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Generate Demand, A Pipeline Machine

Kerry Guard • Wednesday, February 16, 2022 • 62 minutes to listen

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Steven Shapiro

Steven Shapiro is the Vice President of Digital and Growth at Laminar.



Hello, I'm Kerry Guard and welcome to Tea Time with Tech Marketing Leaders.

Welcome back to Season 10. I hope you've enjoyed my conversations with Lisa McDermott, Lavanya Ganesh, and Amber Anderson. As a reminder, we drop our full season of episodes Netflix style so you can binge or jump around. Either way, no need to wait week after week. Just enjoy listening your way.

In this episode, I chat with a previous client of ours, Stephen Shapiro, who has been a marketing leader at companies such as Qualys, Informatica, Weaveworks, and more. At each company, he has set the stage for how to build and generate demand. This is a hot topic right now because it's catching fire, and more people are trying to think about how to not just generate leads and pipeline but looking at the top of the funnel of where those net new customers are coming from who've never heard of you before. It's a head-scratcher, it's daunting, and it's big. And Stephen was so kind enough to join me and break down his framework of how he builds a system that generates the demand to lead and to ultimately pipeline. If you haven’t thought about your demand generation efforts, you could find yourself playing catch up in 2022 and Steven talks through exactly where to start so break out that notebook and take notes. Let’s go!


Kerry Guard: Hello, Steven, thank you for joining me on Tea Time with Tech Marketing Leaders.

Steven Shapiro: Hello, happy to be here. Thank you for having me.

Kerry Guard: I'm excited to have you. We actually had like we were starting covering before I hit recording. So we have some energy, and I can't wait to dig into that and keep that momentum flowing. But before we get there, our listeners need to know more about you, Steven. So, can you share your story of what you do? And how did you get there?

Steven Shapiro: Yeah, great question. So what do I do? I do whatever is necessary for organizations to transform them from usually a legacy old-style way of marketing to best-in-class practices of driving growth. How I got here was not planned in any way. I started my career as an engineer, and then, over time, migrated into various different things and ultimately ended up with a set of expertise and skillsets through lots of on-the-job learnings, formal learnings through Academia, and getting my master's in business, my MBA, but ultimately, it's just a lot of years of doing some very interesting things, learning from some great mentors and tutors over the years. And ultimately, now hopefully, I get perceived as that as well. You know, somebody who's learning it and applying it.

Kerry Guard: I feel a bit sheepish having worked with you for so long and not knowing that you started as an engineer, but the world makes sense now.

Steven Shapiro: Yes, yeah. I'm a very logical person. And now you know me, yeah, I'm all about solving problems. I'm a problem solver. Marketing is just another problem to solve, and learning techniques and practices that can be repeatable and used is kind of how I've gotten here.

Kerry Guard: Yes! Oh, my gosh, that makes so much sense. Tell me, and I’ll put you on the spot a little bit. But you mentioned having great mentors. What's one piece of advice you got from a mentor that has stuck with you?

Steven Shapiro: Yes, great question. So I had a mentor, Larry McIntosh, who I worked for him at McAfee, and he was a great marker, just a pure marketer. He led marketing at Pepsi, and he came from the consumer side of things. And the thing I learned from him was the purity of the message, which is something that's really stuck with me through my career.

Marketing is about telling stories, in addition to systems and processes for scalable growth. You've got to connect with the customer or consumer, whoever it is at work or for influencers in B2B deals, and you've got to get above the noise. Indeed, that's even the most critical thing right in the sense of how do you drive people to pay attention in this industry and marketplace where there's just so much stuff going on and so much information out there, and everybody is trying to drive some level of influence, and the purity of the message really stuck with me around. What are you trying to say? What's the problem you're trying to solve for that individual? What are that individual's pain points? What's the one thing that is really something they need from you? And how do you make that message strikingly apparent to them? And what I found over my career is that many marketers try too hard with so many different messages and things that they want to say, and none of them stick to that purity statement.

How do I get the one thing that I really want to get across, and it's because they don't know, it's because they don't understand. And they're guessing, trying, and yes, you have to do some of that, but at the end of the day, you really have to put effort into learning what it is that's relevant to the individual before you get them to connect with you. And not enough of that is happening. Not enough, and it's not easy. There are lots of systems and other types of things you need to do in order to know. I mean, if we knew, it would be easy. If, as marketers, we knew what they wanted, it would be super easy. We just don't. So you have to learn it. And once you've done that, then being disciplined to that purity of the message and making that story very clear is the most critical thing. So that was one thing I learned, was that there are other mentors I've had in my life, but I would say on the other side, not just the purity of the message, but also making the process repeatable and making the process scalable. That is, everything I do. At the end of the day, that's what I do, and the techniques are not something that isn't known. They're trying true now, and people just have to have faith and discipline to stick to it and build it out.

Kerry Guard: We just had a conversation internally about, you know, doing something to work, not necessarily giving up so quickly, like, you're just trying true processes. They work when you are diligent about figuring out how to make them work. Yeah, that's not true for everything but there are things that are tried and true. There's a reason why if it's not working, figure out why it's not working, and getting it to work and sticking to it is the key.

Steven Shapiro: Yeah! The hardest thing. That's the hardest thing for organizations, especially in certain models like B2B enterprise sales, where it just takes so long for the deal to come. Once you've influenced the individual and especially organizations, what I found is that there are these stages of development in an organization. You've got the beginnings when you're a startup, and you're, I like to say, it's the Rolodex period. You're selling through your friends and family, and you can hustle your way into deals through connections and very growth marketing hacking tactics, and that gets you to a level of success. And it's somewhere in the 10 to $30 million in ARR range. You fool yourself into believing that you can just keep doing that and get to the billion-dollar ARR through those same tactics, and you can't. That's just not a scalable practice. You can't hire enough people, and you can't get enough folks to get interested in doing that. And so it's very difficult for organizations who have been successful, right? And once you hit $30 million in ARR, you start getting a lot of interest in people, a lot of investors, and all of a sudden you think, "Okay, let's just do this at scale," and you just can't. " So the thing that got you there is not going to get you to the next stage, and that's very hard to acknowledge. And to say ''Okay, let's change what we're doing to grow" and the discipline to say "Okay, I acknowledged" Admitting you have the problem is the first step. Acknowledging that while this was great, it's not necessarily what we need to go forward, and acknowledging that in this lifecycle, it's going to take us three to four quarters of sticking to this before we start to see the end result that we care about, which is revenue and deals.

Yeah, there are leading indicators that you can look at, but you've got to say, "Okay, I acknowledge and I believe in these tried and true practices around relevance processes and us." You know, a sales cycle that's well defined, and you're moving from interest to consideration to decision, etc., and it's not linear and all those kinds of things. But giving your organization the time to bring in this expertise to develop the expertise and the processes and then start to see the results come from that. That's a very easy thing to say and easy to conceptually understand, but very hard, especially when the investors say, "Well, where's the growth?’’ There are some things you can do to accelerate that. But at the end of the day, you have to say, "I believe in this, and I know that this is the right path." And it's a climb up Mount Everest, and there are paths that will take you off a cliff, and there are paths that will get you where you want to go, and you need that guide to go up that path that's been established.

Kerry Guard: I have so many questions around that, which is going to lead and dovetail nicely into our conversation or brand around demand gen. But before I get there, I do want to, because as a people-first organization, I think it's important to connect with each other as people and not feel alone in the boat. Because as marketers, especially for being at the top, so to speak of where you generally set and where your peers who are listening set, it's very easy to sort of feel a bit alone. And then to feel like I'm the only one going through this, and so I always like to ask the question, "What challenge are you currently facing?" Not necessarily what are you doing about it, but just what are you seeing out there? What are you personally going through in a business that you do?

Steven Shapiro: You know, the biggest challenge that I have seen over the past five years is really just an extension of what we were just talking about, which is getting people to acknowledge the journey that buyers are on, the influence that it requires, and the importance of the different groups and what they do in that journey: marketing versus sales versus BDRs and SDRs, everybody's got a part to play. But no one is more important than the other. They're all equally important. But you've got to acknowledge, as an organization and a leadership team, that you have to build the processes equally and the importance of equal in order to get this buyer along on this journey. And this is particularly relevant in B2B enterprise organizations, where the buying cycle is extremely long and there are a lot of people involved in that buying decision. And what I have found is that most organizations conceptually understand what I just said and agree that "Yes, there's a journey." But then, when the rubber hits the road, and you start to make things like investment decisions, it's hard to follow through with that in practice. So when a lot of times, what you'll see is people doing things like, "Well, let's just look at the last touch and say that that's what's driving the deal." Or, "Let's look at the first edge," or even using the vernacular of credit, who gets credit for the deal. Those words, in and of themselves, are so bad at aligning it to a journey. You know, the analogy that I've used many times in other conversations is, and I've heard it wasn't me who created this, it was one of my employees at an organization at Informatica who said you wouldn't have gotten married if you hadn't had that first date. And I love that analogy. Yes, you're right, and I wouldn't know God. So was the reception dinner the night before the wedding? The reason for the wedding? Or was it the first day? It's a combination of everything that's happened over that dating and moving period that got you there and, you know, or their sports analogies. You didn't make an American football, and you didn't make the touchdown from the one-yard line. You made the touchdown from 99 yards, and you went on anyway. But getting people to behave differently is the biggest challenge that I've seen. Many organizations won't change their behavior to acknowledge this, though. They'll change and agree to it conceptually, but the behavior is what matters, meaning you can't just invest in sales; you've got to invest in marketing. You can't just invest in marketing; you've got to invest in sales. You can't just invest in one part of marketing, you've got to build all these components, and you cannot have a sales organization that is misaligned with a marketing strategy and vice versa. So, the combination of all of that is the biggest challenge that I have seen. And then following through with these best practices that are not rocket science and not unknown, but to be frank, are very rarely applied in organizations. I've seen many organizations that just don't get there. You know, it's really frustrating as a marketer and marketing leader to go into an organization and have to struggle with the foundation relevance. Do we all believe X? Yes, well, then why should we do what we do? Well, no. Oh, what do you mean, though? If X is the problem, Y is the solution. Let's go do that. Yeah, anyway, that's the biggest challenge. And I'm sure many of your listeners are just shaking their heads, "Yes, yes. Exact problem'' And now, you know, I can't come into these conversations without a solution. So I have the solution, but it's definitely a big challenge that we, as marketers, face in today's marketplace.

Kerry Guard: I think we're leading to the heart of where are we gonna be, you're gonna correct me if I'm wrong being the expert in the room. But it sounds like a big solution to all the things you're talking about this idea of demand gen. And I think a lot of processes in the MarTech and all the things that fit under demand gen and how you look at sales and marketing and all the parts of marketing, all come under this umbrella of this word, demand generation, which I want to say is new but not new. Like, yeah, it's been a long time coming. And there's Gary's on the forefront of IT companies in the heart of it and companies who are trying to catch up. Yeah, yeah. Would you agree?

Steven Shapiro: Yeah! Demand gen is just marketing. It's just good marketing. What is marketing's job? If you think about it, marketing's job is to influence people to want what you're selling, and that's demand gen. If you think about it in more granular detail, demand gen is really a way of doing that in a scalable, repeatable, efficient way, as efficient as you possibly can get so that you are driving shareholder value and shareholder wealth, meaning even in a nonprofit, you're there to improve the business fundamentals, and demand gen, as a practice, as a curriculum, is all about that. And now, it complements and it's just one part of the overall objective of marketing. There are other aspects of marketing that work together with this demand gen practice. There's a brand, portfolio, and product marketing, but they're all for the same output or same result, which is, we want to get people to want what we have to offer and make that connection. So now, the demand gen function, we think about it in that way. It is really how you take these things and systematically put them in these processes and mechanisms to enable that going forward. And it's a combination of technology, MarTech. And that's only because we now have data at our disposal as marketers; 20 to 40 years ago, we didn't; we had to rely on individual connections, Rolodexes, and other such things. Now, it's digital and it's a database, and that's great. As an engineer, I love that. I love processes that are repeatable and easy, so it's MarTech. But it's also bringing in stories and telling stories. It's understanding the journey and understanding the influence of touchpoints. It's having a clear understanding of your value proposition and why you are different from anybody else and doing it, so none of these things can be done unless you have all of that together. You can't have a great MarTech stack and not have a clear understanding of what you're assembling, why it's important, and what your differentiation is. If you have that, you have nothing to say. You've got a great system for saying if you have nothing to say, if you have the message, but you don't have the Martech, you have a great message, but you can't get it out there. You can't have the connection that makes it available to these individuals. So all of these things have to come together, and demand gen leaders are demand as a function or practice. It's about driving and leading an organization to understand what's necessary and how to develop it and bring it into the marketplace for your company. And typically, dimension owns the technology, owns the digital, and owns the buyer's journey. Practice doesn't typically own or is ultimately responsible for driving product marketing or driving brand. But in best practice, organizations are best-in-class organizations. The demand gen is a kind of orchestration. They're the conductors that are bringing this all together and then making sure it happens, is built out, and follows a set of tactics that are the right things to do at the right time. Because this is definitely... there are right ways to go about this, and there are wrong ways to go about getting that implemented. And maybe I'm wrong!

Kerry Guard: I wanna come back in a bizarre in one second, but I love the idea of orchestration because I think that creates a very clear picture. The other way that I'm seeing it is a handshake. Yeah, I mean, it's like that connection between getting your message out there and sales of how things are then filtered down, and telling sales the right people to go to say, like, it's sort of that.

Steven Shapiro: Yeah, absolutely. You have to have a single integrated marketing and sales plan. If marketing and sales are doing or going after two different strategies of how to reach the prospect, once you know the story and who you're selling to and what you're selling, and what the differentiation is, you've got to build an approach to strategy. And there are many strategies that you can use to communicate this. There's a high investment, a high growth rate, and high-rapid tactics, and there are slower, organic, and customer-centric ways where you're talking to individuals. And then there's account-based, where you're talking to groups and influencing them. There are different tactics that you can use, and there's no one right way. It just depends on your objectives and your investment profile. Many other attributes affect what you should be doing at that given moment in your company's maturity and market, but you have to be aligned together, you have to make those decisions and say, "This is this is the strategy or strategies we're going to use." and "These are our expectations of the results, and these are the tactics that then resultantly have to be done in order to get there." And then you build out everything to support that objective and those tactics. And so, you know, having a clear understanding and then saying "Okay." Let's say we're going to have an account-centric model where we have a group of accounts that we believe are critical to our success. Now, they don't know anything about us. They don't care about us yet. But we need them too, so that connotes an approach, a very aggressive and well-defined story that is specific to those accounts, and an approach where you're influencing those accounts and going after them. And it requires a lot of investment because these aren't the low-hanging fruit that is aware of you; these are the folks that need to become aware of when the sales team has to go and have connections with them. You've got to go get those connections. There are lots of tactical things that you have to do, and it means you can't go out there and speak to 1000 of them into. Your account manager can only handle a few because you're doing a lot, and you're repeatedly going after them. That's an approach that can be very successful, but it requires marketing and sales to be very well aligned in how you go after them.

Kerry Guard: Because if you're going after a single account, there are probably multiple people within that account that you need to influence and actually get the deal. It's not like you're working with one account. So there's one person you're talking to it could be five, it could be 10. And every single one of them has a different objective that you're trying to influence. So yes, it's much deeper approach.

Steven Shapiro: Absolutely! In all B2B enterprise sales, there's a buying team, and that buying team can consist of seven to 15 individuals that all have a vote on the purchase. It'll have an influence on the sales, and you have to know who they are and what they want. They have different needs and understandings. They are also at different stages of the buying cycle, and you have to develop relevant content to get them through the journey that's appropriate and relevant to them. As you can imagine, that's incredibly difficult to do, especially on any scale. So, if you have accounts that aren't even aware of you that you think you need in order to be successful, that's the account-centric approach. If you have people that are aware of you, but you don't necessarily care whether they're in a certain account or not, you can use what I like to call the "low hanging fruit approach," which is, if they're in the market, and they're irrelevant to what you're trying to communicate to them, you can easily get them into your funnel because they're out there already. Exactly. You can have a strategy that says, "I just want to go after aligning. I'm just going to go after the people that are already in the market. I don't really care if they're part of a certain account or not. If they're in the market and one of my target buyers, I'm going to influence them very quickly into the sales process, educate them, and get them ready for a sales conversation. " And that's a lot easier to do, because they're already in the market, they're already researching, they're already out there. You don't have to drive awareness of your per se or the problem set. You just have to make them aware of you as the right solution for that problem set. And so their practices are digitally very easy to execute in the market, and that can be a very successful strategy as well, if you've got enough of them and if that's a good growth target for you to go after. Different strategies, right? Two different approaches. One is high volume, influencing digitally, predominantly not a lot of account-centric activity. The other extreme is much lower volume, much more work done, more cost, but probably larger deal sizes, potentially.

Kerry Guard: I was gonna say is you really want to do account-based if you have every deal you close is significant to offset the cost of the money going out, versus a loan, which is maybe quicker deals, quicker times of closing those deals. You don't need a very big sales team. That's a number game. It's two different approaches, and I love what you're saying, like, first figure out what strategy you need, and then go back to the system around that I have seen. It's unusual. And I think it depends on the company and where they are in their growth cycle. And we're working with a couple of companies now who are doing all of it because they can. They built it from the ground up, went after the low-hanging fruit first, and figured out what that looks like. And that sort of got the pool got smaller, and they figured out ‘’okay, we need to fill the pool’’ so that they added things like account-based marketing to it so they could fill that pool. You know, it can't be done where you do start layering.

Steven Shapiro: You absolutely can, and many organizations are saying the only issue, per se is when companies try to do both, and they're not ready for both? Or do both because they don't actually have a strategy. They're just doing everything in anything to get deals. Yeah, and they do it poorly. They do both of those things poorly. If you can do both, well, great, you know, but that requires a tremendous amount of investment to do both simultaneously great. Imagine, you need the tech, the people, the marketing activities and materials, etc., to do both. And it's so rare that I've seen a company be able to do both simultaneously.

Kerry Guard: I think it’s layering effects, right? So like you start with one, and then you're able to layer in some of these other strategies and tactics as things happen over time. And it's taking years before I've seen it.

Steven Shapiro: That's exactly right. A lot of organizations start with, I would say, small and medium businesses, and then they move on.

Kerry Guard: Yeah, definitely! Well, you mentioned earlier in a conversation about the right way and the wrong way. And I want to come back to that because that was intriguing, of like, what are some examples where you've seen it? I mean, maybe this is one example where they've tried to do too many things at one time. What are other examples of like that not quite the way right approach to getting this thing to stand up properly?

Steven Shapiro: I mean, there are things like very tactically specifically bad things. You don't go buy a lot of MarTech, if you don't have your data, fundamentally understood. A lot of organizations will go buy all of the tools that are out there in the world as they get convinced that by these great marketers that you need CRM, you need intent data, and yes, you need all of that. But if you don't understand your customer or have the data brought together so that you can truly understand that journey, these tools can be effective but minimally staffed.. You can have the Ferrari, and even one of the gas in Ferrari’s on going anywhere, right? So you spend millions of dollars potentially. I've been in organizations that have spent more than $1 million in MarTech, in and of itself annually, and if you don't have your data in order to know where the buyer is on their journey and what the relevant messages to say you are, I wouldn't say wasting all that money, but you're certainly not being efficient with your money. All those tools will give you some level of benefit even without having all the data together, but you're going to be leaving a lot of money on the table. So the approach that you should follow is there's always some minimal amount of investment in MarTech you're going to need just to be in the game. There's a table stake that you need just to have any kind of an engagement with your prospect and buyer. And so, by all means, you need a CRM solution, an email, and a customer database. But what you should be doing is focusing your investment on making sure that you have a data lake and making sure that you have a truly comprehensive view of the journey and all the touches that are happening before you try to bring on campaigns that try to influence that individual along the journey. You can't really do the campaigns at any scale until you have the data fundamentally now. If you can do both at the same time, which you absolutely can do, if you invest enough money and you have enough resources, then great, there's no reason not to do both at the same time. Because getting a daily together is not a difficult thing to do. If you put the resources behind it, you can have a great data link in a 90 day period, even in the most complicated situations. It's just you've got to have the resources and the investment, to bring that together and get your data clean and get it into the right places and understand where it is.

Kerry Guard: Yeah, what's a good example of data link? Because I mean, data is dispersed across.

Steven Shapiro: Yeah, so you mean a data lake or a data ocean is a conceptually very simple thing. It's an unstructured set of data that brings all the data together and what I mean by all the data is all the database upon your objective. Now, marketing and sales have certain sets of data that they care about. They don't need to know, all the same things that finance needs to know, for example. But data oceans and data lakes usually have all of the data in one central. It does not have to be one database but connected into a place so that it can be brought together and analyzed from any perspective that some people call that data ocean, other people call it a data lake. Then each objective, marketing, and sales objective will have its own structured set of data formatted for its purpose. And that's usually either a data warehouse or a data mart or some sort of structure data that allows you to use it for doing things like what are all the touches happening across this journey? What are their sources? Are they coming from paid media? Are they coming from organic? Are they coming from sales, interaction, a call, and email? You bring all that together, and you tie it to some level whether it's an individual and then ultimately into an account it these are all structured that brought in. Having that understanding from a sales and marketing perspective is the first step of really being able to see what I do and the reason you need all that before you really start to leverage these campaigns because until I have a true understanding of what touches are influencing, at what stage in which individual, it's all spray. It just throws stuff out there, sees what sticks, and yes, you'll be successful to some degree. It's not that you won't have any success. It's just it's a very expensive way to do it. And given the technology, costs are so low and bringing the data again. They're so easy to do nowadays. There are so many great tools out there, and it's just incredibly easy to know, it's not hard. It used to be very difficult in the days of EDI, and these really talk tough API technologies to try to bring data together. But it's so easy now, it's not expensive, and it's easy to do. So, there's no reason not to do that as quickly as.

Kerry Guard: Yeah, and you're talking about big enterprises that already exist who probably have all this data that exists in these in center dispersed and your dad…

Steven Shapiro: Yep! That's exactly right. Most organizations have data in many places. They have duplicated it when there are lots of problems with it. Number one, it's all over the place, and it's not brought together, meaning there are no direct integrations between these sources. The other problem is it's usually very dirty, and it's either not updated, or it's duplicated, or it's not connected appropriately, meaning I've got three Stephen Shapiro's in my database, and they're all the same. But they all have different email addresses, and for my system perspective, I don't realize it's all the same individual.

Kerry Guard: So it’s nothing worst from a user experience, emails, and all these different places.

Steven Shapiro: And we have been trained as consumers and even businesses or consumers, people in business. We've been trained to want relevance. We expect organizations now that have our information to treat it like they know who we are and know what we care about because we've given it to them or gotten it. And so we get annoyed very quickly when we get stuff that is nothing to do with anything we care about. And then people joke about this all the time now on TV ads and so because that expectation is there, we as marketers have to do the basics to make sure that we can leverage that appropriately. And I just find this is all easy conceptually but takes effort, resources, and time to do properly. And that's why I say the right way to do it is to focus on that first or if you have to again, you can't. You don't usually get the opportunity to do only one thing. So you know, you're going to probably be doing four or five or 10 things, but you should put the relative percentage of effort. And make sure in your prioritization, that when you put one priority or number two priority number, you know, that's your number one priority. You put effort into and then because once you've built that out, you can easily then scale and say ‘’Okay, great! Now that we've got this, we can start to do the analytics.’’ And we can use AI and machine learning to help us understand what sources are driving quality conversations, what messages are driving quality conversations, what stories are resonating, and that feeds then into accelerating the next stages of development, which is ‘’Okay what investment do we need and what do we need to do to now grow to strategies or augment the strategies if we want to go to a low-hanging fruit strategy?’’ Now we can be very efficient and effective with our dollars. And you know, at Informatica, I use these practices to basically create 50% more influence pipe with no additional marketing budget. I just moved money away from things that were not effective to the things that I mean, the old. I can't remember who made the call, but I wasted 50% of my marketing budget. I just don't know which 50% means that is exactly what we're fixing nowadays. And I'm passionate about it because technology has now given us the ability to move away from and to very relevant conversations based upon real behavior. And yes, it's not fast to build it out, but once you've invested and done it, you now go a lot faster. And so it's you go slow to go fast. You do this, and you put the effort in six months into the building could take a year. And these are really complicated, difficult businesses, but once you've done it now, you can get the true benefit of any watch to grow very fast.

Kerry Guard: And I like to talk to my team about this to have like, even though we have all the data, and there's lots of data to comb through, what's the meaningful data? What's the most important that tells us something right now that we can then go act on, and we'll keep analyzing, and we'll keep looking at the whole picture. But if there's something in here that's telling us something we can go do right now, we should go do that. What's that data story?

Steven Shapiro: A great question. It's a great question, and it's actually a difficult question to answer only in the respect. The issue of you've got to understand your KPIs define what you think you care about. So, for example, you've got leading and lagging indicators; you're lagging indicators that take a while are your revenue and opportunity deals, and those sorts of those take a while to come but there are leading indicators. How many conversations quality conversations am I having in a b2b sales model? Right, that's a leading. What are my click-through rates? You know, the click-through rate in and of itself doesn't matter. Click through because you find a lot of click-throughs, and they don't turn into deals. Who cares? Right? You know, but if you define these leading indicators and use simple correlations, you don't need to know causation. You just shoot, let statistics be your friend, use AI and machine learning and predictive analytics to tell you what things you are doing are driving significant increases in these leading indicators, and then ultimately, lagging indicators. When you do that, and these tools are now available easily to go do that. You can go say ‘’Okay, what, and it doesn't matter why, why does it matter at this stage? I don't need to know why putting an analyst report in front of these folks at the beginning of this journey drives people into conversations that turn into deals. I don't to know why. I just need to know that if we did that at places like Informatica, we found that putting the analyst report in their hands had a significant impact on deal size, deal cycle times and turned into actual revenue. In Symantec and Norton, in the consumer side, I found that the price of the product that we put in front of them was highly dependent upon their screen resolution. And the reasons we hypothesize were because if they had a low screen resolution, they had a very cheap old computer, and so they were more price-sensitive, and thus, they didn't care about the high price. I mean, there are lots of reasons as to why it happened good. But the reality was, we didn't care. We just stopped putting our most expensive product in front of people that came with the low price resolution and low scrutiny, which increased the people clicking through to buying significantly because they weren't confused by putting something that they were never going to buy in front of me. These consumer techniques have been around for 20 years, and B2B just in the last 10 years starting to leverage them and do it. And it's harder in B2B, so it takes more effort and more work to do touchpoints.

Kerry Guard: Yeah, so we're talking about demand, and I'm starting to see the building blocks that you're putting together from understanding the data, first and foremost and then from there, figuring out what your strategy is going to be. Is it the right fruit? Is it the ABM? Is it growth? What's your strategy ? And then actually putting together the execution elements that are going to breed that strategy and looking at the data, causation correlation to figure out ‘’Okay, what do I need to do more of what I do? Do I need to do less of today?’’

Steven Shapiro: Yeah, that's exactly right. You got it right!

Kerry Guard: It sounds so easy, but it's a lot of moving. It's a lot of moving parts. It's a lot of move, but to get right.

Steven Shapiro: It’s a lot of moving parts. It's very logical, and it makes conceptual sense. But it's very different from the way things typically have been done. nd because it's different, it's hard to get people to do it and have the discipline to stay with it to see the results come and get there. And especially when organizations don't have a clear understanding of their value proposition. What makes them different, where do they want to be, and who are they bestselling? Many organizations don't have that even basic clarity, so they get distracted with whatever the next shiny object is. We need to go into Fintech. We need to go into healthcare. We need to do this. We need to do that, and we need to do it all now and so the lack of prioritization and desire to go after everything in anything. It makes it if you can't do anything well you're doing, you're trying to. You're like the peanut butter, and you're spreading your peanut butter too thin. Peanut butter for spreading it way too thin, and so it doesn't taste good. Right? It's, it's hard to get people to follow what conceptually and logically just makes a lot of sense.

Kerry Guard: To to our engineer brains, but I'm like you, I’m in logical. This makes sense. Let's just go do it but so when you're walking into an organization. This will be my last question on the topic because we could be here all day. First question, but I think in terms of a lot of people who are listening and probably go ‘’Yeah, yes it's logical for me but I walk into these organizations, and nobody listens to me. What you've done this a couple of times now, more than a couple? This is sort of your, I would say, where your heart is if what you like to do is walking into organizations and being like, this is the way Obi-Wan Kenobi. And so, your last piece of advice to listeners in getting started and helping people join the journey of demand gen and these building blocks, what would you say if they could walk into an organization and bring people along? What's your best piece of advice and getting that started and getting people to join in?

Steven Shapiro: Yeah, I think you've got to bring data to the party. You've got to have data that shows that this works and so you got to have a good two to three minimal use cases and case studies that say ‘’These folks did it, and look at where they got’’ That data traps everything, right? In God, we trust everybody else bring data, right? So you gotta have some data there and it's hard because people don't like to share their success stories of armless. Because some of its proprietary confidential and hasn't been done as much in B2B so it's not easy but he tried to bring some data. And I have case studies and stuff that I use to bring that too, but I think you also have to use the logical argument. The other thing I would say is, you also have to know when you're not going to be successful. You also have to go into the organization and have these conversations. And if the leadership is fundamentally irrational and that happens a lotwhere they have data, they see the data, they don't believe the data for whatever reason, and they agree that it's the right data, but then they just don't believe it, or they don't change their behaviors on it. There's no way you can be successful. There are many organizations out there that will not get there. They will not entail into leadership changes or whatever that fundamentally are behaving differently to the rational argument and that is the definition of being irrational. And you're just not going to be successful unless you control everything. You're the CEO, and you're being asked, and you get to make the decision. The only thing you can do is influence, and influence means to buy in and sell them and win their hearts and minds. And if they are illogical, irrational, you're not going to be suited. It's not worth your time and energy to fight that battle because you will not be successful. I've done it, tried and been sisyphus with that rock rolling up the hill and just can't do it. And so I said ‘’forget it’’ I've left and or you know, we all agree that they weren't going to do it and we parted ways. So you got to have to come to Jesus' meeting, so to speak, right? And say ‘’Okay, are we doing this? Are we not doing you believe and do not believe it?’’ Or is their behaviors actually, a lot of times they say they want to do but they just don't? Don't they're irrational behavior? So you have that conversation and learn, but in organizations that do seem to be rational and do have to vote, you just have to bring the logic argument to say, Does this make sense? Do we all agree that this makes sense? ‘’Yes, this makes sense.’’ Okay, great. And then he liked a few times, maybe not a lot, but a few times. I've had people say ‘’well, I don't believe digital influences, enterprise deals. And this is coming from the CEO level executives,’’ and I asked him ‘’Okay, well, how do you learn about new products and services? Why go online? Okay, well, if you go online, why do you think our customers are different?’’ So you have to have that discussion ‘’Okay. Well, you're right’’ And if they come back and say ‘’Well, yeah, but I still believe’’ ‘’Okay, you're being irrational’ You know, that doesn't make a lot of sense ‘’Okay. So are you going to continue?’’ But you know, I believe we as marketers ultimately succeed because it's not just a belief. I think it's knowledge. I know we will be successful because what's going to happen is companies that follow these will be successful companies that don' know, and I don't mean that they won't make money. They will make money. There are lots of companies out there making good livings and making money, not following these practices, but they're not growing at the rates that they should be growing and competition will ultimately impact them. I know of an organization that does very little marketing and has grown to be almost a billion-dollar ARR, but they are not growing very fast. They're growing very, very slow, and their competition, the reason they got to where they are is that they were very good at from technology in their product, and they did it just enough marketing to get them there. But the competition is catching up, and they are not following practices and growing very slowly. And eventually, they will become like we have seen many other organizations that have died or acquired and are no longer here. They will die, they will go away, and is because they were not paying attention and didn't do the things I do to compete in the new world

Kerry Guard: It’s a new world and demand gen whatever you want to call it, the word might itself evolve. As I feel like we've seen over the years, initially, it's starting off as a small thing like growth hacking becoming a full system to now actually running the gamut across all the marketing and sales efforts of the Dallas handshake. I agree that this the fundamentals of where you call it the fundamentals. It was the demand gen sort of this big world, but now the function of what they have. The word might change, but systematically, what the thing is isn't going anywhere and will continue to evolve the new way, and yeah, I agree.

Steven Shapiro: This is the way where the Mandalorians.

Kerry Guard: Ah, yes, I think we have a lot for the people I know to be listening are definitely shaking their heads. I think we've given them a lot to think about in terms of how they can walk into their organizations tomorrow and help move things through and along, and I'm excited. I'm excited for where we're headed in marketing, and where we have to go with this especially. And this could be a whole other topic, which we do not have time for and I'm sorry for that. It'll come back and delight us with his presence again, around with more, we talked about data and demand gen, and in the heart of where this thing is we talk about privacy and what that looks like, that's good.

Steven Shapiro: Oh, yeah, I'll do that. Yes, I do have it. We'll talk about in another session on what's happening because as a digital marketer, I've paid close attention to what's going on but I believe there are changes coming and I think there will be good.

Kerry Guard: And I think if you’re on the cusp? The last thing you can agree or disagree with me on and then we'll take you know, cook people for our next conversation. But I believe if you're doing demand data, and you're doing it correctly, you will be okay.

Steven Shapiro: Oh, absolutely. The summary is it's all about relevance and we can talk a whole another hour on relevance. But people expect relevance and I learned we're going to tie this together. I had a mentor so to speak a guy I used to work with, I'm earning Roman who is in the hall of fame of the direct marketers association, but I learned from him the value of reciprocity. And there's a whole paradigm around reciprocity and the value of reciprocity and what people want and giving them what they want and they will give you lots to give you what you to get what they want. So there's a whole industry coming around that.

Kerry Guard: Oh, I can't wait. Okay, we're gonna have you back where you're going to dig further. And I think it on top of all of our minds of like, where Max-like demanded is here to stay. But that doesn't mean the next thing isn't coming and I think this is part of that. Stay tuned listeners to wrap up our conversation. Again, being a people-first company, it is always nice to connect with each other as people beyond just being marketers. So I have three questions for you. Well, rapid-fire action. Are you ready?

Steven Shapiro: Yep. Absolutely, bring it on.

Kerry Guard: First question for you. In the last almost two years now, sorry, hard to say, you know, with the new world of coding coming out of it, hopefully, what new hobbies have you picked up with any?

Steven Shapiro: Great question. I don't have any new hobbies, but I do a lot more of the old hobbies and for me, I'm a huge wine guy, I love wine. So, I collect wine. I drink wine. I probably drink a lot more than I should, and I collect a little less than I should. But with COVID I spent more time enjoying and I also think that my hobbies of entertaining and being with people and COVID really made that hard. And so I'm enjoying now reconnecting and getting back together with friends and family and colleagues. And I think wine is a great social animal in the sense that we get together and there is no such thing as too good of a wine to share. You share everything with everybody and so I've spent a lot more time doing that.

Kerry Guard: What's your curiosity? What's your like, go to not necessarily brand but like, is it red or white? And then is it a?

Steven Shapiro: No, that's like asking who's your favorite kid? Who's your favorite child? I love everything. So you know, it just depends on the mood depends on what I'm doing, what I'm eating. Be careful with wine because it's a slippery slope, the more expensive wine you drink is usually the better wine. And all of a sudden, you start wanting the cheaper wine so until you're really ready to spend a lot of money online don't drink great wine with the expensive one because your palate will very rapidly want that.

Kerry Guard: You can taste it. I'm closer to France now. Second question for you. If you could go to anywhere in the world, which now that things are opening up a bit and just assuming that it’s out there. Where would you go and why?

Steven Shapiro: Well, I've been wanting to go to Italy. For a while, I did a trip to France. A few years ago, I took three weeks and I went on the wine tour basically and love to do the same thing in Italy. I've never been to Italy. I've been all over the world. I've been almost everywhere. But I've never been to Italy. I'd love to go and you know, have spent a month in Italy. Man, that would be great, eating and drinking. You're closer than I am.

Kerry Guard: I know. It's yes. It's on our list. France and Spain and I've done it. And it's on my list for sure. Ah, so good. All right. Final question for you. I know you haven't been in the office in a long time and the world is gone remote, mostly. But if you could be in the office with your people and walk on the floor, and work at it. What song would you want playing to set the vibe?

Steven Shapiro: With song? Oh my gosh, you know what? I don't know. It's just there are I think YMCA, there you go. The village people. Look at me. I think we're all tired of the pandemic or tired that people are frustrated with the work-life, lack of work-life balance. I think people are just tired, right, and frustrated with everything the world politics blood. So a song that gets people energized about just being live and being together and, you know, something that's upbeat, and that people can really just dance to and just have fun with and that would be great. I don't know the exact song but YMCA

Kerry Guard: YMCA. It’s on our Spotify playlist. So let's all right come back today. Let's do it then.

Steven Shapiro: The best era for music ever, the 80s. I'm biased, but that guy grew up. That's my favorite.

Kerry Guard: I'm totally with you, Steven. So good to connect and have you, thank you for joining me.

Steven Shapiro: Absolutely. My pleasure. We'll do it again soon. Talk about relevance.

Kerry Guard: Oh, yes. We're doing it. It's coming. Get ready everyone.


That was my conversation with Steven Shapiro. Demand gen has been around for years, but the adoption is taking off. If you're starting to think about how to build your pipeline machine, hopefully, Steven helps you figure out how to get started. If you'd like to connect with Steven, you can find him on LinkedIn and rumor has it he's looking for his next tech company to join. Be sure to reach out if you think your company and even could be a match made in developing a demand generation machine. Steven if you're listening, thank you for joining and sharing your secret. I appreciate you and hope we get to work together again soon.

In the next episode, I chat with Rachel Jordan who just joined a new company as their marketing VP to help change the education space in a really powerful way. You won't want to miss this conversation. Thank you for listening to Tea Time with Tech Marketing Leaders, the podcast that helps brands get found via transparent measurable digital marketing. I'm your host Kerry Guard, and until next time.

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.

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