Are you still under the impression that demand generation is just a tactic or a single person's responsibility?
In this podcast episode, Tara Robertson is joined by the co-founders of Storybook Marketing, Liam Moroney and Graceanne MacDonald, to debunk the biggest misconceptions about demand generation and emphasize the importance of a holistic approach throughout the team.
They stress the importance of understanding the customer journey and using the right channels to reach the right people.
They also discuss the importance of audience research and getting feedback from the sales team to figure out what works best.
One of the biggest misconceptions about demand generation is that it is a tactic or a channel.
But in reality, it is a go-to-market strategy and a pillar of a marketing strategy.
It involves the entire team, not just a single demand gen person running paid media.
A successful demand gen program requires an understanding of the customer journey and how to use the right channels to reach the right people.
Graceanne suggests starting with an understanding of who buys the product and why they buy it.
The demand gen program should be a reflection of reaching the people who buy the product.
This means that it is crucial to embed demand generation throughout the team and not leave it to a single person or department.
When it comes to demand generation, Graceanne suggests that people should not expect the same results as other companies just because they are using the same tactics.
Instead, people should look for a more holistic approach to their program and learn their own programs well.
A holistic approach to demand generation means that marketers should focus on the big picture and consider all aspects of the customer journey.
This includes understanding the customer's pain points and needs, creating targeted content that speaks to those needs, and using the right channels to reach them.
It is important to understand that demand generation is not a one-size-fits-all solution and requires a tailored approach.
Finally, audience research and feedback from sales teams are essential when it comes to demand generation.
Liam suggests teams should focus on the channels and tactics that best reach their audience, rather than trying to incorporate all of them.
This involves investing time in audience research and getting feedback from the sales team to figure out what is working.
Audience research can involve finding out where the audience spends time, what content they read, and what sources they get information from.
Sales teams can provide valuable insights into where people are coming into the process and why.
By understanding the customer's journey and where they are in the sales process, marketers can create targeted content and use the right channels to reach them effectively.
This approach not only generates new revenue but also helps to create long-term relationships with customers.
Demand generation is a vital part of any marketing strategy, and marketers need to approach it holistically to achieve success.
By understanding the customer journey, taking a tailored approach, and using audience research and feedback from sales teams, marketers can create effective demand generation programs that generate new revenue and build long-term relationships with customers.
Follow Tara Robertson on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/taraarobertson/
Follow Liam: https://www.linkedin.com/in/liammoroney/
Follow Graceanne: https://www.linkedin.com/in/graceannedomino/
Check out Storybook Marketing: https://www.storybookmarketing.io/
Follow Amanda Natividad: https://www.linkedin.com/in/amandanat/
Follow Rand Fishkin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/randfishkin/
Follow Justin Rowe: https://www.linkedin.com/in/justin-rowe-4043339b/
Katelyn Bourgoin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/katebour/
[00:00:00] Tara Robertson: Welcome back to Demand Gen Chat. I'm your host, Tara Robertson, head of Demand Gen at Chili Piper. In this episode, I'm joined by Liam Maroney and Graceanne MacDonald cofounders of storybook marketing. We chat about the biggest misconceptions marketers today have about demand generation.
[00:00:15] Tara Robertson: And how their team is helping B2B marketing teams work more closely with their outbound sales teams to generate new revenue and this so far trickier for marketers. Hope you enjoy my conversation with Graceanne and Liam. Graceanne, Liam, I'm so happy to have you on the show today. Thanks so much for joining.
[00:00:31] Graceanne MacDonald: Thanks for having us.
[00:00:32] Liam Moroney: Yeah, thank you for having us. We're excited.
[00:00:35] Tara Robertson: Yeah, really excited. We just cut up on your own podcast last week. So, this feels like a reunion, which is fun. Um, I'd love to start with something fun. Um, I've heard that you have a hot take of your own that you'd love to share with us. So, let's start with that and see where the conversation takes us.
[00:00:51] Liam Moroney: I think we, we try to pride ourselves on not being hot take marketers. I think demand generation is hard enough without trying to point fingers at who's doing it wrong, and why they're doing it wrong. I think the thing that we often see, though, is that demand generation is still largely misunderstood, which is quite surprising.
[00:01:09] Liam Moroney: For as much conversation as happens about it, there's still a lot of fundamental misunderstandings about it. And I think one of the biggest that we see is that demand generation is not a channel. It's not a tactic. It's, it's not even a particular person on the team.
[00:01:25] Liam Moroney: It is a go to market strategy. It's a pillar of a marketing strategy. In the same way that you've got a brand strategy, you've got a messaging and positioning strategy. You have to have a demand generation strategy that is embedded throughout the team.
[00:01:39] Liam Moroney: And a lot of times, what we see is that demand generation is sort of satisfied by a, a box check. Oh, we have a demand gen person on our team, they run paid media, ergo, we do demand gen. It's much harder than that.
[00:01:50] Graceanne MacDonald: I think maybe the hottest take I have right now and one of the things that's always tended to bother me about a lot of the advice that you hear out there in regards to demand gen, is that just because something worked for someone else, doesn't mean it's going to work exactly the same way for you. And I think often times certain tactics and efforts that had somewhat of an early adopter advantage.
[00:02:17] Graceanne MacDonald: So, you know, those teams and companies who were some of the first to do it experienced really great results from it. And I don't think that everyone who comes after them and tries to do the same thing can expect to have the same results. Because you're not the same company.
[00:02:31] Graceanne MacDonald: You know, times change, the world evolves. Um, and so, my, I guess my final point on that take is that my hope for people out there looking for advice for their own programs would stop looking so much for that like silver bullet.
[00:02:48] Graceanne MacDonald: Like that thing that is the thing that is the answer to their program, because it was the answer to someone else's. And instead focus on just learning their own programs really well.
[00:03:00] Tara Robertson: Yeah, I love that, both of those. I, I tend to agree with you. The hot take thing is, it's fun to start a conversation. But I always like to say, I don't know your audience, not as well as you do anyway. So, like to put that caveat in there. But, um, going back to what you were saying earlier, Liam, I love that you said it's not just one person on the team for demand gen.
[00:03:19] Tara Robertson: It's not just paid. I've definitely been on interviews for other roles in the past where it was clear that your role is AdWords and tweaking those results and that's kind of it. And it's not very strategic or fun to me. I know some people love the paid side. But a lot of times for demand gen, you have to think about just the overall go to market and what that looks like.
[00:03:41] Liam Moroney: And it creates a lot of confusion. Because the amount of times we hear people concern like, well is that, should that be under demand gen? Should that be part of demand gen? It creates this really weird silo where you have to try and identify should content be part of demand gen? Should it work with it?
[00:03:56] Liam Moroney: Is ABM a component of demand gen or a separate track to it? And it's just, it's trying to define it really rigidly makes it really difficult. Because it looks different for almost every program. Because it depends on which channels generate demand for your business, and how your audience actually buys your product.
[00:04:12] Tara Robertson: So, when you're working with a new marketing team, how do you help them define what demand gen means for them? Or do they usually come to you with a pretty set idea already, and they want to kind of scale what's already working for them?
[00:04:25] Graceanne MacDonald: You know, we tend to have teams coming to us, you know, with their demand gen program looking a certain way, being comprised of certain things. But typically being open to it. This isn't right, tell us how to change it. Tell us what to add or, you know, how to sort of reposition things.
[00:04:39] Graceanne MacDonald: And, you know, I think the perspective that we always come into it with is sort of what we were just talking about here. It's you need to start with that fundamental understanding of knowing who buys your product, why they buy your product. And ultimately your demand gen program should be a reflection of reaching the people who buy your product.
[00:04:58] Graceanne MacDonald: And to the point you made, that's gonna look different for everybody. Um, maybe some teams, that's a huge investment in content and pay. Maybe other teams, it's a blend of paid and outbound. And maybe you're also doing events.
[00:05:11] Graceanne MacDonald: And maybe you're doing some stuff with paid search, and maybe you're doing some stuff with community. And so, it's that, I think, sort of paralysis by analysis, and that overwhelm of all these different channels and tactics that teams have at their disposal.
[00:05:25] Graceanne MacDonald: I think that mistake we see teams making is thinking they need to incorporate all of them, just because it's available to do. When we like to take that step back and said, and say, "Okay, let's focus on who your audience is and how you best reach them. And then let's focus on those channels and tactics." I said, "Making sure that that fits together like a well-oiled machine."
[00:05:46] Tara Robertson: And if you're working with a team that say they just really aren't sure where their customers are finding them today, or what's working, how would you recommend that you figure that out before you can move forward?
[00:05:57] Liam Moroney: I think the honest answer is it's probably one of two parts. I think there's audience research, which you just have to invest time doing. Which is really not just figuring out who your audience is, but where they spend time, what channels they're on. What kind of content they're reading, what sources they're already getting information from.
[00:06:16] Liam Moroney: And what the white spaces are between it. And the other side of it is sales is often the best place for the answer. Because they're the ones who are successfully figuring out where people are coming into the process and why. And reverse engineering that is often the best. Because sales teams often succeed in different ways.
[00:06:34] Liam Moroney: Some sales teams do really well when they are in person, and they're at an event. And sometimes demand generation supports by creating more of those situations. And some of them don't have to be. So, it's often understanding how do you sell best as a company? And how does marketing then support that sales effort with the right marketing structure arrangement?
[00:06:53] Tara Robertson: And I know we were just saying every team is different. But just more broadly in your experience, are marketers working closely enough with sales now? Or is that still a bit of a push that you have to give them to work with their sales teams?
[00:07:06] Graceanne MacDonald: Never been shy about this, the fact that I came into marketing from the sales side. Um, and so I've always had that sales perspective, particularly that marketing sales interaction, and like that kind of that handoff in mind. Um, because I do think it's one of the trickiest parts to get right about marketing, and specifically demand gen.
[00:07:26] Graceanne MacDonald: Um, I, I think the sort of economic uncertainty over the last six months, and the challenges a lot of teams are facing right now has led to at times competition between those teams for budget, for resources, for attribution. I mean, I think the attribution, um, tension and, and conflict can sometimes run high when metrics are so separated that is it the result of marketing's inbound?
[00:07:55] Graceanne MacDonald: Or is it because of a sales outbound? And I think it takes a lot of partnership building between those two functions to accept that sort of rising tide lifts all boats affect that, you know, it's one number. We're all working towards the same goal. Attribution isn't this perfect linear, sort of, um, funnel, you know, everything kind of amplifies each other.
[00:08:18] Graceanne MacDonald: I think if you look back to a couple years ago, and I think those teams tended to be a bit more siloed, and they're starting to come closer together. But I think there's still work to be done in how they effectively work together.
[00:08:32] Liam Moroney: And I think as well, it's, I've rarely seen a case where marketing and sales aren't trying to work together. Like unless you're a really toxic situation. There's, the intentions have always been there. It's usually, it comes down to either the way that they are being goaled that puts them against one another, or just the way that the leadership thinks that they should work with each other.
[00:08:55] Liam Moroney: It usually starts there. Because like on the second one, it's so common to see this perception that marketing is supposed to be like step one, and sales is step two. Marketing generates the leads, the leads go to sales. If they don't work, then, then marketing has failed sales. And if sales doesn't close, then sales has failed marketing.
[00:09:12] Liam Moroney: And it becomes this weird back and forth. And exactly like [inaudible 00:09:17] just said, like it is a rising tide. Outbound should get better as marketing gets more effective. If more people have heard of you, it's more people will respond to outbound. So, all of that kind of works in harmony.
[00:09:26] Liam Moroney: And when you start to really build really rigid, well sales generated pipeline was this amount, and marketing generated was this amount. It's just not the way it happens. And it ends up creating a competition. And you end up starting to kind of... You, you skew your attention away.
[00:09:42] Liam Moroney: I remember, I'm not proud of it, but I remember even at companies where I worked really well with the sales team, I still remember being almost disappointed when deals would come in that weren't sourced through marketing. As though that was a failure of some sort. And that's like... Because you feel like you've done like oh, we didn't touch that deal in any way at all.
[00:10:01] Liam Moroney: There was no marketing touch point. And that looks like a failure. But the reality is you just may not have been able to measure it. The impact that you had was the reason they probably bought it. Marketing, people don't buy brands they don't know and they don't trust, especially when you're spending 100 grand on a piece of software.
[00:10:17] Graceanne MacDonald: We've often seen the example of a demo request that comes inbound after someone on sales team outbound it to a couple different people at that company. And I struggled to believe that's a complete coincidence. And so, I think it's that attribution competition is where at the source of a lot of tension often comes from.
[00:10:36] Graceanne MacDonald: Particularly when teams are in such high pressure environments, as, as we have all been in recently. Um, and I think the solution to that is pulling that goal together into one number that everyone works towards.
[00:10:51] Tara Robertson: Yeah, we see that all the time where someone will come inbound, and we're like, "Oh, that's weird. They just came directly to the site." There's always another reason, right? Either they heard from a rep. And often now we have self-reported attribution on our confirmation thank you page.
[00:11:04] Tara Robertson: And sometimes they'll just put like this rep was awesome, loved their emails. And it's really cool to see when something really stuck with them. And maybe they didn't click through on that email, which most of us just want to do our own research, right? So, it makes total sense.
[00:11:16] Graceanne MacDonald: Yeah.
[00:11:17] Tara Robertson: When you're talking about... I mean, I'm fully in agreement that you can't measure every single touchpoint, then you need to have that pipeline and revenue target. But what metrics should marketers be looking at and trying to move the needle on? Is there a certain metrics that your customers come to you for help with? Or is it just really hitting pipeline and revenue?
[00:11:36] Liam Moroney: I mean, I think ultimately, ultimately, marketing should be contributing to revenue. Revenue should increase for sure. And marketing source to pipeline is definitely a valuable output. Because you should be having, you should be ultimately looking at a customer acquisition cost.
[00:11:50] Liam Moroney: The problem is that I think it's connecting the outcomes to what are the things that you're doing to contribute to that outcome is where it gets messy. Because while you should ultimately be looking for pipeline, not every tactic that you're doing should create pipeline, or it shouldn't be measured that way. If you're running a LinkedIn program, not everything is supposed to generate immediate like opportunities from every post you put up.
[00:12:14] Liam Moroney: Every email isn't supposed to generate in a meeting. Like so it's really about holistically understanding what the outcome of marketing should be. Which is definitely pipeline revenue, uh, sales velocity, retention, like all of those are valuable metrics. It's just not everything you do has to directly be able to show a breadcrumb trail that goes towards it. That I think, is where it gets really complicated.
[00:12:37] Tara Robertson: And it sounds like you've had this conversation before. So, I'm curious, how do you con- I guess, convince our win over teams that are set on trying to measure everything that marketing is doing and putting up?
[00:12:50] Liam Moroney: I mean, at the, even like the example you gave the self-report of attribution. That's such an interesting way of showing how wrong attribution can often be versus what the systems and your best measurements say people came in through versus what actually did. Like I think, firstly, it's, it's important to just acknowledge that the way people buy is not linear.
[00:13:07] Liam Moroney: Like, people don't read an email, click, go to a website and go, "Oh, I've downloaded that one eBook. I'm convinced I'm going to buy a $60,000 piece of software." It just doesn't work like that. I think the most effective way to do it that we find when we work with clients is often showing them exactly how their program does work first and foremost.
[00:13:26] Liam Moroney: Here's where pipeline comes from within your program today. And when you look at it through that lens, you often see, well, maybe we're measuring certain channels incorrectly. Because what we found... You'll go into a program, and they may see, oh, events are really where 40% of our pipeline comes from. And paid search is generating 20% of the pipeline.
[00:13:45] Liam Moroney: And then the rest of it is some inefficient mix. And when you start to look at it through that lens, you start to realize that, oh, maybe this channel isn't supposed to generate directly attributed revenue. But maybe it's supposed to impact the other channels. And I think once you break down a program, and you say, "This is where pipeline is coming from."
[00:14:04] Liam Moroney: It starts to be able to segment your program saying, "Okay, well, then our event strategy should be very much a marketing pipeline sourced deal generating channel. But our LinkedIn channel may be more about driving more awareness, driving more people, when they come to the booth." Like, it may, it may be more of an assisting channel or a brand building channel.
[00:14:25] Liam Moroney: And then I think once you start to look at it that way, you begin to immediately find the inefficiencies. Because, we've seen this a ton of times, they're probably generating or reporting on LinkedIn as how many leads did we get? And what was the ROI of that channel?
[00:14:37] Liam Moroney: And when you look at everything through an ROI channel, you end up, you end up seeing everything incorrectly. And you can end up killing channels that helped other channels. And then it becomes this sort of internal competition within the channels, which is even worse.
[00:14:51] Graceanne MacDonald: And I, I think that, that I guess, it kind of mandate to prove ROI in every single thing that they do is one of the biggest challengers that like marketing teams and marketers face. Um, because to the point Liam just made, like not everything has that perfectly attributable ROI. And the measurement of some things is quantitative, but the measurement of other things is qualitative.
[00:15:15] Graceanne MacDonald: And, you know, when we come into programs, as, you know, Liam was just mentioning there, the perspective we really take is, first, let's make sure you're measuring channels the way that they should be measured. So, how are you measuring it for example, with LinkedIn? Like are you just measuring it based on lead gen? Let's measure it a bit different, probably not how we should be measuring it.
[00:15:35] Graceanne MacDonald: Because that's not really what it's intended to be used for in a lot of cases. And so, the first really question is measuring channels the way that they're intended to be used, or by the way they're intended to be used. And then once you've got clarity on that, then it's a matter of thinking about, okay, now, are those channels actually accomplishing?
[00:15:55] Graceanne MacDonald: Are they doing that thing well for us? And that, oftentimes, is really insightful for teams. They still want to measure a lot of things, but it's more about measuring them correctly.
[00:16:07] Liam Moroney: I also think some of them, like you should never expect an ROI from certain things. Because it can completely color how you do things. Like community is a perfect example. If you approach community as a when will we see the return on it, you're going to start selling into that community. And you will, you will create the exact opposite outcome that you're looking for.
[00:16:27] Tara Robertson: Yeah, you might even get kicked out.
[00:16:28] Liam Moroney: Yeah, you very likely will.
[00:16:30] Graceanne MacDonald: Totally, totally.
[00:16:32] Tara Robertson: Yeah, I think that's a great point of going backwards from what can this channel do for us not always going to leads an ROI immediately.
[00:16:41] Liam Moroney: And a, a podcast is such a good example of one of these things. Because when you look at a podcast, like even really successful podcasts, compared to like lead generation, the numbers are usually much, much smaller. Like when you ask like even really popular podcasts in the marketing space, how many subscribers do they get? Sometimes it's hundreds.
[00:16:59] Liam Moroney: Like it's, if by all accounts or feels like a really, really small number. And yes, when you step back and think about what is actually happening, someone is spending 45 minutes listening to a conversation. That's exponentially more valuable than someone clicking on an ad. And so, like it's about understanding of what is it supposed to do?
[00:17:18] Liam Moroney: And what does success look like? Having it being just part of the ecosystem being mentioned, being referenced. Like the impact can be huge, but the numbers can be non-existent.
[00:17:29] Tara Robertson: Now we're in an interesting boat where we've had success on the number side for the podcast, I'm sure you know, it's a black hole of metrics. So, I can show download numbers, but we don't know who those people are. I have to assume they're qualified. Because to your point, they're listening to us talk about demand gen for 45 minutes.
[00:17:44] Tara Robertson: So, I don't know who else would be listening to that. Um, but it's a bit of a black hole tried to show things like ROI for a podcast, because all you see is a chart of subscriber numbers going up. And that's kind of the best that you're gonna to get. So, you do have to again, knowing how the channel can be measured is important.
[00:18:00] Liam Moroney: Plus these, all these intangibles come along with a too. I mean, even just on a podcast for example. Like, the, the guests you have become not just connections, but they become potential evangelists. Things can get mentioned on a podcast. People can go off and suddenly it gets you invited to another podcast. Like all of it starts to build on itself that goes way beyond subscribers and downloads.
[00:18:20] Tara Robertson: I'm curious, going back to the kind of just channels in general piece. Um, when you're working with a new marketing team, are there any channels or tactics that you, not that they're gonna work for every single team but that you typically come back on or back to regularly to try again, with most teams that are new to you?
[00:18:39] Graceanne MacDonald: I mean, I think the one that comes to mind immediately and I know we spoke a bit about this when you were just on our podcast recently, but outbound. I think it's often a goldmine, um, for the teams that we come in and work with. And I know there's always this back and forth debate of does outbound, do SDR BDR teams belong in marketing? Is outbound a demand gen strategy?
[00:19:05] Graceanne MacDonald: Should it be part of your demand gen strategy? And I very much believe it should be. As we've talked about a bit before, I think marketing programs, especially even like ABM efforts, are that much better when complemented by an outbound motion. And I think the outbound function or motion is often underutilized or being misused.
[00:19:27] Graceanne MacDonald: And so, there's, there tends to be a lot of effort in really coarse correcting that, fine tuning it, really, you know, pointing it in the right direction. Um, and I think especially right now, just with the situation a lot of teams are in in regards to budgets and resources. It's one of the biggest levers that teams have within their control right now.
[00:19:48] Graceanne MacDonald: Um, and provided there's clear alignment between sales and marketing and clarity on who you're targeting, who your personas are, the, the value that you bring, what they buy. I think there's a lot of potential in coarse correcting and fixing an outbound function. That's the one that comes to mind immediately. And I think it, it comes up or it has been coming up the most frequently as of late. What's your perspective, Liam?
[00:20:11] Liam Moroney: I would definitely agree with that. I think there's a lot of channels where you can easily see where money can get misused, and paid search is a big one. And I know it, it comes up a lot in different conversations. Uh, you see it often with paid search where people go there first because it is a very bottom of funnel channel.
[00:20:30] Liam Moroney: And you're looking for people who are exhibiting really high intent. And very often people find immediate success with it. Sometimes it's because they're basically bidding on branded keywords. And it's sort of you're, you're kind of capturing what was already there. But sometimes you do find it.
[00:20:44] Liam Moroney: And what happens a lot, and I've been guilty of this as well, is that you start to go, how can we get more out of that channel? It works so well. And you just start loosening the parameters a bit more, a bit more. The AdWords reps are very happy to tell you ways you can spend more budget on the tool.
[00:21:01] Liam Moroney: And what ends up happening is you start bidding on things that are not really... They're adjacent keywords, they're broad match keywords. And you end up looking at a channel that works really well and not accepting, it's probably going to cap it really, really quickly. Which I think is the big thing about demand capture. There's only so much out there.
[00:21:18] Liam Moroney: And once you hit that limit, that's the limit. You have to be creating more, or you have to be adding more in at the top. And that's often where I think a lot of the inefficiencies come. They just try and loosen and widen the aperture so that more can fit in. But if there's only a limited amount in there, there's only a limited amount in there.
[00:21:37] Tara Robertson: Yeah, it's interesting, I think those are both kind of pointing back to the same not issue, but the same concern. Which is there's only so many people kind of raising their hand right now to buy from us. So, how can we go find more qualified people? And if outbound is the solution that someone wants to try, then that's great.
[00:21:54] Tara Robertson: But are you seeing specific, I don't want to say mistakes, but maybe just low hanging fruit on the outbound side that people are missing when working with outbound teams? Is it usually just misalignment and not working close enough together?
[00:22:09] Graceanne MacDonald: I often see them either going after the wrong audience. So, to your point about low hanging fruit, like let's say, for example, you sell into the marketing function. What I often see a lot of teams doing is having their outbound teams go after the CM. And there's probably a lot of hanging fruit if you went after directors, or VPs of marketing.
[00:22:32] Graceanne MacDonald: Like the opportunity is maybe there to be captured. You're just going after the wrong audience with that channel or tactic. In terms of being misused, I often see unfortunately, a lot of messages and, and outbound emails not actually getting in front of people due to just super, super high volumes of sending that are leading many to go to spam.
[00:22:53] Graceanne MacDonald: Which means they're not even being opened, or maybe they're being blocked. And so, it's that really coarse correction of like how your outbound motion is just really oriented and focusing on quality over quantity.
[00:23:04] Liam Moroney: I also think there's a coordination piece that often gets missed. I think it goes back to what I was saying about, you know, a lot of the times the, the outbound teams, they, they see marketing as the thing that gives them leads that they can follow up on. Which usually is the, the wrong way. Because it's usually eBook downloads, the conversion rates are wrong, people are not in market.
[00:23:24] Liam Moroney: And what you often don't see is the teams coordinating saying, "These are the accounts that we're gonna focus our budget on. These are the, the segments that we're really going to invest our budget in." And there's gonna be a coordinated effort on the outbound side to be also going to those people.
[00:23:38] Liam Moroney: Because what you often see is when you look at what lists the outbound team is going after, sometimes they can be going after a segment that marketing doesn't have the budget to be advertising to, may have very low awareness. And you end, you know, you, you end up weakening your chances.
[00:23:52] Liam Moroney: Because you should be talking to the audience who's most aware of you and has the highest affinity for you. And the more that that's coordinated, the better the chances should be.
[00:24:00] Tara Robertson: Yeah, that makes a ton of sense. I know a lot of people call that kind of marketing warming up accounts, which I don't know if I'm a huge fan of that term. But it makes sense that you would want to be in front of the same audience that your outbound team is going after. Do you typically recommend marketers look at things like intent data, or lead scoring? Or is it a more kind of simplified approach that you take?
[00:24:23] Liam Moroney: The lead scoring one I think is, that one is usually not wrong. But they're very often put too much time and effort into the lead scoring to create this perfect model. And I mean, all the time and all the times I was in house, the amount of times that we went to AI lead scoring and, and like all this sort of like intelligent lead scoring things. They're helpful, but they're directional.
[00:24:47] Liam Moroney: And I think this idea that you can create some perfect score. And I have tried to be that marketer who engineered this like, oh, this, once it hits this score, this is, this is the score. All it is, is it's, it's a directional filter to just try and identify who's engaged, who's not engaged. But it's this idea that there's a threshold at which someone is ready to talk to sales.
[00:25:07] Liam Moroney: There's no scientific backing behind it. It's not mathematically correct. And what inev- what inevitably happens, the more you pursue an effort to create a perfect score, the more you'll have people fall underneath that score and get missed.
[00:25:21] Graceanne MacDonald: I think some teams have seen intent as like the silver bullet. And there's certainly value in it. But it's a matter of how you use it and how it's incorporated with the rest of your program. And where I often see teams go wrong with it is tracking intent terms based on how they describe their product, or how they think people talk about their product.
[00:25:43] Graceanne MacDonald: And so, I think the most important part of how you leverage intent is where you start from. And making sure that the terms you're tracking and how you're utilizing it is truly informed by how the market tell us about your product.
[00:25:56] Liam Moroney: I think on the intent part, the things that I think we've seen go wrong is often I think, just because someone is exhibiting intent that they're in market, that's not a replacement for marketing to that audience. If, if you're reaching out to someone who is showing an, an intense signal for the category that you do. And then you've never been any doing any marketing to them, you're probably too late.
[00:26:21] Liam Moroney: Firstly, there are false flags. And you have to be aware of what a false positive looks like and intent and be able to bake those in. And not just say like, "Yep, they're in market. Everyone, let's rally behind this account." It's more about how do you use it to try and coordinate your efforts better to be able to kind of hone in on the right people.
[00:26:37] Liam Moroney: But it's not, you know, it's not the, this kind of like, wow, we know something that, that like no one else knows. You still have to be in their consideration set. And that, that happens long before those really high intense signals pop up.
[00:26:52] Graceanne MacDonald: And I realized this is a vast oversimplification. But I think the easiest way to think about intent, or an intent tool is that it's information. And what really matters is what you do with that information.
[00:27:07] Tara Robertson: No, that's a really great way to put it. I think you're right about both of those being kind of pitched as silver bullets to marketing teams, which I understand why companies position themselves that way, obviously. Um, but I've definitely been in that situation where we thought, "Okay, as soon as this lead scoring is right, everything's gonna to be perfect."
[00:27:24] Tara Robertson: "Everything's going to be easier. We won't have to do as much like scrambling behind the scenes." But at least on the lean, small teams that I've been on, our time is usually better spent actually launching new marketing programs than sitting in a room and trying to whiteboard what the perfect lead score should be, so.
[00:27:42] Graceanne MacDonald: By the time you get that perfect lead score, perfect funnel done, the world changes again.
[00:27:47] Tara Robertson: Right. Or you'll get feedback from a sales rep that, "Oh, actually, no, this wasn't great."
[00:27:51] Graceanne MacDonald: Mm-hmm.
[00:27:51] Tara Robertson: "So, maybe we can go back to the drawing board."
[00:27:53] Liam Moroney: And counter intuitively, the longer you spend on a lead scoring model, the higher the expectations that you set that you've got something scientific. Like the more honest you are with sales, which is like this is just a directional filter. We just want to try and get rid of as much noise as possible.
[00:28:08] Liam Moroney: But if you go in front of a team, and you're like, "Look at the model that I built. Like it takes this into account, and these eight data points." The second it's wrong, you've lost all credibility.
[00:28:19] Graceanne MacDonald: I think it's sometimes lost that marketing is both an art and a science. You know, I think that idea of ROI, and again, to no fault of their own, the pressures that are on marketers to prove ROI. And every single thing that they do, leads us down this path of trying to make every aspect of marketing scientific.
[00:28:35] Graceanne MacDonald: And I think there's parts of it that certainly are. But I think there's a lot of parts of it that are more of that art form.
[00:28:42] Tara Robertson: Yeah, that's a really good point. And I feel like to get that art piece, right you need to just get things in market and see how your audience responds. You can't figure that out behind the scenes, right? You have to get...
[00:28:52] Liam Moroney: I use this example often, and Graceanne hates it every single time I do, because it's extremely boring. But marketing is very, very similar to economics. And this is relevant, I promise. In that economics also tries to have these mathematical models. But you're trying to predict why people make financial decisions.
[00:29:11] Liam Moroney: And you only have to look at what happened with Silicon Valley Bank. A run on a bank is a very emotional reaction. Even though at base level like things were okay, it could have been handled. Like you can't predict how people will emotionally react. And how people buy is a heavily emotional thing.
[00:29:30] Tara Robertson: That's a really great point. Especially, and people like to say that b2c is more emotional. I've heard that before. But I feel the opposite. Because in B2B, if you buy the wrong tool and something breaks.
[00:29:39] Tara Robertson: I mean, you could lose your job potentially, if something really gets messed up, right? Where, I mean, I don't feel that way if I buy the wrong pair of shoe or whatever, but it's a little bit more emotional when it comes to-
[00:29:50] Liam Moroney: And especially as marketers, there's no question that we are, there are tools we want to buy because our peers use them. And you look around you're like, "Oh, I keep hearing this one mentioned in the podcast." Like that's the tool that if I had that one, I've made, that's when I'm like big league, and I've got all the really cool tech.
[00:30:06] Liam Moroney: Like that's an incredibly emotional decision where you're not trying to justify well, all the best marketers use it. So, I should, I should build, make a business case for it. Like that, that's entirely emotionally driven.
[00:30:18] Tara Robertson: And do you have any advice for marketers that are trying to take that approach with their marketing? So, they know it's emotionally driven. They're not trying to be too scientific and ROI focused.
[00:30:28] Tara Robertson: But at the same time, especially now, their CFO, their board are saying, "You just have to get leads. You have to focus on lead gen and things that we can tie direct ROI to." How would you approach that conversation?
[00:30:41] Liam Moroney: I think this is the hard part especially being a marketing leader. Because what can very easily happen right now and is happening for a lot of people, is all those really exciting topics we were all talking about last year are now not topics anymore. Let's un-gage everything, let's think long term.
[00:30:58] Liam Moroney: That all goes out the window when you're told you need to hit targets, and you've got half the budget that you used to in order to get there. And the knee-jerk reaction that CFOs go to rightfully so that some CEOs go to is, well, we need to measure everything. We need to get the ROI of everything. And anything that's not generating anything, we cut it.
[00:31:16] Liam Moroney: And you often get the, all the shiny projects that you're excited about, we're putting on the shelf, they'll come back a few months from now. And that's very fair. But I think the thing that you have to really defend the line on is trying to educate on the difference between short term and long term strategies. And you have to be doing both.
[00:31:34] Liam Moroney: What ends up happening is there's a huge risk for marketing teams to suddenly only do short term marketing. And short term marketing is demand capture. Which if you're not feeding next quarter and the quarter after it, and you're not changing those things, all the things you're doing right now are going to hit a wall really, really quickly.
[00:31:52] Liam Moroney: And I've, I've been in that position where I've made that mistake. And when you see those numbers, when you see the cost per leads suddenly go exponentially up, the conversion rates plummet. And suddenly, the demo requests dry up. Those, once you hit that point, that's six months to change that. And that, that's a bad position to find yourself into.
[00:32:12] Liam Moroney: So, I get it, it's really heard if you have to defend and show value. But you have to try. And this is where I think going back to the where in your program generates pipeline is exactly the strength. Once you show that, it's like we, we're gonna continue to monitor and be very efficient with these channels.
[00:32:28] Liam Moroney: But these other channels contribute to that. And we wanna leave some budget that helps them that builds long term. It's, it's just leaving room for long term.
[00:32:37] Graceanne MacDonald: And it's that, that idea of it's almost a kind of marketing 101 lesson for leadership teams that, you know, those lead gen tactics are just capturing the people that are in market or your product and the demand that exists. But if you're not doing anything, things that aren't going to result in immediate pipeline now, but pipeline in the future, if you're not doing those things, then you're just pulling from a diminishing, or a, like a shrinking pool, essentially.
[00:33:05] Graceanne MacDonald: Um, and it's that, you know, to Liam's point, defending that concept of marketing. And that you can do the things that capture the right now. But if you're not doing the things that create more of it in the future, then you're just gonna pool from diminishing returns.
[00:33:19] Tara Robertson: And for marketers that are getting pressured to... I mean, for some people, it's dramatically cut back on budget. For some it's a little bit more of, okay, you have some time, but we need to start making some cuts here and there. How would you recommend they find those programs that they can pause right now, while keeping in mind that balance of short and long term program?
[00:33:39] Liam Moroney: It's never fun to cut budgets. And more often than not, like the better strategy is usually find what you're doing incorrectly and reuse that budget correctly. But the reality is that that's generally not how it goes right now. Going back to that whole what are the outcomes and which channels are you using for the wrong purposes.
[00:33:57] Liam Moroney: When you find those inefficiencies, if you're... For example, we've seen this a few times where LinkedIn is being used exclusively as a lead generation channel. And when you back into it, you see that firstly, the cost per leads are really, really expensive. And the outcomes of those leads are generally not very good because they weren't doing any just awareness marketing, affinity marketing.
[00:34:18] Liam Moroney: When you look at that objectively, if you're looking at a channel like that, you're, you're actively misusing the channel. Like that budget is not being effectively used. Truthfully, it should be repurposed, and you should change how you're using LinkedIn. But if you have to show value, and you have to cut things, look at what you're just not using correctly.
[00:34:36] Liam Moroney: Because whether you turn it on or turn it off, it's still generating the same output no matter what. Like it's the obvious place to go. And then you try and build back up the case to say, "We were not using it correctly. Once budget is available, can we start reallocating towards these instead?"
[00:34:52] Liam Moroney: Um, the better one is trying to find several of those and put them all into the one channel that you want to. But it's the easier place to find efficiencies.
[00:35:00] Tara Robertson: So, on a more positive note, like to wrap things up, looking ahead to the future, maybe the rest of this year, is there anything that you're looking forward to? Maybe it's something you're looking forward to testing with a customer or a new tactic.
[00:35:13] Graceanne MacDonald: I mean, I'm personally very encouraged by the growth of communities. And that community continues to be like a very exciting part of marketing. I think there's, you're seeing a lot more authenticity lately. And I think there, you know, over the past six months, and even continuing into this year, there's been a lot of pressures on B2B marketers in particular to sort of, I don't want to say, I guess, like level up their marketing.
[00:35:40] Graceanne MacDonald: And, and there's these, you know, there's these challenges that come with having to show efficiency, both in terms of spend and, and how your team is structured. And I think that's gonna force all of us to get better. But I think the, the awesome thing that's coming with all of these community is in this, this like really clear authenticity across the networks.
[00:36:02] Graceanne MacDonald: And this really growing network of people who wanna get better together. Um, and the emergence of all these communities, um, to support that has been really cool to see.
[00:36:14] Liam Moroney: One of the things that is happening is I think we're starting to celebrate the small marketing again. Which is, it's been something that needed to come for a long time, es- especially over the last few years, when there was so much funding. And people were buying Time Square billboard ads, and these huge kind of keynote things.
[00:36:30] Liam Moroney: When you're in a small lean marketing team, you can get real impostor syndrome looking around going like, "I mean, we can't do that. We can't take their, you know, ads in the Wall Street Journal, and things like that." Which are great, and they're fun. But a lot of the best marketing is it's happening in thoughtful planning.
[00:36:46] Liam Moroney: It's happening in audience research. It's those internal like, really, let's get it right and let's be really intentional. And it's in sometimes like the internal stuff, like the optimization, and the tweaking, and the adjusting.
[00:36:59] Liam Moroney: That really gets celebrated when there's tons and tons of budgets floating around and you see all these big ads. But like that's what we're all focusing on right now. And that is often the best and hardest kind of marketing.
[00:37:10] Graceanne MacDonald: Yeah, I think it's a really cool shift to, you know, to your point Liam, like how, kind of going from how big can your marketing be to like how good can your marketing be. And I think it's a really cool shift.
[00:37:26] Tara Robertson: Yeah, I love that note to end on. I think I've always had some FOMO around, obviously, like after the Super Bowl, marketers love to talk about all the ads that we saw and what the cool ones were and how many millions people spent making them. But it's always fun to say like, "Okay, well, we saw that. But what can we do?"
[00:37:42] Tara Robertson: Maybe we can do something really cool with a YouTube pre roll ad that goes to a small audience of 100 people that have already been to our website, right? And see what you can do there. So, moving on to our quick-fire round. For these maybe, Graceanne, do you want to go for these first and then-
[00:37:56] Graceanne MacDonald: All right.
[00:37:57] Tara Robertson: Keep it rolling. Um, so, is there another marketer you follow that our listeners should go check out?
[00:38:02] Graceanne MacDonald: The ones that come to mind immediately, I know Liam would agree, um, Amanda Natividad and Rand Fishkin, really all of SparkToro content, um, is amazing. But the two of them are just such phenomenal thought leaders in our space.
[00:38:15] Tara Robertson: Anyone to add on that, Liam?
[00:38:16] Liam Moroney: Justin Rowe has content on LinkedIn ads. It's some of the most sophisticated details, like here's how content, I think I've ever seen on LinkedIn. It's, it's fascinating. It feels like you're getting like a PhD in LinkedIn ads every time I read stuff. Um, Caitlin Burgoyne for sure. Her stuff on fire psychology is just incredible. She's one of the best newsletters that is out there.
[00:38:40] Tara Robertson: Right. I'll put links all those in the show notes for anyone who isn't familiar. But I'm a huge fan of those people already. Um, what's an under the radar? It could be a channel or a tactic that your team or that your customers' teams are really loving right now.
[00:38:53] Graceanne MacDonald: As I sort of just mentioned, I think it's emerging more, but it's still somewhat under the radar in terms of a, a marketing channel or tactic, and that's communities. So, investing, you know, I think probably the biggest one that comes to mind right now is Pavilion.
[00:39:03] Graceanne MacDonald: You know, investing paid resources, um, both paid and organic, you know, in those communities as a channel. I think, um, people are participating in those communities. But as like a channel or tactic, I think it's still a bit under the radar.
[00:39:18] Liam Moroney: I would say, audience research and audience understanding is still under the radar. I know there was a lot of conversations about talk to your customers, listen to sales calls, those are really valuable. But going beyond it and saying, "Where are they spending their time? Who are they listening to?"
[00:39:32] Liam Moroney: "Who influences them? Why? What topics are interesting to them?" That's, that's some of the best goal you have to create really impactful content.
[00:39:40] Tara Robertson: And do you use any tools for that? Or is that all just, again, talking to customers?
[00:39:45] Liam Moroney: I would, I think it's a combination of a lot of things. You know, we, this is a big thing that we do for customers and it, it depends on the audience. Like you'll get great stuff from sales calls. You'll get great stuff from talking to customers. You'll get great stuff from just good old-fashioned Google.
[00:39:59] Liam Moroney: There are tools like SparkToro, like Graceanne mentioned, phenomenal way of trying to do research on there. Um, it, it does a lot. You have to kind of decide on how to use that, like it's information and you have to decide what to do with it. But it's a great tool for finding stuff.
[00:40:13] Tara Robertson: And lastly, where can our audience go to find out more about you or follow the content that you're putting out?
[00:40:18] Graceanne MacDonald: So, you can find us both on LinkedIn, um, as well as our site, storybookmarketing.io. Um, like [inaudible 00:40:24] the site to folks who wanna reach out directly.
[00:40:28] Tara Robertson: Great. Thank you so much. Really appreciate to talking to you both.
[00:40:31] Graceanne MacDonald: Thank you.
[00:40:32] Liam Moroney: Thank you for having us.
[00:40:34] Tara Robertson: Great, and thanks, everybody, for listening.
[00:40:37] Nola McCoy: Thanks for listening to Demand Gen Chat. Demand Gen Chat is a Chili Piper podcast hosted by Tara Robertson and produced by me, Nola McCoy. If you're enjoying the podcast, please leave us a five star rating on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you listen to your podcasts. It only takes five seconds and helps other marketers like you discover Demand Gen Chat.
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