Recently, I had the pleasure of sitting down (virtually) with two long time colleagues I greatly admire: Michaela Dempsey and Desiree Hamaoui. For years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with and learn from these two marketing leaders, across multiple companies and teams. As part of our D.R.E.A.M. Series, we’re sharing different go-to-market (GTM) perspectives, including B2B marketing programs, tools, trends, and more.
Meet The Marketers
About Desiree Hamaoui
At Box, Desiree enables Enterprise cloud sharing securely across employees, and that collaboration is easily enabled securely but without barriers. Desiree’s role is leading the Global Campaigns Team, including managing digital events, customer marketing, and communications.
About Michaela Dempsey
Michaela is Head of Marketing at Scout, recently acquired by Workday. With Scout since series A, Michaela has built a robust marketing organization and collaboration platform.
Managing The Work-From-Home Juggle
When the shift to remote working first hit Desiree, she recalls the feelings of uncertainty. “No one knew how long this would last,” Desiree remarked. Yet her team quickly realized it’s for the long haul. They shifted to a regular cadence of meetings but now spend half the time catching up and playing games, activities that help build bonds amongst her team members.
Try Desiree’s 👽 Alien Game at your next team meeting. Here’s how to play:
1. Pretend you’re aliens who’ve landed on Earth from another planet.
2. You must identify an object with 5 pictures.
3. Break out into subgroups, collaborate, and bring those 5 pictures back together for guessing time.
Michaela’s team at Scout RFP was one of the first offices to start working from home in early March. She recounts feeling tremendous relief and gratitude at having a safe place to shelter from the Coronavirus. Michaela’s team had just wrapped up a great live event so it was relatively good timing to wind down at home anyways.
The main challenge in not being physically together was collaboration. As a creative group, you get to bounce ideas off each other when you’re in the office. But working remotely, you have to schedule that time.
You have all the tools, including Google Cloud, Slack, etc. so everything is shared and accessible, but there’s still that one missing piece and that’s the collaboration aspect. Typically, Michaela manages a team in a democratic manner. She calls it the “Circle” and she wants everyone involved. She saw lovely community-building activities amongst her coworkers, including:
- Food drop-off chains
- Virtual lunches & happy hours
- Webinars & virtual events
The biggest question mark is what’s ahead. Often we’re used to having hurdles and hills to climb, but the months and quarters ahead are unknown. Michaela looks to her team to come up with new ideas and ways to continue building, producing, collaboration with customers and sales teams.
Partner Up To Succeed Through Change
Desiree and Michaela both underlined the importance of expanding your approach and leaning into a more partner-oriented mindset, including an increased focus on thought-leadership. Collaborating across the supply chain can garner amazing results, including building closer relationships and understanding challenges and how you can help.
Customer marketing is a huge opportunity. Often your customers might be on a front-line of the pandemic. Collaborating with them can have amazing benefits by getting closer to them and understanding their challenges more and how you can help. But also, understanding where the various industries and geographies are in the process of healing.
PRO RESOURCE: See how Scout, A Workday Company teams up with partners in different webinar series, to feature thought-leadership from industry experts.
Moreover, humanity is key. Michaela shared that the more real your brand can be, helps every aspect of marketing. Close with the expression of concern, rather than opening with it. That can come across more genuine and from the heart.
“You love the company you work for. You love the customers you serve. You want to help them in whatever way is possible,” Michaela said. “Get your team into that mindset and you’ll better understand how the overall economy is recovering, and where you and your team can help pitch in.”
PRO RESOURCE: Box takes humanity to heart with their Box.org initiative, empowering the world’s non-profits.
Creative Marketing As A Key Differentiator
Align your topics around what’s currently going on, and what is going to help your audience navigate through their changing environment. Live broadcasts are a great new tool to engage and collaborate online.
Creative marketers will find a way to excel even in changing times. Fun ideas that include cooking with Wolfgang Puck, or wine tasting, or a special educational component is great. Think tanks can also engage a global audience to discuss industry challenges and offer suggestions, and resources. As a marketer, coming alongside complementary brands can be hugely beneficial for all involved.
PRO RESOURCE: Snag EverString’s List of 10 Songs To Inspire Creativity For Your Team.
What It REALLY Means To Be A Data-Driven Marketer
We’ve evolved so much as marketers in terms of the data that’s available. Often the most important first step is asking what is the question you’re trying to answer. With that in mind, you can use the data to help you get there.
Marketers should use data to inform decisions. The data becomes the tool to move you forward and do what’s best for the business, best for the customers served. But having the data itself isn’t the end-all solution. That’s where the work merely begins, as Desiree underlines: “As Marketers, we can use data to inform decisions but, we also must look deeper to gain insights from that data.”
Take this example: In one team, data analytics informed marketing that a particular type of online event seemed to perform significantly better than others, and suggested marketing repeat it. Upon closer look, it was a launch event that drove the significant bump in performance. Most marketers know that product launches don’t happen every week. Therefore, the data can only take you so far.
You need experts to take that data, analyze it against past experiences and anecdotal information, to arrive at ultimate conclusions that help propel your business objectives forward.
When you look underneath the surface and check the data against other insights, you can truly see what’s working and not working. Sales pipeline is a critical metric for revenue teams. The leading indicators are important metrics too, but really it’s all about that pipeline number. During times of economic turmoil, that metric isn’t always at the level you need.
Michaela recommends starting small with baby steps. Then, before long, those little steps become medium steps, and the medium becomes big again. One step at a time. If you can take one or two great things working in marketing, over to sales, and then look at the microdata and identify what’s good that you can repeat. “In other words,” Michaela concluded, “Be the turtle, instead of the hare.”
Desiree takes an approach that has her team feeling much more productive and less stressed. By considering groups of revenue team members as “pods”, whether it’s geographically or divisionally-based. Those pods each have a pipeline goal to achieve, that both marketing and sales team members within that pod, can work together towards a collective goal, vs. it being separately a marketing or sales target.
How To Build Data-Driven Martech
Considering the size of your company, start simple but think larger. Build for the larger organization you plan to grow into. Construct a scalable martech solution that won’t hold you back. Ensure you make the ask appropriately, so you don’t have to go back later and ask for more.
Look to be automated, and trust the data from the tools you put in place. Manual steps are not where you want to be, but when you first start make sure you do quality check things to ensure everything is flowing properly. As you trust and verify, you can take your attention elsewhere, and keep moving forward.
The purpose of martech is to help a company scale. Think of the questions that need to be answered today, and what questions you might need answers to down the road too. Keep it simple to start, because you won’t need all the bells and whistles, at the beginning. But, even at the beginning, you’ll want to think through all the features you need and build a plan to get there eventually, even if it’s a phased approach.
Headcount is important, especially when bringing on new tools. Consider what resources you’ll need to run each technology platform, the value you’ll derive from it, and which tools will support your operations running as smoothly and integrated as possible.
Like many of us, Michaela’s a big proponent of templatizing things. She recalls the famous Field of Dreams movie quote: “If you build it, they will come” because if you develop the system and document how to use it, people will adhere.
Templates and systems help you stay organized and efficient. If you build a system, with a naming convention, templates, and everything in between, as you build your team out and they learn to use the process, everything becomes scalable.
Of course, some things will drop, and some bumps in the road, but overall, everything will be contained and organized.
Wish List Of Future Martech Tools
At Box, Desiree and her team are highly focused on how to serve customers and where their platform can fit best. Beyond the acquisition, managing and reviewing retention metrics is a big area that needs improvement. They’re also looking for more data around the customer growth model.
Michaela underlined that still, the main challenge is looking holistically at all you’re doing in a revenue organization. MQLs are still used in some regard, but when you also consider customers can be MQLs, they need a different name so they can be treated and analyzed differently.
Advice For B2B Revenue Teams
Shonal shared that one piece of advice that stuck with him is: “nobody dies in marketing”. Given the pandemic going on currently, there are actual heroes in healthcare and service positions, putting their lives on the line when they gear up in uniform. But in marketing, you may accidentally send an email blast without a webinar link, or you didn’t hit your MQL number for the month. But you still have your life. There’s still tomorrow. Having this mindset can help you experiment more and take more risks.
Early in her career, one of Desiree’s colleagues, Cheryl shared a memorable tidbit: “Say yes more” and that was some of the best advice she’s received. When you say yes, you stretch yourself and often take on something you didn’t think you could do before. You learn and through that process, you gain valuable skills and experience, regardless of the outcome. It might not be a “yes” to the exact idea, but it’s a “yes” to the concept even if you mold it to what you think is best.
Michaela also shared her love of “crazy” ideas, underlining that teams should think big. If you’re not scaring yourself, you’re not trying enough. Sometimes it can pose a problem, especially if you come across too much like an adrenaline junkie.
Again, taking big risks certainly puts you on the edge, and also lifts you up wonderfully well when it goes right. When you say yes, you have the opportunity to do so many great things and have such wonderful experiences.
WATCH MORE DATA DISCUSSIONS ON-DEMAND
Watch this interview and more from B2B experts at Capital One, Box, Scout, a Workday Company, Forrester, DialSource, and Censia share all things sales & marketing, and the data that drives it all forward.