It’s the 3rd episode of Meaningful Conversations with Revenue Leaders – No fluff. Meaningful conversations only.

In this episode, here comes… James Meincke.

James is an omnichannel marketer, remote-work advocate, promoter of curiosity.

And definitely, a person who is passionate about marketing and generous to share his learnings and insights.

James and Jan discussed topics like – measuring marketing efforts, scaling up a team sustainably, the best way to prospect C-levels, and more.

Definitely worth checking it out.

Highlight 1: The best marketing advice is from non-marketers

It’s actually people outside of marketing who have the best insights.

First, as a marketer, you always have to taste the soup. Imagine you’re a chef. You need to taste what you’re cooking before you serve it to customers. Same thing in marketing, especially if you’re leading a team. Try to take a step back, put yourself in the eyes of your customer, and go through the sign-up workflow by yourself – Does this wording make sense? Is it actually connecting with me? Does it work? Is it going to the right place in your marketing automation system?

Second, it’s super important to test and double-check, especially when it comes to copy, double-checking the words in an email or an ad because mistakes happen. I’ve definitely sent emails out with a typo in the subject line to 40,000 people. I know not to make that mistake anymore, so it’s really important to double-check and like I said, taste the soup.

Third, nothing is black and white. Just because Company X is really great with this strategy and it works for them, it doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you. Take things with a grain of salt, and you always have to test yourself and see what works.

Highlight 2: What’s the craftiest way you’ve been prospected?

If you hit the nerve, instant answer.

One example that comes up is I think on my Twitter, I think I’ve said something about I’m a Twins fan. We’re having a horrible season. I remember an SDR once reached out to and he was like:

“Hey, I saw you liked the Twins. The AL Central is looking pretty competitive this year.”

Instantly, I started responding.

“Oh, my gosh, yeah. We’re not doing so great this year but the Indians are looking great.”

I jump in because it’s something I want to talk about.

So, the advice is to find something that someone cares about, even if it’s not related to your product.

Highlight 3: The most important part of marketing is… Experiment.

At least 10% to 20% of our marketing budget should be allocated towards experiments, and you should agree on that with your stakeholders

  1. Build a plan so you know what is involved in this experiment and who’s owning what.

  2. Set some realistic expectations on what does success looks like.
    “If we hit this KPI or this number, that means it’ll be a success, right?” “What happens if we’re lower or higher?”

  3. Then a timeline.

Maybe we’re going to run this experiment for two weeks, and then we’re going to assess, and literally have a calendar invite scheduled for that two weeks so you actually know – be like okay, we’re going to assess this campaign, that kind of thing, so setting the framework for it.

Highlight 4: What’s the marketing pitfall you can think about?

It’s obviously very similar, but I do hear people say things – Not all marketing activities have to be measured.

But I think everything needs its own set of measurements. If you’re doing more top-of-the-funnel brand awareness stuff, maybe your metric is impressions on social or engagement. It’s not turning into leads specifically. It’s tough to track that, but at least you can track something on top of the funnel.

Otherwise, you’re throwing stuff at a dartboard and you’re not even seeing where it lands. That’s not going to help you scale because you need to be able to decide is this working or not.

Highlight 5: How to scale sustainably?

  1. Making sure your spending is under control and that it’s actually providing results.

    Obviously, early-stage teams just building a sales team, there’s going to be a lot of burns. That’s obvious. You need to get to a point where there’s at least revenue coming in. Maybe you’re not profitable but you can see a road to that.

    For example, for all your marketing spend, there needs to be some sort of result there that impacts revenue. It may be somewhat obvious, but you also see a lot of companies just blowing money. If you’re not actually tracking what’s impacting revenue, that could be just wasted money. That’s one thing, making sure that what you are doing is yielding ROI. With that, you need really good tracking and testing. You’ve been given a big budget.

  2. Spend small first to see what works and then scale it up.
    Don’t just blow $100,000 on something on a whim because you can’t really know if that’s going to work or not.

  3. The hiring aspect is really important, too. I think you hire people that are a good fit at the moment but also someone who can scale with you.

Want to check the uncut full text? Here's your transcript.

Interviewer: …lovely writers and extra workers. That’s great.

James: Just a quick question: how’s my audio and video? I feel like your video is glitching a little bit. I don’t know if mine’s okay.

Interviewer: From my side, everything is brilliant.

James: Okay, cool. Let me know if that changes, yeah.

Interviewer: Yeah, exactly. I can hear you crystal clear. You have a good voice. Everything looks nice.

James: Thank you.

Interviewer: Yeah, sometimes you think about – you speak to people and then it’s like, maybe I should’ve stayed with picture or only stayed on the radio. That’s not the case for you for sure.

James: That’s funny.

Interviewer: Yeah, so let’s get dirty. You can read out the first question and then we’ll do it.

James: Alright. Why did you choose to work in marketing? I fell into marketing. I majored in advertising. I wanted to go into advertising account management, account strategy, but then I graduated from college. I ended up traveling to South America, and I learned about digital nomad remote marketing work and I searched around, and fell into it, and really liked it. I think what I liked about advertising, about being able to craft the narrative and connect with consumers. I found that doing marketing specifically at start-ups and tech companies, you can do that but in a much more hands-on way and really impact the growth of a company. That’s how I really fell into marketing and it’s been a fun ride so far.

Interviewer: Fantastic. I love the nomads. You can work remote. Perfect fit or a fit for you whereas you work as [0:02:19] really true just all remote enabling remote teams. Yeah, I love this. I envy you that you’re so good with remote working, to be honest.

James: Yeah, I mean, it worked out. My previous role, I was remote for the past six years, and so when the pandemic hit, it was actually probably easier for me because I was used to it and it probably even leveled the playing field where I used to be the only remote person and all of a sudden, everyone was remote. I’m like, now you know what I feel like. It definitely has its benefits and its drawbacks. I think working in an office, there’s just synergy and connections there that you don’t get online, so it’s a trade-off

Interviewer: Just a quick follow-up on that. What are your tips for marketers so generally working remotely? because you are an expert and have been in this remote game forever, and you’re successful. Do you have any things that are on top of your head for that?

James: To be honest, I do think it takes a certain kind of personality. I know there are people who are itching to get back to the office. With that said, the standard advice, have a routine. If you’re working at 9 a.m., try not to roll out of bed at 9 a.m. I know it’s tough sometimes but have that routine. Have something to look forward to in the morning, whether it’s a cup of coffee by the window. Take time for breaks. Be flexible with yourself. Go take a walk for lunch or whatever. Then when it comes to working. I think to make remote work really work, especially if you have people in an office, it’s important for you to be connected. When you’re online, be connected. Respond promptly to Slack messages if you can. I know people have a love/hate relationship with Slack, but if you can show that you’re present even digitally, I think that adds a lot of trust to your team. The worst thing is when someone’s remote and you don’t hear from them. You don’t actually know if they’re working. Obviously, you don’t want to micro-manage people, but if you can prove that you’re there, you’re committed, you’re engaged, that goes a long way.

Interviewer: That’s so true. I couldn’t have put words on it, but that’s true. Really cool. Alright, let’s move to the next question.

James: Awesome. What’s the best piece of advice about marketing you’ve ever received? A few things come to mind, and I do think some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten about marketing is not from marketers, which I think is telling because a lot of times, we’re in our own world. It’s actually people outside of marketing who are receiving marketing messages who have the best insights.

I think one is that – don't take anything that anybody says as gospel. Just because someone says hey, you have to do it this way, that may not be the case for your company. I've learned that nothing is black and white. Just because Company X is really great with this strategy and it works for them, it doesn't mean it's going to work for you. Take things with a grain of salt, and you always have to test yourself and see what works.

Then another one that my former CEO always said that's kind of funny is that – but it stuck with me. As a marketer, you always have to taste the soup. Imagine you're a chef. You need to taste what you're cooking before you serve it to customers. Same thing in marketing, especially if you're leading a team. You have tons of strategies you're working on, tons of initiatives. It's easy to let things go but it's super important to take a step back, put yourself in the eyes of your customer, and try going through your sign-up workflow. Try downloading whatever. Does this wording make sense? Is it actually connecting with me? Does it work? Is it going to the right place in your marketing automation system? It's super important to test and double-check, especially when it comes to copy, double-checking the words in an email or an ad because mistakes happen. I've definitely sent emails out with a typo in the subject line to 40,000 people. I know not to make that mistake anymore, so it's really important to double-check and like I said, taste the soup.

Interviewer: I love the tasting the soup, eating your own meatballs, drink your own champagne, playing the secret shopper. I love it and I promise you can feel the difference between a marketing campaign that has been walked through by yourself and something that has not been done – I appreciate that. Thanks, great advice. Most of [0:07:03].

James: [0:07:04]. I think changing your mindset, too. If you review something as a marketer, you’re going to look at it differently than if you put yourself in the shoes of your customer. For us, I’m a VP of sales. I’m leading a sales team. These are a few pain points I’m struggling with constantly. Does this message resonate with me? It’s probably going to be a different result than if I’m reading it as James the marketer. I think that’s important, too, yeah.

Interviewer: Thanks for sharing. Let’s move onto the next. This is a segment that all the SDRs want to hear on how to prospect a VP like you.

James: The craftiest way I’ve been prospected – I really think it comes down to talking about – personalizing a message to my interests. One example that comes up is I think on my Twitter, I think I’ve said something about I’m a Twins fan. I’m a big Twins fan. It’s a baseball team in the US. We’re having a horrible season, just terrible. I love the Twins; I follow them. I remember an SDR once reached out to and he was like, “Hey, I saw you liked the Twins. The AL Central is looking pretty competitive this year.” Instantly, I started responding. “Oh, my gosh, yeah. We’re not doing so great this year but the Indians are looking great.” I jump in because it’s something I want to talk about. If somebody were to come to me right now and be like hey, the Twins are having a rough season. It sounds like you might lose Nelson Cruz, I would be like, I know; he’s our top hitter. What are we doing? I would just jump in.

I think finding – yeah, very specific but finding something that someone cares about, even if it's not related to your product, is going to elicit a response if you know the prospect cares about it. You have to do that extra step. You're not going to get that from using personalized “tokens” that you're sending in bulk. It takes the extra step to actually personalize a message. I think that goes a long way.

Interviewer: Yeah, love it. It’s so true. If you hit the nerve, instant answer. I am the same way. You spoke about this book, and I reference a paragraph in a book. Answer within the next five minutes. I love that you point out the extra steps. It also takes a lot of courage to take the extra step and to do a little bit more research. I still think that in that situation, the rep also addressed a need that is remotely interesting to you. Even though he hit the nerve, probably it was also something that was for some – was in your – on your blocks even though you didn’t know about it.

Interviewer: It also takes a lot of courage to take the extra step and to do a little bit more research (about your prospects).

James: Definitely, I agree, and I think two things stand out there. One is it’s definitely tempting to just blast off messages through Outreach or SalesLoft or whatever you use; I get that. Your response rates are going to be pretty low, so even taking a minute or two per outreach – that time adds up. I get that. We’re all strapped for time, but I think if you check the data, your response rates increase dramatically to a point where it is worth it. The second piece of that is just like as a prospect, if somebody reaches out to me with something super personal, I’m like okay, I respect that. I recognize that it’s better, and it makes me want to reciprocate, be like okay, you did your work. I’ll maybe not hop on a call but at least respond and acknowledge it, so I think that’s important.

Interviewer: Thank you. Let’s go to a very heated one.

James: Yeah.

Interviewer: I’ve been hearing a lot of stuff about it.

James: Gated content or not? Why? I don’t know why this is such a touchy subject. My response is I think the majority of content should not be gated. At the same time, though, I see people – like I said, I don’t think anything is black and white. I see people being like all content should be ungated. They’re just going on their rant, and then I check their company website, and they have a lot of gated content. There’s definitely a disconnect between what people are saying and what they’re actually doing, and I think there’s a reason for that. Yes, content is one of the best ways for you to showcase your brand, introduce buyers to your company, establish yourself as a thought leader. You should be very generous with that content.

That being said, imagine you put in months working on a huge research report where you got thousands of data points maybe on sales compensation or the state of SaaS or whatever, and let’s say you say hey, we did this great report. We got thousands of downloads. Your CEO’s like great, does the sales team have those? You’re like oh, no, we actually decided not to capture that information. They’re going to look at you like you’re an idiot. That might be extreme, but I think, as a marketer, it’s important for us to get the most out of everything we’re doing, and so there are times when there’s a big opportunity to capture demand, to capture information, and if you’re missing out on that, then you’re missing out – you’re leaving money on the table, but I think it’s a mix, right?

It’s also our job to provide our customers and our prospects with a good experience, and so I don’t want to be spamming people. I don’t think every e-book should be gated, no. I think a sophisticated marketing strategy is going to have content at different stages of the funnel, and I think a lot of top and mid-funnel content where you’re just introducing yourself, introducing insights, that should not be gated, but then you have certain kinds of content where like I said, you put a lot of time into it, a lot of research, and it’s very valuable, and if somebody downloads that or looks at it, it’s a pretty clear sign that they at least struggle with a pain point that your company’s solving.

You want that information, and if it’s a really quality piece of content, I think people understand that okay, I give you my email. Then I get access to this. I see so many of those big, huge reports with lots of data points. That’s a classic example. I’ve never seen that for free. It’s free, but you need to give your email. I think we expect that. In summary, I think the vast majority of content should be ungated, but there are some really high-value pieces that you should be gating just to get the most out of it.

Interviewer: Yeah, that’s a very well-thought and put-together answer. I think that Chris Walker was actually speaking about last week in [13:58] – you probably follow him as well – is that he was speaking about determining fit, right? You have the target account, and a lot of marketers right now and sales reps, they have to hunt this target account list, and this was [14:16] how would you determine this fit, like fit when they’re actually ready to buy. What he’s been arguing is that you have to test the target account firmographically, but what you have to add right now on is this level of intent, like whether it is – they download an e-book, or you find something that can give you this intent, this first-party intent. This was the fit question. What is your take on intent and fit, determining the fit, so to say?

James: That’s a great point. Chris Walker has some great content. Just taking a step back, he’s someone where he doesn’t have to gate any content because he has great videos. They’re getting hundreds of thousands of views, so they’re swimming in in-bounds. I think with him, that’s one of those cases where what works for him isn’t working for us right now because we don’t have that kind of content. Good for him. I think that’s the ideal way to do it, but for the rest of us folks, I think we do need to capture some information.

Anyway, to your question, I think yeah, I agree. If someone downloads an e-book, that is not intent, and I don’t think the sales teams should reach out to somebody who downloads an e-book because they’re going to be like what. There’s a disconnect. I think when it comes time to pass a lead to sales, I think you need two key parts. One, do they fit the ICP? Have we had success with these kinds of companies, this type of role? That’s really important, everything from firmographics, demographics, psychographics, all that stuff, to be like okay, this person is worth talking to as a buyer.

Then the intent aspect is the other part, which might even be more important, right? Obviously, you have hand-raisers when somebody requests a demo or if they sign up for a free trial, but there’s other ways to look at intent too based on different pain points that people are essentially communicating that they’re dealing with. For us, that pass-off moment, it comes down to a score. One of the first things I did at Demodesk was build a lead scoring framework where when somebody hits a certain score, it automatically gets sent to our sales team and assigned to them.

I think the important thing there is to agree on that. Both sales and marketing need to agree on okay, what’s qualified and what’s going to happen and then just automate it. Of course, I think it’s important to follow up and make sure that it’s working. I feel like every week or two I’m updating our score when we sync up and go okay, actually, we’re getting too many low-quality leads through, so what are we missing, or hey, actually, I checked. There are some qualified leads that didn’t make it, right, so what are we missing there. It’s a combination of aligning on what you both agree on and then following up, checking to make sure it’s working. Yeah, I think it’s a combination of ICP and intent, yeah.

Interviewer: Yeah, great answer. I’m following everything because I just had this not epiphany, but it makes so much sense that you speak about it. Totally agree. You don’t want to reach out to someone [17:27] the web book. You want to have this ideal score, so yeah, I love that you directly work with this project.

James: Yeah, I think it’s pretty important to have that score and factor both. Nobody can hit our lead score threshold with just intent or just matching our ICP. It needs to be a little bit of both. Like I said, if somebody’s in our ICP and downloads an e-book, they’re probably not going to hit that score, right? They need some sort of engagement, whether it’s visiting our website or something else because otherwise, that’s just – the sales team’s not going to have good success with that, and then I’m wasting their time.

Interviewer: Yeah. Makes sense. First you spoke about and Chris Walker spoke about it’s better to go from 0.1 conversion rate to 7.10 with less accounts. Then you can scale that instead of going all out with no intent whatsoever, maybe have this 1.0 fixed conversion rate, but you have sprayed and prayed during the entire market. Your market is already – you’ve run through all the good accounts already.

James: Definitely. Yeah, being super targeted is very important. I think it’s a struggle for a lot of marketers, right? Volume is also – it’s tempting, right, getting thousands of leads, but yeah, if they’re not the right fit, you’re wasting everybody’s time.


Interviewer: Yeah. Because It’s like living in the intersection between quality and quantity, how are you – what’s your approach towards that, finding that perfect point where you say I’m satisfied with the quantity but I’m also hitting my quality criteria that I’ve been setting up. You said you do some weekly assessments together with the team.

James: Yeah, so I have a weekly thing with our VP of sales, also a weekly thing with our head of sales development who really owns the inbounds going to the sales team, and so it really just comes down to making sure that we’re aligned, like literally asking what do you care about. Sometimes it’s like they’d actually rather talk to an account executive at a target company than a VP of sales at a company that’s not in our ICP, so there are certain things that are more important than others, and as a marketer you’re not going to know that unless you actually ask your sales team because they’re the ones who are actually deciding to engage with a lead, right, and they know that from their experience, from what’s working with them, so I think it’s really important to ask those questions. Once you have that information, build your score.

Like I said, I think just being in regular communication. I think everybody knows marketing and sales alignment is super important, but you need to build it into your schedule, build it into your workflow. Like I said, whether it’s a weekly sync or even an automated email or something where it gives you an opportunity to share feedback, having those conversations is just crucial.

Interviewer: Yeah, love it. Thank you.

James: Yeah, for sure.

Interviewer: Next question.

James: Alright. What tools help you the most in your day to day? Nothing super groundbreaking. We use HubSpot, Salesforce. I think with that the most important tool is a really well-built dashboard. That’s something we recently improved on our side getting a nice snapshot into our overall marketing health, like our campaigns, how many leads, how many convert into opportunities. Getting really good visibility into that is super helpful, and that helps diagnose are things going well, are things going poorly. Of course, when you have those questions, you can dig deeper into what’s going well, what’s not going well, so I think having built-out dashboards are really important. Most of that’s in Salesforce for us. Yeah, I think I’ve also used a combination of Asana, Notion, Trello just to organize my own to-do list, projects to make sure things don’t fall through the cracks.

Nothing super groundbreaking, but making sure you do have a list of priorities and making sure your prioritizing what is most important so you can focus on what’s the least amount of work with the most amount of impact. I think having some sort of system, even if it’s a notebook, honestly. Organizing priorities is super important. Those are probably the main things for me, honestly. Quality dashboard, so you can really see the health of what you’re doing and then your own project management.

Interviewer: Love it. You are so [21:56], the gentleman of tools. Good dashboard, some project management tools, notebook. I’m happy.

James: Yeah, whatever works. Honestly, if it’s a piece of paper on the wall that you’re writing on, great. I don’t think it needs to be a certain tool, just whatever works for you.

Interviewer: Perfect. Thank you. Cool. Yeah, we are running fast to time, but for me it’s okay to continue if you want.

James: Yeah, I can too.

Interviewer: Yeah, fantastic.

James: I’ll be honest, the first set of questions were a little more interesting to me than the last set, so maybe the second set will be shorter.

Interviewer: That’s perfect. Yeah, no worries. That’s perfect. We have a lot of questions. We can speak about the stuff. For the second part, if you say which ones are more interesting to you, then we just start with them. I think we got a lot of – I got a lot of learnings already.

James: I can probably speak to any of these if you want. Up to you.

Interviewer: No, but you made some notes. Let me – what I find interesting – KPI goals, the marketing hire –

James: Yeah, I made notes on those too because those were the tougher – the toughest for me to respond to, so I wanted to make sure I had something.

Interviewer: Yeah. I think we can start with the last one. I think that’s really interesting. Considering that most of the marketing projects take time to get results, how do you convince your stakeholders to buy in?

James: That’s a great question, and it’s important. There are two things I would – I’m thinking about. One is to remind your stakeholders of a typical buyer journey, right? When’s the last time you went to purchase a product. Was it because a sales rep reached out or was it because you saw an ad? Probably not. You probably heard from word of mouth, or you searched yourself. The typical buyer journey is usually a combination of those things, and so just understanding that okay, most people are going to find us by searching us after they’ve heard about us through an ad, through a piece of content, whatever. Knowing that I think is a good place to start, and that does take time. With any new initiative, it does take time to see the residual results with those.

The big thing I would say is that you should establish in your marketing budget at least 10 to 20% is allocated towards experiments, and you should agree on that with your stakeholders. , so that if you say hey, I’m going to test this campaign, they’re not going to go wait, hold up. As long as that’s in your discretionary 10 to 20% experimental budget, there shouldn’t be a lot of pushback there, but I think with that it’s really important to set up experiments correctly. First of all, build a plan so you know what is involved in this experiment, who’s owning what, set some realistic expectations on okay, what does success look like. If we hit this KPI or this number, that means it’ll be a success, right? Then a realistic expectation on what do we actually expect to happen. Are we going to hit that success goal? What happens if we’re lower or higher? Then a timeline. Maybe we’re going to run this experiment for two weeks, and then we’re going to assess, and literally have a calendar invite scheduled for that two weeks so you actually know – be like okay, we’re going to assess this campaign, that kind of thing, so setting the framework for it.

Then, of course, you can just be like okay, we’re doing a really small budget first to test. Then, of course, if it works we’ll increase. Whether it’s investing a lot of time or money, I think if you can make a point where it’s a small investment now to test and then later we’ll invest more, that’s usually a pretty easy sell to your stakeholders, especially if it’s in the context of that this is less than 20% of our budget. It’s in the experimental budget. We need to experiment in order to try new things. I think that’s important to have that understanding.

Interviewer: Yeah, love it. I love this set agreement that you say X amount of my budget is actually going through these experiments that’s agreed upon already, and then it’s low friction for you. You can fail fast and then scale.

James: Exactly. Marketers need some level of freedom to test things out, right, because otherwise, you’re just going to get stuck in your ways, and marketing’s changing, right? There are always new channels. For a while, Instagram ads were so cheap, and they worked so well for us, and then eventually, they stopped working because it got more competitive, but if you can identify those low hanging fruit channels when they’re early, it’s worth investing, but if you have a CEO who’s not on board, that’s tough, right? Having that mutual understanding of what we need to test, we need to experiment, the landscape’s changing, it’s really important. In my previous role, my CEO is like hey, we should try TikTok ads. I was like great. Granted, TikTok ads were not a good fit for us, but I’m happy that he brought it up, right, because it means that okay, let’s at least try something. Let’s at least check to see if this new platform is worth it. For most B2B companies, probably not, but it’s good to have those conversations.

Interviewer: I love it. Speed to innovation. Speed. Innovate.

James: Exactly.

Interviewer: Cool. I think it was a great answer. This is a special one, and I like to ask you that because you have bought some software before. You are also trying to sell your software, but If you would think about the ways you could improve the way you buy software, how and what would you change?

James: Yeah, I think a typical buyer process is you recognize you need a tool. You already have a few ideas of options out there. Maybe you talk to your network. Hey, I’m looking at X tool versus Y tool. What are your thoughts? Obviously it’s tough for early stage companies. People don’t know who you are. That’s our job to get in front of those people to establish ourselves as a brand. In terms of entering the buying process, I think when I’ve looked at different tools to buy for marketing, specifically email marketing automation, the best source to help me decide is literally random blogposts of somebody who’s like hey, I compared Instapage and Unbound. Here’s what I think between the two of them. ActiveCampaign versus Mailchimp, whatever.

I think companies like G2 Crowd are doing a good job where you can compare software. You can get quotes from people on what they actually think of the software, but honestly, I think finding somebody who has tested both and just giving their raw feedback, that’s super helpful, so I think if companies can capitalize on that – it’s tough, though, right because I see company.com, us versus them, you know it’s biased. I think it really comes down to getting your own users to be ambassadors for yourself, and that’s where you can get them to write reviews on places like G2 or Capterra or whatever, but if you can get them to share LinkedIn or whatever, I’m using this tool and it’s amazing. If you can turn your own customers into ambassadors, I think that is going to achieve what I was describing. You searching for tools and seeing people talking about this is a great tool that I use, I think that’s the best way to do it.

Interviewer: Yeah, I love it. I think our rev ops has bought tools based on Reddit, Reddit conversations.

James: Yeah, definitely.

Interviewer: They are anonymous. They are super honest and frank, and it’s exciting how – or fascinating how G2 nearly gets – loses some of its objectivity because you know it’s incentivized by the brand even though you know it’s objective. I don’t know about your take, but of course you want to read it, a review on that, but you also know they bought the premium package. What’s your take on that? I sometimes can feel that. Yes, of course they’re going to give you a five-star review. They got a voucher for it while you go to Reddit, they have no incentive whatsoever. You get the honest, pure, and raw opinion and make that buying decision based on that.

James: No, definitely. Yeah, I myself have gotten a lot of gift cards for reviews, and a lot of them have been five-star reviews. Granted, I normally only review products that I like. You got to take that with a grain of salt. Yeah, I do think review platforms are helpful. I think you have to dig through the reviews and look for the three-star reviews and look for real comments on what people liked and didn’t like. I ignore the five-star reviews, the one-star reviews. Those are usually maybe somebody – a one-star review, often someone was emotional and annoyed. Is that really how they feel? Probably not. Five star reviews, it’s probably just because they want to get their gift card. Look at those two to four-star reviews; that’s where you really gain insight into okay, what do people like, what do they not like? What are the drawbacks? That gives you a better way to compare software, I think.

Interviewer: Yeah, thanks for sharing. Great answer. Same for me. You always click on the three. Oh, what’d the three say? That’s interesting. Cool. We spoke a bit about this before and again, now [0:31:59].

What do you prefer: marketing sourced revenue or marketing influenced revenue as your primary KPI?

James: Yeah, I think we’d all love to be just 100% marketing sourced revenue. Ideal world, marketing is just crushing it, have an amazing brand. When people know that they need software for X topic, they know to come to us. In an ideal world, that is how it’s working, but it doesn’t work that way. Like I said, a lot of early-stage companies don’t have that brand yet. They don’t have that recognition, so they’re swimming upstream a bit. I do think there are some cool opportunities to partner with sales for marketing-influenced revenue. For example, our sales team reaches out to a target list of companies. We will try to “heat” those people up with advertising beforehand so when the sales rep reaches out, they’ve seen our logo. I think things like that are cool to collaborate on.

In an ideal world, you're just flooded with inbounds, and the sales team – all they have to do is respond to inbounds. That's the ideal situation. Obviously, it doesn't happen.

Interviewer: Take out all the non-fits. No, no, gold nuggets.

James: Exactly, so yeah, in the meantime I think it’s really important for marketing and sales to collaborate. At the end of the day, I don’t really care who gets the credit. Yes, I want to be able to look at marketing campaigns and say yes, this had an impact on ROI and that’s why we build dashboards for it, so we can track through the sales funnel. At the same time, I know what I’m doing is helping to close deals, even if sales get the credit. I’m okay with that. We’re in this together. We’re not competing against each other; we’re teammates.

Interviewer: Yeah, the revenue team in itself makes sense.

Last one for me – then you can pick one or we say goodbye or we speak about something else that you feel has been left out, like the pitfalls the challenges for the margin for you.

James: Yeah, there’s probably a lot I could say. I do think that one pitfall with early stage [0:34:15] teams is folks think too much on top of the funnel. You see things like oh, the MQL is dead and I get that. I agree with that to a point. If all you’re looking at is leads and MQLs, you really don’t know if you’re influencing revenue. You need visibility into the entire funnel. Like I said, that’s why I recently built that better dashboard, so we can track pipeline, closed deals, inbound versus outbound so we know that specific campaigns are driving revenue. I think that’s one really important thing. Don’t just focus on top of the funnel. You need visibility of the entire revenue funnel.

Yeah, I think a second one is just make sure you have good reporting. It's obviously very similar, but I do hear people say things. Not all marketing activities have to be measured. Kind of, but I think everything needs its own set of measurement. If you're doing a more top-of-the-funnel brand awareness stuff, maybe your metric is impressions on social or engagement. It's not turning into leads specifically. It's tough to track that, but at least you can track something on top of the funnel. That's important I think every single marketing activity needs some sort of metric you can measure. Otherwise, you're throwing stuff at a dartboard and you're not even seeing where it lands. That's not going to help you scale because you need to be able to decide is this working or not. Sometimes you can based on feedback. Someone inbound says, “Yeah, I saw a video you published.” That's good to hear. Having those metrics like impressions, even for top of the funnel stuff, is super important Obviously for really targeted campaigns, your metrics should be focused on revenue.

I think another pitfall is just – this is just more general marketing, but really checking your work. High growth, really fast teams, it's easy to try to optimize like shipping something new as opposed to perfecting it and it is a balance. I probably opt more on the side of publishing something that making it perfect just because I know that we're limited for time. I have seen so many emails get sent where the tag where it says hey, how are things at company name. You need to check that. You need to test that. When you're doing things at scale that are reaching thousands of people, you can't afford to make those mistakes. I think building a culture on your team where you're double-checking, triple-checking, pinging your coworker, “Hey, can you check this for me? Can you proofread this?” that kind of thing. I think it's super important because as marketers, we're brand ambassadors in the sense that what we're doing is getting visibility into potential customers. We need to be really careful with what we're sending out. Otherwise, any poor – any negative things will reflect poorly on the brand. I think it's really important to establish that culture of double-checking, triple-checking but also balancing shipping things fast. It's a tough balance, but I think it's worth investing in.

Interviewer: Last one for me: How do you make sure that you’re scaling sustainably?

James: It’s a good question. Yeah, I think it comes down to – you need to look at your overall spend. Let me take a sec here.

Interviewer: It’s a question that I’m wondering. You’re in this high growth but how do you make it sustainable? How can we scale in your marketing department, in your marketing role? How can we scale sustainably? For me, personally, it comes back to having the right people at the right position on the right bus. Then you know you have a foundation and then try to [0:38:35] these processes that you then can scale. Doesn’t really matter if you, James, are the greatest marketer in the world, but if you cannot translate this to what your team – in the way you report, the way you message, then it’s hard. That’s out of curiosity to get your opinion on this topic of pitfalls.

James: That’s a great point. Yeah, I think ensure you’re scaling efficiently because of a few things. What comes to marketing and sales? Making sure your spending is under control and that it’s actually providing results. Obviously, early stage teams just building a sales team, there’s going to be a lot of burn. That’s obvious. You need to get to a point where there’s at least revenue coming in. Maybe you’re not profitable but you can see a road to that. For example, all your marketing spend, there needs to be some sort of result there that impacts revenue. It may be somewhat obvious, but you also see a lot of companies just blowing money and it’s like, if you’re not actually tracking what’s impacting revenue, that could be just wasted money. That’s one thing, making sure that what you are doing is yielding ROI. With that, you need really good tracking and testing. You’ve been given a big budget. Spend small first to see what works and then scale it up. Don’t just blow $100,000 on something on a whim because you can’t really know if that’s going to work or not.

I think the hiring aspect is really important, too. I think you hire people that are a good fit at the moment but also someone who can scale with you. If we hire somebody maybe to run [0:40:31], and they’re good now but we know that once we hit our Series B and need to scale to X budget, they’re probably not going to be qualified for that. If we think we’re close to that benchmark as a company, then it’s not a good hire. We don’t want to hire somebody we’re either going to have to hire over soon or let go. That’s not good for them, not good for the company. I think it’s really important to assess where you are and who you hire, make sure they can scale with you, that there’s a path for them to that next role. We spend so much time on training and onboarding. It’s unfortunate when hires don’t work out but if you can avoid that, that saves you a lot of time. Then you’re helping people out in their career as well, giving them a path to their goal, so I think that’s really important

Interviewer: Yeah, thank you. This is on the personal side, but I had to ask it to you.

James: To be honest, tha t’s a tough question.

Interviewer: Great, James. This was perfect, so much insight. Thank you so much for taking the time. Is there any topic that we didn’t cover or you think you would like to have said that or speak about that?

James: No, I don’t think so. The one thing we didn’t really touch on is how do you make sure your return marketing campaigns align with KPIs. I talked about dashboards and tracking, so I think we covered that.

Interviewer: Exactly.

James: This was cool. This is fun. I appreciate you reaching out.

Interviewer: Yeah, sure. I will make sure to prioritize this project. I will send it for translation and hopefully get it back in the next four weeks.

James: Yeah, great. Sounds good.

Interviewer: Alright, James. Thank you so much for your time. What I’ll do next steps, we will translate, create snippets, and I’ll share them with you. You can say thumbs up. They won’t be too long. You can share them. We had a lot of good stuff, so I expect five to six snippets that you can use for yourself, for your personal brand, for the demo desk, for whatever you want.

James: Thank you, I appreciate it. That sounds great. I enjoyed our convo, got to talk about some fun stuff, so I appreciate it.

Interviewer: Yeah, fantastic Did you have the time to think about somebody else that would like to do this or you think I should think of? If you haven’t thought about it just yet, no worries, but I always like to ask this because this is the best source of interesting people.

James: Yeah, it’s a good question. Probably don’t want to have this on the recording.

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