By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing
Late in 2015 we started producing a bi-weekly radio program called Sales Pipeline Radio, which currently runs every Thursday at 11:30 a.m. Pacific. It’s just 30 minutes long, fast-paced and full of actionable advice, best practices and more for B2B sales & marketing professionals.
We’ve already featured some great guests and have a line up of awesome content and special guests into 2016. Our very first guest was Funnelholic author and Topo co-founder Craig Rosenberg. Next we had Mike Weinberg, incredible writer, speaker, author, followed by Conrad Bayer, CEO & Founder of Tellwise. Recent Guests: Jim Keenan; Joanne Black; Aaron Ross; Josiane Feigon, Meagen Eisenberg, and Trish Bertuzzi.
We cover a wide range of topics, with a focus on sales development and inside sales priorities heading into and throughout the year. We’ll publish similar highlights here for upcoming episodes. You can listen to full recordings of past shows at SalesPipelineRadio.com and subscribe on iTunes.
About our guest:
David Fortino,SVP Audience and Product at NetLine Corporation brings a wealth of expertise in developing strategic distribution partnerships. His core strength lies in expanding targeted and contextually relevant audiences through strategic relationships and channel partnerships spanning leading industry marketplaces.
Content Marketing, the term didn’t exist 12 Years ago – let’s review – We used to create a 10 second TV ad to send consumer to a website to fill out a form. We’ve evolved into industry, job level, geographic filters, rather than simply send the inquiry to IT.The precision of targeting has become so much more sophisticated. There is then a splintering of attention. We are talking MICROSECONDS for the initial and ongoing conversations.
“The noise and clutter are at insane levels.” NetLine addresses the HUMAN side of business. Problem-solving centric. You speak to the millisecond mindset. Perhaps you convey this with an image that displays the problem-solving you will do for them in the ONE glance to get them to stay and read more or take another action.
As you’ve grown in NetLine, what have you learned?
“DELEGATION is key. People take it for granted that it’s easily done. This is something that would impede my success if I insisted on controlling all aspects. This includes being more communicative in my team and with our partners.”
9:45: Where are you seeing some of these things going – precision of campaigns, splintering, attention span?
“This backs into the stage of the consumer lifecycle. Video is certainly really hot right now, but it’s not predisposed to lead generation.” He also covered infographics, user expectations that a lot of this should be ungated. eBook success has been huge. If they are done well, they take complicated topics and distill them into humanized value points with more personality.” This is the evolution of whitepapers.
To get more “where we were, where we are going” insights, listen to the full episode.
Paul: Welcome everybody it’s time once again for Sales Pipeline Radio so grab a board, catch a wave and ride along with our expert Matt Hines as he surfs the world of Sales Pipeline. Where are you surfing today Matt?
Matt: We are surfing from the home office here in Redmond Washington.
Matt: It feels like I am less often here than I am out and about. It is September 1st today, we are kind of in the last month of Q3 for better or worse the pumpkin spice lattes have arrived, yeah, I think I’m not a big pumpkin spice guy, I think it gets a little overdone but I am very excited about the fall.
Fall is my favorite time of year, we’ve got baseball stretch run and playoffs tonight is the college football kickoff. So as we continue to sort of hit or number to fit the quarter and then moving to Q4, much to be excited about in the days and weeks and months ahead.
The so thanks for joining us again. Sales Pipeline Radio, excited to have you here. We are talking every week at 2:30 Eastern, 11:30 Pacific right here at www.salespipelineradio.com. You can find us live every week, you catch replays of our shows via the podcast at the iTunes Store as well as Google play. We cover the gamut from sales and marketing throughout the entire funnel.
We tend to generate a lot of great guests on the sales side and then we have a lot of listeners that are focused on marketing but I think it’s particularly important to make sure that we understand the sales perspectives and what our sales counterparts are working through.
Today, really excited to feature David Fortino, he is the senior vice president of audience and product at NetLine. We will be talking today about lead generation, about generating and creating demand and what’s working in the market today as our prospects get increasingly splintered in terms of their time and focus and attention. So David, thanks so much for joining us today!
David: Absolutely, thanks so much for having me.
Matt: So if you were to think back on the years you’ve been doing this particularly at NetLine, like how many hundreds or thousands of marketing campaigns would you say you’ve been involved with and have launched?
David: I don’t have the exact number, it’s definitely thousands. I’ve been lucky enough to be put in that position to kind of oversee the execution of thousands of campaigns covering tens of thousands of assets; those assets can be anything from white papers to case studies and e-books and webinars and podcasts and you name it.
And then in aggregate, all those campaigns have now yielded in excess of 35 million leads for our customers over that time period as well. So it’s been massively fun to kind of experience and see the evolution of content marketing before it was even called that what’s happening today and ideally how we are seeing things play out moving forward as well.
Matt: So let’s talk about like how that has evolved. I mean I remember shoot, like you know, 12 years ago doing some demand gen work for a startup and we were running 15 second TV ads sending consumers to a website to fill out a form and I realize consumer and B2B a little bit different. It seems like the bar is significantly higher, it is significantly more complicated now when we are trying to generate demand in the B2B world. What are some things you’ve seen changed today and what, from the campaigns you are running and the clients you are working with, what seems to be working right now?
David: Yeah, I think so getting to the first part about what’s changed, I think client expectations have matured dramatically, as typically would happen I think with any tactic or strategy over time as more people get experience with it, they become more sophisticated. Back when we first started offering this kind of service, it was not uncommon to have a client say I have written this white paper, I am trying to get it into the hands of IT people and that was it. There were no filter requirements beyond just being in IT.
And so now the filter requirements generally are not only job function specific, job level specific, industry-specific, geographic specific and now we are even getting into ABM type campaigns where only specific accounts that meet all of those above criteria would be accepted or even going further with install based campaigns which are still content centric and execution but now you’re trying to target that exact persona that also happens to be running a specific technology in-house.
So again the markets really matured quite a bit. Lucky for us we have matured along with it and added all of those capabilities over time so that’s always been a challenge but we always try our best to quite honestly at least the abreast if not ahead of our clients’ requirements. But they are always the ones telling us where we need to go.
Matt: So there is a precision of targeting that clearly sounds like it’s becoming far more important, that NetLine is certainly been doing a lot of work. For we, we at Heinz Marketing, we use NetLine for a number of our campaigns, they’ve been great partners.
But in addition to the position there is a splintering of tension that our prospects have. I think they’ve got less time, they are more likely to sort of hit the “delete” button a lot faster than they ever used to. Talk about how you guys are adjusting to that, like how do the campaigns today have to reflect the microseconds we have in front of prospects to earn their attention not just right now but earn an ongoing attention so we can continue that conversation?
David: Absolutely. So the noise or clutter in the industry is in the same levels and I don’t see that changing and so a lot of our customers are kind of feeling the repercussions of all of that. The one thing that we’ve tried to stress is the humanization of content. Philosophically, is something that we as a company aligned really well against. It is something that we really try to evangelize to our customers about trying to be problem-solving centric when it comes to distilling what typically our customers are selling are somewhat complicated and “enterprisey” related solutions or products.
You’ve got to forget about all of that and really directly speak to the needs of the professional persona that you are trying to reach within that millisecond mindset. So you are distilling a document that might be 50 pages long into something that it clearly can fit into a tweet but ideally in a few words to describes probably a really nicely designed cover graphic, exactly why this solves the problem that you perhaps are having at your office or at your enterprise.
And so that’s a challenge though, it’s not easily done. A lot of times there is even the distinction between marketing organizations working with us yet a lot of the content really hasn’t been written from a content marketing perspective, it’s more technical documentation.
And so now that’s all well and good if the users have already made the decision and it’s already gone through discovery process of vetting vendors and perhaps they’ve got three finalists and they are trying to compare each one of those against themselves. But realistically from the discovery perspective, that that kind of documentation content is really poorly positioned to drive top of funnel awareness.
Matt: We are talking to David Fortino today who is the senior vice president audience of product at NetLine and this really is David Fortino day here at Heinz Marketing. We are excited to have you on Sales Pipeline Radio and also our regular Thursday feature on the blog – How I Work, features one David Fortino and some of his answers to the things you do to be productive and successful.
You spent a lot of time at NetLine, you’ve grown up in the organization. What are some keys to success for you as you’ve grown with the organization, grown in the organization, staying focused on what matters in terms of driving NetLine’s business forward?
David: Yeah, I think is a covered in the post, delegation for me has been something of a pet project over time. I think everyone just takes it for granted that it’s something you easily done. Perhaps it is for some people. For me I’ve always been a person who loves to be in control of things, loves to see initiatives through from beginning to end.
That said, I’ve been cognizant of that actually being something that would impede my success and ultimately the company’s success over the years and really taken it upon myself to focus on ways of being not only incredibly more communicative to my team but internal stakeholders as well because they are spread around the country.
But beyond that, delegating and giving people the freedom to actually carry forward with the idea and or vision. I’ve seen it time and time again that the acceleration that’s bought out of that kind of decision far outweighs the lack of comfort I might have around some of those things and perhaps letting things go a little bit.
But yeah, I think everyone faces these very fundamental challenges throughout the day, months, years and you’ve got to pick and choose your battles and where you are most aligned to drive success for the company and sometimes that means making some personal sacrifices along the way.
Matt: Well it does and I think you talk about focus and triage. I mean you can’t do everything, you have to prioritize your time; fear of missing out on the real thing. If you know what your outcomes are, you know what your strategy is, you are able to make those real-time adjustments as needed.
Talk about where you are seeing some of these things going. We talked about the precision of campaigns, we talked about addressing the splintering attention span of our audience. I mean is that having an impact now and moving forward on format? Are you seeing increased format changes? Are you seeing certain changes like format and others start to come to the forefront? As we round into Q4 of 2016 and think about planning for 2017 already, what are some of the areas and formats and channels and trends that you think people need to be leaning into?
David: Yeah, so I think it definitely backs into the stage of the consumer buyer lifecycle though as well. So you’ve got all different types of content packaging and formats that have been developed over the years and certainly video is really hot right now.
That said, video most certainly isn’t predisposed for success when it relates to lead generation, right? Most clients are end-user expectations are that the video typically is provided in an un-gated format; so filling out a form, providing data to get access to a video is usually not conducive to at least high volume of leads. You might have some quality leads because these people are like Uber engaged with your brand or your content.
The same thing would be said for infographics and perhaps the excitement around them has died down but they are certainly still around and are plentiful in the space. User expectations there is simply that that kind of content should be un-gated as well. We’ve seen perennial success tied to e-books, the very word “e-book” has been an iteration off of a white paper back in the day. White papers are still being published that huge volumes.
But e-books, if they are done well, I think are taking complicated topics and distilling them into not only humanized value points but perhaps a little bit more of simplistic execution as well where there is perhaps a little bit more personality, more playfulness, true voice versus it just being technical documentation.
And so from that side, if it’s specifically meeting the needs of these users and the problems that they are trying to solve, we’ve seen constant success for content like that. That said, you created a video, an info graphic, datasheet, that somehow did instill those core attributes such as strong positioning, the humanized value points, great cover design, strong calls to action. And most importantly, the alignment between your content and the actual persona you are trying to reach, you are generally going to find success.
All of those things sound simple yet we commonly are dealing with campaigns from our customers whereby content seemingly was written to be predisposed to be speaking to a different persona than what their campaign requirements might be and as you can imagine, then you are generating leads for the wrong types of people. So then those leads funnel through the system, they are ultimately getting to a sales organization and the sales team is saying well what is this? This is not who we expected to be calling upon, they are certainly not a fit for our product. And so that kind of stuff comes more into the consultation role of what we do for clients and trying to advise them to really try to structure their campaign prior to launch for success versus dealing with these things in a cleanup capacity afterwards.
Matt: Absolutely. Hey we are going to take a quick, quick break here. We will be back to Sales Pipeline Radio in a minute with David Fortino. We’ll talk about some of what we’ve got coming up in the next few weeks and dig a little bit into demand gen especially get deeper into the sales side and the impact it has on sales and channel format content format. We will be right back, the Sales Pipeline Radio.
Paul: All right, I’m going to get my free copy right now but in the meantime, back to Matt and his guest!
Matt: Awesome, thanks very much Paul. Like I mentioned before, you can catch any of these episodes of Sales Pipeline Radio at www.salespipelineradio.com. If you want to listen to our conversation with David Fortino again it will be available on demand in a couple of days as well as all of our past guests, we’ve got some great conversations up there with sales and marketing leaders; you can definitely get them on demand through our podcast at the Google play as well as the iTunes store.
And next week we will be broadcasting live from Cleveland Ohio at Content Marketing World. We’ve got Ken Thoresen who is a great sales thought leader who will talk to us about sales lead management. And the following week we will finally, finally I’m so excited – we are finally going to feature Arden Clise who is a good friend of mine here in Seattle. She’s published a book called Spinach in Your Boss’s Teeth. She is a business etiquette expert. She is one of two people Paul in my life that whenever I see them I get very, very nervous. So she is one.
There is another gal here in Seattle and her name is escaping me right now but she is a personal stylist. So whenever I happen to see her, I immediately become self-conscious of whatever I am wearing and the combinations and whatever else. And Arden, I am like okay do I shake her hand? Do I give her a hug? What do I say? Do I have to send a follow-up note? I mean all of those things you want to think about.
She’s the first to tell me I overthink it but she has some great best practices for anyone in business for your inside sales teams and otherwise so great guest coming up as we head into September into the fall. But today I want to continue our conversation with David Fortino who is a senior vice president of audience at NetLine and has been in the B2B industry for a very long time.
Talk a little bit David, we’ve been talking mostly about content formats and demand gen programs like okay, how do we integrate all of this with sales and where are you seeing your clients start to adjust their programs and reflect a greater level of integration and enablement with their sales counterparts?
David: Sure. I think part of it has to do with the advantage of sophisticated marketing automation tools. That’s certainly something that’s advanced to mature dramatically over the time period I have been at NetLine. When campaigns were first being structured in terms of lead gen and even fundamental content marketing then, there was nothing to do with that data literally was just going over the fence usually like in an Excel doc; salespeople were calling upon it, if they didn’t receive immediate pulse it was dead, that was it.
Obviously expectations are dramatically different these days and the marketing funnel and various drip and nurturing initiatives that are associated with data captures through platforms like ours are vital for driving success and downstream conversion to the sales organization.
So there is a huge difference and I am sure you covered this a number of times between a marketing qualified lead versus a sales qualified lead. Having organizational alignment between those two is fundamental to the success of both of those organizations although classically there is many, many organizations that have gone through struggles between sales and a marketing alignment. It’s just so situationally fundamental to success.
If you do not have alignment across the two teams not only on a strategic level but down to the tactical execution, odds are something will go awry and it will end badly. So we see it at our company, we see it most importantly with all of our clients when the campaigns are set up in a thoughtful manner coming from the top of the funnel when it comes to outbound content syndication through data capture and then ultimately nurturing and then down to a sales qualified lead.
That all has to be decided internally discussed, vetted and approved when they are not more often than not we are dealing with some cleanup issues that perhaps might be right, perhaps might be wrong someone just wasn’t briefed on the certain decisions, whatever it might be, it’s just a messy situation at that point. It’s more difficult to convince internal stakeholders that you’ve done the right thing as well.
Matt: Well I mean this, the sales process is getting more complicated. I think I saw a study last week that indicated that many sales reps think that the internal sales challenges are big if not bigger than the external sales challenges in terms of sort of organizing stakeholders and getting deals done. How much is that marketing’s job? We are kind of approaching this from a marketing perspective right now and I think there still is some question and debate over who really owns sales enablement. Is that marketing? Is that sales? Should they do that jointly? What’s the best way that you see to achieve that?
David: I think my perspective would be jointly. It’s a personal one at best. I think it does come down to skill sets probably available within a given organization as well; historical legacy as to where people have found success. If someone simply is deploying what everybody else is doing but culturally it’s not going to be in alignment with your organization, that’s going to be a lost cause.
I think coming to the table between the two teams and even if it means butting of heads in some heated discussion, that’s always going to net out a win versus just assuming and throwing things over the fence and telling the sales organization to deal with it. Or conversely I mean the sales organization go back to marketing and say everything you are doing is wrong and we would have done it a different way. I think just the general dialogue most often allows situations like that to be avoided.
Matt: It does and it requires a mindset that sometimes doesn’t exist but can be actively developed. That is a collaboration between sales and marketing really hasn’t happened in many cases in the past and it is at all levels, it is a leadership, it is at management, it is at the frontlines of both of those organizations.
David: Where it breaks, right? I think historically it’s that cultural alignment truly isn’t part of the DNA of those teams and it won’t work as many times as perhaps a CMO or a sales leadership might say this is the plan. If it’s not followed through in every nuance and every back channel discussion, it’s going to go awry.
Matt: We are finishing up here with David Fortino who is the senior vice president of audience and product at NetLine. David I know you guys publish a lot of great content, you’ve got a lot of great resources for people to learn more about not only NetLine but also the way you guys think about marketing. Anything in particular that you want to recommend people to check out if they are on your site or any assets you have that can help them learn more about some of the topics we are covering here today?
David: We’ve got a number of great assets on www.netline.com that are specifically about content syndication, lead generation and some of the more advanced tactics as it relates the content marketing.
That said, I would say that we would love for them to check out the site in about a week or so. We are in the process of unveiling an all in one brand-new content syndication and lead gen platform that’s focused on empowering all B2B marketers to be successful; they can create, manage, optimize their campaigns through a self-service interface. It’s always on, fully scalable, incredibly simple.
So we are unveiling this at CMW next week. We are really excited about it. We think we are in the final stretches of testing right now, everything looks great, knock on wood, on my desk I referenced in that post. And I think from there is going to be a ton of great content available for prospects to check out and above and beyond we will be committing to a little bit more frequency as it comes to creating more content with personality I would say versus structured and documented content like white papers and e-books.
Matt: That sounds great. Well quick question before we go. I know I see you quite often at industry conferences, you are traveling a lot. I definitely encourage people to check out David’s contribution on our blog at www.Heinzmarketing.com, his answers to How I Work. One question we didn’t ask that I am curious, when you travel, how do you stay productive when you’re traveling? How do you stay abreast and stay in touch and complete things you need to do for the business while you are out and about?
David: Good question. I think realistically it’s a little bit of a challenge so I don’t want to say that it’s not. I always fall behind in email as much as I try not to. It usually translates into later nights sitting in the hotel room wherever I am at but then beyond that my team has always been really, really helpful in filling the void when I am not there I am probably talking to them more on the phone than usual and seemingly things get done.
It’s not perfect, I don’t think anyone has a perfect solution to that but being that everything is readily available through mobile devices these days it’s somewhat easy to stay on top of things, at least the fires that are created at any given day.
Matt: Absolutely awesome, well thanks so much for your time David, it’s been great talking through some of these things. I know we will… it sounds like we will see you next week in Cleveland and as we get into the fall, the fall mini conference season begins between content marketing world.
We’ve got marketing props, you’ve got CEB, the juggernaut of Dream Force is looming large as well so it’s going to get busy. But thanks so much again for your time, I appreciate your input and if you want to hear more from David you can certainly see them on our blog in the “How I Work” section today at www.Heinzmarketing.com. If you want to listen to this episode again, if you want to give other people in your organization access to it, you can check that out at www.salespipelineradio.com and you can check out David and all of our past guests there as well on the podcasts on Google play and the iTunes Store.
Please join us next week live from Cleveland Ohio. We’ve got Ken Thoreson, we’ve got some great guests coming up. Arden Clise as I mentioned, Joe Churnoff who runs marketing for InsightSquared, we’ve got Jamie Shanks coming up who is the author of the new book – Social Selling Mastery. Jim Ninivaggi who is a former SiriusDecisions analyst and who is a sales of element expert, we’ve got some great, great guests so make sure you catch each week 2:30 Eastern, 11:30 Pacific.
That’s it for today! This is Matt Heinz, this has been Sales Pipeline Radio!
Paul: You’ve been surfing the sales pipeline with Matt Heinz from Heinz Marketing on Funnel Radio Network.