CMO Confessions EP. 14: App Annie’s Geraldine Cruz

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Hello and welcome to another edition of CMO Confessions, our weekly-ish podcast discussing the latest trends, concerns and innovations in marketing and sales. This week, I had the privilege to talk with App Annie’s Senior Vice President of Global Marketing, Geraldine Cruz.

Geraldine started her career in marketing as an analyst for Gartner where, over the short course of six years, she worked her way up the ranks to Vice President. Since then, she’s provided her expertise at institutions like LexisNexis, Bill.com, Kanjoya and more.

At App Annie specifically, Geraldine extracts stories out of data, provides clarity to more than 15 offices across 13 different countries and identifies the company’s must-haves for going to market. If you’re at all curious about what it takes to organize and localize global content, this is the episode for you.

If you’re interested in reading up on Sydney’s career, you can find her LinkedIn profile here. If you’re interested in her musings and expertise, you can find her on Twitter here.

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

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

Transcript:

Joe Hyland:  

Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of CMO Confessions, a weekly B2B sales and marketing podcast where we explore what it really means to be a marketing leader in today’s business world. I’m Joe Hyland, CMO here at ON24 and joining me this week from our San Francisco office is Geraldine Cruz, SVP of global marketing at App Annie. Geraldine, welcome.

Geraldine Cruz: 

Thanks, Joe. Nice to be here.

Joe Hyland:   

It’s fantastic having you here. I really appreciate you coming into the office.

Geraldine Cruz:

Yeah, me too.

Joe Hyland:

You should see this setup that we have today. It’s much more professional than our normal setup where we’re thousands of miles apart. Okay, cool. I’ll start with something that I sometimes ask our guests which is, how’d you get this gig? I’d love to hear about your path because I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all path to running global marketing and, and hearing your path. I think it will be particularly interesting for folks.

Geraldine Cruz: 

Sure. So the quick answer is I got this particular job from a recruiter, but the longer story is I starter at Gartner as an analyst back when SaaS was probably starting as an industry. And so back then I followed companies like Salesforce when they got off the ground and I helped other companies like HP, IBM and the like to develop strategies around going to market as a SaaS or as a vertical market player. And so I would do things like a forecast and other types of messaging for primarily marketers. And then after that, I thought about what I really liked doing and I liked the data, I like giving insights, but I really wanted to run a business. And so I’ve done a lot of different types of roles around product marketing at LexisNexis, Bill.com, running marketing organizations. That’s what I love to do, not just running with data or providing insights for other people — I want to leverage all of that for my own business.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah. Um, that’s interesting. Uh, I liked the time at Gartner. What was it like? So was that right out of school? Was that literally your first job?

Geraldine Cruz:

Uh, it was my first official job. The first real job, a real job.

Joe Hyland:

I just say, what was it like, um, because ultimately you ended up being a strategist for, for marketers. Right. And that was one of the roles. What was that like having such a pretty big role? I think you were vice president at Gartner by the time you left and doing that when you had not actually practiced marketing yet. Right? Like in one way you were an expert on the other hand, as you said, you hadn’t actually run the strategy. Right.

Geraldine Cruz: 

That was actually one of those things that I had to grow into when I first started as an analyst. I literally was doing surveys and doing surveys of health care organizations, manufacturers and the like. So I really did a lot of grunt work. So there was, there was a lot of change and education for me over the six or seven years that I was at Gartner. And so it wasn’t immediate and I had to push myself in a lot of different ways. There were instances where I was with IBM and I really had to kind of step it up and just kind of swallow my fears and go for it. But I think along the way it was just a matter of being comfortable around data because that was my job. If I knew my data and my recommendations, well then that served me well.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. I think that’s a good point though, that at some point you have to — anyone has to swallow certain fears and just deal with them, right? No one comes out of the room ready to command a room. So that’s anyway, that’s super interesting.

Geraldine Cruz: 

Yeah. I think about that every day, even in my current job. If you’re not afraid of something, then I think you’re a little too complacent.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, I think that’s a really good point. It’s interesting like on one hand, you want to love what you do. And I love marketing. I love what we do. I mean look at the conversation we’re having right now like we shouldn’t be getting paid to do this. Like this is too fun. This is one. I’m on the other hand. Yeah, I need, I don’t know, I need pressure. For me, things won’t get done unless there’s — whether it’s a healthy fear or like a pretty steep hill to climb — I think it’s fun. But also I think it produces great results.

Geraldine Cruz:  

Yeah, absolutely. It’s like taking a challenge to its endpoint. I love marketing and I love talking about it as well.

Joe Hyland:

All right, cool. Okay, let’s, let’s talk about marketing strategy and where strategy kind of meets execution. APP Annie, you guys are a global company and there are pretty diverse challenges and sets of expectations and unique circumstances to any market or any region. What’s your go-to-market strategy like from a global perspective?

Geraldine Cruz: 

Sure. I think from a global perspective, we try as best we can to be scalable for all of the geographic markets that we serve, where we are in 15 different countries, sorry, 13 different countries with 15 offices. And we serve customers in seven different languages. So a go to market strategy that takes into consideration cultures and, and different ways of doing business. There’s a lot of balance that’s involved. And so at a very high level, what we do is we define what our ICP is, what is that customer look like? Is it an enterprise company or is it a mid-market? And then we define how do we go after that. In some countries, like Japan, for example, it takes years to close a business. And so part of that is how do you define what that nurture flow is. And I don’t like to say nurture flow. It’s really how do you cultivate that relationship over that time period.

Geraldine Cruz: 

And so it’s balancing that with, okay, so how do we actually execute? So it’s not just about the strategy, but you know, what kinds of programs are we going to run, what kinds of campaigns and how do we make sure that all of the different assets that we run can be leveraged across as many of our different industries and also geographic markets as possible. That’s the hard part for us. It’s not necessarily easy to go to market in retail banking in the UK as well as the United States without some sort of customization. So, there’s a lot of thought given to how do we actually prioritize what we do and then make it local to that region.

Joe Hyland:

And so you said you have 15 offices or 15 or 13 offices — a lot. How many of those offices do you have marketers roughly? I don’t need an exact count, but…

Geraldine Cruz:

I think soon. Six. Okay. Six or seven.

Joe Hyland:

Okay. So, across most continents?

Geraldine Cruz:

Yes. With the exception of Africa, Antarctica.

Joe Hyland:

I was going to say I’m probably not a huge presence in Antarctica. Okay. And are they, are they primary primarily localization. Are you doing demand-gen locally versus having a centralized hub here in the US? What’s that look like?

Geraldine Cruz: 

Yeah. So our US team is comprised of our content generators as well as product marketing, creative website. And then we also have demand gen that’s focused on the Americas and our regional teams are primarily events, demand gen and localization, obviously.

Joe Hyland: 

Okay. Pretty similar to us. So we try to have like a shared surface hub, if you will, out of San Francisco and then we do localization events, demand-gen and we actually don’t have as many offices as you guys but we’re not too far behind. So you mentioned the, just the kind of off-the-cuff, example of Japan where a market that you really have to have an established presence and you need to have a local presence and it can take time. I’m curious what it’s because we have these challenges. You guys are a pretty fast-growing organization. How do you view a growing as quickly as humanly possible? Which is just the reality for most marketers but while ensuring that you grow the right way? Because we all have these short term deliverables even though we’re probably not necessarily responsible for revenue in marketing, a lot of that growth is coming from marketing, but we need to have a, I think, a longer term view. How do you, how do you look at quality versus immediate scale?

Geraldine Cruz: 

I think that’s always going to be a challenge, especially for — we’re a startup. We are more than a $50 million in revenue, actually much north of that, but at the same time, we have those goals of having hypergrowth. And so, on the one hand, we try to be strategic, but at the same time, we need to be opportunistic as well. So for us, we have a strategic plan every year, every quarter we review them, we review our results every quarter. But then there might be opportunities, for example, it can be in PR where somebody wants a quote based on a mobile app that’s growing fast. And so we’ll do a whole bunch of analysis to have a quote for that particular story. And so it takes a little bit of discipline.

Geraldine Cruz:

I mean the same with like MQLs. We, I’m sure that a lot of other companies have the same problem where we might generate a lead in a target account, but it’s not necessarily ready yet, but, you know, an SDR will go in and jump on it. I mean, it’s kinda hard to say, “You know, hang on just a second,” because there are times when an SDR does help cultivate that relationship and it goes on to be a closed won deal. So I think there’s always balance, as long as there’s some thought ahead of time, I think you can kind of counter some of that opportunistic to just jump on it right away.

Joe Hyland:

I know it’s hard. And actually, SDR is a good example because this will happen here. We have a sales development team, sounds like just like you guys do, and an example of going kind of out of traditional flow would be we have a webinar coming up, super successful, you know 500 to 1,000 people registered, we’re really excited and SDRs will, you know, the week of the webinar say, “Hey, I booked all these meetings based off of people who have registered.” And on one hand, it’s like, I don’t want to dissuade them from being proactive. Isn’t that great? And it sounds like some people actually were receptive to this call. That said, if I registered for an event and someone from sales called me about scheduling a sales call, I’d kind of say, “Well, let me consume your content first. Right?” So yeah, you kind of have to balance those two.

Geraldine Cruz:

Yeah, I think as marketers we are a little more critical of them. Perhaps it’s not that way for someone outside of marketing.

Joe Hyland:

Oh, we are. That’s where our spaces are pretty different. We are marketing to marketers. So I’m marketers tend to be pretty savvy at least to marketing. That’s a different challenge.

Joe Hyland:

So another thing I’m curious about, it sounds like your market is pretty rapidly shifting, right? Things move quickly. We talked about go to market strategy but, and you talked about reviewing results every quarter, even though you have a longer term strategy and a plan, how do you ensure that you guys are going to market in a real agile way so that marketing is just as dynamic as the market you’re going after? And probably at some point, it’s helpful to talk a little bit more about your space because I think the audience members would benefit from hearing about the market.

Geraldine Cruz: 

Sure. So just by way of background App Annie is a data as a service provider and so we provide mobile market data on apps throughout the world and what our customers do with our data is to use it to identify markets that they want to enter, identify what customers actually want in new features and apps or what kinds of marketing campaigns work. And also how are their apps or fairing relative to their competitors? And so the types of personas that we go after are marketers and product marketers, sorry, product managers and even investors. So how do we become agile? I would say that we have a certain level of…we have…let me back up: We want to answer the question in the way of how do you stay agile but at the same time stay true to your, your strategy. And we have a go to market strategy that focuses on those, those, um, personas that I mentioned and the specific industries because some industries are not as ripe for, for mobile market data as others. So we have like a core strategy. But then to be agile around that, we’re constantly, I’m trying to figure out which apps are actually a fairing well, what were the hot new apps. And so we also have a research team that goes in and identifies all of the new stories that we should be paying attention to interest on, that we can actually leverage for a content offer press as well as for our assets and webinars. And so there’s this constant digging into the market, digging into the data.

Joe Hyland:

Do you find this interesting? Is there, and this might not be the case, I’m curious, is there a little bit of a separation of church and state between the research arm versus the go to market arm or do they, do they sync quite well?

Geraldine Cruz:  

I think they see sink really well. The person who runs our insights and research team, Danielle Levitas, she’s done marketing before for App Annie. And so come at it from a very collaborative perspective because what her team unearths, those are the stories that we’re going to be pitching not only to the press but also to our own customers, prospects. Those are the stories that are going to be compelling because, in the end, marketing is about writing a story. And especially for a data company like us, it’s about what stories can we actually tell and what stories are going to be the most important for our customers.

Joe Hyland:  

Yeah. Got It. Okay. So yeah, so that research is probably a mission critical for your demand Gen.

Geraldine Cruz: 

Oh yeah, absolutely.

Joe Hyland:

Is data, so. Okay. So, so you guys provide data as a service. Let’s talk about the data you guys use for your marketing. Is the research arm the kind of primary data driver and deliver for your campaigns? Or, how do you look at that?

Geraldine Cruz:  

So that it… I would say it’s more the content provider for assets. So for webinars and white papers and reports, but what we use from our, from our own data that’s, you know, from our own backend, Salesforce, CRM and Marketo. And so it’s capturing all of that on the back end and leveraging that to make decisions about what we go after. So the apps that we cover aren’t necessarily our potential customers. Some of them are, but not all of them. And so, I would say that our own data we don’t use for prospecting for example.

Joe Hyland: 

Got It. Okay. Got It. That’s helpful. Yeah. So for ON24, we have our industry benchmarks, for example, which is data on our platform. We anonymize and aggregate and then we use it for two things and we can talk about thought leadership. And the second one is just to kind of push out general advice and best practices to the market and — we truly want people to be delivering better webinar marketing. But then, part two, is it’s a great demand gen driver for us. So our best demand gen programs or marketing programs really stem from our best content. So we try to be really true with going to market with what we feel is content that people want and, oh, by the way, and when people want it we, we get better results on the sales side. Is Pretty similar content marketing to demand gen strategy for you guys or is it different?

Geraldine Cruz:  

I think it’s a little bit, a little bit different only in the sense that I’m, the primary consumers of our data aren’t necessarily trying to market, they’re trying to build features. And so I would say that they use our data for benchmarking against other apps and we actually are selling benchmarking data so that, an app publisher can actually determine whether or not I’m a competitive app or leading app has better downloads or higher usage. So, that’s actually what we sell and not just, you know, this is a demand gen tool. It’s, it’s what we offer.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah. A little different from us in that. So yeah, you want to talk about being B2B to C? I’m curious, do you consider yourself a, B2B marketer a, B2B, or is the first one, B2B2C actually a definitive category?

Geraldine Cruz: 

So I would say App Annie itself is B2B2C. I’m a B2B marketer. I’ve marketed primarily to businesses my entire career. What I mean by App Annie Being B2B2C is that our customers are primarily brands, CPG, consumer packaged goods companies, and so, they have consumers as their customers. And so we offer data to help them market to their or build products for their customers. So that’s why I say B2B2C.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah. And so for, and it sounds like you have concentrations, in, high concentrations in particular verticals or industries, right? Do you feel you have to become an expert in‚ you just mentioned CPG? Do you feel with your marketing, you guys have to be experts within the CPG space? Meaning, do you need to know their audience inside and out as a part of your marketing? Are you marketing to proctor and gamble?

Geraldine Cruz:

That’s actually a great question. And I think because our data is about their customers, we have to be smart about their customers. Because if we can’t demonstrate that we know about their customers that we can’t really demonstrate the value of our data. So, a lot of our insights are actually driven from the data that we have on retailers, customers or a brand’s customers.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah. I suspected that. And this is one thing… this a shift I see in marketing and it’s just great marketing, but I think it’s easy to forget that. So I’m a quick story is I was visiting FitBit — a customer of ours — and someone on our accounts team asked if I would come and meet their head of demand gen. So anyway, great meeting, but midway through the meeting, we were talking about how ON24 helps technology companies. And finally, the head of demand gen turned to me and said, “Listen, I know that we’re a technology company, but we market to — in this case it was the team marketing to HR — so they, FitBit, actually has a team that goes and sells to businesses. And she respectfully said, “If you can’t tell me something really intelligent about marketing to HR, there’s really not a lot of value for me to be in the meeting.” She didn’t want to hear us talk about tech. She wanted us to know her audience. And I think like if you have an ICP go to market model, knowing your ideal customer profile and knowing segments, I think marketers have to step up and know the end user of their immediate audience. That’s a pretty big shift.

Geraldine Cruz: 

I think so. And quite frankly, I think a lot of the focus on the product, sometimes, is driven by the fact that — we’re in the tech market here. And, uh, it’s very much, I think, a function of the product orientation of a lot of startups or even companies that have been around for a long time. It’s let me tell you about our products and let me tell you about our features and even our benefits of our products but not necessarily how can I help you do what you need to do better or more efficiently or more intellectually. So I think that’s the missing part.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah. When I was in college, I was considering what, what to major in. Someone, one of my friends who is an economics major said, “Hey, let me draw a pretty simple supply and demand curve.” And she said, “Do you understand this?” I was 18 or 19? And I said, “Yeah, no, that makes sense, right?” And she said, “Okay, good. Well, because this is a core principle and fundamental of economics and some people just, it doesn’t resonate. And if you can’t understand this, don’t stay away from economics.” I think that for marketing is, and it’s so basic, you just said it, it’s never about you and it’s always about your audience and I don’t know if it happens more out here in Silicon Valley, but I see so many companies so eager to say why they’re so great — and that is just, it breaks the basic tenet and principle of marketing.

Geraldine Cruz: 

Yeah, it does. And, I think it’s, it’s. I would say that a lot of technology companies are not as advanced. I don’t want to say that they’re not advanced in their marketing, but it’s, I think that the product gets a lot more of the attention than the actual, “How do I sell the product? How do I position it in a way that’s really compelling to prospects and customers?” So I think it’s just a fundamental shift in basically the creators of those products.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, I’ll say it differently. I think there are brilliant product architects here in San Francisco and the Bay Area. There’s a lot of shitty marketing. I mean, there really is a lot of bad marketing. Maybe that’s good for you and me, but I think there’s a dearth of excellent marketing out here.

Geraldine Cruz:

Yeah, and I’ll be honest, I’m guilty of, you know, highlighting all the, all the great features of these products without really thinking about how is someone going to use this? Or how, you know, what does this actually really mean? Why does it matter? So I’m, I’m guilty, guilty of it too.

Joe Hyland:   

Yeah. One of my first product marketing jobs, I had an amazing boss who every time I would write something, I’m his only comment would be why? Why does it matter? Why does it matter? And I remember writing this two-page brief at one point and they had said it like 30 times and he was like, “Why does that matter, Joe? You just listed amazing features.” Sure. I think there’s a benefit but what’s the difference? Right. So, yeah, that’s interesting. Okay. I guess I touched on some of it for me. We talked about what we love and marketing, what, what drives you insane?

Geraldine Cruz:

I would say, right now, deciphering the differences between marketing technology. I have a whole bunch of emails about why something is, is a great ABM platform, for example. I get a whole bunch of them all the time, but unless I really dig deep I don’t feel like I truly understand what the differences are between this and that platform. So I think that’s one of my big pet peeves about marketing right now.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. Yeah. And I think that’s a good one. For me, I think it’s interesting that marketers, or at least in the Bay Area, a lot of marketers, think technology will solve their marketing. I don’t know about you, technology, we both provide technology — but if you’re not careful, it can really complicate things. I don’t know if it’s necessarily a silver bullet.

Geraldine Cruz: 

No. In fact, oftentimes there’s so many, even for our own product, there are instances where people don’t use it. They don’t know how to use it, and so they never get value out of it. And so, I’d say that’s definitely real and there’s a lot of software that I haven’t used. And it just is so much easier for me to cut it out of the budget next year because I haven’t used it.

Joe Hyland: 

Yeah, I think that’s a good point where we’re trying. Again, neither of us are enormous companies, but we’re trying to trim down our martech stack, right? I’m not looking to have 30 or 40 pieces of technology. Having them all work together as complicated and you said it at the start with your time at Gartner and then what you love doing: technology is not a strategy. It’s kind of like when marketers talk about a whole bunch of tactics — like that’s not a strategy. Putting in an ABM platform isn’t going to solve your personalization strategy. Right?

Geraldine Cruz: 

Yeah. And it’s probably going to end up being more work for me because now it’s got to be GDPR compliant. And so going through the hassles of — not the hassles — I don’t want to say that because there is good in privacy, data protection, but there are more hurdles to face.

Joe Hyland:   

Tons more hurdles. Well, so let’s go out on GDPR because I can talk about this all day. I’m curious, what about it do you, without going through all the legislation, what about it do you think is good? And then we can get to where perhaps it’s, it’s too stringent

Geraldine Cruz: 

Oh Wow. We don’t have lawyers around.

Joe Hyland:        

I know, that’s why I’m saying we don’t need to go into implied consent and explicit consent. But what do you think is what is helping marketers? Because I feel like a lot of marketers have had an over-reliance on what we call click marketing is basically just blasting out 3 million people a week and said, “Cool. We’re all set for the program this week.” So I feel like some of it’s good, right?

Geraldine Cruz: 

Yeah, I think that protecting privacy is really important and in fact, Apple has a very white hat approach to privacy and so there’s a lot of good in that. And so GDPR I think has good intentions. I think the way it’s been executed, you know, we’re going to find obviously over the next couple of years, a lot of, perhaps, either loopholes or like places that are way too stringent. I think one of the areas that’s a little too stringent in my opinion, but this is just purely my opinion, not App Annie’s opinion. And that is, you know if you have a history of interactions with a customer, but don’t have explicit consent — as of May 25th or whenever that date was — officially you can’t communicate with them over email. And so I think that in and of itself is challenging. At least that’s legal guidance that we were provided. So there are elements of it that are just not pragmatic or you could tell that the intent to interact was already provided or it was implicitly provided, but because we don’t have that documentation then we can’t.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. It was interesting to see because we worked with a lot of our — it’s funny, I asked you the question, I was like, I don’t know about lawyers, now I’m talking I’m like, “Oh shit, I shouldn’t say this.” We weren’t setting guidance for our customers, but of course, there is data that’s captured in a Webinar, right? It’s a digital event. So we had to have a point of view. And it was really interesting, some with our customers, but also just I have a lot of friends in marketing — my wife works in marketing — it was interesting to see how different companies had a different read on the legislation. My sense was the larger the company, the more strict the interpretation was. Going back to having to really emphasize growth and scale, I feel like some smaller companies perhaps were a little more liberal with the interpretation. I think it will be a bit of a moving target over the next couple of years. And it was interesting. I could talk about this for an hour or two.

Geraldine Cruz: 

Yeah, I could too, I just remembered the painful months prior to May.

Joe Hyland:

Can you. Oh yeah, same. And by the way, total aside. I tend to not like being stuck in very heavy operations meetings like when we start going, when there’s a meeting with our marketing and sales ops to go through how data moves from Marketo to Salesforce or what fields will be captured, like I don’t know, it’s just not what I’m interested in. Yeah, so I had to endure literally months of this. It wasn’t fun, was it?

Geraldine Cruz:  

No, and you probably have, because you’re a vendor for us. So, we had to get a DPA from you. Yeah, that’s right. And so you probably had to like work through all of that with the customer communications and documentation that’s — I think that was the hard part for me.

Joe Hyland:

That part wasn’t as bad. The bad part for me was we probably had 30 or 40 meetings with our lawyers and outside counsel and there was just like nothing I would rather avoid than that. It’s just so boring, right? So

Geraldine Cruz:

Yeah, I guess the lawyers made off with GDPR.

Joe Hyland: 

That’s true. They very much did, as they do with any regulation. Well, listen, Geraldine, this has been fantastic. I think we’re pretty much past the bottom of the hour. Thank you again so much. I really enjoyed the conversation.

Geraldine Cruz: 

My pleasure

Joe Hyland:

Okay. This is fantastic. Thanks so much.

Geraldine Cruz:

Thanks.

CMO Confessions Ep 13: SalesLoft’s Sydney Sloan

Interested in more great marketing insights? Register for Webinar World 2019, running from March 11 – 13, and learn the secrets to stepping up your marketing game.

Hi and welcome to another edition of CMO Confessions, a weekly-ish podcast covering all things marketing and sales. This week, we have Sydney Sloan, CMO at SalesLoft, on to discuss how marketing is evolving with the times — and why marketers of all stripes need to challenge the way they attribute leads.

Her secret? SalesLoft doesn’t use MQLs — and that exclusion a central part of their strategy as they shift to an account-based marketing approach. This is another great episode and I highly recommend you give it a listen as we begin entering the new year and start planning new strategies.

If you’re interested in reading up on Sydney’s career, you can find her LinkedIn profile here. If you’re interested in her musings and expertise, you can find her on Twitter here.

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

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

Transcript

Joe Hyland:

Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of CMO Confessions, a weekly B2B sales and marketing podcast where we explore what it really means to be a marketing leader in today’s business world. As always, I’m Joe Hyland, CMO here at ON24 and joining me this week from the Bay Area is Sydney Sloan, CMO of SalesLoft. Sydney, How are you doing?

Sydney Sloan:

I’m doing great, thank you.

Joe Hyland:

That is fantastic having you on, thank you so much. Alright, well I’ll dive right in with something that is always fascinating to me and I don’t mean for this to come across as any way of a cynic or any negative energy at the start. But what, what drives you crazy about our world, this B2B marketing landscape that we live in today?

Sydney Sloan:

Uh, I don’t know about drives me crazy, and I know it’s meant to be provocative, but I think we’re in such a fast-changing pace and the world that we’re in, and I think what I love is that marketing’s being held more accountable than ever on our contribution to the business. So I guess if I had to critique anyone saying it’s, you know, people who aren’t moving from marketing who are moving into the new world fast enough that still maybe use, and I don’t want to say vanity metrics, but vanity metrics, were things that marketing is doing same impressions or MQLs that don’t actually turn into business drivers. So, where there’s that mismatch between, “Hey, Rah, Rah, Marketing’s doing great,” but the business isn’t growing, so there’s something wrong here. So if I would have to say that it’s like making sure that the leaders of marketing have a seat at the table as an executive and our are fully in lockstep with their, their counterparts on growing the business and admit when stuff isn’t going well. It’s not always good to have good numbers when the other hand is not succeeding.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I mean that’s, yeah, that is the definition of a vanity metric, right? Well, let’s talk. Let’s talk about that alignment because I think this is a popular topic among B2B marketers is being aligned with sales. I think a lot of marketers still struggle with this. It’s something they love to say, but I don’t know if it’s necessarily inherent in their day to day actions. I’d love to get your take on alignment with the sales team and what does that mean?

Sydney Sloan:

Yeah, I think it’s threefold. It’s first of all and empathizing with salespeople that selling is hard — their job is hard. We have to do whatever we can to make that easier. I’m also having customer empathy and owning the entire experience of the customer. I believe that marketing has a responsibility to bring that to light. So I’ll always take a customer first mindset across all parts of the organization, but at the end of the day, I think what’s transitioned the most, I know it’s been a buzzword over the last few years, but it is really taking an account based approach for B2B marketers. And if sales and marketing are in lockstep around account based and are truly working through and leveraging data and science to identify those target accounts when we are working them together, that’s where it changes.

And I’ve, the last three companies have kind of the first dip the toe the last one was kind of a hybrid share. We’re doing account based but yet still what’s marketing doing for me? And then I took over the entire SDR function as well and it was like, you know, we didn’t really own all aspects of inbound and outbound and with SalesLoft it’s a 100 percent account-based marketing. So accounts we work closely with, sales ‚ MQL doesn’t exist in my world and I’m so, so pleased. So we look at pipeline, we look at influence and we’re just working in lockstep with our sales counterparts. I’m trying to generate business, keep our customers happy and grow the business overall.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, it sounds so simple when you say it that way and it’s actually refreshing to hear that alignment and that focus. I want to come back to MQLs not existing for you because I’m fascinated by that. But first I want to talk about you said the metric is pipeline and it sounded like a singular metric. Do you measure just overall pipeline versus giving credit to where it comes from or how does that work?

Sydney Sloan:

So there are three aspects to our pipeline which I think are good and they’re good check and balances. We track a target account pipeline. So far our target accounts, what’s that pipeline? And then we track non-target inbound just so we can see the differences between where the leads are coming from and they, they pass through different processes internally on our side. The second part of that is what percentage of target account pipeline marketing influences our goal is 80 percent. So, we track about at that level. So, given that we are SalesLoft and we use our own tools, that I don’t actually use a marketing automation platform and, and the teams truly do lean into outbound that, you know, I feel a bit a little bit spoiled, to be honest as a marketer that, you know, it’s our DNA and that’s what we do and we want to showcase that to others. So I really get to see know a true outbound based company and approach.

But the other aspect that I talked about that check and balance is we look at pipeline, pipeline influence and all the conversion metrics that are associated with that. But my sales counterpart books just at opportunities for him, the numbers game is different because just how we could change the metrics on MQL. Anybody can change what the value of an opportunity is before it closes. So he’s looking at it in a different way in terms of the number of sales qualified opportunities, set it from a pure number of account opportunities that we’re working and then we can play around with the variables between them.

Joe Hyland:

We have a similar view by the way, where we look at a total dollar value for obvious reasons. However, what, what you said, who was a lesson learned for us in terms of not that there’s a malintent but it’s pretty easy to manipulate that number, a $10,000 opportunity all of a sudden one day as a $50,000 opportunity and I hope my sales management off my back and sure enough all close at $10,000 a month from now, but I’ll deal with that then. So we moved to opportunity count both for pipeline and then also deal. So it’s just a way to kind of disaggregate the business.

Sydney Sloan:

Exactly. I think to people, and you know, where you get the model where you start selling to small and medium enterprise and almost start small to medium businesses and then start selling into the enterprise. That metric changes exponentially because of all of the sudden you’ve got people putting in six-figure deals where before it might’ve been low to figure and you’re like, wow, that’s awesome. But really the number of opportunities isn’t changing.

Joe Hyland:

Well, you also mentioned something in there that I love is, you know, what it’s like working for a true outbound company. And some of that is you guys need to have that mindset — I’m sure you’re passionate about it because it was exactly. Well, it’s interesting. And I think a love to get your take on this. I think this has happened over the last, I don’t know, five or eight years where so many marketers were enamored with an inbound strategy and in no way mean to shit on having a smart inbound mechanism within your marketing department is obviously very important.

However, I’m a firm believer in controlling one’s destiny and I think a great marketing team needs to have a great outbound strategy and I feel like outbound, it’s kind of become this four-letter word. Whereas a lot of marketers who think they know that what works yet they don’t necessarily want to talk as much about what they’re doing on an aggressive outbound strategy. But I think that’s just great. A great demand-gen strategy. And I’m curious if you see something similar or you think marketers have come back and the pendulum has swung back to marketers really believing that outbound is critical for their success.

Sydney Sloan:

So I see two things. One is from a personal experience. What I find interesting is, if we’re talking about our lead, well there’s two things. First of all, for the test of time, the complaints are “marketing never generates enough leads,” and then we say, “sales, why aren’t you falling up on my leads?” That’s true, the story hasn’t changed regardless of if there were 150 people in the tech marketing landscape or 7,000 companies, right? But it’s still the adage to the age-old adage. The issue is kind of where their responsibility lies and how we’re starting to track that. And in taking over the sales development or the business development function or responsibility as a marketer changed.

And as much as, I hate to say that just because people shifted on an org chart from one team to another that things should be different, but for me it was. Where we started thinking about them as one of the marketing channels. So we had all our different channels, webcasts or our advertising channels, what we were driving from trials, but we weren’t thinking about outbound as one of our leavers in the marketing world of things that we could do to impact. And so, once the CRM team became part of our organization, that changed and we started thinking about that as another aspect. And I got that as a piece of advice from a counterpart — a colleague one day. Now what I see being at SalesLoft and talking a lot more is a to lots of folks, about 30 percent of companies in high-tech currently have the business development function under marketing.

And, which is I believe that pendulum swings back and forth, the SDR, BDR team, you know, depending on where it sits, but at least the alignment is coming together more closely and we know that if we’re generating leads, we need to be just working as hard to convert those over to opportunities. And so, if you’re looking at your cohorts and saying, you know, what’s going on between my whatever, like I said, I don’t use MQLs anymore, but the leads that I’m generating and the, and the accounts that are being worked in the activity levels and engagement levels on the accounts holistically, marketing and sales should be looking at that view, I think.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. Well, that goes back to what you said earlier on your, how you look at your pipeline. You’ve targeted accounts so you and sales, marketing and sales together, have come up with a list of your ideal customer profile or the group of accounts that you say, Hey, they’re insane if they’re not using SalesLoft. Right? And is that, is that literally how you begin your marketing and sales strategy from this, from this core group of accounts,

Sydney Sloan:

We have three tiers as every good ABM huckster should. And the question is, you know, in my previous company we had 50 companies in the top tier. At SalesLoft we have 10. So we’re hyperfocused on 10 for each of our sales teams, commercial and enterprise. So those are the ones that we really do feel that the most opportunity is gonna come from. And my advice has always that you’ve got a good blend of your existing accounts in that top 10 if you’re going to put that much resource into them. The second and third tiers, you know, we’re still using data and exploring different data points in order to get to that. What I’ve, what I’ve learned is we can use more technology triggers as kind of the roadmap for whether or not this count is more successful. Let me explain because that might have sounded confusing.

So for instance, for us we are going after companies were previously we’re going after SaaS companies that we knew had a strong inside sales and business development teams — and there is a known universe of that. But as our need to grow increases and we need to go after net new accounts, what we wanted to do is we’re saying, well, let’s think about this. If there are companies that are buying ABM technologies, they are inherently account-focused, therefore they should have outbound as part of their strategy. And so we started looking at what’s the footprint of ABM technologies in accounts and using that as part of our scoring model. I’m definitely interested in this whole idea of intent and exploring the intent score around those to help stack-rank the accounts.

So I think, you know, there’s a lot of science and data that can be applied, but at the end of the day, you’re still doing the handshake with sales and in having them select as well based on different segmentation. So I wouldn’t say we’ve got yet our tier two and three nailed in terms of the right pieces, but we’re constantly tweaking and finding new approaches to figure out what the right accounts are in that second tier. And then the third tier is kind of just keeping them warm. Right?

Joe Hyland:

I think that’s smart too because I don’t think anyone who, my opinion, anyone who tells you that there’s a specific formula and this is bolted to the ground is full of it. Like you, you need to be somewhat flexible and agile because perhaps for that top tier I could be argued into that. But other than that, I think you’ve got to be somewhat flexible in terms of the definition.

Sydney Sloan:

I used to say that I’m creative meetings where my guilty pleasure, I loved going into creative meetings and, and working with the teams on concepts and now it’s, believe it or not, tech and data meetings and just because we have so much information available to us and there is so much more science that can be applied and constant learning. There’s so much gold in there that we just need to continue to push the bar and try and figure out how to get it right and it’s constantly changing.

Joe Hyland:

Isn’t it interesting how, how marketing just constantly adapts? You’re right. I think 10 years ago it became incredibly important to be more analytical and use data to make smarter decisions, which is great. Now, marketers have to be somewhat well versed in technology, which I’m not ancient, but when I started in marketing and there really wasn’t much tech to choose from, we were in early salesforce customer and we added in Eloqua and we were pretty advanced. I mean that was our tech stack. There really wasn’t anything else other than our website, of course. Now it’s insane. Even at ON24 or not a huge company, but we have about 20 pieces of technology in our marketing tech stack and it’s not a trivial amount. So you’re right I find myself in a lot of tech stack discussions and I don’t know if I like it or not.

Sydney Sloan:

Maybe I do because it’s after filling after marketing technologist for so long and technology that I didn’t use if that makes sense now being able to say, “okay, this industry [intelligible] and then how to apply it for my own needs is interesting. I remember back, Gosh, 10 years ago when you did 10 years, I had to calculate and like 2008. What was I doing then? But that was it, right? There was the rise of the digital marketer and I was working at Adobe at the time and so it was so funny. We were teaching the sales guys, okay, well you go to Linkedin and you type in “digital marketing.” I’m like there’s someone there like “I found one!” And you know that was 10 years ago. Now, it’s like you have all this data, these contacts and we’re plugging into these systems, we’re bringing it front and forward to the sales reps to be able to do personalized prospecting on.

Sydney Sloan:

And I mean, there’s just so much there, but that has created its own unique challenges in terms of what marketing automation kind of, that way that happened and now the way that we’re in, we’re personalization matters and really helping build the connection and break through the noise. I mean it sounds and we say it all the time but it’s true. We just did a survey actually were between buyers and sellers and we were asking the question, what do you think is, is buying harder or is selling harder? And both audiences said selling is harder. So it was like 74 percent of the sales teams and sales were harder, but 70 percent of the cut the buyers said sales was hard, too. And it’s just the number, the amount of competition I’m trying to reach your contact and saying something meaningful, like don’t waste their time. Um, and those were the three kinds of pieces of why they thought it was hard.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I think they’re right. You’re 100 percent in control selling whether we like it or not. You are not like it’s not a, it’s not even a question.

Sydney Sloan:

And then the last thing I need is another 50 emails in my inbox.

Joe Hyland:

Oh, tell me about it. It’s the bane of my existence every morning, even with spam filters. I’m curious. So you referenced an intent earlier using intent data for me, the verdict somewhat out on the effectiveness of that though that said we are, we also are using intent data or trying to. We’ll see how successful we are. What do you think…are you a believer in predictive intent data to drive decisions?

Sydney Sloan:

I think they both have their use and my experience with predictive was mixed, I’ll be honest. But I do what I learned after the fact was if you are going through and have like a top of the funnel, goodness problem. Like I have so many customers in the top of my funnel, I need to figure out which ones to kind of push through the funnel. Predictive was a good model for that and, for us, it was a challenge because we were changing who we’re going after, so we didn’t want to continue to sell who we were selling to so that didn’t quite work for my previous company. With intent, I started using it last year when it started to come out and it does give you another data point, it’s just how much are you going to rely on that and in where you’re going to invest your resources.

So, it makes logical sense and how they’re thinking about that, hey, if people are going to Google and search, you know, they’re already looking forward if they’re going to G2 Crowd, those are very strong indications, but if they’re out in the open web, I’m also searching for things that might relate to you, it’s a signal. So we kind of treated as another data point. It’s not the holy grail per se, but it’s something, another data point to look at.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. So same for us. And it sounds like we’re at a pretty similar stage with it. My challenge or our challenge is, how much information or at what point does too much information become just that — overwhelming and too much. So, we’re using it pretty heavily in marketing and we’re still tweaking with what ultimately gets passed onto sales. Just because sometimes I feel like there are false positives in there and I can just be a little overwhelming.

Sydney Sloan:

Yeah, we’re currently not passing to sales either. So, I’m with ya.

Joe Hyland:

Okay, cool. You referenced the death of the MQL earlier. I’d love to go back to that because you’re right though, I mean, this is marketers have a lot of control over scoring and it’s pretty easy to manipulate MQL count and I think it — in the wrong environment can lead to finger pointing back and forth between marketing and sales — which is the antithesis of how we started this conversation on getting that alignment. You guys have done away with the MQL altogether?

Sydney Sloan:

It doesn’t exist and I can’t say that I could take credit for it. It was, it was not in place when I got there, so I didn’t have to put it in place, but it’s interesting, there still might be something there in the nurturing side, but we didn’t have the… SalesLoft was already fully into the ABM model before I got there. So I need to thank the team for being forward-thinking. Here’s kind of the part where I’m struggling with, is that there’s still, what is the indication of is there more that marketing could be doing to warm up accounts before they get passed through? So I’d like to look at as we look at target account engagement and the amount of the number of accounts we’re influencing, can we help the influence within the account level? How much?

Sydney Sloan:

One of the things that we did use to do that, I’d like to figure out, and I was talking to John Miller about this the other day. We were at an event together and we used to do these things called smoke reports where you could see, did you have engagement across multiple contexts in a single account? So I’d like to be able to bring that sort of data, but that’s where leads meet accounts and I know Engagio solves that problem. We don’t use Engagio personally right now, but that is one of the things that they do solve for. And so we had written a script in Salesforce to do that previously.

So how do I get that to work where we can try and help with the footprint inside accounts when you’re trying to get more people involved or maybe land and expand into new opportunities. So that’s the MQA score, I guess. But we just pass it right through to our SDR team and they start working it. So the question is who does the nurturing? Do sales do the nurturing through sales, often cadences? Does marketing do the nurturing through — also, we can use our cadence engine for that — or should we be using marketing automation? We have lots of customers that do that with marketing automation.

Joe Hyland:

Sure. So, you mentioned that your tier-one accounts, so they are, I would imagine, all using marketing automation in combination with you guys as you assume it’s correct —

Sydney Sloan:

For the most part, yes. And that’s where there’s still a traditional handoff between the marketing funnel and the qualification funnel.

Joe Hyland:

But as you… So, I’m just curious as you guys then go down market to smaller companies, is it common that you’ll work with marketing departments to say, “Hey, we’re not gonna use marketing automation at all and I think SalesLoft can handle the whole thing for me?”

Sydney Sloan:

We’re trying to go upmarket versus downmarket. We do have customers that just use SalesLoft and in some customers don’t even have Salesforce. So, on the very small enterprise, they can. I think there are, again, it’s depending on the size of the company and the complexity of the offerings they have and there is value in nurturing. Whichever system does that, I think that’s important and to be able to track all those interactions — however that does that — I think the difference comes between the level of effort and who’s doing the hyper-segmentation so you can still get that personalization that people actually want.

So that’s the balance in terms of how hard is that to do that in your marketing automation systems versus in your, within your sales or your sales development teams. But, also, I think, you know, at the end of the day, everybody still has to do prospecting, whether you’re an account exec or, you know, I don’t yet know of a company where the sales reps are not also on the hook for generating and their own opportunities.

Sydney Sloan:

And so when you think about being able to leverage tools to engage customers to communicate with customers, that’s better than an excel spreadsheet and your own personal email. There are many different tools out there that can help with that — I advise for a couple as well. And so I think that’s the problem we’re all trying to solve for is how do you create meaningful communication in the most personalized way yet still using some kind of tool for automation so you can get scale, whether that’s marketing automation or what, I forget what the other new category is around field marketing enablement or something like that and sales engagement all these new categories that are emerging.

Joe Hyland:

You made a good point, even a lesson I learned a few years ago when I also wasn’t in Martech before this. We have some clients who were fortune twenties, he’d say, well, of course, they have a CRM and marketing automation, but some arms don’t, right? So, there are divisions, small divisions, which have to be pretty scrappy of huge companies that don’t necessarily have all the bells and whistles for technology. So that’s a good point.

Well, you just referenced scale, which I think is something so exciting about what we do as marketers, but it’s also a slippery slope and you combine that with creating really compelling customer experiences, which I think is something that marketers should own and the question is where does that, where is the line of demarcation how deep into the relationship should marketing own the experience?

Joe Hyland:

But I feel that…

Sydney Sloan:

All the way…

Joe Hyland:

That’s how I feel as well, I think it was a long conversation, I think that is one of the most exciting areas of marketing. But I see a lot of marketers really screw that up because they say, “Hey, I know, we just got to scale and you know, we just, we got to blast out a ton of emails and we’ll worry about the experience later.” Which I think is the wrong approach, but why? Why is it that so many marketers have a hard time balancing those two?

Sydney Sloan:

Look how many MQL is I can generate that don’t get closed?

Joe Hyland:

Exactly that scale, right?

Sydney Sloan:

I think people have to have the confidence that if they’re doing the work upfront to qualify the accounts better that and work on your ICP and, and run meaningful programs that are going to target and convert the right accounts. It is scary if you’ve been, hey, look how many MQLs I’m having a now I’m going to reduce that number, but it’s going to be more meaningful because my conversions are going to go up. That’s the logic behind it and you just have to commit to it and start doing it and prove it out.

I went through that transition in my last role and it paid out and we started to see the ASPs grow and because we were going after the accounts we wanted to go after and working more closely with sales and it was, you know, it was a long, it was, you know, two and a half years of going back and forth on what it meant to have target accounts and how we are partnering together and did I pick the right accounts or did it not pick the right accounts? And am I confident in the data in order to do that? So, it’s scaling down to scale up. And I used the term to like slowing down to speed up. Sometimes you just, you gotta be smarter about what’s up front so you can make it more meaningful in the longer run. And then you start scaling by running multiple segment programs. So it’s not one for everyone. It’s you scale, like, okay, I got that model running. Now how do I add a new one while I’m continuing to manage this one?

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. And that’s great marketing, right? I think focus is such a beautiful thing when done right. And it’s, you’re right. That takes some discipline. Yeah, no, you gotta know when to say no, right? And there is such a thing as, you know, we talk about this in our group, there’s such a thing as a bad lead whether you classified as MQL or not like, yeah, you could use, it can be a waste of time for both marketing and more importantly sales. So I like that — your favorite f-word — Well, we’ve wasted another perfectly half hour.

I want to thank you for your time. I’ve really enjoyed it. This has been a wonderful discussion. Thanks so much.

Sydney Sloan:

Thank you. It was excellent to get to talk to you and look forward to watching some of the other webcasts if they’re as fun as this one. We can always be learning more from each other, so hopefully, it was useful.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, no, I love it all. Alright, thanks so much, everyone.

CMO Confessions EP. 10: Scott Brinker of HubSpot

Hi everyone and welcome to another episode of CMO Confessions. This week, we sit down to talk with the one and only Scott Brinker, Vice President of Platform Ecosystem at HubSpot and Editor in Chief at chiefmartec.com. As many of you may know, Scott is the mind behind the martech landscape supergraphic, which currently lists more than 6,800 different companies in the martech space (I still have trouble spotting my company, ON24, on the ever-growing sheet but that’s beside the point).

Scott’s history in the marketing technology space stretches back to 1986 when he was 15 years old and promoting games for The Major BBS, an early bulletin board server. A few short years later, he joined Galacticomm, purveyor of The Major BBS, as vice president of marketing. The rest, as the cliche goes, is history.

In this episode of CMO Confessions, we dive into Scott’s history, what martech is here for and explore how he thinks the landscape will change in the coming years. Spoiler: there’s talk of consolidation in the forecast.

You can find Scott on Twitter at @chiefmartec and check out his extensive resume through LinkedIn here. You can also check out his book, “Hacking Marketing,” right here.

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

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

Transcript:

Joe Hyland: Hello, I’m Joe Hyland, CMO here at ON24 and joining me this week from the Greater Boston Area is Scott Brinker, VP of platform ecosystem at HubSpot as well as a host of other companies that we’ll talk about in just a minute. So, Scott, welcome.

Scott Brinker: Joe great to be here with you.

Joe Hyland: That’s fantastic having you. I think you and your work are famous in marketing circles. So, the martech landscape that you publish I think I see twice a week in presentations with the background being that there’s a lot of stuff happening in the marketing space and it’s a crowded market.
I’d love for you to talk about that work, how you even envisioned it and how you researched it. Where did you even begin on that journey?

Scott Brinker: Yeah. I’m not sure if it’s famous so much is infamous at this point. But yeah, it was actually very humble beginnings. As, you know, cool projects are. So, for a few years, I’ve been advocating to marketing executives that they really needed to hire technology people to be a part of the marketing team — these marketing technologists. And so, I developed the first version of that landscape for a conference that had a bunch of you know, CMOs, in the audience. And it was my attempt to say, “Hey, look at the evidence. Look at all these different technologies that you’ve now become reliant on, whether it was your content management system or search engine optimization or social or mobile.”

You lay it all out, it’s like “oh my goodness!” There’s like actually a lot of different technologies that are driving modern marketing. And this was in 2011. And so, when I did that first slide, it was around 150 different companies and I largely assembled it from folks. You know been talking to marketers for years, “What tools do you use for this will tools are used for that.” And yeah, even that first version with only about 150. Half the time I was like, “Oh my God, that was a lot of marketing Technologies. This is insane!”

So, you know, I just kept going back year-over-year to update this mostly out of my own curiosity at first. But then, somewhere around 2014 when it crossed into you know thousand — like they were a thousand vendors all of a sudden on that landscape — it kind of took on a life of its own.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, when do you when do you think it hit an inflection point so to speak? What do you think? Do you think it was in 2014 when they’re over a thousand? Was it before that after that?

Scott Brinker: Yeah, so certainly the 2014 landscape was an inflection point. I think everyone realized at that point in time that, “Okay, this is this is a very different beast than what we have seen before.” And particularly for marketers who, again, we’re digital marketers. It’s not that where tech shy, but there was something about yeah, the scale of all these different technologies and the rate at which they were evolving and the new players who were entering all of a sudden.

Yeah, that was a tipping point where I think people realized. I mean, I certainly realized. This is this is crazy and the rules we had for managing technology as executives in marketing for the previous decade — we were going to have to start to rethink them in this new environment.

Joe Hyland: Were there did you broaden this topic? It’s just fascinating to me — you’ll have to force me off of it in a few moments. Did you broaden some of the definitions or was there was there actually a tenfold increase in companies? Was there a start-up proliferation in B2B marketing?

Scott Brinker: Yeah, it’s a great question. So, it was kind of three things all coming together. One, certainly, I was getting better at discovering them during those I was able to go out and I was learning year-over-year and say, “Hey, what are the pockets of these different, you know, companies.” And also, I was having more companies reach out to me proactively and say, “Hey, we saw your landscape from last year, why aren’t we here? We have, you know, 25 million in revenue a hundred great customers, you know, what’s up?”

So, there’s some of that discovery. Some of it that was an expansion of the categories from my perspective. For instance, I always sort-of included but expanded things around like sales enablement and sales intelligence incorporated — things such as very common project management tools that weren’t specific to marketing, like Trello, you know isn’t a quote-unquote marketing tool, but so many marketing organizations rely on those tools. In so many marketing organizations, the marketing ops person is collaborating with a sales ops person on how we’re delivering sales enablement, but I thought it was worthwhile to include that in people’s picture of “Hey, listen still as a marketing executive this is kind of the tech world that you have to have a say in — you have to have a vision for you know how this maps into your organization.”

So, there’s that and then on top of that you had just new companies entering the space and an incredible rate because this isn’t actually just marketing — this is happening in every department like HR, finance and accounting. I mean, you name it.

It’s just gotten so easy to create new software. The barriers to entry for taking a great idea and building it on top of AWS and getting it out into the world is a pretty low bar to be able to get out of.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, it’s exciting. I mean, I live in the right in the middle of it in San Francisco. I told you before, I’m from Boston one of my friends works for a venture capital firm in Boston. He’s so proud of Boston companies helps about being one of them. He’s always reminding me of the latest and greatest Boston company.

But you’re right, the barrier to entry has demonstrably changed in the last 10 years. Are you seeing, or do you predict a lot of consolidation? Because, what’s the list up to now? It’s is it 6,500? I knew I knew it was north of 5,000.

Scott Brinker: Yeah, it’s something like 6,300 different companies. Again, that list, the moment I publish it I am now awash with “Yeah, you know you forgot so-and-so and then some.”

But I mean it’s interesting. So, there is consolidation. This is always one of the things that people find so counterintuitive is because for years.

Consolidation has been going on. If you look at you know, the major companies in the space, you know, certainly like, you know Salesforce, Adobe Oracle — I mean these have been incredibly acquisitive companies in trying to pull together these solutions stacks. I mean, HubSpot’s gone on the acquisition game a bit it’s like so that’s definitely happening, but at the same time the new entrants into the space — well, one hasn’t overtaken the other so we’re seeing these forces of consolidation, but we still see this rejuvenation of new entrants in new categories trying new ideas. It’s just an incredibly frothy space and when we could debate whether that’s good, bad, ugly but the thing about the landscape I’ve always found is even if you set aside a value judgment on it, it’s like do I think this is a good thing or a bad thing, it’s just empirically what it is.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, I find it fascinating. I think we’re lucky to be marketers. I think there are a few professions who are as enamored as marketers with new technologies new ideas. For me, nothing’s bolted to the ground and that’s part of what makes great marketing.

The last space I was in was financial supply chain and at the time it felt like there was an explosion of technology, looking back. It’s laughable, there were 20 or 30 companies and that felt crowded. Yeah, I’m proud that there’s all these new technologies. For me, what’s interesting is what’s a nice to have a piece of technology versus what’s built to last. And I think your last statement is right: it will be what it will in fact be. I think a lot of these a lot of these techs will probably — you know — a pretty high-percentage of them will either get folded into larger players — the HubSpot’s of the world — big fan of HubSpot. Truthfully, they’ll go their own way and they’ll parish it will be interesting to see how many of them are standalone companies. What percentage — do you even have an opinion on that or do you not hypothesize on future?

Scott Brinker: Well, it’s with that caveat that predicting the future is hard, but I actually have some data on this. I went back to the very first, proto-landscape I created right before 2011, and I don’t know I want to say there was like 70 some-odd companies that I had on that. And, without looking at the sheet — I can’t get the exact number — I would say something like 60 out of the 70 had gone away. They’d either been acquired and merged into something or they’d simply gone out of business.

And if you think about between 2010, and I think I did that at the end of 2017, you know about 17 years is usually right — particularly in tech. There’s kind of a business cycle there: you’ve either hit escape velocity or something — you become one of the permanent members of the community or you’ve been merged or acquired or something. Or, it’s played its course and if you didn’t end up winning, it’s not so much necessarily that the big guys are going to push you out. It’s probably that they’ll just be a new generation of new entrepreneurs who tried in a different way in a better way and because you don’t have a large enough scale, it’s actually harder to fend off those new entrants.

So, I do think it’s still going to be a fairly frothy market for a lot of those companies on the landscape today.

Joe Hyland: Okay, that’s interesting. So, 60 out of the out of the 70 went there went their own way.

Scott Brinker: Yep, and in fact, actually we’ve been tracking this now year over year on the big landscape — last from 2007 to 2018 4.7 percent of the companies that were on 2017 landscape we’re no longer around in 2018 — again, either acquired or just out of business. And, so, it’s interesting because if you talk about a 5 percent churn rate, in the scheme of things, that’s a pretty high churn rate – we’re talking hundreds of companies every year. But again, it gets lost in the thunder of all these other participants and entrants into the space and because software is not just cheap to build, frankly it’s also pretty darn cheap to maintain on an operational basis. Then I think it’s interesting. You see companies that have gone the VC route, and they’re burning money to hit a scalable escape velocity and that’s a very much you either win or you lose the game. It’s hard to just like carry on around there.

But you know, I want to say something like about half or more of the companies on the martech landscape don’t have VC funding. They’re organically grown, and those things are a lot more interesting because I think it’s more challenging them for them to ultimately achieve a huge scale. But boy, they can find a niche of a particular set of customers that they serve well, and those customers love them, and they love what they’re doing and they’re profitable there might not be a billion-dollar public company, but they’re there and I don’t think those guys are necessarily going to go away that quickly.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, that’s interesting. So, the 4.7 who left that ends up being dwarfed though by the 15 or 20 percent that entered the landscape, right? So. Yeah.

Scott Brinker: And we’ll see if that continues, right? I mean, you know that there is clearly, at some level, like the laws of physics — an upper limit on how many modern tech companies there can be in the world.

Joe Hyland: It’d be a good piece, “The Martech Laws of Physics.”

Scott Brinker: We’ve been we’ve been denying gravity about as long as we can, I think.

Joe Hyland: For me, it’s interesting. You know when I see the list one, I think it’s really impressive. It’s great work. I can’t imagine the amount of cycles and time that goes into it. It’s very thoughtful. So, hats off to you and your team. For me, what it says — and I think there’s a lot of different interpretations — if you just look at a snapshot, it’s that as a purchaser of technology, and I this has changed a lot in the last 10 years, I wanted to all work together. I demand that it does.

One of the cool things about my job is I’m just constantly talking to marketers. I talk to a lot of marketers who are like, “That’s the failing.” Like, that’s where they’re so frustrated: you buy into this bigger vision and dream of what your marketing tech stack can look like and then it ends up being a clunker car where things just don’t run properly.

So, to me, that’s where beautiful things can happen: when you find the right pieces of technology to support your strategy and shit actually works. How often are you seeing that dream actually realized?

 Scott Brinker: So, I think it’s interesting: they’re two challenges to technology adoption and one is the technical integration challenge. And I have to say like three years ago, man, it was a total mess. I mean, you had to have a Ph.D. in enterprise architecture make this stuff happen.

Two things have happened in the past few years here that have made it better. I won’t say it’s solved yet — this is still work in progress — but two things that made it better is. First of all, the major companies, again, Salesforce always had this in its DNA, but also, Oracle and Adobe — and a plug for what I’m doing here at HubSpot. HubSpot embraces this idea that the major companies, rather than focusing on just a closed system of, “Okay, this is our suite; you by the suite of everything from us; there’s nothing outside the suite.” Really embracing more of a platform mentality say, “Okay, here’s the foundational systems that we will offer, these common systems of record, the ability to like orchestrate how these different things work together.” And between the platform companies and then the companies that plug into these platforms, they can do the technical work to make that integration a lot more out-of-the-box, a lot more seamless. And every major martech company is headed in this way. I mean again, it’s a journey there’s a long way for them to go but that’s getting better.

The second thing is, while a lot of these companies were taking their time and becoming platforms, this whole field of integration platform as a service, ipass companies, folks like Zapier is always the easiest example. They sprung up and they said, “Listen, okay, well if it’s taking a while for these other companies to platformize, hey, listen, we can just solve this as a third party and we’ll make it easy for you to plug all your different stack elements together and pass data between them. Again, we’ve got a way to go but I feel like we’re making a lot of progress on the technical integration.

I think the bigger challenge I see now with most organizations is — it’s like the dog that catches the car. It’s like, “Okay, actually, we bought the technology and, okay, we actually got it integrated; they’re now like sharing the right data — what the hell do we do with this?”

I mean, so much of this technology — this is new stuff. I mean the playbooks for this have not been written yet. They’re being written, they’re being pioneered and a lot of them, it’s not just about trying to figure out new ways to use the tool, it’s really more about “How do we change the way our marketing organization thinks and operates to take advantage of even just the way these tools change the nature of business, the nature of the relationship with customers.” And I think that’s actually a much harder problem that we’re all going to be collectively working on here for the next decade.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, I think you’re right. In some ways collecting these technologies, well, there’s tons of potential and you need to be careful that today’s technology doesn’t just become yesterday’s tactics. We’ve all had that strategy meeting where you think it’s something bigger and more strategic and before you know it you listed 10 tactics that you’re going to do, and you say “Shit, this doesn’t seem like a strategy, it’s more list of tactics.” I think that’s happened with a lot of marketers now with technology — ABM is an easy to poke fun — at and I’m a huge believer in personalized marketing — but that’s a strategy versus just saying, “Oh we’re going to deploy ABM this year.” Like, okay, cool, what does that look like? I don’t just want to hear technology. I’m a big believer of demandbase and a handful of the other technologists who are leading the way here, but it is not simply a plug and play technology.

It requires deep thought into segmentation — who your audiences are, a lot of content, right? So, I think you’re right. If we’re not if we’re not careful, it just becomes a list of technologies which is not really a marketing strategy.

Scott Brinker: Yeah, ABM is a great example for that and like one of the challenges we hear from so many marketers now. It’s the boundaries of marketing are becoming very porous. And ABM is one of those things. If you really want to do account based, not just marketing, but really account based business, this level of integration you need between your marketing team, your sales organization and, quite frankly, even your customer success organization, because very often it’s about starting with a foothold in one place and then expanding it from there —that’s, yeah, tricky cross-departmental collaboration.

Joe Hyland: It’s a shift in how you go to market. It’s not about serving up an ad with a cookie that says, “Hi, Scott.” Like, that’s not an ABM strategy, right? This is this is a shift in how your company operates. And yeah, just because you have it integrated in doesn’t actually mean you know what to do with it.

Scott Brinker: Well said.

Joe Hyland: So, okay. Well, so how do you split… So, I said at the start that you have a lot going on in a lot of titles at a lot of different organizations. What’s your world look like? How do you divide your time between HubSpot and Chief Martech? Do you? Do they all just merge together? Like what’s a day in the life of Scott Brinker like?

Scott Brinker: Yeah, you know, it varies over the year. For the most part what I do at HubSpot here is what you would think of is like my real job. This is how I make a living before I joined HubSpot. I was the co-founder and CTO of Ion Interactive SaaS platform for interactive content. And, to be honest, it’s always where I found the joy is, actually. You know, being in the game like, you know working with technology, working with marketers to help change this. And Chief Martech, I’ve tried to keep it as a labor of love. Part of that works in the mode where it’s like, because I don’t do that for a living I don’t ever feel pressured to say, “Oh my goodness, it’s Wednesday I need to get a post-up because I always publish on Wednesday.” It’s more like, listen, if I’ve got something useful to say or I’m interested in — awesome I’ll find the time. Whether it’s an evening or the weekend or whenever I’ll write it up.

I’ll get out if I don’t have anything interesting to say I’m like [intelligible]. But I have the luxury of doing that because I’m not trying to run like an ad-supported website.

The conference that we work on, the martech conference, I do in collaboration with Third Door Media who produce things like The Search Marketing conference. They were on the Marketing Land site.

And so, they do an amazing job with that and they do, as far as I’m concerned, all the hard work associated with that conference. And yeah, it really gave me the freedom to then just focus on the content, which, again, for me, it doesn’t feel like a job.  I’m just fascinated to hear marketers are doing what’s working for them, what’s not and getting those folks to be able to come and share their stories. It’s just it’s a thrill for me. So, trying and keep that side of things in the labor of love bucket and HubSpot’s been very supportive of letting me travel to speak and do what I do with Martech and stuff like that without interfering in that.

Joe Hyland: Very cool. Very, very cool. I think there were a lot of — I’ll personalize this — I think there was a lot of marketers who, when they saw the news of you landing at HubSpot, said, “Shit, that was a really good idea — why didn’t we think of that?” It was a very smart hire. So, I’m curious to know — you run you run platform ecosystem — what’s that like? What does that even mean? And how does your background and your expertise on this entire marketing landscape fits into to the relative spot?

Scott Brinker: Sure, so HubSpot is pretty transparent that it’s in a journey to become a platform company. We’d be hesitant to — you know, there’s a lot we need to do to be a really great platform. I think we’ve been making great progress, but I am one of two people who is working on this transformation of the company. My counterpart is a woman named Nancy Riley who is in our product organization and so she’s really taking the leadership of how the product itself is evolving to be a better platform and more extensible platform.

And then I work more on the business side of, “okay what sort of programs can we put together so that as we have partners who come into the HubSpot ecosystem, how can we help them reach the right customers? How can we make them successful? And then how do we start to evolve the messaging of HubSpot to be — okay, it’s not just about the software that HubSpot creates — it’s about this larger whole the foundations that HubSpot creates then all these amazing more specialized solutions that plug-in to that environment. So yeah, most of my day is some combination across that entire spectrum.

Joe Hyland: That’s very cool. It will be interesting to see — and I see HubSpot, just my own personal opinion, I see HubSpot thriving in this new world order that we’re seeing coming to play — so I think the company’s going to do quite well. It will be interesting to see how the messaging and positioning evolves because you created this movement around inbound, but at some point, you will become more than that and it will be interesting to see how the company messaging evolves. You know, CRM as an example. I don’t think of as a classic inbound piece of technology, but that’s something you guys have explored, right? So, I think a lot of marketers who were envious of the marketing and positioning of your company or curious to see what happens in the next couple of years. So, more of a statement than a question, but I think it’s I think it’s discussed a lot in a lot of other marketing departments.

Scott Brinker: Yeah, no, and I think it’s discussed a lot here at HubSpot. I mean, all it’s a combination of both companies evolve right as companies grow, but it’s also the marketing and the broader digital business landscape is evolving too. I mean what the world needed 10 years ago is different than what it’s gonna need in the next 10 years here. So, I don’t think it’s just a matter of HubSpot wanting to evolve on this.

I think it’s just being every platform connected in the digital front-office world these days has to think about how do we continue to evolve with the way the world is changing?

I mean even the thing we were talking about earlier here about these bridges between the marketing or and the sales org and the customer success org, how do you start to from a platform worldview connect these functions and get them to actually get greater synergy together? There’s something happening there that isn’t inbound, but I think it’s a very exciting future if you know where HubSpot and other companies in the space and go.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, I couldn’t agree with you anymore. All right, well, I’ll end with a question that I get a lot from for many marketers. What’s the perfect path? So, I’ll talk to young, aspiring markers and they say, “How did you get to where you are?” And you know, I want to follow that journey and I think everyone’s journey is unique.

Walk us through yours because I find it particularly interesting and I think the order was a little mismatched but in a manner that produced a pretty damn good result. So, if you wouldn’t mind, take us through your journey.

Scott Brinker: All right. Well, I’ll do the abbreviated one.

Joe Hyland: You can be as detailed as you see fit.

Scott Brinker: Yeah, so the short version is I started at a very young age as a software entrepreneur. I’d say I was driven by the technology. My background was as a developer. But, early on, it was that intersection of not just developing something — I was, as a teenager — is multiplayer games was also like, “Okay, well, how do you sell these? How do you turn this into a business? How do you make money out of that?” Years ago, that was a novel thing nowadays, right? Thanks to Mark Zuckerberg. Like I mean, if you’re not making your first billion by the time you’re 20, I mean, what’s wrong? But I think it started me down this path of always looking at how Innovations in technology could change what was possible for companies and customers and then how do you actually sell that? How do you help companies adopt this stuff and transform it?

And so, I went through some early days before the web in the generation of technology before online systems, dial-up systems, bulletin board systems. With the web, I then moved into doing work with a boutique web development shop, web agency for a while. We built solutions for companies like Citrix and Siemens and Yahoo, and, fascinating thing because, again, that was place where this idea of the marketing technologist really got seeded for me because we get hired by the marketing organization to make their web visions come true, and then my technology team would be the ones who had to go talk to their IT organization to figure out, “Okay, how are we going to integrate this into the back office… It’s really interesting, it’s shuttle diplomacy, the early days of integrations. And then after a while, we were very successful with that but, you know, I kind of went back to my software product roots.

And that was where Ion Interactive came and launched what was initially the sort of a landing page microsite platform that evolved into an interactive content platform. And again, that’s kind of it was interesting. So that was actually where there was a split where my vocation, my job when CTO of Ion was forging the technology version of that and really thinking about okay, how do how do we tell that story? How do we help companies take advantage of this new technology?

But that was when yeah, on the side, the nights and weekends of when I was working on the Chief Mark Tech site. Yeah, just this fascination of the challenges I was seeing with ion’s customers and when you get these pieces to work together, and then also once you’ve got this technology inside your organization, how do you do really harness its real value?

I mean these were problems people have in across the entire spectrum of marketing and marketing tech.

Joe Hyland: Sorry, you started Chief MarTech while you were still CTO of ion, is that right?

Scott Brinker: Yes.

Joe Hyland: Okay, okay.

Scott Brinker: And again, there’s something about having a little labor of love on the side that I would encourage everyone — I mean and probably, for most people, it’s not in the same profession that you’re in. But, you know, what can I say? I love Mar Tech. And so both took their own path. I’d say that turning point for Chief Martech was that 2014 landscape when I think everyone realized, me including, that there really was a pretty fundamental transformation in the nature of technology in the marketing department and we were going to have to get a lot more serious as an industry and as a profession about how we manage this both strategically, but also operationally.

Joe Hyland: Super-cool and now you’re here.

Scott Brinker: And now I’m here. All right.

Joe Hyland: Well, listen, Scott, this has been fantastic. We’re at the bottom of the hour. I will leave you all with a quote from a quote from Scott from about 15 minutes ago, “The boundaries of marketing are becoming very porous.” And I think with that we’ll close out.
Thanks, so much man.

Scott Brinker: Thank you, Joe.

CMO Confessions Ep. 9: Jenn Steele of Madison Logic

Hi everyone and welcome to another episode of CMO Confessions. This week, we talk shop with Madison Logic’s Jenn Steele, who, in my opinion, has one of the more unique backgrounds as CMO. Jenn started her career not as a marketer in marketing, but as the head of IT at a few law firms. After getting her MBA, Jenn shifted into the martech space and started marketing career at a small company named HubSpot. The rest, I guess, is history.

Over the years, Jenn has gained some fantastic insight — and, more importantly, perspective — on the state of the martech space. It seems we’re of the same opinion on a great deal of things, including “awards,” compensating for shortcomings why a lot of martech today just really needs to get a grip.

Finally, Jenn has shared with us an excellent book to dig into called “The New Leader’s 100 Action Plan,” by George Bradt. I’m looking forward to digging into this myself.

You can find Jenn on Twitter at @Jennsteele and on follow her career on LinkedIn here.

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

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

Transcript:

Joe Hyland: Hello, and I want to welcome everyone to this week’s episode of CMO Confessions. The idea here being this is a weekly B2B sales and marketing podcast that explores what it’s really like to be a marketing leader in today’s business world. I’m pleased to have Jenn Steele, CMO for Madison Logic, hot off joining the company three weeks ago Jenn welcome to the show.

Jenn Steele: Thanks for having me.

Joe Hyland: Okay, so I haven’t said this thus far, and I said when we were talking earlier, I’m honest to a fault, and I read what I thought was the most brilliant line when I went on your LinkedIn page — opening line, so you now know what about to say, is, “I like big data and I cannot lie,” which one is a great reference to Sir Mix-A-Lot, I believe

Jenn Steele: Yes…

Joe Hyland: It was just fantastic. I think, too, it probably says a lot about you. Unless you’re just a really ironic person and you actually don’t like data whatsoever.

Jenn Steele: That would be wrong. Now, I’m obsessed with data. I have a degree in science and my first marketing role was at HubSpot, where what I heard literally every day was, “In God, we trust, all others bring data.” And so, for me, marketing has always been about data and I’ve even worked at a big data company, or multiple, ones actually, because you can count Bizible. So yeah, I cannot lie, I like big data.

Joe Hyland: Well, one, I find that refreshing. I talk to a lot of marketers who are forced into acting as if they love data and they don’t know what to do with data and they’re lost with data and, I don’t know, a lot of marketers didn’t come from a more of a science background and they get that that’s not necessarily core or natural to them — it’s not intuitive. And I think marketing has so wildly shifted in the last five or 10 years, which I think is really exciting and fun, to being more analytical. But have you come across other other marketers who struggle in this area?

Jenn Steele: Oh, absolutely. I mean, I think anybody who started their marketing career before ten years ago — anybody who started their marketing career before about 2008-2009 — if anything, being analytical was exactly the opposite of what you needed, right? You needed to be creative or you needed to figure out how to make sales or, you know, you needed to drink scotch and be Mad Men. And that’s not usually the same personality if someone who’s like, “Oh give me Excel, I have a great relationship with Excel.”

Joe Hyland: Exactly.

Jenn Steele: But I always have the theory that you should hire to your weaknesses. So, for example, I am actually absolutely abysmal at design. I’m slightly colorblind, I’ve got a brother who’s a graphic designer who’s like, “Stay away, Jenn, just stay away.” And so I always try to make sure I’ve got somebody on my team that’s good at design or at least has an eye for it. Because, obviously, brand is a big deal. Well, okay, just like I have to hire somebody who has some visual aesthetic sense then if I’m a marketer without a big grasp of data, then I just hire for that. It’s not the end of the world.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, I agree. Since we’re speaking of weaknesses, mine is, operationally, I just I fight anytime I have to sit in a salesforce meeting or we go through flowcharts our Venn diagrams. I just get bored. I hate it. I’m not sure if I’m weak at it or I just don’t have the attention span for it. Like, I’ve never actually sat through and been patient enough to determine that.

But yeah, for me, it’s really important to have operationally-sound people around me. If I just have creative types around me, you know, everything’s a brilliant whiteboard session and then we all go and never execute on it, right?

Jenn Steele:  I can see that. Whereas, for me, I need to have ideas people around me because I am one of those just very driven people. And, okay, I will admit, I don’t love the detail, but I might kind of like flowcharts a little bit, but there are people who like detail. I’ll try to hire them when I can because I need them around me. But, if I left to my own devices, my marketing team will absolutely execute on absolutely everything and stay inside their little boxes because I need somebody who’s really an ideas person who can really push us to be wild and then it gets interesting.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, I think  people know where to fill-in based on their blind spots versus versus trying to force it. Well, if you’ve always been into data and, without looking at exactly when you started your career, I don’t think it’s been in the last five or six years, right? Talk about the shifting world, right? As you said, there’s another we didn’t really have data readily available to us. There was a lot of intuition and gut-marketing. When I started about 20 years ago, I remember my first boss said well we. I asked why we’re going to a certain trade show and I didn’t know enough to really ask the question on what kind of return did we get last year, I guess that’s what I was getting at.

But I was 22 and I had no idea that there was even such a thing as trying to measure ROI and the answer I got back was,” Well, if we don’t go to this event, people will think we’ve gone out of business.” And so that was our event strategy.

Jenn Steele:  And that’s still people’s event strategy.

Joe Hyland: It’s true, isn’t it? Isn’t it insane? I guess you’re right, I have perhaps — and a lot of this is just pervasive and it hasn’t left the space — but, I don’t know, perhaps that is the logic that some people still hold — but there’s a shitload of data out there. So I’d love to hear from your perspective as as a self-proclaimed data nerd and junkie how your world has changed in the last 20 years in terms of analyzing like the ins and outs of marketing.

Jenn Steele: So I haven’t have the most traditional career path as a CMO. In fact, I had over a decade of Information Technology experience and I used to be more in the CIO realm. I ran I.T. departments at law firms.

Joe Hyland: Okay, I did I did not know this. Do tell, this is fascinating.

Jenn Steele: So that’s what I did shortly out of college because it was that time when anybody could trip and fall and get into technology. And I ended up in my late twenties being the head of IT departments at law firms.

Joe Hyland: Seriously?

Jenn Steele: Yeah, absolutely.

Joe Hyland: Wow.

Jenn Steele: Absolutely, I used to be able to recover an exchange server.

Joe Hyland: Okay, I don’t even know what that means, so there we go.

Jenn Steele:  Email. But my first situation analyses — where you go in and you plan, etcetera — had more to do with servers and systems and Citrix than they had to do with clicks and click conversions. And I started getting really into social media.

Joe Hyland: Okay, and your singer still working in it at the time.

Jenn Steele: I was still in I.T. at the time. Actually, I picked up an MBA in there. Marketing classes were actually my worst classes.

Joe Hyland: Interesting, okay.

Jenn Steele: You call this CMO confessions, here we go.

Joe Hyland: Yeah. No, I like it. This is great.

Jenn Steele: And my MBA concentrated in leadership, specifically. I burned out of I.T. and law firms and I called up my career office and she’s like, “You got to talk to this, it’s a brand new company, it’s called HubSpot.”

Joe Hyland: Really?

Jenn Steele:  And I was employee number 90 at HubSpot and they hired me, a former head of I.T., they hired me to be an inbound marketing consultant and tell hundreds of other marketers how to do inbound marketing.

Joe Hyland:  Makes sense, makes sense given your experience at that time. Sure.

Jenn Steele: I can speak authoritatively about basically anything, it turns out.

Joe Hyland: Hey, you took a leadership class, so you were you were ready. You ready to tell someone in an authoritative tone what to do you just needed to figure out what it should be.

Jenn Steele: Absolutely. So, and obviously it was easy for me to rise into a management roles there and etcetera. But my first exposure to the data world — well, I started working at a company full of other MIT alums and that was very, very data-driven. But here we were evangelizing to SMBs. We were evangelizing the worth and value of data. So, I was talking to people who were in their 50s who had spent their entire lives in, shall I call it traditional marketing, right? You know, arts and crafts friends and brand and buzz and they were subject matter experts thing on everything. They just didn’t know this internet thing and they knew that they needed to deal with this internet thing. So my exposure to the big switch was more by being a change agent in the environment than it was by going through it myself.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, that must have been super exciting. What was it like early days at HubSpot? You’re creating a market, right? Did you even — I guess I’m asking a lot of questions and not  letting you answer — did you even have the notion of inbound marketing at the time when you joined?

Jenn Steele: So, I mean, we made up the term.

Joe Hyland:  Sure, I mean, early but you didn’t have it right at the start right?

Jenn Steele: When I started they were already using inbound marketing. It’s like shortly after I started the inbound marketing book came out. So they were using it, and nobody else had ever heard of the term, but we were certainly using it inside HubSpot. And, what was it? Get found using social media and blogs. I think that was one of the big taglines. Oh, Goole, social media and blogs that was it, right?

Joe Hyland: Yeah. I hear I think  so many companies, not just marketers, but companies, point to — and I think it’s a dangerous thing to do — but will point to HubSpot as as the quintessential example of creating a category. So, now everyone wants to do it. Right? No, no one wants to be what they actually are. Everyone’s trying to create a category.

Jenn Steele:  Seriously, and I’ve been hired at least three times to do that and I have convinced three different companies that it was dumb.

Joe Hyland: Yeah. Well, I think authenticity is so important and it’s perhaps difficult to tell when someone’s being authentic, but it’s really easy to tell when someone’s being inauthentic. Like, we can sniff out bullshit pretty quickly. And I think that’s what that’s what a lot of companies do with these category creation goals and initiatives. They try to create something that shouldn’t really exist and doesn’t exist in —  it’s just from their own perspective. So so you’ve been successful in talking CEOs or companies out of doing that?

Jenn Steele: In some cases, yes.So, martech, when I left it — so I went from HubSpot to Amazon and I’ll call that leaving martech — martech when I left it had fewer than a thousand companies in the infamous landscape, right? I came back and I’m like, “What the hell happened while I was gone?”

Joe Hyland:  It’s out of control.

Jenn Steele: It went from 500 to 5,000 and I was gone for, oh gosh, what was it? I was only gone for five or  six years. I’m like, in six years, we got 10x the number of martech companies.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, well, I mean I live in the land of where they all exist. I’m in San Francisco,  you bump into someone on the streets and the likelihood of them working for a martech company is quite high — doing things that don’t really make sense, truthfully.

Jenn Steele: So many of them are apps. They’re really, like, they’re features or they’re apps — they’re not products.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, or they’re not really meant to be standalone companies. And I’m not trying to call anyone out, but they raise money with the sole intent of being acquired within hopefully three or four years, right? That’s kind of a dangerous business model.

Jenn Steele: It is, it is although when most of the money these days is private rather than public I can almost see that as an okay exit exit strategy, but let’s just say that I’m not really attracted to that kind of company.

Joe Hyland: No, same. If you keep you can’t if you can’t explain the business model or how you make money or add value to your customers in 30 seconds, there’s probably a problem.

Jenn Steele: True, and that’s probably why half the martech companies sound exactly the same.

Joe Hyland: They do, right? They do. Well, so there’s the I mean, there’s only so many adjectives and descriptors for giving space, right? So, I mean like they’re like there’s a lot of Engagement overlap, I’ll tell you that much.

Jenn Steele:  And we’re all like Lemmings. It’s like engagements the new thing. Oh, and now we’re all revenue marketers. Let’s all run over there. And now let’s make sure we write that on our website. I mean, it’s so frustrating to try to differentiate yourself. At my last company, bizible, we knew we were the best, we also knew that our competitors said the same damn thing we would every single damn time.

Joe Hyland: Yeah. Sadly, I will look at my own website, or our own website, and I can go to 10 other companies and it’s hard to tell the difference. I don’t think we’re copying anyone but you know, again, there’s just only so many descriptors out there and, before you know, it you’re not differentiated and you’re ultimately you’re all Lemmings — you’re just saying the exact same thing. It’s it is a crowded space.

Jenn Steele: It is and now I work at one of the 400 ABM platforms in the world.

Joe Hyland: So, I said this at the start, you started three weeks ago, right? You’re wrapping up week three.

Jenn Steele: Yes, this is the last day of week three I started August 6th or something, yeah.

Joe Hyland: I said this to you when we first spoke, but starting at a new company is exciting. One of the things I love most about marketing is just problem solving, right? That’s what I ultimately think marketing is. You have a thesis, you have a market, hopefully, and there is hopefully a challenge or a problem in that marketing — what’s the best way to align those those two or three things?

So I’m, in some ways, envious of what you’re going through right now just because I think intellectually it’s just exciting. Do you have a blueprint or a philosophy for how you started a new organization or if you look at everyone like a snowflake and it’s completely different

Jenn Steele: So, I should have a blueprint. Or, well, okay, I am developing more of a blueprint philosophy as I go.

Joe Hyland: But it gets dangerous because they’re all different — sorry to interject — every company is different, right? So I’ve seen people come in with a playbook and it’s like, “Dude, that may have worked somewhere else,” like it’s a different problem and it’s a different market.

Jenn Steele: Well, I mean a playbook — there was exactly one marketing thing that was paramount in my mind when I started at Madison Logic and that was, “I have to buy Bizible.” Data I have and not just because I loved the company and I came from Bizible, but because in my time at Bizible I realized there was no way on Earth I could execute, again, data-driven marketing without what I consider to be the best data platform for attribution in the world.

Joe Hyland: Sure.

Jenn Steele: I swear I’m not saying that just because I used to work there. But what I actually did is — I so I’ve tried, actually, several different executive onboarding methodologies — I’ve on-boarded as an executive in two different industries, now in two different very careers in both I.T. and in marketing. So I’ve tried the first 90 days, and, this time, I’ve tried the first hundred days playbook. I can send you the reference later, if you’d like it, and a lot of what they had is it’s not about my marketing plan is going to be X and Y and Z, it’s about what are my milestone dates? Who do I need to talk to before I start? What do I need to do before I come in? And how am I going to execute the sponge period, right? Where I have to basically sit there and listen to people and talk to them until my eyes glaze over and I’m exhausted every night because I’m just trying to onboard all of the information all at one time?

And, of course, for me, working at a New York company and being in Seattle that meant two weeks in New York and then back to Seattle.

Joe Hyland: So, this is your first week back in Seattle since you started, okay.

Jenn Steele: Yes, so and I spent about a quarter of my time in New Yorker. I’m going to but in luckily I’m from the east coast of the snow is not going to kill me. But, fundamentally, it’s all about, “What are what are the Milestones?” So, I went and I attempted to be a sponge and then, on the plane flight back on Friday, I started building a functional organization of what I thought a successful marketing team at Madison Logic would look like. And, then, I have spent a lot of this week trying to tell people to just hang on a second — because I have made the mistake of coming on board and not taking a moment to plan, but instead actually jumping in on all the problems. And, like you, I’m a big problem solver, it’s something I’m super passionate about and it’s something I’m trained to do and you can make an immediate impact. So, I’m, right now, trying to balance. Yes, I want to get some quick wins and solve some problems, but I can get buried in that and not do the really big important stuff and lay out a roadmap and lay out a budget in order to make sure that Madison Logic succeeds.

Because I don’t want to simply solve problems and solve them and solve them and solve them and make little incremental steps.I want to say, “Okay, we’re here, I want to 10x our revenue over the next 10 years. How do I get there?” And without without taking that time to plan — and I’m not a big, “let me take time and go think of something,” I am far more of a, “let’s just get it done” person. But without actually very consciously taking the time to plan I know that we’d actually move slower and not faster.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, and now how mature is the organization, one, and, two, how mature is the marketing team?

Jenn Steele: So Madison Logics actually been around for a while — 2005, I believe. It was acquired by private equity in 2016. And so it’s not it’s not a start-up. Yeah. It’s about a hundred and twenty people but, and what I love about it, is that we’ve got major presence in the enterprise. And, unlike most other martech companies that are trying to go from mid-market to Enterprise, we actually just put out a SaSS product to take us down into mid-market.

Joe Hyland: That’s cool.

Jenn Steele: So, I think that’s a huge amount of fun, because, of course, I’ve spent the last several jobs being like “Enterprise, enterprise, enterprise — I get it, I get it, I get it. That’s why you’ve hired me, yes. I’ve done it and here I am.” Instead, I’m like, “Okay I can start here and then mid-market,” it’s scalability and it’s a little bit more interesting, at least for me, to not try and be going after the same five decision-makers every other martech CMO is going after right now.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, I know, it’s crowded.

Jenn Steele: It’s so crowded. The second part of your question was how mature is the marketing org? So, the marketing org is tiny. There’s only two people in there and really they’re just content creators. There’s three now, with me, and so I am effectively starting with the good content foundation and otherwise a blank slate. So it’s it’s fun.

Joe Hyland: It’s exciting. It’s interesting. So, I’ll compare it to when I started at my last company — it was a true startup — we had, trying to think of how many employees there were at the time,  about 25 or 30 I forget the exact number employee that I was. When you have a HubSpot-like exit you remember the exact number, when you don’t you can round to within five.

Jenn Steele: I think I’m one of about 10 to 15 people who claim employee number 90. I heard that Kipp, HubSpot’s CMO, claims 90. I’m like, I remember when Kipp started — he was not number 90.

Joe Hyland: That’s funny. I had Kipp on our podcast a couple of months ago. I wish the order had been reversed so I could have asked him that. So, I yeah, I was whatever, 25th or 30th employee. So, we had no infrastructure. We had under a million dollars in revenue. We were the definition of get shit done. We had no choice we had six months of cash by design. So there was no like, “Joe take 90 days. Let’s have a grandiose marketing plan. Let’s do you know to to five-year planning.” Fuck that, there was none of that. It was, “How do we get more? We have a hundred people to the next webinar. Do you have an idea for how we get 500 people?” And that was like my first project.

And anyway, I say that because — and while we did get shit done, I remember, I don’t know, four or six weeks — and so a couple weeks from now for you, I looked at my marketing plan and it was all tactics. And I was disappointed in myself, right? I’d it was a slippery slope that I didn’t mean to slide down but because there so much change that needs to happen right then that I didn’t have the luxury of drawing out a real plan. So, I carved out about three hours a week. It was less than half a day, I remember it like it was yesterday, to just do planning. And I would just go off by myself, there was really no team, I had one other person. And I just did long-term planning. And then the other 60 or 70 hours a week were tactics, which were important to us at the time. When I started at ON24, we had been around since 2001. We were profitable, we had over a thousand customers. So, while there were things that I wanted to change immediately, there was already existing team in place like operations were already set up. So, instead, I had much more of a traditional onboarding. Which, for me helped, because I could put in the proper structure and foundation. But you don’t always get that luxury.

It would be interesting. I don’t know if I would do it differently at a startup. I don’t know if I would actually put in the proper foundation because I didn’t know what I didn’t know — it was an industry. Had I taken the time to put in a ninety or a hundred and eighty day plan, I think I probably would have changed anyway.

Jenn Steele: Well, I mean, any plan only last for me about as long as it takes me to present it, fix it and send it back out again, but realize I’m not taking forever to plan — I’ve got a draft of it right now that just has, “Okay here are big challenges, here’s the values of the marketing team should strive for etcetera,” but also, “and here’s the tactics for my next 18 months and I budget please.” And the answer for 2018. I’m pretty sure, is going to be “no” at least they let me buy Bizible. So, and in 2019, it’s going to be “we’ll talk about it.”

But I think that most of us end up somewhere in the middle between, and I also think that our definition of strategy versus tactics gets a little weird and funky sometimes, too. We throw around the words a lot and it’s like, “Well is strategy just a bundle of tactics or is it just a problem statement you’re trying to solve or what is that again?”

You know, we’re all so fuzzy on what the word “strategy” means that I can claim to be strategic, I’m still not sure exactly what it is.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, I appreciate the honesty. I also like the fact that tactic for some reason has become a four-letter word for many marketers, right?

Jenn Steele: It’s just a tactic.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, I mean that is kind of like everything we do ultimately is a tactic, right? That’s what you and I are doing right now. “Oh we just want to be strategic,” like I don’t actually want to talk on a podcast, right? No, that’s tactical.

Jenn Steele: Yeah.

Joe Hyland: So, you started after your —first of all that’s amazing, I’ve spoken to no one who’s had such a major career shift before they turn 30.

Jenn Steele: Well, that was not before I turned 30 just so … I spent over a decade in I.T. and I did graduate from college so you can do some math there.

Joe Hyland: Okay, so you didn’t start an it when you were 14, got it. Okay, well, so you started in marketing and martech. I did not. I had about 15 years in marketing before my first job in martech and I was really excited. I thought, man, marketing to marketers will be amazing, which it is. I love that part of the job. What I…to say, I hate it would be too strong of a word… I strongly dislike this quid pro quo nature that exists amongst many, many marketers where it’s just a whole bunch of people buying each other’s technology versus actually trying to solve a problem and help accomplish something.

Jenn Steele: I mean, what do you mean, Madison Logic is ON24 customer, are you not a Madison Logic customer?

Joe Hyland: Exactly, we should work on that. Did I say I hate it? I meant I love it.

Jenn Steele: Okay. There we go. I’m with you. I’m like, do we only sell to martech companies.

Joe Hyland: Its feels yeah, it feels like a bit of an echo chamber and its really and for you with Madison Logic — I don’t think it’s as bad in New York. I mean, it’s a real problem in San Francisco where you’re really just not talking to other martech providers. I don’t actually think that’s a way to build a winning business. So, you’ve only been at Madison Logic for three weeks, and it was a long time ago that you were at HubSpot, I’d be curious to get your perspective on how B2B Marketing in the martech space has changed in the last decade there.

Jenn Steele: Remember, I did go from Bizible to Madison logic. So, I have spent the last year in martech. I think I was telling you before the podcast that I was actually really relieved to get back into martech. Like, it’s a really fun space to me — marketing to marketers.

I’m a no-bullshit person and that I love the fact that like we just have to be honest with each other because we’re probably going to hire each other for our next jobs or something like that, right? Or we’re gonna help each other get to quota or whatever that is, or I’m going to copy your wet messaging not saying that I’m actually going to do that, but somebody will someday.

I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten what question you asked me.

Joe Hyland: Yes. It’s what it’s like being in martech. So, you’re right. You and I, probably more so than most people, we try to be brutally honest — we have been in this half an hour. I don’t think marketers in martech are, I think there’s a lot of bullshit just being served up to each other.

Jenn Steele: My favorite is the list that we keep giving each other awards.

Joe Hyland: Yes.

Jenn Steele: Yes, and I haven’t managed to find my way onto any of those listed. I’m not sure whether I should be relieved or offended.

Joe Hyland: Yeah, well it means you’re not paying someone enough money.

Jenn Steele: Oh, darn, so that’s the problem.

Joe Hyland: Someone who used to work for me got on a 30-under-30 or 40-under-40 list by one of our vendors who we paid the most — it was vendor we paid a lot of money to. And it was really nice for him and I was happy for this guy, but it was like, “Man, this is so silly. Do people really see what’s happening here?”

Jenn Steele: Oh, yeah, it’s like nominations are open for this and that and next thing. It’s like the 43 people who are “blah.”  I’ll bet you a quarter it’s all 43 people who got nominated and I’ll bet at least 20 of those are prospects and the other 23 are customers.

Joe Hyland: Yeah. So, what’s exciting for me and what I love is I can get on the phone with someone like you and just geek out on marketing. I love that. In my last space we sold to procurement and treasury — and while I was capable of talking about financial arbitrage and working capital, it wasn’t exactly something I was passionate about, right? That was work for me.

We’re talking marketing, which is not. That part of it I love — I could just do without some of the veneer that exist within the space, I guess.

Jenn Steele: We do. Yeah, we believe a lot of our own BS.

Joe Hyland: Yeah. I know. I think it’s dangerous when you start reading your own press clipping, so.

Okay, cool. Well, this just felt like it was five minutes. We’re at the were bottom of the hour.

Jenn Steele: Yeah,

Joe Hyland: I know Superfast right? Well, this has been amazing. I am excited to hear what happens in week four for you at Madison Logic. So, please, please, keep us in the loop. I would love it. If you sent if you don’t mind sending me the first hundred day playbook. I’ll include it below the this recording so people can check it out and I haven’t actually seen it myself. So I’d love to see it as well.

Jenn Steele: Absolutely will do.

Joe Hyland: Awesome, Jenn. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

Jenn Steele: Thanks for having me. This was fun.

Account-based marketing is no fad: How and why CMOs should commit

This article was originally published on MarTech Today.

Less is more. It’s such a simple phrase, and yet it holds so much truth.

In the business world, we’ve all experienced how much things improve if we focus on fewer tasks at a time. It makes us better marketers and salespeople — more focused, effective, thoughtful and empathetic toward those we are selling or marketing to.

A lot of jargon is thrown around in sales and marketing. There are even more fads, so much so that it can be hard to keep up. But Account Based Marketing (ABM) is neither jargon nor a fad. It’s an important trend all marketing and sales teams should take note of. It’s based, after all, on the premise that less truly is more.

Why should you move to an ABM approach?

Part of the problem today is that we often operate in silos in business. We get caught up in numbers, quotas, leads and revenue. These benchmarks can create incentives to hoard individual credit and distinguish ourselves, rather than align strategically with others and make larger gains and get bigger wins together. These benchmarks also encourage a quantity-over-quality mindset, because employees are constantly trying to get more leads and more wins. This is to an organization’s collective detriment and hurts its bottom line.

In the past, many marketing and sales teams took a “spray and pray” approach to generating as many leads as possible. It was a volume play. Some organizations could get away with this, simply because their solution was best in class. But now there are too many startups and too many worthy competitors for any organization to take this antiquated approach — a company can’t distinguish themselves just by spamming potential buyers with generalized content.

Furthermore, buyers have access to unprecedented information. Just as a diner would check out Yelp to see a restaurant’s reviews before booking a reservation, a prospect today will do extensive research on potential solutions — often before they even make contact with a salesperson.

In fact, 78 percent of buyers now spend more time researching purchases in an effort to mitigate risks, with many spending up to three months researching vendors anonymously, according to the 2017 B2B Buyers Survey Report by Demand Gen  Report.  That means they won’t be receptive to vague sales pitches that don’t address their specific pain points.

Source: Demand Gen Report 2017 B2B Buyers Survey

An ABM approach, if executed correctly, solves these issues. It brings together teams and individuals to focus more deeply on what truly matters: your highest value customers and prospects. And it engages these high-value targets in a manner that’s truly meaningful.

What exactly is ABM?

The core premise behind ABM is that you treat each individual account as its own market — that means you tailor your outreach and go-to-market strategy and make it as customer-centric as possible. At the core of ABM is empathy — you have to truly understand your audience — what their goals and fears are — and you have to constantly put yourself in their shoes.

I even like to imagine what my prospective customers’ personal lives look like. What kind of car do they drive; do they have kids and a family; are they liberal or conservative? What do they do outside of work for fun? You have to truly empathize with them to get inside their heads and be able to effectively market and appeal to them.

The results speak for themselves: 87 percent of companies using ABM report it offers higher ROI than other types of marketing: According to the Information Technology Services Marketing Association, 69 percent see improved annual revenue per account.

But why is that? The Pareto Principle (or 80/20 rule) states that 80 percent of a company’s revenue comes from 20 percent of its customers. This is particularly relevant in the context of ABM. Using this principle makes sense because it emphasizes why focusing and nurturing high-yield customers is so vital to marketers.

ABM programs are most effective for targets with complex, long and sometimes political buying processes. In contrast to lead-based programs requiring engagement with thousands of companies, ABM’s effective audience ranges from dozens to hundreds.

How do you move to ABM?

If it’s too difficult to entirely shift from a lead-based model to an ABM model right away, then do it slowly.

Identify the highest value prospects in your pipeline, and make sure your touch points are tailored to them. If there are certain industries you sell to that you know have more extensive buying cycles, prioritize an ABM approach with them. This gradual rollout may even be advantageous: You’ll learn how and where you need to be personalized throughout your sales funnel, and where you can get away with a more systematic method.

Additionally, I think it’s important to avoid limiting your ABM approach to just marketing and sales. Envision the other ways a personalized, customer-centric mindset can benefit your team. For example, when it comes to managing people, I used to take the same approach for all my direct reports: weekly one-on-one meetings, annual reviews, the potential for bonuses at the end of the fiscal year — you get the idea.

It wasn’t until I started incorporating ABM into my marketing approach that I realized it was a smart way to manage employees as well. I started treating each employee as an individual customer who might value more vacation or educational training over a monetary bonus, for example. Some needed more or less feedback than they received during a weekly one-on-one meeting.

After incorporating the ABM mindset into management, I found my marketing team to be more engaged in their work — and our prospective customers to be more engaged with our outreach as well. And that’s a true win-win for any business.

Want to learn more about AMB marketing? Discover the basics — and how webinars can enhance your ABM efforts — in “The Webinerd’s Guide to Account-Based Marketing.” 

CMO Confessions Ep. 8, Redback Consulting’s Sara Gonzalez

Hi everyone and welcome to yet another edition of CMO Confessions. Last week I promised you a double-whammy and I’m here to finally deliver. This week, we have someone truly special — Sara Gonzalez, CMO of Redback Consulting.

Sara took the time out of her busy schedule to speak to a few key items that I think us marketers here in the Americas need to keep in mind. First, things in the Americas aren’t all that different from things in APAC — and that’s largely due to their scrappy, agile nature to service a truly massive region. Second, that the ideas of B2B and B2C markets are largely a misnomer — people tend to buy things the same way. Finally, and this is something I could not agree with anymore, that marketing needs refocus its energies on strategy — and not to confuse it with tactics.

A few housekeeping items to take care of before we dive into it. First, if you’re interested in listening to our growing podcast series, you can find all of our episodes right here in Ppodbean. Alternatively, you can also find us on both iTunes and Google Play stores.

Second, Sara has helped pen an excellent eBook entitled, “10 Things I Hate About Marketing,” which you can find here. She and her colleague, Rob Brown also hosted a webinar on the subject, which you can listen to here. I highly recommend it.

Third, well, there’s not much for third. It’s time to get into it. Without further ado, welcome to CMO Confessions. Let’s chat.

Transcript

Joe Hyland:

Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of CMO confessions a weekly B2B sales and marketing podcast where we explore what it really means to be a marketing leader in today’s business world. I’m Joe Hyland CMO here at ON24 and joining me this week all the way from Sydney is Sara Gonzales CMO of Simple. Sarah, you doing?

Sara Gonzales:

Good morning, how are you?

Joe Hyland:

Good afternoon. All right, so just a little bit about you from my perspective Sarah and feel free to jump in and then we can dive into what we’re going to talk about today.

Sarah, you help marketers removed the complexity and becoming more efficient through the reinvention of marketing resource management software. That rolls right off the tongue. Give us a little more from your take on what that means.

Sara Gonzales:

You did pretty well. So, thank you. Similar to yourself — marketing to marketers — and one of the things that we see here at Simple, and we see it globally as well as its massive issue of complexity when it comes to marketers. So, we’ve got so many channels to market. We’ve got so many, you know, abundance of tools that we need to use as well and, you know, MarTech space is getting bigger and it’s getting more complex.

So, Simple provides software to actually manage all those tools and connect the brand the customer experience. So, think of it as your strategic up-planning tool to manage execution tools below.

Joe Hyland:

That’s fantastic and you’re doing some really cool things — I can’t wait to talk about it. One thing I’ve been asked by my team to point out was below in the description we’ll have a link to your ebook, “10 Things I Hate About Marketing,” where you discuss everyday modern marketing drags and how you combat that, fight against it and bring the joy back to your job.

So, with that do you want to start off? I’m a pretty optimistic person but I’ll start off on a pessimistic topic — let’s start with what you don’t like about marketing. What are some of the drags of marketing?

Sara Gonzales:

Yeah, the big pain points I think that grind us every day. I think one thing I don’t like, especially about B2B marketing, is that we call it B2B marketing still. I find, that marketing in general we talk about it being around the customer experience, but we tend to treat customers different; their buying behaviors,  the customer journey — based on whether we’re selling B2B or B2C — and I feel like every single person buys the same way. If you’re the CEO of a company or, Joe, you’re the CMO, you know when you actually go and buy something personally or B2B it’s a very similar journey.

So, I feel like sometimes we get really bogged down in there and I think that’s impacting especially B2B marketing and the way that we go out there and the way that we market. I don’t know what your thoughts on that are, but I just feel like if we want to own the customer experience, maybe we should understand the customer a little bit more.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, these are people, I couldn’t agree with you anymore. Funny story, I won’t name the company but I worked for an electronic payments company — I was in product marketing so I did not own the brand at the time — and we came out with a new corporate template and it was pictures of buildings.

And they said, “Oh, our CEO loves this because we sell the big banks.” And I said, “Yeah, but there’s those are people we sell to, like we don’t sell to  skyscrapers.” Yeah, so this is people that people marketing, right? It’s not business-to-business marketing.

Sara Gonzales:

Yeah, and I think just on that and I know the customer experience thing is massive and we’ve actually just done some research into our later study. We’ve done some research into the customer experience and how people, as marketers, actually manage or try to manage it. And one of the stats that came out of it is 59 percent of marketers actually said that their CMO or their marketing team was responsible for managing that customer experience and 87 percent said the brand consistency is really important, but it’s you know, very, very rare that they have any control over their messaging or their visual appearance or their personalities.

So, it’s sort of like we own it and we want to but we’re not really doing anything about it. So, I feel like there’s a bit of confusion for marketers which sort of gets my grind a bit. And, you know, the rest of the company has to sort of own that as well.

You need to be able to have control over those points if you want to own the customer experience in a true way. So, I think that’s something um that know I struggle with on a daily basis.

Joe Hyland:

I think that’s a fantastic point. Not that I’ve been doing this forever, but the coming up on a couple decades now — I got my haircut yesterday and there was a shocking amount of white hair on the on the ground— I saw in the last ten years, I’ve seen a real rise in the strategic nature of marketing, which is exciting. I see more and more marketers earning pipeline, which I think is really cool. But I think you were right that the next big movement, in my opinion, among marketers and marketing is going to be owning the customer experience. Because, you and I aren’t just doing our job if we get the message out and we help companies or people come and buy from us, right? Like what’s that experience? Like the entire life cycle? I think we should own that.

Sara Gonzales:

And, you know, at my previous company we had a lot of people come into our office to actually run events and a few other things and one of the things we made sure of is that we also in we also met with the customer support team on a regular basis — the frontline people. So, you could do everything as a marketer and you could create this brand and you create this, you know, there’s personality behind what you’re doing and then someone answers the phone for someone who calls the support line and they really piss someone off — there you go, that’s shut down. But you know, we started to work with our actual physical company, if you like, when people came in and our close ratio, when sales people brought people into the office actually increased because people came in and they felt this, “Oh, actually I get what your culture is like and I get them people and I want to be part of that journey.”

So, I think if you can start to own that or find ways that you can impact that then, you know, it’s a quick win almost and it’s something that’s just going to tie everything together.

Joe Hyland:

That’s a good point. That’s a more manageable way to start owning the experience, right? And then perhaps the real North Star, or utopia, is owning the digital experience. So you’re right that you got to start somewhere, right? So why not have it be the experience of when someone comes into the office?

Sara Gonzales:

Yes, absolutely.

Joe Hyland:

Okay. So, Sarah and I were in Sydney — was that four weeks ago, Sarah? It was about a month ago.

Sara Gonzales:

It’s gone really quick, yeah.

Joe Hyland:

So Sara spoke at our conference, Webinar World Sydney. I had to travel a little further than you did. We talked about some cool things. One of the things we talked about was the perception of marketers in Asia-Pacific.

First I love that, I like that those of us in the U.S. think that Asia-Pacific’s a really small region. It’s kinda big. Like a little big. No, but seriously, what is it about your market — the market, at least your region because your global — but where you live, where marketers tend to discount the sophistication of your marketing. That seems absurd to me.

Sara Gonzales:

Yeah, I feel like it maybe has stemmed back before my time.

Joe Hyland:

There we go.

Sara Gonzales:

Yeah, just the fact that Australians especially have been behind, or, you know, everything can come a little bit later than Americans, especially. But I feel like that now, we’re seen as being part of the APAC region now — you even got Japan in there as well. There is so many amazing things happening over here, but I don’t know if it’s the time delay or the accent or the weather.

Joe Hyland:

I think it’s the accent.

Sara Gonzales:

It has to be something…

Joe Hyland:

Here’s what’s absurd about it to me. So, you and I are both fortunate enough to run marketing for pretty cool companies. So, that’s fantastic. But we have the same challenges.

So, I don’t necessarily view that my challenges any different from yours, suddenly. They’re different companies. So, first, the challenges are the same. When I was down there — and I came down twice now in the last year — I saw really sophisticated digital marketing from you and your peers. So, I guess I don’t really see how this is grounded in reality.

Sara Gonzales:

I think, and you know what, I think it is changing now, slowly. And I think one of the reasons why people are actually looking to this region and saying, “You know what, you guys are actually getting shit done and you actually know what you’re doing,” is the fact that we are a lot smaller and we’re actually starting to take advantage of that. Because, now that we are smaller, we’ve taken a step back and said, “You know what, we can be a little bit more agile and we’re more nimble.”

That means we can increase our velocity and we can also get stuff done and we can be sort of trailblazers in certain key areas. And yeah, we don’t have the capacity a lot of companies, especially a lot of startup companies, down here. We’ve sort of you know, we’re the second round of Silicon Valley if you like. And we look to you guys over there and we’re like, “Oh.” You know, and start ups are massive over here. And we’ve got massive hubs that are invested in startups down here as well.

So, I think there’s a lot of learnings that we’ve taken from you guys over there and I brought them down here. But we’ve just sort of adapted them and we made them our own. So I think now, you know, Simple, as well, our company, we’re doing the opposite of most companies where we’re a start-up Down Under and we’re taking that to the U.S.

Obviously, there are some challenges there. But I think a lot of companies over in the U.S, —and you would know this at ON24, Joe, starting up in Australia — there are a few little differences. But, like you said, a lot of it is the same challenges, and it comes down to that fact that we’re all people. And we all you know, wake up. We all go to bed. We all do the same thing. I think the perception has to change — not necessarily around a location or what we’re doing — but the fact that it’s person-to-person marketing if you like.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, no. No, that’s right. Every individual at a company has a goal, a challenge, whether it’s personal or professional and great marketing is still mapping how you can solve those challenges, right? So, for me, that’s why it’s just a little silly. I think, joking aside, a lot of it is the time difference. I think that you’re in the middle of some pretty big oceans and it’s very far away from from the U.S.

I even see — I do this as well. I set up a call for us on Friday for the team and our team in Sydney said, “Is it okay if we don’t call in? It’s Saturday at 2:00 in the morning.” I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to do that. So I think it’s just because it’s so far away. Very front of mind — a huge focus. But yeah, you can call in on Saturday at 2 a.m., right? That’s okay.

I have one question that I feel like Australians are quite proud of and they would in no way think that they’re behind America in which is coffee. So, the only complaint we got from our conference was “Conference was great, loved the content, speakers were phenomenal, the venue was first-class — you had absolute shit coffee.” So, talk to me about how Australians view their coffee.

Sara Gonzales:

You know, I did notice that at the conference — and I was looking for proper coffee because you guys have just the copy that you pour. Just like basic coffee…

Joe Hyland:

…You see? Just like classic Americans, right?

Sara Gonzales:

…Kettle coffee, we call it. When I was over there I remember sitting down one morning and I had a bit coffee and they came up — I was in San Jose — and she’s like, “Refill?” And I was like, “No no, no, it’s fine. Keep that away from me.” Yeah, it actually all started in Melbourne.

So, Melbourne is like the hipster place of Sydney, if you like. Marketing genius as well. Like, I couldn’t live in Melbourne because I’m not cool enough to live in Melbourne — that’s just a fact. I’d have to judge myself, what I wear every day,  “Is cool enough? Is this a few weeks ago?” You know, the trend.

Yeah, they’re very trendy and it’s all about the beards — and if your Barista who’s making your coffee doesn’t have a beard or a man bun, I think.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, that’s a non-starter. Yeah, you got to have a man bun.

Sara Gonzales:

Yeah, exactly. So, let’s come over here and Sydney’s trying to be a bit like that. But, yeah, coffee is massive over here.

Joe Hyland:

Are they are they are they good marketers in Melbourne or is this just more hipster coffee scene?

Sara Gonzales:

I think just Baristas and coffee and, you know, the whole — even the coffee cups that you got us — there’s is outrage over here now because… So, I don’t know if you know this at ON24. So, simple one of our pieces of swag was a keep cup.

Joe Hyland:

I didn’t.

Sara Gonzales:

Yeah, the cups where you keep and you walk around and you put your coffee in them because the actual coffee cups over here — a lot of marketers actually use them in terms of branding. So, if I was, you know, in selling something that was related to coffee I could go and give the coffee shop cups and say, “Hey can use my cups?” And, you know, people walk around with them. It’s great exposure. However, those cups are not really recyclable. And they don’t actually break down. So, now they’re actually proposing that they — over here on cigarettes, they have those warning labels with disgusting images — and proposing they do that on coffee cups now.

So, the coffee is great, but the amount of controversy that’s coming around coffee right now is whole other level.

Joe Hyland:

That would not fly over here. Do not tell Americans what to do. Do not regulate a thing. Yeah, that wouldn’t. That well, actually, it’s not true — in San Francisco that would be very popular.

Okay, we’ll get back into things. So, one of the things I love most about my job is, like, this. Like, how cool is it that part of my job is having a discussion with a peer? Like having a marketing discussion. Your role is cool and what you guys do at Simple as cool because I think at least, you’re helping marketers with their strategy.

I’ll talk to a lot of marketers and they’ll do one of two things. I’ll say, you know, “What’s your strategy, what are you trying to accomplish?” They’ll either list a whole bunch of tactics — I’m gonna do a white paper, I’m gonna do a webinar, I’m gonna do a blog — It’s like, okay, well, let’s not confuse a tactic with it a strategy. Or, and this is particularly bad here in Silicon Valley, we’ll just list a whole bunch of types of technology. “Oh well, I’m doing ABM, right? I know, I’m redoing my website.” And they list all this tech that they’re using — which is cool, but again, I don’t know if it’s grounded in a foundation of how to solve their business problem. So, you get to help marketers with their strategy, right? Like, I feel like that would be empowering and really cool.

Sara Gonzales:

Yeah, so, obviously managing, having a place to manage all those channels is important. And, in essence, that’s part of what our software does, but the other part of it is taking a step back.

One of the things we’re looking to do is getting markers to remember why they even fell in love with marketing in the first place. And I think a lot of that is, you know, there’s so much data around now and you know, it started off with creativity. And one of the things people are saying to us, you know, originally why they fell in love and why they still come back to marketing is that perfect blend of art and science together.

So, we’re no longer the crayon department and we’re no longer just about pretty pictures. We’ve got data or we’ve got science and we can actually use that — not to only justify what we’re doing and prove what we’re doing — but we can also start to make that impact. When it comes to revenue, and like you said, on the sales side, managing pipelines, but one of the things that we find is the tool that we don’t have actually piece this all together is — hate to plug ourselves but something like this — so, you know briefing, right? You know, you’ve got to write a brief. You’ve got to get a campaign out and for someone like myself, and even a lot of marketers we speak to, the brief seems to be the other forgotten child almost. Let’s do a brief, a few bullet points let’s put it together. Let’s suddenly run a campaign and then, you know what, suddenly the campaign doesn’t work.

So, you look to the tool that you use, or you look to your budget, or your look to the people who ran it and you look at all these tactics and you don’t actually look back to the brief and actually align that with the goal that you had in the first place. So, we find that’s a massive disconnect over here. So, what we’re trying to do is bring intelligence into this and say, “Okay, how can we use the brief and get marketers a place where they can actually keep going back to the brief and use it as their anchor point, almost. So, then they can actually fully understand how their tools are performing, what’s actually happening, how everything comes together.”

Because otherwise, I feel like we’re just blaming it on, you know, because we’ve got MarTec there and that, so we’re going to blame it on the piece of technology or, you know, we’ve got a sales team. So they’re going to turn around and blame it on that, but we’re not actually looking at the full picture and we’ve got way too much data.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, we have too much data I could talk about all day long. I think the problem is even worse than what you just described. I think so many marketers — and there’s so much — it’s a good problem to have, marketing isn’t just the pretty colors anymore so there’s pressure on marketers to grow and there’s so much pressure that we just want to do more, and more, and more and do it quicker, and quicker, and quicker and it’s like don’t worry about analyzing it — we’ll just figure it out. We don’t have time to analyze.

I think a lot of marketers — when you talked about a poor man’s or a light brief — I question how many marketers are even putting together a brief before a program.

And are they doing a proper post-mortem? I would criticize ourselves.  A couple years ago — so I’ve been running our marketing for three years — a couple years ago we ran a campaign, we had a brief. Like, I think we put a lot of thought into it, ran a campaign; it didn’t work. That’s okay, not everything will work — and there were people on our team that didn’t want to do a post-mortem. It was like, “We don’t have time to analyze why it didn’t work. We need to move on to the next thing.” It’s like well, “Don’t you think we’re at risk of just repeating the same mistakes if we don’t actually go back and analyze it?” So, I think that is more and more common than many people realize.

Sara Gonzales:

 And you know, there’s this some look it up, if you don’t know about it, there’s this famous campaign over here in Australia called, “Dumb ways to Die,” and it’s pretty much it’s hilarious, the creative is amazing and it’s about cartoon characters showing. The whole idea was to — a lot of people actually die on train tracks over here. So, a lot of young kids so cross the train tracks, I’ll get hit by a train or they’ll be graffiti on train tracks. So, it’s actually a really big problem.

But there they actually put a spin on it and it was literally the little cartoon characters with their bodies getting chopped off. And they had this really catchy song and it was great. And the amount of views and the amount of virality it got ‚ it just went everywhere. It was really shareable, social media went off. But actually — everyone spoke about that and they won all these awards — but when they actually go back to it, and this is something they didn’t actually advertise, obviously, more people actually died on trains that year.

So, that’s an example of, you know, you’ve got something out there and we’re like we want to be more than just a creative department and we want to be more than just pretty pictures. But you’re actually measuring your success by something creative if you’re not actually measuring results.

So, to me, that’s like, well, you know we want this but do we really? Is it just easier to sort of just tick something off the box and win an award for it? So I feel like yeah massive disconnect once again.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I think that’s a super good point. I agree that great marketing is the mix of Art and Science — it’s what’s fun about marketing for me. I love the intersection of these two things.

I found a couple of things interesting here. One, I think a lot of marketers didn’t go into marketing because they’re data-driven if you will, though I don’t really love that phrase, but so I think sometimes it’s a challenge. I think, you know, it’s not necessarily a first love. And then the second point I would make is —our observation — is that there’s so much data today. Like, I find in — we use Marketo — so, if you open up a lead record in Marketo and you look under the activity history or their interesting moments — there might be hundreds of interesting moments. What am I supposed to do with that?

I find it’s hard to make sense or see trends in these seas of data.

Sara Gonzales:

And it’s funny because I feel since automation has come about — and I’m a massive Marketo fan as well — but automation has come about and we’ve got all these data but I feel like you sort of manually need to go through it. And you need to actually have this Instinct. So, there’s the instinct that comes into marketing because you’ll go through it — and there are certain things that you can’t have a robot pick up, right? — so If you do go through those hundred records, you’re going to need an inside sales person or someone to go, “Oh actually that’s interesting” and in their head tie it back to something.

So yeah, I find it really interesting as well and I think you know — on that point — the whole impact of AI and how it’s going to impact marketing and all the machine learning and everything like that. You’re still going to need people there because you’ve still got — marketers have that instinct about certain things and I think it’s probably maybe 25 percent of what I do. That feeling, it’s like, “Oh I know this is right and I’m looking at data there and I can see the patterns.” So yeah, I think that’s an interesting point.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, and the art doesn’t go away like I don’t I um, I don’t yeah, the Geeks are kind of coming into to marketing. I mean, I think that influx has occurred. But one of my one of my first bosses — I was a year out of college — and I said, “Well actually doesn’t matter what the email copy is and what the subject line is, we’ll test everything, we’ll A/B test it.” And he said, “Well, you know, any idiot or a monkey can just throw a dart board and just keep adjusting but like great marketing is knowing your audience.” And like right like there is some gut feel and there is really knowing your personas inside and out so you don’t have to A/B test everything. So, yeah, people aren’t going anywhere. Marketing departments when they get more money, they’re still hiring people, right? Like, I don’t see everything being outsourced or everything being automated.

Sara Gonzales:

Yea absolutely.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, what are your views on AI in marketing? Are you guys using any? Are you anti-AI? Do you think it’s the wave of the future? What are your thoughts?

Sara Gonzales:

Well, our new platform has been built on Microsoft. So, we’ve got massive potential to bring the intelligence into it. And we will. But I feel like for us it’s so big. And over here there’s so many conferences and every now and then — you have these run of conferences every year, Joe,  and you go to them — and there’s something really shiny people love, you know. Two months ago it was all about blockchain. It’s all about machine learning and it’s all spoken — up here.

So, as a marketer you go there and you get really excited and you go back to your desk and it’s like, “Oh, you know, this is what I learned and it’s like, well, how does it actually apply to me as a matter? How am I going to use that?”

So I think that the potential is massive and I think, like you said, I’m not scared of it — I think if anything it’s going to increase jobs within marketing because you still need that human element. But what I do think is that there’s very few organizations, especially software companies, out there telling us how it’s going to impact what we do every day, how it’s going to help us tie everything back to that customer experience. And you can have great technology, but it’s not going to solve all of our problems. And I think, as marketers, who are selling technology out there, you need to if you could go out and say, “Here’s how this is going to impact what you do every day and here’s how you’re going to be able to tie that back to your goals.” If you do that, you’re going to go into a winner.

So, I think, as a company, that’s our next challenge and how we do that. Because, like I said, we’ve got so much potential with so much technology, but not everyone needs it all.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, no, totally. Great marketing is about the “why” not the “what,” right? Like, I think if I could give advice to myself 15 or 20 years ago, it would be always focus on the strategy and the foundation first and don’t rush the tactics. I think we all sprint to the deliverables — they are tactics and they’re critical to executing on the strategy, but it, in fact, starts with the strategy.

Yeah, I couldn’t agree with you anymore. So, I have a question, which I don’t think you’ll see coming. So, when we were over in Sydney, I was…

Sara Gonzales:

It’s early for that

Joe Hyland:

It is early there, right? Yes, but I won’t stop you. This is actually easy for you. But I don’t think you think I’m gonna ask it. When I was over there, I was incredibly impressed with how sophisticated you are with your digital and webinar marketing — and we’re not going to be able to show that over a podcast, right? But, I think our listeners would benefit from hearing you talk for a minute or two on your views on digital marketing how you’re doing content and webinars,  how you look at your strategy to drive attendance, keep engagement during a live event, actually have an on-demand strategy. Like, you’re doing some really cool things and I was pretty impressed and I think people would love to hear it for 90 or 120 seconds.

Sara Gonzales:

Firstly thank you. It’s nice to hear that.  Secondly, I think and I mentioned this to you while you over here that webinars are pretty dirty over here —and they’ve got a bit of a bad reputation.

I think, for us, webinars are not just something that we have to do as a tactic. So, going back to your point, they’re part of the bigger picture. So our content — we create a lot of content because marketers love content, right? And part of our content strategy you know webinars come into that. So like I said, they’re an extension of the content that we create. So, any given month we have a key theme, and like I said, too, we’ve released its research report and this is probably a good example because I was really impressed with how this worked out two days ago.

We created this research report. We went and interviewed 300 marketers and we came up with these amazing results. So we’ve got the results, we’ve got some nice pretty graphs, but how do we actually disseminate that information actually start a conversation around it?

So ,firstly we partnered with the Australian Marketing Institute over here. As the peak body and to also give them credibility and then we did a co-webcast with them. On the webcast, though, and our webinars — I call it a webcast but this sort of interchangeable, arrive? I don’t want to get caught up in semantics.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, same yes,

Sara Gonzales:

And this is great, having a webcam, but in terms of engaging marketers and I think even, you know, understanding that webinars are an extension of your brand we have panel discussions. So, it’s almost like TV on the internet, if you like.

So, everyone who downloads the report gets invited to a discussion, but the people on this discussion is myself, who’s interviewing one of our key customers in the financial services — and she’s really big on compliance and she’s passionate about probably three key areas that we were speaking about — another one of our prospects and then also our chief product officer.

So we started having this conversation around the results. First of all, within the platform we started, people — before we went into the results, for example — one of the questions might have been what’s your biggest struggle with briefing? We actually use polls to actually ask the audience what their struggles were and then we actually showed them the results so they can actually feel like they’re part of the study.

Joe Hyland:

So you make it interactive, right? Rather than just like a talking PowerPoint for an hour, like you’re literally asking people for their feedback and then the dialogue changes based off what they say.

Sara Gonzales:

Yeah, and then compare it to the actual study and then have the people talkin about the studies. So it’s much more of a conversation. Utilize the resource folder to actually then upload the report and other pieces of content that we have relating to the report. Because once people are actually on that event the more you can engage and the more sort of content you can give them is obviously going to benefit you and also the data you’re collecting. But now that we’ve got that we’re actually going to break down that panel discussion into — I think we know that down into eight different short videos that we can use and repurpose for marketing content.

So, one of the things that I said to you as well afterwards is not everyone wants to sit down and watch a 45-minute recording. And we only had 40 percent attendance on that event. But those are the 60 percent of people, they can choose to watch the 45 minutes or they can choose to watch maybe a five-minute segment or something they’re interested in. So, it’s really…

Joe Hyland:

I think that’s an important point and I’ll interrupt for one second because… So,you’re right so you got four out of 10 people who registered to show up. It’s easy to focus is easy to just say, “Okay, well, that’s my new audience. That’s all I care about.” You keep them really engaged with these polling strategies right and making it interactive but then afterwards you have a different strategy for the 60 percent.

Sara Gonzales:

Yep. Yeah, right. So I love that. Yeah, and that way we’re engaging people, you know, not just within that one day and you know our investments for that one hour then turns into a six to 12-month investment as well.

Joe Hyland:

Ah, yeah, that’s smart. Have you measured — speaking of Art and Science ‚ the impact of sending follow-up emails to the those who registered but didn’t attend —with the shorter content versus the full 45-minute discussion panel webinar — did you see different results?

Sara Gonzales:

Well, one of the things we do with our webinar marketing before during and after we’ve got sales development reps and we get those guys involved. So, first of all their text-based emails and their conversations with people, as opposed to an HTML email going out from marketing. So, it’s from a person her name’s Jenna she’s had contact with them for a while, and we actually see in terms — even the quick ratio that we get for people watching the on-demand content — it’s probably around 30 percent of the people afterwards actually go to watch those shorter videos.

Joe Hyland:

Okay, that’s great.

Sara Gonzales:

Yeah, it’s something we’ve only started this year and it is a little bit more difficult with the editing process afterwards. But,  even looking back like you said to their profile in Marketo and saying, “Okay, this person has actually downloaded a lot of content that revolves around compliance. So let’s make sure that they receive the compliance video.” And in the flow, we make sure that they’re receiving using keywords to actually send them content that they’re probably more interested in as opposed to something like reporting.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. Um, yeah. No, that’s fantastic. And I think it’s also really smart that you guys have your SDRs involved throughout the process. I mean, if it’s a demand generation use case, which it sounds like this is, I think having pre-sales involved from the start is smart, right?

That way doesn’t feel like a jolting experience and afterwards someone is reaching out to them.

Sara Gonzales:

Definitely.

Joe Hyland:

Okay cool. Well, we are at the top of the half hour. You and I could do this probably for the next 45 minutes and I feel like time would fly by, but I want to wrap things up.

Sarah, this was this was fantastic. I’m gonna look up Dumb Ways to Die. I was not familiar with this campaign. So I’m excited. It sounds like you guys are on a mission over at Simple to make marketers great again. That is a phrase that is …

Sara Gonzales:

You always have to throw that in, right?

Joe Hyland:

I said very similar…

Sara Gonzales:

 I’m not making that a thing, Joe. I’m not going to use it — stop trying to…

Joe Hyland:

Sorry, once I say it for the third time it sticks. You said webinars are dirty over here, so we’re gonna have to dig into that next time. But it seems like you’re cleaning things up and you’re doing a great job with it. So that…

Sara Gonzales:

I’ll take one for the team.

Joe Hyland:

You’ll take one for the team, thank you. With that, let’s wrap up Sarah. Thanks again. This was this was fantastic.

Sara Gonzales:

Thanks, Joe.

Joe Hyland:

All right by everyone.

Announcing Webinar World: Engage for Action

At some point, your audience stopped caring. They tuned out your communications and skipped over your content. It’s what happens when people are reduced to data points.

We know you get it. We also know that the pressure of keeping the business running is so overwhelming that you have no choice but to produce more. More content, in more channels, with more fleeting touches delivering superficial data and diminishing returns. The more you interrupt, the less it feels like a genuine conversation. So, when the conversation ends, so does any real connection to your audience, along with an opportunity to gain meaningful insights about the real person on the other end.

That’s why it’s imperative for every brand to rethink engagement. At ON24, we know there’s a better way—a more compelling, human approach. It starts with dynamic, relevant, multimedia content, delivered both live and on-demand, connecting with your audience when they want to through interactive features like polling, chatting, surveying, and more. And, finally, turning connections into insights that you can act on and share seamlessly across your operations.

Join us at Webinar World 2019 and to learn how to Engage for Action. Because if you redefine the way you engage with your audience, you can redefine your success.

Understand your virtual audience through their digital body language

This post was originally published on martechtoday.com

As marketers, we’re in the business of understanding behavior and what makes people buy things. But in the age of technology, when we can communicate seamlessly with anyone, anywhere with an internet connection, crucial elements still get lost in translation.

It’s somewhat absurd that with the rise of digital, we’ve actually masked a lot of the behavioral signals that help us piece together the person behind the action.

Sure, someone clicked, but do you know why? And how should you engage them next, since customer engagement drives purchase decisions?

Your prospective customers aren’t necessarily saying anything to you verbally like you’d hear a loved one or a boss. So, we’re left to sift through click-through rates, time spent on web pages and drop-off times on videos. But, it’s vital that we decipher what our customers are trying to tell us online, just as we would in an in-person conversation.

Despite their seeming silence, customers are continually giving off signals about their mindset through their behavior during their engagement with your assets — powerful signals I like to call “digital body language.”

How Best Buy is using its insights

In recent months, for example, Best Buy realized their special sauce was the in-person conversation — the interaction people have in-store with the “blue shirts,” the employees wearing the well-known bright blue polo shirts. So Best Buy exploited this point of differentiation in its most recent ad campaign.

Recently, Best Buy Chief Marketing Officer Whit Alexander said:

Telling the story of our people — and how we make a meaningful impact on customers’ lives — is at the heart of this work,”  “The core of what differentiates Best Buy vs. everyone else — and makes us awesome for customers — is that we understand your unique needs and how tech can enhance your life.

There are nuances to the process of buying electronics, especially big-ticket items, and an online description frequently doesn’t meet shoppers’ needs. That’s why Best Buy has shifted its focus to make its business model all about reading and engaging their customers.

One 30 second spot, for example, shows an employee helping a customer choose a refrigerator — a purchase decision based specifically on fingerprint-resistance.

This is a powerful lesson for B2B companies to apply to our own marketing — we need to create an environment online that mirrors the showroom experience, where we can take cues from prospective customers.

Reading buyer’s digital body language

So you’ve got all these metrics on your prospective buyers, but the difficulty lies in deciphering what their actions actually mean. Your data should provide intelligence into how to approach each customer.

Here are some general guidelines about how to interpret and act on your prospect’s online behavior:

Multiple visits to your website or content
This is the equivalent of bumping into someone a few times and making small talk. You’re not quite friends, but you are acquaintances and know a few things about each other. These buyers are aware of your product and offerings, but may not know much about them.

It’s best to engage them with introductory content, and not get too into the weeds too fast. If you have a sense of what industry they work in, you should tailor your content based on those insights. Keep these pieces of content on the short side, so you don’t lose their attention.

Above average time spent on your website or content
You’ve captured someone’s attention, for whatever reason. This is a person leaning into a conversation. While they may still be unfamiliar with your product and offerings, a person who is spending longer than average perusing your content is engaged.

These prospects are deeper into the evaluation process, and, while they may not fully understand your offerings, they’re more willing to commit to longer forms of content because they are engaged. You should market to them accordingly.

Answering your surveys or questions embedded on your web pages or in your content
These are prospects who are actively engaging with you and carrying on a conversation. They likely understand your offerings more than most, and ant specific information on how they can apply your solutions to their specific industry or role.

These people want to buy your solution, but are doing their due diligence and need that final reassurance they’re making the right decision. It’s your job as a marketer to provide information that’s tailored to taking them across the finish line, from prospect to customer.

Understanding why people are engaged

We’re all looking to try to find prospects and capture their attention. And no metric is foolproof.

Someone might have visited your content and started a video, and then left it running on another tab without paying any attention to it. Or they may have watched for a while, but spent the majority of the time rolling their eyes. That’s why it’s vital to engage with your prospects throughout — whether by conducting surveys or asking questions when they arrive on web pages through platforms that offer such functionality.

Identifying engagement involve a lot more trial and error than most marketers like to admit, and we can accept that. What we shouldn’t accept is a failure to do the analysis after the fact to understand how and why we captured a buyer’s attention. The signals are out there, even in the digital world. It’s up to us to find them, learn from them and replicate our successes for future marketing campaigns.

No matter your approach, it’s vital to respect your audience at every step of the sales process. Today’s noisy and competitive marketing landscape makes it virtually impossible to go without an outbound marketing strategy. But you must take care to avoid simply adding to the noise.

The way you’ll truly resonate with your potential customers by being in tune with their digital body language, reading their digital cues and responding accordingly, just as you would face to face.

CMO Confessions Ep. 7, Sam MeInick

Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of CMO Confessions. It’s been a busy few weeks, but we have a double-whammy for you to tune into to make up for it.

First, we have Sam Melnick, VP of marketing at Allocadia. Sam is a seasoned marketing pro who approaches his field with an eye on statistics, a la sabermetrics, and a deep understanding of how to measure ROI. Sam’s insights into how marketers measure success are remarkable — not the least of which is because we both hail from Boston.

You can find Sam and his latest insights on his Twitter feed, @SamMelnick.

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

Later this week, we’ll have Sara Gonzalez of Simple on to discuss how she approaches marketing in Australia and APAC in general. It’s another great episode and I highly recommend you tune in.

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

Transcript:

Joe Hyland:

Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of CMO confessions, a weekly B2B sales and marketing podcast that explores what it really means to be a marketing leader in today’s business world. I’m Joe Hyland, CMO here at ON24, and this week I am psyched to have a fellow Bostonian, Sam Melnick, VP of marketing at Allocadia, on. Sam, how’s it going?

Sam Melnick:

I’m doing well. Thanks for having me. It’s always great to reconnect with the East Coast. Allocadia is a West Coast company, we’re based out of Vancouver, and I’ve got a Slack channel that’s called East Coast, Beast Coast. So, you’d be a member if you if you’re ever on our Slack channel, all right?

Joe Hyland:

I like it, thank you. Yeah, no people. Some friends of mine, rightly so, give me shit that the only Boston thing about me now is my six-one-seven area code and otherwise I’ve converted so. But at heart, I’m still a Boston dude.

Sam Melnick:

Well, there you go. As long as you got the six-one-seven will keep you.

Joe Hyland:

I will literally have that for the rest of my life until Verizon forces a regional area code.

Well, listen, I’m as I said, I’m psyched and thankful that you’re taking the time to be with me and our audience today. You’ve got some cool experience. I love you’ve been doing this stuff for well over a decade. I’d love to get your take on how you got to where you are today because I think — and I’ll start there — because I think it’s interesting that there’s not a one-size-fits-all path or approach to leading marketing and I think your approach and your path is actually pretty cool. So, you want to give us a couple minutes on that?

Sam Melnick:

Yeah, sure, absolutely. I wouldn’t quite call myself an accidental head of marketing, but I certainly didn’t start off my career being like, “I’m gonna be a VP of marketing or CMO.” I actually went to school, at UMass Amherst for sport management and I was supposed to be the next Theo Epstein. I actually started my career off running a small baseball team and working for a sport marketing agency.

I eventually found my way into tech, where I worked in marketing at a start-up — a 30-person start up in Boston. But then I pivoted over to an analyst role at IDC in a group called the CMO advisory service. So, we worked with large marketing organizations or large companies at large tech companies. So, like IBM, Dell, Cisco — all those types of companies were customers of ours. And we covered the marketing operation space and worked with CMOs on how they design their organization and where they spend their dollars and their resources.

And that was, you know, — analyst was an amazing experience because you get to talk with all of these people who have so much more experience than you and different experiences — I’ve seen so much scale — but you get to learn from 20, 30, 40 people on how they’re taking on marketing. And that kind of that’s slung-shot me into the MarTech space, because I started hearing about all these cool Technologies — you know, the ON24s the allocate of the world and I started creating a list of different interesting MarTech SaaS companies because I saw this growing. Like, I would, tweet back and forth with Scott Brinker before anyone knows who Scott Brinker was. Like, I saw this Market growing and I knew I wanted to be a part of it. I was a believer that SaaS technologies were going to be the differentiator and so I ended up at lattice engines and a customer-facing world.

So, Lattice is a predictive marketing organization — it’s customer-facing which, again, was amazing to learn from all these great marketers. But I missed marketing. I was kind of moonlighting as a product marketer and an analyst. I had written some content. I was doing sales enablement. I was kind of doing like a bunch of marketing stuff.

So, I decided I want to get back into marketing. Went to Allocadia. I got this opportunity to we called IT Director of Customer Marketing Insights. So, it was kind of part marketer, part analyst, part customer-facing kind of SME, subject matter expert.

Joe Hyland:

That’s cool. That’s a nice bridge, too.

Sam Melnick:

Yeah, and then they I guess I did a good enough job and they offered me an opportunity to run the marketing team, and I said, “Yeah, let’s try that out.” And now I’ve been in that role for almost 18 months now and it’s been a lot of fun building out a team and learning something new here as well.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, you’ve given up the dream of running a baseball team one day or is that maybe act two after the B2B marketing world?

Sam Melnick:

Maybe act two. You know, the baseball team stuff was fun, but, I mean, I don’t know — as weird as it sounds the tech industry and marketing is almost as interesting to me now. I guess I’m a full-fledged marketing nerd.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, you got to be a geek to love this stuff. Well, I think it’s interesting that — and we’ll talk about that — because maybe you don’t have to be a geek to love this stuff.

I think there’s an interesting comparison and, perhaps it’s somewhat analogous, on what’s happened in — and I say past tense, but it’s still happening in in baseball and other sports — with the Money Ball movement and really looking at the right metrics. And I think for literally decades or upwards of a century the wrong analytics was being applied to the wrong areas, or   the wrong metrics.

I think that’s happened in the B2B marketing space. And I think the Geeks are coming and, maybe, the Geeks are here. But what kind of points of comparison did you see from your time on the baseball side to what’s happening in marketing with attribution and analytics and kind of you name it?

Sam Melnick:

Yeah, no, I think it’s a really good comparison. I think it started off in a niche, to a certain extent. And not just B2B Tech, in particular, but in general, in B2B, you saw that early days, with the adopters of the Eloquas or the Marketos, they knew they needed to automate, they need knew they needed in different sorts of data. That’s when you really saw these in-depth funnel and funnel metrics and then it’s just grown. I mean, there’s been an industry that’s been almost built around, you know, Salesforce, Marketo, Eloqua — to a lesser extent, the Pardots of the world and it’s created this opportunity for a bunch of cool companies. But, more importantly, technologies that help marketers’ jobs better and serve their customers better and get the data to answer those questions.

Joe Hyland:

I think it’s interesting — one, I mean a lot of these metrics, I’ll pick on MQLs for a moment, a lot of these metrics are pretty easy to manipulate, right? Like, I think, for the longest time, marketers have been measured on something that doesn’t necessarily correlate to the end goal that you should have in mind, at least if it’s a Demand Gen use-case. An MQL would be a good example of that, right? If your marketing team is solely incented upon MQLs, there are pretty easy ways to artificially jack up the number of MQLs coming in the door. And I think that’s a little bit of a poor man’s approach to having true marketing attribution driven approach.

I’d love to hear your perspective on companies focusing on the wrong thing because I think the waterfall metrics and some of the companies you just referenced helped move the ball forward, but I also think it allowed people to focus on some of the wrong areas.

Sam Melnick:

For sure, and I think it’s you know, you asked about the comparison against sabermetrics, and I think in a similar sense you saw better Baseball analytic metrics come out, but they still weren’t like…

Joe Hyland:

Let’s geek out, like you go there…

Sam Melnick:

You want me to geek out? Okay, OPS, for baseball, was a very, basically, it’s on-base percentage, plus batting average, plus slugging percentage was one of the earlier days, kind of sabermetrics, but it really didn’t answer all the questions. And then later you started seeing stuff like wins above replacement come out. Which was more all-inclusive of how strong was that player. Whereas, in B2B marketing, you start with an MQL. An MQL is a hell of a lot better than how many website visitors ya get or, even worse — how many advertisements or how many PR press releases we want out — but it still isn’t closing that loop which, is more pipeline, revenue. That’s a I think that’s a pretty great comparison there — progress but not perfection.

Joe Hyland:

Do you think do you think the war for B2B marketing is pipeline? I mean, what is the wins above replacement metric for us?

Sam Melnick:

I think that’s a tough one because people want to focus in on revenue and pipeline and you have to be there. I’d say that’s the table stakes at this point — being able to measure at the very least pipeline and B2B marketing and marketing’s contribution and influence to that — it’s table stakes. But to say that’s the end-all be-all kinda of sells ourselves, as marketers, short. Because there’s so much more that goes into marketing and, unfortunately, you can’t tie a one-to-one comparison against it. Sometimes it’s because sales reps do a mediocre — I’m being kind — job of filling out contact roles in Salesforce and other times it’s a brand campaign that you’re not able to tie directly. So…

Joe Hyland:

Yeah

Sam Melnick:

…it’s a tough question to say, what is the war for B2B marketing, but it’s not pipeline and revenue.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, that’s interesting. I think you raise an incredibly valid point is — I’m trying to think of a good sports analogy since around the baseball topic and one is not coming to mind — it is incredibly important metric. But, I think, an area of the business and, for us, we’re laser-focused on growth, so if my CEO, who has an office right next to me, were sitting in the room he probably would correct this statement — but yeah, it’s not just pipeline. Should marketing own customer experience? It’s very, we just we had a team meeting this morning and we were presenting out results for the quarter, and a major effort is underway to increase our brand and improve our brand. And there are ways to measure that, don’t get me wrong, but a lot of them are more qualitative, right?

So, there are important components outside of demand gen, for sure, what we did here and — for what it’s worth — is, when I got here — so I’ve been here for three years — there was a whole bunch of bullshit on marketing pointing at sales. Like, they’re not following up in the leads or not properly same thing back to marketing like, it’s not high enough quality. There were lots of excuses on both sides. And so, the head of sales and I got together, and I said, “How about I, slash marketing, we just own all just, so it will get the garbage out.” I don’t care where it’s coming from — we obviously care in terms of optimizing spend very much — but, you know, I’ll present it in the board and that way we’re aligned. I don’t know maybe that’s stupid of me, but that that’s how we do it here.

Sam Melnick:

No, I mean, we’ve had a couple of sales leaders through my time across different companies, for sure. And, right now, we’ve got probably the strongest sales and marketing alignment that I’ve seen, and it makes a difference. Because you’re focusing. We did a presentation at SiriusDecisions Summit with box and their mark one of their marketing operations leads. And what he said — Tim West is name — and what he said was for them, it was about — instead of arguing over the pieces of the pie — it was about growing the pie. And that’s where we want to get to with sales. How do you grow it? And give them credit?  Like, fine, it’s your credit, but as long as it’s growing, we’re all good, you know? Growing at the right rate.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, all boats can rise. That was the situation when I got here — we weren’t where we needed to be and instead of the discussion focused on how to solve that, I had my head of demand gen fighting with our North America head of sales on who should get credit for a deal that just came in. And it was like, “Who gives a shit? We’re not where we need to be — isn’t that the bigger challenge?” Okay, what you want to dive into —I think it’s great, there’s nothing more important than making sure we’re measuring the right things — but I would say, maybe two or three steps before that, is putting in place the proper foundation and in-fact having a rock-solid planning process. How do you how do you view that world? And how to you how do you either keep yourself or help keep other marketers out of the world of just having a whole bunch of tactics listed and they say, “Well there’s my strategy, I’m good, right?”

Sam Melnick:

I think it’s important because like they actually feed into each other. We’ve been talking at Allocadia a lot about planning. Part of it is where our product helps marketers, but it’s also that it’s that time of the year for large B2B companies — if you’re on a fiscal year calendar — you’re just coming into planning season. Because, typically, those multi-million, certainly billion-dollar companies they start their strategic planning and setting those plans in place six months in advance. And 60 to 70 percent of companies are on a fiscal year calendar or calendar fiscal.

And how I like to say it, and how we’re saying it, is, “It all starts with the plan.” You know? Your metrics starts with the plan because you’re setting up your data, you’re setting up what you’re going to achieve, you’re setting up how you’re going to measure it. If you just say, “All right, if we execute, execute, execute.” And say alright, “We want to measure these things.”

There’s no guarantee that your data has been set up correctly. There’s no guarantee that you’ve been putting your resources and efforts and your plan towards it. So, everything from metrics to data to certainly strategy and where you’re putting your activities, it starts with the plan and getting that down wherever it is and getting it bought in and online up, down, across.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I couldn’t agree with you anymore. I’m curious to know your thoughts on the — I haven’t heard this said this way — but the death of the brief. Are you seeing companies being as diligent in their planning process and ensuring that they’re doing proper campaign briefs at the start? And then, on the on the other side, actually going through and having a post mortem.

Sam Melnick:

No, I mean, have you ever seen companies be really diligent on that? Do you have examples of that? They all say they do.

Joe Hyland:

I know, that’s right — I feel like in this world, where so much of marketing is coming down to pipeline and results — I’m seeing a we got to get shit done mindset, which is great. But to quote-unquote “get shit done,” they’re just cutting out the planning process. So, is that really a good idea? Yeah, no — it’s a problem.

Sam Melnick:

I agree and my team — and certainly we’re not the, you know, we’re not some of these huge companies that I used to work with that IDC and all those — but, like, we’re not perfect by any means. But we have, you talked about briefed — you kind of just tweaked me — my demand gen lead has put in a great process where she actually goes through each of the programs, shows the metrics, shows what was the positive and negative — and then we as a team, at least, pull out a few of them and do kind of a verbal brief, “This is what work this is what this is what we do different.”

It’s certainly not like a formal brief — you know, in this perfect world — but we’ve been doing that for the last few quarters and it’s really helpful because it helps us optimize and adjust and that’s really what you want. It’s like, “How do I do better next time?”

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I’m a big believer that many things in life are spectrum and it’s easy to it’s easy to treat things in a binary fashion, right? Like it’s a one or a zero and so often life is lived in the in the gray not the black and white.

It’s interesting on this concept if you applied that to what it’s like for a two-person shop should they be doing a brief? Like, should they be doing a post-mortem? Do they have the luxury of doing that? Although, on the other side of the spectrum is — IBM or SAP or Microsoft, right— where literally nothing gets out the door if it doesn’t have a brief — and probably takes months and months and months.

Are there happy mediums along the way for companies of different sizes? Because when I was back East at Kronos, and we weren’t necessarily a huge company, but we had I don’t know 150, 175 people in marketing — literally nothing got out the door without going through a proper briefing process.

Our planning was rock-tight or airtight, excuse me, and we did many post-mortems after the fact. But, you’re right a multi-month brief process, I mean, that wouldn’t that wouldn’t fly here at ON24. I would be shocked if it would for you, but something’s got to be done.

Sam Melnick:

I think it does depend and I think it’s the right balance, like we. We say run it, well, we say there’s two sides of marketing: there’s running marketing and doing marking — doing is the execution and running is like the strategy and the planning behind the scenes — and there’s a certain point where you do need to put the efforts into the running of marketing. So, that’s the briefs, that’s the planning, that’s the measurement.

But the reality is that there is this kind of focus of execution and the fewer resources you have, probably the more nimble you can be and spend more of your time on the doing. Partially because of necessity and partially just because it’s easier to walk up to somebody who’s right next to you in the cube or office. Whereas, at a 150 to 200-person marketing team, you don’t want to be spending quarter million bucks, half a million dollars on a campaign without some checks and balances. And then making sure that you’ve actually put in the right, I guess, effort into the running part.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, no, you’re right. At Kronos, like at an enormous company. We were split across multiple buildings in in Chelmsford, never mind our International presence, right? So yeah, sending a slack to the dude sitting right next to you — it wasn’t that simple.

Sam Melnick:

Yeah, it’s also like you’re talking about multiple regions, product lines, and it’s like, there has to be some way — whether it’s a brief there’s technology — like that’s kind of, you know, an Allocadia or different marketing performance management software systems. Or, you know, EPM-type solutions that are coming out — I think was an Adaptive Insights that just got bought by workday?

Joe Hyland:

Yeah,1.5 billion-dollar price tag.

Sam Melnick:

Yeah, not bad. So obviously there’s some sort of interest in planning at the enterprise level. You know, there’s got to be ways to make sure an organization documents, and is making decisions, in a smart way. So, I don’t know I don’t have the perfect answer for it for sure.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, no, I don’t think there is a perfect answer — what I find what I find interesting is — I think it’s particularly worse out here in the Bay Area. So, I think five or 10 years ago, a slippery slope for marketers would be confusing tactics with strategy — or doing with running as you would say, right? So, you’d say just ask them about their marketing strategy and they would list off “Like, I’m going to this event, I’m going to this conference we’re doing this, email drop.” You name it.

And it was a whole bunch of tactics and lacked like a clear cohesive strategy. What I’m seeing now more of — and I will admit this as a technologist —is marketers just listing a whole bunch of technology. So, it’s like if one more person tells me that their strategy is account-based marketing, because they’ve turned on — you name it — DemandBase or one of the host of other ABM platforms, which is great, that’s not a strategy.

And I would say the same thing for webinars. Your strategy shouldn’t be webinars — it’s like, well, how are you planning on segmenting your database? What’s the real goal in mind? You know, what’s the best form to communicate with folks? Like how are you measuring it? I think it’s a problem for marketers.

Sam Melnick:

I totally agree. There’s someone I know in a marketing team and they said, “We’re gonna buy XYZ technology that’s ABM — it’s gonna change the way our business runs.” No, that’s not — I mean, it could help — but the technology… And you know, again, we’re a marketing technology company. I’ve worked for a couple of them and I’m a huge believer. I want MarTech and Technology can do for marketing organizations— but if the right foundation and thought process and kind of surround — the people, process, technology. If you can’t just do it with technology have to do it with process.

Joe Hyland:

Yes.

Sam Melnick:

…People as well.

Joe Hyland:

Yes. That’s right. And we are believers in personalization here at ON24 — which, for me, ABM is just a subset of that. But yeah, that requires a commitment. That requires a lot of content, for example. It requires a pretty sophisticated view on segmentation. Buying any technology and just assuming it will it will solve your woes — that’s a Fool’s errand, right? Like, it’s not going to go well, which is why I think you go back to having a fantastic foundation a real process and strategy in place. And then, from there, I think that you plug in the tactics and the appropriate technologies and you can be off to the Races.

But yeah, having this get-shit-done mindset with just tactics and a plug-in a whole bunch of tech solutions — I think just leads marketers to be more and more frustrated.

Sam Melnick:

Great, yeah. No, I agree.

Joe Hyland: Great. Yeah, exactly. I think we beat that that horse dead.

I actually just had a conversation with a CMO that I’m friends with down and Sydney, Sara Gonzales, at Simple.

Sam Melnick:

Okay

Joe Hyland:

I don’t know if you know Sarah and Simple, but an interesting discussion happened when I was down in Sydney. All these marketers kept asking me — we had a conference down there about a month ago, “I know we’re not as sophisticated, Down Under, and I know we’re not using technology and advanced ways,” which I found really interesting because I didn’t think it was true. I think, for the longest time, U.S. marketers have kind of assumed that APAC is very much behind the United States in terms of marketing maturity. I do that long setup because I think the same thing happens — it’s not just for marketers, it’s technology in general — with the West Coast to East Coast. Like, there’s a lot of East Coast bias with media and kind of a host of other things where the East Coast is the center of gravity. But for tech companies you would be amazed at how snobby we are.

We look at the East Coast, and in particular, Boston, as if there’s HubSpot and maybe two other tech companies. And I know you guys are, in fact, headquartered on the West Coast, but you started MarTech in The Hub, right? I’d love to get your take on what it’s like being a technologist in Boston.

Sam Melnick:

Yeah, MarTech in the Hub kind of started off the marketing, MarTech conference that Scott Brinker ran. A few of us, we get a bunch of marketing and marketing technology folks together about once a quarter. So, you know, I’ve worked for companies in the valley and it’s certainly a bigger ecosystem. But Boston, I’d say Boston has a very strong — like it’s there. Talent-wise and maturity-wise, would I put The Valley leaps and bounds ahead of Boston? Probably not. There’s just a lot more people and that kind of gets the flywheel rolling. I’d say Boston, what it has, is it’s kind of got a longer — I mean — it’s almost got a longer role for things. Like, people are not — they’re more conservative — they go back to their Puritan roots, you know? A little bit more conservative. But like really strong, community — particularly in B2B tech. Particularly, deep tech. Like, you think about like an EMC or think about what it was like 30-40 years ago. You’ve got digital equipment. You’ve got —

Joe Hyland:

You name it, like Stratus Technologies. There’s a there’s a lot a lot of good tech companies in Boston.

Sam Melnick:

And to a fault, there’s probably also a bit too much of Academia. Because you’ve got Harvard and MIT and you got, you know, Babson has Olin College down there — which is engineering only. And Boston’s a small city, you go up to the valley: you’ve got San Francisco and then you’ve got San Jose and then there’s everything in between — and it’s just a lot more spread out. Whereas in Boston it’s all in one place and everybody’s around there and it’s — yeah.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, I think your comments on. I think it’s full of shit, a lot of it is — not your comments, but [laughter] you’re full of shit —

Sam Melnick:

It’s alright, you can call me out.

Joe Hyland:

I think there’s a notion that there’s more talent out here — and maybe I’m showing my six-one-seven area code bias here — I don’t know, it’s silly. When I got out here, some of my peers were like, “I don’t know any of the stuff you’re doing.” This was at Talia, my last company. “It’s really bold, it’s really loud. Like, I think, maybe, it’s too much.” And I was like, “I don’t know, I mean just where I’m from, the East Coast, we’re a little louder.” I don’t know there’s more people out here — I mean, San Francisco, people think it’s bigger than it is, there’s only six or seven hundred thousand people — San Jose three million, right? So, I mean there’s yeah there’s a lot of people in between you know.

Sam Melnick:

I think that it’s there’s a lot of people in Tech. There’s just so many — like, you drive up the one-oh-one and you’re just like, “Oh, tech company, tech company. Boston has a lot of tech, but like, there’s biotech there’s pharma there’s — I think Harvard is the largest employer in Cambridge, which is the biggest city next to Boston.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, you’re right. There’re literally thousands of tech companies. It’d be interesting — you were referencing Scott Brinkner before — MarTech 5,000, which I think is now over 6,000. I don’t know he’s not doing it anymore, right? I don’t know it’d be interesting to see how many of those companies are out here. And a lot of those companies will fail. A lot. I mean, the market isn’t large enough to support five to six thousand companies for B2B marketing. I don’t know what the right number is. Actually, that’s a good point. I’m curious to — after I shit on the area that I live in now — I’m curious to get your take as to who this “Survivors” will be — not by company name, of course. Are there certain qualities or characteristics that will determine who will survive in this kind of Darwinian ecosystem that we live in?

Sam Melnick:

Well, the two companies that come to mind that’ll survive are ON24 and Allocadia, so I’ll start there.

Joe Hyland:

Obviously, that’s tip of the pyramid.

Sam Melnick:

Actually, that’s a really good question and I’ve got this blog post that I need to write about it.  My comment is just two kinds of — when I think about particularly data in MarTech — there are two kinds of marketing SaaS companies. There are those that are creating data — basically a new data source that can be utilized whether you know different ways that you can’t elsewhere — then there’s those that are kind of manipulating data and using data from external sources, and you talked about attribution, building models or predictive, you know. And those companies are not — I don’t think — are going to ever live as stand-alone because, essentially, they’re a part of an ecosystem. They’re using data from elsewhere. They’re tying into other Technologies. But if you didn’t have those other touch-points, they don’t exist, you know?

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, that’s a good point.

Sam Melnick:

So, if you have a technology that can sit on its own, create its own data — it might be much less valuable without the connections — but it still can provide value. So, that’s something that I look for in terms of that ability of what’s going to come out.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah, that’s a very interesting point. I’d add to it that I think — and it’s like great marketing, you need to know your audience inside and out and understand how you solve their problems and if you’re doing anything but that you’re probably missing the mark — great marketing is about finding ways to help marketers engage. I mean, it is all about engagement. And I think in this new world order that we that we live and play in, it’s about providing insights into what works and how you can be smarter, and smarter, and smarter, and smarter.

So, my sense is, and all jokes aside, companies that focus on those two areas when — let’s say something happens in the economy and dollars are squeezed — if you’re helping marketers be more engaging and you’re helping provide insights, I think you’ll stay in the market Tech stack. So, that’s my perspective. So yeah, maybe Allocadia and ON24 will be okay.

Sam Melnick:

Okay. There you go. Let’s hope so. Knock on wood, at least.

Joe Hyland:

Okay, with that, I think our half hour is up. Sam, I want to thank you so much. This was fantastic, and I will talk to everyone on our next episode of CMO confessions. Thanks so much, man.

Sam Melnick:

Awesome. Well, thanks for having me it was a blast.