How to Test an ABM Strategy without Fancy Software

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode, Dan Sanchez talks with Cody Ward, Sr. Director of Demand Generation at Conexium, about how he tested an ABM strategy without fancy software.

Welcome back to BB growth. I'm Dan Sanchez with Sweet Fish Media, and we're continuing the journey into account based marketing after a week of episodes and interviews. It's becoming very fun to learn about the ins and outs of this, and that's only just beginning. And I am excited to learn today from Cody Ward, who is the senior director of demand. Gen. At CA Nexium. Thanks for joining me on the show today, Cody. Thanks for having me, Dan Cody with somebody that James referred to me because he had published recently a nice light deck about a account based marketing campaign that had some pretty phenomenal results. I was just looking at the pipeline generated. I was like, Oh, this is looking good. So that's the case study I've been wanting to jump into and talk to you about Cody. So as we look at it like, can you give us an overview really quickly about co Nexium and about what you guys were trying to accomplish broadly. And then we can jump into, like, how this specific campaign got started. Why, it was something that you even considering, as opposed to other marketing methodologies. Yeah, absolutely. s okay. Nexium is a software solution for manufacturers. And distributing our distributors primarily be to be and what we do is was actually pretty simple. We help automate their business processes and specifically their sales order and invoice purchase. And we help free up their customer service and their sales teams to focus in and really grow their business. And the way we do that is by taking manual tasks like opening email purchase orders and dot and, you know, do manual entry and putting those into an ear piece system. Um, and all we do is is way. Turn that into data we put it into, you know, their business rules and basically push it into their ear piece system in real time with 100% accuracy and our big differentiators, it's completely touchless. So our touchless orders are basically turn into touches that they...

...could put on their customers or that give back to their inside sales and their customers success team that reallocate however they want. And so it's a great opportunity for any manufacturer in in any distributor Thio digitize and become a modern business in 2021. Okay, And how did you get into account based marketing. Was it something you've kind of been doing for a long time? And it just recently adopted a more modern practices in a B M? Or did you do like, an overhaul at some point? And what led do you doing that? Yeah s Oh, this is this is my fourth company, fourth SAS company that focused on on B two B customers and the account based marketing kind of, You know, definition in term is an interesting one, because because you're going after businesses anyways, right? Like you're doing account based marketing. You're doing B two b marketing. Those are those are your only customers. And so, from a marketing perspective, what a B A means to me is a connected and targeted go to market approach that all of the functions of your business can can do it the same time. And in that alignments and attack together is for me the difference between what sales and marketing we're doing separately before and what a really account based marketing play is because I don't believe that marketing can run in a B m play by themselves. And I also don't believe that that sales, they'll scales could do it in a silo. It's interesting. I feel like parts of it have been done for a long time. Remember studying even just sales letters and copyrighting? And it seems like people are doing it 100 years ago, even to manufacturers, right? You know, manufacturing steel. And they're like, Well, we have a better way of processing. You were iron or wherever we have this stuff we can add to it, but they're doing. They probably have 100 list of 100. Manufacturers are doing direct mail back then, right? Eso miking aware some...

...of it has changed about the modern marketing practices. It becomes so abundant that it was always hard toe take these mass marketing approaches or even just content marketing and trying to map it specifically to key accounts. Right? I think that's it. It's all about personalization and the experiences that you can create at scale. So it seems like the company you're working for now has always been working with target accounts. Is that right? Right. Was there any difference you did in approaching those targeted accounts that you refine it more narrowly or as you came under the company was their demand within the company to move toe like a stronger account based marketing approach? Or is it just kind of like slowly evolved over time? Well, I think the fun thing about our companies is the stage of growth we're in right now. When I joined on the same day I joined our head of sales ops are ahead of business development and our head of sales enablement joined kind of on the same day. And so those four pillars of revenue, we naturally got close and started working together. And so it just became natural to go to market together. Not to say that there wasn't, uh, you know, previous campaigns that had flavors of integrated sales and marketing. But to get truly integrated, you really need everyone to be on the same page and to create a new process. And so what we did is we We identified the right accounts, kind of treated it like an experiment. And then we said, Well, what what is a campaign? And let's include not just messaging and positioning. Let's include not just advertising, but really think through the outbound side. Think through how we're enabling the a east to understand what we're doing ahead of what we're doing when we're doing it. And it's a have all of those things deliver the same message so that it seems seamless to the receiving end of it. So they heard the same thing and it started to resonate so we could hit him across multiple channels. Okay, so in the beginning, there's the three of you and you're like you probably all came to...

...the conclusion like, Hey, they're already targeted accounts. Let's just work more systematically and work together on it, which just makes sense. Exactly. Did you just take the existing accounts for like Okay, well, it looks like they were already going after these accounts. Or did you kind of like, have a period of like, Wait, let's make sure these are the right accounts first? Or did you just continue on with those accounts that they already pursuing? Well, both. But we we looked at it strategically, and we brought everyone in to kind of give us guidance, right. So from really top down, we started thinking about all of our accounts and which ones had the had the greatest opportunity for us to have a conversation with them now. And so, you know, we met with our heads of sales and our executive team and kind of asked them the question. We served up a framework and said, You know, we're able to do all of this from a capabilities in an execution standpoint. Where do you want us to start? And so So they basically said, Well, here's you know, if they're a brainstorming session, here's the dream list of all of the different groups of accounts. And what message we can deliver the to them now. And and we said, All right, we're going to start with one. We're gonna do this experiment. We're going to create a personalized experience and dry and drive people to it with messaging that is Onley relevant to those accounts we grabbed and then we measured it, and quickly we saw, well, back, back up a little bit back up. I'm like, there's so many details and just like all everything, you just we gotta pick it apart. So you started with one account, right? So that's kind of cool like you just you came up with a dream list and, like anybody could do that right now, Any B two b market to be like Yeah, but what one customer? What? You just, like kill the have and you're not sure if they're in market. But, you know, they're not working with your competitors, right? Or maybe they are. I don't know. So it's anybody could do a test. We just want to make it a customized experience. I don't know if that's enough to prove that it works, is it could be a win. And for other reasons, I almost wonder if one was enough. But it is interesting that you...

...just picked one to go after aan den. So you pick the one. What are some of those? What? How do you How did you change the messaging to go after the one? So to go after the one, we basically got all the context of what was unique about them, like they're they're unique situation. And we got that from, you know, the person who works with them the most are a in our customer success manager. And our goal with that first one was up selling cross sell. And so we we met with them and created a program and an experience that that we could really affect that and measure it s so were they already an existing customer that you were trying to Upsell? So clarification R A B M strategy started off with a 1 to 1. A one, a few in a one to many approach. We were already doing one too many. And so we said, Let's start with one toe, one in one, a few, the one the one we identified one account, and that account was a customer up sell play. The one a few was was a group that we met with our executives and said, Go after those that that larger list of about 800 accounts. So one the one with the existing customer. It's kind of a nice way. Thio dip your toes in because you already know a lot about because you're talking about their current a current customer. Easy to set that case up. How to go with the one you said you did the one too few. Next. How many are you like? Is a few 10? Or is it like 300? Well, it was about 800 was our first was our first few And that's where we really started to move the needle. Thanks. So with those 800 how did you get the data? You need to do customized marketing for them, because with your customer, you know them pretty well already. And 808 100. A lot. Thio, learn about manually. Which means you probably had to go get some data on them. Or did you Just how did you get it? Yeah, we got we got data on. Um, there's a lot of tools at our disposal that maybe allow you to do a B m. And you couldn't previously, some of that's...

...intent data. Some of that's the third party data tools, andan some of its the first party data that we have. And so we went through an exercise that said, You know, out of the 30,000 plus accounts that, you know, we grabbed at first glance water these ones that we could put into ah, slightly tighter bucket and and then selected those 800. What kind of data sources were you looking at? Two essentially build up a campaign around. Did you like technical? No. No, you wouldn't get techno graphic for for a manufacturer maybe Did what? Data sources? Yeah, we grabbed techno graphic demographic region specific. Like this was a North American campaign based on some of the software that they had. And that's kind of how we built the first campaign, the software that they have integrated perfectly with what we dio. And so we created our messaging around that. Okay. And then the messaging Did you sit down and come up with a custom? Probably not a custom value proposition. Per one. Did you break it down into segments like, how did you customize the messaging for them? Surprisingly, the value prop didn't change all that much. I kind of expected it to when we first did the exercise, but it fit pretty well. What we customized mawr was why we were communicating with them. Like, what was the match? What was the fit that made them fit with us like a glove? And that's really what we kind of leaned into and just started doing it together across channels. And I think the cross channels was the key here. We had BDR s calling them the same time as we had ads circling the buying group at the same time we had emails going out on Web pages available for them toe download content all at the same time. So that's a lot of personalization in it. And you probably have to rely heavily on tech to personalize all these pieces. What was the kind of cadence you were sending to them from beginning to end? Like if I were one of these 800. How did I experience this? Yeah, we we kind of bootstrapped our first campaign. It wasn't it wasn't to...

...tech heavy way. We built a landing page and designed and coded it up. No heavy a b m platforms at the moment, although we'll probably add one to, you know, as we scale. And, uh and, yeah, we just just launched it executed and try to drive people to it so we can have a conversation. So if I was one of those 800 like, what did I see first and then followed up after that? Yeah. So you saw you saw our ads across across the web. You saw an email pop up that said, with some some case studies in some videos, one of the things that we believe is in telling our own customers story. And so the more opportunities that we have for for you to hear from someone like yourself versus you know, us from the sales in the marketing team, we think that that that's going to resonate. And so that's what we lead with. How did you get my email? Did I give it to you? Or is that already on a list of you sent a cold? If we had it, we send it to our database of prospects. But for the most part, it was It was driven through third party data. Okay, So you were sending even if they didn't click and engage with the ads. You you still send them an email. All of the emails were from the database that we've had that they opted into. But a lot of the outbound calling was where we kind of expanded into that channel. Okay, so it's kind of a cadence of ads email, and then you had your str team kind of start begin calling them with messaging built for them. Gotcha. What made that different from the campaigns you were doing before? If you were doing one too many and these 800 or one too few, 800? Still a lot. So I'm like, It's not It's not a few. I mean, for a big company doing a B m like that could be that could be a few. So I'm trying to differentiate. What's the difference between what you were doing before versus what you're doing now? What we were doing before was not a joint effort. It was It was sales with their own strategy that the outbound team, with their own strategy going after the...

...accounts like maybe there was some overlap and and we were going out there to two different accounts. Sometimes we might have hit the same account and got lucky. But for the most part, there was no kind of joint effort to say Go after these 800 this time frame with this message. And I think that made the world of difference. Is just just focusing as a team on the same accounts with the same story that worked for us. Yeah, I mean, even just starting with a list of 800 known accounts is a big difference, right? Versus not knowing who they are, which is what most marking teams are doing and generally is what I'm I'm usually doing even marketing sweet fish media. I'm advertising to a group of people. Or at least I did this summer that I don't know. I don't know who the accounts are. Our price range is also smaller. So our market is pretty large going after B to B companies ourselves in like that. Yeah. And previously, our marketing was, you know, we're ready when you come to us, but there, and we'll kind of go out there with some of our our outbound messaging and advertising, But it was kind of Ah, a waiting scenario for were blasting some off some stuff out there. But we're not quite sure if you're gonna come back and we're not quite sure where you're working. All right, so we have the point where we've targeted 800 different accounts. You've run ads to them. You've sent emails. You've been calling them up. What did the results start to look like? And how long did it take to start to see movement on this campaign? Yes. So for our first campaign that we ran, we started to see it relatively quickly go into our funnel and the top of our funnel for us is defined as a meeting. And so within the first week or two we had data that showed that what we were doing is working. And when we set this up, we looked at kind of a baseline of what our historical waas and it was. It was a trickle. It was, you know, occasionally of this, 801 would pop...

...here and there, but there was really no rhyme or reason to it when we saw it happened. We got a dozen off the bat the first week in two dozen, the next week of people coming in and basically raising their hand for a meeting with us. Wow, that's pretty good. And where are you guys at today? Well, so we said that's working with those 800. Um, then we went back to the list that we we sink with the executive team on and said, All right, what's what's campaign number two? Let's run that in parallel. So while the first one was running with those early results, we said, What's the next group of accounts? And so I think the next list was a little bit larger around 2000. And then we did the same thing. Same channels, wrote the scripts for the BDR s. They did the calling. Some emails went out. If we had them in our database, circled the buying group with with advertising. And we saw the same thing, the trickle very inconsistent. And then, for those accounts, we started measuring all the meetings that we created for him. And then our next step is is, uh is them going into pipeline? How much does it cost to execute this campaign in general, if you could give me, like, a rough estimate, I think I allocated about 2500 to 5000 for digital ad spend just going to to circling the buying group with those display ads. It costs us nothing other than our time to to send the emails. And then we we wrote all the call scripts in house and and built the landing pages with with our agency. So some fixed costs in there. But once we did the first one, it's really just the incremental on the advertising costs. The working dollars does not cost a fortune to run an A B. M campaign, right? I think that's a common misconception I'm seeing is like, Oh, you have to have some, like $100,000 a B M Tech stack in order to do it. Well, well, if you do a B M right, you can make a $5000 spend feel like a $500,000 spend, but for only those small group of people and it's...

...working. It's working well. I love to hear how it's working and a fairly good scale. I mean eight hundreds, not like a small amount of contacts. That is a lot of people to follow up with that. There's a lot of people to send to try toe target correctly. It's a lot of people to follow up with with SDRs. And it's clearly working for you, though, so I think even taking some of the essentials of a B M and implementing it in a place where we used to, where a lot of people are still doing just advertising, too. The void, instead of trying to pick the specific accounts they want to pull forward into their funnel, is a better play. I do find that it's working for baby companies is. Many people say that A B M is overrated, which I keep hearing over and over again. Now it's worked very well. Yeah, and for us we're seeing a mix to of of success, across small business, Mid market in In Enterprise and other companies have been at its It's taken a lot longer, especially if you're just going after enterprise to to see some of the results. But we're seeing some some good stuff relatively quickly. Fantastic. Cody, if anybody is getting started with a B M, what advice would you give to them now that you've kind of been been through it before? Um, don't overcomplicate it and lean into the personalization so you don't have toe have you know the technology and the latest and greatest of of everything just to test and learn. If you if you believe that that will work for you, go sync with your biz Dev and your sales team and do something together. Fantastic. Cody, thank you for joining me on the show today. If people want to learn more about what you've accomplished and just connect with you, where's a good place to find you online? You can connect with me, Cody war dot com If you wanna find me personally or look me up on lengthen and yeah, let's be friends Fantastic.

Thanks again for joining me on the show. Yeah. Hey, everybody. Logan was sweet fish here. If you're a regular listener of B two B growth, you know that I'm one of the co host of the show, but you may not know that I also head up the sales team here. A sweet fish. So for those of you in sales or sales ops, I wanted to take a second to share something that's made us insanely more efficient. Lately, our team has been using lead I Q for the past few months and what used to take us four hours gathering Contact data now takes us on Lee. One where 75% more efficient were able to move faster with outbound prospecting. And organizing our campaigns is so much easier than before. I'd highly suggest you guys check out lead I Q. As well. You can check them out at lead. I q dot com That's l e a d e que dot com Gary B says it all the time and we agree every company should think of themselves as a media company first, then whatever it is they actually dio if you know this is true. But your team has already maxed out and you can't produce any more content in house. We can help. We produce podcast for some of the most innovative BB brands in the world, and we also help them turn the content from the podcast into block posts, micro videos and slide decks that worked really well on LinkedIn. If you wanna learn more, go to sweet Fish media dot com slash launch or email Logan at sweet fish media dot com.

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