Throughout The Marketing Nation Summit, we’ve not only had amazing, insightful, and inspiring keynote speakers, but speakers who rocked the smaller stages in our breakout sessions. Our coverage of the event wouldn’t be complete without sharing some of the sessions that offered interesting insights and unique perspectives over the last couple days. Let’s take a look at four sessions that had an impact on us and our audience:
ABM, Is it “And” or “Or”
One of the most popular sessions came from Joe Chernov, Vice President of Marketing for InsightSquared and a former marketing exec of both Eloqua and Hubspot, who made his stage debut for Marketo this year with a session called Growing Beyond Inbound with Account-Based Marketing. Joe started by highlighting a few problems that marketing organizations are facing today—a sharp decay curve in their subscriber’s interest and attention, the fact that the MQL (marketing qualified lead) is subjective and therefore “eating” marketing, and that inbound is a long-tail strategy that takes a while to fully demonstrate its ROI.
This led to the question, “Are we in the and business or the or business?” Meaning, do you really have to pick one—inbound or ABM, or can you do both? His conclusion—as a marketer, you need to do whatever it takes to accomplish your goal, which is to drive revenue, so his answer is “and”. The mix of inbound and ABM are really up to you and dependent on the nature of your business. The smaller your addressable market, the more weighted toward ABM your marketing strategy should be. The broader your audience the more weighted toward inbound. “But” he said, “most of us are somewhere in the middle.”
Joe argued that “in an ABM world, sales enablement is a necessity” and that as you think about your ABM strategy, it’s important to start small and identify the pools of accounts that are most valuable to fish in. In his organization’s experience, they found that closed lost provided the highest return and win-rate. If they re-engaged, they were much more likely to close. With that knowledge, their ABM strategy and tactics shifted to support these high-value, high-win accounts. While it’s important to identify your accounts and test them to prove that they are viable investments, Joe emphasized that as you get started, there is value in building a narrative around your efforts. While you wait for your ABM strategy to deliver results, it’s important that you collect success stories from your sales team to continue to gather and maintain executive buy-in and approval for your activities.
Build Your Most Valuable Asset—Your Audience
In his session on EPIC Content Marketing, Joe Pulizzi, Founder of Content Marketing Institute, revealed why content marketing is so important for organizations and why you should build an audience on your own channels, not borrow one from another’s. While you can certainly reach your audience on other channels, like social media or display ads, the problem with focusing all your efforts on these channels is that they’re ever-changing. You have no control over their platform and how your content is distributed to your audience. Take Facebook for example, who recently changed their algorithms once again, making it harder for brands to get their posts seen (without putting paid promotion behind it, of course).
Instead, create and distribute your information and build an audience on your own channels, namely through email or direct mail subscriptions. Unfortunately, the stats show that 90% of B2B businesses use content marketing, but only 30% are effective at it.
So how do you become an effective content marketer? It all starts with having the right strategy in place:
- Set your goals for sales, savings, or sunshine (e.g. happier customers). Content shouldn’t be all about selling your product; it should give your audience something of value to build relationships with them. Many companies employ a bait and switch tactic to try to cheat the system, but consumers and businesses alike are quick to catch on to this.
- Determine why you’re using each channel and use one content type for each main channel per audience. You should be able to answer why you’re using each channel and if you don’t have a clear purpose, you should stop. Once you’ve got that down, figure out what kind of content is most appropriate for that channel and audience.
- Create your content mission statement. Define who your audience is, what will be delivered, and the outcome for your audience. You should be able to identify what the intended audience outcome is for each piece of content you put out.
- Don’t build your house on rented land. This goes back to the point about building an audience on channels you have complete control over, so make sure you have a newsletter set up where you can start building this. Focus on email or print subscribers as a key metric, which requires an exchange of value that’s worth it for your audience.
- Determine what your subscribers do differently. Look at what those who subscribe to your content versus those who don’t do differently. For example, do they purchase more or talk more favorably about you?
- Think about buying vs. building. Sometimes it’s a good idea to open up your wallet and buy an audience rather than just doing it organically. Some businesses have done this by acquiring smaller newsletters that have a similar audience base.
- Be patient. As Joe put it, content marketing is a marathon not a sprint. On average, it takes 12-18 months to build loyal relationships with an audience. It’s about consistency, not frequency.
- Use the proven content formula: Content Type (audio, visual, etc.) + Main Platform (blog, website, etc.) + Consistent Delivery + Long Period of Time = Base.
All The Tech Ladies
On Wednesday, we had our first ever women in technology panel. Get Technical, Ladies: Navigating Our Industry’s Gender Bias featured some of the top women leaders at Marketo—Nadia Rashid, Area Vice President of Sales; Heidi Bullock, Vice President of Marketing; and Amy Guarino, Vice President of Global Channels. The panel took questions curated from the Marketo Community and addressed topics from building a personal brand to leadership to navigating your career. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights:
Build Your Personal Brand: One of the critical pieces of advice that each panel member shared centered around building your personal brand. To be seen and heard in your organization, it’s important for you to build your own personal brand. A good place to start is by asking other people what they think—ask them how you are perceived in the workplace and be prepared for some candid feedback. But that’s only a start, it’s what you do with the feedback that’s game-changing.
Elevate Yourself: Yes, it’s important to be great at your job. But our panel warned us of the dangers of the tendency that women in the workplace have to take on more, do more, and work harder in order to prove themselves. Doing this has the potential to put you in the “work horse” category, which ultimately is bad for your career. “No one promotes work horses because then who will do the work?” shared Amy Guarino. Instead, find ways to elevate yourself away from tactics and look for more strategic, high-visibility projects.
Set Expectations: A question that came in from the audience was about how to ask for what you need in your schedule. The answer—set expectations. Have a frank conversation with your manager and team where you lay out your priorities, outside and inside of your job, set your boundaries, and emphasize your commitment to the work. These conversations and openness enable them to be much more flexible and trusting.
Speak Up: We also covered the age-old B-word: Bossy. When asked how they dealt with the double standard for assertive women versus their male counterparts, our panelists all agreed that bossy is good. “At the end of the day, I want to know I did what it took to get the job done. Sometimes, that means interrupting and ruffling some feathers,” said Heidi Bullock. Nadia Rashid offered that when someone points out that she was “aggressive,” she often replies with a thank you for the feedback and points out how her behavior is not different than the men in the room; it’s just a perception. Ultimately, they all agreed that it’s important to have confidence and how you feel about yourself is what truly matters.
May the Sales and Marketing Force Be With You
Jessica Langensand, Solutions Consultant at Marketo, and Camille Crandall, Strategic Account Executive at Marketo, covered why sales and marketing alignment is so important and some tips and tricks to improve it.
Why is sales and marketing alignment so important? Ultimately, marketing and sales have the same goals: increase revenue. This means that sales needs to be effective, but marketing needs to empower sales to do so by ensuring they’re investing their efforts reaching out to high quality leads.
A strong sales and marketing alignment can result in:
- Increase in revenue
- Shorter sales cycles
- Improvement in conversion rates
- Validation of forecast accuracy
Jessica and Camille walked through how alignment comes into play through the different stages of the funnel. Some overarching tips throughout each stage? Meet frequently, shadow sales calls, enable them with the right resources (tools, content, etc.), and provide feedback.
At this stage, marketing’s goal is to drive new names through campaigns. It’s important for marketing to identify whether they’re target leads or disqualified leads, which is one of the early indicators of whether a lead is worth sales reaching out to. Disqualification can come through a variety of reason (bad company name, a student doing research, etc.), but it’s key to ensuring you’re passing along leads that could be prospects. Also, keep in mind that accurate data is key as you’re generating new leads. On average, every 30 minutes, 160 addresses change, 75 phone numbers change, 20 CEOs leave their job, and 30 businesses are formed.
Jessica and Camille explained that the team at Marketo has shifted their approach to generating leads lately to be more strategic, with less of a focus generating a high volume of inbound leads and more of a focus on the right (specific, and targeted) accounts. It’s about quality over quantity.
At this point, once marketing identifies someone is a target lead, they’ll nurture them through different engagement programs until they reach a high enough score to become an MQL, for which the criteria needs to be agreed upon by both sales and marketing. MQLs then get qualified by sales to determine if they’re a sales lead by looking at the BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timing) criteria. Camille shared her take on BANT, which is PUT (Pain, Use Case, Timeline). The key here is to understand what your buyer’s pain points are and prescribe a solution if, and only if, there is a fit.
This a great checkpoint for marketing to create accountability for the leads they create to ensure they’re of good quality. Some questions you might want to ask are: Are we generating opportunities? Which campaigns are helping sales and which are not? What are our goals (MQLs, SQLs, Opportunities)? In fact, Jessica shared that marketers often have to forecast these metrics before they can even run a campaign.
Sales has equal share in creating accountability for themselves. As leads progress down the buyer’s journey, with a marketing automation and CRM integration, you can prioritize leads for sales, integrate data seamlessly, and get insight into how sales is following up.
In the BOFU stage leads are well into their journey with your company and you know whether there is a pain point your solution can address, whether their use case aligns with your solutions, and their purchase timeframe.
With the right tracking set up on both the marketing and sales side, both teams can see how a lead came in, which campaigns he/she interacted with, and what ROI it generated and at what rate. But the job doesn’t end here. It’s time for both marketing and sales to re-assess their strategy. As a marketer, how can you optimize your campaigns to generate more high quality leads and nurture them through each stage of the funnel quicker? As a salesperson, do you have the right training, content, case studies, and competitive analysis to win more deals?
And that’s a wrap! The Marketing Nation brought a dynamic energy to Las Vegas and it’s safe to say we’re all going home with knowledge that will help us transform and meet the challenge of being Tomorrow’s Marketer head on. Any great sessions and insights that you’d like to share? Or, if you couldn’t join us, what do you think was the most compelling message you took from our blogs, social, and live stream coverage? Please comment below!