Field Marketing Is Much More Than Just Events
Welcome to REAL MARKETERS where we hear from marketers who move fast, ask forgiveness, not permission, obsess about driving results, and are filled to the brim with crazy ideas and the guts to implement them. This is not a fireside chat and there's absolutely no bullsh*t allowed here. And I'm your host, Stephanie Cox. I am more than 15 years of marketing experience and I've pretty much done about everything in my career. I believe speed is better than perfection. I use the Oxford comma. I love Coca- Cola, have exceptionally high standards, and surround myself with people who get sh*t done. On this show, my guests and I will push boundaries and share the real truth about marketing and empower you to become a real marketer. Field marketing. The first thought that comes to my mind almost immediately is events. So many events. Mainly VIP events for key prospects in the pipeline where you bring customers to get to socialize with those prospects and talk about how wonderful your company is. In my career, I've seen field marketing be extremely successful with these types of events, and then COVID-19 happened and everything changed. Field marketing had to evolve and quickly. They had to find a way to provide value outside of in-person events. And that's exactly what we're talking about with today's guest. Spoiler alert, field marketing is much more than just events. In this episode, we chat with Nick Bennett, director of field marketing at Logics. He has more than 10 years of marketing experience and previously held roles at Cleary, PlanGrid, Jive Software, and more. We're talking about what field marketing is in a post COVID world, how field marketing can accelerate deal pipeline. Why sales is a team sport, how field marketing and Demand Gen work together and so much more. So my first question it's no surprise. What is one thing that few people know about you?
So, one thing that not many people know about me is that I actually used to rap in high school. I put out a couple mixtapes and it was something that I used to be really super passionate about.
Stephanie Cox: Wait, what? I need to know more about this.
Yeah, it was just something that I've always loved music. And I was the people I was hanging around with, we used to always just kind of play around and write songs together. And then they were like, "Why don't you just record some of these?" And it was something I started doing and it was funny because I actually came across, across my SoundCloud page the other day, someone found it and was like, "Hey, you remember this from like", I'm trying to think of what year it was. It was probably 2003. I kind of reminisced and like listened to all the old songs that are still floating around the internet. So it was a good time.
Stephanie Cox: So anything we're going to find on YouTube of you doing rapping?
Nick Bennet: No, definitely not on YouTube. There was never any videos out there.
Stephanie Cox: Well, currently you've spent most of your career in field marketing, so I'd love to just have you start by saying kind of what you believe, feel the purpose of field marketing really is and the value it brings to companies.
Yeah. So I'm really super passionate about this because field marketing we're kind of in like the field marketing 2.0 phase, or I feel like we should be in the field marketing 2. 0 phase. And the way that I think of it is like sales is my customer. We should be the strategic advisor to the sales team. It's a fine line that you have to walk between sales and marketing. And I try not to be that corporate marketer, that's jamming stuff down people's throats. I want to be looked at as someone that really truly helps them and someone, you could even say you're looked at as like the CMO of a specific region or territory or whatever it is that you cover. And you need to be able to speak sales as language. So, if you go to them and say, "Hey, look at all these MQLs that I'm driving" sales, doesn't care about MQLs, because MQLs don't make the money. Talking to them about pipeline and your contribution of pipe through the programs that you're running, I think is a way that you start to build that relationship and you start to build that trust. And I just think it's, as a field marketer, there's two types of field marketers. There's more of the event marketer and there's nothing wrong with that. That's just kind of what they do. They'll always be room for event marketers and trade shows and pieces of that. But then there's also the modern-day field market that's truly revenue driven and partners with sales on an everyday basis to drive the pipeline.
Stephanie Cox: So why do you think companies tend to gravitate more towards, at least in my experience, feel marketing tends to be like that first bucket that you talked about with events, and it's so heavy on these, whether it's trade shows or dinners and not maybe focused on what you talked about in the latter bucket around just really helping the sales team have their pipeline along in a ways outside of events.
Yeah. And I think it's important to be able to, as a field market, you need to change that mentality because the companies aren't going to change it for you. And I talked to a lot of field marketers kind of on a daily basis. And I think that there is still some that are stuck in the event phase. And they just do trade shows, events, dinners, and that's really it, but they don't truly partner with sales. Your worth to the company is so much more than the value to yourself is so much more if you truly partner with sales. And I'm not saying that events isn't part of it because obviously, it is, but there's just so much more and the way that I try to think of field marketing. And I always, yeah, I'm big into sports. So I like to think that I'm the quarterback of the team. So literally everything should funnel through field marketing through you've got product, you've got some companies have demand on outside of it. You have social, you've got creative, basically, you're kind of the centerpiece that pulls it all and works cross-functionally with every department to be able to pull that together. And the ones that truly do that well, I think are the best partners to sales.
So, obviously, with COVID-19, there's been a lot of changes in the business world and a lot, especially in how we engage with customers, how has that impacted field marketing and what you think is most important to do now?
And it's interesting because when, when in-person events were happening, it was so much easier to do regional-specific things like you could just say, "Okay, I'm going to go host a VIP experience in Boston for these 10 C- level people." It was just easy to do because you had a targeted market, you could go out rent a restaurant. It was super easy with everything switching to a digital format. It's like, how do you thrive in a digital world when everyone else is trying to do the same thing? And I think that's a lot of what people are trying to figure out right now. It's like virtual events are going to be around for the foreseeable future. And even when in-person events do come back, it's still going to be a mix of hybrid. I believe it'll never shift back to a hundred percent in person. And it's really just trying to blend that mentality that you can stand out in the virtual world, but you just have to think about it differently. You can't just throw a webinar and that's really it there's multiple touch pieces throughout the journey of a prospect that you still have to kind of play into in this world. And I think ABM is even more important now with everything going digital.
Stephanie Cox: So what have you seen work really well in the last few months?
So, I've definitely seen virtual experiences. I want to use experiences there because I think there's a difference between webinars and virtual experiences. And I've been sent some things from marketers, that was like, "Oh, come and join this virtual experience." I jump on, five minutes in, it's a webinar. It's basically one person talking to me, they're going through a slide deck, but they called it an experience. And that just leaves a poor taste in my mouth. When I think experience, I think of something like a mixology class, like something that's virtual or a wine tasting, or I've done a couple of these recently. It's basically like a beer and cheese kind of happy hour, but we send all the packages to people. It comes in this really nice box with kind of branded pint glasses. And it just allows people to try to maximize what the in-person networking used to be in a smaller digital format. And I feel like those are what works best when you can grab a bunch of your target prospects and customers and get them on a small video format where you're more just kind of sharing feedback. Maybe it's a round table, maybe it's a happy hour. It's not where there's 200 people on a webinar just kind of listening in, you tune out, because you're trying to multitask. You have to make it engaging. And the content also has to be relevant. I feel like that's another big thing that I've learned is if the content isn't on point now with the fatigue that everyone is experiencing through digital events, then you're just going to struggle to get people there.
So, talking a little bit more about that when you think about webinars, right, which are very much talking at someone usually, and then these virtual experiences that you're talking about, do you think the part of it is not just the content, but also that I can engage with you it's really taking the best of what people liked about those in-person events and making that available from their home, or is it something crosstalk else?
No, honestly, I think that's it because everyone misses that in-person connection piece of it. And especially with offices, a lot of offices still closed down depending on where you are you miss seeing people and having those conversations on an everyday basis. And yeah, we're in zoom meetings all day, every day with meetings, with colleagues and everything like that. But just to be able to spend an hour to connect with like-minded people, if you told me, "Hey, Nick, why don't you come and join this round table? We're going to have 25 other field marketers on there. We're just going to kind of hang out, talk about field marketing, talk about our experiences." I would a hundred percent sign up for that over something that was basically like, "Hey, join this webinar. It's an hour-long, basically, pitch for thought leadership." Even at that point, I'm still not connecting with anyone on the other side. And I think that's the piece that people really miss in need is the connection.
Stephanie Cox: So, facilitating those types of connections virtually. I mean, I know you mentioned wine tasting events with beer, what other things have you seen work that you would suggest that companies consider trying, or what has maybe failed miserably and we could all learn from?
Yeah. So another thing that has always worked extremely well, and I think some people don't think this really falls under field marketing, but it does is deal acceleration. So, something it's very cheap to do. So, you could basically say, okay, go to your sales team, say, "Give me your early-stage or mid-stage opportunities that are set to close this quarter." They go through give you all of those accounts. And then you basically say, okay, we're going to send them $50 Uber Eats gift card or whatever it is, Grub Hub, doesn't matter. As long as you're sending them something, there's no specific call to action. You're just basically sending a gift to let them know that you're here during these times, if they ever have any questions, feel free to reach out. And I did this a couple months ago and we ended up driving over $37 million in influence pipeline from this one program, it costs $20,000. I mean, if you think about it,$20, 000 is the cost of crosstalk Yeah, it's two to three in-person dinners. And the lift was so much easier because all you're doing is sales is doing most of the work, giving you information. It's really up to you to track it as well as sending out these gifts. And then it's just kind of, it, especially during COVID it gives people a sense that you're not a vendor that is trying to scare them into purchasing.
Stephanie Cox: So, are those gift cards coming from the rep or are they coming from marketing? How do you think about who this should be from?
Yeah, so the way that I've done it is it always comes from sales. So, Uber, for example, they make it super easy. You can put any emails, so I always put the rep's email in there and then it's a personalized note from them that I make them write a personalized note for every single opportunity that they had. And then it makes it so that the recipient says, "Okay, hey, this is coming from Joe. He was basically just saying, he wanted to check in. Here's some money to buy your family, some food we'll check-in, in another couple of months", and it just kind of goes to have them feel like they're there for you, but not being pushed into doing something. And honestly, the results, every time that I've done this have always been amazing.
How do you think about like working with sales on this? I mean, I've been in organizations and I've talked to other marketers where marketing and sales have this like really tight-knit relationship. They're kind of like the mom and dad of revenue. And I've also seen other organizations where they're more finger-pointing. So how do you get sales to work with you to want to give you their deal list and run marketing, field marketing activities towards them without being paranoid.
Yeah. So, I think it's important to build those relationships and it comes back to sales and marketing alignment. I mean, at the end of the day, the goal is revenue and the way I think of it is everyone needs to jump on that boat. It's not just sales and marketing. It's, if you think about it, sales isn't a like, "Okay, I'm a sales athlete." It's a team sport sales don't sell by themselves. Everyone else is included. So, you've got sales, you've got marketing, you've got CS, you've got your SEs. I mean, you've got even product to a certain extent because they're touching it, really anyone that touches revenue should fall under the revenue organization and all get in that same boat of working together. And I've seen that be the most efficient when the sales and marketing alignment and just kind of alignment in general of a revenue org is strong because then it's like, "Okay, well we're all going towards the same goal. And we're aligned on the same metrics that we're looking at, at the end of the day." I think it's just like, okay, well, it's important to have that relationship. So they don't feel paranoid and being able to say, okay we're going to work together on this and just be fully transparent here. Show them everything that they're doing, make sure that they're involved with the onset of whatever program that you're going to run and just kind of follow-through. And honestly, I've never had an issue with it. There is, when you get into enterprise sellers, they are sometimes a bit more hesitant because they think that field marketing is basically just events and you have to work a little bit extra harder to build those relationships, but it's always worked out in the end for me.
Have you had any issues where you've done a field marketing promotion, whether that's sending something out, inviting someone to a dinner and you worked in conjunction with sales, and then somehow it had an adverse impact on a deal and that you had to kind of recover from that?
I mean, I don't... None that I can specifically recall. I think that when in-person events were happening, it was always beneficial to have customers mixed into the events that you were doing with prospects. And then if it was at a dinner, you're seating them near each other, so they're having organic conversations around basically their use case. And they're doing the selling for you. I think that I've had possibly a while ago during one of the programs we were running, we had kind of a few prospects sit with a customer, which we didn't know was going to churn at the end of the quarter. And didn't give them a bad experience of using the product, but basically said there's other ways to do this. And they were transparent about it. They ended up telling us about the conversation that was had. And we were able to still, there was two prospects that they had the conversation with. We were still able to close one of those two, but I feel like that happens. And you just have to be selective of the types of customers that he bring to these things. And that are going to speak on your behalf because if you're going to have, you want to be able to have those relationships with the strong customers who are usually expanding whatever they're doing with you and not turning. But I think that's the only bad experience I've had.
Stephanie Cox: So, thinking about really trying to create that relationship with sales. You recently switched jobs. So you've been in your current role for a couple of months now, what did you do in order to make sure you could start to develop those strong connections with the sales team, so you could partner with them on these types initiatives?
Nick Bennet: Yes. So I'm now marketing to an industry that I've never marketed to before in my life. So we market and sell to dev ops and engineers. And so I have no experience with that. It was completely new to me. I came from a company that I was marketing to revenue leaders, sales, marketing, CS, and it was great, they always wanted to have a conversation with you. To go to basically a place where the engineers and dev ops people, they don't want to have conversations with you. They want basically everything fed to them and they want to know the benefits. They don't want to speak to anyone in sales. That's why ABMs coming up huge here because they just want to kind of be served the information personalized to their pain points. But when I got here sales and marketing alignment, wasn't really there. We had a CMO that left towards the end of last year. We didn't backfill him in on from November to June this year, there was basically no Demand Gen function at logs. And it was really just up to sales was doing their thing. They didn't rely too much on marketing. And then my boss, who's the VP of Demand Gen came in, in May. She ramped up. And then I came in about a month and a half ago. And we finally now have everyone where we're starting to rebuild that trust between sales and marketing. But I don't want to say it's been easy because they're so used to doing one something one way. And they're still, I don't want to say hesitant, but they still need more support to be able to fully take advantage of that sales and marketing relationship with the actual sales team, the AEs, we feel like we've done a pretty good job over the last couple of weeks. And we're in the process of launching ABM now to the whole company. So, I think we're going to use Q4 as kind of a building block to really launch into 2021 and go strong.
Stephanie Cox: So, how did you know you wanted to get into field marketing, or what about how... Tell me about your career and how it got you to where you are today and where you wanted to focus on this specific part of marketing.
Yeah, so honestly I think it was all luck. I went to school for sport management actually, and I played baseball all through high school and college. And I said when I get out of school, I'm going to be a big shot athletic director or work in the front office for the Red Sox. And I got out of school and I figured I can sell tickets for the Red Sox making $10 an hour. And I was like, "Oh, this doesn't sound great." And so I ended up going into sales for this tool supply company. And I hated it. I was good at the sales part, but it wasn't interesting to me. And I ended up working for Motorola for a little bit. And so I led channel marketing with all of their indirect stores. And basically, my goal was sell into Motorola products every year up against the iPhone running different incentive programs for basically all these dealers all across the East coast. And so that was kind of my first experience with it. And then I ended up moving into kind of more B2B SaaS. And honestly, I don't know how I ended up where I am now, but I probably wouldn't change it for the world. Literally, every day is amazing. If you like to work the typical nine to five and do the same exact thing every day, then field marketing isn't for you, literally five days a week is completely different. Even morning to afternoon is completely different every single day. And if you like challenges and being able to build something from nothing, and really seeing your contribution to the company grow then field marketing is probably for you. But for the next five years, even, I was thinking of this the other day. I probably don't want to even leave field marketing. My goal is to kind of stay in this as long as I can. I was thinking, do I want to ever branch out into Demand Gen or product marketing or content? And I'm just really happy what I do. And I think that field marketing's always going to be needed across companies. And as we kind of go through the years, you're going to really start to see the marketing evolve into more of a revenue-driven function and probably even getting to the point of being accountable for a revenue number. So it's super fun for me.
Stephanie Cox: I loved your point around if you want a nine to five job field marketing isn't for you. I would tell you if you want a nine to five job, maybe marketing isn't even for you, honestly.
Nick Bennet: That's so true. Yeah. Especially in the startup world.
Stephanie Cox: Exactly. Well, and I think just as a marketer, I don't know about you, but I just find my mind, like, I'll watch a commercial on TV or I'll drive past a billboard that has nothing to do with my company. And it like immediately sparked some sort of idea, and I'm constantly thinking, "Okay, what about this? What about this? What if we did this?" So you're kind of always on to some effect, but thinking back to field marketing, I know you mentioned that you report up through the VP of Demand Gen, how do you look at like Demand Gen and field marketing and like where do those boundaries lie for you? Or do you think they should lie?
Yeah. So it's pretty interesting. I feel like they go really, really well hand in hand together. And I feel like every company I've ever talked to or seen pretty much Demand Gen and field marketing live hand in hand, usually whoever's in charge of Demand Gen, for the most part, owns field marketing too. And I think that for me, or right now, Demand Gen owns more of the digital aspect of it, of the campaign side, I should say. So basically any of the campaigns around Marketo or whatever we're going to run for the quarter for the month. And then PPC SEO under our Demand Gen actually lives creative as well, which I've seen it kind of broken off in its own thing, but we have creative under there. Our Marketo admin is under Demand Gen. So we have a pretty big team. I think there's about 15 of that live under Demand Gen. And then we have product doing their own thing. We have PR and content all under their own things as well. So, I think it's really anything that is campaign-related or digital for the most part falls on the Demand Gen.
Stephanie Cox: So, if you're thinking about, let's say hosting some sort of VIP like virtual event, that would be primarily your team because you're going to be the one selecting the account, working with sales, select the accounts that you go after, and the people that you invite. Whereas on the flip side, Demand Gen is really more about creating top of funnel demand. Would you agree with that?
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I definitely work more in like the middle and bottom of the funnel, but every single campaign and program that we do run, we work so closely together every single day, because at some point I'm going to need help from the campaign person from product from, if we're going to be launching digital ads on LinkedIn or anything I'm working with the team on that. So I feel like I still work cross-functionally with pretty much everyone. I feel like that's another reason that I love it so much. I get to interface with really every function within marketing, you get to work with sales, I feel like I work with so many different people that it's always so thrilling to kind of see, "Okay. Hey, I'm not just stuck talking to the same person every single day."
Stephanie Cox: So how do you think about sharing the impact with others in the organization to prove that field marketing is worth the investment of time and resources, and it's also something that can help accelerate the pipeline.
Nick Bennet: Yeah. So, it's funny. I actually wrote a post on LinkedIn about this the other day I was saying would for any marketer out there that touches revenue, would you be open to a commission type role like sales with kickers and other incentives, if you can both kind of be measured under one umbrella of revenue. And it made a lot of people think including myself. And I think the hardest part of that would be the attribution of being able to not say, "Okay, well I got this versus sales got this." I think it would be harder to work towards one true goal, but I think to be aligned from the top, so whether it's a CRO or a VP of sales and then CMO or VP of marketing, having counterparts aligned in sharing those goals and metrics and figuring out what they are together, it will just make it so it's not siloed, and for me, the only real things I care about is contribution to pipeline. So, both from a source perspective, as well as an influence perspective, I care about the ABM makeup of the different programs that we're running, if we're running specific targeted campaigns for, let's say our top a hundred accounts, and then I care about closed one revenue. And I know we can't, as a marketer, we can't touch where we can't control that as much, but I think it's something that we should still look at at the end of the day. And I feel like lot, I don't want to say MQL is useless, but I do not like it. I know. It definitely is. And I think that it's important to... I don't think it's important to not measure the MQL, but I think if you're measuring it to the sales team, they don't care about it. Use it as a marketing word and say, "Okay, we have this many MQLs, this is great", this quarter, or this month, you can look at it, but just don't report that back to sales because they don't truly care. They just care about the pipeline that marketing's driving and how much is actually converted.
Stephanie Cox: That's such a great point. I feel like marketers tend to fall in this bucket where we want to, I don't know, like word vomit, all of our metrics to everyone to tell you, how look at what we done here, here and here. And at the end of the day, most CEOs and most sales leaders only care about how did you impact revenue. And so I don't know why we don't... But we can look at all those things as a marketing leader, but why don't we just break through the clutter and share like the two or three numbers they really care about?
Nick Bennet: It would literally make things so much easier. And that's why I think at the end of the day, and some companies already do this and I think more are going to start to do it over the next year or two is marketing should be held accountable to a revenue number. I think that's the only way that we're going to truly drive sales, and marketing alignment, but it's also going to hold people accountable. And if not, you're going to be in a siloed world where sales doing their thing. And they may or may not like marketing. Maybe there's a little bit of alignment there, but marketing is going to be doing their thing. And then they're going to be throwing leads over to sales that sales thinks is terrible. If everyone's accountable for revenue number and marketing's accountable for a portion of that, it will only make things better for everyone. And I'm not saying it's going to be easy because if it was easy, it probably would have already been done. But I think it will just make it so that people truly think of marketing as a partner and not just kind of as a function, doing their own air cover.
Deal acceleration. That's all I want to talk about today and how field marketing, or heck, any marketer can better work with sales to help accelerate deals in the pipeline. I think sometimes the marketing, we focus so much on generating pipeline that we don't think about how we can creatively, help sales close their pipeline faster. And Nick gave a bunch of really great ideas that I think we can all learn from. But what I want to challenge all of us today is think about what is currently in your pipeline. Get with your sales reps, figure out where they need some help, and find some creative ways. Whether that's through sending out Uber eats gift cards, doing cameo videos, really creative, direct mail. It doesn't matter what it is, but find ways to just do some creative outreach with no call to action from the rep to those prospects and see if you can actually accelerate the deal and get them to close faster. If you can figure that out, your relationship with sales will change dramatically and they will start to rely on you more to help them close deals. And that's really what we all want. You've been listening to REAL MARKETERS. If you love what you've heard, make sure to subscribe, rate, and review our podcast. And don't forget to tell a friend. All of this marketing, goodness, shouldn't be kept a secret.