Creating Demand Generation Playbooks to Nurture Prospects [Interview]

DES-641-Blog-Post-Graphic_B2B-marketing_demand_generation_playbook_v0.2.pngFor a while now, I’ve been wanting to interview Lauren Brubaker, Director or Demand Generation at NetProspex. The fact that she works in a demand gen role for a company that helps demand gen marketers manage marketing data kills several birds with one stone…and I’m all about efficiency.

Quickly into our first discussion, however, I learned that gaining her insights would hold even greater value than I originally thought. Lauren is incredibly passionate about her work, which you’ll easily see in her responses.

Moreover, her impressive commitment to continuous learning positions her well to identify marketing industry trends at an early stage. If you happen to run into Lauren at a trade show, make sure to bombard her with questions.

David: What was your career path to your current position as Director of Demand Gen at NetProspex?

Lauren: I was fortunate to realize marketing was the path for me quite early in my career. I began working in marketing in college – trudging through the grueling schedule of attending school full-time at night, while working as an email marketer down in Atlanta during the day. The hours were brutal, but I was hooked. I completely fell in love with marketing automation and databases… Seriously, ask anyone who knows me. I can talk about this stuff for days. Nerd alert, I know.

Once I had a handle on the basics of CRMs, ESPs, and MAPs, I was hired at my first tech company by a truly wonderful boss, Ellen Valentine (now B2B Product Evangelist at Silverpop).

She mentored me on campaigns, marketing strategy, analytics, and because I was so young, personal branding. She was a patient coach, giving me the freedom to study for college exams when needed, providing firm guidance when I needed a push... she was even the one to tell me I needed to join Twitter. I owe much of my success today to her influence.

I went on to work at Silverpop before moving up to Boston to join the NetProspex team (also thanks to Ellen’s connections – seriously kids, get a mentor). At NetProspex, I started out as the Demand Generation Manager, using my Silverpop skills to run their marketing automation platform. I worked with some insanely talented marketers here too and absorbed their teachings like a sponge.

After being with the company for two years, I was able to flex my leadership skills a bit by taking the company through a transition to Marketo, and due to that success, I was promoted to Director of Demand Generation right before we were acquired by Dun & Bradstreet. It has been one heck of a fun, challenging, data-filled adventure.

Data quality has been a topic of much concern in the B2B marketing community lately. Why so much focus now and what are some of the tactics you see working best to overcome these quality issues?

The focus on data quality, in my opinion, has come about pretty naturally. Here’s why: Many marketers were quick to jump on the marketing automation bandwagon, because let’s face it, the benefits are awesome.

However, anytime we build contact databases (whether in CRM or marketing automation platforms) it’s crucial to remember one thing – people change jobs. And when people change jobs, their email addresses change. And when email addresses change, after a few years, our email lists end up being 15, 20, even 50% inaccurate.

Which means those lovely MAP tools we love so much end up flagging us as spammers. Some of the best email marketers I know have been flagged by Marketo or Eloqua – not because of their sending habits, but because their databases needed a major clean up.

If I were giving marketers a prescription for solving their “data headache,” it would include the following:

  1. Find yourself a data partner. Trying to manage this process on your own is not worth it. The resources data companies have are solid and the ROI will be there.

  2. Cleanse AND enrich your data. Take out the bad records and then enhance your contacts with as much information as possible. Having a robust database can influence your nurture programs, your content strategy, and your go-to-market approach.

  3. Rinse and repeat. Marketers think doing this process every few years is enough, but those guys are missing out. We should all be cleansing our database every two months (and appending our web forms in real-time, but I digress.)

But don’t be afraid! These three steps are much easier than marketers think. 

“Multi-channel” is one of the biggest buzzwords in marketing. How far along do you think the B2B marketers truly are in this quest to integrate channels? What should they focus on to push their efforts to the next level? 

Honestly? I think marketers are doing a decent job of “band-aiding” their channels together through branding and content, but few companies are able to know exactly what persona someone is and exactly what stage of the buying cycle they’re in, across all of their available channels.

We’ve become very waterfall focused, wanting to make sure we’re bringing in enough MQLs, when in truth, we need to be focused on building paths that take a prospect from curious to close. I was working from a coffee shop one day, pondering this exact problem, when I realized that I needed to become a football coach. Stay with me, I’ll explain.

Coming from the south, I grew up watching football. A lot of football. My brothers played, my dad coached, my sisters and I were cheerleaders… it was ridiculous how much time I spent looking at those crisp green and white fields.

Yet, it all paid off in that exact moment, in Starbucks, when I realized that instead of creating campaigns, I needed to be creating a playbook… a playbook of paths I wanted my prospects to take, across all our channels, that could be executed by marketing technology whenever they were needed.

  • What’s the play for someone who visits our tradeshow booth and wants a demo?
  • What’s the play for someone who visits our tradeshow booth and just wants a t-shirt?
  • How do I move these guys down the field, play-by-play, until we win the game… I mean, close the deal?

And it doesn’t stop with prospects. I need a whole different playbook for my customers, so I can take them from one-time purchasers to advocate. The Patriots have won 10 games this season (there’s that Boston influence), but they’re gunning for another Superbowl ring, and so should us marketers.

Which marketing technologies do think will be most disruptive to Demand Gen practitioners and B2B marketing in general in 2016?

I never loved the word disruptive to describe marketing technology. It always reminded me of unruly kids who cause a lot of noise, a lot of chaos, who have me running for the Advil bottle (or the scotch bottle, but again, I digress).

I believe most of the emerging MarTech tools are going to be extremely helpful as we all try to reach that true multi-channel goal. I’m in love with Jon Miller’s approach to ABM and can’t wait to see how Engagio takes off. Terminus is another ABM tool worth checking out – their ability to connect CRM data with display and social information is pretty sweet.

Next, everyone in my office knows I’m obsessed with Uberflip, even though they’re a content engine, but from a demand perspective, if I can move away from landing pages and give my prospects the ability to click around, and really get to know our business, well, that’s a play I’ll run all day long.

Finally, I think programmatic advertising is going to continue to gain traction with digital marketers, giving us that ability to send the right message at the exact right time. Cue the angelic choir.

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