Welcome to episode forty of the SaaS Backwards podcast, where we interview CEOs and CMOs of fast-growing SaaS firms to reveal what they are doing that's working, and lessons learned from things that didn't work as planned.
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How Amber Bogie Brought Full Funnel Marketing to Reachdesk. (Hint—it starts with finding the right company fit)
Edited for clarity
Ken Lempit, Host:
Welcome to SaaS Backwards, a podcast that helps SaaS CMOs and CEOs to accelerate growth and enhance profitability. Our guest today is Amber Bogie. She's director of demand generation at Reachdesk, a SaaS company that enables its clients to deliver gifts and direct mail to build deeper connections with customers, prospects, and employees, all at the click of a button. Hey, before we dig in, could you tell us just a little bit about yourself and why somebody would want to deliver gifts at the click of a button?
Well, starting with a little bit about myself, I've been in marketing for over 10 years now and I've found a lot of joy and success in account based marketing (ABM). I’ve spent the last six or so years working with that strategy and have reached a point of evolution where I'm looking at the entire funnel experience differently and how it's all interconnected.
So the impact of direct mail, that's a really good question. I've always thought of direct mail as something that's a necessary part of your business strategy. It is extremely relevant in the marketing space. It's extremely relevant on the sales side of business, supporting customers throughout the entire journey. Any account based marketing strategy is extremely supportive of customer advocacy and brand building. And in my own eyes, I think that it's a necessary thing to include in your business.
Well, certainly in the sales role, I've seen the impact of sending the right kind of gift to the right kind of person. And if you're not doing this in a programmatic way, it's definitely something to explore. When we did our prep, we were talking about the new roles for people and maybe how to evaluate opportunities for the next gig. A lot of the people that we meet in our work are new in their roles and sometimes the fit isn't quite what they hoped. You had a really interesting way of looking at opportunities–this quadrant for looking at jobs, and I'd love you to walk us through that.
Yeah, absolutely. It was a great story that when we initially had a conversation, I was in the process of looking for a role. And so I'm really glad that this topic came up about my search for a new role. I was at a point where I was looking for a new role, and having a handful of years of experience under my belt, I've had successes and I've had failures. I've had really great companies and I've had not so great companies. And so I think that it really is more of a lessons learned kind of story and lessons learned experience.
I wanted to be extremely thoughtful about finding the right role and what that meant for me. So throughout this job search, I developed what I call a quadrant of things that I was looking for. And I think that for every person, you identify what are the most important things to you?
I think most of us can vary just a little bit, but for the most part it's going to fall into: what is the company offer as a product? What is the company culture and how does that fit in with you? What is the role itself and how does that fit in with what you're looking to do or looking to grow into? And then also rounding it out with, what are your leaders look like in this company, what kind of leadership do you have? And I think those are all really critical areas.
Marketers have a hard time marketing something they don't believe in. I think that we've all worked for companies that are maybe less than fancy, less than shiny, but that doesn't really matter. It's what product are you delivering and do you believe in that? Can you sleep at night knowing that what you are pushing day in and day out into people's inboxes or into their budget and into their day to day lives, is it making a difference in how you feel about that? So that's obviously the personal decision. But for me, I wanted to feel excited about the product and believe in it and work for a mission driven company, more or less.
Reachdesk really fit the bill. I really enjoy it and it lights me up to be at a company that stood out because of the altruistic nature behind the business.
What makes us stand out as a company in the space is that it's not about a gift for a meeting. It's not about just giving away a gift card or giving someone coffee. It's about delivering your customers, your prospects, these people, a moment of delight, a moment of connection, and that I really resonate with. And so there's kind of that element, then there's of course the leadership model.
I was very fortunate to have met our CMO in a previous organization, and I felt really confident in his leadership. I knew that I was going to have great support and learn a lot from him, including my VP, who I work under. The interview process was such a positive experience, and I felt really engaged, motivated and excited about working under these people.
It's about identifying that leadership–is it there for you? Do you see yourself growing? And then the cultural element, of course. I think that you have to define what matters to you. What about work life balance? How do the people you engage with during the interview process make you feel? And get a really strong sense for that. For me, speaking specific to this decision, my interview process was absolutely the most positive and enjoyable experience.
For me, every person you interview with, whether it's HR, somebody on your team, somebody underneath you, your boss, how they speak about the company, how they speak about their day to day, you can really tell whether or not they're passionate or excited or really believe, or if they're just interviewing and talking about business. You can read the room.
I really enjoy working for a company where the people are passionate about what they do and working with smart, motivated people.
Reachdesk has that all over it, so there's your culture. And then of course the role itself. What are you looking for? And are you able to grow? Is it that next step you want to take and can you be challenged in it? I think that if you're not afraid, then you're probably not making the right choice, because you should be afraid. It should be an exciting new challenge. And I had that from a previous CMO who gave me that advice when I left the company. I was afraid, I was nervous, and he said, "If you're not scared, it's probably not the right choice." And I really took that and held onto it, and I do believe it.
Yeah, that's really an interesting point, that last bit. Because I think there's a lot of things in marketing where if there's not some discomfort, you're just not advancing the game. So whether it's in your career or when your creative team brings you something to use, if it's too easy to accept, maybe it's not going to change the outcome. So maybe discomfort should be considered a good thing when you're making a decision.
One of the things that I think you latched onto was an ebook we built for people their first hundred days, The New Head of Marketing’s First 100-Day Plan. And I'm wondering, how many days are you in this gig, by the way?
I am a week shy of three months.
Are there any learnings for the first three months that you think are worth sharing? Any things you didn't expect or things that have really turned out amazing?
Yeah. Ironically, I actually built out a 30, 60, 90 as part of my interview process, which I think is a phenomenal thing to do, whether you're asked to do it or not. I think it really can set you up for success. More or less the first month is being a sponge, absorbing anything and everything. The second month is about evaluating everything that you absorbed from the first 30 days and ideating on what it is that you can improve on, what you can change, what is the start, stop, continue. And then the third month is execution, getting things done. Of course, we all have these big ideas of how it's going to go.
I certainly spent a lot of time absorbing, but I feel like I've been there for a lot longer than three months. It feels like I've been there for almost a year, really. And I think that just speaks to the fact that we're a fast growing company and we're evolving and we're moving. And honestly, the amount of work that I've done in the first three months, I'd say it's probably a lot more than I've done in any new job. And it feels really good to make an impact so quickly. There's still a lot to do. I'm still just getting started with the strategy implementation and things that I hope to achieve, but there's been quite a bit of work.
Were there things that weren't being done that you really needed to address? Was there any fix it before you can get going phase here?
Yeah, I'd say at the age and stage of the company that we're at, we are right in, in some ways, the awkward teenage years. And so it's a really pivotal time for us to start implementing certain processes. Honestly, I'd say that a lot of what needed to be addressed immediately was process. Addressing how we do things, how we've done things and having it clearly defined. This is the process for our digital efforts. This is the process for our operations. This is a process for our workflows. This is a process for campaign creation. And so a lot of that was a really big priority to get just documented and clarified.
Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. When you have a growing organization, you don't necessarily have standard operating procedures. And if you want to bring people into the organization and replicate things, they have to have something to refer to or everybody's doing their own thing. So it makes a lot of sense.
One of the learnings is that if you don't have SOPs for the things you need to do, you’ve got to build those to be able to accelerate. Let's talk a little bit about positioning yourself for the next promotion. What are you doing to make yourself more attractive to your current employer to keep you on and promote you? What are the things you're doing?
That's a good question. I'd say that the simplest answer is that I'm doing my best. When it comes to growing, and whether it's a promotion or just learning and growing in your career, waking up every day and doing your best. There are times that you're going to make mistakes. There are times that you're not going to be as successful as you wanted to be, things aren't going to go the way that you plan. But having an attitude of doing your best every day is going to set you up, I think, for just a healthier relationship at work and an ability to let things go.
So that can-do attitude is setting me up for success, setting me up for the next steps, in addition to rolling up my sleeves and doing the things we need to move fast.
We're moving at hyper speed. And am I getting to implement the strategy, every detail of things that I see for our future? Right now, no. There are things that we need to do to optimize our campaigns, to optimize our business, our pipeline. And doing what we need to do for the success of the business might not exactly look like what I envision for our ABM strategy, let's say. So it's going with the flow that you need to for the success of the business.
Ultimately, I'd like to think that that's setting us up for success. And then in regards to my path and promotion, I think I have a non-conventional attitude about it when people ask me where I want to go or what I want to be or what I want to do. And my answer's kind of simple, it's, "I'm going to keep climbing until I don't want to anymore." And I don't really have these set timelines and expectations of needing to achieve X title by X timeline. What am I contributing to the business? How do I feel about my job? And do I feel fairly treated and compensated? Those things of course matter, but I'm just enjoying the ride.
I like that. Hey, let's talk a little bit about what demand gen looks like at Reachdesk. What are you doing and why are you doing it? Let's dig into the work itself a little bit.
Yeah, well, I'd say that Reachdesk itself, we sell to ABM marketers, we sell to demand gen and sales field marketing. So I'd like to say that as an organization, we drink our own Kool-Aid, we're practicing the marketing that we preach.
Part of my role here is to evolve and to grow and mature the strategy. So I'd say that where more of our earlier efforts have been what I define as traditional demand gen, where I'm taking it is what I think of as an evolved account based marketing strategy. And I call it full funnel marketing, where the top of funnel I refer to as targeted demand generation. And once they touch the funnel, enter your CRM, that becomes your account based touch points. I don't believe that it is demand gen or ABM. I believe that it is a requirement to have your traditional demand gen efforts top of funnel, targeted accounts, targeted strategy, build the engagement, build the journey. And then as they enter the funnel, they move into more of your account based function motion with channels and tactics. And so that's what I'm working to bring to Reachdesk.
So it's more of a holistic view of a continuum of behaviors and engagements, as opposed to real finite borders between things, it sounds like to me.
Exactly. Yeah. And I refer to the whole picture as the flywheel effect. Ironically, I'm speaking about this next Tuesday at B2B MX. We're talking about not putting ABX in a corner, and the whole message behind it is really that ABX is the key piece to create the flywheel. You have your brand that is creating demand, you have your customer advocacy that's fueling back to the top of the funnel, building your brand, bringing top of funnel in, and then you have ABX throughout the entire funnel, keeping it all together.
So where does lead generation fit in that world? Is lead generation a dirty word? Are you guys feeling the need to do it? I may not be in your domain, but is lead generation something you need to do as a team to support the objectives?
Yeah, that's a good question. It is in my domain. Is it a dirty word? We don't operate on a lead model. However, we bring in top of funnel. We bring in new contacts. We bring in new accounts by way of traditional lead generation, but it's not referred to as lead generation. We're not counting our MQLs. We're building our database. We're building out our contacts. We're building out our accounts that way.
It's interesting, because obviously we meet people where they are in this business. And some CEOs are under a lot of pressure to perform the next 30, 60 days. And they don't have the time, in their minds, to make these investments. And others have got momentum and then they can be more strategic in their marketing investments. So it's interesting to hear you say that. We view it sort of as the swirl cone at the ice cream stand. And it's like how much vanilla and how much chocolate do you need? Because if the CEO has that pressure, you need the short fuse tactics while you try and build up a real funnel.
Exactly. And that's why it's not one or the other. I like that swirl cone, because in terms of strategy shifts and change, you can't just dump out a model that is bringing you pipeline to bring in a completely different model. It's more of a blending of sorts. And you're bringing in these new accounts and contacts by way of engaging them. So it's almost like I've broken every rule and broken every definition of what's demand gen, what's ABM, and I'm doing what works.
I refer to ABM as just good marketing and don't think that there's a line between the two. You can talk until you're blue in the face about what is this and what is that and argue, what's traditional and not traditional. But at the end of the day, doing what works for the business, successfully building a pipeline, getting your revenue, that's the goal.
Yeah. I think that's what we should all be about, and focus on driving the business. I want to ask you a little bit about how you're practicing ABM there. What are the hows of this? How are you accomplishing your goals? What are the tools, tactics? What are things that you can share with people that are really working for you that others might benefit from taking a look at? And the reason I ask is not to get state secrets from you so much as we've come to understand that things change really quickly. And what worked nine months ago might not be so effective today. So if you have any things you can share that aren't too sensitive, that would be really great. I love those insights.
Yeah. As a whole, I'd say that what I have brought in is what I'm calling integrated campaigns that are inclusive of all channels and all tactics and creating an experience for the prospect to bring them in funnel. That to me is almost like training wheels on your way to implementing ABM strategies. It's a good entry level effort. And these integrated campaigns have always been very successful for me and all of the companies that I've run them in. And so I was really excited to bring that into the business and to connect the dots between the different teams and work together and collaborate. So that's an internal success.
But also externally, how it's impacting the pipeline, the customers, is that they're not just getting an email here, a webinar invite there, sales email over here with these different messages or different objectives. It's integrated messaging across every place that they're being touched by us. They're getting a story, they're learning about the pain points. They're having problem awareness, solution awareness, building out that experience.
In terms of what I call the mandated pieces to driving success, you need to collaborate with your sales team. You need to collaborate, be connected. You need to enable them. That is such a critical component of not just a ABM, but I think any successful marketing, anything at all. You need to have decent data and you need to have access to visualize what's happening with that data, not just for reporting, which we absolutely need, but your sales team needs that visualization of what's going on with these accounts. They need to have an insight into if they have intent, if they are engaging and what is their engagement score?
I think that probably one of the biggest things that I'm a strong believer in implementing at Reachdesk is the MQA is when you reach out whatever you want to call it. Reaching a certain level of engagement, that is the time for outreach to start.
And we don't want to be having conversations with somebody prior to that when they're not ready for it and potentially having a negative start to conversations, understanding where a prospect is in their journey and coming to them at the right time of that process. So there's the data itself, the data visualization, orchestration through the sales team, and then of course your campaigns. And I always say that as marketers, campaigns are the bread and butter. We know how to do campaigns. We've got that. We have to figure out how to be better at the rest of those things.
Well, fair enough. I think campaigning is really important. We sometimes call it surround sound. So we don't want to have somebody just get one message in one channel and expect that they're going to do what we want them to do next. We want them to see it in their LinkedIn feed, see it in their email, see an ad, see something else and find their way to some awareness and maybe enough activity and engagement that we can say to somebody in sales, "Hey, somebody over here at XYZ chemicals looks like a really good fit. We should be reaching out." I think it's really interesting. I think that certainly as a salesperson in a sales role, I've used gifting in different ways. And the idea that we could scale gifting, scale those touch points is interesting to me. I haven't had a chance to get a client to do it, but I think it would be good, especially for folks that are trying to reach a lot of people.
Yeah, I'm such a feely marketer. I feel like I've had really amazing experiences with advocacy creation. That's obviously more on the customer side, but it completely sold me on the impact that gifting can make. It really does stop you. And I'm not talking about a Starbucks gift card. It's not quid pro quo. The company mission that we talk about is really about recognizing somebody. And it's not, it's like, "Yeah, do we want a meeting?" Of course we want an opportunity. "Oh no, we're actually sending you this because you just had a baby, congratulations. You just had a promotion, congratulations." Recognizing moments in people's lives and giving them an opportunity to just stop and be like, "Oh wow, this did happen. I'm appreciating this moment. I'm appreciating this thoughtfulness."
And connection and human connection, it's something that can't be measured. It can't be replicated with a robot. I'm all for modernization of technology, but human connection cannot be done anywhere else outside of human. And I don't believe we're going to ever lose that touch point, especially in the world that we live in of digital everything, it really has the opportunity to change someone's day.
And of course we have numbers behind this. We've got guaranteed ROI. We're talking about massive impacts to the business, massive impacts with pipeline. Conversations that you've been ghosted on like 200% increase in your connection rate. So it works, but it also gets to deliver a moment of recognition for somebody.
That's very cool. Well, thank you. And if people want to reach you and talk ABM or learn more about Reachdesk, how can somebody get a hold of you?
I'd say LinkedIn is always the best bet for me, reaching out on my LinkedIn profile.
Excellent. Likewise here. You were a great guest, Amber. Thank you so very much. If people want to reach me also on LinkedIn, LinkedIn/in/kenlempit, or our website, austinlawrence.com. If you haven't already subscribed to the podcast, please do so wherever podcasts are distributed. And thanks again, Amber, for a great episode. It was fun to connect with you.
Thanks for listening to the SaaS Backwards podcast brought to you by Austin Lawrence Group. We are a growth marketing agency that helps SaaS firms reduce churn, accelerate sales, and generate demand. Learn more about us at www.austinlawrence.com. You can email Ken Lempit at firstname.lastname@example.org about any SaaS marketing or customer retention subject. We hope you'll subscribe, and thanks again for listening.