Jeremy Bloom, Integrate co-founder and CEO, and Deb Wolf, Integrate CMO, recently published the book Precision Demand Marketing: Achieving the Promise of Predictable Pipeline.
The idea behind the publication, according to Bloom, is to create a practical and tactical book for marketers who continually struggle to keep up with the changing customer landscape. He says it’s about re-imagining things marketers are doing today that aren’t working and maximizing the things they are doing well.
What are marketers doing right?
Not everything marketing is doing today is wrong. There are many things they are getting right, and the biggest one, says Bloom, is that they understand their role is to serve the buyer;
I think for a long time when we thought about marketing, we’re thinking about what’s the best way to do it for our own internal systems or for our own content, our own creative and thinking kind of inwardly at the company of like, how do we want to do marketing? And I think now marketers are really recognizing that it’s all about the customers and where they exist and where they are and understanding that they’re everywhere.
I don’t have to remind diginomica readers that B2B buyers are becoming more self-sufficient and making large purchases without talking to anyone. So, it’s critical that marketers get the information to buyers that they need to learn about their products. There are some instances where a buyer may engage with sales at later stages of the buying cycle, but there are just as many where they never talk to a salesperson at all.
But it’s not only about getting buyers the information they need to make the best decision; it’s also about reaching them in the channels they prefer. As Bloom points out, it’s now about providing tailored content for buyers in the account in whatever channel they are in.
This push for omni-channel customer experience creates a challenge for marketers and their tech stacks. There are a lot of point solutions – keeping in mind Scott Brinker’s Martech Landscape for 2022 that show over 9,000 technologies to choose from – that need to work together to provide that seamless, consistent experience regardless of the channel. Bloom says one of the first things that Integrate does with a new customer is blueprint their systems to help them know what needs to be integrated into the Integrate demand acceleration platform.
Getting that single pane of glass for demand
Integrate has a customer advisory board that is consulted regularly. The question many on that board are asking today is how they view their customers from a single pane of glass.
There is no platform of record for demand marketers, Bloom says. There’s a platform of record for nurture (marketing automation platform) and a platform of record for the customer (CRM), but we’ve yet to see one for demand that shows marketers a centralized view of demand-generating activities.
That’s what Integrate is working to create. Bloom sees it as a huge opportunity for the company to be the first one to do it. Integrate has the connections and the technologies around the top of the funnel and the channels – field marketing, mobile lead capture, content syndication, display advertising, and social.
Equally important is analyzing performance across channels to understand what’s working. This is an area where Integrate is focusing much of its development. Earlier this year, it released an omni-channel insights dashboard that helps marketers understand how their campaigns perform across channels. But they are just getting started, Wolf acknowledges. (The chapter on Measurement in the book is a great guide for analyzing performance).
The intersection of demand generation and ABM
We talk about demand generation programs and account-based marketing programs as different strategies and implementations in the marketing department. But more and more, these programs are coming together, especially at a time when marketing budgets are tightening, and the focus must be on in-market accounts.
Bloom agrees that these programs are integrating more tightly. Integrate doesn’t do account discovery. Instead, customers bring their lists from Demandbase and 6Sense to Integrate so they can activate against those lists across multiple channels:
Let’s say you’re a marketer, and you’re working with a vendor who’s really good at helping you understand the 1000 accounts that are in market for your product. That’s really helpful. But it’s only helpful if you can go execute across that list and it’s only helpful if you can do that in a multi-channel environment. You can’t just do it on email. You can’t just do it in display, right, you really have to be present in all of the the channels or wherever the buyer is ultimately going to exist.
Precision Demand Marketing is, in many ways, the integration of ABM and demand generation. It’s a term coined by Integrate, something they heard consistently from customers – the need to get more precise with every marketing dollar spent. Bloom explains:
And so for us, Precision Demand Marketing is a really important term for our customers and we really built that out of their need to be precise. And then we hit this kind of recession right? Now precision really matters because budgets are contracting. And you have budget contraction, but revenue goals kind of stay the same or pipeline goals stay the same. Now marketers have to be really precise and thoughtful about every dollar that they’re spending and make sure that that dollar is building credible and reliable pipeline for sales. Because if you stop those efforts, now your sales team has no pipeline to go after.
The idea is that you do demand generation activities, but you do them against a list of customers (accounts) that you know are high potential. That list can come from an ABM platform, and you can specify to only see leads from your demand gen efforts that match that list. Or you can exclude job titles that aren’t in your ICP, and so on. The key is that you can get very precise in what accounts and buyer’s to focus your efforts on.
Learning from those in the trenches
The Precision Demand Marketing book is not just built around the ideas of Bloom and Wolf; it includes the insights and experiences of twenty senior marketing executives who believe in precision demand marketing. Wolf said the book is not just for VPs but also for their teams, providing a practical view of the model, which follows five principles: Target, Activate, Govern, Measure, and Connect.
One key idea is that you need to identify your ICP (ideal customer profile) beyond the persona. That requires thinking critically about what the buyer might want to listen to or learn about or how they want to interact with your brand. Getting precise means not just looking at the account but the buyers within the account and how you can meet them where they are in their journey (whatever that journey looks like).
According to Wolf, it comes down to how you get to the right buyer and how you think about them. She said marketers struggle to do this for a couple of reasons. The first is where they are on the marketing maturity curve (are they ready to do this?). And the second is that the sales organization can throw a wrench into marketing’s plans; there’s often no rhyme or reason in the themes or campaigns, which makes the buying experience bad.
A lot has changed thanks to COVID and the inability to meet customers in person. As a result, sales is much more reliant and becoming more appreciative of what marketing can do to help them, Wolf explained. However, it still requires marketing and sales to figure out how to align better, and it requires marketing to stand up to sales and have their say.
David Alexander, SVP of Marketing for F5, quotes a marketer in the book with a sentiment that I believe will resonate with many marketers that want to evolve their marketing organization:
I’ve been in both sales and marketing roles throughout my career. I feel as though marketing is finally being run more like a sales organization. We’re doing pipeline calls. We’re thinking about targets in a different way. We’re thinking about hand-to-hand engagement with sales…And frankly, I have the sales organization now looking to me in ways they haven’t, for data, revenue, and overall contribution to the business.
I’m only part way through the book, but so far, there are some excellent insights and practical advice to design better marketing programs that work with multiple buyers within an account. The primary idea of aligning marketing and sales around the buyer is exactly what needs to happen today but often doesn’t for many different reasons – most of which relate to the inability (or unwillingness) to change deeply established processes and frameworks that align with the business first and the buyer second.
Another idea I agree with is that we can’t define a buyer’s journey that works for every buyer in an account or every buyer that fits a similar persona. The ability to meet a buyer wherever they are in the buying process on whatever channel they choose and provide the exact information they want at that point is challenging, but it’s something we need to get better. This is the Precision Demand Marketing Bloom and Wolf talk about and something we all need to talk about more.