Driving Marketing Success with Only 30% Budget

May 10, 2023

Jason Widup, VP of Marketing at Metadata.io, reveals that his marketing budget had been cut by 70% over the last nine months, which has made it necessary for his team to be more efficient with the resources they have.

Jason also shares his journey into marketing and the skills and strategies necessary for success in B2B marketing with Alina Vandenberghe on this MasterSaaS Live.

Jason Widup is the VP of Marketing at Metadata.io, a software company that helps B2B marketers optimize their digital advertising campaigns.

Focus on Efficiency and Analysis

If you’re like many other marketers facing a similar reality right now, Jason recommends shifting your focus from just getting leads to analyzing the efficiency of your campaigns that deliver the best results.

For example, Jason's team shifted their focus from early-stage pipeline to middle-stage pipeline and re-focused on email and partnerships, as well as taking a more traditional technical analysis-based approach to SEO.

By doing so, they were able to make the most of working with only 30% of their budget to still achieve their marketing goals.

Marketers Need To Be Data-Driven and Open-Minded

Along with an increased emphasis on efficiency, Jason stressed that successful CMOs and marketers must be more data-savvy than ever and have an open mind to learn from their mistakes.

It's not enough to simply read and communicate data from a slide deck; you must be able to come up with your own insights and model.

This means you should measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns and adjust them accordingly.

Jason recommended focusing on first-touch attribution and creating more product marketing content to help measure and understand what’s working and what isn’t.

By doing so, you can make the most of your limited resources and improve your ROI.

Measure Your Brand

It's not always easy to measure the effectiveness of your brand, but it's still important to try. Jason explains that measuring branded search terms, using anecdotal dark social evidence, and looking at impressions can all help you understand the effectiveness of your brand.

While it's not always possible to measure, it's still important to try.

Wrap up

Major budget cuts are a new reality for a lot of B2B marketers, it doesn't have to be a roadblock. Like Jason shared, by being data-driven and open-minded, focusing on efficiency and analysis, and measuring your brand, you can still work towards achieving your marketing goals and succeeding!

Full Transcript

[00:00:00] Jason Widup: My budget's been cut by about 60, 70% over the last nine months. When we were just in ultra-high growth mode and we had like 200,000 dollars a month to spend and pay, the stuff that didn't work didn't really matter, right, 'cause I was meeting my goals. And so we never did deep analysis into the campaigns that were working and not, it was just like keep just... W- we need more campaigns, more campaigns. Some months, we couldn't even spend all the money we had. But then once that program budget gets cut, now we have efficiency goals to meet as well.

[00:00:26] Alina Vandenburghe: I’m very excited to have Jason Widup, with me today at Metadata. Jason was one of our early guests on Demand Gen Podcasts. Um, since then, your career has progressed quite a bit, um, you know, heading up m- marketing at Metadata. I would love to hear what got you started in marketing in the first place.

[00:00:46] Jason Widup: So, I had an interesting way into marketing. I started my career more in technology. Um, I grew up in kinda technology household, so my mom was one of the first women in mainframe computing back in the '60s. And so she was like using punch cards and stuff, so I had a kind of a technical, I don't know, technology friendly upbringing. Got into consulting, and my first consulting company, they had a engagement at Expedia for website analytics. And so that was kinda like my entrance into marketing operations. And then I got a job at Tableau, I was VP of marketing operations at Tableau. And I had like a 60, 60 to 70 person team, and that would ri-, that's when I realized, like, this is just too big, I'm not really interested, I'm a problem solver. And so Gil and I met, our CEO in case anybody listening doesn't know, we got along really well, saw eye to eye on a lot of things. There was nobody marketing in Metadata. And so I was like, "Hey, maybe I can start and kinda see where this goes."

[00:01:45] Alina Vandenburghe: based on your experience and since you are talking to a lot of marketers yourself, you're selling to marketers, what are the top, uh, skills that a marketer that wants to grow into a CMO, um, exhibits?

[00:01:59] Jason Widup: Well, I think first and foremost, having capability around data is just so important these days. So when I see a CMO that is not well versed in data try and operate and just like navigate [laughs] their environment, it, it difficult for them. And so having your own, not just knowing how to read data from a, like a slide, you know, [laughs] like an insight from a slide, but actually being able to dig in, come up with your own insights, have your own thoughts about that. So data would be the first one, just some capability with data. Having a very open mind, an open mind around being able to be wrong about things. And so, that's one of the first things I learned when I started to get the, the creative and brand side here, is like I would build something that I really liked myself, and I'd put it out there and it would just fall flat. And then I had an agency helped me and I, I would pick the ones where I thought, I was like, "That's never gonna work. That one's not gonna work." And then those were the best performing ones, you know? [laughs]

[00:02:54] Jason Widup: And so the third skill, I think you have to have... depends on the kind of marketing you wanna do, but I think it's good to have your thumb on just things like around pop culture, you know, and just like things that are happening in, in today's world. And this may not have been as important in B2B marketing before, but I think now with creators in B2B, you know, and we're having more entertainment in B2B marketing and being able to bring that into either your, even your organic social or even your campaigns, I think is an interesting third skill that I'd say would maybe be important nowadays.

[00:03:26] Alina Vandenburghe: So I’m recapping, adaptable, a pulse on the pop culture, and data driven.

[00:03:32] Alina Vandenburghe: On the data driven side, um, what percentage of, uh, your pipeline right now comes from marketing for your sales team?

[00:03:41] Jason Widup: Um, 70 to 75%.

[00:03:45] Alina Vandenburghe: A big chunk. And the metrics that drive your team are mostly tied to pipeline, or are there other things in there that you, uh, measure?

[00:03:53] Jason Widup: Yeah, so we measure a lot of things. Pipeline is our goal, um, but in fact, we've actually shifted it from early stage pipeline to more middle stage pipeline now. Our sales cycle is short enough where we don't have to do a lot of multi touch attribution to understand what's working and what's not. We've primarily focused on first touch, um, and then we've got a lot of product marketing content and other content that we kinda have help us move from that first touch and kinda carry people through to the opportunity.

[00:04:20] Alina Vandenburghe: I uh, probably am looking at our pipeline a little bit different because I'm a founder a- and I'm also acting CMO right now, and I tend to pay a lot more attention to things that, uh, I'm, I- I'm personally, uh, looking to [inaudible 00:04:36], such as acceleration of a deal close and, um, um, returning, uh, dead ops out of the graveyard.

[00:04:44] Alina Vandenburghe: Yeah Um, cross sell, upsell, and overall being a participant in that full funnel to understand out highest LTV customers to bring them back into the top of the funnel as well. I'm curious if you are starting to measure some of that as well and how you're looking at it?

[00:05:01] Jason Widup: So right now we're in a, like a close rate optimization [laughs] kind of, um, project, I would say. And so we're looking at every s-, every single stage, the duration between each stage, and we're basically using that to identify, okay, where are we getting held up? In fact, we used that data recently to change our opportunity stages. Do they make more sense? Are they progressing, you know, in a better way? We are always doing things like reviving, you know, dead opportunities, dum- doing some dumpster diving. Uh, we don't measure that activity much, we just kinda throw that all into kind of the general demand bucket, you know, and then we look at it by, as like a campaign probably when we're trying to decide what to do. We're also, because my budget got cut like everybody else's marketing budget got cut, we're, you know, expanding on things like email now, you know, we never really had a solid email program.

[00:05:50] Jason Widup: We didn't even nurture people, you know, at all. And so they just come to the database, and like, "Hey, here you are." And then also, I'm starting to work with more partners, I'm trying to like do more partnership stuff trying to leverage partners and other things, other offers that are inexpensive or free, you know, that we can try nowadays, um, now that my budget's been cut by about, I don't know, 60, 70% over the last nine months probably.

[00:06:14] Alina Vandenburghe: Wow that's a big cut. So it's email nurtures, it's partnerships. What are some of the things that are working for you with this, uh, trimmed budget right now?

[00:06:22] Jason Widup: We produce a lot of content, like we're pretty, we're pretty well known for our content, but we never took an SEO approach to the content. We wrote it basically like content that we think we [laughs] wanna read, content that we think is interesting, but we didn't take like the traditional technical analysis based approach for CEO. So we've got a program right now where we're doing all that upfront work, creating a bunch of briefs and starting to write a bunch of new content. And so we're gonna take, you know, taking that approach.

[00:06:51] Jason Widup: With paid ads, when we were just in ultra-high growth mode and we had like 200,000 dollars a month to spend in paid, the stuff that didn't work didn't really matter, right, 'cause I was mating, I was meeting my goals. And so we never really did deep analysis into the campaigns that were working and not, it was just like keep just... W- we need more campaigns, more campaigns. Sometimes, some months we couldn't even spend all the money we had, you know? And so, um, but then once that program budget gets cut, now it's almost an entirely new job, we put new rules in place that are much harsher, you know, [laughs] on our campaigns, like, "Hey, if it doesn't produce a lead within X number of dollars, just shut it off." Spending a lot more time in the analysis and focusing on efficiencies in the data, not just like, did we get to the lead goal?" So now we have efficiency goals to meet as well.

[00:07:37] Alina Vandenburghe: Curious if you have tried something recently that was, uh, completely, uh, failed, also?

[00:07:43] Jason Widup: Yeah. This was one that surprised me. I thought this thing was gonna just take off. I had this idea, I was like, I wanna create, I wanna create an offer or a gift that is so unique that people will have to take it. It's a custom hand carved bobble head doll of themselves. Tried to find our top 60 accounts I think, and then I had my team go and find the top, you know, one to two marketers that we would best sell to in those accounts, grab their picture off of LinkedIn, and then we had Metadata superhero outfit that is just like a, our colors and like a, you know, a logo on the chest and a cape. And then the face looked exactly like the picture, just like exactly like it. And so I posted it on LinkedIn, I would just tag these people. I'm not connected to them maybe, you know, I don't know them at all. And the first one worked, you know, so many people commented on it, it got a lot of ac-, you know, like excitement. And the person chimed in and was like, "Okay, you got me. Like, send me the bobble head, we'll meet." Like, sweet.

[00:08:41] Jason Widup: I did another one a week later, I got about half the engagement, you know, 'cause I know on LinkedIn, people have seen it before so they're not as excited, and nobody responded. And I did a, a tried a third one, nothing. So we started emailing people with this. I would put... And I had like like fun gif images, you know, of the bobble head like bobbling, you know, like put in the email. And no one responded to my email. I was like, "What is going on?" But I have an entire box here in my office that's got 40 bobble heads in it [laughs] that are like sitting here six months.

[00:09:09] Jason Widup: And I'm like, "I can't do anything with these." I just want people to take them, 'cause I'm like, "Don't even take a meeting with me, just take the bobble head, 'cause I can't give it to anybody else. It has your name on it, it's got your face on it." So yeah, that one was one I thought for sure this is gonna work, and it just failed.

[00:09:24] Alina Vandenburghe: You’re doing, uh, things that are a bit unusual as well, and, um, I'm curious if those things that are a bit unusual you also strive to measure them, or you just go more with your intuition? Because me, I, I see that a lot of things that, uh, typically m- marketers don't measure them, such as brand.

[00:09:44] Jason Widup: There are several ways, you know, to measure brand. The best way that I like is just looking at branded search terms. And we saw those steadily increase, you know, either on Google or coming to the website. We use anecdotal evidence, like people posting on LinkedIn, we'll just grab it and we'll put it in like a swipe file. And we can see like how many impressions there were and things like that, but we like to use some of that qualitative feedback as well to help guide us. It's not, you know, not super measurable, but it does give us guidance on some things. I was kind of leaning towards measurement in some way. But then sometimes it's like we can't measure it, but it still seems like a good thing to do, let's do it. You know, we- I won't stop something just 'cause we can't measure it, 'cause often, honestly, like a lot of the most interesting ideas, because they're new and interesting we don't have a way to measure them yet, and I don't wanna just not do it because we can't measure it. But we gotta come up with some way to determine like what kind of impact did this have on our funnel or on leads, or whatever we're measuring?

[00:10:45] Alina Vandenburghe: So uh, based on that, uh, does most of your pipeline come from, uh, organic and direct?

[00:10:49] Jason Widup: No.

[00:10:50] Jason Widup: Most comes from paid right now. And that's partly because we've done so well with paid that we didn't focus resources on SEO. So I've mentioned, you know, we're just kinda now going through SEO and we're... we didn't do a lot of conversion rate optimization on this side, so now with the budget cuts, things like that, now that is becoming more of a focus. And so I would imagine, I'm hoping probably by mid-year that we're 50/50, you know, on paid versus organic, and then continue to move more organic.

[00:11:18] Alina Vandenburghe: I’m uh, curious on your paid strategy, is it content that your c- creating with your team that... Wh- how, how do you go about strategy on paid?

[00:11:26] Jason Widup: We go about it quarterly, and what we do is we like, "All right, how much pipeline do we have to drive? How much budget do we have?" Then we're looking at the deltas, right, so we're like, "Okay, we're, we're short, let's say 100 leads, or 100 demo requests this month or this quarter." So we, we take that delta and we're like, "Okay, we know exactly how we're gonna drive..." Let's say that our goal was 300. "We know that we're gonna drive 200 of these, but we have no idea how we're gonna drive this 100." And once we understand that delta, we then line up experiments that we think can close that gap.

[00:11:55] Jason Widup: So it's like, okay, here's the gap, um, here's a bunch of usually wild ideas, you know what I mean, of things we can try, um, and then we prioritize those based on what's the likelihood of it working, how hard is it to build? You know, so like bring the low hanging fruit a little bit higher. Um, and then we start to execute on those projects that t- try and close that gap.

[00:12:16] Alina Vandenburghe: And since you're generating ads, you, you have to generate creatives for people that know ads inside out, how do you stand out? [laughs]

[00:12:25] Jason Widup: Yeah, no, that's a great question. Um, we just try and be more fun. We don't, we don't have a big review process. You know, so like, I like to tell people, "If you got an idea and you're convicted about it, try it." As long as it's not completely against our style guide, or... You know what I mean? Or like things we would normally do, it's gotta be still on brand or with the personality of the brand. But I give the team a lot of license to try new and different things. I really don't wanna see copies of other companies' stuff, you know what I mean? It's like if you find a really interesting idea that somebody else is doing, cool, copy it, but then you gotta change it and still make it your own, make it our own some way.

Alina Vandenberghe
Jason Widup
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Demand Gen Chat is a Chili Piper podcast hosted by Tara Robertson. Join us as we sit down with B2B marketing leaders to hear about the latest tactics and campaigns that are driving pipeline and revenue.
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MasterSaaS Live is the interview series that seeks to answer the question: What does it take to be a badass CMO? For our host Alina Vandenberghe, Co-CEO and Co-Founder of Chili Piper, this question is personal. A CPO-turned-CMO, Alina is on a journey to become a badass CMO — and is building in public as she goes. If you're a current or aspiring marketing leader, this is your only chance to learn from top marketing leaders, innovators, and big thinkers about marketing in 2023 — from CRO to brand to music and so much more.
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