up Your Brand

A good brand carries a lot of weight. It gives prospects and clients a name to trust, a business an identity to promote, and a name to attach to quality.

That is, of course, only if your company puts its best brand foot forward at every engagement opportunity. Every interaction needs to be high-quality and to make your company shine. Often, this means focusing your efforts on weightier content sources, like webinars, to make your brand and its values stand out.

As the front door to your brand, webinars are uniquely positioned to showcase the maturity of your organization and how it interacts with audiences from across the funnel. Often, this means empowering attendees through interactive events and giving them the ability to craft their own experiences with the brand.

Only the ON24 Engagement Platform arms organizations with the tools to produce interactive, end-to-end brand experiences that leave an impression on audiences.

That’s because when audiences attend a webinar, they’re often expecting a meeting with a presenter, a set of slides, and a half-hour or so of their lives. These are not engaging experiences, and they risk damaging your brand by making it easy for attendees to tune your message out. That lost interest impacts your bottom line. ON24 provides the tools you need to help your brand capture and retain attention across the buyer’s journey.

Virtual events are the first step to capturing audience attention — be they webinars, virtual conferences, or learning centers — and extending your brand’s values. With the ON24 Engagement Platform, colors, logos, in-event widgets and more are easily tailored to reflect the brand style or adapted to coordinate with an integrated campaign. Each element, of course, can be customized to reflect a given topic.

But, more importantly, organizations can use these events and digital tools to give audiences a genuine interaction with your brand and its values — one which puts attendees in control of their experience.

For example, attendees can use ON24 widgets — like Q&A and more — to guide the event’s conversation as it develops. Resource lists, group chats, and even idea-generating brainstorm widgets also provide another two-way street for audiences to interact with your presenters, your team, and your brand.

Deploying these interactive tools can also help your organization extend its presence across both internal and external networks. Social widgets can help thought leaders interact with an event over platforms like Twitter. Email widgets give attendees an easy way to share informative and thought-provoking events with internal colleagues. By providing such a responsive and rich experience, you extend your brand’s voice and digital footprint.

Two-way, branded conversations are critical for businesses today. It gives your organization — whether established or just gaining a foothold — an interactive and professional touch that goes beyond expectations. Exceeding expectation could be the difference between business won and lost in a crowded, competitive digital landscape.

Don’t make it easy for your audience to turn away. Learn how you can make your brand shine with ON24.

To learn more about how you can wake up your webinars and make your brand shine, head here.

Four tips to detox your webinar slides

Let’s say you’re presenting a webinar and everything is going smoothly. You’re charming (of course you are! No, really, you’re more charming than you know), making great points about your solution and your attendees are asking questions. Except, their questions are “Can anyone else read those slides?” and “What’s going on with those colors?”

Sadly, you’ve fallen into a familiar trap. In all likelihood, you brought your PowerPoint presentation habits into your webinar deck.

Slides in webinars are different from those in a PowerPoint presentation. The text in a webinar’s slides needs to be bigger. Their bullet points need to be fewer. They need to be instantly readable and understandable without distracting from your presenter’s overall points. They need to accentuate you, the presenter, and your story, rather than acting as a white paper in slide format.

Toxic slides can kill a great webinar. But don’t worry — here are four quick and dirty tips to help you detoxify your webinar slides:

Tip One: Declutter your slides

The first webinar tip is making a better webinar slide deck is to declutter. Strip your slides of unnecessary text, pictures, graphs — any element that either doesn’t add to your story or — and this is an important bit — tries to tell your story for you.

This is a busy, busy slide! In fact, it’s too busy to provide any meaningful takeaways on its own and would be terribly distracting if the presenter needed to highlight a single item. Not only that, but the text is far too small for any attendees to read (more on this in a moment). Your first of 4 webinar tips is to simplify your webinar life with simplified slides.

Tip Two: Boost your font size

Take a look at this:

Oh, boy. That picture says and contains about a thousand words, doesn’t it? This is an extreme example, sure, but if you were to present such a word-dense slide during a webinar, you would be able to hear your attendees collectively squint to make any sense of it.

Here is how to clean-up a text-heavy slide. First, makes sure your font sizes are at least size 24 or over. Why? Because when you’re giving a webinar presentation, your slides will appear smaller than you’d anticipate — especially if you’re used to speaking to in-person and projected slides — which means you need to boost your font’s size to make it legible.

Second, make sure you have a readable font. Avoid the goofy fonts like Comic Sans and Papyrus that are distracting and hard to read in a small window. Personally, I prefer the easy-to-read Franklin Gothic Medium.

Third, and this loops back to tip one, avoid over-saturating your slides with text. Slides need to enhance the story you’re telling first and foremost and be readable at-a-glance, second. Bold your key points to make them readable and have them speak to your story. If you’re relying on your slides to tell a story you’re delivering webinars all wrong.

Tip Three: Get your colors right

Colors are weird. And I don’t mean that in an existential sort of way. I mean using the wrong colors in your presentation can make your webinar look weird and distracting to attendees — even if they look perfectly fine to you as you prepare your webinar slides.

There are a few rules-of-thumb to go by when it comes to colors in your webinars. First, avoid pastel colors. I know they look pretty, but they don’t translate well to webinar presentations.

Second, avoid slides with too many colors. Having more than two or three prominent colors in your slides — especially in the background — will make your presentation busy and distracting.

Third, when you do use color on a slide — or on your console — make sure there’s a predominant color (typically just one) that provides a reliable contrast to your slides, text, and windows.

Tip Four: Use pretty pictures to tell a story

Finally, if appropriate for your event, add some slides that are just some simple images. Pictures, if you will. Simple pictures are a great way to slow down your event and highlight an important point you want to make.

Have nice analogy involving ships? Well, simply push an image-based slide and talk to it. You don’t even need to include any text! You could spend a good minute or two discussing the direction your organization or profession is going with an image as simple as this:

Image-only slides are great for webinars because it both provides you with the opportunity to give a subject-appropriate analogy or metaphor while gently guiding your audience’s ears to what you have to say — not what you’re showing. Image-only slides add focus and structure to your presentations without you having to pause on a slide that’s not wholly relevant to the story you’re telling.

They can also add some much-needed breaks in long webinar sessions. Need a moment of relief? Want to send out good vibes? Then consider adding a picture of a furry little kitten to your presentation.

After all, who doesn’t like kittens?

Your slides are one of the most important parts of a webinar. By taking the time to detoxify your slide, you’ll ensure your attendees can easily follow along with you, understand your story and help you produce even better events. Happy webinaring!

Want more webinar tips and tricks? No worries. Head on over to our Webinar Best Practices Series section here. If you’d like to see the episode this post is based on, just click here.

CMO Confessions Ep 5: HubSpot’s Kipp Bodnar

Hi folks, and welcome to another episode of CMO Confessions, our bi-weekly podcast covering all things marketing.

For this episode, we got someone who knows content inside and out. I’m talking, of course, of Kipp Bodnar, CMO of HubSpot. Kipp’s work involves coordinating HubSpot’s global inbound marketing strategy, which means he does a lot of everything on top of a lot of writing. In fact, Kipp quite literally wrote the book on B2B social media marketing in his tome, The B2B Social Media Book: Becoming a Marketing Superstar by Generating Leads with Blogging LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Email and More.

In this episode, we discuss what went into producing his book, what goes into book promotion and how marketers ought to look to long-term growth  — even if a CEO is short-sighted.

As always, you can find Kipp and his latest insights on his Twitter feed, @kippbodnar.

Finally, if you’re interested in listening to our growing podcast series, you can find all of our episodes right here in podbean. Alternatively, you can also find us on both iTunes and Google Play stores.

Without further ado, welcome to CMO Confessions. Let’s chat.

Transcript

Joe Hyland:

Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of CMO confessions a weekly B2B sales and marketing podcast that explores what it really means to be a marketing leader in today’s business world. I’m Joe Hyland, CMO here at ON24 and joining me. This week is Kipp Bodnar, CMO of HubSpot. Kipp, how are you doing today?

Kipp Bodnar:

I’m doing great, man. How are you?

Joe Hyland:

I am fantastic. Thanks again for joining me, I really appreciate it.

Kipp Bodnar:

Happy to be here.

Joe Hyland:

So, I found out that we have a few things in common. One being a huge marketing dork — something that seems like you take a lot of pride in — the other, perhaps, an unhealthy love of ketchup.

Kipp Bodnar:

I do love ketchup guy get a rap for that. The waitresses at the restaurant always look at me when I ask for a second ketchup. I’m like, “Yeah, can I just have some ketchup for the table?” I want a safe space, I don’t want any judgment.

Joe Hyland:

When I was last in London, they have those very small tubes of ketchup that is pretty small, sufficient for, like, seven french fries. When I asked for more, our marketing leader for EMEA was like, “Joe this is not normal.” And he just sat there and watched. So anyway.

Kipp Bodnar:

I do like the chili sauce that they use in London in Ireland and everything with their chips. I like that trend as well though.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah.

Kipp Bodnar:

Yeah chili sauce and chips are awesome.

Joe Hyland:

Exactly. Well, let’s talk about dorking out on marketing and geeking out. That’s really what we’re here today to discuss. So, I guess I’ll kick it off with a question: what’s your what’s your biggest pet peeve in marketing or in your role? What do you struggle the most with?

Kipp Bodnar:

Oh, two different things there. Pet peeve in marketing is people who do incremental things. Marketing’s job is to try to do new stuff that is interesting and creative and solves the problems our prospects and our customers face. And if you just kind of increment on everything you’ve done you lose all your leverage, you lose all your advantage and you’re just boring.

So that’s pet peeve. Things that I most struggle with: Scales real, man. Everybody tells you, “Oh, scale’s hard.” No, scale’s really hard. Scale is really, really hard. Let me tell you that Marketing in six languages and always having somebody doing marketing any hour of the day regardless, whatever you have to do that hour of the day. That’s not easy. That’s hard. Anybody who tells you that’s not hard. I don’t know insane or something. It’s hard.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. Well, I think the combination of those two answers is it makes it really difficult — is, one, scale is, and I couldn’t agree with you any more, scale is so real scale is difficult. And what worked before won’t necessarily work going forward, right? So, just trying to do incremental things or stuff is not is not the recipe for success, but that’s challenging because it might be what led to success up until now.

Kipp Bodnar:

Yes, it’s hard. Doing new stuff is hard. You know we call it “dragging the spreadsheet,” you can always just drag the spreadsheet out another year. Estimated another 10% improvement on this thing.

Joe Hyland:

I love that phrase. That’s fantastic. I never heard that.

Kipp Bodnar:

We talk about it all the time. You can’t drag the spreadsheet. It’s kind of colloquialism here. The flip side of it is like it’s easy to do too much new stuff.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah.

Kipp Bodnar:

Right? If you do something new and it works, you got to drag the spreadsheet in a while. You need to basically figure out like your point of maximization of return of that discovery and that effort — you do have to do it for a little while. But still, like if you only do that and you don’t do any new stuff, then you’re eventually just gonna kind of shrink and shrink over time.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. So, you’ve been at HubSpot for a while, right man?

Kipp Bodnar:

Yeah, year nine now.

Joe Hyland:

Wow, that’s crazy. How big was the team when you started? And compare it to now.

Kipp Bodnar:

I think the company was coming to about 100 people and I think we’re now like 2,200 people maybe.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, that’s quite the ride.

Kipp Bodnar:

Somewhere around there? So, it’s definitely a change and 2,200 people across offices all around the world — so that makes it a little different too.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, that’s scale.

Kipp Bodnar:

Scale’s real man.

Joe Hyland:

So, I think there’s a lot of reasons people respect HubSpot so much. As a marketer, what you guys have built, the beyond the brand, I think that category creation is just something that’s admirable. And the commitment to content is, I think, the way to build a phenomenal marketing department — also a phenomenal company. But a lot of CEOs don’t either have the patience for that or the respect or recognition for how critical marketing is for growth. I think, when I started in marketing, we were kind of the T-shirt Department, right? You know, whatever sales needed but don’t be strategic at all and you know the tchotchkes.

I’ve seen that change a lot. But I still see a lot of CEOs who still look at marketing as the janitorial department of the executive staff. I’d be curious to know your thoughts, one at HubSpot, but also just in general, how CEOs are viewing marketing.

Kipp Bodnar:

Yeah, I mean don’t get me wrong, I’m good with the broom. I can clean it the best on them. Not my preferred skill though. I think that question is very different depending on where you are in the world, one. There are lots of different markets at different levels of maturation. You know, marketing is still much earlier on and its growth and life cycle in countries in Latin America and Japan. Other folks are a bit further along in a lot of the European countries — very interesting in that way.

The reality is that a lot of CEOs are short-term growth focused. And when your short-term growth focused you want to do bad crappy things that get you results in the short term — cold email, cold call, have a giant outsource call center in some far-off land to try to qualify leads for you — and do all of these things that have huge, huge long-term negative brand drag, prospects perception drag, customer perception drag. And quite frankly, it’s just gonna all be illegal soon. I think if you look at GDPR, for example, I mean GDPR essentially makes cold calling, for all intents and purposes, pretty illegal. There’s some B2B intent arguments to be made, but even then, like, the first thing you do if you’re in Europe and you cold call somebody you’re going to tell them, “Oh, by the way, I have to disclose to you before we start our cold call that I found your information on LinkedIn…” And it’s like, you actually think that’s gonna be effective? Like is that actually gonna work? Like, what person you like, “Oh, yeah, these are the people I want to work with.”

And so, I think, because of that, the brute force short-term thinking — like marketing can get undervalued and get a bad rap — and part of it is that I think it’s on the onus of everybody who’s in the marketing profession to focus on the business strategy and to be deeply integrated into the business and understand where the core opportunities are and make sure that the marketing strategy and the effort that you’re putting against actually like foots with that well. I mean, oftentimes this problem comes out of the marketers and the core leadership team being disconnected in terms of strategy and priorities there. And so, I think it’s our job to actually get aligned and make that happen.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, where you ended is really where I sit on that point. I think it’s marketing’s job to ensure that marketing is strategic, right?

Kipp Bodnar:

You have to be good at marketing. You’ve also have to be good at your job. Like it’s hard. Marketing is a hard job. There’s a reason that the lifespan of a CMO is sub two years, you know.

Joe Hyland:

It’s true. And few CEOs come up through marketing. So, it’s a challenge you have as being a head of marketing is that you’re reporting to someone who might not necessarily have ever practice your craft, right? So, yeah, you’re right, the onus is on you to ensure that they understand the value of it.

Kipp Bodnar:

Absolutely.

Joe Hyland:

You ran demand gen prior to being CMO, right?

Kipp Bodnar:

Yeah, I did.

Joe Hyland:

So, how do you — it’d be interesting to see if this answer would change from when you were the head of demand gen versus owning it all now — how do you balance…

Kipp Bodnar:

Almost always is probably the answer to that.

Joe Hyland:

Joking, aside probably — perspective changes a little bit. How do you balance building pipeline and building that demand with the kind of broader brand and content messaging?

Kipp Bodnar:

Yeah for us, those things aren’t as much in conflict as most people, right? Because our content is how we get people to discover, learn about, not just our brand, but also our products, and get that initial engagement with us.

So, content is core to how we generate demand. Where you actually have that conflict is you know — if you think about content, I think there’s kind of two types of content in the world. There’s the content that your audience knows they want and your job is to give them what they want. And then there’s the content that your audience doesn’t know that it wants, and your job is to get the audience to believe what you want them to believe because you know, you’re right. And, if your job is demand generation, you really only actually really want the first part, which is the giving them what they want because your conversion rates are higher, your reach is higher your funnel looks way better when you look at the numbers.

If you run marketing and you’re a CMO you have to have both because you lose your brand if you only give people what you want, you don’t have a brand you’re not a point of view, you don’t have perspective — all those things. So, I think that’s probably the biggest change when you’re thinking about just demand generation versus the overall story of the business, the brand, and how everything that marketing does works together.

Joe Hyland:

Okay, and how about your — I’m not sure what you guys call them at HubSpot — your sales development team or the qualification arm. Are they kind of the intermediary between your group and sales? Are they only touching inbound leads or people who have expressed interest? What’s that relationship look like?

Kipp Bodnar:

Yeah for us, it’s interesting because those folks have a bunch of opportunities. They have people who are coming in and actively engaging with us and have expressed kind of a marketing or sales problem through the content they consume. They are people who chat with us on our website or on Facebook Messenger, one of kind of our instant interaction messaging channels — having l-time conversation. We have an amazing free CRM product and we have lots of people coming in and signing up and using that and so they are also connecting with users who are in their journey on our free products to understand the problems they’re trying to solve and if they might be a better fit for, you know, one of our professional products, for example.

And so, they’re not doing much of any what you would consider cold would be. Maybe they’ve they’re talking to a user or somebody from a company and they’re like, “Oh actually really need to talk to a different person at that company.” So, I need to go and like find the right contact and go and reach out to them and they might like add that contact in and talk to them, but those are the those are the types of people that they’re really going to talk to on a daily basis.

Joe Hyland:

Okay. Does that group sit underneath the head of sales? Your counterpart in sales, does it sit in your group?

Kipp Bodnar:

Yeah, that’s in sales and I totally think it should sit in sales. I think putting SDRs or VDRs or whatever you want to call them, your kind of qualifying sales team, on marketing is just not as effective. You can’t give them the leadership, the coaching, everything they need to actually develop their career and become remarkable sales people and leaders long term.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I think that’s a really good point because while some BDRs or SDRs might go into marketing, the vast majority think of themselves as early in their sales career, right? So…

Kipp Bodnar:

Yeah, absolutely.

Joe Hyland:

They probably don’t want to look to you and I for guidance they want to look to the head of sales.

Kipp Bodnar:

I mean, I think I’m cool, but I don’t think they think I’m cool. So, they’re likely gonna want to look up at and work with other people and they should do that. And we’re in really good alignment with them and give them what they need, but I think that being part of sales is the right thing there.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I know from watching one of your presentations that you don’t think you’re cool, you just think you’re a marketing geek.

Kipp Bodnar:

Well, I am, and I happen to think of being a marketing geek is cool. So, I guess in a roundabout way, that’s true. But yeah, I’m a dork and I’d much rather be doing marketing than most other things. So that’s just who I am.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, you should love what you do and out here in the out here in San Francisco being marketing dork is certainly cool.

Kipp Bodnar:

That’s true, that’s true.

Joe Hyland:

I’d love to — I think it was a while ago you published this — but I’d love to talk to you about the process of writing your book.

I guess two reasons. One is I’m just curious since it’s been a while now. You know, what you think of it and what you think of the process. I also think it’s interesting from a career perspective because it was a pretty ambitious undertaking. I think a lot of the listeners would just be interested to hear how you even went about it.

Kipp Bodnar:

Like, how do you write a book, and should you write a book basically? It’s interesting — we talk about a lot about this internally. It’s like, you know, I think we wrote the book — I wrote my book with my co-author Jeff like five years ago, maybe — some like that? And then obviously Brian [Halligan] and Dharmesh [Shah] at the Inbound Marketing book a couple years before that.

I think books are very important at certain stages of markets and both those books I thought were important and worth writing at the time because the market was so early on, there was so much speculation and so much thought that, one, you just needed to take the exercise of compiling a lot of research and information into a book to solidify your thoughts and recommendations to the market because there’s so much conversation and disagreement and debate in the market. And so, I think, when that’s the case, they can be very, very valuable. I think books themselves are a little less valuable today. It’s harder to distribute a book. It’s harder to get people to read an actual book today…

Joe Hyland:

What a sad statement that is.

Kipp Bodnar:

That is. It might be sad, but it’s also true I think, unfortunately. So, because of that you’ve got to really think that your message is new, novel, if you have a compelling way to tell it, and it’s what your audience needs right now. And there’s, one, that long format way to tell that story and that depth is really needed to tell that story effectively and that there’s no other kind of version of that story in this format that exists.

You know, I think when Brian and Darmesh at the Inbound Marketing book, for example, that was a fresh novel story that really didn’t exist. And people needed to have that book because it was like this it was a transformational thing. You needed to talk to people in your team and your company to do things differently and you kind of need the validation of this physical thing that other people read the publisher said was good that you can kind of point to and say like, hey we can do this thing. There’s a lot more credibility that you get from that maybe just an article on the Internet or a video or something.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. So, for this book, talk me through the initial genesis, how the idea even started and then what you did right. Like, who do you get in touch with? How did you start compiling a plan? Did HubSpot stand behind it?

Kipp Bodnar:

Yeah, so the HubSpot team, Mike, Brian and Darmesh everybody were like, “Yeah go do it.” Don’t see any issues any issues. So, basically did it kind of nights and weekends. So, on Sundays, I would spend like four to six hours on a Sunday, and I would just you know kind of head down right? I like to write early in the morning. So, I’d wake up and write for a few hours and then go about the rest of my Sunday and do that kind of thing…

Joe Hyland:

So that’s cool. Sorry to interject — you went to leadership and said “Hey I’ve got this idea. I think this is a unique point in the market, right? This isn’t just total BS. I’m not trying to get my name out there.” They nodded their heads. I like it. And then from there, you started working on it on your own time, though, it wasn’t like you were doing this 20 hours during the week.

Kipp Bodnar:

Yeah, no, I was doing my real job and I just felt like, one, it was a topic that the market needed — it was a book about talking about social media from more of a B2B lead generation perspective — which nobody really talking about at the time. It was very much consumer, kind of community building, and so you needed that different articulation in the market. And I felt like there’s a lot of misconceptions and just myths and stuff out there. So, I wanted to kind of set that straight. Jeff, who wrote the book with me, kind of felt the same way. And so, we’ve known each other for a while so we decided to embark on that. I got connected with Shannon Vargo, who’s an awesome editor over at Wiley, and kind of talked to her about it, and she thought I was a cool idea. And so we struck an agreement with them pretty quickly and I think over the span of four to six months got everything written and edited and out the door.

Joe Hyland: Really? That is impressive.

Kipp Bodnar:

I am an impatient human being, man. I don’t do a lot of stuff over a real long period of time — if I’m gonna commit I’m gonna be all in and I’m gonna get it done.

Joe Hyland:

When I was at Kronos, a Massachusetts company, we authored a book as well. And I will admit that it was it was not that quick of a process. It was about a two-year process for us, so.

Kipp Bodnar:

It can be long, it can be hard. But, you know, it’s about what you’re putting in. If you’re clear on your point of view and you’re clear on the story you want to tell it can be fast if you’re willing to schedule it, make the time for it, and kind of make it happen.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I think the nights and weekends writing, while perhaps a little arduous, was helpful. It was just hard to squeeze it in with everything else we were working on.

Kipp Bodnar:

Exactly. Like anything else, you got to prioritize and make something a priority to get it done.

Joe Hyland:

So now you have a finished product — and, by the way, a pretty good name, “Becoming a Marketing Superstar,” which is only part of the title —  is quite a popular theme in a lot of marketing campaigns now. Five years ago, you know, it really wasn’t.

Kipp Bodnar:

I think it was pretty novel at the time.

Joe Hyland:

I think it’s catchy title. So, then what happens next? Other than your parents and family are probably immensely, you know, proud of you.

Kipp Bodnar:

Yeah, sure. You have some people proud of you and you’re just relieved to have it done. Then you go, and you speak on the circuit. You got a new platform, you’ve got something very clear to talk about and so you sign up at a bunch of events and you kind of have a kind of a 45-minute keynote summary of the book that you are delivering and gauging with people on and that’s driving book sales and getting your kind of point of view in the market out over the course of the next 12 months.

And that’s kind of — for anybody out there is thinking about doing it — that’s kind of what you’re committing to. You’re not just committed to writing a book, you’re committing to all of the commentary, the content, the presentation development and everything that comes after it.

Joe Hyland:

And, at HubSpot was this a demand gen machine for you? Was this used in campaigns? How successful was it from that standpoint?

Kipp Bodnar:

We used it in some campaigns. At the time, the Inbound Marketing book was still so resonate that this was like a sub-campaign element. You had that marketing book still being the core book campaign and driver by far because the book we did was just focused on social media. Whereas the Inbound Marketing book was more representative of the macro change across all the channels, which I felt like — especially if you’re doing demand generation, as out there who does knows —  broader subjects tend to provide better results, right? Because you’re reaching more people and everything in that regard. So yeah, that how we thought about it.

Joe Hyland:

Okay, cool. I just think that’s an interesting story to hear. All right, I’d love to just I’d love to get your perspective career trajectory and career growth. I get asked this question a lot. I think there’s a lot of ambitious marketers out there and they’re curious to know how people get to certain posts. So, did you have some master plan?

Kipp Bodnar:

No, never. I would be lying to you if I did. I just interviewed a candidate and told them the exact same thing. So, I’m just telling you what I told them. I’ve no master plan. My master plan was to do work I like with people I like. That’s really all I cared about then and still care about today. That’s my motive.

My advice to everybody out here on this topic is most of the time, the people who have very grand career plans and have very prescribed, like, “I need to be at this title in this amount of time.” That doesn’t work that well.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I agree.

Kipp Bodnar:

You know what works really well? Solving remarkable problems in remarkable ways. That’s really all you need to do. My whole advice is find the most important problem that nobody wants to tackle because, maybe perceived to be boring, maybe it’s just not time for anybody else to do it yet, there are whole host of reasons, and if you go and do that and you have a big impact on that, then turns out you just keep getting the opportunity to solve more and more problems. Then you quickly become the person that everybody expects to solve all the problems.

And if you do that in a way in which you have a good attitude, and you’re helpful, and you’re somebody that people want to work with instead of against, then you can kind of do whatever you want in your career. You can lead the team or be a great individual contributor. I think manifests its way itself in many, many ways.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. I love how you how you ended there because I think life is too short to work with assholes. I mean, you see your co-workers, I see my co-workers more than you see your wife or I see my wife and family, and so you got to love what you do, right? You want to be around people who are optimistic and problem solvers and kind are like-minded. So, I think you’re totally right.

Kipp Bodnar:

Yeah, one, you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with, right? If you want to be better, you need to surround yourselves with truly remarkable people doing remarkable work — and that’s just a baseline to accomplish success I think today.

Joe Hyland:

I think that is an amazing point to end on. So, with that, Kipp, I want to thank you.

Kipp Bodnar:

Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, this has been great and everyone, thanks for tuning in for another episode.

Your Checklist for a Successful Webinar Program – For Newbies!

Webinars are a great tool for modern-day marketers and can offer a variety of ways for companies to engage with different audiences. You can connect with your customers by communicating new and exciting product information; you can give live demos to prospects; the possibilities are endless!

Before executing a webinar program, however, it’s important first to examine the goal of the webinar and where it fits into your organization’s marketing plan. Often times, program managers think too micro-level. It’s important to remember that organizational alignment is key.

Take the time to ask yourself a few questions to get a better idea of where your webinar program is heading. You need to be aware of your target audience. For example, is the goal of the webinar to inform top-level leads? Or is it to engage mid-funnel leads with a more targeted message to evoke some type of action? After answering these main questions, choose a topic (and speaker) who can engage those leads thoroughly. Finally, think through lead-flow and what you want to happen when certain conditions are met. For example, what happens when a guest is sent an invitation to the webinar but doesn’t register? What if they register for the webinar but don’t attend? What will you do after they attend the webinar? What about attendees who ask a question (how will you follow up?).

Also,  be sure to formalize a plan for post-promotion of the on-demand version your event. You should have a clear understanding of how you can leverage on-demand webinars to engage inactive leads and push them down the funnel.

Once you have created your webinar marketing plan, you can formalize the details for your webinar. Here is a checklist for you to get started:

  1. Create your program in ON24. It’s easier if you have a ‘fake program’ you can use as a  template to clone from when you create your program. Remember to select your specific time zone and customize the console to fit your brand identity.
  2. Decide if you want emails coming from ON24 or your marketing automation platform. I have always used Marketo, as it provides an easy integration of lead status and more customization of emails and landing pages.
  3. Set up your campaign in your CRM (e.g., Salesforce) so you can track lead status and sync all of your marketing automation.
  4. Integrate your marketing automation platform with ON24 and then sync your program with the event ID from the ON24 program you created.
  5. Send a calendar invite to your speakers with the dial-in info for the webinar (found in the links section of your main programs page in ON24).
  6. Set up your dry run in ON24 and send a calendar invite to your speakers. Don’t forget to book your webinar room at your organization!
  7. Work with your marketing operations team to build the email and landing page assets, and schedule accordingly. I like to send two invitations — a day-before reminder and a day-of reminder — as well as a follow-up email to attendees and one to no-shows.
  8. Work closely with your speakers on content and give them a branded company PowerPoint (PPT) template to work with.
  9. Hold your dry run by going through the webinar completely with the speakers and to test the platform.
  10. Upload the final PPT template to ON24 and do any last-minute customization such as adding a poll to the webinar.
  11. Hold the webinar!
  12. Download the PPT and conclude post-promotion, including adding it to your website resource section.
  13. Brief your team on how the webinar went and arm your sales team with the recording to send to prospects who may find the content useful.

Some tips for success:

  • Ask the audience to submit questions before the webinar to have a backup list of questions in case no one asks any during the live recording.
  • Provide the PPT and webinar recording to all of the webinar registrants in the follow-up emails.
  • Make the PPT and speaker information, as well as relevant company assets, available in the console for attendees to download while they are watching the live webinar.
  • Answer any questions asked during the webinar and train your sales team on following up on those questions.
  • Ensure everything externally facing has a cohesive message and branding identity.

I know what you’re thinking: this is a lot to think through, especially when you couple this with all of the nitty-gritty details of program management and set-up. Don’t worry, though! All programs take time to perfect. All you have to do is start.

How do you put the “human” back in your marketing?

This post was originally published on the Ignite Blog on B2Bmarketing.net B2B Marketing will host their annual Ignite Conference on July 10, 2018. 

You know those movies about robots taking over the world? Ok, that hasn’t happened…yet. But our marketing is becoming increasingly robotic and impersonal. Today, we rely on marketing automation, search algorithms, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence and any other number of digital technologies to scale our programs, reach more people, and be more targeted with our content. And all of that is good, but then what?

There is still a human being at the other end of our marketing and we ultimately need to engage with them in a meaningful way. Today, engagement is measured in clicks, views, and tiny digital signals that might indicate a good potential target. But where is the moment of persuasion and connection? That takes engagement. Real. Human. Engagement.

The good news is that real engagement is becoming more possible every day. Landing pages are becoming more dynamic, websites are integrating cool new tools to interact with site visitors, and there are all kinds of virtual environments where prospects can interact with you and your brand. The key characteristics of true engagement-driven technologies are:

  • Interactivity
  • Multiple content options
  • Multi-media content options
  • Social integration
  • All actions taken by someone are captured and measured

In my world, webinars are the ultimate engagement tool. What other opportunity do you have to interact with your prospects for up to an hour at a time? And, if you’re thinking of a webinar as simply a talking Powerpoint presentation, then you haven’t seen a modern webinar. Today, webinars enable attendees to ask questions, respond to polls and surveys, tweet, connect socially, chat with other attendees, download content, link to landing pages, link to key conversion offers like demos and free trials, and even self-select a sales consultation. They are also multi-media experiences that more resemble daytime talk shows then online presentations.

The real magic of these engagement-driven webinars, however, is how they capture every action that an audience member takes to help us find our best leads and learn from their behavior. By integrating this data into marketing automation and CRM systems, we can put this powerful information in the hands of salespeople. So instead of following up on a webinar, they are following up on a question asked or a piece of content downloaded; essentially continuing a conversation, not starting one.

The explosion of digital marketing technologies and their marriage to automation and artificial intelligence is great. It will help us leave a trail of tiny breadcrumbs in the digital ether for us to discover potential prospects. However, it’s what happens next that is most important. Because ultimately, there needs to be a moment…a human moment. And that is how we will turn a digital signal into a customer.

If you would like to see examples of engagement-driven webinars, come check out my presentation at B2B Marketing Ignite. I promise it will be engaging.

Realizing Engagement-Driven Marketing in the Digital Era

This post was originally published on ADMA.com.

For marketers, data is difficult. It’s easy to get, yes, but being able to draw out any meaningful insights or actions can be an exercise in pulling the hair out of your head.

Why is extracting insights from data so stressful? There are a few theories. First, our jobs are on the line. We need to be able to provide sales with qualified leads and context to land business. Failing that, we risk our positions. Second, we’re trying to divine the wants and needs of a large group of professionals through one of the most obtuse methods ever devised — abstracted numbers and maybe a few pie charts if you’re lucky.

And these numbers, generally, don’t get any easier to read over time as most data comes from superficial, automated interactions. These interactions do little other than giving sales a phone number to cold call.

We need to change how we approach data — how we perceive our audience. Marketers need to learn to engage — not just interact — with their prospect and clients to get a better picture of what they need. Through engagement-driven marketing, marketers can find the leads ready for a sales conversation — complete with what content that particular lead interacted with last, what they may be hung up on about a solution and how sales can keep the conversation going.

Best yet, this helps marketers to tie their actions to revenue.

There are a few ways marketers can realise this engagement-driven method. For example, one of the best tools available today are webinars (coincidentally, we’re hosting a nearby event to discuss just how webinars and marketers can drive engagement). Webinars work as an engagement-marketing tool not just because they can hold an attendee’s attention for a half-hour to an hour, but because they offer audiences the opportunity to talk and interact with their hosts. In-webinar tools — like questions, polls, surveys, social media and more — give marketers the opportunity to not just make their event more interactive, but to also gauge interest and, yes, generate more data on an audience member’s content consumption habits.

At ON24, we’ve built our platform to provide marketers with a tool to engage their prospects and customers, and then turn those engagements into insights their sales team can use. Every webinar generates more than 40 data points per attendee. Combined with data over the course of a prospective or client relationship, and you’ve got a much better picture of the human behind the screen.

So how can your organisation start moving toward an engagement-driven model? It’s not just about getting a webinar tool — it’s about how your organisation approaches marketing, data and empathy with your customers. You’ll need to take-in data with a purpose, or as we call it, engagement-driven data. This is what we’ll discuss at Webinar World 2018 APAC, on May 31. Hosted at Doltone House in Hyde Park, Sydney, our day-long event will examine what it means to engage on a personal level in today’s digital world.

If you want to learn more about how to take your marketing efforts and webinar campaigns to the next level, join us and hundreds of other marketers at Webinar World at Doltone House in Hyde Park, Sydney on May 31.

Register for the free, full day event here.

CMO Confessions Ep. 4: Yext’s Jeff Rohrs

Hi folks, and welcome to another episode of CMO Confessions, our bi-weekly podcast covering all things marketing. Once again, I hope everyone listening is enjoying this series and are drawing up some inspiration from, frankly, some kick-ass marketers.

This week’s guest, Jeff Rohrs, coincidentally, is quite familiar with kicking ass. Jeff is the CMO of Yext — a leading Digital Knowledge Management organization helping marketers and brands manage their image and data in the age of voice assistants — but he also has a stunning background in the B2B sector as both a leader and a writer. He’s also one of the few marketers I know with a Juris Doctorate (read: law) degree.

Pretty accomplished, right? That’s not even the half of it. Jeff has few books under his belt, co-authoring tomes like The Everywhere Brand and AUDIENCE: Marketing in the Age of Subscribers, Fans and Followers. Additionally, Jeff has previously served as the Vice President of Marketing Insights for Salesforce and ExactTarget.

You can find Jeff and his latest insights on his Twitter feed, @jkrohrs. Additionally, you can download his latest white paper, How Voice Search Changes Everythingright here.

Finally, if you’re interested in listening to our growing podcast series, you can find all of our episodes right here in podbean. Alternatively, you can also find us on both iTunesand Google Playstores.

Without further ado, welcome to CMO Confessions. Let’s chat.

Transcript:

Joe Hyland: 

Hello, and good day to everyone. I want to welcome you to our next episode of CMO Confessions. The idea here is this is a weekly B2B sales and marketing podcast that explores what it really means to be a marketing leader in today’s business world. I’m Joe Hyland, CMO of ON24, and joining me today, and this week is Jeff Rohrs, CMO of Yext. Jeff, great to have you here.

Jeff Rohrs: 

Thanks, great to be here.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, you guys are on one hell of a ride. So, a little background on the Yext and then Jeff, I think people would love to hear your perspective on the company. Yext went public this past year, a leading digital Knowledge Management Platform — the DKM space. Do you want to give give a little more background on what you guys are doing over at Yext?

Jeff Rohrs: 

Sure, so folks, you know, basically understand our mission, and we we’ve had this mission since Howard Lerman and Bryan Distelburger really kind of founded this iteration of the company. And that mission is to simply give companies control over the brand experiences that their customers have across all of the Digital Universe intelligence services they use today, be it Google or Facebook or Yelp or navigation services other things.

Our own research and the way that things are evolving showcase that the consumer has moved obviously away from the desktop. Not entirely, but their time is now majority spent on mobile, whether it’s search navigation in the moment kind of the interests, and so that means we’ve moved away from a world of ten blue links to one that’s controlled by knowledge and answers.

You know, especially now that you see the rise of voice assistance — you’re often asking it, “where should I go for lunch?” and “What is the answer to this question?” And so, we really are that platform that companies use to make sure that all of their customer-critical facts are correct in the moment, be it locations, store hours, photography that’s seasonal and fresh menu items. For doctors, you know, what insurance do they accept? And so that whole world we call digital knowledge and our space we call it Digital Knowledge Management.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, that’s really exciting. And, so successful that you’re able to go public so congratulations on that.

Jeff Rohrs: 

Well as anyone who’s gone public will tell you that the beginning of the ride. So that is that’s just one wonderful date, and it was a wonderful experience, last year, to go through that.  But now it’s about meeting and exceeding expectations and making sure we continue to build kind of product that our customers need to achieve their goals.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, and working hand to hand with with your attorneys, which, I’m sure, any marketer can attest to is it lovely experience.

Jeff Rohrs: 

I shook hands with our general counsel yesterday, because one of my deep dark secrets that I’m a recovering attorney.

Joe Hyland: 

Well, actually, you lead me into my first into my first question, which is: I know a few CMOs who also have their JD. Walk us through how that happens.

Jeff Rohrs: 

Yeah, so, this being CMO confessions, I don’t have any degree in marketing. I don’t have any degree in Business. My undergraduate at Miami of Ohio was in Mass Communications and sociology, and I did a lot of stuff around radio. So, I was a DJ at a classic alternative rock radio station called 97x.

Joe Hyland: 

Really?

Jeff Rohrs: 

Yeah, if you’ve ever seen Rain Man it’s the one where they go, “Bam, 97X the future of rock’n’roll!” It was sort of amazing experience and out of that I started a music video show on campus that ran on, kinda, local cable access and got to interview all these different artists — like Trent Reznor and Bob Mould — and, basically, [I] just caught the bug for artists and artists’ rights. And so I thought, “Well, you know, I don’t feel, graduating from college, that I’ve got enough, you know, book smarts and world smarts.” And so I decided, “I’ll go to law school to do a dual degree, so I’ll get my masters in mass communication, and  also learn how to protect artists’ rights.”

I was woefully naive, got myself in six figures of debt before it was fashionable. And then discovered I had to go practice law afterward. I, fortunately, went to a great firm by the name of Baker & Hostetler, practiced there for a couple of years doing what I lovingly referred to as “whatever-they-told-me-to law,” which was mainly litigation. And the thing that turned me was — at the end of my dual degree program, my time in Boston, I went to Boston University —  they had installed, in the mass communication department, in 1994, a state-of-the-art Mac lab — power macintoshes, like fresh off the assembly line.

And I remember Jim Lingle — the instructor, who had previously worked at Apple, hauling in, you know, carrying this very heavy one-gig hard drive — and I took the first multimedia classes involving the internet in 94 at Boston University, caught the bug, but I had to go pay those debts, so I went to the DOS world of Baker & Hostetler, and instantly realized I got to pave my way back towards technology. Which I did in a series of jobs working at LexisNexis, and then an end-to-end consulting firm that burst when the bubble burst called Future Next and then — it started out as strictly an email marketing Services firm — but it grew into a full service digital agency as I became president called Optimum. That’s where I forged our partnership with ExactTarget and Scott Dorsey the founder of ExactTarget came calling after we won Partner of the Year. And he said “Hey, would you ever consider joining us?” And I said, “Hey, for the right price, I’d consider a lot of things.” And that led to a year-long conversation and I joined there in May of 2007.

Helped build-out thought leadership, content marketing, did a lot of around our annual event connections — was really kind of a bit of a, I called myself a Jack Black/Harvey Keitel, mix — so infotainment and fixer on some stuff. Had the great pleasure of working under Tim Kopp, who was the CMO and now is with Hyde Park Ventures — and has a great blog, by the way, called CMO VC if anybody’s interested — and rode that wave going public with ExactTarget. A year later where acquired by Salesforce, right in the midst of me writing a book. And that book came out in time for Dreamforce that year. It’s amazing what Wiley publishing will do when they realize they have distribution at Dreamforce. And then, lo-and-behold, two years into the Salesforce piece, I got recruited into Yext. With good timing, because I was interested in stretching my abilities and seeing what I could do and it was a great opportunity.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, that’s a cool ride, but one question I have is, I think I know the answer, but I’m curious to get your take is how curated was your career path? So here, I ask because hearing it in reverse, it sounds like you had everything planned out. Did it feel that way as it was happening?

Jeff Rohrs: 

So, I will say in a broad sense, when I got to the to the law firm, I recognized pretty quickly that I was “Which one of these is not like the others?” You know, when you get your reviews as a lawyer, and the number one common is “Jeff is very creative.” That’s not meant as a compliment. You’re thinking about what you should be doing. So, I always likened it, and I always thought in my mind as this very long circuitous path that I was going to take back towards technology and communications.

And what happened, when I left from the firm to LexisNexis, it was in the mid 90s, and this was back when LexisNexis — it’s a legal research service for those who don’t know — it had installed PCS and installed software at all of the major law schools and law firms in the country. So, the model of a rep was education, sales and tech support — so, you literally crawl around on the floor to fix, when a competitor had taken out your landline, or done something, or install new software.

Well, right in the midst — less than, I think, a year, into that role — they migrated and launched Lexus.com. We would now call it, “they moved to the cloud.” So, they changed the model from the install software to cloud-based technology. So, they’d still provide the computer, but now it’s going to Lexis.com. And I got to be on some product review teams and there was a competitive product that came out — not to get to in the weeds, but, the gold standard of citation checking in the law, the way that you make sure case law is still good for you to cite in a brief is called “Shepherds.” And Lexus acquired that and that was an editorial product — thousands of editors making sure the case law was good, updating it regularly with paper updates and then they migrated to electronic. Well, Westlaw, the competitor at the time, was innovating and they came up with a product called “Keysight” that didn’t use any human editors and purported to give you the same quality that Shepherd’s had.

But the truth was it was more like the from the school of “launch and fix it afterwards.” And in law you just couldn’t have that. So, if you were relying on the information you’ve had in Keysight at the time, there was a high degree what you were relying on was wrong and that could subject you potentially to malpractice or other very, very bad outcomes. So, to cut the story short, I created some marketing selects that were competitive and compared this, and I put him up in my law firms and my fellow reps saw them, and they said, “Hey can we use those?” And I said, “Sure here’s the files.” And they used them, and then I got this call from corporate one day that said, “Hey, did you put these together?” And I’m like expecting to get like spanked, and instead they said, “Hey, do you mind if we take this program national?” And I’m like, “Okay.” So, the light bulb kind of went off.

I interviewed for a product marketing job. Got offered it for less money than I was making in the field and I began to connect the dots that, “You know what? That world wasn’t right for me, I need to go over to the agency world.” And, so, each step was a step where I knew I wanted to get to something different — explore expand my abilities — and this was when the internet didn’t have books to train you it didn’t have rules. I mean, one of the the funny footnotes to my career as I was the first person to do paid search marketing for Sherwin-Williams, the paint company. That was a client, and I was buying the word “paint” for five cents a click on Ovature and Google.

Joe Hyland: 

Ah, the good old days.

Jeff Rohrs: 

Yeah, and here’s the here’s the punchline: they canceled the program or when it ran its course. They did not renew because we were sending too much traffic to their website, and they were embarrassed about their website at the time.

Joe Hyland: 

Love it.

Jeff Rohrs: 

This is, like, early 2000s, and so I’ve seen some things, but I’m of that generation where we grew up and had to figure out the internet —and internet marketing and digital marketing and then mobile marketing and then social marketing — as we went along. And so my communications background actually was probably the best I could have, because, at its heart, marketing is how do you emotionally connect with buyers and motivate action out of that. And there is also a huge interpersonal part to it in terms of marketing and leadership about how do you actually work with people? How do you see the forest for the trees? How do you balance short and long-term thinking? All of that.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, I couldn’t agree with you anymore. I think great marketing is the art of persuasion. I think in this high-growth, pressure-packed world that many CMOs or marketers find themselves in uh, it’s easy to lose that vision and being able to see the forest through the trees because you have one redwood right in front of you which is, you know, “I need to increase pipeline right now or tomorrow.”  And you very much feel that being a publicly traded company where every quarter you have to release your earnings, right? Your performance. How do you weigh those two?

Jeff Rohrs: 

Great question. First, you know, I benefit by working with one of the legendary CFOs, Steve Cakebread, who was the CFO when Salesforce went public when Pandora went public. And so, you know, his team and my team worked very close together to understand the financial implications of what we do in marketing and making sure that we’re aligned so nothing is, you know, out of alignment on that quarterly basis. And so that’s a very, very critical role, but to get to the funnel part of this, right? The demand generation piece, there, I’ve been very fortunate as well as this has evolved.

When I first came onboard I didn’t focus on demand because we had a pretty good demand process in place. I needed to focus on brand, messaging, positioning, category, and, honestly, our field marketing was critically important because we were starting to move from a centralized New York sales team to one that was regional and global. And I am a firm believer that, in B2B marketing, it is a far more emotional personal sale than anything in B2C. And the reason is that your buyers have their jobs on the line. And, so, field marketing sponsored marketing owned events are critical because it allows you to connect as an individual. And a B2B buyer ultimately wants to do business with people they like, and trust, and be a part of something. And I was fortunate in my career to see that materialize at ExactTarget, with our “orange culture” and our connections user conference and our 360 user groups, and then, through the acquisition, got to come in into a mature organization in Salesforce that was still growing by leaps and bounds, and see what they had done with their, Ohana, Hawaii-inspired culture that Marc Benioff had championed. And their community.

And to see what they’re doing right now, with the Trailblazer stuff, is phenomenal — they’ve really given their community this amazing engagement. And so now to come back to “how do you balance demand in all of this?” You have to be looking at the funnel, certainly, you have to be driving enough leads and marketing influence, but also, you know, renewal, upsell, customer referral — all of that is another piece of it that, as marketing, you often share — and I share with revenue and I share with our chief customer officer.

And, so, I feel very fortunate to work with some great people in that regards. So, we have a holistic approach. That’s not to say there haven’t been fire drills, and you know, and there hasn’t been a lot of change, but each step of the change has made us better and stronger, and we’ve got, what we feel, is a pretty good team and machine built so that we can mobilize as we need to.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah. I’m gonna go back to something you said a couple minutes ago, and truthfully is refreshing to hear, that B2B purchasing decision is emotional because I couldn’t agree with you anymore. Someone’s job, is in fact, on the line.

I’m a buyer, and I buy anything, I’m saying “I endorse this I recommended and, financially, I’m backing this.” I think a lot of people feel that on the B2C side, this is an emotional decision, but that on the B2B side it’s purely numbers — this is purely driven by ROI or a business decision And I think a lot of marketers, at least on the B2B side, are losing their way with the shift to making more data-driven decisions. Which is fantastic, I don’t think anyone would argue against using data, but I think that emotional element is as present as it ever has been because, as you said, these ultimately are decisions that impact someone’s job — and their job is their livelihood.

Jeff Rohrs: 

Sure, you know, striking that balance between the data driven and the human, emotional driven is the constant struggle I think that you have in marketing today. What we have done, and benefit from, is really aligning well with our sales and our pipeline side of the house.

So, there’s been great leadership added there and the way that I do it in my organization is I have you know direct line reports on a marketing core team. The person who owns the marketing operations demand side of that has a strong dotted line to my counterpart on the revenue side, who owns pipeline, BDR, SDR, etc. And, sometimes, you’ll see, and I saw this in my tenure, you’ll see BDR and SDR, you know that inbound-outbound layers, swing sometimes between marketing and revenue depending on the maturity of the organization, who’s who in the zoo, etc. And the key is that, that is a shared resource, no matter where it sits. They have to be on message. They have to have the right uh marketing assets. They have to have the right sales methodology. And so, that strong dotted line of that leader, she actually sits over on that leadership team, not just mine.

And that’s been a critical piece to make sure that we have that two-way street between revenue and marketing. And then we have other leaders of mine, who similarly have those strong dotted lines, reporting to other leaders in the org — some of them sitting on their leadership teams others, it’s a little bit more informal — but I have found that, A) that creates much better alignment, so there’s no “us versus them,” and B) it creates opportunities for personal growth for those leaders and their teams because they don’t just see and benefit from my experience, or what we experienced together — they benefit from greater alignment with revenue or marketing product and strategy or our experience with our CEO, and having direct project relationships with Howard Berman, our CEO.

So that’s been interesting. Because there is no one single roadmap, but in order to strike that balance I think you can’t be an insular marketing organization.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, I agree, and I think your point on cross-pollination is a great point. Which is having people sit in different groups and work with different groups and really live that. That’s how you get away from this bullshit of sales versus marketing — there should be alignment and it starts with the team. So, I think that’s a great point.

Jeff Rohrs: 

Well, and you need great leaders on that side of the fence who appreciate what marketing brings to the table as well. And, again, I have been very fortunate to have those kind of relationships with our revenue leadership.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, that’s fantastic. I wanted to go back to something you said earlier on a book you wrote, and you’ve written a couple books, right? You just released the “Everywhere Brand,” I think this past year, and then you had “Audience: Marketing in the Age of Subscribers, Fans and Followers” right at the transition between ExactTarget and Salesforce. Any other books or just those two?

Jeff Rohrs: 

Actually, Everywhere Brand is more of an e-book that we released, so I don’t want to make people think it’s a 200 to 300 page-turner. But the Everywhere Brand, or was really one of a number of things I’ve written like that over the years. So, actually, Audience, my book that I wrote that was published by Wiley, was inspired by a lot of research e-book series I did at ExactTarget called “Subscribers, Fans and Followers.” So that was great to have that opportunity to kind of punctuate that research series and the ExactTarget experience by putting that book together.

Joe Hyland: 

Okay, when I was at Kronos, we authored a few books. We did it the opposite way, and I’m curious to get your take on this. So, for us, this was an 18-month process — we were compiling all this research, and Kronos is a workforce management company, it was it was workforce management specific in the manufacturing segment — fascinating, I know — and so after 18 months we released this mammoth book. For us, then, it was, truthfully, a demand gen asset for a few years. A guy by the name of Greg Gordon authored it and we put him out on the speaking circuit. So, you’re saying you did it [write a book] the opposite way, where you had created smaller pieces of content over the year, or years, and then towards the end said “Wow, there’s enough here for to justify a larger publication a larger book.” Is that fair to say?

Jeff Rohrs: 

It is, to a degree.

So, the “The Subscribers, Fans and Followers” came out of Morgan Stewart, and I. Who’s (Morgan Stewart) now principal and founder of Trend Line Interactive, a great email consultancy based in Austin. He and I came up with this idea that — and again this would have been, like 2000, late 2008 or 2009 — “Hey there’s a lot of talk that email is dead, that’s not true. All these emerging social channels are trying to position themselves that they are the be-all, end-all. We’re old enough and experienced enough to know the truth: that everything settles into its own kind of place — and we should do some research and ask consumers how they actually view the relationships they have with brands through Twitter, through Facebook, through email, through these different channels.” And so that gave rise to the research series. And as the data came back we realized we were sitting on multiple publications, not one.

So, we split it out into —the first series, I think, was six publications with kind of a summary — 7th, and it was at that time I realized there’s a book in this Morgan, and I both did and so we started to try and pitch. But [we] couldn’t get interest, but also, we had day jobs, and it was just hard to do. But then the series took off so well with our intended audiences of the C-suite of the marketers we were pitching, and our own sales team — they were using a very successfully in their conversations — that we then expanded the series. And we started researching other things, [like] “When is your mobile Independence Day?”

That was one of the subsequent ones — that was the idea, and you might remember this — for years everybody would predict “This is the year of mobile. This is the year of mobile. This is a year of mobile.” It’s hard to believe now. And we came out with that and we said “Look, the year of mobile is when you get your smartphone because your life completely changes and here’s what that means.”

And so as that continued then finally got an inbound call from Wiley, and they said “Hey would be interested in doing this.” And so that finally served as the catalyst.

But — at the core of what I’d been doing — I created the content marketing team at ExactTarget and we were doing content marketing before there was content marketing. “Subscribers, Fans and Followers,” you know, it started kind of right around the same time that my friend, Joe Pulizzi, was really spinning up Content Marketing Institute. He and I didn’t even know each other — we lived in Cleveland, just minutes from each other, and it took Ann Handley of Marketing Profs to introduce us — and now he’s “retired,” but that’s a whole other podcast about Joe Pulizzi at some point — but it was validating to see what he was doing and what I was doing, and trying to accomplish, because we had to educate.

And that’s often what we have to do in MarTech still today, is educate. Because all you have to do is look at that [landscape] and look at — what is it? Over 5,000, 8,000 different MarTech companies today? And, so, you have to educate as to what is your space? What is the value deliver? How are you differentiated? Why should you prioritize budget for this solution over other solutions because everybody’s knocking on your door. And, so, I feel like that was a really good thing for me to latch on as a communicator as a writer and have carried that through at Yext — because “The Everywhere Brand,” that is a piece of content that’s meaningful and generates conversation.

I’m actually going to be doing a keynote at Retail Week, live, in London, shortly about that — we have another one that my colleague Dwayne Forrester did about how voice search changes everything. So, it really is tapping into the Zeitgeist that connects with our product and our value proposition but creating something of value to that reader and that marketer.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, key word there being “value.” It’s amazing how a lot of companies want to be everything to all people. And focus is a beautiful thing and, I mean, I know, in our space, you’re right there’s —  that one Scott Brinker diagram that everyone points to —  5,500 or 6,000 B2B MarTech companies. I mean, you need to have a carved out a niche and you need to make sure our solving a real problem, or you perish. I mean, 4,500 of those companies will fail.

Jeff Rohrs: 

Well, all credit goes to our CEO, Howard Lerman. We have an annual planning process in which we have these goals, and all the teams have goals for this planning process. We also established “un-goals,” if you will, and they clearly delineate what we aren’t. And that focus was one of the reasons I was attracted to the company because it had already demonstrated — and I joined almost three years ago now — the ability to be multi-product, but then to spin off really good ideas, technical ideas, into a separate company when it wasn’t relevant to the core mission of the company.

As I’ve seen us evolve, as I’ve seen the product that strategy team grow and cement, we still have that laser focus on what is our ultimate vision. We want to put companies in control of their information everywhere. So, the customer-critical facts. What are the things that are going to allow that person from point A to point B to discover you? Whether it’s unbranded search or branded search, whether it’s you’re on a map, or you’re in, perhaps, a service like Uber. These are all the places this stuff is to be serving. You know, whether you’re using a UI, [like] text, voice or, [even], Google now has its Google Lens that you can hold it up in the real world and you can get information about places around you. So, all this is coming so fast and furious that focus ultimately, I think, is a huge way to distinguish yourself.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, focus. It’s a huge way to distinguish yourself and it’s also, in my opinion, critical to running the business.

You just gave a good example, it’s critical and marketing and sales decisions — it’s sometimes what you’re not going to focus on, or not going to do — is just as important as what you will focus on. And I think it’s sometimes easy to miss that, right? When you can sell to so many people, or quote-unquote “help” so many people.

So, Jeff, just to wrap up one final question — a two-part question. What do you love most about — and this can be marketing or your current job — and what do you hate the most? What do you loathe doing?

Jeff Rohrs: 

Sure, it’s all start there. I loathe having to sort through my inbox every day and delete the unbelievably voluminous number of unsolicited emails that I get from other company’s SDRs or sales people. I have a folder called “Bad Sales Emails,” and I don’t even — I mean, I delete some of them, and then the worst of the worst I’ll throw over there— and someday, I’ll write a book. Because there are, you know, there’s the desperation tactic of, “This is the fourth time I’ve contacted you if you don’t if you don’t contact” and then it turns into the threat tactic which is, “If you don’t respond to this, I’m gonna stop talkin to you.” Okay, that’s sounds good to me.

Joe Hyland: 

That sounds funny, I never asked you to talk to me in the first place.

Jeff Rohrs:

Exactly! You know, and then there are the ones that — I showed this to a colleague yesterday — I got this inbound email that, literally, if you would print it out, it was probably three full pages. It was so intense. You just don’t have the time to do that. And so that’s why the thing I hate most because it not only takes my time, but it reminds me of the desperation and the bad marketing tactics and the things that exist out there.

And what it drives me to do is actually partner with our revenue and our rev ops team to be involved in our sales onboarding process — and we just had our sales kickoff and I was involved in some training sessions there — because I want our people to understand and feel that pain and remember the person on the other end is a human being, so why would they respond to your email if you’re not providing any value? And “Your threats mean nothing to me, you know, select the number; Do you want me to respond? You want me to respond in three weeks?” I don’t care about any of that. And the ones that do penetrate, I was asked this by a rep as well today, are the ones that convey value and are respectful and understand who I am. That’s how you kind of get through. So, that’s probably the thing I hate most.

The thing I like most is working with you know a great team. I’ve had the opportunity to do that over the course of my career, and Yext is no exception, and, honestly, kind of a pinnacle. Because, now being in this kind of a leadership position, I’m working with some talent that I see — and they already have great careers — but, you know, they have really great futures and the opportunity to empower them to learn more, to become better marketers, to become better business people, to understand the sales and marketing gamut, but also understand the customer journey and customer pain points and all of that. That is, that’s highly enjoyable and is the reason that I get up and go to work. It’s not only to achieve our goals that we’ve set from a mission standpoint — of that idea of perfect information everywhere and putting customers in control of that —but also to work with such a great group of people who inspire me and are doing amazing things and will continue to.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, those are two great answers. Life’s too short to work with assholes, right? So, it’s incredibly rewarding when you can help great people along their career journey. Just work with smart great people.

Jeff Rohrs: 

It absolutely is. And I want to emphasize that is not just the folks on your team, that goes down to, you know, folks on the facility staff. We have we have a killer facility staff, they are so positive. And I mentioned that because, as a marketing organization, we’re not just doing external events we’re doing internal events, too. And so you’ve got to — you’re building relationships that are going to last you a long time — and I’m always blown away by people that treat facilities staff horribly. I’m like, “I want to be friends with the person who has all the keys.” That seems to be a good relationship to have.

So, you know, it’s fun because, the organization, the other thing that we just did with our annual planning days, we had our entire crew in from around the globe and they were broken into 15 to 20 person tour groups, and there were 18 tour stops around our office, in which different groups had 10 minutes to present. Our marketing one was a brainstorm around campaigns and our “onward” theme — Onword is our annual conference — and it allowed people to see, “Oh, marketing, actually, is challenging. This brainstorming thing, like, creatively, is challenging.” But they also got to see other parts of the business in really interesting ways.

And that’s an example of — we have our fingerprints on that a little bit, that’s our CEOs vision — marketing can have an impact on the culture, and how the organization feels about itself, and how responsive it is to its folks and whether they feel empowered, and they have career opportunities as well. And, so, viewing it holistically, it’s not just about demand —although, that’s the thing you ultimately get measured on is, “Are you hitting the numbers?” — there is a much broader conversation where you can add a lot of value to the organization.

Joe Hyland: 

First of all, those are some cool ideas you guys, have and some cool things you do. Yeah, marketing gets to work on some pretty cool things, and I think getting insight into that for the rest of the company is rewarding, right?  And good for you…

Jeff Rohrs: 

We’re the guys who got to book Luke Skywalker for that last year. So, I mean, Mark Hamill isn’t the worst thing in the world.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah — there are worse professions. Okay, Jeff, listen, this was fantastic. Thank you so much.

That’s all the time we have for this week’s episode of CMO Confessions. You can find us on Twitter at @ON24 or ON24.com. For Jeff, it is @JKROHRS or yext.com All right, incredibly exciting. Thanks so much and I’ll talk to you guys later.

Jeff Rohrs: 

Thanks a lot.

CMO Confessions Ep. 3, Megan Heuer of SiriusDecisions

Hi, and welcome once again to CMO Confessions, our bi-weekly podcast at ON24 exploring what it really means to be a leader in today’s business world. I hope you all are enjoying the series and are drawing some inspiration from our guests’ wealth of experiences.

In this episode, we have SirusDecisions’ Vice President of Research, Megan Heuer. Megan was kind enough to shares with us her insights on what goes into a successful customer lifecycle, how organizations ought to approach account-based marketing and her secret cooking Twitter account. Coincidentally — and it is an actual coincidence — we’re “officially” releasing this episode during SiriusDecisions Summit 2018, the organization’s annual B2B marketing bash in the middle of the desert in Las Vegas. If you’re not at SiriusDecisions Summit (which is going on now), I highly recommend giving this episode a listen, as it provides a good deal of insight into why SiriusDecisions is modifying its demand waterfall and its anticipating marketing trends. (I also recommend checking out this Q&A with Sirus’ Senior Research Analyst, Cheri Keith.)

If you’re at SiriusDecisions Summit, be sure to stop by booth #109 and say hi to the ON24 crew. A number of us (including me) will be out and about at the conference, taking in the sights, sounds and lessons.

Finally, if you’d like to our first batch of episodes back-to-back (and why wouldn’t you?) I’d suggest you head on over to our podbean site here. You can also check us out on both iTunes and Google Play as well.

Without further ado, welcome to CMO Confessions. Let’s chat.

Transcript:

Joe Hyland: 

Hello, and welcome to CMO confessions, a weekly B2B sales and marketing podcast that explores what it really means to be a marketing leader in today’s business world. I’m Joe Hyland, CMO here at ON24, and this week joining me is Megan Heuer who leads the SiriusDecisions research and advisory organization. Megan, how you doing today?

Megan Heuer: 

I’m doing great. Thanks so much for having me as a guest.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, this is fantastic, thanks for giving us the time. Well, you’re doing some pretty cool things over there — you lead a team of exceptional analysts. I can say, in a truly genuine way, because we work really closely with you guys. And I think your mission is to help clients apply data-driven insights and best practices to the real world priorities, so they can deliver exceptional growth and customer experiences. So that’s the boilerplate and I would love to hear from you [on] what it really means to run this practice and what you’re doing on a day-to-day basis to help your clients.

Megan Heuer: 

Absolutely well, thanks for asking because I’m really excited about what we’re doing. I’ve been doing — and I say that, I’ve been doing this for, going on, 10 years — and the thing that I think is really exciting about where we are now as a company is in the way that we want to help leaders within B2B organizations is to help them understand exactly what “good” looks like. When you really think about it, there’s so many things that you can know about the behaviors of companies that outperform others — the ones that really get to the higher gross, get to the higher profitability.

There are behaviors that you can measure that say, “What do they do? How much do they invest? How do they do things? Who do they hire?” And we really want to get to a place where we have the data underlying every one of our recommendations — and we’re well on our way to it — to be able to say, “When companies outperform here are the things they do. And increasingly, what we’re building are playbooks, that tell organizations what it takes to grow faster and smarter than everybody else.”

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, I love that. How do you — and this is going to be a weird question, because I think you’re right in what you just said: more and more companies, particularly given the market opportunities, are trying to fine-tune both sales and marketing, really understand the demand waterfall, which we can talk about at some point in the discussion, and really supercharge growth — what do you recommend to your clients in terms of balancing the day-to-day pressures of growth — which I have to tell you we very much feel here at ON24 — with building something, that’s built to last and really working on the brand and bringing value to clients versus just focusing on, you know, how many MQLs and pipelines did you build that day?

Megan Heuer: 

Well, here’s the interesting thing about that, and it’s a really good question because we get that a lot from our clients, like, “Hey, man. I just need to execute, like, don’t tell me to do all the strategy nonsense.” And I get that, but here’s the thing: when we look at the data, at the fastest growing companies, one of the areas that they invest in is planning. They actually have a longer-term technology roadmap than their peers. They actually do more in terms of thinking about where they should invest in why they should invest there. They’re actually thinking earlier about supporting a great post-sale customer experience than their lower-growth peers.

So, all of those things — having a great brand that’s driven by a great customer experience that is supported by employees that are inspired and engaged and have great messaging —all of those things come together in a growth business that’s really successful. It’s actually not either/or, it’s that some of the things we think slow us down are actually, when done right, and not too heavily, are the things that help us get there faster.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, I love that answer. One of the reasons I went into marketing was [because] I was a psychology minor —  the art of persuasion, which is always fascinating to me — and I think you’re right. While we can use data, while we can harness data, while we can run a lean organization that makes smarter and smarter decisions to drive growth — at the at the end of the day, it’s the story that we’re telling, it’s the value we’re bringing to market that’s going to lead to those results. And I think smart marketers understand that balance.

Megan Heuer: 

Yeah, amen to that. I mean, if it was me running the show in a marketing organization, one of the biggest investments I would make is finding, cultivating, harvesting and amplifying the stories my customers were telling about their experience and the value they were getting. And, really, just the things that whatever it is I sold was helping them to do. That is why people buy. You know, our data set, hands down, 80 percent of the reason B2B buyers — and this is over many years with thousands of buyers — say they make their choice, is based on their own direct experience with the company or the experience they hear about from other people.

80 percent! Price wasn’t even close. Even value of the offering or kind of fit of the offering for their needs — not even close. It’s all about experience, and I think that is a game changer on B2B, we just have to do a much better job of harnessing it.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, I think that’s brilliant. I was talking to Jeff Rohrs, who is the CMO over at Yext, recently and he had an interesting comment, which was most people think B2C, it’s more of an emotional decision, right? You’re pulling at someone’s heart string to make a consumer decision or consumer-related decision, because it’s their personal life. But he argued that it’s the opposite. In a B2B purchase it’s more of an emotional decision because someone is ultimately voting with their role, their job. They’re putting their, perhaps, career on the line, and that might sound extreme, but I think it’s a fair point. And you have to have real conviction for a purchase, so whether that’s experience you’ve had with a company, or through a peer — these are not just, you know, transactional decisions — these are decisions that that ultimately deal with someone’s livelihood, their own career.

Megan Heuer: 

You know you’re so right and the minute we forget about that, you know, when somebody chooses to make, particularly a big investment, in a solution for B2B, whether it’s services, whether its technology, they are really putting a lot on the line. You know, they’ve had to go to bat for you and you’ve got to make that so easy for them and so not scary for them to say, “I really trust that this is going to be the solution that does the right thing and I’m not going to end up — six months, nine months from now — really worried about whether or not my boss trust me anymore.” And that’s a big deal. That’s a big responsibility, right? For providers.

Joe Hyland: 

I love that you just said “trust.” I couldn’t agree with you more. There needs to be trust, there needs to be a relationship there. I want to I’d love to hear your thoughts on marketers, whether they’re owning the whole thing, or they’re partnering with the customer service team, on owning the customer life cycle. Because, in a SaaS world — where it’s nice to acquire a customer, but the goal is to retain them over a long period of time, hopefully for their entire lifetime — how do you see marketing shifting from owning acquisition and messaging and brand through the entire life cycle and owning a relationship post-signature?

Megan Heuer: 

Oh, my favorite topic. I actually think this is pretty much the biggest opportunity marketing organizations have right now, especially in SaaS and recurring-revenue companies of any kind. But you could kind of argue any business really needs to make its business to hold on to the customers they have — so that you’ve got this efficient lower cost and all those good things, but that’s the different soap box. Marketing’s role in post-sales — so, I can tell you what it should be and I can tell you what it is based on the data that we’ve seen.=

Joe Hyland: 

Perfect.

Megan Heuer: 

Based on a study that we did of about 600 B2B customers — we interviewed them about “What do you want in the post-sale environment versus what do you get?” Right? So, what are they seeing today? And the really interesting thing about that is those buyers basically pointed to things like online content, events, webcasts, customer stories; many of the same things that marketing produces really, really well for presale were exactly what customers wanted, albeit with different content to help them at different stages after they buy.

But they wanted the things that marketing does really well, right? And what were the things they weren’t getting? All of the things marketing does really well. In particular, content was a big miss, and those online interactions that marketing has been expert at for a really long time — really big miss. And that’s where marketing really needs to become part of the revenue engine both pre and post-sale. And just as our data shows us that, in the pre-sale, it’s basically a 50-50 split at every stage of buying — early, middle and late — in terms of buyers saying whether they want, essentially, marketing-led activities versus sales-led activities. It’s a partnership, according to the buyer, right? Now, what we actually do in sales and marketing is not necessarily that balanced at all stages, but the buyer saying they want that 50/50 split.

Turns out, in terms of sales content — and actually sales content is even in there in the post-sale — but in terms of marketing-led interactions versus access to service environments or relying on the products, they really want that same kind of balance with the things that marketing brings to the table. The trouble is very few B2B marketing organizations have invested appropriately in customer engagement resources, content, people who know how to do that — messaging that supports it. It’s really all about cross-sell and upsell after people buy — it’s not about helping them get value from what they have. And when marketing organizations do say “Hey, I need to team up with my customer success folks. I need to team up with my account managers. I need to make sure that I’m anticipating the things that my service team is going to get before they get them so that people can get self-serve and don’t have to pick up a phone, or go click to chat, whatever.” All of those things marketing can do for an incredible value make the post-sale life-cycle more profitable, but they’re just not doing it now. And it’s a big miss, but also an incredible opportunity.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, I am beyond passionate about what you just talked about for a lot of the same reasons that you described. We do — so I will compliment us here, and then, I will eviscerate us at the same time — we do a great job creating content for — I’ll be really honest here — for prospective customers. We create incredibly compelling content on the role of webinars. I can get these great results, we highlight our customers to show the use cases, how they’re using webinars and creative ways make etc., etc. I think we do a phenomenal job there. And we very much care about our customers. We would we would be nowhere without them, but on the marketing side, I think we’ve kind of abused that relationship. And, so, we’ve highlighted our customers really to bring on new customers versus doing what you just said. And we found that out, somewhat the hard way, because we have a whole bunch of customers who come to webcast that we have or road-shows that we have, which are really targeted at prospective customers — and so many of our customers said, “Oh, that was the most amazing content. You guys had such creative ideas you highlighted so many unique use cases examples. You name it. I really wish I had that on a day-to-day basis because I have all these challenges coming up with creative webcasting formats, etc.”

And in that moment, I realized, boy, we’ve done a really shitty job of continuing to tell these powerful stories to our customers. So, we think we’re customer-centric, but are we in marketing? So, we’re creating a whole new division which is going to be on customer life cycle, which is meant purely to make sure our customers are successful because — I mean, you’re right the economics are simple, of course — ultimately, if our customers don’t stick around we won’t have a company. And I think we need to shift the way we’re doing things. So, I’m pretty excited about it, but I think you’re right: a lot of companies aren’t doing that, and neither were we.

Megan Heuer: 

Well, I’m so happy to hear you’re investing there because it’s just the right thing to do, the smart thing to do. And, by the way, it’s really fun. I mean that’s great work to do as a marketer.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, it’s true. So, it’s interesting, even though I said we haven’t invested in it enough, every year at the start of the year I’m asked by our sales team, or my boss, our CEO, “what’s the big focus this year?” And every single year the big focus is highlighting our customers because — you said it before in your research — people buy from peers. So, I think you said 80 percent of decisions were based on a positive experience a purchaser had had either with the company themselves or through heard through a peer. Surprise, surprise: every company has great things to say about themselves. But if you have a customer, or an unbiased person say, “Boy ON24, or SiriusDecisions, boy are they a first-class company!” That’s trust, and that comes with a higher-level recommendation and consideration, right? So, for me, if you have happy customers and you can highlight them in pretty transparent ways, you’re on the road to some great marketing.

Megan Heuer: 

Oh, my goodness, yes. You know, and I think the opportunity there is to also make sure that you’ve got a systematic way to identify who those happy customers are and giving them a way to help them shine. You can tell their story and they can be a little bit famous, too. I think there’s so many good things that come out of that orientation.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, and you’re right. It’s different for different industries, of course, but we’re marketing to marketers. I mean, the vast majority of our customers are in the marketing department and most are in demand generation. It’s easier to highlight marketers. Marketers kind of want the limelight on them and they want to be the stars for a moment. My last company was in the procurement space and I have to say the procurement department was a little more shy to tell those stories. So, depending on your industry, it can be easier or harder.

Megan Heuer: 

No doubt, and you know, I’ll tell you, even in regulated industries we’ve seen luck with this. But one other thing that we found with the post-sale world, and our data has pointed to this, but we’ve also been able to sort of get it down to a science, is think about all that we know about how buyers buy and mapping out the buyer’s journey and knowing exactly what they want to consume. Because we’ve gotten all this great data. Marketing organizations that are really doing well, are, you know, “data’s our friend,” and they’re using it well, and they have it down to a fine science, like you said, it’s really you can know what you need to do. Well guess what? You can do that in the post-sale, too! And we do not see enough people using that same rigor to define, “What are the steps that my customer goes through? What do they at each of those steps?”

And, actually, they miss really even the most important thing, during the buying cycle, we identify buying for personas, right? “Who’s our buyer. What are they need? What’s different about them? What part do they play in the purchase?” Well, we don’t do it after they buy. We don’t start to say, “Who are our customer personas and what do they need after they buy?” That has nothing to do with making a purchase decision, right? “What do they need from us, and where do they like to go to get that?” And as part of that process of defining your customer personas, just like you do buyer personas, and defining their journey, as they work with you, you can at each stage of that journey, identify the ways that they’re probably going to be willing to tell a good story to others.

So, you can create this great virtuous cycle of providing the right resources for those customers, but also making requests of them to help you with your marketing as they go through that journey in just a systematic of a way as we do for the buying cycle today.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, that’s a great point, you’re right. It comes down to having a dedicated focus, post-signature. Because the relationship can change, but it can change in a positive way, and then then you can really embrace that.

Megan Heuer: 

Oh, absolutely.

Joe Hyland: 

All right, let’s turn to your ABM practice because I think ABM is a fascinating topic for a couple reasons. First, I remember, how many years ago is this? Fifteen years ago, when I was in marketing programs, my CMO, I was at a server company not too far from where you where you work, in Maynard, Massachusetts. In the old deck headquarters, a company called Stratus Technologies, and my CMO said to me, “Hey Joe, we’re gonna hire someone to do something brand-new, really exciting. It’s called account-based marketing, and we’re only going to go after, or, only going to focus on five or ten companies and these are very large organizations that we think we can sell a lot of product into.” And that was my first experience with ABM. Now, out here in San Francisco, you can’t walk one block without seeing an advertisement for the hottest trend in in marketing, which is which is ABM — and which has only been around for five years, which of course, is not true. So, one, I’d love to hear about the practice and what you guys are doing — and I’m sure you’re advising clients in some great ways — but I’d also I’d also love to get your perspective on ABM done well, and how a lot of people get ABM wrong.

Megan Heuer: 

Good questions. Well, in terms of how we’ve approached it as a business, like you, both my boss, Tony Jaros — who leads all of our product organizations and he’s been with Sirus from the beginning, so 15 years-plus — he and I worked together many years ago at a company called the Peppers & Rogers Group that was all about identifying customer value and customer needs and really using that to power or have that data-driven strategy underneath your marketing focus areas. And, of course, what does that point you to, but an account-based strategy? So, we’ve been doing this for a very long time — the 15-20 years that it’s been around. So, when he came to Sirius, and then when I came to Sirius, we both agreed that this was an area that we needed to continue to publish and focus on because we’re both big believers in the fact that it really, really works. And in B2B it’s inescapable, so for the last 15 years really, we’ve had content in the SiriusDecisions library. And, for the last ten that I’ve been here, I’ve helped to build that. And, for the last five plus, we’ve had a dedicated practice around it.

And the dedicated practice around it was really designed to say “How do we bring some rigor to how people buy account-based marketing within B2B? How do we encourage them to adopt it?” Because we know how successful it can be, but then also “How are we a little bit more flexible than some of the ways the market had been thinking about it?” I think historically the market really thought about it as, for some people at least, the large account model, right? About these big strategic accounts. Of course, you’re doing custom things to win them, that’s not really it. There’s a lot of different ways you can say “I know the universe of accounts that I need to go after, or the business, and then, therefore, that tells me some different things that I may need to do as a marketer and also in support of the sales organization and their go-to-market strategy.”

And we really approached it from that concept of saying, “It’s not just about your largest strategic accounts. You might have a named count list, you might have a vertical list that’s very defined within a particular area.” So, what you really want to do is go back to your go-to-market model, the B2B company — and this gets that your point about ABM done well versus not so much.

ABM done well begins with simply looking at “Who do we sell to?” And really knowing who’s in your addressable market, and I don’t use that in kind of the general product orientation sense of, “Well, we sell the company’s over, you know? $50 million dollars.” Okay, that’s not an addressable market, that’s the phone book. Does such a thing still exist? That’s not helpful, right? What you need to do is say, “Who is our buyer?” And that may look different depending on different segments of the market — you may have strategic accounts, you may have named accounts, you may have SMB, you may be all over the place in terms of the different accounts — but I would define most companies not to be able to narrow that down to a list of account names.

Once you have that list of account names, and you know how your sellers are organized against pursuing those accounts, you can say, “Okay, this tells me a lot about the kinds of account-based marketing, the kinds of demand I need to create as a marketing organization.” It’s a math problem. “Who do I need to reach?” And once you have that foundation in place, you can then define the appropriate approach to demand. That may be strategic accounts, that may be what we call “named account marketing,” which is really ABM at scale, it may be something a little lighter, what I would call more “marketing to accounts” than “account-based marketing,” because you’re not really you’re saying, “Hey, this is my target list of accounts,” but you’re not necessarily changing your messaging based on actual information about each account. But that’s okay, right? For a bigger segment of the market, that may be the right thing to do.

What we’ve identified is really a range of different demand creation styles that suit all different go-to-market models, all different types of accounts. And the trick for every company is to figure out what the right balance of those approaches is and then that’s what you put in place. That’s what you resource and you up-skill to and you come up with the right tactics to support. And you work in partnership with your sellers in a much more meaningful way — and that’s ABM done well.

Joe Hyland: 

And done horribly?

Megan Heuer: 

Ha-ha! Done horribly is when you call it account-based marketing, but basically you say, “I’ve got a list of accounts. I haven’t really thought about why I want to win those accounts, or even if it’s likely that they have any interest in talking to me, and I’m going to simply send messages to them based on what I want them to know, not based on what I think they need, not based on who they are, not based on anything else, but I’m just going to send stuff because they’re my target accounts, and I’m going to put ads in front of them, and I’m going to do all these other things.” That is not account-based marketing, that’s marketing to accounts, but that’s also kind of foolish in this day and age because there’s an awful lot you can know about your accounts before you ever try to talk to them. And, to me, it’s kind of a shame if you do that and call it account-based marketing. You’re just missing an opportunity.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, I love this notion of marketing to accounts versus account-based marketing. I don’t know if you’ve if you’ve written any thought leadership pieces or even just a simple perspective on it —I think it’s a great point. I mean there’s there’s a massive difference — a huge chasm — between one and the other.

Megan Heuer: 

I agree and there’s a place for both, but I actually came up with that concept a couple of years ago, basically on a rant, because I was really sick of seeing people call things account-based marketing. I’m like, “Not so much, you’re targeting accounts all right, but there’s a whole lot of things you’re not doing that you could be.” Hence, the marketing to accounts versus account-based marketing. I’m trying not to sound overly judgmental. Even though I am.

Joe Hyland: 

That’s why I ask. No, I think there’s a lot of misinformation in the market, right? There’s a huge difference between everyone you can sell to, what’s your addressable market versus who’s your ideal customer profile. So, for us, we have, I dunno, there’s 250 or 300 thousand companies we can sell to, and I assure you we don’t have that many customers, yet, but we have a much more focused group. And you’re right, it needs to be down to the names where we say, “Boy, these are companies we feel strongly that we should be partnering with or should be using us for as part of their tech stack.” And if you can’t name them, it’s not part of an ABM strategy.

And I’ve spoken with a lot of sales reps who say, “I want to do ABM to these 10,000 accounts.” And I said, “That’s different.” Like, we can’t have customized messaging for 10,000 accounts unless it’s just a little trick that we use with off-site advertising where we put their name in an ad, which I have mixed feelings on, personally.

Megan Heuer: 

Well, you know it’s funny, I agree with you now based on the state of the art, but I’ll be interested to see as AI and Predictive Analytics and other kinds of technology gets better and better and the quality of the data that B2B marketers are creating and maintaining becomes better and better to support those tools. There may be a time when you could say, “You know what? I could use some form of real account-based marketing based on what I know to a pretty large number of accounts.”

Most companies aren’t there yet, but you got at the exact issues. It really can just simply start with saying, “It’s not my theoretically addressable market, it’s my practically addressable market.” Who’s in that? And that’s really the heart of our new demand unit waterfall, right? It begins with, what is your practically addressable market because in a realistic way, who do you consider to be the people that you can sell to? Now, how do you begin to measure how well you’re doing at engaging them and closing them?

Joe Hyland:

Okay, you brought up something — I’m really glad you brought up — it’s kind of — I don’t, do you have any sports or hobbies that you partake in or that are part of your life?

Megan Heuer: 

Well, I’m a big cook. I love cooking.

Joe Hyland: 

Okay, cool.

Megan Heuer: 

I’m actually godawful, of course, but I love cooking.

Joe Hyland: 

I can’t think of a good analogy in the kitchen. It’s really interesting how a lot of brands — and this will not be relevant to a chef —change things year-to-year. It’s like [how] a sneaker changes each year, or there’s a new season and you have to get the latest model. I’m a skier and it’s amazing how little changes year-to-year with skis, but we’re marketed that we need the latest and greatest. And I think there is a misperception on the demand waterfall that every year you guys come out with a new waterfall and nothing’s different, but it’s marketed as the latest and greatest. I’d love to hear some thoughts as to what justifies the change and how you look at each different iteration?

Megan Heuer: 

Yeah, I’ll start with I really wish it were the case that there weren’t all these really cool new things that come out for the kitchen all the time where you’re like, “Really, I need a 23rd different kind of whisk! Because it’s going to make my eggs that much fluffier.” No, it’s crazy, it’s completely crazy. So, you know, happily, some cooking equipment may be less expensive than ski equipment, but it’s still so weird.

Anyhow, that said, we’ve come out with, basically, three different waterfalls in 15 years. We had our original that came out many moons ago — predates me at Sirius. Then we had what we called the “re-architected waterfall.” And that was about five years ago, and then the past year we came out with what we call the “demand unit” waterfall and the thing that I was really excited about with the demand unit waterfall is I think it’s brought together a lot of things that previous versions didn’t. Not because I don’t think we were thinking about it necessarily, but because I don’t think we, or the market, was there yet.

So, for example, when we came out with some of the original constructs in the first two waterfalls, it’s very much of a marketing process model, right? It’s all about “marketing things going in the top and marketing things come out the bottom.” But the truth is we are all about sales and marketing alignment because we know companies grow faster and are more profitable the more aligned their sales and marketing organizations are. That’s a proof-point we’ve had over many years and hundreds of companies. So, we know that works, but here we have this kind of core construct that didn’t quite go there.

The demand unit waterfall does away with all notion of marketing versus sales, or marketing and tele versus sales, is gone. It’s all one view that says we all share the audience that we need to win, our target accounts, and we both share responsibility for engaging those accounts in different ways as they progress from cold to close. So, it’s a shared sales and marketing process model, but it also brings in the thought that, you know, in the old waterfall it really began at the point of somebody raising their hand and saying, “Hey, I’m interested!” But we know, as marketers, we are able to engage those folks right from the point that we can give them a name, right? We know their accounts and then we know them, right? Um, so there’s a whole bunch of stages that the old version didn’t capture that now technology lets us do much more effectively and quantifiably. So, we’re able to start earlier, um, but we also added the concept of “you don’t begin with an infinite universe of accounts.” The previous two versions began with any account that you possibly want to engage, but it only counts that shows up as an inquiry a hand raised.

And in this version, we begin with, “What is that practically addressable market?” The market you want to go after? And then we start to measure from there to say, “How well are we doing at converting from that denominator?” That’s a really key difference. And so, the part about it being shared with sales and the part about it not beginning from, you know, “An increase showed up, a miracle occurred!” Now, you know, let the measuring begin. It’s a much more practical way of looking at the market, and it reflects the reality of the technology that’s available to us to use to do that.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, I love the hybrid approach with sales as well. I think there’s a lot of ways you can have sales and marketing collaboration and there’s a lot of ways to totally screw it up. Real joint ownership on goals, I think, is setting up both groups for success. So, I’m in alignment with what you guys have just released.

Megan Heuer: 

Well, I’m excited about it. You know, and we’re seeing a lot of companies and a lot of technology providers and services providers who are excited about it, too. Because it gives, I think, a really good construct and an instruction manual for how to take advantage of some of the really cool stuff that’s out there on the market and begin to be able to put it to work in practical ways that — your CFO and your CIO, not to mention your CMO, and your head of sales — are going to be very comfortable making investments in because you can show them, “Hey, here’s how it’s going to help us.”

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, I love it. All right, well, listen, I think we’ve come to the bottom of the hour. So, Megan, I want to thank you. How active are you on Twitter? I see your Twitter handle here, @megheuer. Are you active, or you like me, and you post every six months when you’re mad at an airline?

Megan Heuer: 

Hahaha, well, I do that. But you know, actually, I have a little bit of a Twitter problem from time to time. I will be in there and quite active. I’m in there most days.

Joe Hyland: 

Oh, that’s cool.

Megan Heuer: 

Yeah, it’s definitely become a little bit of a habit.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, I know my wife…

Megan Heuer: 

I get a kick of it. I have a great little, you know, TweetDeck view of the world. I love it.

Joe Hyland: 

Oh, that’s cool. Yeah, my wife’s pretty active on social and makes fun of me and says, “I don’t know how you’re the head of marketing — you don’t even understand anything about social.”

Megan Heuer: 

Well, I’ll tell you, though…

Joe Hyland: 

I won’t comment on.

Megan Heuer: 

I don’t even have a Facebook page. I won’t do it. Nope.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, you know it’s interesting. I do. I’m so inactive. For me, I found two things. One, that it just ate a ton of time. And then, two, I ended up spending that time looking at pictures of my friends-from-20-years-ago’s children. Which was fine, it was great to see what my old friends were up to, but if you’re not really actively friends with someone I’m not sure why you’re spending so much time looking at their lives. So, I don’t know, for me, I’ve pretty much stopped.

Megan Heuer: 

Yeah, I’ve heard, it was Matt Heinz, actually, who the other day said he quit the stuff. And, like, “This is not bringing joy in my life, therefore out it goes.” And I can see that. You know, I use Twitter 90 percent professionally and occasionally, I’ll put in the random tweet for something else. I actually have a separate account where I post recipes, but I’m much less active on that.

Joe Hyland: 

Recipes account? Well what’s that account? That’s the account I want.

Megan Heuer: 

Hahaha. Well, you’ll see how long it’s been since I put anything up there, but it’s @frommegskitchen.

Joe Hyland: 

Okay, that’s cool. That sounds interesting. Anyway, Megan, this was fantastic — thank you so much. I really appreciate the time and I hope you have an awesome day. Thanks for tuning in everyone.

Megan Heuer: 

Thanks. Everybody. It’s a pleasure to be here. Thanks for enjoying our, thanks for inviting me.

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