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The Demand Generation Leap

Join these tech marketing leaders, as we discuss the importance of Demand Generation. What it means to each person and how they made the leap.


Adam Holmgren

Amber Anderson

Maurina Venturelli

Tal Valler


43 minutes to read


Hello, I'm Kerry Guard, CEO of MKG Marketing. And welcome to this live roundtable where I'm going to discuss with four, tech marketing leaders, Demand Gen Marketing as it relates to B2B technology. Between working closely with our clients, and doing our podcast, Tea Time with Tech Marketing Leaders, and just off the cuff conversations I've been having, there seems to be this shift in the universe, away from leads, leads, leads, leads, leads to a more holistic approach, which we'll get into today.


Kerry Guard: Before I launch into it, a little bit of housekeeping because I believe everything is a two way street. So it's our promise to you as our listeners of how we're going to show up today and how we hope that you'll engage with us. So we promise to keep this discussion at hand. It's why we're here to talk about marketing. And we are going to stick to that topic, in the most authentic, honest way possible. It's not about selling, it's not about our companies. It's about demand gen marketing, and how it relates to what these four experts have been doing and how you can learn from them.

For those listening, please engage in the comments. We have our very own AnDrae Jones over there to hang out with y'all. And we look forward to hearing your comments and most importantly, your questions at the end. We're going to leave time to hear from you. And hopefully swing some answers your way and for whatever we don't get to we'll be sure to follow up. So let's get into it. You're ready?

Guests: Yeah. All ready.

Kerry Guard: All right. Let's do it. So we're gonna do introductions first. And if you could say your name, your title, and what Demand Gen marketing means to you. And I will start with Amber.

Amber Anderson: Sure. My name is Amber Anderson. I'm the Founder and Head of Strategy at Tote + Pears, which is a woman plus insights and branding agency. Demand Gen to me is about giving your customers a reason to pay attention to you and staying connected with them throughout that process.

Kerry Guard: We'll head over to Maurina.

Maurina Venturelli: Yeah, thanks. My name is Maurina Venturelli, I am the VP of Marketing at Demand Gen to me is telling beautiful stories with a specific point of view.

Tal Valler: So, hi. Great to be here, Kerry. My name is Tal Valler, I'm the CMO at Zoovu. We are a conversational AI platform for digital commerce. And demand generation for me is essentially people don't buy products, they buy solutions to their needs. So demand generation is getting people to understand that their needs align with your products and your values and get them to want to talk to you.

Adam Holmgren: Yeah, Adam Holmgren. And I'm the Head of Demand Gen at GetAccept that we are our sales enablement solution. So demand gen for me is mainly I would say a shift of focus. So I'll shift the focus to value first. And of course, revenue first. Yeah.

Kerry Guard: Great. To kick off our conversation in the way that you all have defined demand generation and what it means to you. Did anybody find that? You know, agree, disagree? Want to lean into anything that anybody said? Start with you, Maurina, do you have anything to add?

Maurina Venturelli: Yeah, I like what Amber said about people interested. I think, you know, there's a psychology behind marketing that I think a lot of people forget, right, like, what does it take to get people to be interested in pique their interest and learn more about your company? And it's, I think it's also what, you know, Tal and Adam talked about as well. It is about value and how do you convey that value in a very interesting, maybe provocative way to get folks to to really consume what you want them to consume?

Adam Holmgren: Yeah, no, I completely agree with that. And I just wanted to touch upon, you know, the shift. Now we want to give value to our customers. I mean, maybe potential customers. That has really always been the case, but I think we are now more willing to give value without asking anything in return. That has been the case in marketing for many years that we would demand something to give. And I think that is the big shift that is happening now. Which is great. I love, I also want to be able to go into, you know, and read a blog post without giving away my information, right? Or an e book or whatever.

Amber Anderson: Yeah, sure. So what I would say is, I think what's really interesting is when we look at the bigger companies and the bigger brands that have been successful, the Coca Cola, the Nikes, etc, they've been giving away things for free for a really long time, right? They've been selling people on value and community and love. It's the smaller companies that have been really honing in, on trying to take from their customers before they give. And so I think that shift is really not necessarily something that's happened in marketing, it's just something that's happening downstream versus recognizing that, you know, really, the bigger brands have always known that in order to keep a community you needed to give them something that they wanted to hold on to. So that would probably be like my only changes, I think that this is just something that's coming downstream to us a smaller company, and hopefully, it's something that sticks because obviously, it works.

Tal Valler: Yeah, just going off on what Amber mentioned is, I think, in smaller SaaS companies, because we're so focused on proving our value, because we're so obsessed with trying to create immediate returns on marketing investment. That was about me, me me, like, how can I get the lead? How can I get that leads to give me their contact details? How can I get them? And once we get that contact details, you know, which you can pretty much get anywhere these days, you don't really need to do demand generation just to get the lead and get contact details, then it's all about like sending them, sending them, sending them. And I think the shift in marketing, the shift in demand generation in general has been that it's not about just getting the lead, it's about getting people to talk about you, to talk about their challenges, to talk about these challenges in your prism of thought and with your idea of what the solution could look like or how or what would be the path to a solution. And then when you do that, you're creating demand essentially to your product without even mentioning your product or talking about your platform, right? And it's about continuously giving value. So that value doesn't necessarily have to be gifts or events or blog posts, it can be anything showing - so long that it actually delivers value and it's not just, you know, your musings about your product and about your customer.

Adam Holmgren: Yeah, yeah, I really like what Amber said, I agree and I think maybe shift was the wrong word. We are getting more up to speed with what's already happening. But I do think there's a difference between B2B and B2C companies. I think B2C companies have been doing this this radius providing value. And now we, at B2C, are getting there, I think, a bit more. I think many of the baby B2B companies are still not really there to be honest.

Maurina Venturelli: Yeah, I like what you, I mean, you know, I'm always interested in this topic of B2B and B2C. To me, there's no difference. And I don't know where that mentality started. There is a big difference in how we communicate and go to market. I mean, at the end of the day, we are people selling to people. I'm sure there's nuances but you know, when I started in marketing, there was just this concept of these two things and I was like, why is this different? To me, it is literally the same, right? And I think to your point Adam, we are catching up, we're seeing that. I think what B2B, and kind of what Tal said, with B2B, we're so pressured to provide value and to get that email and track it and ROI that we completely miss that there's a psychology, there is a way to tap into people's feelings and emotions that you and I just - like, its people to people. That's the marketing we're doing.

Amber Anderson: Yeah, I agree. I agree, 100%.

Maurina Venturelli: When are we gonna disagree? Let's get something we can disagree on.

Amber Anderson: We're just getting warmed up.

Tal Valler: I think the difference that I see between B2B and B2C a lot of the time is that B2C is marketing to the masses, right? So you try to create a very defined group of people based on some criteria and then create a messaging that would be shallow enough to reach as many of them. Shallow-ish enough as possible, and then get a reaction and get like some share of mine. With B2B today, a lot of companies, like, it's not news, right? It's been around for a while now. But there's more and more focus in account-based marketing and account-based focus, where you can share the message too much too wide with your messaging, crafting it towards specific accounts, towards specific buyers within these accounts, towards the needs of that account. And that becomes a big challenge for, and a big difference. Difference point between B2B and B2C that's hyper focus. We're still working personas, we're still people to people, but we're focused on a group of people versus a group of 10,000.

Adam Holmgren: I can just add to that, as well. What I really think we are starting to do great also in B2B now is that we are starting to build really great brands. And that is, we can maybe get into that later as well. But I think that is really key for us building the demand that we need. And I think that is where we have been lacking greatly in the past. Now we can look at these great B2B brands, like Gong, and we look at Drift and all of those that are not only recognizable in the world of business, but in the greater spectrum. And I think that's a really great thing.

Amber Anderson: You know, Maurina had brought up a point before about how do you create really good brands? And so Maurina, I certainly want to have you have an opportunity to dive into that. But I think one of the things that you had said earlier, is that the way that you connect with people is you realize that they are people, whether it's B2B or B2C, the brand is able to identify who it is that we're talking to. And then that's what attracts them. And whether it's 10 people or it's 100 people, or it's 5 million people, it's being able to be so niche and understanding the needs of those individuals that can create messaging around it. So you know, I agree with Maurina, that there's this dialogue about B2B, B2C, and I've never subscribed to that, and our branding agency, we don't subscribe to that either. Because at the end of the day, your goal is to connect with people, they may be at home, they may be at work, the best marketing is where you connect with them in multiple places. And so if we can think about it in a way that we're not pigeonholing them to only connecting in their office, when they're thinking about that, but really trying to connect with them, regardless of where they are in their space, then we can get more sale, right like with the goal was to kind of get in front of them understand their needs, and stay connected with them throughout their journey, not our journey, but their journey. And people have unique journeys all over the place. So, you know, Maurina, I really appreciate you always sharing your thoughts there. And wanting to make sure I could chime in on the branding side of why the brand I think can kind of die, at least from the way that we handle things. That conversation.

Maurina Venturelli: Yeah, you mentioned connection. That is the number one thing, right, whether you connect with them through something, you know, fun and interesting that is semi relevant to your product. For instance, at primer, we do natural language processing, which can be very intimidating. We did this blog post about Harry Potter and how we use our technology to pull out interesting, you know, how many times did Harry Potter in this episode, or in this book, you know, use this name, things like that. And you can use those to connect and then obviously drive value and product specific types of things. I mean, I think, you know, and Tal mentioned this, right, we're all on the hook for revenue, right? In all of my jobs of demand gen, it was, you pay $1 here, what are we giving back to the company? So I would love to hear people's perspective on how you take that sort of feeling of connection, right? You send something interesting, but then actually drive value and provide, you know, actual ROI because they're kind of disjointed. You think of connection as the brand or something else where it really is all encompassing with demand gen. I don't know if that question was articulated well, but if somebody can understand it.

Tal Valler: It's a topic that I actually love talking about, right, because not everything in marketing is measurable. Yes, we are on the hook to measure. And we know as marketers that a lot of the activities that are the top value creators are not measurable, right? Like a brand, a new brand is not measurable, you can attribute it to revenue or stuff like that trade show that costs you a lot to have, like a huge within the speaking slot. But no, not necessarily a lot of opportunities came out from the closure in 12 months, but everybody saw you and everybody will see you in the next show and knows that you're there. So a lot of things are not measurable. I think the trick that's worked for me is trying to balance out paying the piper and trying to balance out some activities that, you know you can check, you know you can measure. I always tried to bring the SDR team or EDR team under marketing as part of my information marketing so that I can have some channels or some activities that immediately show measurable value. PPC, I always have the argument with my superiors when budgeting about the fact that it's a worthwhile activity, even if it's not necessarily worthwhile, you're at least taking demand, you're picking existing demand that immediately translates into the mind. So a lot of these, there are these types of marketing activities that deliver value and need a kind of budget, a big chunk of your money and time towards these activities. So you can get the additional time and budget to do stuff that isn't measurable, or isn't measurable, at least in the short term for revenue. And even there, you know, there are ways to measure it in the long run. So you measure, to me, you reach, you know, engagement and looking for the target audience with your posts or with your brand activities or whatnot. And then hopefully you can show later down the line that you've gotten more organic demo requests, more people say that they've seen in places right when they're having sales conversations. And when you can say yes, that you've done something good.

Adam Holmgren: Yeah, yeah, I think that's great. And I totally agree, I think we are coming from lead gen, where we are obsessed with being data driven. And we are now allowing ourselves to be born more by gut feel sometimes. And I think for me, to really have, I need the executive team in the company I work for to have that trust in me. I think the times I have failed, not being able to really grow the demand or whatever it is when the executive and I haven't been in the same place. So I think that's a huge thing. And the reason why I am where I am today, I would say we are probably putting 50% of our spend on activities that are not really measurable. And you need to have that trust, I guess, is my point.

Kerry Guard: That's a really good point. Because when we talk about value and measurement, you know, and we talk about lead gen, right? Lead Gen sort of always been the thing that we've done in B2B. And now it's shifting, so in that shift of demand gen, where does lead gen come in? Or does it not anymore? I mean, you're talking about giving value? Are you asking for anything in return?

Amber Anderson: I mean, I'm happy to give some insights if you'd like. And I think what's really important is I don't think it goes away, I think we're still trying to get information and trying to service the client. So we need to be able to capture information from the lead. I think it just moves down the funnel a bit where we're not doing that as the first interaction but actually being polite. Okay, like, "hello, how are you?" before I take your email address. But I am gonna eventually get your email address so that I can service you better, right? It's just all in the language and the way that we approach people, not as if we're not doing it in person, we're just doing it in a different way. So yeah, I don't think it goes away. I think it just moves down.

Tal Valler: I think two things. One is, I don't think anybody cares about leads anymore, like salespeople will care about where my leads are, your CEO will care about having a lead flow. But eventually, like, I see the company I'm in now and both of my previous companies, they care about leads so long as none are coming in. But assuming that they're coming in, they start caring and nagging you much more about opportunities and qualified opportunities and further down the funnel than the leads. Right? So maybe the conversation is shifted into defining leads as opportunities or sales qualified opportunities, versus just leads, which makes our life more difficult at least though more interesting as well.

And the second thing I wanted to say is because we're so geared toward leads, it was generating email addresses, it starts all sorts of stupid and bad marketing behavior that we kind of all need to do to cleanse ourselves, right? Gating, not quality assets that basically just annoy people because they've given you their email thinking that they're going to get something and they get your muses and ideas about why your product is great or not something that they can actually do something with, or gating good mixing this whole sort of company that we're working now. Something I'm currently trying to shift away from. Gating case studies, gaiting like the process of people validating that your product is good, just so you can say as a marketer, you're, I brought this lead? Versus here, I brought this piece of business or supported bringing this piece of business?

Adam Holmgren: Yeah, yeah, I wanted to touch upon what Maurina actually also touched upon, which is a little bit around the definition of a lead. And in terms of your, at what stage your company or I talked to, I don't remember who it was at HubSpot a few weeks ago. And they were talking about instead, okay, they would never reach out to a prospect that did not request a demo, for example, and HubSpot are generating 1000s of leads a month, you know, they have that it's easier for them, I believe it's easier for larger company to go full out demand gen. And only reach out for the high intent one, I think it's easier when you are a startup or scale up. When you have the pressure from the sales team and from the CEO. It's easy to land in what Tal talked about, you know, just getting leads in, it doesn't matter. And that's where we, as marketers, of course have to stay strong. And so I think the most important thing here is actually how we, at the company, define what is the lead? What is an MQL? How do we define that? Or do we even use that?

Maurina Venturelli: I think that's, I mean, it's so interesting, right? In the marketing industry as a whole, there is no set definition of what those things are. Even, you know, even as you talked about the word lead, Tal, right? To me, a lead is any email in the database, right? Like the qualifiers on top of it, and engagement and all of those different metrics. So I think, I don't know that anybody can set forth a real definition. I mean, maybe. You know, at Primer, the SDRs do roll up under marketing, which I think is, I don't know, to your point, Tal, it is the one it is a touch point of here is actual like, human to human contact, they're getting meetings, they're talking to these people, as opposed to this ambiguous, say, they clicked the link in an email. And I think that flow is really important. So I think that the comment, you know, what we look at is three milestones, right? An MQL, sales qualified lead, which is when a meeting is set, sales qualified opportunity. So SDRs, at Primer, there's a stage zero, where they are in charge of getting information around why them, why now, and why Primer. So we do go after, learn about the person first, before we even, you know, talk about Primer, and there's a set of questions like, you know, what are you measured on? It's really all about them. And I'm very particular about SDRs. You don't mention our technology, until you have these things answered. And then there's a space between that meeting set to when we pass a qualified opportunity on to the salespeople, and we record it in Salesforce, and so on.

So that's kind of the practical part. There's this other part that I'm hearing around demand gen where we're kind of going back to superiors trust us, we need to build connection first. We're not going to get their unborn baby's child's name at the first, you know, the first get go, we need to build trust, we need to build connection, we need to be smart about the things that we gate. And maybe we're going and we are going to give stuff away for free. And it is a lagging effect, right? Because on the other end, we have sales saying I don't have enough opportunities. So it is a balancing act of, and I think Tal mentioned this, what are the things that are going to produce opportunities kind of quickly? And then how do we pull people along, because it is a challenge. I can't go to my CMO and say, you know, give me four months while I build connections with people. So you know, we're in this kind of interesting space of, we want to be more empathetic and we want to be more human and we need to produce revenue.

Amber Anderson: Do we really gate things anymore?

Adam Holmgren: Yeah, the only thing we gate now is our premium and our demo requests. We have un-gated everything else. Since we, I really believe that people will come back to us if they find value from from things. I probably can prove that that is what's happening. But I really, it feels good in my stomach when we do that so we will continue doing that. And I think it was interesting. You mentioned your KPIs that you use and I just wanted to add something that we also measure which is, which is pipeline created, which I think it's actually a great measurement to use to get also the sales organization to have a good understanding. I think it's hard sometimes for them to really understand MQL to SQL there. And that's maybe the biggest issue of it. Nothing pipeline is something that can sometimes get past that a bit. But yeah, it would be fun to hear everyone at once else talk for un-gating. As I feel very strongly about that.

Maurina Venturelli: Well, we asked for social security numbers. So -

Adam Holmgren: Yeah, take a picture of your license.

Tal Valler: I love to say that we're not gating anything, and I'm slowly trying to move things away from gating, especially assets that I don't think are premium. So unless we're selling, we're sharing the secrets of doing X, then I don't see or like a Gartner report that costs us a ton of money to syndicate in this very coveted I don't think there's a lot of value in gating. In an ideal situation, I do. And what I've done for gating is use gating as an intent qualification, right? So I would take a nice blog post that we have or a nice webinar or session that we have. And then on the side of it, or somewhere down like 1/3 of the way down would have a pop up or a call to action for a gated acid supplement or gifts. The deeper information about the topic of the subject, in that way, basically, it shows me this person is really interested versus just like, found this on Google.

Kerry Guard: Amber, do you have any thoughts around getting content? And what content do you gate versus not?

Amber Anderson: Yeah. So I mean, I'm in an agency. So we work with several clients. I think the answer is case by case. As you all have said, there's different things for different businesses that have different content. So I think it just depends on what the content is, and what it is that the customer needs, and what's the right appropriate measure and what you handed out to them. So I don't have a blanket statement on what to do, because I do think it's a case by case basis.

Kerry Guard: Also, in terms of case by case basis, I think you all have different approaches to how you've built your teams as well. And I think this is a really important topic, as you know, companies start to move away from lead gen, and move into demand gen, and start thinking about who they need on their team to actually execute this because it's so different, and more holistic.

So Maurina, let's kick off with you. How is your team structured and who are your players so to speak?

Maurina Venturelli: Yeah, that's a great question. So I, SDRs. So I have global SDRs and then an SDR lead there, which we're building out as well. I am marketing operations sort of typical. So everything systems are really closely aligned with sales operations. As we look at, you know, global reporting and tracking and all of those things in our marketing automation and CRM systems. Have a content strategist, which is something when I moved into primary I was very, very, very passionate about content. And I actually don't look at it as content I look at it as offers, what are we giving to, what are we offering to people, right? Is it a PDF? Is it a blog? I like people to think outside of this, like, let's give them a two pager like, are we going to give them a live event? Are we going to give them an experience on a website? Are we going to give them, you know, are they going to fill something in, and we're going to give them an asset. So we have this sort of offer/content strategy team that falls under me, and they're kind of a dotted mind to sort of thought leadership, Product Marketing and demand gen, because I do think those different categories of content are different. And at my last job, I often said to my CMO, you know, there's this Venn diagram, like product marketing isn't necessarily always demand and marketing. You know, it actually, to me, at least at this stage, Primer is, it's more thought leadership. People are interested in where you are in the industry, they're interested about learning, you know, about things. Our CEO, he spoke at a TED talk, and he has a super interesting just, you know, kind of where this natural language process is going. And they just, they want to know that. And to me, that creates interest, thus, will create demand later. And so we have these, that whole content strategy, and what are we going to offer? And what are we going to give our audiences kind of under Demand Gen.

So summarizing, SDRs, marketing ops, content/offers, and then we do have kind of an execution arm campaigns person that brings it all together and says, Okay, where are we going to put all of this information? How are we going to track it? What are we going to gate? What are we not going to gate? You know, and then kind of the website falls into that.

Adam Holmgren: Yeah, I think our team is actually predefined that we have been scaling so fast so it's changing all the time. In two years now we have gone from three people in marketing to almost 30. Now, so it's, we are still setting the structure so to speak. But yeah, so I'm leading the demand gen team. So I thought I could dig into a little bit what that actually entails in our team. But then similar to Maurina, we have a content team, we have a brand team, and we actually have our product marketing as its own team, as I agree with you completely, that it's very much more of a team that is between everyone to be honest, and maybe the most important role, to be honest. Yeah, and the demand, and we also have marketing ops, of course. And the demand team, I would say, we have structured it very much based on both competence, but also region. So we have different regional demand managers, that the plants in the entire region and the demand efforts in that region. But then we have certain experts in different fields, like Field Marketing, paid social, paid search, and so on. We are doing a little bit of everything, I think. And it's also the case, we have a brand team, for example, and the content team. But I would say that that ties very much into what we do in demand gen. So everything is together, of course.

Kerry Guard: Tal, how is your team structured?

Tal Valler: So first thing I joined Zoovu for less than three months ago, and I'm building the marketing team right now. So if anybody has good ideas, and recommend people for recruiting and hiring for almost all marketing roles, and it's a crazy market, so it's really, really difficult to find good people. And by the time I get to interview them, they've already gotten a job somewhere else. But my walls aside, the way that ideal teams will be structured, and the way you were kind of more or less structured now is, I have a content communications lead, who was in charge of coming up with great stories that we can later on, create PRs around and create activities around that will support demand generation. Then there's a design team, design person right now. Not so much team, will support common communications, the website, presentations, or gated content, assets and everything else. We have regional demand generation managers, so they are in charge of executing campaigns and programs for each one of the regions and translating and localizing them, the general ones into each region. And focus basically are creating pipeline for their region for their community CMOs or for the area that they work in. And then we have product marketing, which is a completely different beast right? Focused on creating collateral, Little bit of analyst relations, even though that doesn't necessarily always sit under the remit of product market being working on pricing and collateral development, it will support the sales team case studies. Also important, I think, Maurina, we had that argument, when we had the prep call, these are all dedicated people in the organization. But they're all working together, right. So the content and communication doesn't create content that will just sit there either for the sake of content communications, and they will align with me with the demand generation team to make sure that the content is part of a campaign that is used and is ideated, working with the sales team and with the other teams in the organization. Same for product marketing, right? They don't live in a silo, they need to work with the product team, with the sales team, and with content in order to generate collateral. And all of that feeds, again, demand generation.

Kerry Guard: And how does, and I think this is where Amber can really pipe in because I love what you're saying, Tal, about all these people talking together. And it sounds like a brand, would be a really great thing to sort of hold all that together. Amber, what are your thoughts in terms of how the brand fits into the team structure and the importance of it?

Amber Anderson: Sure. I think I would probably say, we are Demand Gen. That's what we do as a branding agency. We're full service at Tote and Pear. So the way that we're structured is, we work in pods, so everybody has their expertise. But we come together to service on account. And what value that brings is that I think it gives you the opportunity to make sure that the brand is being addressed in every aspect of the touchpoint that you have with your customer. So whether that's stepping in and having the brand strategist identify the market, what are the things about the audience that's going on? What do we need to do to make sure that we're standing out, that's their role. Then we have content, which is saying what value do we provide? How do we provide it, creating the actual content that goes to meet that need. Then you have the creative, for us, which is how do we do that visually? How do we make sure that we continue to have a visual saying sometimes content isn't words, sometimes content is a video or it's a photograph or it's your visuals that go along with it. So working hand in hand with the strategist and the content strategist, to be able to create that. And then on the marketing side, it's where we place it once we're there, and you have a variety of different people that are going to step in to be able to make sure that we're placing it in the right place at the right time when we need to be placing it.

So for us, it's about having different people so that they have a leader that can help them with their discipline. But when we execute, we execute as a pod, we execute as a collective group that sees the entire brand, just from their viewpoint. But we know that holistically, we've met every need that we needed to make sure that the brand was seen and continues to be seen as it's supposed to be based off of the strategy.

So that's the way that we operate. And I think that's where we were kind of getting into the back and forth about how you actually execute on that, especially in a complicated organization. And my combat was, I actually come from technology. So my background was building products. And we were able to do it in a technology capacity, most teams are operating in some type of an Agile, Scrum or a team capacity, where they're building huge complex systems with multiple disciplines of people. And I think in the marketing side is something that we need to be able to do as well because the reality is, it is all coming together. And being able to do that where you have people working side by side helps just ensure that you're getting the output that you're looking for. So that was the viewpoint that I had and the contribution I had to the conversation.

Maurina Venturelli: Yeah, I love the idea of a pod. And my sort of idea of executing with marketing, it has that same pot idea where you have kind of a marketing leader, you know, a writer, product marketing person, you know, and analytics kind of goes throughout, but it's funnel based. So when you have like, depending on your definitions, right, if you have a sales, sort of, they're in a sales opportunity and they're in inactive sales sort of cycle, you have a team of people that address those needs, then you have a team of people that is kind of in that mid funnel, right, addressing SDRs, how are you helping SDRs get the qualification. This is kind of more Primer specific, but you have it, you know, you have an execution arm, you know, you have ads and emails and live events that are just for that part of the funnel. And then obviously the top because it helps in I think content creation, you have kind of all the necessary things, you have the leader, the writer, the builder, that person that executes and then marketing kind of ops and reporting kind of does it for all those different pods.

Amber Anderson: So if I could ask the follow up question, Maurina, how do you make sure you have that consistency through the funnel? So do you, for example, in technology, we have a product manager, right that says I own the product. At the end of the day, regardless of where the product is, it comes together. And for us, we always have our brand strategist, is that person that owns that relationship. I think in companies, that's the piece that needs to be connected, even if they're in this part of the funnel, who makes sure that they get to the end, who owns that whole thing?

Maurina Venturelli: So we have a head, like a Senior Director of Content Strategy that sits under me and it all rolls through her to make sure it is consistent, because you're right, you get people to try with brand guidelines. But you know, you do need that person who has the last eyeballs to make sure everything's, and she's aligned with product marketing, she's aligned with Thought Leadership, our CEO just on how we talk about the company. And that's how we do it. It kind of rolls up.

Kerry Guard: Tal mentioned the struggle for hiring. I think we can all lean into that real hard right now. I have a few questions about that. One is, and I think this is where we're gonna wrap our conversation and head over to the comments in a second. But one question is, when you're scaling, like Tal is, who's the first hire? I mean, who should Tal hire first? What's important there?

Tal Valler: I know, I'm trying to hire -

Adam Holmgren: Anyone at this point.

Tal Valler: I've got a lot. Yeah, if you're going into Zoovu's website career section, you'll see, and everybody listening, by the way, I encourage you to do so. You'll see that there's a lot of open roles, some of which I haven't gotten to post yet, because otherwise, I won't be able to sleep from interviewing and posting roles all the time. But the first hire, we actually already have somebody in this position, but I need to strengthen the team around that, because we're going into a lot of different markets, is for me, content, right? Content is the fuel for demand generation. Even if your work, even if demand generation to you is only SDRs and BDR doing outreach, you still need content, because otherwise all they're doing is telling people come to my meeting, come to my meeting. And you want to deliver value, and you want to tell stories, and you want to get an audience. Having somebody that knows how to do this, knows how to do research, knows how to listen to the market, and find out what people in our buyer persona and in our ICP are looking for, or looking at, or reading interested that and, and spinning the story so that we deliver a value and our own perspective on it. It's the first thing that you need to do. Followed by the marketing ops, to distribute that stuff.

Maurina Venturelli: That's so funny, Tal, that's what I was thinking. And I think it depends on the leader's strength. But I would, it's a toss up for me between content and marketing ops. I think marketing ops goes, it might be becoming more valuable now. But for a while it was totally under the radar. And what was happening is the startups were like, holy crap, we're a year and a half in and we don't have any tracking and then they try to kind of retroactively build some tracking system. So it's a 50/50 for me, marketing ops and content.

Tal Valler: Maybe it's easy for me because like, I have some of my chops in marketing operations as well.

Maurina Venturelli: I just didn't want to do it anymore. Unlike -

Adam Holmgren: But I think it's pretty spot on about what you said Maurina, I think it so much depends on what your own strength is. Since we're all kind of obsessed demand generators, maybe that wouldn't be the first hire, right?

Kerry Guard: Last question for y'all in terms of hiring, what are some tips and tricks you're using right now to find talent other than roundtables?

Tal Valler: I'm all ears.

Amber Anderson: Well, I mean, I can chime in here. I think one of the things that goes back to what we talked about with the brand leading earlier, that people are people and you want to get people to work for you, and you need to give them some value as to why I would come to work for you. So this is the reason why being able to focus on your brand, do demand gen thinking not just in terms of having a customer come on board, but the brand is also being witnessed by potential employers. This is a key thing, I think in B2B, why it's so important for us to focus on this area. So we're now, to give you some numbers because this is an area we've been spending a lot of time, I think in September, we had in the United States, 10 million open jobs, and 3 million plus people quit their jobs voluntarily because they don't want a workplace that they don't feel like they're having values. So you have to think about the work you're doing in terms of what am I giving to my employees or potential employees? What is the culture like here? Is it something that people are going to work on? And that's a connection that you do, just like you do with your customers, you do the same thing for your employees. So I would argue, hands down, the brand is valuable in all touch points in the business. And probably with some, you know, nudging on the brand side, you'll start to see an increase in people finding you, right, which is what we want.

Adam Holmgren: Yeah, I love that, and I can add to that. I completely agree with you. And as you said, before, that people buy from people, I also think that people, you know, they get hired by people. But I think what has really worked well for me is to build my own personal brand. And that has made a lot of people, you know, connect to work. Yeah, work with me more as a person instead of the company. And that is also, I guess, a weigh in, because I represent my company every day, right, so I think that is also important. We people hire people as well. And I think that's at least one of my main things, when I enter a new company, is to feel that trust with my manager. It doesn't matter what company it is if I don't feel that. I think that's the key, 100%.

Maurina Venturelli: We give away free pups. Not true, not true. But I felt he needed to make an appearance. This is not a, it's not a live event without a puppy or a baby or a cat.

Kerry Guard: When we're all working from home these days, that is so true. Andre, what questions do we have?

Okay, so we got, if you're ungating everything, how do you measure success?

Maurina Venturelli: I'll quickly, I'm certainly not suggesting ungating everything. I would say if it was a pie chart, I would gate maybe 10%. And I think what Adam is doing in terms of a free, freemium trial, you know, demo requests, contact us, basically those. But yeah, if I had a, it's probably 10% or less, is what I would gate.

Adam Holmgren: Yeah, I think we're back here with measuring success. I think it's still the key to have that trust with the executives, even if you have a low mum, that the revenue will come if you're doing the right things. So yeah, I think you shouldn't have to prove each month that you are, yeah, that you're doing it.

Tal Valler: So first, like, I don't ungate everything, but I do gate occasionally. I'm trying to wean myself off of gating. But how do you measure success? So two things that have always worked for me. One is to have a little field in your forums that asks, How did you find us? In your demo request forms, ask How did you find us and train your SDRs to ask people how they define us. And it's qualitative, not quantitative information, you can make it quantitative if you were getting like a ton of them or request but it basically puts marketing in a good light and tells you which assets work. And second is, when you're ungating everything and you are creating good content, then, in the short run, you should see and be able to measure a higher engagement with your content, with your website. And in the long run, compared to a baseline, you want to be able to show an increase in requests.

Adam Holmgren: Yeah, I can add to that. It was funny that he said that about that field, because we just added that as well. We have a great collaboration with our SDR team, they are giving us, you know, putting on feedback on our inbound, what's great and what's not. And then we are of course digging into that. Okay, what can we double down on right now? And then when we look at that data, of course, everything is direct traffic, everything great. So I think your point is absolutely valid. And I think that's also where we are going, finding more qualitative data. And I guess the question to you then is, have you found success with that? How do you, you know, have you found any trends that you didn't have before?

Tal Valler: So it's funny, like, again, this is from my last company, but in my last company, the SDRs would usually put on everything outbound first, and you would contrast that with what the person said, which is, I saw you in this show, I read your blog post, I went to this webinar. And would often make for some nice conversations, funny conversations. So not so funny depending on which side you're on. But yeah, so another thing, by the way, is we're going into Account Based Marketing, you'll notice that it becomes really, really difficult to chase one source of an opportunity. You have 10 people in one opportunity, and maybe 100 people in an organization that are involved in multiple opportunities within your company. It becomes super difficult to attribute revenue to one conversion.

Maurina Venturelli: Yeah, I was just gonna say we could let we need to do another talk on just like this concept of inbound versus outbound and the friction it creates, and can we just get on a number and just everybody work together toward one number, regardless? Where it comes from, because that's a huge pet peeve of mine.

Adam Holmgren: But do you think, on that Maurina, do you think that what creates that friction is the bonus goals that SDRs usually have on there? You know, creating things from outbound? Or what do you think is creating friction?

Maurina Venturelli: I mean, we only have nine minutes for a great conversation, because I have a lot of opinions on what creates that friction.

Tal Valler: I can tell you something, my CEO told me recently that, you know, the sales team is on my shit list all the time, because I can tell them, this is your goal, you didn't hit it, if I don't say this to you as well, then they're not going to think very highly of you. So we kind of still need to prove that some things came from us. It's just like Maurina said, finding a number that we agree on that this is our goal, and then doing everything in our power to actually create the pipeline that hits that number. But aligning expectations, it can't be like everything is marketing. So 80% is more inbound or whatever.

Kerry Guard: Well, we have a great follow up. Have to get on the books. We have another question here about, how can you be in mind leverage from folks who may be using a competing solution?

Amber Anderson: So what I would say, I think that's very brand specific how your brand shows up and in the market is important. Maybe the answer is if you have a brand that is combative, then you do do something that's very combative. If you have a brand, that's more you know, I take the high road, then the way you would address it would be different. I think that's something to really think about, it's always great when you're able to provide thought leadership and show up in a space where you understand the needs of your customers, and can talk about that and show the value of your audience, the value of your product, but I think how you actually do it, do you call it weaknesses is very brand friend specific.

Maurina Venturelli: Yeah, I think, two things. I think if you can, it's hard to do. And even with SDRs, it's hard to do, if you can show that you're interested in them, right, as many companies, we try to have clear differentiation and our product does this, I think if you take the time to get to know them, they'll appreciate that. And then you can kind of sell them. Then there's, I might be saying two competing things, then there's the, let's poke the bear. I was trying to think on 101 North, as you head into San Francisco, there was a billboard and I apologize if anybody works for Snowflake, but there was a billboard from a competing company. And it said something like, "no flake", or something like that. And it was, I mean, I like to be provocative. So I would say as far as you can go, you know, poke the bear and have some fun with it. But then also be kind and human to the people you're talking to.

Amber Anderson: Yeah, like I said, I think the only thing is just being mindful of the brand. Because if you do it on one end, and it's not aligned with the way you're doing other things, it can feel conflicting.

Tal Valler: Again, assuming that I understood the question correctly, I think at least in my space, or at least in my experience, I've never been, because I've been working with startups, most of my career and in SaaS most of my career. I've never been in a company where the product is super commoditized and kind of every company I've worked with, we have competitors, but competitors are doing their own, have their own view of what's right and what makes them special. So focusing less on how you compared to a competitor and more about why you can make sense to begin with, and what makes you better than anything out there. And then not doing anything is usually like, the big competitor, right, for startup companies.

Kerry Guard: We have a minute here. And that's it for questions. So I just want to ask one last question. And I'm looking through here to figure out which one's the best one to land on. But, yeah, let's start this. And so I think companies are trying to struggle with this to figure out, what, do I do this thing? Should I always do Demand Gen? Should I start with lead gen and then do demand gen? I mean, I feel like I know, based off of our conversation, but just to end here, you know, should everybody be doing demand gen. And I will start with Adam. What are your thoughts?

Adam Holmgren: Yeah, of course. Yeah, I think so. I think as I said in the beginning, the few times I have failed is when I have started with lead gen based on that the company didn't want to do anything else, and tried to shift to demand gen but the mindset wasn't there to make that shift. So I think it would be much easier to start with the right focus, the right mindset, the value giving we have been talking about getting to know the people, and I think that is what you lose a bit if you start with a lead gen. Yeah, and I think it's hard to go back to be honest if that's what you are measured heavily upon. I have never succeeded at least.


Thank you all so much. I appreciate each and every one of you for joining me and for your time. This has been awesome. If anybody has any further questions or wants to connect with Amber, Maurina, Adam, and Tal, their links are below. Check them out, connect, follow up. They're amazing, amazing humans. It's an honor to know each of you. Thank you for joining me.

And thank you for joining us on this Tech Marketing Leader Roundtable. I'm looking to do these quarterly so be sure to subscribe and join our next one. And thank you listeners for commenting and joining in on the conversation that was great to have you and I look forward to seeing you next time.

This roundtable is brought to you by MKG Marketing, our digital marketing agency of Agile experts who specialize in SEO, digital advertising, and analytics. It's hosted by me, Kerry Guard, CEO of MKG Marketing, and the music mix and mastering from the video at front was done by Austin Ellis, our producer. And if you'd like to be a guest and join our roundtable, please email me at to apply. Thank you all so much.

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