Sep 28, 2020
The term "account-based marketing" gets tossed around a lot. Here's how top brands are really using ABM to get better marketing results.
This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, B2B Fusion founder Jon Russo explains what account-based marketing is, and breaks down the strategies that top brands are using to penetrate target accounts, get meetings, and drive leads and sales.
From researching your ideal customer profile, to building your tech stack and using direct mail to get meetings, Jon gets into plenty of detail about what is and is not working with ABM today.
Jon's agency works with industry-leading brands like Level 3, Thompson Reuters and Blackboard. Check out the episode, or read the show notes, to learn exactly what he is seeing get results.
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Kathleen (00:00): Welcome back to the inbound success podcast. I'm your host Kathleen Booth. And this week, my guest is Jon Russo, who is the COO and founder of B2B Fusion. Welcome Jon.
Jon (00:20): Hello, Kathleen. Thanks for having me.
Kathleen (00:23): Welcome to the podcast. I am excited to dig into some nerdy marketing topics with you. You know, and especially because we have a particularly interesting topic, I think in a time like this with COVID, which is account based marketing. But before we start talking marketing, can you talk a little bit about your story? You know, your background, how you came to be doing what you're doing now, what and what B2B Fusion is?
Jon (00:52): Sure thing, Kathleen, and thanks for having me. I know we've been trying to get this on the calendar and greatly appreciate kind of us getting together here. So, great news. Yeah, my story. Look, that's my favorite topic. We could talk about me all day long, but I've been head of marketing or what they now call chief marketing officer for 10 years in public and private companies. And that was in Silicon Valley, New York city in Luxembourg. So I've seen kind of every iteration of B2B marketing in smaller companies, as well as large companies in that process and how I kinda got to where I am today. One of those CMOs assignments. I remember the emotion that I felt as a head of marketing, having to account for my function. And this was probably close to 10 years ago where I distinctly remember the best practice kind of companies that are out there that are professing the funnels and funnel shapes and definitions.
Jon (01:52): And then at that time marketing automation was new. And so one of my challenges as head of marketing was I was trying to take this best practice theory and be able to articulate to the CEO and the board members, what my impact was to the business. And to my surprise, Kathleen, what I found out was I did a, with the help of a, my 22 year old sales operations assistant, who now currently works for me a little bit older now, but at that time he was fresh out of school and we were in Excel putting together marketing impact. And I'm like, you gotta be kidding me. I'm spending all this money on marketing automation. I'm spending all this money on best practice investments. And I can't get these two things to work and then show it to my board of directors and compounding.
Jon (02:41): That was the fact that when we were producing this information, I was literally getting it in real time. So I was basically getting the information the day before a board meeting and racing it to my board of directors. And to my surprise at the time my border directors were like, wow, we never see marketing and actually measured. We've never seen anybody take an interest in this. And I remember coming home that night and sharing that with my wife saying, you know, I can't believe that this, these esteemed board of directors have never seen marketing measurement before, and they are top, top notch VCs. And that's when she said to me, I think you have a business there. And of course, like all men, I'm very slow to learn that. So she said, I think you've got a business there. You should really go after kind of the marketing measurement side.
Jon (03:29): And that began my journey a little over nine years ago with B2B Fusion. And really we, we formed an agency that's at that nexus of systems and strategy to get the best measurement. And it's morphed a little bit since that initial vision, but that was kind of how I got to this point in time. I basically thought, well, I could become a CMO or a head of marketing for our 11th year in a row, or I could help other marketers on their journey to be more effective. And I find a lot more passionate in that, quite frankly right now. Maybe it's just where I am in terms of where I'm at in my career. I'd rather see others succeed and help them on the journey because it's not an easy journey for anyone. So that's a very long winded answer as to how we got to this point.
Kathleen (04:18): You know, it's interesting listening to you talk about that. There are two aspects of it that really resonated with me. One is when you talked about the emotion involved and having to kind of justify your existence as a marketer and I think anybody listening I'm sure can relate to that because, you know, we get into such technical details and weeds. And it's funny, cause I literally came to record this episode from a meeting with my company sales team, where they were asking about this and, you know, thank God I can pull up my marketing automation platform. And today the tools have come so far. That was the other thing I was going to say really resonated with me was, you know, I owned an agency back around the same time that you were getting started and, and it was a completely different world back then, as far as our ability to track and report. And now, now it's almost like we have too many tools and that's the problem. The bigger problem is figuring out which one to use and how to like how to really use, fully get use out of it. Cause there's just so much available to us. And so the world has changed so much for marketers. So I think it's really neat that that's what you focus on. Every marketer needs needs somebody like that, kind of looking over their shoulder and helping them.
Jon (05:35): Yeah. And you know, we're, we're on the Budweiser hot seat here in terms of performance, right, as marketers. And it may not seem that way. No one ever tells you that as a marketer, you just kind of discover it. So and especially as a head of marketing, your shelf, life is not that long. So you better be putting points on that scoreboard quickly. And it takes a village to get the right business processes, the right measurement, the right systems in place. And to your point, now we have 7,000 MarTech choices out there. 10 years ago, it was maybe in the hundreds. So it is exploded. And I think that's kind of where our direction for my agency kind of morphed was we broadly now see two major issues. One is how can we grow faster with this new technology and how do we get the most ROI out of the investments, whether it's measurement or otherwise.
Jon (06:35): And sometimes measurement is a distinct question that comes up in and of itself. But those are kind of like the categories now that we're finding most companies asking about in those first two categories, they kind of sorta existed. Like the MarTech really didn't exist at all. But the, the growth one people kind of thought about it, but they're thinking about it a whole lot more, especially post COVID. So those are the three buckets that I'd say today. I think we broadened our lens from that emotion that I felt a few years ago. Because of exactly what you said, the landscape has changed quite a bit.
Kathleen (07:11): Yeah. Now one of the areas where you're, I think doing some really interesting and, and forward-thinking work is, is in the area of account based marketing which I feel like has become a big buzzword in the marketing world, but it's really interesting because I'm a part of a couple Slack groups for marketing leaders and sales leaders. And one of them is the revenue collective, which is a fantastic group. And I remember we had a, I co-lead the, the Washington DC focus group for them. And we had a conversation about account based marketing and everybody wanted to talk about it, but then we get on the call. And first of all, nobody really could define it. And those who tried, none of them had the same definition and nobody was nobody really, at least by their own way of defining it was doing it. And so I feel like this, there's this interesting paradox with ABM where we all have heard of it and think we should be doing it. And yet not a lot of people are, and those that are doing it probably aren't like really doing it. So maybe coming to this conversation from that perspective, maybe we could begin by just having you really define what ABM is to you. And, and we could use that as a jumping off point.
Jon (08:34): Yeah, no that I could, I could see why there'd be some confusion. And maybe as a precursor to that, I'm drawing upon a hundred plus ABM experiences that we've been through primarily through relationship that we orchestrated through Demandbase slash Engagio. And we've had a great relationship them and through our own mechanisms as well. So across those experiences, I could see why a question would come up. And by the way, if you don't have that well-defined definition, even in your own company, it makes it very challenging to measure and to improve. So oftentimes we start with defining what is account based marketing. Now your mileage can vary quite a bit depending on the type of company that you're dealing with. Right? So typically we see two classes of companies that are doing account based marketing right now. The first class would be more or less along the lines of very large companies.
Jon (09:35): So for example, one of my clients McAfee, we did a quite a bit of ABM work for where they had a global sales organization. And one of their challenges was pivoting from a lead based system to an account based system. They have a very different challenge because they've acquired a lot of companies and they're doing a lot of upsell cross sell. So in bigger companies, it's a, an upsell cross sell type initiative. Now it contrast that to another one of our clients code science, as an example, they build apps for the app exchange on Salesforce are explosively growing right now. And they too had a lead based system wanting to pivot into an account based system and why they wanted to do that was really because of growth. So it was new account growth in very specific tiered vertical markets.
Jon (10:26): And so account based marketing terminology is used there in terms of acquisition, as well as the upsell and cross sell. There are probably other ways you could define it. I've seen definitions in terms of a triangle of very strategic accounts. Perhaps you're only focused on three to five strategic accounts versus kind of a mid tier accounts. There always seems to be tiering that's involved when it comes time to whatever the strategy might be. So I guess the answer is it depends a lot on the situation but getting that definition right in your company and making sure that it's well understood is critical for the measurement side of things.
Kathleen (11:11): I'm glad that you started with what you did because at least in my own experience, I think that the big mistake a lot of marketers make is they define ABM, not by what it really is, but by how it manifests in terms of tactics. And so there are a lot of people who think ABM is just targeted, dimensional or direct mail, right? And then there are people who think it's a particular way of approaching paper, click advertising. And then there are people who see it as a combination of both like, but that is not really ABM. Those are the tactics that you use to carry out your broader ABM strategy. I think you defined it really nicely, which it's really a shared definition of how you're going to go to market and how you segment your list and focus and prioritize at least if I'm hearing you correctly.
Jon (12:03): Yes. Yeah. I think you're exactly right. I think you're exactly right. It's almost, in some cases it's almost doing demand generation a lot better than what perhaps we've done before. So I think it's confusing because there's so much technology out there. Now you have the salespeople that have their own definition of account-based, whatever sales, marketing, everything, you know, whatever the flavor is du jour. And then you've got marketers that also have their definition. So it's chaos in terms of definitions which makes it really, really challenging for marketers to say, Hey, I produced X number of MQLs or marketing qualified accounts for, for sales to then go target or go after. So I'm not surprised that you found, you know, what you saw in that Slack channel. It's not a surprise to me.
Kathleen (12:54): Well, and then the other thing that I find interesting about ABM and this came up in that conversation, I mentioned that we had in the revenue collective because we had half of the people on the call were sales and half were marketing. And what became very clear very quickly is that it's, it's not, it is something that spans both groups. And it, you know, we always talk about the importance of sales and marketing alignment, but I would say perhaps with ABM, more so than most things, it's so important because there were people who sort of said, well, I'm in marketing and we've started doing ABM, but the sales team's not on board, which basically means you're not really doing ABM. And then we have other people who are like our sales team has a list of, you know, tier one, two and three accounts, but our marketing isn't really doing anything, which also, you know, so it's, it's, that, that is also interesting to me is that it really needs to be a joint effort between the two and, and getting that coordination seems to be more difficult maybe than it should be.
Jon (13:55): Yeah. This is a topic we've, we've been talking sales and marketing alignment. We've been talking about for 20 years and I think you're, you're hitting the nail on the head in terms of, for ABM to be successful you really have to have that alignment. And if you have an SDR function, that's the connective tissue, meaning it's the connective tissue between marketing and sales. So you're only as good as that connective tissue in terms of targeting. And let me give you an example on that. I won't name names, but we were in another client situation and you got to remember SDR is a very, very difficult job, very, very challenging job, and probably the most valued job from some surveying that I've done with my peers in terms of what the next generation CMO is. Having said, that we found SDRs that were faking Amazon gift deliveries and to book meetings, because that's how they were incented to get meetings.
Jon (14:52): Now, you think about the brand damage that you're doing when now when you're 22 or 23, I don't know what you were like when you were 22 or 23. I couldn't even remember, you know, my head for my elbow back then, but it's a tough job. It's a pressure cooker job that you've got to get these meetings. So you know, bad behavior, but the damage that, that does to the brand and, you know, forget about ABM, just growth. Like how can you possibly grow when you're, you're, you're doing something like that. So that's one very clear example of why that function is so important in account based marketing of that handoff between marketing and sales and that, that connective layer.
Kathleen (15:36): I think you hit the nail on the head with the SDR being the connector and it's, it's interesting, cause you do hear more and more conversation about SDRs traditionally having been thought of as sitting in sales and now more and more we're seeing them sitting in marketing perhaps for that very reason. So I'm, I would love to, to hear from you, I think for a lot of people it's hard to, to really picture what a best in class ABM strategy looks like without kind of having some examples. And you do work with a lot of companies, as you mentioned maybe you could share, and you don't need to name names if you can't, but I'd love to hear some examples of some campaigns that have gone really well and been super effective. And what goes into that?
Jon (16:20): Yeah, it's a, a thoughtful question. And just thinking back to a couple end points like to me, the end point is what have you done to move the needle from a certain stage? So I can think of cases where we've helped move the needle from say a stage zero to stage one, and we can measurably see what that conversion improvement is over a period of time. So I could give you an example of where we more than doubled it from a 22 to 49% jumped from stage zero to stage one and how we got there was really through a series of plays a series of plays, meaning it wasn't just marketing batch and blasting a bunch of emails. It was being really thoughtful toward very specific accounts. So it started with what accounts were you focused on? And within those accounts, do you have the right contacts, are the contacts that you have?
Jon (17:21): Do you have enough research that's done on those contacts? So in this case, in order to get to that doubling, we had to do a lot of pre-work and do some research on those contacts. Then it became a question of what that campaign strategy was. So together with sales, we put together a coordinated touch strategy between marketing and sales, electronic outreach with phone outreach via LinkedIn direct sequence, as well as a marketing followup. So kind of a multitouch cadence or approach. And what we found was the more obviously, I mean, everybody talks about it. The more personalized you can get, the more relevant you will be to that end user. We spent a lot of time on that personalization. It's really hard to do at, you know, people talk about personalization at scale. The most effective way that we have found doing that is actually offshoring research at a very low cost and doing a lot of groundwork that the SDRs quite frankly could or should be doing, but it's, it's a function of their time. So what you're doing is you're trying to speed up some of the research process of the SDRs. So in this case, as we did the multitouch, the SDRs were prepared with their outreach and their canes with some nuggets that they could drop into their sequences and then target that end user.
Kathleen (18:47): So can you just, sorry, I want to clarify when you say offshoring research, what kind of research is this? Like, what are you looking to surface?
Jon (18:54): So it, it, we've got if you're familiar with a Miller Heiman blue sheets model, it's a similar model to some of the questions that are typically needed to be addressed going beyond firmographic information account industry, revenue size employees. It could get down to somebody's college or university, which you could scrape off of LinkedIn, and you can potentially personalize that the interests in terms of what they follow. There are now vendors that kind of focus in an in and around that area as well. So if you don't want to off shore, you could get a vendor that would focus on it. Anything that could get it a little bit more personalized and then doing the account-based research itself. So any G2 that you can gather as far as what some of the company initiatives are, that two would go into this form. So the way we did it was we had a set of questions that they would go and, and why we offshored is, you know, we would structure it in a way where they would have to fill out or populate the questions and do the research via the web to them present back to the SDRs. And it would be resident in Salesforce, such that you could, you could pull out access information as needed. So that's how, how we would approach that.
Kathleen (20:17): What's an example of how an SDR might use some of that?
Jon (20:22): Really, really good questions. So we've seen actually an evolution of this too. At, at first we kind of let SDRs, we would give the information to say, you know, have added SDRs, do whatever you need to do over time. What we've learned is there's a lot of benefit and value of having marketing really create the cadence structure or the message and the outreach with the fields that might be populated by the SDRs through that research. So marketing is really the skeleton and they provide the skeleton. It doesn't matter where the SDRs report to, and why we, we came to that conclusion is it totally avoids the Amazon gift scenario and it controls the message. And typically salespeople are grateful that you take, as a marketer, interest in that. And sometimes marketers end up ending the, that tool as well, like the sales loft or the, the outreach. But anyway, to answer your question, I'm, I'm deviating a bit, what we would do then is give them the opportunity to pull that information from the research and drop it into the template, and they're going to have to massage it. There's some level of massaging that has to be done, but what they're not doing as a wholesale net, new creation of that template and that outreach.
Kathleen (21:46): Yeah, that makes sense. Okay. So we have really good research on the front end. We have marketing essentially dictating messaging frameworks, so that SDRs, you know, are not creating it out of whole cloth every time they have a conversation. And your SDR is really trying to get you that first meeting. What are some of the other elements of, of these really great campaigns you've worked on?
Jon (22:13): Yeah, some sometimes we've seen, and I wouldn't say in all cases because I wouldn't want to mislead people, but in some cases doing a direct mail or a customized mail campaign somewhere early on in that prospecting cycle has been helpful. There are a couple companies that are out there that do that. But the one that jumps out to me that we've recently have experienced with one of our own clients is a company called Alyce where Alyce has a lot of sophistication around the interests of the end user and can pull information from the web and make recommendations based on the interest. So for example let's say I was the prospect and you can see visually behind me, I've got a lot of college basketball memorabilia behind me. So it's likely that a system like Alyce would pull that information and say, Hey, Jon is really interested in college basketball, specifically the university of Connecticut college basketball, and maybe there's something related to that, that you could recommend under a certain budget that could eventually get to Jon. And there are ways to get it to the home address now as well. So that has been an effective way. It flies close a little bit to the sun of, you don't want to do a quid pro quo, like, Hey, I'm buying your first meeting. But sometimes what we see is it's, it can be an effective way to kind of break the ice. Or if that first meeting's already established, the second or third meeting, it's just helpful to kind of maintain that momentum.
Kathleen (23:52): Yeah, I've done a little bit of that kind of mailing in a past life. And I found that the real utility of it was twofold. One it's getting past gatekeepers, especially if you're trying to connect with somebody who's fairly high level in an organization. You know, flat mail does not do nearly as well at that. And secretaries, personal assistants, et cetera. If it's a package, if it has something personalized, they're going to forward it on. They might open it. They might not, but they're going to forward it on. And then the other one is just, I think, on the recipient end, at least through the feedback I've gotten, if it is truly well thought out, and if you've done a good job of it, a lot of times you'll have, like, we had somebody, this was back in the early days when I had my agency, we actually had a guy that we had been trying to get a meeting with, write us and say, wow, you really like hit the nail on the head with that. Like it's worth having a conversation just cause I totally respect how well-targeted this was. And I think, I think it can peak somebody's interest if you're able to, to really nail something that matters to them.
Jon (25:02): I think a good example of that was the last physical conference marketing conference that you and I think were both, that was the demand gen conference in February and Phoenix or Scottsdale. And there was somebody on stage in the millennial section that talked about how she received a yoga mat. And she said she was blown away because she's like I do yoga 24 by seven and out of the blue, this person, after I was already in a sales cycle toward midway or toward the end, sent me this out of the blue. And she's like, it resonated so much. And here she is telling an audience of a thousand plus people of marketers, right? Like we all, we're all drinking the Koolaid. But it was really a really powerful example as to the level of connection, if you can get that personalized touch. And that's where I think Alyce kind of separates themselves from kind of the other, other systems that I've seen on the market that our clients sometimes use as well, but where they can kind of separate themselves as they have the intelligence to figure out what does this person really, really what are they interested in?
Jon (26:11): What's relevant to them? What's going to resonate with them? We've had situations where we've actually tested handpicking versus their system and their system has been more effective. So yeah, it's, it's been pretty, it's pretty amazing. And you know, that technology didn't exist 10 years ago, so it's a, it's a new world. So I think that those types of things help with ABM. It's not a Nirvana, it's not going to solve world hunger, but it, if you do things like that your chances of success go by an order of magnitude.
Kathleen (26:44): Now you mentioned as part of what you were just describing that it's, there are ways of getting home addresses. And I feel like this is the challenge we're all facing right now is that, you know, people are not in their offices. And so what used to be a simple exercise of, you know, look up the website, scrape the address and go is, is no longer. So can you just touch on, are there any particular tools or anything that you like or a strategy for tackling that?
Jon (27:10): Yeah. And I think a couple of the the direct mail providers Alyce and Sendoso specifically, and probably PFL, I just have not checked with them recently, but it wouldn't surprise me if they haven't thought of this because the other two have, they now have figured out a way to drop in a form and capture the home address without storing the data longterm. So they've figured out a way to, to reroute that direct mail and bring it to the home address. There have been some instances that I've heard of, some people were early on with COVID they were very reluctant to receive direct mail because they just didn't know. But I've heard that more as the exception rather than the rule. But, but there are some of those case is out there. The other thing, the other value in doing that validation is direct mail can be a very expensive proposition. And there are ways that we, we have recently figured out ways to do this where you can actually track the ROI, whether it's gaining new meetings or accelerating the pipeline, but it's it's PhD level work like something that would come intuitively you really have to stare at the systems to figure it out. But there are ways where you can actually now begin to track that depending on your marketing automation system, so that too can be valuable data to, to bring back to your company.
Kathleen (28:34): Yeah, you're so right, because when it comes to that direct mail stuff having done a few of those, I would say if they're easy to do, but they're easy to do wrong in the sense that you could send a really cheap, not so great item that doesn't, that isn't effective and you could spend a lot of money in doing it. Or you could like narrow your list a little bit more and spend more per person and really get amazing results. And I think that's, that's where a lot of people go wrong is they try to go too big and, and it doesn't, it doesn't have the effectiveness of spending more per individual getting a really fantastic item and maybe doing it in stages. Like we used to always tell clients when I had my agency, pick, you know, if you want to spend a lot, pick 20 accounts that are like super strategic and spend a lot on them, send it out, see how it works. And if it works, then do the next one. Right?
Jon (29:28): Yeah. Yeah. Staging, I think is a terrific idea because it does take time like any of this marketing technology or, or anything new, it takes time to see those results. It takes time for end users to adopt to. So you're talking about maybe working something new into a sales person's workflow that didn't exist before or an SDR workflows. So you're changing behavior, which I don't know about you, but for me, it's difficult to change behavior. So it, it takes time, but once you figure it out it's pretty powerful. It's, it's really, really powerful.
Kathleen (30:04): Yeah. Now moving beyond the mail piece, because I feel like we could spend all day on that as a topic in and of itself easily. And it's an interesting topic, but when you look at approaching ABM campaigns what are some of the other pieces that go into those campaigns beyond mail and SDRs?
Jon (30:25): Let's see, what other things? Other than the personalization piece I guess the biggest piece would be the measurement side of things and really making sure that you are capturing what it is that these campaigns are producing and ideally in Salesforce. So there's probably, there's a whole campaign strategy to get to that point, but the end point would be, you really want to have a clean and crisp measurement. And I'll give you an example of what I mean by clean and crisp measurement. So it's easy for us to get caught up in the campaign lingo and you probably have used Salesforce before. I'll give you an example, the leads object in Salesforce, what they call the leads object, doesn't necessarily relate to anything else in the database. So you could have all sorts of activity on the lead side of things and your salespeople who may work in your contacts and accounts may never see any of that activity.
Jon (31:26): Even if you have the technology to in theory, link those two up, there still can be cases where there's activity on the leads that are not coming over to the accounts and to the contact side. So to answer your question on the campaigns, if you're doing all this campaign activity and you're like, Hey, I'm a, I'm doing this great, great job, but if your underlying processes aren't right in Salesforce, it's not going to matter. Your campaign strategy is not going to matter, or it may matter, but somebody else is going to get credit for it. Meaning the salespeople will take credit and say, Hey, we did all this work. Marketing didn't do the work. So really getting clarity around kind of that measurement and NPS is a very, very critical piece. And I can give you an example of a client of ours, that, where they came into the situation and through a dashboarding, we, we learned a couple different things.
Jon (32:20): One was there was all this activity going on on the lead side and they couldn't understand it because it wasn't in their targeted tier one, tier two and tier three, they're running all these campaigns. And lo and behold, what we discovered was their ICP was not correct. They thought it was a certain assumption, but through our dashboarding, what we realized was there was a new target market that was returning, eventually returning, a lot of revenues. So what they ended up doing was pivoting the entire company. This is post COVID pivoting the entire company toward that vertical market and, and getting a lot more folks just because of all this activity that was going on. So that's another reason to dashboard. The other example that same client, what we discovered was in the sales efforts, we found that the sales team was following up on certain accounts.
Jon (33:14): And in one dashboard we could see the activity level of sales and we could see the activity level of marketing, and we could see that the accounts were different. And so we were like, well, why is there a difference? It goes back to what you said, you know, a minute five, which is why aren't we aligned? Well, now we can visually see sales is focused on five accounts and they're hyper engaged here. Our marketing's got six accounts that are hyper engaged, that that sales is not. So visually we now have the data where we can say, Hey, we're just not aligned. So it goes beyond the theory of alignment. You can actually see it. And this all rolls up to your campaign question, like, what are you doing right in your campaigns, if you're able to dashboard some of that, your chances of campaign effectiveness and future investment go up by an order of magnitude, because now you can have the conversation. It could be a lot more data driven versus, you know, Hey, I just ran this great seven touch cadence, or with direct mail and this, that the other because you really need to measure that days on.
Kathleen (34:20): I love that, that we're sort of bookending this conversation and coming back to measurement. Cause I feel like that's what we started with. Like that was the Genesis of your business. And it, it, it does it like always comes back to that. Right. so speaking of measuring, can you maybe share with me a sense of what kind of ROI some of these companies have seen from account based marketing when they do it? Right.
Jon (34:45): Ooh, good question. And I've got a bunch of statistics, but I don't have them off the top of my head
Kathleen (34:50): Ballpark.
Jon (34:54): The hard thing with ROI is you really need to track costs too, with your upside revenue. And what I find is very few companies have that level of visibility. So I don't have a really solid answer on that one other than I can get back to you, but that's not gonna help your podcast. But typically what I see is mostly on the revenue side. So for example, I'll see engagement in terms of accounts that are happening. So if, if you're getting a large percentage of accounts that didn't engage pre ABM to post engagement, that would be a mechanism. So if you have the definitions, right, you're, you're making progress as a milestone of saying, I've got a certain percentage that are showing account engagement and within those account engagements, what percent are then converting to an opportunity after that initial ABM strategy implementation. And that's usually more of a revenue metric as opposed to an ROI metric, if, and I'm really, you know, I'm splitting hairs here. I also think that not a lot of board members and VCs are asking per se about ROI. They're asking about some other questions. They're asking about a cost of acquisition, CAC, LTV to CAC ratios. So they're going more broadly bubbling things up at a more broad sense, which are typically manual calculations.
Kathleen (36:34): Do you find that cost of acquisition comes down dramatically with ABM or no?
Jon (36:39): I think it all depends if, if your, your focus on strategic accounts, it's costly, no matter what, because you got to, you got a huge buying committee. It's a lot of energy and effort to kind of crack that from a strategic account, but if you're doing a one to many, yeah, it can, but I think it's, it's an investment, no matter how you slice and dice it. I don't think it's any cheaper than demand gen. I think demand gen is kind of the first generation of marketing automation where you can just kind of spray and pray, but you're using a lot of the same technologies and the same people as you are with ABM. So I don't know if there's a huge savings per se. It's just a little bit more focused effort. I think that that would be the best way to think of it.
Kathleen (37:28): Yeah, it's so interesting. I mean, it's, I feel like this, this could be a 10 hour long podcast on the topic of ABM. But it cannot be because we do not have 10 hours nor does anyone want to sit and listen for that long. So I want to switch gears for a second and ask you a couple of questions that I love to ask my guests. The first is, you know, we talk a lot about inbound marketing on this podcast, and I'm wondering if there's a particular company or a specific individual that you would point to that you think is really setting the standard for what it means to be a great inbound marketer these days.
Jon (38:03): Hmm. Great question. I think some of the vendors that do a really good job at it, Drift, Gong, the usual suspects, Drift, Gong, HubSpot I would say, would be the strong, strong performers in terms of they're putting out a lot of content. Drift feels like a very natural kind of inboundish, I don't know if you'd kind of call it inbound. It's not, you're not really calling people if somebody has to reach to your website. So I guess that that would be an inbound. So I would say those three are the ones that come to mind in terms of who's doing it really, really well.
Kathleen (38:41): Drift certainly comes up a lot when I ask that question and the other ones, I mean, while, I mean a HubSpot of course but Gong has started coming up more and more lately. So it's always fascinating to me to see the trends in how people answer. And when I start to hear certain names over and over again, like that's an interesting indicator. Second question is that...
Jon (38:59): Gong has done a phenomenal job there.
Kathleen (39:01): Oh, sorry. Sorry.
Jon (39:03): No, go ahead.
Kathleen (39:03): I was just gonna say the other, the other thing I hear a lot of marketers say is that they really struggle trying to keep pace with all the things that are changing in the world of digital marketing. And I think this conversation is a great example, this struggle with like, what really is ABM and how really do you do it? What, how do you personally stay up to date and current on all things digital?
Jon (39:25): Yeah. And that's a, a common issue right now, you know, going back to MarTech of three to five years ago, there was a thousand MarTech providers now 7,000. So how do you keep your finger on the pulse? It will sound self-serving, but relying on agencies that spend time with a lot of different technologies, cross organizations and tapping them, I'm surprised actually that more of our clients don't rely more on us for that type of advisory work. Typically we're attending a lot of the conferences. So you'll see me at either speaking or attending a lot of the major conferences and whereas they may get the opportunity to go to one or two, I'm going to eight in a year or 10 in a year. So we're leaning heavily on kind of your partners for that expertise or understanding is certainly one way post COVID now.
Jon (40:25): I think another way is just Slack and being, you had mentioned, Hey, you're involved in Slack channels. And I think you and I are involved in some of the same Slack channels cause we've been communicating on some other things there, but post COVID, I think a lot of stuff now is just gone to communities like Slack. And there are a number of different communities, whether they're marketing operations specific, growth operations specific. I'm on a board that is focused on growth ops and we've got a community. There's CMOs specific Slack channels. So that too would be an area to ask, you know, colleagues. There's even geographical ones. I found one up in the Boston area that that has a heavy concentration of Boston based heads of marketing. So, you know, I think triangulating across all of those sources, as I think about it out loud are probably, that's how I keep kind of in the know so to speak.
Kathleen (41:20): Yeah, I think you're right with a lot of these communities. It's a way to shortcut what otherwise would be a much longer process, you know, and, and just sort of take it from the people that, you know, know a lot and let them tell you what, what need to care about. But yeah, I mean, I rely on those communities heavily, although I will say my latest pain point is that I'm in too many Slack groups and there are a few that are just a lot of noise and I'm, I'm now to the point where I'm thinking I'm gonna just exit some of them and focus on the two or three that are really delivering value. Cause it can become a huge, huge distraction.
Jon (41:54): I, yeah, I could totally see that as well. And sometimes what I do with Slack is I kind of cherry pick and go in and out, the beauty of Slack for me is if you ask an ignorant question about two days later, everybody forgets about it. Cause it's so, you know, it's pushed up in the, in the threads of threads. So I feel you on that and that's how I kind of dip in and out. I'm almost like a seagull I'll fly in. I'll ask a couple of questions and then I'll pop out.
Kathleen (42:23): Yeah. My favorite feature of Slack is that you can set up your sidebar to show you all of your unreads. And I can just like come back in, look at all the unreads. Mark them as read, see the ones that are important and then go. Cause it's really distracting if you try to like jump in every time you get a notification.
Jon (42:42): I hear you loud and clear on that. I think that that too could be a generational thing for me. I would never want, some of our clients ask us to have Slack. I reluctantly agree to that because it is incredibly disruptive to my workflow. It is incredibly disruptive to the workflow. So, but there are ways that we've integrated Slack with other project management tools that have helped speed up the process. So it helps them and it helps us but from a workflow process, that can be very disruptive. I agree with you on that. Yeah.
Kathleen (43:15): Well I'm sure that there are some people who are listening, who have questions or would love to reach out and connect with you online or learn more about B2B fusion. What is the best way for them to do that?
Jon (43:25): Yeah. Great question. So two ways. One would be on LinkedIn or you can always email Jon dot Russo, Jon.email@example.com. And at any point in time, if you just want to have an exploratory conversation or need something to bounce off, I'm happy to do a quick call with you. And you know, we can, we can compare notes, so don't hesitate to reach out
Kathleen (43:45): Great. And of course, as always, I will put the links that Jon just mentioned in the show notes. So head there, if you want to reach out and connect with him and if you're listening and you enjoyed this episode, I would love it. If you would head to Apple podcasts or the platform of your choice and leave the podcast, a preferably five star review so that others can find us. And if you know somebody who's doing really great inbound marketing work, tweet me at @workmommywork because I would love to make them my next interview. Thank you so much, Jon. This was a lot of fun.
Jon (44:16): Thanks Kathleen. I really appreciate it.