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Podcasts > Tea Time with Tech Marketing Leaders

Mastering the Art of Crafting Your Account-Based Timeline

Kerry Guard • Thursday, September 14, 2023 • 56 minutes to listen

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Steffen Hedebrandt

Join us for an engaging discussion with Steffen Hedebrandt, the founder of Dreamdata, as he shares insights on discovering and shaping your account-based timeline.


Kerry Guard: Hello, I'm Kerry guard and Welcome to Tea Time with tech marketing leaders.

Kerry Guard: Hello, I'm Kerry guard and Welcome to Tea Time with tech marketing leaders. We are live on LinkedIn and YouTube. So if you are here, please say hello. I can't see who's following us unless you comment. So please comment, tell us you're here. Let's start conversation. So beauty of being live. That's the beauty. Let's lean into it. Stephen, I'm so grateful you're here. I'm excited for this conversation today. Before we get into it a little bit about Stephen, Stephen and I connected over LinkedIn. As I gave a shout out to my community and asked for who I should interview. And Stephen was at the top of the list. I've actually been following dream data for a while now, thanks to his sales leader, Lauren earldom, what great content she's producing. If you're not following her, please head on over and do that right now. Right now. So yeah, I've absolutely jumped at the chance to have a conversation because I've I've been following dream data and they've been doing great stuff. So thanks to my previous guests free to air b&b for the recommendation free to ah, so grateful. This is going to be an awesome awesome conversation about Stephen before we hear his side of the story in greater detail, and I turned it over to him he is an exceptional growth minded is data driven by heart and loves all parts of scaling businesses. He's a notorious growth hacker, we're going to dig into what that means later in this conversation. And with his successful track record of scaling businesses and building teams at Upwork. And their team, Stefan truly knows the pain of rapidly scaling, marketing and growth first hand. Today, Steffen serves as the co founder and chief marketing officer at Dream data. Steffen, welcome.


Steffen Hedebrandt: Thank you so much, Kerry. And I get a little bit crunchy feeling hearing these superlatives about myself, but I'll try to see if I can do some of them. Them just

Kerry Guard: Absolutely, yeah, I you're already doing it. I think I'm one of many shows that you have been on, you are creating quite a track record for yourself already. So I just I think it's just about being you and showing up. And with all this great information you have. This is gonna be an awesome conversation, like I mentioned. And before we get into it, though, we need your story from from you about what you do and how you got there. So tell us, Stephen, tell us all the things.

Steffen Hedebrandt: Yeah, I guess I can quickly run through kind of where I got how I got here. I've been ever since I graduated university I've been working in, in b2b companies, very digital, like completely digital b2b companies. It's always been startups, SMB space. So what I'm gonna say today is also going to be, you know, biased or colored by that's the world I know, well, so if, if you're in b2b enterprise, and b2c, some of the things I say might be a little bit different in your world, but that's just how to lay out the landscape. I think I graduated back in early 2010. So it's been like, almost 13 years of only basically marketing growth related roles and tried a lot of stuff that failed and also had a few success with different kinds of projects. So hopefully, I can convey a bit of of that today. I think, probably my most important skill is, you know, it's there's, like listening to the term growth hacking thing I really should didn't get that deleted by now. Because it got so fluffy. For me, what it means is kind of a persistency, a consistency, a natural curiosity on how you can do things a little bit better every day. So what you need to do is just, you know, think about all the ideas you have tried to score them a bit rational, and then try to execute them as fast as you can, and then try to learn from the outcome. And if you go to that, with a desire to win the desire to do a little bit better than you know. You just find 1% here you find 1% there and like suddenly this snowball starts running. And if I come if I reflect a little bit upon it, maybe it's because I've always been playing sports, most of my life and you get that kind of natural okay, there's a scorecard. Maybe there's a tactic in the game that we can apply we can train before we come to the game. etc. So this is this very boring commitment to try to get better and try to show up at training. And you know that that is what can create, to me at least, can create great momentum.

Kerry Guard: I had an employee not too long ago say to me, I absolutely love this. He's like, every day, I'm just trying to do 1% better. And that's silly to even think that way, I'm walking to work every day. And today 1% better, like what a great way to think about growth. 

Steffen Hedebrandt: It's also because, you can, you know, there's, there's not a lot of unicorns out there where it can, if you just go from zero to a million out of nothing, what most ordinary people like me, at least can do is just try to kind of write this email a little bit better, I can run this ad campaign a little bit better, or come up with a little bit better color or whatever it is, that those are the things that ordinary people can can do something about.

Kerry Guard: It's true. It's true. Aaron, gee, thank you for joining us from Canada grateful you're here we are on a little earlier. So probably missing some of our west coasters, but have no fear. This is all being recorded, and you'll be able to watch it at any time. And still comment and we will be sure to circle back with you and answer any questions you have asynchronously. So grateful to have you, Erin, in terms of where you are right now, Stephen. And being I love that, I love that you're wearing both hats, because I wear I wear the same hats of co founder and marketer. So you definitely have an interesting perspective of getting to see both sides, I find marketers don't always get to see the business side. And so what great insight, you have to be able to do both of those things. So in your unique position, what challenge is, is in your way, at the moment, what's really hard.

Steffen Hedebrandt: I think that you will probably recognize this as well is that you as a co founder, you get pulled into all sorts of different projects, which isn't necessarily marketing. But as a business as a whole, they are very important. So you have to deal with them. Like my, if I'm honest, my passion is kind of marketing related stuff. But you know, let's say there's a customer who needs help analyzing their data, then I happily jump into that call, but it's not generating us new demand. So I think it's this constant challenge of selecting the right things to work on. And like having your internal compass configured, so you don't get stressed out. Because there's tasks all over the place. all the fucking time there's tasks, you need to kind of you need to and that's, you know, that's where I'm grateful to have co founders is that you can speak with them and say, okay, I have a too much work that right now. And for us, that typically means that there's unclear priorities. So we need to talk about what are the most important things right now. And then you start with the most important things and then just leave them alone. The other things if they're not as important as the other things. So this is a thing that I think that's the main challenge that I faced that there are so many things that I could be spending my time on. So what is the right things to spend the time on?

Kerry Guard: Yes, I so feel all of that because what while you there's benefits to jumping into that customer conversation, right? Because there's also retention that you want to maintain, tricky, like trying to grow net new but wanting to read, retain, where does my energy go? And both of these things feel important, but which one's more important? It's the never ending struggle, for sure. So I love that you're able to sit down with your co founders. I think this is important in any marketing organization, of when somebody gets overloaded for them to feel that they can raise their hand and say, I got too much going on what do what do I need to pray? Like, if only three of these things are gonna get done today? What three have to get done right and raise your hand and say that, I think is hugely important. And as marketing leaders, we need to give the right space to our folks be able to raise their hand and say that so amazing that you can do that with your team. I hope more people find that inspiring to create that space and then give that space to them that our team actually feels compelled to do that too. So important.

Steffen Hedebrandt: Yeah, I think you don't achieve anything in business just overnight. It is a marathon that we're running and if we're if we think we can just continue to sprint every single day we burn out and it goes for ourselves but also for the the employees that you can't just go to max and then expect people to stay there you need to not push them extremely hard every day and also help them prioritize their tasks and help them understand what at least how you see what's important and understand, like, listen to what they're spending time on and try to scratch some of the work that might not be worth the stress.

Kerry Guard: Yeah, and where there's like where the I like to have these meetings every 45 days with each team member to understand what was their biggest win in the last 45 days. But what also was their biggest challenge? And if I keep hearing the same challenge come up, either from them or from other team members. At the same time, there's clearly a roadblock that we're all having. And I need to clarify that for you. So, yes, yes to that, and finding that back to day, it all comes back to data stuff, and doesn't it?   

Steffen Hedebrandt: Yeah. Inside some shape or form, I guess.

Kerry Guard: Speaking of data, let's dive into our conversation, which I think again, I comes back to the challenges that I think folks are you are are having right now. The market has shifted in the way buyers buy tremendously. Would you Would you agree with that? What have you seen in that shift?

Steffen Hedebrandt: I think what has happened just at least now we sell to we sell our love to software companies. And this industry is typically funded by a lot of cash from investors. And the world has over the last year, typically, since the start of the war in Ukraine gone a lot more pessimistic. So a lot of companies has been told by their investors and the investors has been told by their investors that, look, you're not getting as much cash as you'd got before. So everybody's getting more conservative, restraining the cash more, trying to save money trying to cut costs, etc. So that also means that you, us seller of software, but probably you as well as a consultant, people are like turning every coin a few more times, and more people are getting into the conversations and asking questions, etc. So I think that that seems to be the tug of town that everybody's feeling that deals do take longer. So it's for us that's ultimately trying to, okay, how do we shift the narrative in what we say we do from being this kind of growth at all costs, just, you know, spent the money, go raise new money and grow some more to hear, we can actually help you be a bit more effective, we can help you cut some costs out of what you what you're doing right now. So I think that that's probably, I guess, overall, is a classical marketing challenge that, you know, times changes, and you need to kind of make your narrative kind of fit the story that is out there at the moment.

Kerry Guard: It is true, I think all companies are being tasked with figuring out how to make them dollar go further, or the pound or the euro, or the case, maybe like you got to make it go. We can just keep spending money. For the sake of it, we need to tighten our belts, we need to get really smart, we need to understand where the money's going, how it's effective, how it's on effective and and where we can cut costs, which unfortunately, right now is coming at the cost of folks and their jobs.

Steffen Hedebrandt: But I think that what I'm what we've just said here is I think that is kind of a short term bump that will you know, within the next year or two kind of iron out again, that's at least my expectation. I think a bigger shift that is happening is that that the people out there buying things are less and less willing to talk with salespeople, which put large demands on marketing and communication and content for you to be kind of omnipresent without actually having the direct dialogue with people all the time. So for us as marketers, we really need to think about every thing you could be asking related to our company, we need to have super crisp value propositions. We need to be present on review platforms and if you're in Slack communities, or wherever it is. I was talking to a guy called Kyle yesterday from from Clary, and he said he saw a stat about that. Nowadays, only 11% of the buyer journey happens in front of you. And the rest is out there. You know Yeah, roles, people researching your website without talking to you and all that. All of us need to understand that like consumers and buyers are empowered like never before and go to market in a fashion that acknowledges that we need to empower people to make their own decisions. And then the time where you can get information behind the few salespeople is probably long gone now.

Kerry Guard: And even though we're hitting this bump in the road In terms of people being more thoughtful about where their money is going, it's kind of like COVID. That way, before COVID remote work wasn't really a thing. And then COVID happened and remote work became the thing. And after COVID remote work has not gone away. And I think that shift is going to continue where the buyer continues to not want to talk to sales, even after we get through whatever this weird recession period is, it's not really a recession, I don't really know what's going on. But everybody's, I think everybody's scared of the possibility of a recession. So they're trying to like plan ahead of it. And so, but after the recession is over, coming out the other side, the buyer isn't going to change that the way that they buy is not. It's going to be the new world order. We all as marketers and sales need to catch up.

Steffen Hedebrandt: Yeah, I agree with that.

Kerry Guard: Yeah, yeah. So I think the other thing I'm seeing that we've talked that we talked about in our prep meeting, that I think comes into play into our conversation is around the fact that it's not a single buyer anymore. It's it's a committee, would you call it a committee? Committee, but it's

Steffen Hedebrandt: The whole the buying committee, I think about it, as you know, it's typically a team that makes a decision about buying something, at least.

Kerry Guard: Yeah, I find it's sort of a reverse. I'd love your perspective on this. This is my hypothesis on it, when we're testing it now with a couple of our clients, but it seems to be the practitioners, the people on the ground, are doing the research to figure out what tools they need, or what vendors they need or what services they need. And then they do all the collection, then they bring it to their VP to narrow it down. And then they collectively bring it to the CMO to say, Okay, we're looking at these two, here's why here's where we want to go with. And so by the time it gets to the person ultimately signing, whether that whatever the CX Oh, is, the decisions basically been made, but they got, but the signer has to be brought into the conversation is my hypothesis of, of where things are headed.

Steffen Hedebrandt: I think that's the scenario we see as well in like 80% of the cases, sometimes there is the kind of the high ranking officer that says, I want this tool, but most cases, it's, it's everyday people who are operators running into challenges that are trying to solve the challenge. And then they do the research, and then go request a certain amount of budget to go at this task. But I think there's also there is some point here, Gary, that you need to think about, who are all the stakeholders in, in this buying decision? And yes, we should cater definitely to the person who was looking to solve a problem. But there's also maybe a CMO or CFO who needs to like from a business point of view and approve the investment. So are you able to address business case related questions? What's the ROI of investing in your, your company or in our tool and stuff like that? So I'd say that it's always a good exercise to look at what are the last 10 deals with one, which people were do we know were involved in this deal? And are we actually able to deal well with all these kinds of people. So for dream that it might be that there's a data protection officer, or there's a legal department sometimes, and then there's the marketer, and there's the CMO. And then there's the ops person also. And we need you know, it's, you know, you're playing kind of a card game or whatever, and you need to kind of if they don't bring a knife to a gunfight, you need to kind of be able to play the right concept at the right time.

Kerry Guard: I think that's such an important distinction, because that kind of got caught up in a single entity of business where what you're saying is actually it's cross, sometimes it's cross business of how these decisions get made. I mean, how many times that we put as a service. Sow, or MSA in front of a client and legal, rips it to shreds, right, like, it's the worst? It is, it definitely slows things down. And I think that's a really important point that sometimes gets lost in the sauce of being so focused on the ideal customer profile of who's going to use this thing and not really thinking about all the players at the table cutting back to your heart. 

Steffen Hedebrandt: You should think about it as like, it's really nice that you're convinced that one person that really seems to get what you do and why the project is important, but that person still needs to go back to their organization and explain, okay, I'm gonna need some money, want to do this with the money? And if that person has to write up the whole business case themselves, maybe they don't have time, maybe it's not good enough. So you can proactively actually deal with these challenges. If you think through who who will your champion need to go talk to after having approved that firsthand.

Kerry Guard: We have sowed, who just joined us welcome. So grateful you're here. Thanks for jumping in, feel free to ask those questions as we go. And, Steffen, you're basically talking about Account Based Marketing? Yes. For those for let's, let's say the younger, the new marketers, welcome to the world of marketing. And maybe you haven't heard this term before. But this is essentially what it is, it's no longer looking at a single buyer, a single lead, and looking at a holistic account of who you want to work with, and thinking about all the players who will need to come to the table to get this tool bought into essentially, yeah. Did I is that would you? Do I miss anything? How would you define a company's marketing?

Steffen Hedebrandt: I think. So. I think some would say that Account Based Marketing has a very specific set of disciplines within it. What I'm saying here is just, if you're in b2b, you're not selling to one person, you need to understand that it's a buying committee who's gonna approve this project. And then I think Account Based Marketing is a specific discipline where you select a certain amount of accounts, and then you plan a tactic on how do we address these accounts specifically. But from kind of just maybe, maybe it's more like a buying process that I'm talking about here, when you're in b2b, the buying processes, there is a lot of people with different interests, and you need to be able to, you need to do the battle with each of these interests in order for your deal to float through.

Kerry Guard: And do you think this is one of the challenges that's really made the buying cycle? Because you mentioned earlier how you felt like one of the challenges marketers are facing sales and marketing are facing is the buying cycle and how it's gotten longer? Do you think that's just because of the bump in the road in terms of where the market is? Or do you think this is lending a hand in that in terms of having to get more people to onboard to make it go through?

Steffen Hedebrandt: Now, I think b2b is just incredibly, incredibly complex. That's just the life of our work. Like we put out some benchmarks last year, when there was less of a crisis that we could see, on average of 400 customers, we looked at that the average journey from the first touch until you win a deal would be 192 days. And that's averages across a lot of different types of businesses. So b2b is just going to take a long time and deals doesn't just come out of nowhere. And that means for us to as marketers, if we know, things take this long, we need to be in front of the revenue targets with about six or 12 months, because all the seeds that the sales team is two years to, you know, to harvest, we need to have planted those six months before. So I think that I think it's just a condition in b2b that you need to be aware about, you don't just like magically invent more demand. These are things that takes a lot of time for for the for it to prosper. Sometimes it's not budget season, sometimes it's the wrong C level, you know, there's so many things that can go wrong. And the only thing you can proactively do something about is that you get out there early and put out high quality content and do good to get in front of the right people and so forth.

Kerry Guard: What is high quality content mean to you?

Steffen Hedebrandt: Good question. That's very broad. No, I think high quality content means that it's written for a very narrow persona or use case. I think the best way not to succeed today is to be very nonspecific, tailored toward a certain person, because there's so much information out there and there's so much competition, the only way you stand out if you're able to, to express that you really understand like, who's somebody like Kerry, who's the leader of an agency, or who's a marketing leader, what is important in her world and get that coming out through your copywriting, through your cases, through your ads, everything like that. So I think that is a good content. This is narrowly focused, you're not trying to be a lot for a lot of little for a lot of people, you're trying to be a lot for just a few people. And luckily with the internet, a few people still means 10s of 1000s of people that you can be reaching.

Kerry Guard: It's true, especially when we're talking now about it not really being one specific buyer. But thinking about the challenges that each persona like there's multiple personas, now you're talking about from the practitioner on the ground, all the way up through the ranks to the C suite and then you got even the fractional I'm not the fractional sorry, the the finance team and the legal team now also involved in how you're going to make sure those posts the right information.

Steffen Hedebrandt: There's both the persona flavor, but then there's also the industry. So like, you might have defined a very narrow set of personas. But the things that are important for this persona might differ from if you're in brick and mortar, or if you're in software, for example, you also need to express that you understand this specific industry for this specific persona. So high quality content means that you're not just going to check GPT. And just writing an article that is semi relevant for most people. It means that you know that customers you like you talk with them every single day, you know, their pain points, and you're able then also to put that into writing or visuals or video or sound, or whatever it is, that really makes them stop.

Kerry Guard: I think that's really a key indicator to when you're talking about identifying your audience. It's, it's their title, it's the industry they're in, is there anything else we need to take into consideration when we're when we're trying to get very specific and narrow? To make sure we're helping and communicating to the right people? And not everybody? Those are two main pieces?

Steffen Hedebrandt: Yeah. I think it's, it's better to be something for for my general advice would be be something specifically for somebody and then like, if you write, if you catch yourself writing, could I put this text on any other website? And then it would be somewhat meaningful as well. All then you've done it wrong. Like, you can just copy what is on this website and put it on a totally different product. It would, it would mean somewhat the same, then then you haven't done it the right way.

Kerry Guard: I Yeah. I love that, that way to check your work. Like that's absolutely perfect. Like safety. Yeah, I think there's the other. The other thing I will add to it is geography. Right? How we show up depending on who we're talking to wit and where they are located, I think also plays plays a role, we are getting more global. But we still need to like I love that Lara, Lara, I know her because she is dedicated to the US. And she's speaking even though she lives in Stockholm, she is still speaking to me as an American. And I feel that, and I think that matters. She's still bringing her unique flavor and her own personality to it. But she's paying attention to what's important to me as an American versus what might be different depending on where you are. You know, if you're in Europe or the UK, there's gonna, there might be different challenges based off of location.

Steffen Hedebrandt: I think a lot of feel like the same thing, when I feel like I'm at the receiver of like outbound efforts, if it's, it's kind of, I always think about it as either you pay the entrance fee by doing the research about who I am. If you don't, then I just delete your mail, I hang up the phone. But if if you demonstrate that you truly have done your homework, and you're able to pay the entrance fee, then I'll listen. And I think it's the same thing. Like if you're speaking to an American or trying to sell to an American company. The case is your show should be American, you should use a C rather than an S and you're writing and it's all these kind of small details that demonstrate that you actually truly caring that you understand the specifics of who you're trying to communicate.

Kerry Guard: Yeah, the localization of it is so is so key. I get caught up in it, because I'm American, but living in the UK. And so a lot of times my computer is trying to correct my language that I've tried to like, I know I live in the UK with the people I'm talking to you don't live here. Because you can tell right, you can tell if the how the words are, are spelled if we're Yes, I it matters. I hate that it matters to some degree because I think you know, I think it's English speaking and you can understand it then should be enough. But on some level, knowing that you took that level of detail and care to what you're saying is just it just takes it a little bit further of connection. Yeah, I think location is something to consider, especially if you're going to be in other countries, please, America. I'm speaking to the Americans right now. Very clearly on this. If you are advertising in another country, like Sweden or France or Germany, do not deliver your ads. In English, please. I know they speak English. They speak very good English, but if we're going to show up for them be in their language. Be there for them? Not for you. I know it's easier for you. It's all about you.

Steffen Hedebrandt: Yeah. Or at least put it to the test where you try to like run local language versus English language and see which performs best and you're probably have the right answer.

Kerry Guard: Yes, yes. In my testing, we always found local language to perform that.

Steffen Hedebrandt: Okay, 

Kerry Guard: Maybe that's changed?

Steffen Hedebrandt: No, I think you're right.

Kerry Guard: Okay, so we talked about finding, identifying your audience and being very specific, down to the title and the person they are to the industry they're in to where they're located. In terms of what we want to talk about today is around these personas and understanding that there's multiple people at the table to make this decision. And the timeline of that is really important. You mentioned it could take up to 192 days. But it's different for everybody, right? And so what we want to unpack today is how we help folks find their timeline, and then how they optimize it. So the first step is everything we've been talking about the right audience, what's the next step of figuring out? Okay, these are the folks who are buying now, how do we uncover that next step to that timeline?

Steffen Hedebrandt: Could you ask the question again, Kerry? 

Kerry Guard: Yes. Sorry, it's kind of dancer I guess. We need to map out the customer journey, right? So we identify who are, you probably get a bunch of users, especially if you have free program, you're probably getting a lot of users into your platform. But they might not be the right users, at least not the ones that are going to eventually upgrade and use this product. So who were the buyers? Right? We need to first figure out like, who's actually bought this thing in the last 10 days to your point? And would you say that's like the real distinction of like, somebody who's actually paid for versus to sign up for a freemium model? Did I, I sort of went off the cuff there.

Steffen Hedebrandt: I think overall. Yeah, I did. When did want to talk about like a buying journey, like buying tuna customer journey, you want to pay your attention to those who actually end up buying whatever you sell, whether that's a service or a piece of software. And it's those journeys that you want to understand what what are the interactions that we have with the customer here that we can kind of replicate and do more of so we know that the outcome in most cases then is more revenue. Whereas like, I think this is like when you popular talk about marketers should be producing revenue, what it really means is that you should focus on doing more of the activities that you have somewhat an idea of that it yields more revenue want wants you to do it. Whereas there's, you know, the opposite is being very focused on just producing a lot of emails, a lot of leads that you didn't just throw over the fence to the sales team and be satisfied about that. That's where I think you're not starting to write kind of customer journeys, if it's just collecting emails with people who have no intention of buying your product. I don't know if is that direction you're thinking about Gary?

Kerry Guard: Yeah, I think we're trying to now say that. One of the biggest challenges that you mentioned earlier on is that the sales cycle has gotten really long, right? It's 192 days. And so how can we look at our data more intentionally to get that better? Maybe it's even longer if it's not 192 days, it's even longer than that, why? And one of the things you mentioned is really that customer journey and identifying that and within that customer journey. It's not a single customer journey, right? We're talking about an account based, you know, going out, you have multiple people who were part of that buying journey. What was that? So trying to break that down for folks of how to go figure this out of if my buying cycle is more than 192 days? How do I fix that?

Steffen Hedebrandt: Yeah, there's multiple ways to get in that for sure. And I think it's one thing about this it is to first of all, you should understand that the buying journey doesn't start once you see the lead and then the time it takes to close it. It typically takes twice as long. So like if you're, if you're buying cycle is three months, then there's three months of research that has gone into that account reaching out to you. And you can kind of impact both parts of that. If you look at the sales journey, where like they have converted, they have requested a demo or something like that. Then you can think for yourself about What would matter in your buying decision? Like the salespeople can reply the mails faster, they can get the meetings booked faster, we can help them provide more social proof. So have we collected a lot of reviews for the reviews platforms out there? Do we have customer cases on the website? Do we have a business case template for buying our software, etc? So I would sit down in your team and add, like, have this conversation about what is it that convinces the buyers to make a decision faster? That's the that's the sales, sales slash marketing component. The other one is about how can we start more of these journeys with the right intent. And here, there's a lot of difference depending on which channels in which marketing activities you come from. In the benchmarks, where the 192 days comes from, as well, we also looked at the different channels our customers use to acquire new customers. And for example, we found that the traffic that you get from review platforms were like 68%, faster to becoming customers than any other channel. So I think there's a hierarchy out there on the internet, where you are showing more intent than others that that would be kind of, for example, review platforms, if you're already that far, that you're looking at reviews, then that's probably a source you want to be have a strong person on fast. If somebody is writing very specific stuff in Google, then you want to capture those people showing this intent. So the way I would build my my marketing engine is to make a hierarchy or like write down a hierarchy of how can our appeal, customers looking at buying our product is expressed the strongest intent out there. And then you can map those, like for dream that of example, it's, you know, review platforms, it's Google search, it's marketplaces of different technology ventures, that is clear intent. Whereas you consuming a video from lower on LinkedIn is, that's quite far from somebody who's in market to buy our product, though, it still helps with the awareness of what we do. So there's, you get the picture that there's a lot of different things you can do. And the things will have different speeds. And it's important that you are aware that if the CEO says we need to win deals right now, then you don't start an awareness campaign where you go in front of people who are not likely to buy and then they have to go through an awareness journey, etc.

Kerry Guard: I want to sit here for a second, because I have I have a lot of questions. But I think this is one of the biggest challenges that's happening in this very minute of SEO showing up and being like, we need revenue right now. And so you're saying what are those bottom of the funnel intent channels? You mentioned? Review Google Search Marketing places. Are you recommending? Or do you recommend if folks aren't playing in those spaces that they should immediately go if it revenue, something they're looking for, they should immediately go invest in activating those channels? Or is it more around look at what you're currently doing? And see where see where those that intense coming from those bought that shorter buying cycle is happening right now and double down on that? Are you seeing both?

Steffen Hedebrandt: It's about it's a bit hard without getting a bit generic about it, I would say like, think thoroughly through kind of how the dynamics is in the industry, you're in where upheaval showing the strongest intent and make sure your presenter when when they do so. Um, bit more of a an overall advice is that it's, it takes a very long time to sell to people who've never heard about you before. So if you can focus your attention and activities on people who have some kind of understanding of what you do right now, they're probably more likely to be buyers. So that is, like, look through your newsletter list. Those people have heard about you before, the people who have been on your website, at least have some kind of brand understanding. So how can we activate these assets we have of people who have some sort of awareness about us, and then try to kind of push them forward. I know, more and more people are experimenting with this paying to do a demo for people. You know, like, how can we just do stuff where the people who know who we are how can we get them over the line to enter some sort of sales conversation?

Kerry Guard: Yeah, I think it's it's super tricky right now. And if you're not in the right places, and you are only doing top funnel stuff, then that's going to be really hard for them. which I think is a good reminder of like needing to capture first party data, I think with third party cookies going away, figuring out how to create your own email database is going to be of great importance in the future. And the companies that are probably struggling right now probably don't have a good, strong database, and that's fine they're struggling.

Steffen Hedebrandt: Then there's the internal problem with marketing is that you then exhaust resources. So you have to like, like, the things I've said here, that's when we're fishing in the like bullseye of the right people. But at some point, you've exhausted this pond, and then you need to go a little bit wider and a little bit wider and a little bit wider. So that's why, at some point, you can't just focus on capturing the demand that's out there right now, which is typically one to 3% of the market, then you need to stretch a little bit and a little bit and a little bit. And that's where, you know, marketing gets hard, and you need to, but you know, but at the same time you need, you need to know that you have to do it, you have to continuously plant these seeds, in order for them to prosper, six or 12 months later, which I think is like a live show like this can be a great way, because people can just be following you. And then once they start facing some kind of problem that you can solve maybe a year or two from now, they will still remember, Hey, okay, now's the time to reach out to Kerry. But it's, that's where the marathon comes into, it then continues to plant the seeds, plant the seeds, plant the seeds, and and hopefully, you can extract value out of it as well.

Kerry Guard: It's true. We talked about three sort of parts of the buyers journey. We talked about the awareness, the building demand, we talked about bottom of the funnel and attend and we talked about sales, there's probably a whole host of middle pieces throughout that that we could unpack all day and be here for hours. Unfortunately, all we don't have that kind of time. So I'm going to focus on these three things. And why question is one of the things you said was around timing. And so whereas the time starts to start to understand the full buyers journey of how long things take, and it sounds like you're saying, you want to sort of look at these three pieces as individuals of how long it takes for them to go from one stage to the next. Are you saying to look at it from it from the moment they see that very first impression here about you? All the way down today? By how? Which way? Should we think about it? Both?

Steffen Hedebrandt: Yeah, I think the way you should think about this, that you want to like the score card for us in marketing is when our company sells something. And most companies have budgets for certain months or quarters. And you need to use this information about how long are your journeys, in order to plan what is the right set of marketing activities, then, or when is the right time to do the things. And if it's done 192 days, let's just simplify that as six months. So the marketing yearly plan needs to be six months ahead of or at least some parts of it needs to be six months ahead of the sales targets. And that's what I mean that this is something you need to be aware about in order because we're all on the same team in this business, sales, marketing, ces product, etc. We're all just trying to make our company do better and sell more. And that way we can contribute to that in marketing is that we make sure that there's enough demand for the sales team to work on it when they need it. 

Kerry Guard: So knowing what I love Well, I wish we all could see down the road of like, what our budgets should be in, in six to 12 months time from now. I mean, I know we're all gearing up for 2024 or depending on your fiscal year. But generally you plan for the year right? So you we should have some sense of in six months, this is what our budget is going to be. And these are the targets we need to hit and plan backwards. I don't I haven't really heard that before. I think that's important. I hope companies are doing it maybe I just haven't heard about it. But if you aren't, I think that's you know, I don't know how often marketing and sales gets to talk to finance and know what you know, budgets are. That seems like a very good question.

Steffen Hedebrandt: Ya know, we it's least how we we you know, it's not an exact science and it's some there's a good amount of luck included in stuff like this as well. But I think like what, as you lay out a budget, you should also be able to explain why is this a meaningful budget? What how will we hit the target we have in November and that's like if we need a deal in November. Okay, then we need three sales opportunities. If we need three sales opportunities, maybe we need 15 MQLs to get a marketing qualified lead, we might need 50 leads. And that's the way you can kind of calculate your way back from whatever revenue target there is. And then let's say you need 50 leads, how many of them is coming from the outbound team that just, you know, cold calls people and how many of them are to come from from marketing? And I think it's very healthy to do this sanity check and see, is it realistic to have the sales target given we know all these other factors? And if it looks completely unreasonable, then probably it's not the right plan, or you need to do some more work on how to actually achieve this plan. Does that make sense Kerry? 

Kerry Guard: Yeah, yeah, I think working your way backwards is really important. I had a great conversation with Tara Pollack few weeks ago, around her point was you have to own marketing sales, like the whole company has to own the revenue number. And so that scares people a lot, especially in marketing, because it's like, well, we have no control over the bottom of the funnel and how those sales are getting across the finish line. And it's like, right, but you should know, to everything, you're saying stuff. And if you're to walk it back, you should know how many leads that sales can close? How many, how many they're going to need, and then grow from there in terms of backing into those KPIs up the funnel? How does this play into the we're talking about going back to the word leads again? And so I think that's, that's good. But also, how does that play into knowing that there's multiple buyers that need to come to the table going back to our original conversation? So if if you have, if you need to go after a lead is are you literally are you thinking still about the individual lead? Or are you thinking about it from an account standpoint, when you're walking your numbers back? Or both?

Steffen Hedebrandt: I guess I'm saying accounts when I'm, when I'm saying leads, I think about a new account that shows up at your doorstep. How many new accounts needs to show up in order for you to sell?

Kerry Guard: Yeah, and then how, what, when going into the data of it and looking at that customer journey, I imagined understanding who came in at what point? So was it the practitioner that started and then you could see the other folks fall fallen to the CRM, or did it start with the CXO? And then the other folks fell in like, what was that order of operations to? 

Steffen Hedebrandt: Yeah, in that sense, I think a lot of the people they join the I don't regard them as leads, per se, it's just people who starts, you know, I think about the leader, somebody who's who's the initiator of the journey that then does one of the one or two initial sales calls, and then they start bringing in other people. And they have not thought about this before. But the other people, I don't think, think about as leads just because they take part of the meeting.

Kerry Guard: Got it. So you're thinking about the individual, the initial individual that kicked it off as the lead, and then what account they brought in, and then you activate the whole account.

Steffen Hedebrandt: Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Kerry Guard: I have so many ideas. I think this is a really important conversation as people think about the buyer journey. I also am curious the last question for you about this stuff in terms of the customer journey, buyer journey. And I think I think this probably lends itself into what dream data does best. But I think one of the challenges we're all having as marketers is what we can't see these days. Like, we're you're on this podcast right now, how are you going to know in six months that this podcast had any indication that it came to a lead to an account to a buyer?

Steffen Hedebrandt: Yeah, good question. Like the short answer is, I have no clue. But I think there's this kind of you should think about marketing disciplines as there's some disciplines that lends itself to being analyzed very quantitative, IQ, quantifiable. So those things you need to obsess about understanding. And then there's other feelings that kind of, you know, feels right, and it's the right audience. It's not too time consuming, etc. So, let's just do them anyway. So it's like you work with a lot of software companies as your customers. If 20 people are listening to me right now. It cannot be bad that those 20 people who work in software companies Listen to me right now. But I'm so sorry. It's kind of that that's the way I think about then at an activity like this, I would morphing about as qualitatively called counting so if any person mentions this I'll if it's just an anecdote, I'll make sure to tell other people in the company that I was on this podcast with Kerry and now we had this customer coming in said she heard us or if it's like a mention on social media, take the screenshot and shared with your company and stored in a folder. So typically with more content related stuff like this, you only see the tip of the iceberg, you're not able to like, grasp the full value that is being created. So you have to think about just generating evidence that it is probably working. So I don't know where I'm going here. But like, there's like disciplines like ads and organic traffic, and how many calls are we doing to book meetings, etc, these things are very easy to measure need to obsess about, and you need to understand the mechanics. And then there's other different marketing things that still make sense, because it's the right people, and you can get the right message in front of them. But it's, you want to have a bit of both because so you kind of don't put all of your eggs in one basket, which is podcast, and you have no clue whether it's gonna work later on.

Kerry Guard: I love what you said about it, though, in terms of gut feeling of how much time does this really take 200 people my really reaching. And I think that's an easy KPI to say, I know that podcasts right now are a big deal. And there's probably a ton of data out there right now about how how big those audiences are as a collective. And this is something that's low hanging fruit. I'm gonna talk about what I do all day. That sounds great. Let's do that. Right. I, I think LinkedIn is another place of like, posting every day can be low friction, if it's something I'm passionate about, it's very easy to throw a post up and say I'm having an idea. And that's thought right down here it is right. And I can't measure whether that's going to lead to a lead someday. But it's all these seeds, as you've been saying, that are being planted that if you don't do those things, then the bottom of the funnel, six months from now, when when sales is going Hello. Where are my leads, we didn't generating any of that unquantifiable demand that that's a much smaller pool.

Steffen Hedebrandt: I think the one thing you can control is your effort. And this wall, so if you continuously have a high output of activities, sometimes it's said sometimes it's podcast, sometimes it conferences, that at least guarantees that a lot of people do hear about your company, and they will show up at your doorstep. So don't get the don't lose, because you didn't put in the effort. I think that that's a little bit the same with this podcast. It's an hour and then I'm in front of, I don't know, 50 people or 100 people, some of them might show up at our doorstep. Or they might tell another person that they heard about dream did in this podcast, etc. So it's a very much I think there's a Wayne Gretzky quote about you miss 100% of the shots you don't take. And you really need to take a lot of shots in marketing to make sure you there's some of the shots that do hit the target.

Kerry Guard: It's no longer and whenever this is like the perfect thing to run out this conversation, everything I've been hearing throughout the the industry, it is no longer a one tactic to rule them all. You have to have as many shots from as many angles on that net as possible. So because your buyer is to everything we've been saying no longer one person. And all those buyers are different in their journeys of how they get to you. And so you have to create a lot of surround to to capture that 1%. So, Stephen, I'm so grateful. Thank you so much for joining me. Any last thoughts for our audience on this topic, like one last thing to say to help them bring it home?

Steffen Hedebrandt: I think the most healthy thing you can take with this from this call is just being super curious about how your company creates money, like how your company generates revenue. And besides all the data, things you can do, just make sure you have the conversation. How is it that we sell? Where did this deal come from be able to tell the narrative of every time you make money? What led to that? So as you continue to be curious about how does this world look like you also train yourself at spotting the good ideas and the bad ideas? 

Kerry Guard: Yes, thank you for that recap. That was yes. Way better than what I did. I'm so grateful. Last question for you because you're more than a marketer, Steffen and a co founder. If you could travel anywhere in the world right now given you know, all the time in the world that you have, or will have some day where would you go and why?

Steffen Hedebrandt: Okay, what I'll go for the thing. It's called the highest mountain in South America. I think it's called Aconcagua and it takes like a 14 day trek. So if I didn't have my kids and have golf and etc, that then I would like to go to that up that mountain.

Kerry Guard: Some day . I love it. I love it. I'm so grateful. Thanks so much, Stephen for joining me. If you'd like to learn more about Stephen and dream data, head on over to LinkedIn, be sure to follow Stephen and Laura Laura. It's fantastic. It's definitely something to take note of. And the dream data website is plethora of all of the information of how to think about ways to find the right data and read the right data. I absolutely love your content. Go check it out. Thank you. Thank you all for joining us and for listening. If you found this episode helpful, please like subscribe, share, comment to your bestie let people know that this thing exists now that we are alive. I absolutely love the questions that come in. I'm so grateful for you all showing up. This episode is brought to you by MKG Marketing the digital marketing agency that helps complex b2b brands grow via SEO digital analytics to spy me Kerry guard, CEO and co founder of MKG marketing, and if you'd like to be a guest to meet, let's hang out. I'd like to learn more about what you got going on and how we can bring your expertise to the table. Let's do it. Thank you all so much. Cheers.

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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