Great marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. And like any marathon, it pays to have a dedicated team that can train with you, offer pointers and help get you across the finish line.
When it comes to marketing, that “training” often comes down to having quality conversations with knowledgeable peers to discuss what works, what doesn’t and what might be a fun approach.
To that end, we gathered a group of like-minded marketing leaders to discuss the tactics and strategies they were deploying to engage accounts, drive deals and close out Q1 2023. Hosted by Cheri Hulse and Matt Heinz, this marketing leadership roundtable dove into some interesting aspects of marketing today.
What follows is a summary of that discussion — and what Cheri and Matt had to say about what our group of marketing leaders are doing to drive leads, drive alignment and drive community.
What marketing leaders are doing to acquire, qualify prospects
When it comes to acquiring new contacts and nurturing them through the buyer’s journey, our guests are taking a closer look at technologies that empower audience engagement and insights. These technologies can include webinars, content hubs and microsites, but also advanced data analytics tech.
Well, the insights you can gain from these technologies — from frequently researched topics to questions asked, signals shared and more — helps both marketing and sales teams understand prospects’ pain points. And, by understanding those pain points, you can better analyze where the contact is on their journey.
Cheri and Matt’s perspective:
Our group of marketing leaders are dealing with a familiar pipeline problem: the messy middle. This stage is where prospective accounts go when names are known, but your team needs to figure out their approach to the account. It’s like a stall stage for prospects; we know who they are and know they should be here, but they aren’t warmed up yet and we haven’t established a trusted relationship between our brand and their buying committee.
Technology can help with this, but so can your brand’s approach to communicating with new leads. For one, down the hard selling. Ask SDRs to stop pushing demos during follow-up calls and instead try and get a better understanding of the account and their needs. They should try and find out *why* they downloaded a white paper, which can then open the door to better insights and a better opportunity to shake up that organization’s status quo.
How marketing leaders are driving alignment
Our group of marketing leaders know that, to drive success in today’s digital age, there needs to be alignment between sales and marketing. But making alignment a reality is hard. One opportunity our guests identified is to have an agile team that can quickly react and stand up when the opportunity arises — especially when there’s competitor activity.
For example, one marketing leader’s competitor was recently acquired and is being phased out. To take advantage of the opportunity to gain more customers, this leader brought together a “tiger team” to create insightful content comparing their solution to this competitor. The leader also worked with their customer success manager to streamline migrating and onboarding new customers from this competitor. The resulting framework, the leader said, has generated good results.
What are our leaders using to drive alignment? Chatbots.
Chatbots are particularly good tools to use for aligning sales and marketing because — if they’re set up correctly — they quickly and efficiently shuttle data between marketing and sales. But beware: chatbots are only effective if they’re integrated into the organization. Simply running them in isolation will do little to move pipeline.
Cheri and Matt’s perspective:
Conversational marketing tools are great, but, as stated before, they don’t work in isolation. You need to integrate them with both your tools and your processes. A holistic omnichannel approach is in order — and that philosophy needs to be embraced by all teams.
For example, let’s say you’re running a webinar. Webinars are great engagement opportunities — but that engagement needs to extend beyond just pre- and post-event touches. Sales and marketing teams should be comfortable with tracking and engaging with interested participants across social, email and through additional content to build momentum with a buying committee.
How marketing leaders are building trust and community
As our group of marketing leaders know, there are many paths to purchase — and a lot of them take winding roads. For example, identifying and courting an account’s “gatekeepers,” employees who may not have purchasing power but do have a strong influence over buying committee members, is an effective way to drive conversion.
To get to, and nurture, these gatekeepers, one leader shared a unique tactic: educate them. This leader and their team partnered with a third party to host an accredited class that would help executive assistants further their careers. This helped the company establish trust and open the account to further engagement. The team also ran appreciation programs, handing out awards and gifts to an account’s EAs to warm up relationships in the hopes that bosses and managers would take a second look at emails.
Fundamentally, the idea here is simple: engage members within an account by providing them space to learn, build trust and take the relationship to the next level.
Cheri and Matt’s perspective:
This approach can yield a lot of benefits because you’re not just building awareness and trust, you’re building a community. And community engagement can take place anywhere — from social media conversations to in-person events and, yes, classes. So long as you’re providing a space for professionals to discuss the latest in their industry with peers, you’re putting in work that’ll pay dividends later.
Just keep in mind that you need to have a holistic approach when creating opportunities for community engagement. At every touchpoint, from webinars to emails, provide your audience the opportunity to build connections with other people and keep the conversation going. That way, you can build brand trust, engage your “gatekeepers,” and keep driving pipeline.