This article was originally published on HeinzMarketing.com
I hope by now you’ve tuned in live to Sales Pipeline Radio (Thursdays 11:30 am PST) or have subscribed on iTunes. I think you’ll get a lot out of the show. It’s quick and chock full of actionable advice, best practices and more for B2B sales and marketing pros.
We focus on sales development and inside sales priorities and have a lot of fun in the process. For this episode we are honored to have Joe Hyland, CMO at ON24. Listen in and/or read our conversation below.
Listen in on a great discussion about Integrated Marketing. Joe believes marketing (and economics) are about the audience and never about you. Find out how a Government Major ended up in B2B Marketing and if he cares about events like Webinar World making money or not.
Listen to the end to learn who has inspired and influenced Joe in his marketing career.
Confessions of a CMO: The Secrets and Successes Behind B2B’s Revenue Leaders
More about our guest: As CMO, Joe Hyland is responsible for driving the global marketing, communication and brand strategy for ON24. He has over a decade of experience creating and marketing innovative products in the enterprise and SaaS software markets. Before joining ON24, Hyland was the CMO at Taulia, the SaaS market-leading financial supply chain company. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College.
Matt: I don’t know if you can tell in my voice, we’re recording live from the Heinz Farm House/sick ward. I can tell you that these flu shot this year, my family, everyone in my family gets it every year. This year I can definitively say it does not work. And here’s my recommendation: one, keep getting the flu shot because every once in a while they get it right. And two: if you get the flu go to the doctor, get the flu meds. The flu meds are amazing. So keep taking the flu meds. But I’m on the downside. I got two kids on the upside. It’s terrible. It’s not good, but at least we’re getting it out of the way. So, that’s all I gotta say about that.
So, fun times. But life goes on. Business goes on. Sales Pipeline Radio goes on. Thank you very much everyone for joining us today on Sales Pipeline Radio. We are here every week at 11:30 pacific, 2:30 eastern. Covering everything, B2B sales and marketing. We’re featuring some of the best and brightest minds in the B2B sales and marketing industry. Today is no different. I’m really, really excited to have joining us today Joe Hyland. He is the chief marketing officer for ON24.
Joe, thanks so much for joining us.
Joe: Matt, glad to be here and I did not realize we’d get medical as well as Pipeline advice, so this is impressive.
Matt: No, you get everything here. And Paul will tell you we’re 104 episodes in. We do Fantasy Football picks, we do weather forecasting. Every once in a while we’ll have callers call in with all kinds of random stuff. We can do all kinds of stuff.
Speaking of randomness, the question I wanted to start with you. And I actually asked myself this the question sometimes as well. I’m a journalism major from a decent west coast public school and somehow as a journalism Political Science Major I ended up in B2B Marketing.
How exactly does a Government Major from Dartmouth end up slumming with B2B Marketing folks like us? What does that career journey look like and how did you get to where you are today?
Joe: That is a great question. I’m pretty lucky that I’m here. A lot of my friends are in finance or they’re traders and I can’t imagine a worse profession. No master plan – I actually get asked that question a lot. Not about my major but, “How did you become head of marketing? You must have had this charted out since you were 22.” – I had absolutely no idea what I was gonna do. I majored in Government. I minored in Psychology and Economics. And it’s probably the Psychology that lead me into Marketing. I’m fascinated by what drives people and how people make decisions. It probably makes me really annoying in my personal life. But that’s what I love about Marketing. I think there’s a major psychological element to how you persuade someone to do something, anything really.
Why buy ON24 over WebEx or go to Webinar? There’s an art of persuasion that perhaps we haven’t perfected, but for me that’s what I love about Marketing. So that’s why I slum it with B2B Marketing folks.
Matt: That’s a great answer. And I love the background in Psychology. It’s a really easy sell, no pun intended. To say, look, you’ve got people buying based on logic and emotion in many B2B purchase decisions. You’ve got multiple members of this buying committee we talk about a lot, where you have to build consensus among those folks to get them to move forward. So understanding what makes them tick beyond just your features and your ROI story makes a lot of sense.
So, talk a little bit about what you guys are doing at ON24. And specifically since recording this less than two weeks away from Webinar World. We’re recording live now, we’ll have this podcast out in a couple of days. For those that are listening before Webinar World, talk a little bit about the event coming up and why people should get registered and get there.
Joe: We’re psyched for this! When I got to ON24 about three years ago we had 11 or 1200 customers and we had never hosted a customer conference. And I said to Sharat, my boss and our CEO, “Why?” It’s a big expense.
It’s hard to have these events be profitable and it takes a lot of planning. It took, maybe, a year and a half for me to convince him that we should invest in this and, ultimately, we should invest in our customers. And there’s nothing more powerful than getting your customers together and hearing what’s great about you, what’s great about ON24. What sucks about us, and what we should improve on. And then, ultimately, for – I don’t say this at the event – but the truth is: it is the gift that keeps on giving for pipelines.
Getting happy customers to talk about how they love working with you and having prospective customers watch that, it’s like a dry run. They don’t have to pay anything, the prospects. They get to see what it’s like being a customer.
That’s why we do the event. It’s funny, when I first proposed it internally I called it Webinar World. Pretty much everyone in the company said, “Yeah, it’s a great idea. We should do this customer conference, but obviously we won’t call it Webinar World.” And I was like, “What do you mean? Why wouldn’t we call it Webinar World, that’s what we do?” And they were, like, “Well maybe Sales Acceleration Demand Generation Conference.” And I’m like, “What the [heck] does that mean?” No. Let’s say what we do: we provide webinars, we do it better than anyone in the world and we think that’s a critical function in marketing, so hence the name.
We’ll probably get about 1,000 people there. We had about 750-800 last year. We’re super excited. It’s really an opportunity for our customers to talk about webinars, and talk about how they’re using webinars as well, where they could improve upon. We give a couple presentations. You’re giving a presentation. It’s really about hearing from peers, hearing from experts. And we try to get the heck out of the way and let that collaboration happen.
Matt: Yeah I think it’s going to be a great event and I’m of course biased because I will be there, I will be speaking there, and I’m really looking forward to it. But I would argue that getting together and talking about webinars is more important now than ever. So many people are doing webinars. Is it more important now than ever to make sure they stand out? To make sure they’re different. To make sure you can create value in a format that isn’t going anywhere.
But you mentioned something at the beginning of that. You said it’s hard to make these events profitable. And curious for you as a Marketing leader, if you look at this. Is profitability the goal for something like Webinar World, or you look at this as, ultimately, a loss leader or a low-cost way of getting the awareness in the pipeline you want? How do you think about the balance there? The objectives you have with an event of this size.
Joe: Yeah it really depends on who you’re asking. I don’t care about making money at the event. I think that is so incredibly short-sighted. When we talk about this at the board level, it’s not surprising that we were encouraged to have this be profitable. And I said, “Listen, this is an investment in our customers. This is really an event for our customers.” And I think ultimately the event will pay for itself, but it’s on the back end. And it’s contracts that we’ll be getting out of customers, or prospective customers, who are considering working with ON24.
In the end, does it work out for us? Yes. But I really don’t care about that. For me when we put – we’ve only done one event, by the way, we did it last year – it was a phenomenal event. I loved it. The idea was to have marketers talk about things that work incredibly well for them. Mostly around webinars, but not completely. We talked about integrated campaigns, how to do it right, how not to do it right, how to avoid drive-by marketing, how to differentiate yourself. Of course webinars were involved, but it was really a marketing conversation versus a tool or tactic discussion.
So, net, will it make money any time in the near future? No. Even what we charge doesn’t cover the cost of the event. A whole bunch of people end up getting discount codes because it’s important for us that it’s an exciting event. We could make it profitable and have 250 people there, and what’s the point? Not our goal and I don’t see that changing any time soon.
Matt: I like that a lot. I want to talk a little more when we come back from our commercial break about integrated marketing. Finally, we’re starting to come back from the growth hacker phase where everything has to be measured and everything has to have a specific revenue target. As much as I’m a math marketer, and I know you are as well, to be able to do events like this where you know that they fit into the broader picture. That the body of work is required to get you to where you want to go from revenue and growth stand point. I’ll talk more about that.
We gotta pay a couple bills first real quick. We’ll be back with more with Joe Hyland. He’s the CMO of ON24. We’ll be talking more with Joe about integrated marketing, sales and marketing alignment, and lots more. We’ll be right back.
Paul: Alright, back to Matt and his guest. Before he does, I just gotta point out: you both had Political Science backgrounds. I was a Political Science major, too, so it just shows you the power of that degree here.
Matt: The power of that degree, and also when you think about the psychological impact of studying politics through the years. And not just U.S. Politics, but throughout world history and the nature of Political Science. Think about some of the logic and emotion that goes into those waves of decisions and everything. It’s quite interesting.
Paul: There you go.
Matt: Yeah. Like Joe said, we cover everything here, we got politics. We try not to do a whole lot of politics here on Sales Pipeline Radio, but we do get into help recommendations. We get into college football. If anyone wants my, way too early, Top 25 college football predictions, or, more importantly, if you want to hear my Ivy League … No, I’m kidding, it’s not gonna go there. But…
Paul: Don’t ask him about his barbecue recipes, that’s another one there.
Matt: No, we’ll be done. Well, 15 minutes later we’ll be all done.
Sales Pipeline Radio. We’re back. We did not get a chance to set this up at the beginning very well here, Paul. If you like what you’re hearing today, if you’re still with us after this zigzag conversation, it is entirely my fault. I’m blaming the flu! Definitely check us out. We are on the iTunes and the Google Play where you can subscribe to every episode. Don’t miss a single feature episode Sales Pipeline Radio. You can catch every episode, past, present and future of Sales Pipeline Radio at salespipelineradio.com. Every episode is available on demand.
And, coming up in the next couple of weeks, we got some more amazing guests. Next week, in the very beginning of March we have Jill Konrath. She’s one of my favorite sales authors and speakers. She’s written a number of books that have become seminal works in the sales space. Followed by Manny Medina. He is the CEO of Outreach and we’re gonna be talking to him about technology that your sales team can trust. And trust that can be built between technology and your sales organization, and your prospects, and how to make that balance work.
But today we’re gonna continue to talk a little more with Joe Hyland. He is the CMO of ON24. And, Joe, before we went off to the break we were talking a little bit about how to justify things like a 1,000-person, 2,000-person user conference. Last year’s Webinar World went really, really well. Got another one coming up here in a couple of weeks. You mentioned sort of looking at that and saying, “Yeah, we’ve got objectives for it, but I don’t need it to be immediately be profitable for it to be successful.”
Talk about how that perspective manifests itself in the way you look at integrated marketing campaigns overall. Obviously you’re being held to a number, you’re expecting Marketing to contribute to revenue and sales goals within a company. But it sounds like you don’t necessarily need every individual tactic, every individual instance of marketing to be cost-justified. How do you think about that from an integrated marketing standpoint?
Joe: Well, you said something interesting when we were talking the other day, which was “Scorched Earth Marketing.” This stems from the growth hacker movement. I think more and more CEOs, particularly, of smaller and medium sized companies that are trying to grow super fast are understanding and recognizing the importance of pipeline. That part’s great. I think marketers are playing a bigger and bigger role in that, and some are even stepping up to own it – whether that’s a good idea or not is a different discussion.
So, it’s easy to become frenetic and have this week-by-week or almost day-by-day deluge of marketing and move away from building something that’s ultimately gonna last. So I would take a step back.
I look at Marketing in a similar basic principle that I would for Economics. One of my first Economics professors said to me, early on, he said it’s super simple, but you either understand this basic tenant, or you don’t. And he drew a supply and demand curve and said, “Does this make sense?” I was 18 years old, I knew nothing. But I said, “Yeah, I kind of get that.” And he said, “Okay. You should explore Economics, I think you’d find it interesting.”
And I say that because I think in Marketing, the basic tenant, the corollary for supply and demand for Economics is: it is always about your audience, and it is never about you. And that is so simple, but marketers [screw] it up more times than not. And it’s so easy to because we have this pressure, and we have these great products, the market absolutely needs our service – you name it, right? I think once you slide down that slippery slope, that’s when you stop running integrated campaigns and that’s when you stop having more of a wholistic view of your Marketing.
That’s when you start measuring success in a myopic fashion and it’s week-to-week or day-to-day, and that’s when you’re screwed. That’s when you start to lose the trust of your audience because you don’t honor that trust. You should be adding value – and if you go back to the basic tenant of marketing – you should be providing information, a service, a product, whatever, that completely hooks up your audience. That completely sets them up for success because it’s all about them, it’s never about you. If you can stay true to that, you can do great marketing.
To me, that’s integrated marketing: understanding what you’re trying to solve, how you’re solving it, how whoever you’re marketing or selling to would be screwed without it, and if you stay true to that you’re good.
Matt: I like that a lot. And I agree with everything you’re saying and sometimes in the ivory tower conversations that are Sales Pipeline Radio, and situations like this we can talk about that. But to do that in an operational capacity, it requires enough people often in the organization especially your peers. Even your board members, your investors, to also buy into that.
Talk a little bit about the cultural requirements to take that kind of an approach to Marketing. Where you can have revenue responsibility, but also – for lack of better description – kind of take the long view and do the right thing for the long-term value of the business and the brand.
Joe: Yeah, that’s a great point. There’s not a simple answer, truthfully. I think it comes down to having a well thought through strategy that you then have tactics and items to execute that support it. And it requires some trust. So I’ll speak at ON24.
When I got here, pipeline was a huge problem. We were growing pretty fast because we had a nice market fit, but we had to change a lot of things. And my first discussions with the board, but most importantly, with our sales leader and with our CEO was we need to come up with a plan that makes sense, that we all agree with, and then we need to be patient. And that word can be difficult. And I don’t mean patient like multiple quarters from now, but we need to give this time to work. Then once we start seeing traction and a positive uptick we can analyze what’s working, we can do more of that. We can determine what’s not working, we can – if at all possible – cut that out and move dollars into the categories where we’re getting positive returns.
I think after you have that trust and you start seeing success, you build credibility and you don’t have that week-to-week or, heaven forbid, day-to-day stress and push. If you can’t get that commitment upfront, run. Like, leave. Because that just won’t change. For me, that occurred in the first month of the job here, and that was three years ago. We’ve had great growth since. And we build over two million dollars of pipeline a week. We build a lot of pipeline here. It wasn’t that way three years ago. It’s taken time.
Matt: That’s amazing. That’s a great story. You know, we’re wrapping up here with Joe Hyland. He’s the CMO, Chief Marketing Officer, for ON24.
Final question for you Joe. We always run out of time before we get to all the stuff we want to talk about. But one question we ask everybody as we wrap up: Who were some of the people that have been influential for you in your Marketing career? They can be people that are dead or alive; they could be professors; they could be authors; peers that you’ve worked with. But who are some of the people that you would cite as some of your greatest sources of inspiration? Or people that you would recommend other people read or pay attention to as they continue to evolve their B2B careers as well?
Joe: I don’t know if you can find any information on this guy. My first boss out of school was a guy by the name of Jim Gargan. I was at a company called Stratus Technologies and he totally changed my career. He went on to be a long-time executive at IBM. He’s over at Oracle now, he’s an SVP of Marketing. Super aggressive guy in a positive way, super aggressive Marketer, shall I say. He told me: always differentiate. You need to be loud, whatever you’re marketing. It depends on the company and the space, of course. And the smartest thing you can do is tie yourself to customers and, preferably, growth, as a marketer. And he talked about the more kind of BS side of marketing and the softer side of marketing, not that that’s to be forgotten about. But he said if you know your customers and you tie yourself to growth you’ll always have a great career. And that was almost 20 years ago, and I still think about it every time I’m asked the question about who has influenced me.
Matt: Yeah, that’s awesome. That’s a great story.
Well, thanks again Joe. I want to thank again our guest Joe Hyland, he’s a CMO at ON24. We’re gonna have to wrap up here.
If you would like to attend Webinar World, if you want to come see us, it should be a great event. If you’re listening to this before March 7th, 2018 check out on24.com. You can find more information about Webinar World. We’ll put links for registration in the notes for this podcast, as well. And if you’re listening to this after that date, still check out on24.com. Great service. We use it ourselves. And I’m sure you’ll be able to see some recaps from the great event they’re gonna have here in a couple of weeks.
Join us next week. We’ll have Jill Konrath. She’s an author of several books on sales, and sales strategy. One of my favorites in the sales space. Super honored to have her on the show. And join us every Thursday, 11:30 pacific, 2:30 eastern. And join us on the podcast at salespipelineradio.com. Everywhere fine podcasts are sold.
From our great producer Paul, this is Matt Heinz. Thanks for joining us for another edition. Sales Pipeline Radio.