THE MARKETING HERO PODCAST

Episode 1: Best Practices for SaaS ABM Marketing with LifeSize Marketing Manager, Lori Mankin


Transcript:

Monica:

This is the Superhero Podcast by Clear Pivot, making superheroes out of ordinary marketers.

Monica:

Welcome to the Marketing Hero Podcast by Clear Pivot. We have Lori on the call, Lori Mankin. She works for a company called Lifesize, and I'm going to interview her today. Hi Lori. How's it going?

Lori Mankin:

Hey, Monica. I'm doing really well. I wish I was in California, but you know.

Monica:

I know, it's great. What is it, thundering in Austin or what?

Lori Mankin:

It was this morning, but it actually is a beautiful blue now, so I can't complain. I'll definitely get outside today.

Monica:

Yeah, I know. I have a bunch of nieces and nephews I'm dealing with, so me seeing the sunlight is probably slim to none. But yeah, okay, let's get started. Tell me a little bit about yourself. Tell the audience about what you do for Lifesize and what is a normal day in the office for you?

Lori Mankin:

Sure. So I've been doing marketing for tech companies for probably about the last 10 years. I've been on very small teams where I'm the only marketer. I've also been on teams of three. And right now I'm on a little more of a robust team, I think there's about 15 marketers right now. And then I've also seen the other side where it was a team size of about 30. So this is an interesting middle space for me. So Lifesize is a video conferencing company. And what I do there is I'm mostly focused on demand generation. I do a lot of content creation on a very regular basis. I think my expertise is probably in our nurture campaigns, the guardian of all the nurture campaigns, whether it's getting prospects to move more efficiently through the buyer's journey or getting customers to adopt to the product more effectively. And also some upsell campaigns as well. So that's what I do, and I've been there about two years now.

Monica:

Nice. So do you do much of the ABM marketing? And for anybody that doesn't know what ABM means, it's account based marketing. And if you, do tell us a little bit about what Lifesize does in terms of ABM marketing and why it's important for them.

Lori Mankin:

Sure. So I do a lot of ABM marketing right now, and I have actually done it at every company I've worked at. And it looks incredibly different, as you can imagine. So whether you're a small business and you're just taking this on on your own or you're a large company, I'll try and speak to both of those. But the way it works at Lifesize is... And as you can imagine, when you're doing account based marketing, you work really closely with the sales team. And our structure is something that has been more successful with companies that have the resources to be able to do it. So you have your traditional inbound model, where basically you're hoping people will come to you, and you're putting great content out there for them to absorb and then move through the funnel and reach out to your sales organization.

Lori Mankin:

ABM is going back to what I consider the better, or the more improved, traditional marketing or traditional sales, where you reach out to very particular audiences and serve them something very customized. So as you can imagine, these efforts are incredibly different as far as goals go. And if you talk to a lot of salespeople, inbound compensation for a sales rep is going to be so much more different. It asks a lot of a sales rep to really focus solely on very specific accounts.

Lori Mankin:

So what we do at Lifesize is we have a sales rep who helps with inbound leads, and then a sales rep that solely focuses on ABM or outbound. Because ultimately what will happen is, if you have a situation where the team is doing both things, it's very challenging for the sales rep to be able to focus on the outbound, because they will often focus more on what's right in front of them, the inbound element, because it's coming at them so quickly. So it's usually beneficial, if you have the resources, to keep those separate.

Lori Mankin:

I work with our sales team to develop email cadences for the outreach. We do some direct mailers for various specific audiences, as well as some of the people on my team deal with the digital advertising that's served to these very specific companies that we're trying to gain interest into our company. So that's a little bit of an overview, if that's helpful.

Monica:

Yeah. No, that's interesting. You mentioned Lifesize has what, about 15 marketers? How do you have it structured at the company? Do you have people working specifically on ABM and then you have other people that are doing more just the lead gen from the website? How is it normally structured at Lifesize and where have you seen it differently elsewhere?

Lori Mankin:

So what's interesting is we're unintentionally aligned toward the ABM model, just because our demand generation team has... The demand generation team of the marketing team is about five people, and then the rest of the team is mostly the corporate marketing team, and they focus mostly on content creation. They're really the writers for white papers and blogs and video content and that type of thing. So they definitely are geared more toward the inbound audience, whereas demand gen, we weren't really designed this way, but we have the flexibility to switch. That we do inbound efforts, be able to really focus on outbound as well. And so it's interesting.

Lori Mankin:

At some companies, the big companies, or larger companies, I should say, I've been on teams where they have tried. They've also split the marketing into specifically ABM team and I'm inbound team. And the reason for that is because you're just creating so much custom material. For example, I worked at a social media company, it's now called Chorus. But if you're working on a piece for Target, going specifically after Target, then you're going to want to have a white paper that explains specifically what they need to be doing based on what would be good for them for social media. Like a very in depth audit, and it can be very time intensive. And if you're trying to create inbound material on a regular basis while keeping up with the regular side of things, it would be very frustrating to have to create this very customized, individualized experience. So I have seen marketing teams also be split in conjunction, and then working really close with the sales reps team. But we, like I said, at Lifesize, we're designed for that with an unintentional effort. It just seamlessly works that way.

Monica:

It's interesting that you say that, because obviously with account based marketing, like you mentioned, it's very tailored to the specific company that you're targeting. So with companies that are deciding to wanting to do ABM and how do they go about doing it, what kind of recommendations do you have? And using the content that they have, just tweaking the name a little bit? Should they do more in depth research for those type of things? How quickly can you put together an ABM program at a company that's never really done it before?

Lori Mankin:

So I think what's interesting about large marketing teams versus small marketing teams is when you're on a small marketing team, you have access to everything. So I've been on teams where I have access to all of the design materials, and that made ABM incredibly easy, because when you have access to all the design docs, you can go in and change a couple of things. Especially if you're focusing on a specific vertical for ABM, you can go in tweak a couple things to make it feel like a very custom experience, and it's very simple.

Lori Mankin:

However, in a larger organization, you usually have someone who's a designer, and you want to be mindful of their time. So my recommendation to larger companies would be to try and create a templatized design. Anything that's going to be intended for ABM use needs to be easily accessible to that team or those individuals who are going to be creating tailored content. Just that accessibility. Very advanced designers can use tools like Adobe and anything under their suite, but you can actually probably take a lot of these materials and put them on Canva, which is free, and then you could have much easier access to people who may not be very focused designers, and then they can create that tailored content. So I think that one of the biggest challenges at a larger company, though, is being able to customize and create that tailored content quickly without taking up too much time on the designer side who may be on the other team. So that's always a balance.

Monica:

Yeah. And how does this directly affect the sales team? Because I know with inbound leads that are coming from the website, they go straight to the sales as a new lead. With account based marketing, it's a little bit different. The sales team is already working that lead, or has, and you're working on upsell. Or you have a certain company that you work with, and now you're trying to target companies that are similar to that. And I know you mentioned that you work directly with the sales team, but how does it differ between those two?

Lori Mankin:

Yeah, that's a great question. So typically, the traditional inbound process is, we will have leads come in and when they reach a certain threshold... If they're asking for a demo, obviously, they get a response pretty quickly. But if they're downloading a certain amount of content or reach a certain threshold, that's the inbound sales rep's key to respond.

Lori Mankin:

For outbound, we go through and a number of strategies. We probably create a separate focus quarterly, and that focus can be just based on feedback from the executive team, feedback from the sales reps. And then of course, my favorite is any data induced feedback where we're seeing a popular trend amongst something, or we're seeing a lot of conversion amongst a lot of customers coming in. That's always the best audience for a number of reasons. One, if you've just got a flood of certain customers who are all very similar, then you understand how you can craft messaging that really meets their needs.

Lori Mankin:

So for anyone who's getting into ABM, I would say the easiest way to do it is look at your most recent acquired customers, and then go after what's called a lookalike audience, because you're already walking the walk and talking the talk. So on a quarterly basis, when we're looking at the audience that we would like to go after... And again, if you're new to ABM, I would recommend you go after, one, audiences that are most like the customers who've been acquiring recently because you already have the messaging down. And then the second piece of advice that I would give someone starting into ABM is, if you're not comfortable allocating the funds to go after a brand new audience, you can test out ABM with your closed lost within the last year. That's an audience that knows you pretty well, and it's a more calculated approach and a less cold calling situation. So your dollar will definitely go farther when you're focusing on that.

Lori Mankin:

So the way I work with the sales reps who are working on outbound materials is for the e-staff audience of whatever companies we're going after, we'll craft and tailor some sort of direct mailer. Because executive staff or CEOs, they don't have a tendency to go to a lot of webinars. Some do and that's great, that's awesome. But it's interesting that we go so old school, and direct mail still can be the loudest way to reach someone. And it's interesting because when you're going after e-staff level, you probably are going to get something a lot nicer because you need to get past that barrier, that person. So we've done things like very nice bottles of wine, incredibly nice cutlery sets. It's just a way to get eyes in front of that really high level person.

Lori Mankin:

I get sent direct mailers quite often. Marketers marketing to marketers. It's always such a joy, because we're going to appreciate everything they send us in general, just because we're like, "Oh, good job. Well played." Or some people might be the hardest critics on it. But I don't receive knife sets because that wouldn't be a very appropriate target. We all get fun little puzzles or something interesting that will catch my attention. So I'll work with the sales team to develop what's the hook, what's the direct mailer for the e-staff. And then if we would also like to send something directly to the IT director, who is our audience at Lifesize, so that's who we really focus on.

Lori Mankin:

And then we'll also work together to put together an email cadence in response to that direct mailer. So it's a lot of language. It's very casual. If you haven't looked into Drift, they're a chat app, but they also do a lot of email marketing. If you haven't looked at Drift's email templates, they're amazing. We're gone of the days of the marketing emails that are like, "Please read my white paper, it's fantastic." The emails have gotten a lot more casual, they've gotten a lot more fun. They use emojis. They really grab you. Again, it's really fun.

Monica:

Yeah, I love seeing those, the ones that are just not so serious, because you can't continue to take yourself so seriously all the time, especially at a company like Lifesize. It's video. Video is supposed to be fun, it's supposed to be engaging, it's supposed to be human. We're all human, and we want to see things that are just not like, here is our white paper on blah blah blah. It's just like, okay. Well, what's actually in here and why do I want to read it in a very casual way?

Lori Mankin:

It's hard as marketers, because you might run into situations where you're trying to stay on brand, and so you might run into roadblocks where someone says, "Oh, this isn't on brand," or "It doesn't seem as professional," or "We want to go this route." If you can find a way to introduce humor and make somebody laugh, that's worth everything.

Monica:

Super powerful. Yeah, I know. And I think that's a lot of the things people don't realize, that you might have defined your brand, but there's still levels of your brand that you can change. Your overall brand can be the same, but the tone and language can evolve over time. So as we start to grow, as companies grow, as the technology gets better, it's okay to shift that a bit to really engage with your customers that you're trying to target.

Lori Mankin:

Absolutely. You can find a level of humor or lightheartedness with people and be able to connect with them. I think that's absolutely possible. And it's definitely a push for some people, but it's so much more worthwhile and the connections are so much greater. I can't tell you how many times I get an email and they say, I think it's something like, "Hey, do you want to grab coffee or something?" And I say, ah, it got me.

Monica:

It's like, yes I do. I would like a venti chai tea latte with a shot. Thank you.

Lori Mankin:

And even with the current circumstances where people are working from home, they'll say, oh, they'll... It's fun to get creative. You can use Uber Eats to actually deliver someone coffee. And then you meet, you can hop on a video call and actually have coffee together.

Monica:

And I think that is huge with enterprise SaaS companies, because a lot of these sales members who work for these enterprise SaaS companies where their targeted audience is, we're going to get a $500,000 sale from it, they're going to meet them face to face. That still exists. And if you now, with this whole transition with COVID and the pandemic that's happening, virtual is the way to go. So if you can incorporate that face to face way of doing something, but virtually, I think that's powerful.

Lori Mankin:

So when we're working with the sales team, we create those email cadences. Sometimes we don't have a very large budget sometimes either, and you can be playful with that, just really get creative with it. I think one time we said, and this feels a little deceptive, but I think we pulled it off because we got a lot of good feedback from it. It was something along the lines of our sales rep sent the email and the email subject line was, "Did you get the Lifesize YETI I sent you?" And then the next line is, "Well, guilty confession. I haven't sent it to you yet, but I want to." And then you can lead into the book a meeting with me. So if you have limited stock, or your CEO or somebody has an issue with like, I don't want to send out $500 knives to multiple people, or anything. YETI cups are $40. If you have to be a little more contained with whatever you're sending, you can find creative ways to engage someone and offer it up with without actually sending it.

Monica:

Yeah, and I feel like people find humor in that too. They're not going to be upset that they didn't get a YETI. They'd be like, well played. Well played, Lifesize.

Lori Mankin:

Another fun thing I've seen is multiple options, like people giving people their pick. Because you can do a lot of research into people on social media to determine what they'd like, but you may not know them completely. So it's fun. I've seen people do offers like, "Hey, pick A, B, C, D, and then let me know what time you can meet, and then I'll send it to you."

Monica:

Oh, that's cool. Yeah, that's good as well. With Lifesize being a video conferencing company, do you incorporate a lot of video in your marketing, especially for ABM? And what type of videos do you do?

Lori Mankin:

Yes, absolutely. I think all of our sales reps send a lot of canned videos. Not canned videos. They'll take a second to, and it doesn't take that long once you get in the routine, take a second to record something, give them a really custom experience using their name, and then just send it off. And the open rates on something with a video are just exceptional. And video is always an exceptional way-

Monica:

And it's not that hard, really. Anybody can do it.

Lori Mankin:

It's a great skill for them to learn. And then it's good for them to take a moment to brief themselves and understand fully what the prospect would respond to. I've also heard from sales reps they feel more prepared when they're on the call because they've already done a video.

Monica:

Yeah, I know. Because I think that's the hardest thing too, especially if you have face to face on video, people get a little stagefright. Which it's funny, because you're not in front of a stage, you're in front of your computer, but you're still making sure that you don't have a wrong angle or how do I look when I'm talking like this? And so I think it gets people more comfortable in front of the camera since we are moving into a more virtualized world.

Lori Mankin:

Yeah. I couldn't agree more. And the setup is already there because they are recording videos, they have the lighting they want. So when they pop on, they're just that much more professional, and in real time as well.

Monica:

And for your campaigns, what is the number one thing that you track? I know within any company, that you track certain things. People want different KPIs and stuff. But for you personally, what do you value seeing when you run a campaign?

Lori Mankin:

Yeah. So what I value seeing is responses, as far as emails go. That, to me, is a huge success. I think that open rate and click through rate obviously have their place, but responses are really where you see you made a connection. You can't get much more real than somebody reaching out to you. Even more so than them clicking on the meeting link, because there's so many times where someone clicks on the meeting link and it goes dark. When there's a response, the conversion of them turning from a response into actually meeting is just insane. It's 95%. So that's what I pay attention to the most, is response rate. Like how many responses did we get to that email? And sometimes it is like, "Ha ha, that's funny. You got me." Sometimes it may not be relevant to getting a meeting, but most of the time, it is. And even if it isn't, we just made... Our brand isn't well known. I won't speak of the video conference Goliath that everybody else knows, because you're all thinking about it or using it.

Monica:

I know. And we're actually on Zoom recording too, so that's funny.

Lori Mankin:

Exactly. So if I can make a connection with someone to the point where they're responding to it, that brand-

Monica:

Awareness. Yeah.

Lori Mankin:

Yeah, that's worth it to me. So that's what I care about most. But I totally... Obviously, at the end of the day, what we spend on a direct mailer needs to far... Obviously the revenue needs to close and it needs to be paid for. So that's also something that's pretty close to our [crosstalk 00:22:59]

Monica:

Mentioned something earlier too. A company that doesn't have budget to target new accounts, they only have what they have in their database. You mentioned lost the deals, and I think that's powerful because you normally have to select a reason why it was lost. So you can filter, you not only just contact those lost deals, but you can also understand why so when you retarget them, you have a better understanding. So maybe budget was a problem last year, but it's not a problem for them this year. So you can get really tailored in your messaging based off of the reasons why people have lost deals in the past.

Lori Mankin:

I always recommend anytime you're running any kind of ABM strategy to definitely have specifically retargeting advertising, just so you're top of mind from a brand component. You can just be so much less in someone's face with that targeting and spend so much less money if you're already with an audience that knows you. They see all the campaigns going on and it's just like, "Oh yeah, Lifesize, I remember them." You had brought up go after closed lost audiences. Another great audience to go after, if you're low budget or concerned about who you want to spend money on, is upsell your customers. That's the marketing trifecta, because you're investing in your customers, so you're creating more brand affinity. They're much more likely to purchase. And it's just a really... And they're just incredibly grateful. It's just nice to be put in front of your customers again. That, to me, is if you have no money for ABM and you want to try it, just work on an upsell campaign for your customers. That's where to focus.

Monica:

I think it's easy, too. I know that, just for the audience knowing, me and Lori go way back. We've known each other for quite some time. I used to live in Austin.

Lori Mankin:

Yeah, but it's been, like, five years.

Monica:

It's been five, six years, I think. But Lori and I, we actually met, funny enough, at a HubSpot hub group. Well, we had met through friends before, but we didn't know we met each other. And then we saw each other again in a HubSpot hub group, or whatever they call it, and it sparked this relationship. And so I know that Lori has worked in HubSpot, and I know that she's worked also in Marketo. But can you explain how that direct integration, using a marketing software like that, that truly helps with that upselling that you're saying?

Lori Mankin:

Oh, absolutely. Oh, there's so many different components. Without getting too tech nerdy, it's very hard for small businesses probably to get into a marketing automation software that's priced well. Obviously, I'm biased. I definitely recommend HubSpot. But even if you're a more robust company, the possibilities are endless. If you want to send out direct mailers on a regular basis, you can use Sendoso. They're the software of direct mailers and they integrate with HubSpot. And then we're talking Terminus is an ABM software where they serve ads to those custom audiences. So if you want targeted executives to only receive those ads in all these places, then you can use something like Terminus. They integrate with HubSpot. Let's see, what other tech stack? You're just opening yourself up to this world-

Monica:

It's endless.

Lori Mankin:

Yeah. You and I can nerd on all the different apps that you could use. And HubSpot makes it so easy to connect with it so it's not as hard. It's not simple, but it's possible to be able to prove out these things in the way you to. And just knowing that every new software you introduce, you have to put the work into it. But it just makes it all that more accurate.

Monica:

If you had any extra budget at Lifesize, where would that money go first?

Lori Mankin:

Oh my goodness. That's such a good question. And it's so funny, Monica sent me the questions ahead of time, guys, so I could think about it. And that was one I was like, oh, I really want to think about that one, and I can think of something great, and I still haven't thought of it.

Monica:

Because it's hard. There's so many things that you want to do that you... Would it be social? Would it be content? Would it be filler pages? There's just so many things that you can possibly do with the extra budget.

Lori Mankin:

Yeah. Oh, man. I want Sendoso instantly. We do direct mailers.

Monica:

Yeah. There it is.

Lori Mankin:

And I think the main reason I want Sendoso, and this is such an in the weeds, nerdy comment, but you guys know when you have a database to maintain, that it can become very challenging to make sure that you have the best address for the best contact. And there are so many times where when we send out a direct mailer, we'll get it back, and then I have to go manually into Salesforce and update the address, or go find it or go say that it's not real. And if you have an app, the app will do that for you. Like, hey, it got sent back. So then it could flag it, and then there's an automated process. And then I can go assign that to somebody else and go along my merry way.

Monica:

Yeah, I know, because your focus is marketing. You still want to-

Lori Mankin:

Yeah, [crosstalk 00:28:25] high level, yes.

Monica:

Yeah. You don't want to deal with a database of addresses. No, that's ridiculous.

Lori Mankin:

And I think they even have something where it's like, oh, is this address... They might even have some sort of address checker built in at this point. So it's adding that technical aspect. It just feels so silly to have this stack of returned stuff and go through it. It almost feels like, we were never around for this, Monica, but Rolodexy.

Monica:

Yeah, right. Cool. Well, I-

Lori Mankin:

I would buy that. That would be great. I would just love to do more. Direct mailers are super fun, but it's very hard to scale them. They're expensive, but they do make an impact. But they're not necessary. I've seen just as many deals open from a really good email that we wrote where-

Monica:

Just a touchpoint.

Lori Mankin:

Yeah. Yeah. Actually, that, quote unquote, deceptive one. I do have a lot of integrity, so it didn't sit well with me, but trust me, we worded it just right that the humor was there. I think we got more deals out of that than we got out of the direct mailer associated with that.

Monica:

Yeah. I think what I'm hearing is that if you have a low budget, just get crafty, get creative. You can do a lot with a little bit that you have. Look at your content that you have, see what you can use to target certain customers for ABM marketing. Use what you have. If you don't have anything, start creating a content calendar. Because the knowledge, you have it, you just have to put it down on paper and you have to figure out a way that you can target these people. And you have all that information there, you just need to extract it.

Lori Mankin:

Yeah, absolutely.

Monica:

Well, we're up towards the end, but I wanted a couple of fun questions at the end for Lori. So between your room, desk, or car, what do you clean first?

Lori Mankin:

Oh, man. Room, desk, or car. I make my bed every single morning when I wake up.

Monica:

I think that says a lot about you, Lori. Seems like you wake up with a lot of determination and drive for the rest of your day.

Lori Mankin:

That's very sweet. And actually, I saw this video once, it was someone in the military who said, when you wake up first thing in the morning, make your bed, because then you already did something and you got it done.

Monica:

Exactly. You accomplished something. I think it's a task that you check off and you're good to go.

Lori Mankin:

Also, it just looks nice all day.

Monica:

I know. And then you can go into a nice bed. And then last, do you have any words of wisdom for our audience?

Lori Mankin:

I think that there's a lot of time marketing can be stressful. Something might not work, or you put a lot of work into something and it didn't pan out the way you wanted it to. Or maybe it's not even something... We all get those things we don't really want to work on. You get those things where you're like, oh gosh, I don't want to work on that. That's not a good idea, it's not strategic, and you have to do it anyway. But when you set aside the time to allow yourself to be playful, or really sit with it and try and find the humor in it, then it makes the messaging better. And you can have a campaign that you didn't want to do that turns out to be your favorite because you just think of probably the most fun and creative work you could imagine. And then it makes it really hard to start the next project.

Monica:

And then you just got to do it all over again.

Lori Mankin:

Yeah. So I would say take the time to... I get my best ideas when I'm brushing my teeth. So make sure to take the time every once in a while to take a step back and find the humor in it and do that thing that is really... Get in your creative zone, because if you're finding that you're doing something you don't like working on and you put yourself in your environment that you really thrive in, your brain starts to really think of something great. Then you can turn a project you really don't like into maybe the best performing thing and most fun that you've ever had.

Monica:

I think that's great. Well, thanks Lori. I appreciate it. You are our first interviewee on our podcast.

Lori Mankin:

Oh my goodness, so much pressure. I'm glad you told me that at the end.

Monica:

But thanks. I really appreciate it.

Monica:

You've been listening to the Marketing Hero Podcast by Clear Pivot. Be sure to join us next time. For more information, visit www.clearpivot.com.

 

Topics: SaaS Marketing, Account-Based Marketing