What I Learned from Marketo’s Marketing Nation Online: Tomorrow’s Marketer

September 23 2018

What I Learned from Marketo’s Marketing Nation Online: Tomorrow’s Marketer

Last Wednesday, a group of Bulldogs hunkered down in a conference room to partake in four hours of streaming content from Marketo's 2016 edition of Marketing Nation Online. If you’re thinking that four hours is a lot of time to sacrifice from your long list of to-dos, you’re right. But, we’ve done this before and gotten a lot out of it, so we signed up for another year.

Personally, I was glad to steal away from my desk for a few hours to draw from others in the industry, including a couple of sessions from Marketo and those from keynote speakers Lara Balazs of Visa and Martin Gilliard of Facebook. It was a nice break from my typical day-to-day, and I returned to my desk with a few thoughts that I wanted to share. 

  1. Not much has changed in a year.

After reviewing last year’s recap, it was evident that most of the big themes from last year rang true for this conference, too. Knowing your customers is still central to your success, relevancy continues to be paramount, and technology and data can either help, or hinder, your ability to both understand your audience and market to them in a meaningful way.

No huge shock factor here, except that the consistency is a little surprising. Am I the only one that feels the marketing industry changing on a weekly, or sometimes daily, basis? Doubtful, since so many articles have been written about how to stay on top of the latest trends. And yet, there is still a ton of focus on the building blocks for marketing success from large events like Marketing Nation Online.

Why is that? It may be that the speakers are trying to find the lowest common denominator for their listeners, so they zero in on the basics. Or, it may just be that these things are really hard to get right, so we have to keep shining a light on them and spurring each other on in this direction.

In a study that Bulldog commissioned, Forrester Consulting found that less than half (43%) of responders counted themselves as customer-obsessed, even though such an obsession has proven to be a boon to businesses. But, we know the shift to a customer-centric mindset, and then putting that into practice, can be hard. So, yeah, maybe we do still need a nudge to get going, or for those boldly going where few have gone before, a pat on the back that the struggle will be worth it.    

  1. Three letters…A. B. M.

Account-based marketing (ABM) seems to be on everyone’s mind these days, so it isn’t surprising that it’s been talked about at every marketing conference this year. Marketing Nation Online was no different, with an early session from Marketo on the “ABCs of ABM.”

While the talk included some screenshots of and a soft plug for Marketo’s new ABM platform, I especially appreciated three features of this presentation:

  1. ABM isn’t a silver bullet. David Cain explained that ABM isn’t for every scenario. With all of the buzz around ABM, I don’t often hear people talk about when it isn’t an appropriate strategy. As with most things, marketers need to evaluate their own situation and make smart choices that are right for their company. How long is your sales cycle? How big is your pool of potential customers? How good is your data? All of these factors can impact whether ABM is a good move for you.
  2. ABM can’t be done in a marketing silo. Cain and his presentation counterpart, Heidi Bullock, put special emphasis on this point: ABM isn’t for marketers alone. You must align with your sales team, both on the target accounts and on the full experience someone will receive throughout the life cycle of that customer, to be successful.
  3. Take a tiered approach. Not all target accounts are created equal, so make your ABM efforts scalable by breaking the list into several focused groups and, with those, different levels of effort for each tier of accounts. Having that defined, you can set up a marketing strategy that allows you to expend the most effort on those with the greatest potential. See the chart below from Bullock’s presentation for an example. 

    Bonus: Bullock suggested that documenting your ABM strategy, as done in this type of chart, can aid sales-marketing alignment by providing visibility of the promotions each account will receive.
  1. Take time for yourself; you and your company will be better for it.

Last fall, Bulldog published a blog post about why marketing conferences are worth the investment. I won’t repeat what my colleague Courtney wrote, but I will assert that spending time immersed in learning and hearing from different perspectives can be revitalizing.

So, my advice to you is to seek out opportunities like Marketo’s Marketing Nation Online. There are events happening all the time, from one-hour webinars with little to no opportunity cost to three-day conferences you have to hop on a plane for. Whether you attend online or in person, just attend…and then do something with the knowledge you’ve gained, smarty pants! 

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