Why Renewed Interest in ABM? A Q&A Discussion

Account-Based Marketing, or ABM, is nothing new, but it’s gaining a lot of traffic in B2B marketing circles. The concept, one of targeting communications for a singular account or person, has been around in name for roughly 15 years and likely practiced much longer. But if you listened to the discussions across the B2B marketing landscape today, you’d have to assume ABM is a new innovation.

Why the renewed interest?

That’s the question our keynote panel at Webinar World 2018 sought to answer. The panelists, Kim Davis, Editor-in-Chief, DMN, Karen Steele, CMO, LeanData and David Lewis, founder and CEO, DemandGen International, sat down to discuss ABM and why it has had such a resurgence in the past few years.

I had the good fortune to ask our group of panelists a few additional questions about ABM following their discussion. What follows is a brief Q&A, edited for clarity, brevity and context:

Q:

So, I just kind of wanted to have a continuation of what you guys were discussing onstage … What, to your minds, goes into an ABM program?

David Lewis:

I have no idea.

Karen Steele:

So, I think it starts with a fundamental culture. The way I would frame this is people, process, and technology. And I do think it starts with the people. Sales and marketing have to agree that going after target accounts is strategic to the business and is important and you have to start with targeting.

David Lewis:

I’d support that. As I was saying onstage, you have to perform this cultural alignment between sales and marketing. They don’t know how to work together. They’re cats and dogs, offense and defense, Air Force and Army — whatever analogy you want to use, they are wired very differently. Their skill-sets and expertise are very different. Sales are hunter-killers — on the ground, boots on the streets. Their bullets and weapons are communication and contracts, right? And marketing is all about content to create engagement. They need to know who they’re going after and who is the battlefield commander.

To follow the analogy, who’s the person that saying, “Okay, team, let’s charge.” So, the roles and responsibilities — the people side — is, “What the roles and responsibilities? Who’s responsible for the target to account list?” If you ask sales, they’re not normally very effective at establishing a target account list because they think about territories and they think about specific companies because of dynamics that relate to sales as opposed to relate to the ideal customer profile.

Marketing and product marketing have more the expertise around who are ideal customer profile is the pain points and who are easy to convert, slightly harder to convert, and going to be an incredibly difficult convert. So, if sales, from a people perspective, says, “I want to have Cisco as a customer,” but Cisco has been using another solution for a decade — and there’s no agents of change there, there’s no desire to change and there’s no perceived pain —they’ll just bang their head and bang their head against the wall. And if marketing says, “We want to go after a customer that doesn’t have an incumbent solution,” they have a very different education process instead of a swap opportunity — it’s a different way to pursue it.

So … If you align culturally, and then, from the people perspective, talk about the roles and respect the expertise, and then you can say, “Okay, what’s going to be our process for doing it? How will we actually how we actually establish the target accounts? Where will we put those Target accounts? How will we track our progress against the goals that we’re setting for ourselves? What are realistic conversion time periods for these accounts? What’s the role of marketing and sales in engaging in winning over these accounts? Are we going to create content that is specific to these targets or are we going to use the same old content we have?”  

So really mapping out a battle plan to go after these targets and treat them as targets that you want to — instead of destroy — win over. Then you can say, “Okay, now that we have a game plan, you know the rules and responsibilities. Let’s get the technology that we need to either fill gaps, like something lean data does, address some fundamental technology gaps, but also provide us the tools to help with targeting and engagement.”  

Karen Steele:

And I agree, the only comment I would add is that I think the old school sales and marketing model was volume-versus-value. So, demand creation organizations, they were comped and rewarded on putting you know having a webinar for a thousand people as opposed to a targeted webinar for ten — getting 20,000 leads per-quarter into the funnel as opposed to 200 that matter. And so, I think, there’s sort of a mind-shift in terms of value over volume.

David Lewis:

We’re still piloting with the incentive stuff Kim asked about. So, for example, from compensation, sales has more traditional quota and commission against quota type plan. But what we’ve done with marketing is we created a tip-jar model, which is we’re putting a certain dollar amount for every target account that is won by the organization where marketing had any level of involvement. And we’re pretty liberal on the “any level of involvement.” We don’t want to over-architect the comp-planning — just keep it simple. So, there’s an incentive to establish the targets — and maybe that was your level of involvement was helping to establish the targets — maybe it was producing content that goes out to those targets, maybe it was campaign membership. But the tip jar model, meaning that a certain amount of money of every close won goes in and then that is distributed across individuals in the marketing team.

We also have incentives in the sales compensation that are bonuses for winning targets, so they are not only going to get their commission, but they’ll get extra incentives for target accounts that they win. And there’s specific language in there around what constitutes a target account. You know, it has to have been established as a target account before, for example, the opportunity was ever created. If it’s not, then you can game the system. And how far back before that opportunity was created is also detailed out. Not because we want to make the complex difficult, we want to force the mechanism of establishing the targets and then pursuing those targets and not going, “God, this should probably be a target account don’t you think? It, like, fits our target, so let’s make it a target account.” And then, lo-and-behold, a couple weeks later and opportunity is created. You want to avoid that type of behavior.

We mentioned earlier there’s a cultural shift that needs to take place in order to really execute ABM well. What sort of shifts are required and how could you do that in an organization that has old habits that it needs to step away from? How do you identify that need?

David Lewis:

To me, it’s an accountability chart rather than an org chart. So, if you have an org chart mentality, then sales and marketing looks like two separate organizations. If you take an accountability chart, which is saying, “What are the people, what are the roles and responsibilities that we need for everything from establishing targets to winning those accounts even onboarding — if you wanted to go past that?”

So, you make boxes and you put in those boxes bullet points of what the responsibilities are and forget whether that person sits in sales or marketing or has that territory or not. Then, eventually, it can fit into names to go into those boxes, but it’s actually dehumanizing the responsibilities so that it doesn’t look like two org charts. That’s what we’ve found is working, and by the way, to be very candid, we’re always trying new workshop approaches to align these teams because it is not natural for them to work harmoniously together. So, the accountability chart has been another way that we say “What do we need to do to do this? Okay? Who is going to take responsibility?” And it may wind up where you would have thought those responsibilities are, but the conversation really illustrates, for sales, we’re not just arts and crafts over here in marketing. We can actually produce very-targeted, highly-effective content and tell stories to the accounts. We need to know who those accounts are, the industries, the sizes, why they’re an ideal customer profile.

And sales, hey, we respect what you do, you’re not just an evangelist with a contract — you are selling, and you are winning over the hearts and minds of prospects. But which ones? Which accounts? And what’s your play for each one of those? And it also just to tag on one last thought, is, very often, targeted kind of selling — especially for top-tier accounts —is not just sales and marketing, but the executive team can often get involved in those target accounts. If you have a very big whale, account that you’re going after, these top, top-tier one — you’re going to have your CEO involved, or your head of marketing involved, or your product management…

Karen Steele:

Or an exec sponsor on each, I agree…

David Lewis:

Exactly. And so, having the accountability box that says, “Gosh, at this stage of the deal with these accounts we really need someone to do this.” [The Accountability Chart] allows that person to get involved in the conversation understand what their role and responsibilities might be…

Kim Davis:

You need to change at the data level as well, don’t you? Because if you’re gonna do ABM it’s insane if you have silos of data — sales over here marketing over there — working on different information about the same account. So that’s got to change as well.

Karen Steele:

Yeah, right absolutely.

David Lewis:

For sure. The fact that the CRM and marketing automation systems are two fundamental systems kind of, still, creates this separation, but it’s really one data set with different views into it by the different applications. I’m often surprised by how many marketing people have never seen the innards of a CRM and know what it looks like to sales or vice-versa. Marketing ever takes a time and say, “Let me show you the power of nurturing. Wouldn’t it be cool if I could send it four touch email with your name on it when you create a contact? I can do that for you if you want. You can automate emails going out to a contact? Yeah, let me show you kind of what it would look like to do it.” You know, that kind of shared knowledge becomes very, very powerful.

You guys discussed, kind of at length about having data confidence…

Karen Steele:

Yep

Q:

So, what steps should marketers, sales organizations in general, take towards gaining data confidence?

David Lewis:

Karen hit it, which is, it starts with people — I was bolting onto [the point that] you got to have a data person in marketing today.

Karen Steele:

Yeah…

David Lewis:

I don’t see it ever done effectively unless someone owns the responsibility for database management in marketing.

Karen Steele:

I agree and I think right now it either defaults to marketing ops or sales ops, depending on the company, but very few people have that title and sort of crossover — there’s not revenue operations in every company, which, in some ways, I wish there were, because then that the whole universe would be brought together — but you’ve got to find a sort of the data czar.  

David Lewis:

The title we’re seeing emerge, and, suggested emerge, is data operations manager or data operations. And larger companies are committing to it, they’re finally going, “Okay, so what’s the role and responsibilities?” List sourcing, data hygiene, data enrichment, data integration, support for analytics — it’s a very much a marketing operations function within marketing operations. But all they do is think and work about data segmentation to enable personalization and targeting ABM account list management. And the companies that are committing to it, they’re doing well.

What we’re also seeing show up is the new title of ABM manager — account-based marketing manager.

Kim Davis:

Oh, that’s interesting.

Karen Steele:

Oh, I haven’t either.

David Lewis:

Daniel Day is at — what’s the name of the company? It’s a cute little name. I’ll come up with it, but yeah, he’s an ABM marketing manager.

Karen Steele:

I’ve seen field markers start to attach to their titles. Which is interesting, just to sort of say “I add more value.”

David Lewis:

And he owns the process and technology and responsibility and that’s what he does. And, you know, what’s interesting is that you don’t have to really be a large company to put someone in that role if what you’re doing is very targeted.

Let’s say you need 15 customers next year. A lot of companies who sell to, like, the public sector — they’re not looking for a really wide net of customers. [They’re] very, very targeted. So, why not have someone who that’s their role and responsibility — to organize and orchestrate across the company — the process and technology for turning those accounts.

Q:

Okay. Kind of a wider question — a larger picture, I guess — the premise of this discussion is that ABM has been around for a while, so why is it taking off now?

David Lewis:

[As] I was saying onstage, it’s taking off now, or in focus, now candidly for two reasons: one is marketing technology companies are always looking to create on the horizon a new shining light…

Karen Steele:

A shiny a new object.

David Lewis:

A New Hope, it’s like Star Wars. Guess what? There’s something else for you to battle the Empire, okay? So that is actually fueling it — companies like Engagio, companies like LeanData, several other companies — have put the ABM moniker on their ships and said, “We’ve got solutions.”

So that is happening, and if you chart on Google Search “ABM” over the last several years, you’ll see that — woosh — it’s all of a sudden became a topic. The reason it’s sticking at this point, and not a fad, is that it is an effective sales strategy that has worked that now marketing can operationalize. We never had the ability to do target account marketing in the past — the tools weren’t there. We could buy or get contact records galore and send emails, or direct mail, or any type of marketing program to them, but we never had a way to aggregate these contacts into accounts and treat them holistically and do things like account scoring, do things like matching the leads together as a buying committee and now we have the tools and technology to do it.

So, it’s really like, if you could do something in the past, and now you’ve invented technology to adapt it to be used in a different department or function — that is really to me why it’s happening. And then there were a bunch of companies who said, “We can enable this. We can take you know a tried-and-true sales approach and help marketing operationalize it.”  

Kim Davis:

And for bigger companies, the technology means you can do it at scale. You can do it across a very large number of accounts, which you couldn’t do before.

David Lewis:

Great point, yeah.

Karen Steele:

And there’s tons of I agree with all of that, and I think over the last couple few years in particular, there’s just been a ton of education happening around ABM. So, whether you have the technology today or not, you can go learn about it. And you now have a whole host of solutions that you can choose from to do different elements of it, whether it’s ad-oriented ABM, or campaign-oriented ABM or whatever it is —there’s a bunch of different choices

.

David Lewis:

Education has been key because it’s a three-letter acronym that, let’s face it, we all went to school and learned about the four Ps and many other things about marketing. We didn’t learn about the process and technologies for ABM — that wasn’t anything in the curriculum.

And even over the past — more than 6 years ago — no companies were practicing this where you could actually hire people who have this experience and know-how. So, the tools weren’t there the know-how wasn’t there and the recommendations are guidance education didn’t exist throughout our careers. So, another reason it’s here is because the tools are creating the practitioner’s ability to say, “Here the recipes how to do it.”

Q:

Are there any dangers of going overboard with ABM?

David Lewis:

I would say it’s making sure you know what your priorities are.

Karen Steele:

Yeah, I think just it’s striking the right balance for. Again, I think I said it, it sort of depends on your what are your sales motions that are going to affect your business in terms of your revenue goals? And just have the right level of focus. I think many companies are doing ABM plus other things, and that’s probably the right mix for a lot of companies.

I don’t know, maybe you do Dave, I don’t know a lot of companies that are just ABM that’s all they’re doing. But I think in the B2B world the customers we talked to they’re doing a mix of things. They have multiple inbound strategies, multiple outbound strategies and somewhere in the mix is ABM.

David Lewis:

We put forward a framework that we called the demand factory. It’s a metaphor for what you’re creating. You know, since we all have all these different tools, what are we doing? Like, if your CEO and your CFO or, kind of, like, your venture capitalist or marketing — they’re giving you the budget — it’s a way to say to them, “Here’s what we’re creating.” And what we’re creating is this demand factory. And the four areas of that factory — it’s called ACME, the name of the factory, so it’s Acquired, Convert, Measure and Expand —and if you don’t assess where you are in each of those disciplines, are we really good at lead acquisition? How are we at conversion, converting leads into customers? How are we measuring marketing performance? How are we at the lower funnel — which is [often] the forgotten country?

If you don’t take that step back approach and say, “What’s the goals of the company? Where are we strong? Let’s put our efforts into increasing that.” If acquisition and conversion would be stronger if you had an account-based marketing and sales strategy, then put that in motion. But if you’re, like, a company that is just generating a tremendous amount of demand and that’s not your problem, and it’s more converting that demand that you’re generating to customers, maybe need to focus their first and put in just some basics like lead scoring and lead nurturing add a contact level before you layer on this account-based approach. If you don’t have any demand at the top of the funnel, you’re gonna have pretty big challenge implementing an ABM strategy. There’s building blocks that need to happen.

Q: All right last question: what books are you reading?

David Lewis:

There’s books that I’ve bought that I don’t read, which my publisher tells me, as an author, that only one in 10 books that are purchased are read.

Tools of Titans is on my nightstand, which is by Tim Ferriss, and I’m reading it for two reasons. One, I like the content, which is all about the recipes of incredibly successful people and what they’ve done. But I’m working on a book called “Change Agents,” which is all about the Karen Steeles of the world and what she’s done — just taking that model and say, “Here’s my playbook of what I’ve done,” in a specific area that Karen has expertise in. So, I’m selfishly reading it to take his approach and bring it to our industry.

Karen Steele:

I’m not currently reading any business book because I’m a little busy, but um I love anything from by Seth Godin or Simon Sinek.

Kim Davis:

Well, I’m not reading anything.

Karen Steele:

But I’m gonna read Change Agents when it comes out.

David Lewis:

Yeah, thank you. Agents of Change or Change Agents? You’re my focus group. I like Change Agents.

Kim Davis:

Yeah.

David Lewis:

Okay done. So, when it comes out you be like, “I helped name that book.”

Q:

All right, thank you guys for taking the time to talk I appreciate it.

Driving B2B Empathy in Marketing: A Q&A with Forrester’s Laura Ramos

Empathy is a three syllable word carrying a lot of weight. Children are told to express it, parents are told to teach and well-rounded adults are expected be it. But what about in marketing? Is there a way for businesses to express B2B empathy and mean it?

Well, yes — and that’s the question Laura Ramos, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester, is answering as she goes through her keynote presentation at Webinar World 2018. The subject is a great match for the event. After all, marketers, especially B2B marketers, depend on creating and nurturing trust. The key to unlocking trust? Empathy.

I had the good fortune to ask Laura a few questions following her presentation. What follows is a brief Q&A, edited for clarity, brevity and context.

Q: So, you were talking earlier about how B2B buyers are approaching purchases like consumers, and you many singled out Caterpillar as an example of how business-to-business markers can approach that. Do You have any other examples along those lines?

LR: Oh, my goodness, let me see. Caterpillar — who else would we think about? I’m trying to remember my IoT examples. You know, it’s a lot of different areas.  One is, in particular, kind of similar to Caterpillar, is the big — and this is very B2B — jet engine companies. So, if you’re looking at what Rolls Royce, for example, [who is] is selling to Boeing and Airbus, the equipment now is so instrumented and has so much data coming off of it.  And they collect that data and help the airlines, or the fleet managers, understand exactly what’s happening with the airplanes. They’re moving in the direction of going from selling engines to selling airtime, or transportation miles or things like that, where they guarantee that the engines will be running or that they’ll be able to detect the issues with it that would require preventive maintenance or something like that.

And that’s similar to the capital or example in that, that’s kind of the same thing. They’re watching the equipment — or the data, not them — watches the equipment and says, “Hey, this looks like it’s going to be needing an oil change sooner or new need new built sooner,” or something like that than you expected.

Q: Is there any particular reason for this shift? [Well], maybe it’s been under the surface all along, but the shift from B2B to B2B but more consumer?

LR: It’s a combination of learned and native behaviors that are really driven by our consumer experiences. If you can decide in a moment that, you know, you want to pick up your phone go on to Amazon buy something — the ability to get information, to compare products, to understand what’s going on with this company, who should I be talking to there, all of those expectations are now carrying over to the business world.

The expectation of “Well, I should be able to get that information.” In many cases, they can, and they don’t need to talk to a salesperson or even go to your website to figure that out anymore.

Q: You mentioned that customer experience is becoming a bigger part of B2B marketing picture…

LR: Huge.

Q: Huge. Are there central tenants that we can point at and say “This is what … you need to build your customer experience on?

LR: Yeah, the central tenant is the customer life-cycle. In marketing, marketing and sales, we kind of built our processes, our thinking our campaigns, our go-to-market, around the idea of the funnel or the waterfall. The funnel and the waterfall aren’t dead, they’re just good like reference points for how you might run your internal processes.

If you’re really thinking about customers though, you’ve got to think about the life cycle, which starts when they’re discovering a problem, exploring different options, then they make their purchase decision. But then, from there, is kind of where they spend a majority of their lifetime — in using your products or services, making sure that they’re getting the maximum value out of that. You want that to happen, too. And then they engage — this is where they become loyal and advocates and start the whole process over again.

Q: Okay. What are the biggest hurdles B2B marketers should keep in mind when they’re approaching making a shift towards customer-centricity?

LR: Well, data is a big hurdle. So many of our internal systems are not connected and don’t use data properly. I mean, we’ve done studies where up to 60, 70 percent of internal data just sits — it’s not touched. So, getting a handle on that, and really connecting not only what you know about customers in marketing, but what’s in the sales systems? What’s in the service systems? What’s happening in your warranties — all of those areas that touch customers is essential. And then blending that with so much data that is available, on the outside, where do customers go? How do they “shop.” What are the signals that they’re putting out that says that they are in the market for solving a certain kind of problem? Most marketers really need some serious help getting all of that together. Because without that data, you don’t create the insight and the understanding and, ultimately, the empathy to better address the customers’ needs.

Q: Okay, you mentioned um the power of habits on stage. What sort of habits should organizations try to practice? And what sort of pitfalls in terms of adopting a more powerful like customer-centric habit should they be aware of?

LR:  Yeah, I talked on stage — and the research — talked a lot about the three habits, being human, helpful and handy. It’s surprising how much lack of humanity there is in B2B marketing and content. Last year, we did a study where we looked at 60 B2B websites and we looked at how engaging is the content. This isn’t about the experience on the website — it’s “If I’m a customer, am I going to be interested in what this company has to offer me in their web content?” And we look at websites because we can, and it’s representative of what the overall content strategy is — it’s not everything, I get that. But, in the 60 that we looked, at — we rated them on 15 different criteria, and passing score was 30 points and an excellent score was 45 — we didn’t find one that passed. In fact, we had to change the scoring — drop it down to 25 — in order to find six that passed. So, the biggest problem with that, with what we found, is just lack of human understanding of what those customers are about. Besides talk all about them — it doesn’t talk about the people or the problems that they’re trying to sell to

Q: Do you think there’s a fundamental reason why that is the case? Is there a top-down reason why there’s a lack of humanity or not communicating on a human level?

LR: I think that the lack of humanity stems from three things. One, it’s the idea that B2B buyers make rational decisions, and they don’t. And so, we need to not only talk to them about the facts, we need to talk to them about the outcomes, right? How is this going to make their lives better? It is, I think, a lot — particularly in technology — in the second point, driven by just enamourment of our products and services. You know, “We invented them. They’re our babies. They’re lovely. We want everybody to know about them.” And we lose track of the of the fact that people want to solve problems — they just don’t care what our technology features do. And I think the third area is just that marketers have been using a whole lot of technology recently that stands between them and the customers. They can go and do things to the website, do things to the demand generation campaigns and work at that interface level and lose track of, and not really see, the people that are behind it. You know, the people that that are the real customers.

Q: Is there a way for companies to do a self-assessment — of pulling back … and say “Okay, we have an issue here. Here’s how to identify that narrow down and fix it?”

LR: Yeah, in fact, … we have several assessments in the Forrester research that looks at it at the company level — what does it take to be customer obsessed — and also at the B2B marketing level. And, what are the things to know about customer experience? When it comes to customer experience, what we found in all of our research is there’re three things that really matter. It’s not only “is the customer experience easy?” Can I do what I need to do? But is it also effective? “Can I get the right things done that I’m trying to do?”  Do I have to go around circuitous route to get where I need to go? And then the last one is emotion. Does it really stand out? Does it delight me? And I think those are the kinds of things we have — you know, as simple as that as complicated as 21 questions or whatever that you have to answer to be able to help you do those kinds of self-assessment.

Q: What books you’re reading?

LR:  What am I reading? I’ve been reading a lot of Michael Connelly right now, believe it or not. I don’t know it’s an escapism thing. I just I think he’s a fabulous writer, too.

Q: Okay, cool. Anything else you’d like to add?

LR: Hmm. Let me think. Yeah, you know. I think it’s really easy for marketers to think, “Oh, we know our customers.” And so, we really do believe there’s a big difference between being customer aware and centered and being “obsessed.” So, obsessed is you’ve got to make the commitment to put resources and strategy and budget and effort behind creating that customer relationship, that empathy. And you’ve got to do that at the expense of other things that you’ve done previously. That’s, what we think, really separates the great marketers from those who will, you know, will do okay — or maybe even struggle —in the next 5-10 years.

A Confession: I Hate April Fools’ Day Marketing

It’s April Fools’ Day, and despite all the cute marketing campaigns timed to the manufactured holiday, I’m beginning to think the joke is on us. B2B marketing today suffers from a chronic disease that there’s a silver bullet technology holding the keys to more pipeline… but that’s just a total joke. And on a day that is all about BS, I’m declaring that it’s time for the BS to end.

You know what I’m talking about — all the jargon-ridden claims from martech vendors that sound really cool but don’t mean much. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten to the end of a web page, email or white paper and thought, “Wait, what does that company actually do, why should I care, and how will this technology actually live up to its promise?”

I think it’s time for marketers out there to come clean and stop continuing the hype. So, I’ve started a podcast, called CMO Confessions, featuring me and all the best, and honest, marketing minds I know to confess where we’ve blurred fact with fiction.

The goal is to give you a candid perspective from the B2B marketing leaders who craft and market the technologies and the methods promising to change the industry. They’ll discuss what they love and hate about marketing. They’ll confess to past marketing misdeeds and they’ll give you the insight to call bullshit on bad marketing. It’s a sorely needed reality check in an industry that likes to present everything in a shitty candy wrapper.

So who would sign up for this? Well, for our inaugural episodes, we have:

And, of course, yours truly as the host.  

What will it sound? Well, you can check out our first four episodes at this link.  

So, join us on Monday, April 9 — maybe during your morning commute or something — as we officially launch CMO Confessions. We’ll be updating this space with more information about our guests and how they’re fighting the good fight against bullshit and you can finally put an end to crap marketing.

And no, this isn’t another one of those April Fools’ Day jokes. This is happening.

Announcing the Webinar World 2018 Award Winners!

We hosted our annual conference, Webinar World, earlier this month. It was a huge success. We saw, heard and took notes on how folks use webinars to drive content, real engagement and more. We’ll share those stories in due time, but right now we wanted to give special attention to our Webinar World 2018 Award Winners.

Each winner went above and beyond in their respective category and deserve a hard-earned shout-out for their efforts. Without further ado, here are the 2018 winners:

Webinar Revolutionizer: 

Ben Prinster and Patrick McGinnis, Tableau

Tableau is revolutionizing what it means to webinar! They’ve gone far beyond the standard marketing event by partnering with all organizational stakeholders and scaling their program globally.The result: more than 850 kickass webinars in 2017 webinars for both lead generation and live training!

Congratulations Tableau!

Webinerd Groundbreaker: 

Cassandra Clark, NVIDIA

Our Webinerd Groundbreaker award goes to someone special. Someone who has stepped up to the challenge and re-define what webinars can do at their organization. This year, the team (of one) at NVIDIA has taken the grand prize! Armed with their intuition, NVIDIA’s webinar events have launched from 35 a year to more than 70! Those efforts have to be rewarded! NVIDIA’s webinar efforts for its GPU products in the medical imaging, AI and self-driving vehicle fields are seeing more than over 20k attendees total. Way to go!

Congrats NVIDIA!

Decision Accelerator: 

Hope Villaluna, Zendesk

Every marketer dreams of being a hero to their sales team. Well, the team over at Zendesk did exactly that.They accelerated deals and increased their win rate. In fact, webinars have become their highest win rate of any channel! Naturally, they ramped up their program to 12 webinars per-quarter, generating more than $1.5 million in pipeline with a 55 percent win rate.

Congratulations Zendesk!

Cold Call Eliminator: 

Lisa Hackbarth, OutSystems

It’s time to kill the cold call. Which is why, this year, we’re issuing The Cold Call Eliminator award to an organization that started a global demo series to jumpstart prospect calls and cut down on cold calling. This year’s award goes to OutSystems!

How did OutSystems win this award? They did the smart thing and partnered with their sales team on webinars. They’d invite attendees to the demo, with a sales team member ready to participate in a live Q&A at the end of the session. Always great to see teams using ON24 to build bridges between marketing and sales

Congrats OutSystems!

ABM Trailblazer:

Rory Tokunaaga, Demandbase

Account Based Marketing, or ABM, was one of the standout topics at Webinar World 2018. It’s only fitting that we bestow an award on a company that does ABM well. And that company is Demandbase!

How did they do it? Well, they lead the way by using ON24 for their ABM programs with targeted programs for specific audiences. The results have been phenomenal, with a 178 percent increase in opportunities.

Congrats Demandbase!

Customer Nurturer: 

Jeremy Collins, BrightEdge

Do you use webinars to get a pulse on your customers, and then use those insights in other marketing campaigns? BrightEdge does. In fact, they do it so well they took home our Customer Nurturer award!

After focusing their webinars content strategy around three core topics, BrightEdge was able to drive amazing results. A single year saw 10,000 hours of webinar engagement and a drastic increase in renewal rates.

Congrats BrightEdge!

Community Builder: 

James Gianotti, IBM Cloud

Marketers are great at building community. In fact, in many cases, that’s what we do! But one company stood out from the pack to take home our coveted Community Builder Award at Webinar World 2018. That company? IBM Cloud!

IBM cloud connected with its customers by deploying a smart use of polls, surveys and Q&A chats to deliver what its attendees want. This is especially effective for audiences, like developers, who can be hard to reach.

Congrats IBM Cloud!

Audience Captivator: 

Roger Castilho, S&P Global

It’s great when your company is the center of attention, but it’s even better when your company can captivate an audience for a long time. That’s why the winner of our Audience Captivator award had to beat industry benchmarks on engagement — and do so continuously. So big hat’s off to S&P Global for taking home the Audience Captivator award!

S&P Global took engagement to the next level by bringing in a mix of different and key industry speakers from to ensure each message shared is valuable for each and every attendee.

Congrats S&P Global!

Brand Evangelizer: 

Braeden Fair, Paycom

Webinars are a fantastic channel for your brand to show off its pizzaz, it’s charm, it’s flair! Which is why the winner of our Brand Evangelizer award had to be extremely crafty with their webinars! Paycom filled the bill by stylizing each webinar to match its story and all of its associated content. 

Congrats Paycom!

Story Broadcaster:

May Chang, Polycom

A good storyteller should get great recognition. But great storyteller can only become so when they get out of their comfort zone and experiment. And Polycom did just that!

Polycom discovered different ways to create new human interactions in their webinars. In fact, they used their own video conferencing technology to enable remote collaboration over their events. A neat trick worthy of an award! We can’t wait to see more customers give it a try too!

Congrats Polycom!

Content Re-generator:

Jocelyn Robertson, Financial Engines

One of the great things about webinars is that you can use and re-use content over and over and over without and deliver it to a new audience almost every time. Identifying and preparing content for reuse is a skill that takes practice. So, we figured it’s best to award those efforts with a nice award.

And who gets that award? Why Financial Engines does! Financial Engines takes home the Content Re-generator award for their astute ability to break down their hour-long presentations and break them down into bite-sized webinar bits. Their five-to-seven minute vignettes help their customers by delivering informational updates, incentivizing employees on Financial Wellness topics and more. That’s a great re-use of content!

Congrats Financial Engines!

Webinar Globalizer: 

Claudia JimenezThomson Reuters

Creating webinars with a global audience in mind isn’t the easiest task, but the pay off is always worth it because it’s such a powerful way to share your brand and scale your global presence. Doing it well deserves recognition. Which is why we’re saying congrats to Thomson Reuters for taking home the Webinar Globalizer award!

Thomson Reuters stood out from the crowd by crafting their webinars over unifying topics that global audiences can relate to. One, in particular, helped the organizations to cut across regions with a high-profile report.

Congrats Thomson Reuters!

Webinerd Leader: 

Nina Purro, Salesforce

We believe webinars are one of the best ways to engage. This can include team members. So how can you make sure your latest and greatest is out in front of your own team? Salesforce shows us the way.

Salesforce uses their internal communication tool, Salesforce Chatter, to announce and detail all new webinars. Simply by tagging the right groups, Salesforce can get their own internal teams to forward their webinars to other internal teams and get word of their webinar out across the globe. They even have an internal document that helps them to spread the word of their webinars and ensure everyone’s up-to-date on webinar events.

Congrats Salesforce!

Marketing Game-Changer:

The Hortonworks Team, Hortonworks

Finally, there’s the game-changer. The Marketing Game-Changer award, that is. For this award, a company has to put engagement at the core of their marketing program. And, boy, Hortonworks has done that.

From their internal promotion strategy to the analytics they collect, Hortonworks has made dramatic changes to their marketing campaigns by putting webinars at the center of an ongoing integrated program. And for that, they take him the Marketing Game-Changer award.

Congrats Hortonworks!

Q&A with Alex Blumberg, CEO of Gimlet Media

I’m sitting backstage at the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco, California, and it is dark and cramped and quiet as our annual conference, Webinar World, officially kicks off. I’m in this area to try and quietly type out social media posts for our virtual audience, but I’m mostly trying to pay attention to the keynote speaker onstage. His name is Alex Blumberg and he is the CEO and Co-Founder of Gimlet Media, a major podcasting startup which recently raised $15 million in a Series B round.

Blumberg is not here to discuss funds, startups or anything approximating common Silicon Valley discourse. Here’s here to discuss something far more fundamental: storytelling. In particular, Blumberg is explaining how good stories are crafted over his preferred medium, audio, and how the crowd — mostly B2B marketers — can leverage these same elemental tools to capture the attention and trust of their preferred audiences.

I had the good fortune to steal Blumberg for a few questions after his speech. What follows is a brief Q&A, edited for clarity, brevity and context.

Q) [The American Broadcasting Company is producing a television series loosely based around StartUp, a podcast Blumberg produced.] ABC, that whole thing, I was curious — how is that going on? What is your mindset with them doing kind of an autobiography sitcom?

AB: Haha. Well, I think calling it an autobiography is way, way out there. So, they optioned season one of StartUp, but, like, when anybody options, especially when it’s a television show, they kinda fictionalize a ton of stuff. So, it’s loosely based on, sort of, the events inside of StartUp. So, there’s, like, a family and the guy is starting a podcasting company but not many of the details are the same. But it’s cool. It’s really, really crazy to think it’s going to be on ABC and Zach Braff is staring…

Q) Gotcha. In your opinion, are there any particular habits that a successful storyteller practices and nurtures?

AB: Yeah, I think curiosity is really important and just trying to stay true to a feeling that somebody has. Like, what are the feelings that are going on? If you can pay attention to the feelings people have and why, [and] how that applies to them, and [what] they may be feeling about whatever they’re going through — I think that’s important. I think curiosity and sort of, like, emotional availability are key.

Q) You mentioned identifying key points and emotion. How would you go about identifying key points within a story?

AB: So I think it all depends on the story you’re telling. Often, there’s a beginning. What I try to do is I try to think “Okay, so where does the story begin? What’s the middle — what happens in the middle and what’s the end?”

And, generally, over a story, something has to evolve, right? Something has to take place. You want to end up in a place that’s different than the beginning. And there’s all sorts of formulas for this. There’s a very famous Disney formula. It’s like, “Here’s this character and this is the way it was for many days. And then one day… and this is what it was like after that.”

And you see that. If you start watching you’ll see that. There’s a sort of “Here’s the everyday” and “And then one day” and then “The things change after that.” Some period of transformation has to happen. Every story is in some way, probably, about transformation — something changes in the end than in the beginning. And I think that’s where to look.

So we, when we’re telling stories, we’re looking for pivotal moments. We’re looking for not just, like, “We’re a solution to the blah-blah-blah.” Rather, we’re looking for something like “You know how this thing happened? Like, here’s a moment we’ve all had, right? You’re on the phone, or whatever, and ‘X’ happens and that’s frustrating and we’ve all felt that frustration. I’ve felt that one and then one day I learned this thing and now I want to tell you about the thing I learned.” And think that’s an arc that people will much more organically pay attention to.

Q) A lot of B2B Marketers like to talk about knowing their audience. To get this understanding, we generally use lot of data. How did you come to know your audience?

AB: This is something that we don’t know very well. I think you guys [B2B marketers] know this way better than we do. At This American Life we had most of my instincts that I’ve learned about storytelling I learned while there, and we didn’t know much, really, about our audience at all.

We knew, basically, that they were a public radio audience but we didn’t have very good data on who those people were and what they were coming to the show for. All we knew was that, um, genuinely, if we liked it, they would like it. You know? Generally. And I think we started to try and become a proxy for the audience in some way, which was some sort of on very, very deep human level.

We just assumed, “Okay, it [the audience] is basically a curious person with some level of curiosity about the world. But that is also a human being with human boredom.” And so we’d try to pay attention to our own boredom as much as possible… in journalism, you’re trying to get across information, but you don’t want it to be, like, “Eat your broccoli.” You wanna feel like “Oh, this is an important story, but I’m not listening to it because it’s an important story. I’m listening to it because it’s an interesting story. It’s going to make me feel something. I’m going to learn something or whatever.”

So just really keenly developing your own sense of, “I’m bored by this.” And, also, just trying playing it for people, “Do you care? Do you care what I’m saying right now?” And that’s a question we ask all the time: “Do I care about what you’re saying?”

Q) So, in hindsight, how did you identify what people did care about? How did you pick up on what resonated with your audience?

AB: We get feedback from the show. At Gimlet, our most basic metric is, “How many people listened? How many people engaged with us? How many people give us feedback? How many people tweeted us? How many people listened to all the way through?” You get listener data — you can see listening curves — and that’s getting better and better and more sophisticated as more analytics tools are rolling out, so you can sort of see [where] you could have problems in stories. Like you don’t set it up properly, and it’s actually a great story, but you haven’t set it up properly and it sounds like a boring story. And you see people drop off really quickly. And then sometimes you see [that] you set it up pretty good and then it starts to drizzle out and you can see people drop off there. So that’s a pretty good tool for us — you know, what does our listen-through curve look like? Most people listen all the way through — we have pretty high engagement.

Q) You posed the question onstage “What is audio good at?” And you walked us through what it is good at. How did you come to identify what that medium — or how do you identify what a medium — is good at?

AB: Well, a couple things, I got hired to teach a class — a radio journalism class — in the early 2000s at Columbia University and I was like “Ugh, I have to come up with a curriculum.” I had been doing radio for a while but I hadn’t really thought about what it was good at. So, I started thinking about it and I realized that the stories I really liked, the stories that really resonate with me, had these elements.

We did this TV show — it was a This American Life TV show on Showtime — where we tried to do a version of This American Life on TV and out of all of this stuff we’d do the interviews. And they would be these killer audio interviews and they just wouldn’t work. You’d watch the dailies and they’d just be boring. I was like, “This is so weird because, as audio, this is going to kill. I know it’s going to kill because I had been doing it for a long time and I know that it’s going to be riveting audio.”

But watching it? Sometimes just watching the person say it just was boring, you know? And they’d [other TV shows] do some dumb thing where they’d have some weird accent or say something vaguely rude to somebody and you’d be, “Oh, I want to watch that.” And then you’d realize “Oh, these mediums are really good at different things.” And it started to make me understand that the same sequence of actions that makes a really good audio story happens just visually. If you were just watching somebody engaged in a process, you’re hooked. “What is that person doing?” And they’re walking down the hall looking at the doors and they’re trying the keys. And you’re like, “Wait, what is going on here?” And so the same thing happens, but it’s just a different vocabulary.

And audio is different. In audio, conflict can be internal — you can hear people wrestling with their own feelings. In video, it’s harder to see so that conflict has to be a little more external. That’s why people really like fighting. That’s … that’s why reality [TV shows] exists and why reality always needs a person who’s, sort of, got poor impulse control to stir things up. It made me understand, “Oh, this is why, this is why TV is the way it is.” Because, it’s just, that’s what it needs — that’s what we, as human beings, want to watch.

Q) How familiar are you with webinars?

AB: A little. I’ve done one or two.

Q) Okay, so webinars combine a few different mediums — so it can do audio, it can do video, it can do both at the same time — do you that’s an asset, like, being able to do multiple [mediums] or would you think it’d be better to just focus on one particular medium?

AB: I don’t know. I think it depends on how you’re reaching people and where you’re reaching people. We did a story, when I was at Planet Money, we did this big thing where we followed a T-shirt around the world — so, we documented it as it got made. So, it was this really great project and we talked to the people in Bangladesh who sewed the T-shirts together and we talked to the yarn-spinners in Indonesia, who made the yarn that went into our t-shirt, and we just followed it all the way around — the ship rows, everything.

And it was really great. We did videos of it and we did radio stories of it. The videos and the radio stories were completely different. And they focused on completely different things. They [TV and radio stories] had two different teams doing it and the way we constructed the stories — they were about the same thing, but the way we constructed the stories were completely different…

A really big thing that’s happening in Bangladesh was people — especially women — were just leaving the countryside where there’s just, like, extreme, extreme poverty. People not having enough to eat kind of poverty. And then moving to the cities, where they’re working for incredibly low wages and yet, slightly higher standard of living. They have calories to eat now and they have a little bit of excess cash. And so, they’re horrible jobs from a Western perspective, but compared to what they had available in the rural countryside, they’re better. And that’s why everybody was leaving. And so what we were able to do in the video, [show] what’s happening on a massive scale.

That’s like a societal revolution in Bangladesh, right? There’s millions and millions of people. And, in the video, we were able to show this shot of all these women walking down the street just to get to the garment district — just to give you this sense of scale. We could never do that in audio. What we were able to do on audio was to give you the feeling of what it is like to grow up in this incredible rural poverty and what it feels like to finally get to the city. And those are complicated feelings. And we were able to represent that in the audio way better than what we were able to represent in the video.

So it was interesting, right? We were able to show these different facets of the story.

What I would say is that you’d want to do — just make sure — don’t try and do everything, just use the medium. Video can do things that audio just cannot do, right? And audio can do things that video is not very good at. So I think just choose. That’s why I’m saying, audio is really good at narrative and it’s really good at feeling. You can convey feeling — you can do that way better on audio than you can on video.

Q) Well, speaking of feeling, you mentioned the importance of emotional honesty and all that good fun stuff. How do you think, as marketers, we can approach and identify emotional honesty?

AB: I think you embrace it. When we [Gimlet] started out it was a business story — like, people have told the startup story and it’s always like, “we’re killing it!” And never, “This is scary and I feel like I’m going to fail all the time, right?” And we told the honest story of what it’s like to start a startup — and that was incredibly valuable for us. Because, I think, it humanized us, it made people, like, connect to our story. It made that story accessible to people.

So, I think if you can, meet people where they are. And the best people at this — I don’t care who you’re talking about — Howard Stern, Tony Robbin — I’ve been to a Tony Robbins seminar-like, he does this. He zeros in on an emotion — he’s a master at it. He will zero in on the thing that you’re actually feeling and, instantaneously, people will start crying…

I think if you just connect with emotion — I’m not saying you have to be like, “This whole thing is a lie” and, “This business is a sham!” Or you’re like “I hate my job.” You don’t have to get into that, but somebody has a feeling about, like, “it is hard to cold-call a customer,” or “it is hard, or sometimes I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing and I…whatever.” We can be a lot more honest than what we let ourselves be most of the time.

Q) Where do you get your best feedback from?

AB: This is something that we don’t do well. We’re in the dark ages in podcasting. We have a very dumb delivery mechanism which is the MP3 and we just don’t get a lot of it.

Q) What books are you reading?

AB: I have been on a fiction tear because my kids have finally gotten to the age where I have free time again. I haven’t read in forever, and now that my kids are five and seven and they can just, sort of, entertain themselves for a couple hours in an afternoon so I can read now. So I read — just finished The Underground Railroad by Coslon Whitehead. I’m a huge Jennifer Egan fan, so I just finished her most recent one, Manhattan Beach, and then I read The Goon Squad. I’ve read on a tear. And now I’m on the Michael Lewis book, The Undoing Project, which is about these two Nobel winning economists, or they’re psychologists, but they went on to work in economics. It’s super interesting.

This is the Dawning of the Age of – the Webinerd?

Originally published on LinkedIn. Shared with permission.  

As I flew home last night from San Francisco after speaking at and attending ON24 Webinar World 2018 (delayed due to winter storm on the east coast) – I was reminded of the first time I traveled to this amazing city. The year was 1968 and it was near the end of an epic three-week family summer adventure. We started with a train ride across Canada from Toronto, made our way from Vancouver all the way south to San Diego and ended up in Denver before flying home. But the brightest memories of that magical journey include visiting San Francisco. It was not long after the “summer of love” and during the height of pop culture of the musical “Hair”. And with that the phrase “this is the dawning of the age of Aquarius” was forever etched into my consciousness as this small boy walked amidst a truly special place and among the “flower children” in the middle of a very special time in history.

Fast forward 50 years. I’m no longer a small boy and my own kids are now in their 20’s — the same age as many of the people I saw during that magical visit to San Francisco a half century ago. I’ve been back many times since 1968 and I always feel a bit sad when heading back east – in this case to a foot and a half of snow and no power in my condo at a toasty 51 degrees (F not C).

My visit to San Francisco was to speak at and attend the ON24 Webinar World 2018 event. I was very fortunate to be the SAP keynote at the inaugural Webinar World 2017 event along with my good friend and SAP colleague Scott Feldman. We had fun noting that 500 people had traveled to a physical event about virtual webinars and this year the audience grew to over 1,000 people.  This year I gave a breakout session “The Art & Science of Modern Marketing: Three Key Best Practices for the Journey” focused on three topics of great passion to me – Thought Leadership, the Modern Webinar and Digital Marketing and Performance Management and Analytics all in the context of “the age of Modern Marketing”.

During the conference ON24 gave out T-shirts with the hashtag “#webinerd” and many attendees proudly wore them during the 2-day event. Although you will hear more from me about this event I’ll say that there was as much love and passion in the air for digital marketing and modern webinars at ON24 Webinar World 2018 as there was in the “summer of love” I experienced so many years ago as a child. It’s truly a special time when people aligned around a common purpose all converge and share insight, best practices and yes – the love of what they do. This truly was a celebration of Modern Marketing, the rise of Digital Marketing fueled by the Demand Generation Platform and true Insights- and Data-driven marketing and so much more.

So yes – this is the dawning of the age the Webinerd and with it the wonderful transformation to Modern Marketing fueled by Digitalization and Marketing Technology (MarTech).   Thanks to ON24 and everyone who attended Webinar World 2018 for this amazing experience.

Fred is the senior marketing director and BMO Lead for SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud and Digital Business Services Marketing at SAP.

Webinar Best Practices Series: Spice Up Your Webinars with Video

Too many webinars today are simply a voice and a powerpoint presentation. It’s time to add a bit of energy and personality into webinars — and the easiest way to do that is with video. But don’t worry! Hosting video webinars doesn’t have to be an expensive investment. In fact, you can spice up your current webinars with just a webcam — like those embedded in most laptops today — and you.  

But why video? Easy. Video helps your viewers to better engage, understand and connect with your content. It adds brand personality — your thought leaders, managers and brand ambassadors, to be specific — and provides a superior audience experience at almost every stage of the buying cycle.

Let’s take a quick look at the types of video you can integrate into your webinar and why you’d want to use them.

Broadcast Video

The crème-de-la-crème for webinars today is broadcast-quality video. It’s polished, professional and looks great. In fact, this is the type of video we at ON24 use for our Webinar Best Practices Series. There are a few good reasons why we make this investment: It gives us highest-quality video possible, provides a wonderful branding opportunity and builds a distinctive look and style for our webinar series.

But there are, of course, downsides. Broadcast-quality video, in the past, has been too complex and expensive for a lot of organizations. Then you have to find a suitable host. This is not as easy as it sounds! Not everyone is at ease in front of the camera and the pressure to perform and entertain can be intimidating.

But, thankfully, these two obstacles can be overcome. Best yet, they can be accommodated at an affordable price point. You can find your solution by talking to a local studio. Studios typically have the resources, the talent and the know-how to run a broadcast-style webinar — and at a price you may be surprised at. Plus, if you don’t have an A-type personality like yours truly, they may be able to find someone for you.

Look, studios sound intimidating and expensive, but the truth is they’re more affordable and approachable than ever before. If you’re interested in delivering top-tier video webinars — even if it’s just quarterly videos — then give studios some thought.

Webcams

I hated webcams when they first came out. They were awkward, made for forced conversations and were generally unpleasant (from my perspective). But one thing changed over the years that made webcams a whole lot more accessible: your phone. Almost all of us have used a video chat or selfie feature on their preferred phone by now, and that simple act has acclimated most of us to being in front of a camera.

Which is great! A lot of marketers are using webcams to present their webinars. It’s an approachable and comfortable format and hosts can present their webinar from nearly anywhere. And, in fact, webcams in laptops have come a long, long way in terms of quality. Recording on your laptop webcam is a great way to host.  All you have to do is just look at the camera!

Integrated Video Clips

Don’t think your speakers are up to snuff? Just want to avoid video recording at all costs? Well, you still have a video-based solution you should weave into your webinars.

Most organization have video clips for product introductions, product case studies and more. Use them! Video clips are great for enhancing an audio webinar while stoking your audience’s attention. You can also string a bunch of related video clips together to create a new video for your audience to watch. It’s a great method for those who prefer audio webinars, but want to add some spice to their presentations.

Just one thing to keep in mind if you go this route: make sure you don’t break up your content flow by running really long video clips. Keep it short and make sure that each video supports your story. Screen Share

Then there’s screen share. Screen sharing in your webinars is a great way for you to show off your product to bottom-of-the-funnel prospects. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to demonstrate your offering and answer any questions to help your prospects make that final buy decision.

I think webinars are an especially great medium to conduct demos in because of their interactive nature. Think of it: with screen share, you can show your demo and respond to attendee questions in real-time. This is critical for bottom-of-the-funnel situations where your attendees want answers to questions about your product.   

There are many ways you can use video to boost your webinars. Too many, in fact, to list here. But all you need to know is this: you just need to be creative. Grab an iPhone — or an HD camera if you want better quality — a tripod and start presenting. That’s all it takes!

Need some inspiration or want to see what I’m talking about? Head on over to our on-demand section and watch How to Energize your Webinars with video. 

Till next time!

It’s Time for Marketing to take on Revenue Responsibility

This post was originally published on MarTechSeries.com. For more information about Webinar World 2018 (currently going!), please click here

Webinar World’18 is almost upon us. On the agenda is the question that is foremost on every marketer’s mind -‘How to put the personal back in marketing,’ – with a focus on how to build context-based campaigns and deliver events that put the customer first and foster authentic engagement between the audience and the brand. In the run-up to the event, we spoke to martech thought leaders speaking at the event. Matt Heinz, President, Heinz Marketing is one of them! And, Matt spoke to us about content and how marketers could leverage context to drive ROI.

What do you believe should be the top priority for marketers today?

Two words: Revenue responsibility.

It’s critical that marketers think of their primary objective as revenue-producing metrics – sales pipeline creation, closed deals, renewals and customer lifetime value. This doesn’t change what marketers do, but it certainly helps them prioritize the right strategies and tactics.

You’re speaking on the topic, content that converts. What do you think are the biggest missed opportunities for content to impact revenue? 

Too often, content is created to earn clicks and likes without focusing on your target buyer’s journey.

Simply focusing on content that earns their attention, helps them loosen their status quos and ultimately commit to change based on their outcomes – that content will mobilize and catalyze your prospects into active buying cycles. That is content that converts.

How tech-savvy are your own Marketing, Sales, and Branding teams? How do you rate them on a scale of 1-10? How do you inspire them to work with technology?

I often tell people I’m not just the president of the Hair Club for Men, I’m also a client (for the millennials reading this, that was an infamous line in a hair restoration TV ad and I’m… oh, nevermind). I’d say our marketing and sales teams are quite tech savvy, but like most companies, we have tons of room to improve.

I’d give our marketing an 8, our sales a 7 and our branding a 5. We focus a ton on our sales pipeline and a bit less on our branding.

Technology is in our DNA so there’s less we need to do internally to inspire its use to achieve our goals.

How do you think young Marketing and Sales professionals should train themselves to master MarTech skills?

Know that technology is not your strategy. It’s one of the last things you should think about after knowing your objectives, audience, and strategy.

Technology supports, automates and accelerates your strategy when implemented well. That said, you simply won’t be able to create a consistent, predictable and scalable marketing and sales pipeline without mastering the ever-increasingly complex marketing technology landscape moving forward as a B2B marketer.

Are contemporary marketing technologies pushing the boundaries of present-day brand engagement and customer experience?

I see it as the other way around. In an increasingly distracted and skeptical world, we need to focus on better and more unique customer experiences. When our channels are even more diversified, a consistent and integrated brand experience stands out and becomes a competitive advantage. I think those needs are pushing the boundaries of what’s needed from the technology to keep up and implement.

What are the dynamic elements driving your B2B content engagement model? What tools and strategies do you use to create effective B2B content for events and webinars? 

We have a complex martech stack that supports our content efforts – everything from content creation to curation, amplification, influencer leverage, as well as ensuring the right content gets to prospects and customers at each stage of the buying journey.

Our content strategy is increasingly channel-diverse – including Sales Pipeline Radio, regular webinars, and videos, as well as daily social engagement and reciprocation.

Do you see Sales and Marketing Technologies unifying or evolving together to deliver higher ROI?

Yes absolutely.

It’s critical that Sales Technology and Marketing Technology completely integrate moving forward. One team, one budget, one strategy. Anything less and you’re leaving room for your competitors to bypass you sooner vs later.

What webinar best practices would you recommend for 2018?

Focus on engagement, personality, interactivity, and frequency. Perfect is the enemy of the good.

Create more content, shorter content, more “imperfect’ content that’s easier to watch, listen to and share.

Thanks for chatting with us, Matt.

Applying the Power of Webinars to Global Campaigns

This post was originally published on MarTechSeries.com. For more information about Webinar World 2018, please click here

Tell us about your role at Hortonworks and the automation tools you use for demand-gen campaigns?

I lead Global Demand Generation for Hortonworks. For all Global Campaigns, I work with different leaders on identifying the top campaign themes, set specific and measurable goals, identify existing assets, plan new assets, strategize on net new lead acquisition plans from target accounts, work on engagement and conversion programs including email nurture streams, help with call down programs working closely with the BDRs, eventually with the overall goal of moving the needle on pipeline and revenue numbers! I also act as the Demand Gen SME for the company and consult other individuals and teams on multiple programs. I also lead the global webinar strategy for the company and work closely with operations teams in recommending and testing new operational and process improvement initiatives including account scoring, lead scoring, lead flows, nurture track feeders, sales alerts etc.

We use Mintigo, Allocadia, Asana, Google Suite, Marketo, Salesforce, Engagio, BrightFunnel, LookBookHQ, Salesloft, and LeanData among others.

What is the most exciting part about attending the ON24 Webinar World 2018?

Besides presenting and being on the ON24 CAB, looking forward to learning directly from folks similar to us.

What are your expectations and likely key takeaways from the ON24 Webinar World 2018?

New tools and techniques around demand gen especially around ABM maturity. What’s new on other folks webinar programs – content strategy, webinar ops, innovative promotion and of course some metrics and benchmarks!

On a scale of 1-10, how tech-savvy are your marketing and sales teams? How do you train your demand-gen pros to leverage automation and analytics tools?

Our Digital and demand gen teams are very tech savvy – I’d rate ourselves at a high 9! As far as training and using the right tools to the full potential for the demand gen pros, at the very beginning, we make every effort to hire the right people – people who show tremendous passion and interest in not only Marketing but also on what Tech could do for Marketers besides automating workflows. There is so much tech out there, only passionate and interested people would succeed because they not only help select right tools, they find innovative uses cases out of those toolsets. Besides, we have plenty of customized training materials including recording sessions and documents to help folks get started and succeed with our tech and our processes. We also have plenty of recurring weekly calls including a demand gen/ campaigns weekly, ops weekly, demand gen/ ops with BDRs weekly etc.

How often do you re-evaluate your content marketing strategies for demand-gen campaigns?

Regularly! We have built a central inventory of content ground up, listing all content and categorizing them by content type, target persona, industry focus, stage of buyer journey, campaign/ theme focus, date last updated, keywords, link to gated pages, direct links to the content just to name a few. We experiment with newer content types, try repurposing existing content and frequently leverage new tools.

What are the webinar best practices you would recommend for better demand-gen ROI?

Focus most of your energies on building a robust strategy for the webinar program. Content balancing has really helped us elevate our program – we try and regularly balance content by webinar type (demo vs thought leadership vs how to. Best practices), by target personas and get the webinars to fit into our big Global campaigns so that there is solid touch cadence for engaged folks post the webinar. Templatize EVERYTHING – webinar request capture, webinars ops, webinar promos, post-webinar touches etc.

What are your predictions for the adoption of marketing technologies for events and webinars?

Webinars have and will continue to be a vital part of the marketing mix. As marketers, we have a big role to play to keep this channel sacred and genuine – the key thing to remember is that folks attend webinars to learn something, period – so helping keep this channel clear of product pitches and product features etc is critical. Focusing instead on customer problems, benefits of a product/ solution and delivering knowledge is the way to go. I see technology playing a big part in webinars – modernizing the webinar platforms – look and feel, overall functionality, newer engagement features, richer analytics and an easy out of the box compatibility with the marketers’ unique MarTech stack.

Which technology startups are you keenly following?

BrightFunnel (now a part of Terminus), Engagio, LookBookHQ, Tesla (still a startup in some shape or form),  to name a few.

Are you keen on AI/ML technologies? How do you see these new-age technologies impacting marketing ROI by 2020?

Absolutely – there is no getting away from this tech for anyone! From a marketing PoV, I see AI/ ML tech helping connect the right products /solutions to the right buyers at the right time and for the right reasons! I also see AI/ ML forcing marketers to work way harder on pinpointing target audience, messaging, offers and touch cadences because of the hypercompetitive environment this modern tech would create – after all we are all in the attention economy.

This Is How I Work

One word that best describes how you work.

Smart.

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

Email, task management tools like Asana, love Google Drive (slides, sheets, docs) for collaboration, excel (it can still do things in a way many modern tools cant), attribution tool like BrightFunnel, to name a few.

What’s your smartest work related shortcut or productivity hack?

Learning shortcuts on your operating system and browser always work wonders in terms of productivity e.g. ‘cmd’ + ‘+­’/ ‘-‘ – zooms in or out. Saving quick note over an ‘new email’ and saving as a draft is a quick productivity hack. Bonus tip – save an email draft as ‘Ideas’ to capture quick ideas.

What are you currently reading?

Not a voracious book reader but frequently consume digital content across social media and industry publications

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Ask the right questions and over communicate on what you do – things that might see trivial to you might be worth its weight in gold for others.

Thank you Sudeep! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.