Learn how to better engage your buyers at the beginning of their journey.
Change 1: No more hand-offs.
In the digital age, marketing and sales are more intertwined than ever...and need the right alignment to ensure a smooth purchase process.
Change 2: Measurement & culture.
The hard part is finding the right indicators to measure and getting change management right to make it sustainable.
Change 3: Data & stories should be thought of together.
Marketers need to both tell their stories through data and look at data to find the story.
It's on me to be a better partner than everybody else. To have a better service or product than everybody else. And when it's a good fit, you're looking at me and you can trust me.
Kelly Cheng: [00:00:04] Welcome to event Marketers Live brought to you by Gold Cast. My name is Kelly Chang and I'm the head of growth here at Gold Cast and I'm going to be your host for today. So at an event, marketers live. We're bringing you the humans and stories behind the scenes of our favorite B2B brands, events and events, events and experiences. But before I introduce our special guest for today, I do want to cover a couple of housekeeping items. If you're here in the chat, say hi. I'd love to hear where you're joining in from. I'm joining in live from Boston. I see. We have Montreal. We have Minnesota. We've got India. Let me know where you're from. Um, so housekeeping items. One, the first that I want to announce is we are taking event marketers live on the show, this show on the road next month. So there's a link at the very bottom of the stage. It's going to be triggered. Right now we're calling it event marketers live in real life. So in this special episode, we're going to be conversing live from sunny San Jose, California. If you're in San Jose, let us know in the chat. You know, we'd love to see you in person, but this is a hybrid execution.
Kelly Cheng: [00:01:13] So if you are not in California, please join us virtually as well. We'd love to have you in the conversation. Um, we're going to be talking all things about post event strategy with demand generation experts from two of my favorite brands, Box and Databricks. And so another announcement is that the session is being recorded and is going to be available for on demand later this afternoon. We'll notify you over email once it's ready. But speaking of recorded, we do have a very sweet giveaway that we have for today. We have this webinar is being recorded t-shirt to give away to any engaged attendees. So if you're an event marketer or you host events, you know that this is a very popular question. It's always asked at least once. So we made it easy for you all to answer this. So to win one of these t-shirts. All you have to do is ask a question under the Q&A tab. Attend today's session for over 30 minutes and we'll ship one over to you. All right. So today I am super, super excited to introduce Monica Behncke, the chief growth officer at Iron Horse. Monica, can you please join me on stage?
Monica Behncke: [00:02:29] It takes a second. You get the picture and the life. Yeah.
Kelly Cheng: [00:02:36] How are you?
Monica Behncke: [00:02:36] I'm good. How are you? Good.
Kelly Cheng: [00:02:38] Good. So, audience here. We want this to be super community centric, so let us know what's on your mind. We have the chat on the right hand side. You can send a text message, you can send emojis, you can send out a gif. We also have a Q&A tab for all of your questions for Monica, which we'll get to towards the end of today's session. But before we kind of get into today's meat, I'm going to kick off with a poll today. I want to know how many years of B2B marketing experience do you have? Monica is joining us today with a wealth of knowledge and has seen sort of seismic transformations of the B2B marketing landscape. So I'm just curious, you know, how many people have sort of seen the many different shifts of B2B marketing? But while you're answering that question, Monica, can you tell us a little bit about Iron Horse and your role there?
Monica Behncke: [00:03:29] Sure. Yeah. So Iron Horse, we are a growth marketing agency. And you know, it's funny because I fuss sometimes with with even calling us a marketing agency because I feel very strongly that there is an intersection between sales and marketing. So it's really more about the growth part than it is about the marketing part of it. We are fluent in both strategy and execution, so we have a team of people that that help clients figure out their go to market strategy, figure out their content strategy, kind of figure out what it is they're supposed to be doing. And then we have a team of experts that help execute and activate across all of the pieces that you would imagine, you know, content, creative, a company's marketing programs, performance media, analytics, nurturing relationship marketing. And we partner with all of our fabulous vendor partners as we do that for our clients.
Kelly Cheng: [00:04:26] Awesome. So if you have any questions about any of the things that Monica just talked about, you know, really anything that goes across alignment, you know, across the go to market teams, feel free to ask her. She is an expert in this space. So let's take a look at this poll and see what you all said. All right. So we have most of you guys are sitting between 3 to 5 years and 6 to 8 years. Okay. That's definitely you know, we got some we got some people who have a lot of experience here. And we do have a few people that are early in sort of the B2B world. So I think today's conversation is definitely going to be interesting hearing about, you know, where Monica has seen the B2B marketing landscape, where it's been and you know where it's going and all everything in between. Um, so Monica, you know, first your career portfolio is extremely impressive. You know, before we met, I looked up your, your LinkedIn and you've held executive positions at places like Sirius Decisions, Forrester, Cisco and IBM. Can you tell us a little bit about your career path? Like, how did you get to where you are today?
Monica Behncke: [00:05:30] Yeah, I feel old. Um, I started my career in Canada. I'm Canadian and I started my career at IBM in sales and I was in sales for about eight years. And it was it was actually a really good education. I was really fortunate at IBM at the time, really invested in people and educating them on, you know, how to do sales. And at the time, you know, there wasn't the kind of self-service journeys that there is today. So as a sales person, you really had to help a client go through the journey and they taught you very well. You know how to do that. So how to have empathy for clients, how to really question them and get their needs out of them, how to, you know, find those needs and match a solution to them. And it's really interesting even today, that foundation of selling and the way that IBM taught it is still consistent today because people, regardless of how they go through it, they do go through a buyer's journey. Eventually, in IBM, I went into something that looks a lot more like marketing. So I did competitive marketing, field marketing, brand marketing, product marketing, etcetera and so forth. Um, eventually, I left the company because I wanted to jump into kind of the internet, the first Internet boom, um, and became an entrepreneur and had my own company for a number of years and that was really fun.
Monica Behncke: [00:06:55] Um, went to Cisco and eventually to AMD. Um, what I think is interesting about all of that journey is I intentionally led every function of marketing. So I led analyst relations, I led field marketing, I led brand marketing, I led event marketing, I led product marketing. So when I became a marketing executive, I really had a good span of, of all the different functions of marketing and how they have to work together, which led me to being an analyst. And some people made no Sirius Decisions. Sirius Decisions was a lot about best practices, and I led most of the services, a lot of the marketing executive services at Sirius Decisions acquired by Forrester led all the B2B services, sales, marketing and product for Forrester and for Sirius Decisions and think that, you know, having having worked in all the different functions of marketing gave me that unique perspective of how they all fit together. So it's it's kind of fun. And when people ask me early in their career and they want to be in marketing, which part of marketing should I do? It's like all of it. Do all of it, Yeah.
Kelly Cheng: [00:08:02] So is that, you know, because you've had, you know, all this, you know, kind of like a very, like a, what do they call it, like a t-shaped marketer where you've kind of had, you know, different, different experiences across different functions of marketing. And I think, you know, your experience in sales probably really helped you get empathy for, you know, how to work with the sales team and how to align with them. Is that how, you know, you kind of went into this growth space? Because I'm also the head of growth at GoldCast, and the one thing I love about growth is it's kind of like a little bit of everything. And you know, you're in you're in the intersection to really make an impact.
Monica Behncke: [00:08:37] Yeah, Um, it, it absolutely is. And I think that I always I keep coming back to that intersection of sales and marketing because I always, I love to be on the revenue side. So I've, I've never, you know, kind of gravitated to being like in a, in a pure creative kind of role. I like it. But I've, I've always, I always like sticking close to revenue. And it's, it's been interesting to see the journey of being in sales where you are 100%. You carry a bag, you are responsible for revenue and marketing growing from an almost support of revenue function to what I personally consider a revenue function. It is marketing is on the critical path to revenue. So I keep graduating to that or gravitating to kind of that intersection of how do these things work together. And I think that go to market journey, you know, of, of all of the things that have to happen in order to go from kind of cold to close is shifting. And the roles of the functions between sales and marketing over, you know, my career span has shifted quite a bit. It. And it's always kind of there's been a series of very interesting moments along the way. Yeah. Did that answer your question?
Kelly Cheng: [00:09:50] Yeah, it did. Let's talk a little bit about those interesting moments, because, you know, I remember when I first started, you know, getting into B2B marketing, I started on the agency side and it was very heavy on like trade publications, billboards. It was very static, and digital was really just kind of coming on the up and up. And there have been a lot of buzzwords like ABM, you know, I absolutely remember, you know, when Sirius Decisions came out with the waterfall framework. Can you tell us, you know, from your perspective, you know, how has marketing changed since you began your career in the B2B marketing space?
Monica Behncke: [00:10:24] It's a big question. It's a big question. It's changed a lot. Um, you know, when I started marketing, gosh, we were in brochure land, you know. Yeah, there are actually remember in, in IBM, I remember going to a field office and opening a closet and I'm like, What is this? It's all the brochures that we printed that we don't use anymore. And it was just like stacks and stacks and stacks of stuff. It was amazing. Um, so yeah, a lot of things have changed and thankfully most of them are good. I think there's been a really interesting virtuous cycle between kind of technology and behavior and activity. So, you know, the first just focusing on the really, really big ones. The first big one is, when the Internet came, you know, before that, we were brochures and my car keys, and that's how information was dispersed. When the Internet came, it started out, if people remember that as your brochures online. So you could just see them and people tried to monetize eyeballs and that didn't last very long. Um, but people understood that the power of it and the power of communication and so that technology created a behavioral change, which then created a change in terms of the way that sales and marketing also both of them started to have activity probably hit marketing first, right? So so that that is a cycle that happened.
Monica Behncke: [00:11:49] The next big one that I think was even more significant from a marketing perspective was when, you know, largely when marketing automation platforms came, came to the world. And I think it's because at that point, even on the Internet, it was still marketing as a communication vehicle, marketing as a storyteller, if you're doing really well, a brand. But when marketing automation came to the world and you could start to track even even lightly compared to what you can do today, marketing started to come into that revenue stream. And so the ability to to associate marketing activity or marketing activity with buyer or customer behavior, um, and associate that with revenue was, was universally huge and it changed how the function operates within a corporation. So that was a big change. And then there's been lots and lots of kind of builds on top of that. Account based marketing, huge change because you could start to shed light on what was dark before, you know, in, in. Do you remember the days you might remember? Kelly and, you know, early marketing automation days, it was all about drip marketing, right? Drip nurture, right? It's like, yeah, I'm going to send you an email in the next week. I'm going to send you another email. You know, um, having, having the tools to allow people to have control of their own journey was, was a big piece of that.
Monica Behncke: [00:13:20] And then intent and those kinds of tools shed light on that journey. And so there's this, this virtuous cycle of technology comes behavior change, activity changes, technology comes behavior. And and that has cycled through a number of times where we are now in I think the next big kind of pivot or inflection point. And this is why to go back to our earlier conversation, the inflection point is really how marketing and sales are operating together. Because you mentioned the waterfall. If you remember the waterfall, the first one was 2008. Can you imagine that? 2008, 2012, 2017? You know, it's like I was involved with a lot of them. Um, and we talked about the handoff, right? Marketing does stuff and we hand it off to sales and that's been the mentality of the go to market motion for a very long time. And, and that is breaking down now. It's been breaking down for quite a while. And think marketing has kind of almost gotten a little ahead of sales and now sales is catching up going. Yeah, I guess you're right. People do want to have digital journeys and it is marketing that is helping them through that buyer's journey, you know, and sales is involved, but it's not a handoff that that, that idea of a handoff is.
Kelly Cheng: [00:14:37] It's very intertwined because it's like you need to work hand in hand and just just because you know sales is. It's maybe some somebody is super high in ten and they're entering the sales cycle. The marketing side can't disappear or else you kind of lose the momentum. So you really have to like join forces. And you talked a lot about, you know, alignment and making sure that, you know, teams are, you know, speaking the same language, any any any future kind of predictions. You mentioned, you know, that being sort of the next inflection, people really, really needing to focus on alignment, you know, what are what what are some, you know, predictions that you have that, you know, teams have to really focus on, you know, to get that alignment or else they might, you know, fall behind.
Monica Behncke: [00:15:19] Yeah it's it's I think that it's it's funny. I think I've seen clients have different responses to this. Interestingly I sometimes see marketing organizations that are almost like afraid of it like they're the ones that they don't know how to change their processes. They don't know how to change what they're doing. And they're, they're kind of resisting it. In some cases. Its sales needs to be educated and needs to come up in their thought process. And a lot of it to be honest, I think it goes back it goes back to two three things to to three things. They're all intertwined. Um, one is having the technology to do it. I actually think having the technology to do is probably one of the easier things to do. It takes the money, it takes some time, it takes some expertise. But it's, it's knowable and doable. I also think the technology hasn't really been mature enough to do it at scale until the last 2 or 3 years. So if somebody goes, Oh, I haven't been doing that yet, you're still it's still fairly new ish. It's not bleeding edge, but it's new ish.
Monica Behncke: [00:16:29] I think that people are going to get there fairly easily. I think the harder piece of this is the combination of cultural change and measurement change. Um, because you know, so many, so many marketers are still in the trap of, you know, how many MQLs did I hand over to sales right hand over bad MQL, important, but not the only or maybe the most important measurement that you have to have. So there's a process and a measurement. What are the measurements that you should be looking at? How do they change? How do they get aligned between sales and marketing? And then how do you culturally get people on board, especially if marketing is starting to do stuff that that sales either has traditionally done, thinks they should do, maybe it has become uncomfortable historically with marketing doing it and now they have to get comfortable with that. All of those are tough cultural changes. So change management from the executive team and the teams all around is a big thing. And I think those two things, the measurement process and change management like that bundle of things is harder than.
Kelly Cheng: [00:17:39] Oh yeah, I can imagine. I mean, like that's a huge implication to how you report on attribution, how your business does quarterly business reviews, how maybe even your sales teams get commissioned off of deals and stuff like that based off of credit. What tips do you have? You know, I think it's before it was sales versus marketing. Now it's sales and marketing marketing. Yeah. So how do you know, I think there's an interesting question on, you know. From Madeline. I'm going to show it to the screen. How should marketers broach the topic of marketing commissions with the pivot of the away from handoff of sales and organizations that are still old fashioned? This is really hard because you're trying to make the change within the company, but it's, you know, definitely a difficult cultural shift.
Monica Behncke: [00:18:25] Yeah.
Monica Behncke: [00:18:25] And you know what I get? I get this question fairly frequently and there's a boy. There's a, um. The answer is A, it's not easy, right. And it's not instant. And you have to be progress based on it. So the first thing you know, if we're kind of getting away from the idea of the handoff to sales, first thing you have to do is, is have empathy, right? It's like, go talk to the sales people, understand the sales motion, understand what's happening. And generally there is something that marketing can do with sales to be particularly helpful to them, to either give them insights that they don't have or to create productivity that they need. I'll give you an example. We have a, we have a client, um, and they gosh, like it's, it's there, there's very little marketing, to be honest. So I asked them, I go, well, where do you get opportunities from? Like because sales is driving their own opportunities for the most part, they go, Oh, we hustle, we hustle. I go, Well, what does hustle mean? Well, you know, we go to events and we network and then we call all the people up and we get to know everybody and we look up all the information about them. And I'm like, Gee, wouldn't it be great, you know, if marketing could help you kind of uncover some of those insights of who these people are. And there's tools to create dossiers and there's tools to see who is going to those events and maybe, you know, tools to get in front of them again. And that idea of hustle is, is, you know, how do we help you with the hustle so you don't have to hustle as hard because salespeople need to do what they do well, which is build relationships and close business.
Monica Behncke: [00:20:16] That's what they should do. Build relationships and close business and marketing should help them with that, that hustle piece of it. The other thing I'll tell you, we were on a call the other day and we were implementing an intent monitoring, um, tool for this client. And we just all we had done at this point was put the pixel on their website. That's it. And we had a meeting, we had everybody there and, and we go, let's take a look at who's coming to your website. And we literally pulled up a demo because we were hosting it, pulled up the demo and said, Look, here are the people that are coming to your website and you should see their eyes because the lights went on. This is something they could never see before. Now that's a, you know, fairly immature, you know, company in a fairly small thing. But for that company at that time, those sales people, they did not know who was coming to their because they were one of those people. What do we do? We hustle, we get references, we talk to our friends. Our friends call this person. We now just automated a piece of the hustle just by turning on the lights. Now we earned, now we earned the right. Now we earned the right to have the conversation to say, okay, if we can get those people, know a little more about them and see what they're doing, will you follow up on them? Yeah, we will. We will, because they're part of it. They're part of the journey and we're giving them a piece of what they need along the way and could give you lots of different examples, but you think you get the kind of where.
Kelly Cheng: [00:21:44] So I have a question for you because, you know, this is something that I'm currently challenged with. And I think a lot of, you know, maybe more advanced, you know, organizations are also challenged is the overload of data and, you know, not making not being able to make sense of all of it, you know, what advice do you have? Do you have for those teams? How do you prioritize different data points to make sure that, you know, you know, marketing teams are spending all this money on insights and data collection and automation, that it's not being, you know, unused by the other end of it, the sales team.
Monica Behncke: [00:22:17] Yeah.
Monica Behncke: [00:22:18] Um, that's a great question. By the way. Um, there's a maturity piece of it. There's like a lot of different dimensions to that. I was an analyst for a long time, so every single answer is it depends. But let me give you some dimensions and some insights that I think are important. Um, first of all, when you start with any kind of data, start as clean as you possibly can. Um, and that just kind of goes without saying. Everybody kind of knows that, um, at the beginning when you're starting to collect marketing data, I think that there's a very high noise to signal ratio. So if you think about kind of intent and data that matters as signals, just, you know, generically at the beginning, you're going to get a lot of noise. Um, it's important. I always tell our clients when they start to see that like, don't, don't get over excited about this. There's a, there's a lot of compression, a lot of shrinking in to get to that signal that we have to do. So we have to keep struggling um scrubbing the data to get to that piece. That's point one. Point two is to understand the goal or the outcome of what you're doing and what data you need in order to make the next decision. Okay. So that was a long, complicated sentence.
Monica Behncke: [00:23:36] And let me break it down. There's a I don't know if you you seem to know some about Sirius Decisions. There was a framework. Ross Graber created it probably eight years ago, six, six years ago, maybe called the metric spectrum. I love the metric spectrum. I ascribe to it for people that don't know, Metric Spectrum basically says there's four categories of metrics. There's activity metrics, things you can count, clicks, opens, stuff like that. Um, outcome metrics. And those are the results of the things that you can count. So maybe that a whole bunch of things happened. I can score somebody up and they can move in and be promoted to my next level of marketing qualified opportunity, something like that. There are the business metrics, the impacts, you know, revenue growth, profit, whatever. We want to talk, and there's the readiness metrics. Do I have the right account names? Do my account names match my ICP? Do I have the right skills? Do I have the right you know, am I giving the right tools to sales to help them? So part of getting to a better signal to noise ratio is to understand what you're trying to do. So if I am if my goal is I feel like my emails are not getting opened. Well, right. What am I looking for? What's the data that I'm looking for? How am I going to test that? Maybe it's a subject line.
Monica Behncke: [00:24:54] Maybe my my, you know, list is crappy and I can pinpoint by asking a question and looking for a specific piece of data, you know, and so on. So it's like, okay, what is the outcome that I'm looking for? Well, I really want to get people to get to a trial or a demo because I know if I can get them to a trial or a demo, they can convert really well. So all the stuff that comes before that is really important to the people that are taking those activities. But the person who's asking the question and maybe now you're talking about a CMO, a CSO, you know, or an executive committee that's saying, Hey, I want to know how many people are getting demos because I have a high confidence that my ratio of demo to close is high. Don't show them the rest of the sausage. Those are really important for the people that are doing it. Just show them the piece because that's the piece that they want to convert to and over a period of time expand as a marketeer. The set of things they're looking for to answer the questions that they are either asking or they should be asking. They just don't know that they should be asking.
Monica Behncke: [00:25:56] And that's how you get out of the how many MQLs or how many God marketing source leads. Marketing does so much more than source leads, you know, because of this this more intertwined journey. Give them that answer. But then add another thing. You know, you're not asking about this, but we find that, you know, if people do demos, if they're not asking that if people take a demo, their conversion rate is really high. So I'm going to show you that if they're not interested, find the person that is interested, that can influence the person, right? Because somebody can influence the person you want to tell. And so you can't if you can't go straight to them, go around and go through and influence, take it a piece at a time to give people that worst thing you can do is just dump all the data in front of everybody. You're better to go fewer pieces and add incrementally, then show everything and edit and take away. So it's almost like, you know, all the room edits and all of those kind of your closet things. What are the first things they say? Take everything out, then just put back the pieces you need. Do the same thing for your metrics. Everything out. Just put back the pieces you need.
Kelly Cheng: [00:27:01] It's almost like a like an experimentation, like a multivariate test, trying to see which one, you know, works, which metrics, you know, make a lot of sense in terms of like telling your story. And then, you know, once you have that win, continue to build on that. So then you can continue to build credibility. So like you're not overloading things and overwhelming people with just too much information.
Monica Behncke: [00:27:21] You said a really great word is telling your story. I love the idea of data stories like how do you tell your story through the data? How do you look at the data to find the story? Right. Then don't show all the data. Just show the pieces that you need. Find the story and then use the data to support the story. And I think that sometimes we separate like data and numbers and stories much more than they should be and they should be, you know, thought of together.
Kelly Cheng: [00:27:51] Great. Um, so, you know, you started your career on the sales side for years at IBM, you know, having, you know, have that experience in your back pocket. Do you have any thoughts or tips on how marketing teams and marketing managers can optimize working with sales from like a marketing point of view, especially when you're talking about, you know, making sure that the handoff isn't just a one off, but it more of a conversation between the two teams and they're continuously working together. Um, any tips for this? I think a lot of marketers may not sort of be able to sit in the sales seat or have the experience of sitting in the sales seat. So any thoughts you have on that?
Monica Behncke: [00:28:31] Yeah.
Monica Behncke: [00:28:32] Even if you don't sit in the sales seat and you have no desire. I have no desire to go back to.
Monica Behncke: [00:28:37] It's hard.
Kelly Cheng: [00:28:38] Job. A lot of respect to the salespeople out there.
Monica Behncke: [00:28:40] Totally respect sales people. You still can, you know, talk to the salespeople. Mean honestly it's it's sometimes as simple as if you geographically can go and have lunch with the salesperson. Even if you're not going to go to a sales call, just, you know, understand their motivations, understand what works for them, what, what, what, you know, how, how they work, um, at all stages of the journey, what they find helps and, and let them know what it is that you think helps at that stage of the journey and have this kind of really honest exchange of ideas. And that's the first thing that you can do to create alignment is you have to create relationship and empathy on both sides of that conversation. Learn the language that sales is talking about. So, you now understand what they call the pipeline stages you know, in your company. So it's not just, you know, your funnel stages and marketing what happens to it when it goes over to the pipeline. Understand you know, what their pain points are in terms of their job on a day to day basis just because it builds relationship and empathy. And then they will start to allow you to say, hey, you know, it's when you do these things, it makes my life really hard as well. And they care a little bit. So that's one thing. It's really, really basic, but I think it's really, really important.
Kelly Cheng: [00:30:00] Yeah.
Kelly Chang: [00:30:01] I want to, you know, talk go back to something you talked about earlier where you said, you know, the sales team hustles and like marketing can help with that hustle. And it's only if you build that relationship with the sales team that you can know what kind of goes into that hustle. So then marketing can kind of help out at scale because that's what marketing is supposed to be doing versus the sales team. So I sort of love how it kind of ties back to what you were talking about earlier.
Monica Behncke: [00:30:27] Exactly right. Yeah. And it's if you have that relationship, people will generally give you the opportunity. Don't promise the world. Yeah, God, I've seen that so many times. It's like we're going to do everything and, you know, leads are going to rain from the sky and no promise. Promise. Just like a little, a little piece. Just make their life a little better. One day at a time, and they will help you make your life better. There's lots of insights back and forth. Um, and then sometimes as, as you were doing the other thing, I would say that's at an activity basis when you were doing planning, even marketing planning, bring product and sales to the table. When I was at Sirius, I used to do some workshops and they really were talking about, you know, kind of activity building plan building, what are we going to do? How are we going to create demand or how are we going to do this program for this particular product in this particular market? And I refuse to do them. If they didn't bring a sales person on a product person to the to the room, I basically said, you know what? If you guys are in marketing and you're in the room by yourself making assumptions, you bring your data for sure. You got to have the sales people there because A, they will bring a point of view. B, they will respect you more because they're a part of it. They'll probably learn something. They'll probably give you some insights that you didn't know and they will be bought in from day one. Um, and, and it's always amazing. Like every time I did that kind of workshop, every single time. And these are like dozens and dozens of them, people walked out going, Wow, I never knew that.
Monica Behncke: [00:32:04] Like the sales person said this. This was I always thought was really important in the sales person goes, No, nobody cares about that. It's like, wow, that never came out in the data. And I never knew that. And the sales people, you know, they would say things like, I just wish we could do this and this and this, and the marketing people go, We can do that. We didn't know you needed that. And it's amazing, you know, just having that conversation. So, you know, create a workshop for yourself, bring the sales and marketing and product people together when you're at the planning, not when you finish the planning. You're presenting it in PowerPoint as you're building it, do it with a whiteboard, you know, and let people we used to have like sticky notes and all that kind of stuff. Um, you need a little structure around it, but it really makes a difference. And everybody learns something and everybody's way more engaged and ready to go. So you're not coming to them with something fully baked that they start, you know, doing this body language? Well, yeah, They'll also, you know, and that's that's on a piece of it. They'll also start to give you some opportunity to talk to customers because they actually think that's sometimes the harder piece. It's like it's okay if they're not our customer, but if it's our customer, it's like it's mine and you can give them tools to help them be more productive talking to customers and start to to ease into that as well. Again, progress based one step at a time.
Kelly Cheng: [00:33:26] Great. Um, so I know that, you know, you're extremely passionate about strategy, and I also know that, you know, you have an upcoming event, you know that you guys are gonna be talking about making sure. Your buyers choose you. So can you tell us a little bit about, you know, at Ironhorse today as the chief growth officer, you know, what is your strategy looking like this year in regards to events? How are these events sort of helping you kind of grow your business?
Monica Behncke: [00:33:50] Yeah, we, um, we're we're a big, big believer in events. So a couple of our events, I'm going to talk about them kind of as horizontal programs. But these horizontal programs intersect with all the rest of the things that we're doing in marketing. So one of our programs that we have, we call it our coffee breaks and our coffee breaks are kind of point of view, topical thought leadership. We've evolved this over a period of time. We brought in a host internal person, but they're just really suited to being the host casual conversation like this. We bring in experts. We talk about topical, so think of that as a top of the funnel. So we're hitting on the things that we're interested in expressing our point of view about. And we have services around that and we have this very consistent event that we use. And of course we wrap that around with a lot of like post event marketing. They're big for our on demand strategy. We point a lot of people to them. You know, through throughout all of our acquisition our client and contact acquisition to that set of events. So we leverage those a lot on the acquisition side. And over time, you know we've evolved it a little bit. We've increased the production value. We've, you know, improved our landing page. You know, we've seen what's worked and we've done like a little experimentation. Would love to have like a little bit of lab, like, let's test this, does this work a bit better? And then because it's consistent, also super important we get to test and improve all the time.
Monica Behncke: [00:35:27] Um, the next set of events that we do is we have, which you probably know about Kelly, Um, Enterprise Growth Alliance, which is our partner program. I think of that as a little bit more middle funnel. We're big believers in the ecosystem of marketing and so we love to partner with our technology vendors. We partner with, you know, a lawyer about data privacy. You know, we partner with luminaries in the industry and in our Enterprise Growth Alliance, we do a lot of both, both market research sides of it. But then also we're looking at things that are how do partners work together for the betterment of the client, because clients are general contractors of all of us together. So if we can bring that together and show that we work as a partnership, we can talk about, you know, solutions in a more in depth way, in a more integrated way. And I think that's important to clients. And then at the end of the year, towards the end of the year, I think we might experiment with some kind of bottom of the funnel, very intimate, you know, live events and see how that works into the mix like and that obviously we would do it, um, you know, geographically where it makes sense and you can kind of see now where we're using events at all stages of the funnel with kind of consistent programs across them that that intersect with our, you know, our, our messaging strategy and our segment strategy.
Kelly Cheng: [00:36:56] Yeah, so much to unpack there. I think the key thing that you're.
Monica Behncke: [00:36:59] Kind of quiz.
Monica Behncke: [00:37:00] Me on my events and going to fail.
Kelly Cheng: [00:37:02] It's so great that you guys have these sort of like pillars of events that, you know, are across the entire customer journey. So you are following your customers as they're, you know, having those conversations with you and your partners. I love, you know, the aspect of a series, events of, you know, making sure that it's repeatable, that it's consistent because, you know, that really helps with the brand. It really helps making sure that you can experiment. I think, you know, a lot of the times when I think about why a series is so important is because you know, you can't have a successful one off event. You kind of have to learn from previous events and then build upon that success and continue growing from there. So I think a series really helps set that up. So if anybody in the audience is doing, you know, event series and seeing success, let us know in the chat. I'd love to talk more about, you know, what types of success you're seeing, how you're experimenting. It really is a great way to continue conversations because events is like the one channel that really does humanize a brand and allows, you know, your audience and your buyers and your customers to actually connect with like the people behind the colors and the logos. So I love I love that you guys are doing, you know, a series of events. I love that, you know, you're doing the partnerships. I think as B2B marketers and, you know, B2B solutions, we don't live in a silo where, you know, we work with a lot of different integration partners. There are a lot of and the thing is, most of the time we're better together for it, you know, when we're working together. We come out stronger. So identifying those partnerships is so key. I want to ask you how, you know, in a very, very cluttered space across every single industry and segment, how are you able to identify partners that so your, you know, being very focused in the messaging and not kind of having too many partners? Is there such a thing as having too many partners?
Monica Behncke: [00:38:59] Oh, boy. That's a great question. Um, can.
Monica Behncke: [00:39:05] You have too many partners? Um, theoretically, when I think back to when I managed channels and partners, yes, you can. But at that point, we're talking about, you know, the old fashioned, um, you know, vars like sell through partners and those sorts of things. And you we'd have our A, B and C partners and, you know, we'd have to manage hundreds of C partners that never sold anything. And yes, you can have too many partners. So there is a you have to have a strategy in terms of your partnerships of who you are going to create different levels and different kinds of partnerships with. So bringing it kind of back down into this, I think that for marketeers, there's marketing partners and there's selling partners. So there are places and there's now cool technology where I forgot the name of it. Maybe, you know, where, where you can, um, you know, have a conversation about I'm in this partner or I'm in this client or are you in this client too? So it's, it's a bridge technology.
Kelly Cheng: [00:40:04] So I think.
Kelly Cheng: [00:40:06] There's a company called Crossbeam that does that.
Monica Behncke: [00:40:08] That's it. That's it.
Monica Behncke: [00:40:09] So and I think that's really cool because then if we. Yeah. Thanks, Stephanie. Then if we were both in the same client, there's even more motivation to partner deeply. And if we partner deeply, you know, and I'm not just saying you and I as partners, but generically two partners that are serving the same clients work well together that benefits the client. And that's just a virtuous cycle, right? Everybody's going to win from that. So part of it, you know, who you partner with is where you are in the same place. And there's a draw. Part of it, I think, is creating the correct ecosystem for your product or service that serves your client. So, you know, if if you are if here's the whole landscape and you live here in the landscape partnering with somebody that's way out here, you know, they might be really cool and interesting, but it's better to start with the partnering that that you're going to be close to that serves the the client. I think about that as, as I said, as an ecosystem. So it's not just technology partners. We're not a technology vendor, we're a service vendor. But there are also vendors. Like I said, data privacy is a great partner to have. Um, and we work with, you know, a particular lawyer that works on that.
Monica Behncke: [00:41:28] So building that ecosystem out, you know, from the center out, are you going to have some partners that compete with each other within each partner's ecosystem? Probably. You know, I suspect we're not the only agency that gold cast works with, you know, and I'm okay with that. You know, that's it's on me to be a better partner than anybody else to, you know, have a better service like a service product than anybody else to make sure that, you know, when it's a fit, you're looking at me and you can trust me. So I'm okay with that. Um, I think that having everybody on your roster, you're not going to be able to partner as deeply. And I believe that deep partnerships generally do better than a lot of really shallow partnerships. It's kind of like if you have technology in your organization, you used to see this. We used to survey this all the time. Um, having 20 people that know this much, not nearly as valuable as having two people who are absolute super users, like you're just going to get more out of it. You're going to be happier with the technology, you're going to get a better ROI. I think partnerships are a little bit the same. Having a few really deep partnerships really makes a difference.
Kelly Cheng: [00:42:41] Really being strategic and investing in those relationships can make a bigger impact for sure. Yeah. Um, I want to talk a little bit about, you know, Iron Horse. You know, on your LinkedIn page you guys describe yourselves as data heads, creative thinkers and engine experts with a collective passion for connecting the dots between marketing efforts and results. And then, you know, in previous conversations, we have also talked about how you serve customers that are both in the enterprise and both in the emerging growth markets. Can you talk a little bit about the journey to providing results, You know, providing talk about how the journey to providing results for the two different segments? Like I'm sure there are different motions. You know, they have different challenges and pain points. Can you talk a little? And I'm sure some of our audience either identifies with the Enterprise or maybe they're an emerging growth company. You know, how do you kind of look at strategy differently between the two?
Monica Behncke: [00:43:38] There's a lot in there as well.
Monica Behncke: [00:43:40] Um, so we talked a little bit about like if you zero in on results, we talked a little bit about that before about, you know, metrics and who you're, who you're talking to and those sorts of things. Um, enterprises and emerging growth companies, smaller companies have different problems. So enterprises tend to. To have, um, you know, a lot of resources, which is great, right? There's money, there's resources, people. There's skills. The bigger the enterprise, the more compartmentalized it can get. I have worked with one kind of $50 billion company where literally the business unit that did the marketing planning, all of the content development, etcetera, had no influence whatsoever over what they called performance marketing marketing, which was the demand gen piece of it. Literally, they didn't talk to each other. And it was excruciating because you couldn't get you couldn't make the changes, you couldn't get the insights in order to do that. They were both really, really smart, but they became extremely compartmentalized. So breaking down those barriers becomes very, very difficult. And that's where some of these, you know, tips in terms of alignment and getting them in the room and just being human about it, um, makes a big, big difference. On the emerging growth side, you don't have the compartmentalization. Everybody everybody talks to everybody. Yeah, sometimes it's a little bit chaotic, right? In terms of everybody talking to everybody. But you do tend to have a lot less resources, so you have to be a lot scrappier in terms of what you do.
Monica Behncke: [00:45:23] Um, so if you think about that and take, take kind of that scenario or that landscape and think about results and how you measure results. Um, and because that was kind of the how do you have, how do you do activity and measure results and measure outcomes. And it has to start, as I said before, on what those results are. And now you can bring back the big bugaboo of, of, you know, marketing source leads or how many MQLs and that's the only thing that we measure. Um, but, but there is a way to get out of that. And if I take two super, super polar examples just for illustration one, so take one client who is in telecom, telecom backbone trying to sell 5G. Uh, they only have like 50 companies that buy from them or 100 companies that buy from them. It's a multi-billion dollar sale. It's generational, generational. It happens once every five years. So marketing qualified leads, it's just like, that's silly. Like, how would marketing go? Here's all the things I did and I'm going to source a lead. They know who all these people are. Honestly, you know, the things that marketing did that was really important. Government relations. Hugely important. You're talking about telecom, right? Yeah, Executive communications, hugely important for them. You know, competitive messaging, competitive insights for their sales people, hugely important for.
Kelly Cheng: [00:46:48] Removing.
Kelly Cheng: [00:46:48] Friction.
Monica Behncke: [00:46:49] Really all that.
Monica Behncke: [00:46:50] Removing friction things. Right. That was a big thing. That's a great way of saying it. A big thing for that situation. So let's go to the other side. Like the emerging growth company, of course we want pipeline.
Monica Behncke: [00:47:02] Everyone's like they need leads, I want pipeline.
Monica Behncke: [00:47:04] And that's not the only value that that marketing brings to the table. Um, we work with quite a few backed companies, private equity companies. So private equity companies, they come in, we work with companies that are 75 to 500 million, 500 million, a little big. They come in, they do infusion of cash, cash to try and grow the company faster. It's a lot of pressure on. So, yes, we want to grow the business and we want to have leads. But when I have conversations with the guys on the side, I hear things like this. Um, my, um, we were, we were doing a web analysis on one, you know, here's a website that does a really good job in terms of conversion. And here's, you know, your company, your, your client company, their operating partners, not so good. And the guy said to me, he goes, you know what? If our company had that good, a website would have paid more for them. Well, there's a value from marketing. Had another guy, different guy, different company said, you know, if marketing and sales, if all of the processes are in place and they're well governed and they have great insights and they can follow everything, I will give them, I can get another turn, I can get more money for them when I sell them.
Monica Behncke: [00:48:22] So these are not like how many marketing qualified leads, you know, I gave this month. These are like bigger thoughts of value and, and you know, you can't just as and understand as a marketing leader, you can't just come in and go, oh, well, you know, look, my website's great. You know, we can get more money from the company, but it's really just a matter of opening up the aperture a little bit and not getting too hung up on that is the only value that marketing brings to the table. Yes, you may still have to produce that particular metric, but marketing has a lot more value that that they bring to the table. And whether it is supporting sales, like you said, getting rid of friction with sales or with other stakeholders, you know, supporting the overall growth value of the company. Marketing brings all of that to the table, which makes it a really exciting place to be.
Kelly Cheng: [00:49:13] Yeah, absolutely. Well, thank you so much for all of your thoughts about, you know, the marketing, the B2B marketing industry, you know, how to align with the sales teams and other go to market teams. We have a lot of questions from our audience here. So I'm going to pull some up and get you to answer some of these. So speaking of alignment with sales, a question from Logan here. What's your biggest tip when working with a sales team that's hesitant to use marketing resources or help.
Monica Behncke: [00:49:38] Understand why they're hesitant?
Monica Behncke: [00:49:40] You know.
Monica Behncke: [00:49:41] Go to the root of the problem. Why are you hesitant to use marketing resources? Is it because you were burnt in your last company? Is it because you think, oh, you know, marketing all of the marketing material, all of the content it gets? You guys don't really understand what we do. So you make it so high level and so fluffy that it's meaningless. May or may not be true, but understand what the hesitancy is. It might be, Hey, we're doing this because we're way at the top of the funnel. People don't even know who we are. We're just trying to associate this product with our brand. And you're working way down here where you're in the guts of the solution. Of course, it's different content. Let's talk about it. But you have to understand the hesitancy first, understand why they're hesitant and then you can solve the problem. It could be a hundred different things. You know, it could oftentimes it's like you handed me a bunch of leads and they were crappy. Okay, let's work on that problem. You know, it's like I went to the event and people didn't buy five minutes after. Okay, let's work on that problem.
Monica Behncke: [00:50:46] Right?
Monica Behncke: [00:50:46] Find out what the problem is specifically. Otherwise, it's really, really hard to solve.
Monica Behncke: [00:50:50] Cool.
Kelly Cheng: [00:50:52] We have a question about MQLs. So is the dead intent qualified leads? Is the new boomer agree?
Monica Behncke: [00:51:00] Oh, this is a this is it's becoming a battle. A battle field. My personal view. Um, I think that part of this is messaging because am I am in marketing. Um. Mql marketing qualified lead. Is it dead or not? The problem with saying marketing qualified lead is dead is twofold. One is marketing qualified lead is still an indicator of something happened. Marketing qualified lead is a hand raiser, right? It's like somebody raised their hand a bunch of times. Do I want to know that? Hell yes. I want to know that. I want to know that somebody raised their hand a bunch of times. Is that the only thing I want to know? Or the most important thing I want to know? Probably not. The position of as a metric is shifting in terms of the landscape. I do want to know that it exists because I want to be able to understand that hand raiser and who are all the other people in the buying group? Are they raising their hands at the same time? How many times are they raising their hands? Is this one opportunity within my enterprise or is this, you know, five different opportunities within the enterprise? It's still a metric that I do want to know.
Monica Behncke: [00:52:13] But what's usually behind the question is, is it the only metric? Is it the metric that I should be bringing forward? And the problem with, you know, saying, oh, it's dead is that's your cultural and communication problem. I can't tell you how many times I've heard from marketing leaders that literally that is the metric that the board wants to hear. And sometimes the only metric that the board wants to hear, just tell me how many marketing qualified leads or how many marketing source leads came in. And so you can't kill it. If you go in and you go, I'm going to kill it, and we're going to look at this instead. That's a really, really tough battle to fight. So it's an easier battle to come in and say, here's marketing qualified lead. Yes. You've been looking at this for the last five years. You know, this is what it is. Let me help you understand, you know, how many buying groups we've got now or how many marketing qualified accounts we've got now, or how many you know, how much, how much insight, like how many of our, you know, account list, an account list we've touched this week. Just give them data points.
Monica Behncke: [00:53:14] What the.
Monica Behncke: [00:53:14] Heck happened? Oh, sorry.
Monica Behncke: [00:53:16] No worries. Yeah, I was.
Monica Behncke: [00:53:19] Getting too passionate.
Monica Behncke: [00:53:20] About it.
Monica Behncke: [00:53:22] One other data point to start to build on that over time. You make phase marketing qualified lead out to be kind of one of those operational things you use within marketing. Like how many opens mean? How many people tell their board, how many clicks or opens they have anymore? Not anymore. Way back when they did, how many eyeballs came to my website was a metric. This will fade out over time. But I think that saying it's dead is a little polarizing and it sets up a problem of like operationally, it sets up a problem for companies to evolve to the next place because it's a cultural thing. We train, you know, what serious decisions did this? We trained everybody, you know, not just us, but, you know, that company was there, trained a lot of people. And people love it because it's like marketing has something that is quantifiable, all trackable, measurable, all really, really good things. But just this particular metric has to shift in terms of the context of all the other metrics. And it's important in the context of the landscape of the measurement landscape. That is my platform and I'm sticking to it.
Kelly Cheng: [00:54:37] That's great.
Kelly Cheng: [00:54:38] We have a couple of questions here actually, about AI. So everyone is talking about AI. What are your ideas and perspectives on the ways that AI can enable marketers specifically in events?
Monica Behncke: [00:54:51] Yeah, specifically in events. Um, so the, the easy, you know, AI, it's kind of like define, I like how much of it is machine learning. You know, machine learning is AI is a type of AI with a, with a more, um, you know, structured algorithm, if you will. I think most people, when they're talking about AI and it's like everybody's talking about it, it's generative AI, so it's, it's ChatGPT and that ilk of things. And the easy answer there, you know, for me and we do it today is it's time saving to take the person that is super super busy and and buy them a chunk of time by getting partway through whatever they're doing. Let me give you a it's this isn't an event specific but you could use it the same way the same thought for expense. And then I'll think specifically for events, Um, we're working with a client and we want to create a little assessment for them and said, Look, to do this assessment you need to have five categories and four questions each. And the guy's like, I'm so busy, how am I going to get it done? And that night it's in my inbox and I'm like, How did and go? How did you do that? Where did you find the time? And he goes, basically, I use generative AI, and I asked it a question and it spit out a bunch of stuff for me.
Monica Behncke: [00:56:08] I edited it a little bit and it's a place to start. And that to me is the first set of stuff. It's a product. Tivity tool. It's a time saver. Now you can have that with events the same way of, you know, give me five give me five possible subject lines for the invitation, you know, or the registration page that are snappy that mean this. Okay. Well I just saved myself writing five subject lines or five headlines by having somebody else do it. Maybe I use one of them. Maybe I don't. Maybe it triggers a thought in me, but it's a productivity savings in order to give people a head start. I think generative AI is going to kind of separate the people that are super busy and the people that don't have enough to do because the people that don't have enough to do will say, I don't like it, and the people that are super busy are going to say, Yeah, I can, I can use that. I can be more productive. I think beyond that right now, I think this year it's going to be very much an experimental year of what to do, how much to do.
Monica Behncke: [00:57:14] There's a lot of policy. We won't get into that policy around this, that or lack of policy around it that people are talking about and thinking about that I think needs to settle down as well. But right now, I think it's a good productivity tool. It's good to experiment with. It's good to know about. I think a lot of it will start to get embedded into other products. So you'll start to see like conversational, like conversational chatbots using more intuitive and generative AI probably starting with a company's internal documentation. So think about we have a client that is they do like sharing and, you know, really, really complicated scientific stuff. And if somebody comes with a question and they can use generative AI to look at all of the information that they have that they've vetted, that their scientists believe in, that might be a huge productivity saver. Rather than me reading the question and having to. About what to do and how to answer that question. I think that's going to be useful. Again, not an event example, but maybe there's some maybe you have.
Monica Behncke: [00:58:28] Some.
Monica Behncke: [00:58:29] Ideas on that.
Kelly Cheng: [00:58:30] I think, you know, definitely AI is just coming up right now. We're going to see a lot of exciting innovation to see how an AI is going to be embedded, like you said, in different softwares and vendors at Goldcast. We use AI for a lot of different things. We use AI for, you know, getting ideas for, you know, copy, not taking it as is, but it's a good starter. Like you said, it's a good productivity tool. We use AI for a lot of recaps being able to summarize transcripts so you can have, you know, just a couple of bullet points. There's a lot of different ways that we're using it, and I think there's going to be a lot of exciting things that are coming up, you know, in the event space and how because, you know, we know the event marketer very well. We know the event marketer sits in the camp of being super busy, and has too much to do. So there's going to be a lot of use cases for how AI can be helpful.
Monica Behncke: [00:59:26] Yeah, I think productivity and creativity. I'll share with you just one last story. I was at a live event with a vendor. It was mostly internal event, but they had brought some customers in just to, you know, talk to their team about what's important to them, those sorts of things. And they use ChatGPT. And the question was that the salespeople had to pitch to this customer panel silly ideas for how to pitch, how to create a pitch. And ChatGPT said, You have to wear a funny hat, you have to stand on one leg. And it was they brought the screen up and you could see all of.
Monica Behncke: [00:59:59] The.
Monica Behncke: [01:00:00] Chat Gpt on the side and.
Monica Behncke: [01:00:02] Thought, Well, that's.
Monica Behncke: [01:00:02] Really interesting. It's really fun to read all that stuff.
Monica Behncke: [01:00:05] On the side. So that's a very specific event one.
Monica Behncke: [01:00:09] Awesome.
Kelly Cheng: [01:00:10] Well, thanks everybody, for joining us. Thank you, Monica, for being here with me today. Really appreciate you. How can our audience find you to continue the conversation? Is it best to find you on LinkedIn? Like what's the best thing to do?
Monica Behncke: [01:00:24] Linkedin and ironhorse.io where an io ironhorse.io website two best places.
Kelly Cheng: [01:00:30] And then Reagan just dropped Monica's LinkedIn there, so feel free to connect with her, but thank you for joining everybody. For everyone that entered to win swag, we will be in touch with you and how to redeem that, but have a great rest of your day and your week. Thanks, everybody.Monica Behncke: [01:00:44] Bye.