Building a revenue-driven team & why taking big swings is important. | Colin White @ Clearbit

February 2, 2023

Episode Description

In this new episode of Demand Gen Chat, I spoke with Colin White, Head of Demand Generation at Clearbit. Colin’s career started in software development and he pivoted into marketing, where he’s focused on driving revenue growth. If you’re a marketer focused on driving top-of-funnel leads and looking to have an impact further down the funnel you won’t want to miss this episode. We chat about how Colin approaches setting KPIs for individuals on his team (including Marketing Ops), and how to prioritize program ideas for the highest impact. Colin also shares how his team at Clearbit balances the science and ‘gut feel’ of marketing to set and achieve their goals.

Show Notes

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Episode Transcript

 Welcome back to a brand new episode of Demand Gen Chat. I'm your host, Tara Robertson and I have a great guest for you today, our friend Colin. Colin White is the director of Demand Generation at Clearbit. Colin, welcome to the show.

Hey. Thanks for having me, Tara.

Thanks so much for joining. We're just catching up because we actually recorded this a few months ago. I had some audio issues happening in the background. So we're catching up all over again, which is always a great excuse to do so.

Absolutely. Yeah.

So how long have you been at Clearbit now?

Um, I think it's been two and a half years, at least. I roll up on my third year in March.

Oh, wow. Coming up on that. That's a big anniversary. That's exciting.

Yeah, it is. Yeah. It's, I mean, it's a long time in, in SaaS, SaaS marketing, especially, usually...


... 10 years is pretty short. Yeah.

Definitely true, especially in marketing. I'd love to hear, I mean, obviously, I'm sure your role has evolved since you've been there...


... but what are the main KPIs that you're responsible for right now and that your team is working on?

Yeah. Um, yes, the role has changed a lot. I joined as an IC, and now run the Demand Gen team here. Um, and it's funny the metrics, I mean, they've changed slightly over the years. Generally, they're, they're the same. We report on, you know, SAOs, Sales Accepted Opportunities, and the pipeline generated out of those. The way those have been defined over the past couple of years, a, are a little bit different, but, um, it's essentially been the same since I, I started. And then the other sort of leading indicator is the number of, um, you know, um, quality leads or ICP leads. We have from, you know, accounts that we score well.

Yeah. And we'll get into lead scoring in a little bit. So I'll save my questions around that, um, but I'm curious, we're obviously heading into Q4 in a little bit here. So how do you, as a team decide, these are the key metrics or these are the KPIs that we really want to focus on or is it always those sales, accepted ops and qualified ops?

Um, usually always the same and so we share, we share that metric with our, our sales org on the SDR and BDR side, too. So we're sort of both goal towards creating pipeline and opportunities for the account exec team on the new business side. Um, so those are changing, but the, the things eh, that make up that number do change, you know, based on what we're investing in, whether that's, um, a specific type of content or education, or if it's, you know, an investment, a new investment in, you know, in person events or something like that. The, the makeup of the goal changes...


... as we go on. And then, you know, if we're rolling out a new, like a brand new program, we'll make a judgment call on, on how much makeup of that number, it'll, you know, it'll take but, you know, sometimes that's just a gut feel guess on the marketing side, and there's sort of this, um, you know, I don't know what to call it, science and not science between, you know, how we're thinking about our goals and how the revenue operations and finance team is thinking about our goals, right? They're very, very specific...


... in like the makeup of the goal, and we're sort of a little bit, you know, we steal forecasts, we do all those things, but we're a little bit more feely, in terms of...


... you know, as marketers we are, we are a little bit more on the gut feeling side sometimes...


... with where we'll make up the goal, but when we look at, like the success of marketing overall, it, it still ends up being that overall, you know, pipeline or SAO number driven from marketing, but sort of the makeup of how we get there, yes, RevOps sets that at, at the outset, but it doesn't matter if we, you know, have 10% more over here versus 10% less over there. As long as we hit that overall goal, everyone is very happy, right?

Mm-hmm. Yeah, I think a lot of marketers talk about that as kind of the making bets part of marketing...


... where if we, if we listened to everything, the RevOps folks had to say, maybe we'd hit our targets, but we wouldn't take those big swings. So we kind of have to think outside the box sometimes.

Yeah. And it can be hard taking the big swings too, especially when you're under pressure to produce, right? And, and, you know, we're forecasting out of, um, what's worked in the past and then telling our RevOps team and our finance team, like, "Look, we think we'll produce this when we invest this amount of money here," um, but again, you know, like you said, that's only going to get you almost a linear and not even linear because, you know, return usually diminishes as you go in a specific program or a specific way of marketing. So you have to try and take those big bets, but it can be hard, um, and honestly...


... you know, again, being here for a couple years especially through the pandemic and COVID, and now we're sort of in a market downturn, it can be even harder to, to decide to take those swings. And we've gone through periods where we didn't, right?


And you can, you can tell growth stagnates...


... when that happens eventually.

The number [inaudible 00:05:18].

Yeah, or more budget goes less far, you know, because returns do diminish, especially in digital advertising. So, that's, that's the thing and we're actually, it's funny, because our Q4 starts at the beginning of November. So we're now going through this process of like, "Okay, what are the big bets?" Right? What are we actually going to try and, and push that's new and, you know, innovative for our team versus what is that, you know, stable, sort of stepped approach? Um, so we're trying to figure out both right now.

Mm-hmm. And is there anything that you've seen at Clearbit or maybe something you do yourself that helps the team kind of, I guess it's feel safe to bring those big bet type of ideas, because I can, I've definitely been on marketing teams where it felt very much like, we were told that we wanted big, crazy ideas, but then those ideas would get shut down [laughing] one, once you're actually in that meeting, right? So how do you create that kind of safe environment for the team?

Yeah. That's a really good question. Um, and to be honest, I think we've, we've missed a little bit of it the past little while, where again, like, you know, market downturn, COVID, all that stuff makes you feel like you have this financial obligation to like, be very sturdy and structured with everything. And so it can be, it can be really hard.

I think the, the ideation and, you know, sort of innovation culture on a marketing team is, is really important. We do go through a process, which I think helps in, in a lot of ways, called ICE scoring, especially around, you know, planning time. So concept being, you throw, like, any idea at the wall, not any idea, like, you know, it should be formed and have [laughing]...

Something [inaudible 00:07:04].

... have some opinion, and maybe some data backed inside, and even if it doesn't have data backed inside, like, you know, a really good feeling. Um, and then as a team, we take all those ideas, and we, we score it on impact, confidence and ease. And with those three sort of metrics on a, you know, on a slider, we can look at what the overall score output is, and get a sense of, you know, okay, where, where should we invest.

And sometimes it comes out that, you know, a really high score will have huge impact, but it would be really hard and that score comes out on top still, because the impact could be so high. And if we're all voting as a team, like it ends up sort of being a democracy, right? Because you're voting as, as a team and if the score comes out on top, that means the entire team believes in it, right? And if the entire team believes in this-

If you're all voting on that score?

Exactly. So, so we'll, we'll take all of the ideas, put them in a spreadsheet, row by row, and then each individual on the team will go and vote on impact, confidence and ease. And then, we'll basically average those, those numbers, those scores, and get the output from sort of the democratized voting system. Um, and, you know, that I think the other big thing with it is, if the entire team believes in something, which really you can get out of this, um, everyone's sort of involved and passionate about making it work, too. So it's not just like, "Hey, you know, I'm your boss. I told you to do the thing."

Here's always something for doing, yeah.

Yeah. Here's the list of things. I came up with them all.


It's, it's a voting system. So everyone's, you know, involved in planning as well.

I like that. Yeah. We're starting to do that with are mostly just on the CRO side to prioritize experiments...

Exactly. Yeah.

... because, I find it's one of the easiest ways that people have so many ideas without realizing like, maybe we shouldn't test every single thing, because they are not, not always gonna be there.

Yeah. Yeah. So it is, it is really hard sometimes to score things that are, are so new are so different um, on the team, or things that are sort of very abstract, you know, you're talking about how CRO, you know, conversion rate, anything is a little bit easier, because there are a ton of ideas, then you sort of whittle them down based on what you believe the impact is going to be, um, but with something like an event or a trade show, it's sort of this big, hairy, confusing item.

And it's also hard for the entire team to like [inaudible 00:09:43] the information about the event and understand why we would want to make the investment and then make those calls. And so sometimes, it's, it's funny as the team has grown on the marketing side, we, I'll say this, we used to ICE score amongst the entire team. And now, it might just be a subsets of team members who have sort of like the same general theme of responsibility.

So it might not be the entire team, you know, like, we might not have field marketing weigh in on conversion rate optimization, but we'll have our web developer and our performance marketer and our marketing operations um, person, go and measure or input, input on [inaudible 00:10:25], right?


And so it's sort of become subgroupings, as we've, yeah, as we've grown.

Yeah, I think that's a natural way to do it. I mean, the last thing you want is the whole marketing team having to score like...


... which trade show should we go to seriously [inaudible 00:10:39].

And, now, it ends up being a lot, a lot of ideas.


Um, overall, it's not just like the 30 that we had, and 30 [inaudible 00:10:49] but I remember, like in 2020, or something, we had something like 30, that we were scoring, um, and reading and understanding...


... like, all of the concepts, so it was a lot, but it does work. I think it works really well for smaller teams.

Yeah, that makes sense, sense. And how do, I know you guys talk a lot and just like your content in general about things like your TAM, and just figuring out how big your market is...


... establishing your ICPs? How do those fit into your ICE framework, if at all or is that more of the person running that program has to consider these things?

Um, yeah. I think it's, it's more foundational than anything. So, you know, when we're, when we're thinking about any new concept, or idea, or thing to prioritize, we're always thinking about it in the sense of like, you know, how does this work within our ideal customer profile or, you know, what is the purpose? Will this engage more of our market or will this, you know, educate folks who already know about Clearbit who are in our ICP? That, it's just a, a frame of reference, instead of something you're sort of thinking about with ideating, right?


So like, an example might be, on going that, like tradeshow or event group, you know, we might ask, like, "Hey, we're looking for, ah, like these five criteria points, because they, you know, define our ICP. Can you tell me what percentage of the, the normal attendees or registrants might be in that grouping?" Right?


And then we can start to understand like, "Okay, well, how many, how many people will we actually, ah, interact with who fit our ICP versus not?" Right? It's, it's a different frame of reference around essentially targeting. When it comes to something like CRO it, you know, a little bit less, unless you're talking about sort of the personalization end, where you might want to personalize for subsets of your ICP so that you increase conversion rates for them...


... but again, it gives you a frame of reference to really think about what you're doing, right? It's not increased conversion rate for everybody. It's increased conversion rate for the people you care about, right?


And that can be drastically different is, you know, we get a lot of web traffic, but a lot of it is not people we actually want to sell to, um, or were even who could buy our product and implement it well, and get value. So we're sort of always framing what we're doing based on that versus...


... yeah, like individually per project, thinking about it.

Yeah. And when you, when you think about that, I don't even know what to call it, I don't want to say unqualified traffic because that sounds, that, that...

That, you know.

... that group of traffic that everybody gets, that's people say, job hunting, it's students poking around your site, it's people that are maybe at a two-person startup who just aren't ready for your tool.


How do you think about kind of excluding those people from your experiments when you're doing something like Zero? Do you guys have a process for that?

Um, yes, and no. For, for some things, yes, but a lot of, a lot of what we actually end up looking at is, you know, did it can did whatever we just did, convert to a qualified lead, right? So when we're looking...


... like, we don't ever really talk about our all lead number or form fill number or anything like that, we're only talking about qualified. So folks that we consider, you know, would, that would be able to buy our product essentially, if it our ICP.


So when we're talking about like, experiment lift or anything like that, we're talking about lift on ICP number, not lift on lead number, and it's, it's only one step further in the qualification process, but it's a valuable step because, you know, like, essentially, I think it's right now around 50, 50 to 60% of our overall leads are actually qualified, right?


So you're kind of missing it on those 40% essentially.

Yeah, but if you made a call on a test based on those 40%...

Exactly, yeah.

... very [inaudible 00:15:07].

Yeah, exactly. You know.


So it can give you, it can give you false positives, when you...


... shouldn't have them, so.

Yeah, no. That makes a lot of sense. I, I feel like a lot of people I talked to in that boat where they want to do more CRO, they want to test things, but they're just kind of just starting to do things like traffic exclusions, and-



Yeah, and we are lucky, like, our, our product allows for a lot of that, you know. We have, you know, IP lookup as a product, Clearbit Reveal and so we can sort of exclude folks that we can identify that don't fit our ICP in the test, or we can sort of just remove those out of any conversions that we actually do track on the website, right?

Mm-hmm. Yeah, that makes sense. And I, I know we were talking a little bit about kind of just Q4 planning in general, but I'm curious now that you're leading a team, how do you help or maybe it's top down, but I don't think it is [laughing], um, but how do you help the individuals on your team kind of set goals and OKRs, targets, whatever you want to call them, that actually like they can impact on the individual level?

Um, I mean, it is a little bit tops down. Like, I think it's sort of, I mean, it has to be when we talk about...

[inaudible 00:16:24]. Yeah.

... like our SAO or pipeline goal, um, you know, that is coming from...

For sure.

... finance with a little bit of song and dance from us saying like, "Well, you know, we forecasted that we can hit, you know...


... 80% of what you told us that you need...


... and like, is there any flexibility there, like, you know, it's the song and dance of, of, ah, forecasting and, and goal setting from their side. So firstly, I tried to make sure that every person has a goal that can roll into, ah like pipeline, that's very important. So either like a person is owning, um, like a program, like a whole program, where they would have a pipeline number. So you know, we expect X from Y or, in the case of something like CRO or marketing operations, they have projects, um, or metrics that roll up into those numbers. And maybe talking about like, marketing ops is an interesting one to pick on, because it can be hard...


... to put sort of a number against their role, but as an example, right now, Merce on our team is working on updating our scoring models, and both simplifying and making them easy to understand, but then also focusing on, on making sure that we're getting the most out of how we score, right? So when he looks at his, um, you know, objectives and, and KRs, he's saying, like, you know, this project that I'm working on, which is a big, hefty thing, scoring, um, how can I impact pipeline out of scoring, right?

And he's now taking the approach of, you know, we're going to make sure we have our core model, and then the ones that are sort of taking the fringe folks, and making sure that we're at least thinking about the fringe, the fringe people that might not be perfectly in our ICP, but have elements of that and, you know, getting those into the system so that we can actually, you know, engage with them and, and talk with them correctly. And overall, that's going to increase the, the amount of qualified leads that the SDRs and BDRs talked to, and overall increased pipeline, right.


And so his, he ends up having a metric that is tied directly to it. Although, some of the KRs are still going to be like, backlog, project completion rate, or whatever.


You know?

You just have to work through some stuff in ops. It's just kind of [inaudible 00:18:50].

Yeah. Exactly, exactly, but if you have at least one KR that rolls into sort of that key metric for the entire team, I think that's sort of one important factor across everybody.

Mm-hmm. Yeah, you're right, that, that's a tough role where I feel like it ends up being a to-do list, so a lot of the time...

Yeah, and it's-

... when [inaudible 00:19:07] KRs, it's like, uh, [inaudible 00:19:08].

Yeah. It's how to, how to make it not a to-do list is very difficult...


... but I think it's the sort of the big swing projects that make it not. It is something big and hairy to focus on that does have impact overall and you can see it very easily versus like, you know, I did 10 backlog projects that increased productivity on the marketing team by 5% and, you know, that's not as easy to understand.

Mm-hmm. Yeah, that totally makes sense to make them especially, it's one of those roles, I know you mentioned turnover earlier just really quickly, but it's a crucial role on the team that you don't want them going anywhere.


So to give them really important projects that everybody can get excited about is even more important for all.

Yeah. The institutional knowledge that a marketing ops person holds is, um, immense. And I know that I was marketing ops prior to doing demand gen...


... and I know when I, like I spent two weeks just trying to write documents whenever I left the, a company, because all of the processes were in my head, which is, you know, bad documentation on my end, but also, that's just what happens.

When it happens when it's one person? Yeah.

When it's one person and you're at a startup, and you're trying to do all the things and yeah, so it is, it is very hard. Um, so make your marketing ops folks happy, everybody.


[laughing] [inaudible 00:20:29].

We actually just hired, we just hired our first marketing ops, which is a little bit crazy...


... um, but I'm realizing how much is in my head too. You just don't...


... take it for granted the things you just going to do...


... right?

Totally. Yeah. We held off on marketing ops too for quite a long time. Merce, who's on, on the team now, he started just back in March. And you know, it went two years of my life here without marketing ops and even longer before that, and we were quite a large team before we had the, the function, but yeah, it's a tough, it's a tough one, for sure.

How, how did you manage things like lead scoring without marketing ops...


... because that's one area that we've just kind of very simplified, not worried about up until now because, again, small team.


[inaudible 00:21:17].

I, we, we were in a, we're in, we were in a special position. We had three people, and we still have a bunch of people on the team who are ex-marketing operations...


... have gone on to do other, other work. So, while we didn't have an official person, we sort of all Band Aid, Band Aided the entire system together as like a second job. And we had, you know, three people do separate pieces of the function. Um, honestly, that was like, maybe a mistake, one, because it took us a long time to actually do the work, right, because we weren't...


... involved in it all the time. Um, and then two, because it was three people, like things weren't perfectly aligned across all the systems and...


... it did become a pain, but yeah, so we were in a very lucky position. And then secondly, I'll call out, we use, um, a company called MadKudu, which does, ah, machine link, learning based scoring models. And so they have, you know, a, a great support team, um, CS team and a consulting team that we use...


... a lot. So, yeah, that, that, that helped out from our end. So that we didn't have to manually create the rule set and sort of constantly be tweaking, and honestly, like, I, I don't really believe in creating a manual lead scoring system. I think human bias has too much impact in how you set stuff up. Um, so you're using yeah, machines to do that is probably the best way.

And actually, it's funny, I say that because now we have a mix of both but model that Merce worked on, ah, this past quarter was half human, half machine based. So like, we set some rules...


... especially for new segments that we're going after, that we haven't historically, you know, either done well in or even engaged with. And then also the model picks up sort of the, the rest that we miss...


... as a manually made scoring model.

I'm curious how that'll perform for you because I feel like that context that a human provides is obviously super important, but I also see your point on like, the biases could be...

Yeah, so...

... there.

... and it's, and to be, to be clear too like, we only score out of that system on the, like company and/or contact quality. We don't score based on the engagement they've had with us. And so we use, we use people to do that part, like when should I engage this person? It's the person's choice, essentially, which wo- wo- works and also has challenges for a lot of education for the team, but the scoring model is really just looking at like, is this company a good fit or how good of a fit is this company based on historics?


How good of a contact is this based on historics and then gives us sort of like a prioritization model, from the quality perspective, but not from the activity or engagement perspective, like a normal MQL might.

Gotcha. Yeah, I feel like that's where the biases can really come in is when...


... I'm running programs that I'm also setting...

Yeah. Yeah.

... Engagement scoring.



Yeah. This event-

It's a little bit-

This event was really important.

Yeah. It was page of a website...

Like it was really, really important and...

It's just...


... killing me.

I worked really hard time on this landing page. It is worth it. Guarantee. Yeah, exactly.

Yeah. Plus 10 points for this page. Exactly.

[laughing]. Exactly.

So there is something to be said about having like, if you are rolling an engagement scoring model, having someone like marketing ops who, again, humans are biased, but they're not as biased as like the person running the program that you're [inaudible 00:24:48].

Yeah. Yeah. And that's the other like, if, if your ops team or person, individual, ah, is the person owning it, and they don't own the programs, they're, I mean...


... they're in it to make the best version of the model or the best version of the system...


... and to produce the most pipeline out of what they have, most productivity out of what they have. So, yeah, if you, if you're just like a demand gen marketer, taking your score up and passing it to sales being like, "Look at all my great leads," like maybe not the best.

Yeah, that's the problem that startups I feel like you end up doing both a lot of the time and then with that's why a lot of us have said, like, "Well, lead scoring isn't working for me," because...


... like in my exact experience in pastorals.

Yeah, and it's funny, like the MQL is dead, sort of talk track. Um...


... I don't think the MQL is dead, necessarily. If you're gonna call it something else, it's just that we've used MQL poorly as marketers for a long time, because we've created these manually, biased scoring models that say, "This is an MQL," ah, when maybe it actually isn't, right?

Right. And then when you're the sales rep, and has to call that person...


... they don't agree that they're an MQL. So you're like, why [inaudible 00:26:06].

Exactly, exactly, good.

So just switching gears a little bit, I'd love to chat about, obviously, you have a lot of experience on the paid social side, just paid ads in general.


Um, a lot of us have been talking about just budgets being tighter right now. Hopefully, it's a short term thing, but no one really knows. Is there anything you're seeing that's maybe promising in all of this? I feel like there's a lot of bad news going around right now. So I'm trying to find trying, trying to find the [inaudible 00:26:31] the way.

[inaudible 00:26:31] notes?

Yeah, exactly.

Yeah. Um, honestly, for us, at least, the Clearbit side, things haven't changed that drastically. For us, I think, you know, the summer was a little bit tough. Overall, I think sort of everybody felt that in some way, shape, or form, but partially because we measure our marketing team up against, you know, pipeline generation overall versus individual campaign performance.


That ends up helping a lot. So we're not actually looking at like, you know, the success of one Google ad campaign. We're looking at the success of the marketing budget up against the overall marketing generated pipeline, even from organic and direct and all of the, you know, non-attributable is. So that ends up helping us a lot when we look at performance. So, nothing really to call out unfortunately, on my side, I'd say it's almost normal for us, which is weird.

That's okay. I mean, I feel like...

Yeah. I mean, it's a good thing.

... [inaudible 00:27:45] panicky. So, that's, yeah.

It's a good thing. I will say that, you know, conversion rates have dropped. It is definitely harder to connect with folks, ah, like book meetings from any source, not just, you know, ones that are a little bit more peripheral, and not a hand raise. Even hand raises, we found, you know, like demo requests have been harder to connect with, um, and it just feels like people are sort of, hmm, tire kicking a little bit, um, when they're browsing software now, or it takes a lot more for someone to actually engage because they know it's gonna go to their CFO, right?


That it's not just going to their, you know, their boss or their manager, it's going all the way up the chain. Even myself, I felt that, you know. Some of our processes have changed and now, there's a few more layers of approval, and I'm more wary on, you know, what, what, you know, what do I request or even how do I position this request.

Like, I need to make sure that everything is dialed in a little bit more, even, even if we're reporting at the overall number, like finance is just a little bit more tough today, which, you know, isn't a bad thing overall. It's just makes a little bit more work for me than, you know, a year ago, but.

Yeah. That's fair. I mean, that's not, that's not all bad. I think...


... [laughing], um, I think being careful with the tools we buy can help in the long run, obviously, because you don't end up with like a very bloated.

We've spent a, a long time pairing down our tools over the past year, like we were bloated a year and a half ago...


... and we've like, yeah, we still buy sometimes duplicates. We don't even know it, and finances [inaudible 00:29:24].

And about across different teams that you're buying duplicates, or [inaudible 00:29:28].

No. It's a cross mark, just marketing. Ah, still, but it's because you know, Clearbit's quite a bit has been around for quite a long time. We've had team transitions, new people coming in, people leaving, you never know, right? So, that, that's sort of been, yeah, a process for us speaking of marketing ops too. It's been something that they've been trying to do. It's like, you know, do we need SEMrush and Ahrefs or can we just use one, one? You know.

Yeah, but it's like this one person on the team prefer this tool, but they're not getting more. Right.

Exactly, exactly or like we got one extra metric out of the other tools, so you bought it anyway...


... and you don't even use it anymore, but that was the original reason and sort of everyone's afraid to turn it off, because they don't know what it works on.

I like your gesture [laughing].

Yes, sorry. My hand, the hand gestures are, sorry for everyone listening to just the audio, but, ah, I'm worried.

Let's [inaudible 00:30:19].

[inaudible 00:30:19].



Um, I'm curious, because you mentioned events a little bit earlier, too, but how is event follow up going for you guys? Did you attend any of the big ones last month or in September, I should say?

Yeah. It's funny we, so we did. Um, we actually sponsored a bunch of stuff with y'all at Chili Piper. Um, and so far, so good. Um, you know, it's funny, it was our first time being out in person, I think even since I joined and, well, you know, I joined a week before COVID essentially hit the states.


You know, like borders locked down on day seven for me or something. Um, so that it's been funny, going, going there. Overall, so far, so good. You know, for us, I think it's more about brand recognition now, than, you know, driving direct meetings, out of a lot of these things, especially when you consider it's like, something like an afterhours party or something like that.


It's not necessarily about booking meetings. One interesting insight that I had is that, like, we ended up having a lot of people just yell across the conference room f- floor, putting that in quotes because a lot of these were outside, just noticing our logo. And it's not something you feel online. You don't feel like, you know, the person coming up and be like, "Oh, my God. You know, I'm a, I'm a customer, or I'm a user, I love your product, I've used you at three of my last jobs, and I buy you. You're the first tool that, that I buy when I join." Um, you don't feel that online. It's very hard...


... even through like listening to Gong calls. Everyone's in their little like Zoom box, ah, and that no one's excited about anything. So that's, that's one tidbit that across our whole team felt very, very good, right? Because it's, you just, you feel it a little bit more than on Zoom.

Mm-hmm. Yeah, I believe that we, I couldn't make it out to any events this year...


... unfortunately.


Um, but we actually had a lot of great video content come out of it, which was, a lot of it was honestly just organic, which I don't know if it's...


... across that way, but a lot of it was what you're saying a customer would walk by, or someone who likes us would walk by and we'd be like, "Can you repeat that on camera?

Yeah. Yeah.

... Can you say that again?"


And I think because people are just anxious and anxious to be out of the house and happy to be with people. People were so willing to be on camera...

Yeah. Yeah.

... and to do that stuff. So it surprised me honestly. I don't know that I would have been as eager...


... to do that if I was just walking by but [laughing].

Just, yeah, just even to come over and chat. Everyone like seemed very happy.


Yeah, I, I did, um, one of our booths in San Francisco and like, being the Demand Gen team and...


... then obviously selling to a lot of Demand Gen folks Clearbit, having customers come up and we just talk shop, everyone was very, like very into just coming over and, and talking instead of, you know, the normal...

That's fine.

... like sales pitch at a booth or something, but yeah, it was a lot of fun from, from my end, just hearing from folks out in the wild who are excited about the company I work at. Yeah, it's a good feeling.

Yeah, that's nice to come home with those feelings [inaudible 00:33:38]

Yeah, yeah, exactly. It definitely re-ups, the re-ups the energy, I would say.

Mm-hmm. Cool.


And have you had any challenges, kind of, I don't want to say justifying, but kind of proving out the ROI of these events, knowing that for, again, to your point, a lot of them you're not going to come home with hundreds of meetings booked, but they cost as much as fucking hundred meetings online, maybe. So how do you kind of reconcile that when it comes to planning and...

Yeah, um.

... finances?

Well, we'll see, because we just did our first bunch of them in September.

Yeah, it's early now.

So we're, yeah, we're still, we're still waiting a, a hot minute to do the official reporting on them, but the initial parts of some of this were really that like, the talk track and honestly, the experience was that we, we got to talk to people who probably would never fill out a form and, and raise their hand, you know, like, either at big companies or at current customers where they have five different product lines and, you know, they've seen our name in their master data system, big warehouse thing, but they've just never been able to ask or figure out like, how the product is used.

And so it was a much less, it was a much more frictionless way for them to come and engage in a conversation around like what is Clearbit, um, at sort of these really important logos for us really important companies, um, and we just know that they would never, they probably never filled out a form, right?


And we also know that because we just don't get them a request from the company at all, right? So, just-

Yeah. There's some big ones that you're just never gonna see [inaudible 00:35:18].

Yeah, yeah, exactly. Like just, just being able to, to talk to someone at the organization is a big deal for some of our sales team, um, and then the other thing that we've done is, um, yeah, really just engage the sales team afterwards, and sort of bring their stories forward in terms of, you know, maybe this isn't direct ROI, but, hey, you know, I, I talked to three prospects who are in open conversations, and, you know, I was able to move two deals forward.

And that's never going to show up, or it'll barely show up in an influence report or something like that, but every deal matters and it's really important. And it could be the key, the key thing that pushed it over the line. And so hearing the stories from the sales folks that were at these events are, are some of the more important things too that we're trying to promote, while we sort of wait on that influence number, or...


... you know, the other metrics that we're looking at for these events, but those are, those are some of the ways that we're thinking about it, at least on our side, um, especially when it comes to like, yeah, off tradeshow floor type stuff, right?

Mm-hmm. Yeah, no, I think that's great feedback, especially if you can get the sales team to sing the praises of an event, because marketing can say all day, like...


... "Oh, we talked to all these great companies," but for a sales rep to do that, it goes even further. So, that's a great way to [inaudible 00:36:39].

Exactly. Yeah. Exactly.

Cool. Great. Well, I'm just gonna move on to our quick fire round.


So just a couple more questions for you, Colin. I know we're running short on time.


So first, is there another marketer you follow that our listeners should go check out and give them a follow?

Yeah. I'll call it Nick Bennett @Alyce, because we've been doing these events. He is definitely an awesome event marketer, and doing even more now. So, definitely have been following along with him and, ah, chatted with him a couple times about it while we move into doing these. Yeah.

Great. And is there an under the radar channel or could be a tactic that your team is either loving right now or just kind of starting to play around with?

Ooh, yeah. When we originally did this, because we're re-recording, like I said, webinars.

Yes. You can [inaudible 00:37:26].

I think I said webinars, ah, virtual events, if you will. Um, I still think that they can work, though the summer had a, a lull, and we're just starting...


... to kick back up, but we were driving a lot of pipeline, honestly, out of webinar, live webinars, not even on demand or anything like that. So, um, I'm still going to use that as my answer. I think webinars.


Webinars are not dead and they, they're definitely alive and, and producing.

Great. And lastly, where can we go to follow you? What channels are you most active on?

Ah, yeah. I'm, I am not an active social media, anything, but if you do want to follow me, LinkedIn is the best. Just search Colin, White, Clearbit and you'll find me. Um, it's probably the best way to do it and I'm sure that the link will be in the [inaudible 00:38:14] ah, description of the podcast.


So, yeah.

Yeah. It'll be in there. Don't worry. And we'll link for Nick's too just in case people aren't following him, but I'm sure most people who are [laughing] who are listening to this.

Yes. Yes. Absolutely.

He's everywhere right now.

Yeah, he is.

Yeah. Cool. Well, thanks so much for joining me, Colin.

Yeah. Thanks for having me, Tara. It was great to chat.

And thanks, everybody for listening. I'll be back in two weeks with a brand new episode.

Tara Robertson
Colin White
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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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