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Empowering Marketing: The Path to Owning the Revenue Number

Kerry Guard • Monday, August 7, 2023 • 50 minutes to listen

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Tara Pawlak

Join us for an enlightening discussion with Tara Pawlak, VP of Demand Generation at Revenue Grid, as she implores marketing leaders to take ownership of the revenue number. Discover how marketers can drive revenue growth by being proactive, data-driven, and aligning strategies with business goals. Don't miss these valuable insights into the crucial role of marketing in generating revenue and contributing to overall business success.


Kerry Guard: Hello, I'm Kerry guard and Welcome to Tea Time with tech marketing leaders.
We are alive. Thank you. Thank you Tara for joining me live. This is very impromptu folks. I literally messaged Tara two hours ago and said, Hey, how do you feel about taking Tea Time Live today? I am not prepared. But I'm taking the leap of faith if you will join me. And she said yes. Which is why we're here. And you could all thank Simon child for this because he, he challenged me. And I did not die from a challenge. And so here we are. We are live. So grateful for Tarik. And I think this is a really important conversation to have live. And I'm really looking forward to you all chiming in. So please, please, please ask us questions. I am paying attention to the chat window, we want to hear from you. And we want you to it's a live conversation about a very live topic. So we're gonna get into it. Before we get there. A little bit about Tara Tara was on Tea Time with me many moons ago. At least it feels that means it goes 2020 When she was head of marketing get except on the US side, since she has joined pavilion and CMO Alliance had a baby and is now at revenue grid as the VP of demand. So she is making moves, folks. And we're gonna hear her story from her lips in a moment. But I want to sort of preface the conversation with the fact that Tara wrote a post a few weeks ago about she she was living on the edge folks and and that you either 100% agree with her. And you go cheer and go Tara go. Or you're asking if she's a crazy person. And please stop saying this nonsense and asking her to quiet that well, I'm with Tara, which is why she's joining me because I believe that we all should be aligned to to a revenue number. But I have a lot of questions around how to get there because it is not an off on Oh, all of a sudden marketing is has to own a revenue number. And here we go. And Tara's gonna unpack that for us. Before we get there, Tara, grateful. Thank you for taking the leap with me. 

Tara Pawlak: Of course. Thanks for having me. What an intro here.I love it.

Kerry Guard: Well, I don't know if I got any of it. Right. So you tell us your story. Tara, where are you now? You're at revenue. Great. But how did you how did you get there? What's your story? Remind us? 

Tara Pawlak: Yeah. So it depends on how far back you want me to go. But I, in my whole career, I've been in marketing, I have been explaining that I am in it and intentional marketer. So I actually have two degrees in marketing. I've only been in marketing. And it's just something I've always loved. But I've had kind of like a great journey to get to VP a demand gen. So earlier in my career, I was more you know, the specialist kind of tactical hands on a little part of me still hands on, because I can't help it. But I'm so numbers driven. Now, just because I've had many different roles. And it's just like the way my brain works. And I just really think a lot of marketers either early in their career, or they work at organizations or they're not set up for success that someone hasn't mentored or coached them, or they haven't had the chance to really understand the impact. And I think one of the best ways you can do that. It doesn't to me, it doesn't matter what role you're in marketing. You do help drive pipeline and revenue. So it's one of the reasons I love demand gen. It's sometimes very difficult to measure. Sometimes it's easier, but I like doing it fast. I like challenges of course. Kerry's the one that reminded me the last time we spoke that I just had a baby and I was like right yeah, he's two. And I think marketing in general is just a lot of learning a lot of lessons and a lot of trying, figuring out what works and what doesn't work. But being able to articulate that and measure that is kind of key. So it's my little story.

Kerry Guard: We're going to unpack that in a second because like I said, I have a ton of questions around you know, when you're talking about demand gen but then also owning a revenue number those feel a little it seems to be some friction there that we're gonna we're gonna unpack so hang on, folks before we get there and trying to still follow my tee time for tech market leaders podcast format. If you're a longtime listener, you know my next question, which is, and I know I asked this in 2020 Tara But times change. So tell us what's one challenge you're currently facing.

Tara Pawlak: So I would say I'm not alone in this challenge. But I think one of the biggest not only generating pipelines, but generating the right type of pipeline that follows all the way through to closed one is a challenge. Today, I think it'll always be a challenge. And it's a very forward looking view. Because a lot of marketers start stop at MQL. Or they stop at pipeline, and they say, Oh, I did my job, and then they walk away. But really, what matters is what happens after that, right? And we're really not the ones in control there. But that's how you get more budget. That's how you get more resources, when you can actually show that the pipeline kind of moves through the funnel, and makes an impact on the business bottom line. So that's my current challenge. And yeah, it's not easy in today's market.

Kerry Guard: It's not, I am Yes, I can I keep mentioning how many questions I have. But before I know, I know, you're all on the edge of your seat. I promise we're gonna get there. I just want to make sure that I'm giving Tara's story, though, the right acknowledgment, because she said something really important there that I truly believe too. And this this word intentional, you call yourself an intentional marketer? Can you just define that I think it's gonna really set the stage for this conversation. What does intentional marketer mean to you?

Tara Pawlak: Intentional marketer means to me that a lot of marketers today that I meet, haven't don't have a background too, like theory, or schooling, or experiences, they kind of stumbled into marketing, which is fine, right. But it's like, whatever path you took to get to your role, there's, there's no right or wrong way to get anywhere. I honestly think it's more about the journey. But for me, since I've had like specialist roles, I have a degree in global marketing, I always start with like theory, and the way humans interact and the way that they work together. And I think that's one of the main reasons that I'm, somebody had given me this compliment before one of the best relationship marketers, meaning like, internally and externally, because I really generally want to know, someone else's challenges and the way that they think and the way that they work best and where they see success. And for me, that's the best way you can bridge a gap between what you believe your marketing team can achieve, and what others internally believe that you can, too. And stopping that whole like, Okay, well, that's what marketing doesn't, this is what sales says. So it's like, you have to really bridge a really big gap. And most of the has to just do with your relationship with counterparts in the organization. Now, to me, it doesn't matter what level Yeah, can be like, the CEO, and then you know, director of sales, but it can be a BDR, that is super honest and open, or an AE or the product manager, it doesn't really matter who it is. But I think just showing that you're open and honest and being intentional with what you're trying to do as an organization.

Kerry Guard: Because back to your why, which I feel like you're very clear why you laid it out. The reason why marketers need to be attached to a revenue number is because it makes your life so much easier. It's harder, it sounds harder on the onset. We're not trying to say that what we're saying isn't, is easy. But if you can get there to where marketing actually contributes to the bottom line and revenue, then it makes things easier in terms of asking for resources and budget, because you've proven that drives to the bottom line. Did I catch? 

Tara Pawlak: Yeah, absolutely. I think that's why there's a rise in CMOS becoming CROs. And you know, there's more CMOS that are at every executive meeting than there's ever been before. So there's a there's like a shift in a lot of organizations, the narrative around what marketing actually does, you know, it's somehow grown into like, we drive leads, and like, That's it, and it's a Whoa, there's so many other facets to this, right. And, you know, it's hard sometimes when you talk about brand, right? Brand awareness is super hard to measure Oh, sometimes, but it depends on the organization that you're in and the industry, but that also can drive demand, which drives pipeline and connecting all those dots and a lot of it's just like telling your own story, taking big bets and saying this is really what I believe works for our market in our industry, because I know the market as the marketing leader, and I know this is how people buy and this is the path that I think four we should take.

Kerry Guard: That's in that first i I can start with brands, because I do think that's a big question of, and I think people are starting to break their budgets down to in terms of money going towards brands, that's not really measurable. And then money going towards bottom funnel that is more that lead gen. And so you're saying you can connect the dots has technology shifted in that we are, we do now have the ability to see end to end, even if it is from a very first touch. Like visual of a banner, right? People don't even click through, they just like sort of see a banner? Can we actually see all the way through now that you're saying? 

Tara Pawlak: Yeah, so that's not exactly what I'm saying. But actually, technology is getting a lot closer. Honestly, some of the tools, at least our team has been evaluating for marketing, attribution, that's a whole other live and it's in itself, we won't go down that road too, too much. But I do want to touch on, there are some tech tools that are getting much closer to saying like, Hey, this is your, your segment and your audience, and they actually saw your ads. And they don't, you know, they don't click on the ads. But hey, they're now on your website. So those tools are starting to emerge and exist. But what, for me, I think if you're a marketing leader, and you really believe that brand does drive a lot of demand, and it's just gray, and you haven't really figured out it's like taking a stand to say like, this is how I'm going to measure brand awareness. And it's going to be branded traffic, organic branded traffic, it's direct traffic, it's, you know, it's our social following, its, you know, and like I really identifying those and seeing the trend, hopefully going in the right direction, that you need to grow your brand awareness in crafting that strategy around it. And say, like, Hey, look at this, this is the growth of 20% and 25, it's all going in the right direction, you can't say this is not brand awareness. It's, it's like controlling your own story, I think, internally to people, whoever that might be, in really being, I don't know, very adamant about it. Because a lot of people are gonna make up their own assumptions. Right? If you don't have marketing leaders, tell them your vision and what you're trying to build.

Kerry Guard: I think that's important. It's not, you know, from a, from a CEO to a CMO standpoint, like the CEO doesn't know what they don't know. So what I feel like you're saying is as the CMO and the expert in the room, you really need to take the bull by the horns and define what those metrics are. And it's not brand isn't going to be measurable end to end. But it's going to be a bridge, where, you know, we talk about this all the time, from a digital ads perspective, when you're doing some site direct buys, right, you're not gonna see site direct buys, impact the bottom line, but what you will see guaranteed is your brand keyword lift, right, you're gonna see that brand awareness totally lift from a keyword standpoint, and that is measurable. And then the keyword, the branded keyword terms are incredibly powerful. From a bottom line standpoint. So it's a bridge. Yeah. Great example. Yeah. And it does tie back to revenue when you're looking at the funnel, right? 

Tara Pawlak: Yeah. Yeah, I think so. For me, you know, there was a time where I was trying to measure marketing influence, which is a slippery slope. I would not do that today. I would not suggest to do that today. But I would say that within your own marketing team, that could be a way to look at like, you're talking about that connection between certain whether it's like a campaign, or its results of, you know, an event or something, it can influence some other things that you are tracking, right. That's the way that you can do it, at least in an internal marketing, like analysis and insights of like, yes, absolutely. This ABM campaign influenced this, but it wasn't the only thing. But if you understand the buying journey, you know that it's not one thing anymore, and marketing just because you run this big campaign, all of a sudden, they're just like, oh my gosh, now I'm gonna buy your product or your service. It's just not how to Yeah. 

Kerry Guard: How many touch points in your experience does it take for somebody to actually become a lead, like you're not even down to actually buying but like, there's several touch points that need to happen. 

Tara Pawlak: Yeah. Yeah, any Exactly. So really, the number that comes to mind for me right now is like 18. A lot of my experiences in b2b tech just to be clear around that, so and that might even be Even less honestly, just the last two years and everything that's been going on.

Kerry Guard: Yeah, it's interesting because to be and I think this where ABM comes in, that you alluded to, it's not just one buyer anymore. One decision maker, it's multiple. So you need 18 touch points from each individual, which from an account level adds adds up. Are you seeing, are you seeing that on your end in terms of sort of buying committees and not just one buyer, but needing to sort of convince the team?

Tara Pawlak: Yeah, absolutely. I think it's becoming more and more just the norm at this stage, and just where we are, at least in the US for the economy. And it can depend, it might be like, the person who was the decision maker, and the signer isn't really at the end of the day, they have to go get this like next level approval that in the past, they didn't have to do that they kind of have to sell it internally, and articulate that value. And that can even be like the CFO, who really doesn't, at the end of the day know exactly what you're talking about. If you're trying to explain, oh, we're going to spend this much money on a Mar tech tool. This is what it does. But it's like, there's so many more layers of um investment, like protection now. And yeah, that's why like building relationships is super important internally so they can understand like what you're trying to do with the money, they're using it smart, and depends on the product. But I think there's just more people involved in general. Because when you think about buying, you're kind of putting your own your own name on the line. Right? 

Kerry Guard: Yeah, yeah, you're sort of vouching for the thing that you're recommending that we put into the company and why yeah, that's, that does feel and then the buyer's remorse sort of settles? And you're like, oh, no, what did I do? 

Tara Pawlak: Yeah, and depending on what you're buying, you're not going to stand it up on by yourself, you know, usually the like, signer or buyer is not like the project implementation manager. So you actually need other people involved in that to kind of check, do the checks and balances, look at the challenges and kind of get their own buy in at the same time?

Kerry Guard: Thats true, you mentioned that the market is shifted, we were talking about the buying committee being part of that. Where else have you seen the market shift that's now impacting this need for marketing owning a revenue number?

Tara Pawlak: Yeah, great question. I think, honestly, it's a little bit of patience. That not be it's not really there in certain organizations. And it's really all stemming from a financial model of like runway of businesses of how long they have. I always say like, okay, like, that makes sense. Like, I understand the number I understand the math. And my question is, how long do I have? Right, like, building pipeline doesn't happen overnight? Is this like, six months, nine months? Because if you think about it, from an investment standpoint, you don't have endless investment money, right? It's like you're investing in, you know, marketing, maybe dollars, or tech or people. So if you say you have a limited budget, or you know, you're a lot of it's early allocate, our budgets are going down. That's the other thing that's happening. It's like, Hey, you still have this number, but we're going to take 20%, like back from you. So understanding the length of time to in your sales process. And when you have the pipeline and all of that in order to like make sure you're doing things at the right time. These The reason I asked that is like how fast do I have to like mobilize a team? Even if it's your existing team?

Kerry Guard: Yeah, leaving by mobilize like, like, rally the troops rally the team like, time? 

Tara Pawlak: Yeah, like, unless you're crushing it, and you think all of the programs and all of the campaigns and everything that you do today will get you to where you need to be in six months, nine months in a year. I would argue most marketing teams are not in that boat, to iterate figure out different things that they're doing, what's working, what's not working, you know, are you cutting your losses? Are you saying okay, this, this is something that we did last year for this goal, and this reason, and we didn't hit it? Should we continue doing this or should we just stop it? Or do we iterate? Do we change it? If we look at the data and said like, it wasn't a complete failure, but we'd go back and change X, Y and Z. And so I think that's why like the timing of understanding that. And I think that's like shifted really fast because of the market. And because companies just aren't seeing the results at the end of the day that they want it. And they've had to make some really tough decisions, whether it's people or budgets. But there's still businesses at the end of the day like they they keep going, maybe to have a strategic plan on how they're going to get there. Yeah. 

Kerry Guard: When you're saying things have shifted really fast, you mean, the market is shifting really fast to people to C suites, meeting things faster? Do you just mean people needing things fast? Or like, there does seem to be the shift of well, we haven't done any marketing to this day, or we've done a bit, but we haven't really been strategic about it. And now we need everything to happen like yesterday. Is that are you feeling that too? Is that what you've seen in the market? Or is this uh, is this new? Or is this because the market? 

Tara Pawlak: Good question. I mean, the pressure is always there for marketing, right to deliver. But I think because of, you know, sales cycles, getting longer budgets getting like, tighter, there's more emphasis on marketers to deliver than there's ever been. And that's kind of the shift that I see. But it's it's, it's not just marketing, like doing outbound sales is very difficult right now. So yeah, like, oh, okay, let's see what more we can kind of get out of marketing.

Kerry Guard: Well, it feels like part of the shift is people relate to this, right, the pitch slab, the emails, that relentlessness of sale, showing up at our door and knocking digitally over and over and over again, not just once, but like at least four emails behind it. And house. I hate to say it, but like, I feel like we're all sort of sick of it. So it's sort of left sales high and dry of like, if people won't respond to me, because they're tired of this approach. That it does feel like marketing's gotta come and show up in a real intentional way to support the sales team now, because it's more about correct me if I'm wrong, or if you disagree, or whatever. But it's more about surrounding our audience now giving them as much value as possible, showing up for them continuously. And being there when they're ready to make a decision and lead and the decision is theirs, that we have zero control over. 

Tara Pawlak: Yeah, yeah, no, I totally agree. It's like, that's why this whole like evolution of ever a lot of companies and marketers focusing on demand where historically it was like leads and leads or just people, right, where it's like, in order to create the demand for your company, you're basically trying to segment your market, figure out your ICP, and constantly build a relationship with them. So the second, they have a need, they think of your brand. And that's not easy that we already talked about the touch points. Right? So that's why it's like the patients sometimes it's hard, because, you know, you're like doing all the right things. And if the buyers just aren't willing to buy right now or spend their time investigating something, it's a real it hardens in. And I think there's just pressure from every angle of the most businesses these days. So.

Kerry Guard: Do you find that demand gen takes more resources than lead gen like from? Obviously, lead gen isn't really working right now. So we all have to shift the way we're doing things. So it's more of a then versus now versus then a lead versus demand. But it feels like it takes more time it takes more resources takes more money is that? Is that fair to say? Or is in the long run it it actually works better? Revenue wise, money wise?

Tara Pawlak: I think it works better in the long run. It's hands down harder, and more labor intensive, for sure. Because it's also like, what's your story? Right? Like, if you're in an industry where there's tons of competitors, it's like Gone are the days where like selling features like okay, you know, like people already recognize that they might have a problem but they don't know your pool exists, for example. So by like, giving them marketing content and all that just about a feature base, like they need to know like, what's in it for them and what you stand for as a brand. And a lot of that goes more towards demand. And so it's a lot more like creative by nature. We're a traditional lead model is more just like let's capture as many people as possible, we believe are in our ICP and then we'll think about it later. Where this is more like are they aware of us? That's a whole step. Are they engaged with us? Now we need to nurture them. Now we need to articulate, you know, there's just like a many step process in demand gen versus like capturing the lead saying like, Oh, yeah, they're totally fit our ICP when they're like when they're ready to buy.

Kerry Guard: Download this thing now. Yeah. And let me just hit them a couple of times with the same message about downloading this thing now. Yeah. And they want to download those days. Yeah, gone are those days I it is a big creative and content lift. So what kind of content? Have you seen to work? Because we have said, like, you can't just show up and ask for a download. So are we, before we get to the ungated conversation, which is where we are headed naturally? What kind of content? Are you seeing to be value driven, that people are really like getting, like wanting and engaging with?

Tara Pawlak: Yeah, so our persona, our thing, it depends on the persona, right? But it's more sales leadership, rev ops, and these are all data driven people, right, they have a number. And really just insights and analytics of like, showing them there's a better way. Like, if you go to any single one of them and say like, Hey, I can increase your winrate by x, they're gonna turn their head, like, obviously, you know, so it's like, it's like, how big is that number? No. But so some things centered around that, and really like building that relationship to like, catch their eye. So there's like so many different formats, you can you can do that with, right. But I'm a big fan of like, micro type of content, because you don't catch any like VP of sales or zero, like really leafing through this, like big report, they might every now and again, you know, but they don't they don't do this, like, on a weekly basis. Right. So. 

Kerry Guard: Yeah, yeah. So what's micro content mean for you? Is that?

Tara Pawlak: Yeah, yeah. So micro content, for me is like, you might end up actually having a big piece, like, we have a new state of the revenue operations and intelligence report coming out, which has a ton of data. But yeah, and of course, it's available to download. But like, that's a really large piece of content. And so it's almost like being real with your team of like, in theory, if we got like 100 sales leaders, you know, in the hundreds to look at this, that's amazing. But I don't think that's that realistic. So it's trying to like put it out there where they spend their time, you know, in social and communities and through relationships and having people to people send it to them, but really taking like bite size information, whether it's like an infographic or a quick video, or a post or like a hot take, or even like more storytelling, I think that that's what everybody wants to hear. It's like, okay, like, these are my challenges, but I'm not alone. And look at what happened to my friend over here. And they did X, Y, and Z. And they achieved that. And so however, you can, like format that, because people buy from their friends and referrals or that trust. And so if you put it in the story in the lens from that perspective, then it then it's like, okay, yeah, I should talk to them. 

Kerry Guard: Yeah, make it easy to retell. So is this. You? It's, it seems very visual, in the way that you're saying this. So you mentioned video.Infographics? I haven't heard that word so long, but I'm glad it's still alive. Because it's awesome. Um, and then is this social? That's shared? That's basically you said to be where they are. So yeah, I'm guessing there's some paid maybe with that, but it's really feel social in the way that you're describing it. 

Tara Pawlak: Yeah, I would say organic, social and paid social, of course. And I also think there's some, like community aspect of that if, you know, there's communities that were your ICP and your personal like, where they spend their time, whether that's online, or even in person, you know, things like that. It's just always keeping in mind that people's attention spans are so short, like so short, I always say like, no one reads emails they skim or scan, skim or scan, make it shorter, make it digestible, you know.

Kerry Guard: So blanks.

Tara Pawlak: Right? Just like you're not going to be able to, like have the brain capacity in today's world and how busy people are for them to really get a lot out of something that's in a super long form content.

Kerry Guard: Yeah, unless it's a story I do find myself stopping on LinkedIn when somebody starts telling me a story about an experience they're having. And so I do think, does your gut except I know get accepted it in terms of the company are out today? Are they leaning into this to where you're, you're engaging your sort of C suite to help tell that story. Because when we're talking people, people, personal branding, is that coming in to play here in terms of retelling those stories? 

Tara Pawlak: It's coming. Yes. yes, it's in the works. So yeah, for sure. I especially in our space, it at every company is typically a matter of bandwidth and getting a process in place to just kind of get that out there. So.

Kerry Guard: Yeah, for lift, it's it's a heavy lift, because he can't just show up and say, Hey, I need you to post more on LinkedIn. 

Tara Pawlak: Yeah, so someone who's like super busy. And yeah, I was talking about this the other day, and it's how I try to like, be just open and honest. Like everybody has impostor syndrome, it doesn't matter what level you're at. But like, if you're in a leadership position, you have so much value to add. And like, figure out what that focus is. And like telling it like, people want to listen, and I think that's like the hardest part when people are like, Oh, you you want me to pull, you know, like you want me to speak and suggest like, if you do it in a casual way, you're like an amazing speaker on behalf of this brand and this company. So it's, it's really getting some people to step outside their comfort zone. I mean, including me when I started Absolutely.

Kerry Guard: Pixar. For sure. Yeah, I even still have it like even today. It's like, oh, recording live. Oh, um, the storytelling, no piece I find is really tricky. When, for me personally, in order for me to retell stories, I have to hear them firsthand. I have because I have questions and I want to understand it, and I want to unpack it and tell me more. And then I feel like I can retell it as if it was not necessarily my own. But as if I really understood what the problem was, how our team went about solving it, what the what the nuanced challenges they came in contact with and how they overcame those. I find when you give sales, just a script of a story that gets a little lost, how do you when you're talking about storytelling, and retelling the stories and being an event to be in communities to having like even a C suite, retell the stories? How are you making it feel grounded and authentic? And part of the journey?

Tara Pawlak: Yeah, that's a great question. I always go back to knowing your audience. And constantly asking yourself, why would they care? Why would they care? And knowing who's in your audience is super important? Because I had a speaking session once and it was on, like customer experience. And I'm like, am I you know, am I the right person to speak at this? Maybe Maybe not, you know, like, usually with like a CS leader. And so I remember building the presentation, just constantly going back to what, like if you're in CES or that type of role, what you would care about, right? And they care about retaining customers and happy customers. And so I always try to build the story and like poke holes in it, throw like, kind of a iteration process of that. And being real with like, yeah, no, that persona doesn't care about that. Like in the shorter, more compelling and kind of like bold you can be, and say something different that maybe someone hasn't heard before, and a lot of that's just like wording and you know, like massaging of all that type of stuff. But you can kind of turn a lot of customer stories or data into something compelling if there's like a hook in the beginning, and something exciting and then the results. But constantly going back to like, Will I keep their attention or not to keep listening to me?

Kerry Guard: It's got it, it's got to some about you. And it's always interesting, too, because when you talk about your story, right, when you're telling a story, it's not. I think what you're saying I just want to make sure people are really clear on it, even though you're telling a story. It's not about your brand story of how we got started. This is you know, our story of why us and it's to your point and everything you're saying just driving it home, and being crystal clear is about who you're speaking to what matters to them and how you're going to re frame your story as it relates to who's on the receiving end of that and making them feel part of it.

Tara Pawlak: Absolutely. Absolutely, yes. Good way to, it's hard to do. It's super hard to do. And then there's also like, storytelling by committee. And not everybody thinks like, like, the way you just explained it. And a lot of people say, Oh, your brand stories like what, like a traditional, like, this is where we came from. And this is who we are. And you know, like, that's part of it, right? But you can't continue with that and assume people are going to care. And example, to be honest, that we're facing and facing but we're about to do is we're going through a whole rebranding. And like, no one cares when a brand changes their brand identity, let's all be real. It's so much work. And it's needed at you know, whatever stage and it happens a lot. But it's really tying it to like, what's the bigger story, you know, if you just change, like, a lot of the brand identity and your voice and your tone, like, to be honest, a lot of people aren't even gonna notice, oh, wow, new logo, well, this color scheme, or, you know, like, they change this, it's like, okay, but if you can tie that to something bigger, and bolder, and whatever that could be, sometimes it could be like a big product release, or an announcement or a brand like campaign that you make your persona as a hero, or, you know, take a stand for something, then it's noticeable.

Kerry Guard: Yeah, I also think it's a sort of growing up with your customer, right? When you start off as a startup, and you have this very specific product to solve a specific problem. And then you get in, you know, you bring your customer into that. And then you sort of, I don't know if this is a good analogy, or not, and we're alive, we're gonna roll with it. But it feels like when Harry Potter first started, and that first book came out, right, and you grow up with the characters, and the stories got more and more complex, right? That's every rebrand that happens is because you have to grow up with your audience, and you have to connect with where they are today, as it fits the market and how your product has evolved with them. Right, I think get accepted is a beautiful example of this, of how they started off as just a DocuSign competitor. And now their entire sales suite. Right. But they didn't start that way. They grew up with their customer really listen to what their customer needed, and then evolve to the product. Like, yes, I rebrands are necessary, and to your customers needs where they are today, because it's not where they were 5-10 years ago.

Tara Pawlak: And where they want to go. And now I can admit that I've never read any Harry Harry Potter books, or seen anything. So I was like, I don't know, where's how deep she's gonna go.

Kerry Guard: Oh, you have kids, that's gonna change at some point. And you get to go on the journey with them. And it's glorious. I just, I just revisited and like, redid that with my kids. And it was really fun to like, go back and go back in time. And yeah, but yeah.

Tara Pawlak: I've never seen anything floored. I'm like, I don't know, I just never, never got into it.

Kerry Guard: That's fantastic. Well, hopefully, somebody understands my analogy, and.

Tara Pawlak: I was following totally.

Kerry Guard: I have to draw back to read I have to draw. Yeah. Anyway. Um, I want to I want to touch on attribution before I close out here, because you mentioned it, and we're coming back, I want to come back to the importance of the whole conversation we've been having around marketing, owning revenue to some degree. Are you saying marketing should? Like should be? Is it a percentage? Is it all of it? Is it ROI in relation to revenue? 

Tara Pawlak: I mean, it obviously depends on your organization and your go to market strategy. But I mean, you need to do the math and see what percent of closed one, you know, new revenue, if it's net new logo, if it's expansion, there's a whole customer marketing leg, too, if that's part of your business of like, came from marketing. And then there you go, because like, when you go and do projections and numbers, you need to figure out like, Okay, last year 50% came from marketing, are we going to say that's the same next year? Are we going to put the pressure on and tell them 75 Right, and then the marketer goes, Okay, you want me increased by that, but I need more money, or, you know, it helps really understand where that is coming from. So whether you don't own like the full like, at the end of the day, which I understand I think the idea is at the very least pipeline and understanding the pipeline that is really coming in from marketing should be the goal. And then there's different variations of that a lot of marketing teams are like yep, we have pipeline by dollar amount. And we also are measured on deals, like number of deals plus the dollar amount. There's also like, we've been talking about internally also having measurement around number of meetings. And it's more because it'll bridge even more of an alignment of our inbounds. And really, really working very close with our SDR team, in trying to figure out like the quality, the ones that get D queued and really increasing that conversion rate. So number of meetings to is something that I think is also important, but understanding how those all fit together. And then at the end of the day, impacting the bottom line of the revenue.

Kerry Guard: I think what you're saying is about taking a step by step approach, right? Not just immediately jumping to owning revenue, but right, but saying, Okay, we own pipeline, we've gotten to good some, some good pipeline numbers, in order to make pipeline even better. Let's look at the next metric, which is setting meetings. And then have those meetings of people showing up on what to drop off, and how can we tighten that up, and then slowly working yourself down through the sales system to that ultimately, revenue number and then sort of tightening it up those conversion rates up over and over and over again, through tweaks, because you have to have enough data for it to be statistically significant enough for you to even be making decisions, right? If you get a whale. Yes, you land one deal, that's huge. You can't just go say, Okay, everybody came from LinkedIn. That's all we're gonna do. 

Tara Pawlak: Yeah, yeah. And that happens, that's happened, every company I've ever worked at. And it's like, wooed, we're celebrating, and you know, it's like, the saddest thing as a marketer, you take those big whales out of your calculations a lot. I mean, it's in there, and like the final numbers, but when you start to do like, ACB, and all of that, it's like, oh, but it's like, nobody took on our biggest deal. But when you're doing the modeling and the production, sense, unless you're gonna completely change your strategy and say, we're now going to go after all these whales, right? It depends on you know, where you're at. But yeah, for sure. I think that's that's the way to go. I think. Because in today's world, the answer is just not more pipeline. Right? Like, there's always improvement and conversion rates and process, and it's on, it's everybody's job that sits on a forward facing revenue team. So it's marketing. It's the STRS. It's the AES, its solution engineers, you know, any Cs that might have a quota, to really understand where we can improve? Are you at benchmarks? Are things falling? Are your win rates going down? You know, like, all of that really impacts? Because then at the end of the day, the last thing you want is like the blame game of, Oh, we didn't close this because of x, like, Well, what about here? Because we said that was gonna, you know, convert 50% of the time, but it's converting at 30. Like you're leaking revenue at that point, you know.

Kerry Guard: So true. Yeah. I also wonder about when we're talking about attribution, too, and that, right, so you know, you can always get better. But if you can't measure half of it, right, and we started talking, we talked about that in the beginning, where there's a bit of a bridge here.Yeah, it's it, there isn't 100% answer here. But at the end of the day, you want to work yourself down that funnel, you want to tweak it and tighten it up. You want to make sure everyone who's a contributors in the room. Is there any last piece of advice you would give folks who are trying to or are being pushed really, really hard to get here? And are are working their tails off to do it, but they know, I think as marketers, we all know, like, this stuff takes time and we're doing our best. And they have the CEO sort of breathing down their neck who have the board members breathing down their neck to have investors back, right. So you know, what do you say to those marketers who who agree? Yes, we all want to get here but also.

Tara Pawlak: Yeah. I would say my best piece of advice is get yourself in the meetings and push for alignment and consensus over process where you're at conversion rate question things. It's not a blame game. It's just getting everybody on the same page of like where we realistically are at. Because if you don't do that, it's going to be a big internal struggle and aligning across where you're going to focus. Like where's the marketing's team's focus for demand gen? How do we think we're gonna hit that? Explain it, share it with them, ask for feedback. And they're like the same thing with sales, or any other kind of like revenue stream that you have at your company. And I think if you don't have all the data or the insights or that alignment, it's a very difficult job.

Kerry Guard: For folks who are just starting off and just starting to get here, what advice do you have them for getting started? What should they they have very little data, their cell systems are just sort of, you know, standing up, they're about to launch into the paid market, they have some organic. They know that this is this is the end goal. But they and they're, they have to move very quickly. How do you get to being an all in meetings? Yes, to herding cats, yes to content? And also, what do they yes to alignment. At the end of the day, there's that pressure you're talking about. And so what's sort of your general advice to them, on navigating the world and all the minefields that come with it?

Tara Pawlak: Um I am trying to think I would say do your own level of research, outside your organization, if you can, on like benchmarking or other similar companies are also get involved. And this is something we talked about the very beginning. So I'm a member of Pavillion, cmo Alliance, revenue circle, there's like more communities that I'm in, and ebb and flow of like my time in there, right? Time is sometimes tough. But when I'm questioning myself, or being like, is that idea crazy, but I said out loud, and it didn't feel like anybody else kind of like, agreed with me, or just like, understood or has the same level of thinking, you don't have to agree with me, but just like, generally, you know, have that same experience, or have heard of it before, like, dive into community and ask questions, people are so helpful. And even if you're not that active, which you should, of course be, there's so much knowledge in there from some serious, like revenue leaders with some really good backgrounds and track records of them themselves posting things of like, hey, I need help with this, or have you guys seen this. And even if you just spend some time in there, and like gathering as much knowledge as as possible, it'll give you ideas and like a path forward to say like, Hey, I'm not the first person that's ever done this right. Let me go learn from some of these best people are just helped me. So I don't feel alone. I think marketing is a very lonely job some days, no matter what level you're on. So you're not alone.

Kerry Guard: Yes, yes. That's what I was looking for that human element of how hard this is. So thank you for giving our listeners a place to go to not feel alone to debunk impostor syndrome to get advice and ideas. Yes. So thank you, Tara, I'll have those all linked in the show notes once I do a complete wrap of this at a later date. But, Tara, ah, yes, this is so helpful. I think we all know that we have to head here. And we're just sort of trying to figure out where to start. And also trying to slow people down to say yes, and like, yes. Let's work through the funnel to get there. We all know that that's what needs to happen. It's not going to happen overnight. And we got this, but we have to, we have to take one step at a time. And I really appreciate you taking us through that journey. Before we go. I do have my people first question. Maybe remember that maybe don't so it feel fresh to you. I'm only gonna ask one, because we're at time. If you could go now that the world has opened up to traveled easier in theory, maybe not with three kids, but you know, once at a time, if things weren't hard, you could just go anywhere and pick up and just go, where would you go and why?

Tara Pawlak: Oh, I'm a big traveler. So I love this question. And I like dream and pretend I'm going on all these trips all this. But as you alluded to, I have three kids. So it's not that easy. So I've always wanted to go to Thailand. One of my brothers has been there and he spent a good amount of time there. And it just like, fascinates me like within the country, there's so much to explore and do and it's vastly different depending on like, what region and where you're at. So that's on my list. I don't know when I will get there with a nine year old seven year old and a two year old but hopefully one day.


Kerry Guard: And then you're gonna post it on Instagram, and I'm gonna follow you and it's gonna be great. Yes, I believe in it. Yeah, this was so great. Thank you listeners. If you'd like to connect with Tara, please head on over to LinkedIn if you're not already there, and follow up and make sure to follow and she's posting a ton of content right now and it's all like this and its so good dig in, soak it up and make it your own. Thank you. Thank you Tara. This was wonderful. My little sound off that I normally do to live is that this was brought to you by MKG marketing the digital marketing see that skills brands through meaningful relationships, feeling their ability to push their mission forward. It's hosted by me Kerry guard CEO and co founder of mpg marketing. Mix Music Mix and mastering done by Austin Ellis and if you'd like to be guests, please visit MKG marketing to apply Tara Thank you.

This episode is brought to you by MKG Marketing the digital marketing agency that helps complex tech companies like cybersecurity, grow their businesses and fuel their mission through SEO, digital ads, and analytics.

Hosted by Kerry Guard, CEO co-founder MKG Marketing. Music Mix and mastering done by Austin Ellis.

If you'd like to be a guest please visit to apply.

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