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Ep22: Tessa Barron, VP of Marketing (On24)

"The buyer today is different than who they were five years ago."

Episode Summary

"The buyer today is different than who they were five years ago." -Tessa Barron. In episode #22 On our Datavana Podcast, Tessa Barron (Vice President at ON24) talks about the evolution of the customer and ensuring you don't allow your database and ABM to give you ‘tunnel thinking’

She discusses a new way of doing things - creating online experiences through content to gauge buyer intent. "At ON24, we've proven that engagement in one of our webinars or virtual events is more indicative of intent than anything else." Tessa discloses the value of maintaining a thorough understanding of data structure to acquire more in-depth insights for agile decision-making processes.

Ep22: Tessa Barron, VP of Marketing (On24)
Name: Tessa Barron
What she does: Vice President of Marketing at ON24
Company: ON24
Noteworthy: In 2019, named in DMN’s “Top 40 Marketers Under 40” list and is a founding member of the Women in Revenue marketing organization in NYC.
Where to find Tessa: LinkedIn

Episode Highlights

We Are In The Business Of Digital

“We are in the business of digital. We do help people create online experiences that bring people together because they can't meet in person. But you know, people were doing that before COVID, they're going to be doing it after COVID. And I think the same thing about in-person it all has a place in the marketing mix and it all has a place in our daily lives. And I think it's been so interesting to see what's happened since that shifted and how people have recalibrated, but it's not going away."

Hierarchy Nightmare

"I don't want to look at an account as that huge, huge company. I want to look at it by business unit so that I can actually truly understand how to speak to somebody. Because a marketer in a department at a manufacturing company that sells to someone who is responsible for hardware versus another that's responsible for software. They are totally different, totally different businesses."

Tunnel Thinking

"I think that databases have forced us into this tunnel thinking. And so that is why I want someone to come out with an opportunity to almost pivot. I would love to be able to pivot an entire database so that you can go into different views and literally see the relational management from a different perspective, because right now I'm seeing it from one and it's only ours. As a marketer, I'm inherently always trying to be as customer centric, as buyer centric as possible. And literally the way the database is set up prevents the way pipeline is reported. We report pipeline, by sales teams. We don't report pipeline by buyer. Imagine a world where we could do that. That's like a world where you would be able to flex from an SRM to a CRM. And that's, that's why when you say, what do you wish for, I wish for an entirely new idea, new way of doing things, it's the little incremental changes within the existing infrastructure."

Every Contact Costs The Same

"I always tell this to our finance team, a contact costs the same. Whether they're going to spend a million dollars with you, or they're going to spend $10. So when you try to have a quantity based spend and then measure ROI qualitatively, it's not going to work. I'm sure you can go and say ‘these kinds of contacts are more likely to create this amount of pipeline’, but that is brain damage. And that's why I do the number of meetings as our metric, because at the very top of the funnel it is much easier to understand the ROI of your investment. And it removes a variable. That is qualitative. And then honestly, we as marketers have a very difficult time, we don't control. We can influence the amount that's on a contract, but we don’t own it."

People Are Human...

"In Tessa Based Marketing, I think about a buyer as a buyer, not as a contract opportunity. It's a person. And if you think about it that way, valuing every individual in the same way. Which is why I personally actually am okay with a meeting metric because now I know I have this many people, right? I've engaged this many people and this many people have said they want a meeting. I think that when you start to say, I've engaged this many people and it's resulted in this many dollars, you lose sight of the people in there. And people are human too. Yeah. But I mean, pipeline is extremely important, but I'm saying from a marketing perspective, right? You want to know how many people are you going to engage? Not how many accounts have you engaged."

Roles and Responsibilities

"Therefore all we do is ABM and I feel one of the most complex subjects in marketing is roles and responsibilities. If you have a digital marketing team or an events team, you need email advertising. Everything is on a channel. Everything is integrated. I feel like half the time marketers are just so busy figuring out who's supposed to be doing what, that we forget to do ‘the what’. ABM just creates one more point of friction because now you have this horizontal function cutting across vertical channels, and you really can't have both. Have to choose, what are you going to be, are you going to have your team?"

Key Insights

  • Truly understand your addressable market. The ability to empathize with the buyers in their addressable market and not just the company they’re part of is something that Tessa strives for. Tessa advocates that companies need to change strategies if they want to truly understand their customer base. Particularly for long-term buyers who work in large premier companies. "If you're reaching a place where you've engaged everyone, then the tactic needs to change, right... You have to know fundamentally at the end of the day, are you solving an acquisition problem or an engagement problem, or a conversion problem?"
  • Figure it out, then buy it! When it comes to tools and identifying key accounts, Tessa advocates to avoid redundancy and focus on your target audience before investing in tools. Tessa reiterates the importance for companies to figure out their ABM approach and strategies amongst their teams first to discover what tools would help the most. "Tools are interesting because the biggest swab about ABM is self-selection. It is the most inside out methodology I've ever heard, because you and your sales people all get together and say, 'These are the accounts we want to sell to'.
  • Start from the ground up. From a database perspective, it's important to keep on top of your data - to fundamentally understand how it should be approached and how it evolves. Tessa details how the world has changed - the way that customers experience a product and how sales teams engage customers. "The buyer today is different than who they were five years ago”. She has found it’s important to change tactics if the data supports that change. “We at ON24, believe that engagement with digital experiences are our own. We've proven that engagement in one of our webinars in one of our virtual events is more indicative of intent than anything else."
  • There needs to be people focused on data cleanliness. In order to inform action, Tessa needs in-depth insights. To maintain an agile decision making process the data needs to be accessible and received in near real-time. Tessa thinks that Rev-Ops is best suited for the role as they inherently know how the data is structured, how it's pulled, and can provide reports on what happened and why. However, Rev-Ops needs to be equipped with the best tools and strategies to analyze and clean the data as it evolves. "The more complex our data gets, the more hindrance that there is to get past, just trying to figure out the current state and evolve to saying, here's the current problem. If there's a gap. I cannot take action until you tell me why there's a gap and how it compares and benchmarks against last month, last quarter, last year..."

Top Quotes

[01:28] "It is our lifeblood. Digital is marketing. Marketing is digital and there is no difference anymore."

[06:26] "I think ABM is the most overrated acronym in marketing today because… literally everything we do by definition is account-based."

[23:02] "I wish for an entirely new idea, new way of doing things, it's the little incremental changes within the existing infrastructure."

[30:26] "I wish that our tools and the way that we viewed the world were flexible enough to keep up with the evolution at which the world is changing."

[31:29] "From a data perspective, I wish we could tear it all down and start over because the buyer today is way different than who they were five years ago."