Growth Marketing Camp
Growth Marketing Camp

Episode 22 · 1 year ago

5 Top Tips For Pioneering an ABM Strategy at Your Company


Ivonne Smith has built, managed, and grown the Account Based Marketing strategy for her past two companies including Mindbody, the fast growing health and wellness software brand you’re probably using to book classes today. It all started when she took a leap from the Customer Success world and started developing resources for sales to help them land major accounts at Skillsoft. In this episode she shares what it took to build from the ground up, and how she landed her dream job running ABM at Mindbody. Be sure to tune in!

Welcome to growth marketing camp, where we sit down with our favorite marketers to de mystify growth and give you the insights to help turn your next campaign into a major success. Let's get into it. Welcome to another exciting episode of Growth Marketing Camp. I'm joined by one of my new favorite marketers, Ivan Smith, who is the manager of strategic accounts marketing at mind body, which is one of the hottest brands in the wellness space, letting their users, as your website says, a book fitness, beauty and health services through your APP. So obviously incredibly excited to have you on the show here, particularly because it was a painful time over last year and a half, two years of health and wellness services for them to make money for quite a while. But your company's been blowing up, you know, for yeah, for the whole time and this it feels like there's almost been no slowing down of the mind body engine here. How do you think that's happened? Was it maybe the focus on wellness during lockdown or what was that? Yeah, that's a great question and and a great point. I would say that we did slow down. I wouldn't be honest if I didn't admit that it was definitely a tough time and the pandemic hit. You know, our precious customers, you know, had to close their doors and they couldn't offer the services that they were in business to do and following their passions to do. But to your point, we did find that wellness surfaced as more important than ever and everyone's reality, you know, the people who were hit harder, the people who experience were symptoms with the people who were not well. And so, from a mind body perspective, our purpose is to help people lead healthier, happier lives by connecting the world to wellness, and that's through our platform, through our business to consumer APP, our business to business software. But I would say that, you know, our customers, they're coming back still and they came back strong, and it's because they're super resilient and they truly have a passion for wellness and for what they do. I think that's what carried them through this Dandemic, and they were also super gritty and creative in offering services and safe ways so that they didn't have to completely shut down. Yeah, so many industries did. I mean, I'm just think people who cut hair and do so many other like in person physical related things, and how clever they got, how digitally got so many of them and how much value they were still able to create for their customers. It's amazing. It was amazing to watch. Absolutely well. We're going to dig into more of that, for sure, but I want to understand, just to set the context for our audience here, when we talk about marketing to strategic accounts, what are those accounts look like right now? And our world strategic accounts include large enterprise brands that serve the witness integrated health salon spot space and they're typically in that ten plus range when it comes to locations globally. Okay, perfect. So that gives us good context. So we're not talking about really the consumer APP side of things. We're talking about selling too those major accounts and marketing to them. That makes it. That's right. Yep, cool. Now the incredible experience you're having in mind body, I think, was probably heavily influenced by your experience at skill soft, where you were there for almost twenty years, and the bulk of that time in field marketing and ABM, if I understand is that right? Yeah, it was a combination of field marketing on ABM, but prior to that I spent a good eleven the first eleven years, in a customer successful so that experience allowed me to really live and breathe the sales persons experience without the quota that comes along with being a salesperson. So I had that partnership in place before going into the marketing space. What made you take the jump from CS to marketing? So I love psychology and creativity and from a business perspective I feel like marketing is where you get to really capitalize on that interest and kind of learning what makes people tick and listening... people at trying to get their attention. That's amazing. What was the learning curve like? You know, shifting from one department to a totally separate obviously in a related department, but what was that that learning curve like for you? It was pretty big to some degree, because it wasn't really going into a department at Skill soft as actually starting the field marketing and account based marketing effort. So really we were sort of learning and experiencing along the way. At that company I had super supportive leadership who kind of believed in everything we did. So we had that support to try and sort of fast fail or fast succeed, whatever it was that we were doing, but we could really try anything. So, you know, with the support of leadership and going out and even getting account based marketing certifications and getting and going to conferences and just learning and absorbing, it really wasn't that heard of US shift because we had the partnerships with sales in place from the customer success background and I imagine you knew your customers inside and out. I mean, yes, these were the people you had done business with for years. What's the message we should share here? It's well, I know exactly what they say because I've been talking to them for years. Right exactly. So it feels like a very natural shift to go from customer success or sales into build an account based marketing if that's, you know, of interest to someone. Okay, those of you who are listening, you're watching, take note. If you're looking for your next marketing hire could be in the CS or the sales org. That's exciting. Like I did look when I hired, just recently hired two people for my team and I did look for that type of experience because I felt in if you're going to partner with sales. You have to understand sales. So either being in sales or customers that sessed, that's going to give you some really key skill sets to help you be successful. Well. So let's dig into that, because we typically talk about a single campaign, but the ABM strategy and motion is very complex. It spans much more than a single campaign. It is a strategy. Is, yes, go to market motion here, and it has everything to do with how you bring information to sales, how you partner with sales, how you talk with sales, you meet with them. So talk me through that. What does that relationship look like right now at mine body? Yeah, that's a great question. So I would say I am of the mindset that marketing can never stand alone. When sales successful, we're successful, obviously. So we have to partner with them and their input is needed and everything we do. Luckily, I have some good, trusting relationships with the leadership team on the sales side, so they've included me and the planning the product road, that planning process, any kind of strategy conversations. And that all happened because when I started actually it was a bit more organic, where I partnered with this individual sales reps and really consulted with them around like what should we do next? What makes sense? You know, kind of tapping into my years of experience at skill soft and it sounds like so many when you quantify it, but it definitely, you know, that partnership at sort of one on one with the sales up to help build the foundation and the case for how marketing can partner with sales and add value, and that helped prove the value kind of up the chain and then that helped include me in the higher level conversations. Sure, that makes perfect sense because we've heard from other guests of the show that that's almost the the breeding ground for great marketing starts with working with sales very directly like a single sales Rep. what are you struggling what is she struggling with today? The marketing can help inform, that we can speed up, that we can make better, that we can better inform the customer on and it glossially an account and account based marketing specifically. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Okay. What were some of the things that you notice that you could have an immediate impact on? Because there's going to be folks who are looking for those signals, who are like. Okay, I don't know. Is ABM right for me or should I be working closely with sales? Like what are the signals that you saw that this was a good fit? Well, I think...

...that ABM is always right. I'm of the mindset that if you look at your top tier prospects or customers, you can't sort of spread peanut butter across all those accounts in order to support them appropriately or to get their attention. You have to focus specifically on the account and understand, and you know, I've often said account based marketing is really people based marketing and it's truly listening and whether that be doing your research on the web and finding out what's important to them and understanding their priorities. But when you're talking about your top tier, they're the most well, all customers are important, but obviously those larger accounts, those are you know, do rise up to the top as far as prospecting and landing them and as well as keeping big customers. And if you can listen and offer bespoke marketing support to your sales team in order to support the customer, you're going to have more success. And, like you said, if you just partner with one rep and do that and focus in on those sort of the spoke efforts, the payoff in renewals or in contracts landed or anecdotal feedback specifically from your points of contact in the business. They just come rolling in because people, you know, are overwhelmed with the noise of marketing and when you can be more personal and oneonone or account based, it's going to have more impact. It's a powerful pitch for the ABM and there Oh yeah, yeah, we're going to have to connect to some ABM vendor so you can sell for them, because I was great. That works for me. I understand what you mean in terms of the value can bring to those larger customers, in the value they represent your to your organization, how much right effort it takes to stand out right. And I think there's one thing that we maybe don't talk about it. If you mentioned the noise, those larger target accounts are also receiving a lot more attention from every other vendor in your space. They're all like there's so much more competition to that because they represent so much potential value that it is that much harder to stand out. I would say then even those smaller accounts where they're not going above and beyond and you really have to stand out in those larger accounts. Yeah, absolutely. Now, you worked with individual sales reps and how quickly did that snowball? Because my estimate, my guess, would be you worked with the Sales Rep, they were successful, then all the other sales were starts saying well, what are you doing? You know, how did that work for you? How are you being so successful, because I want some of that. Yeah, so I think that, you know, when I came in I was able to the program didn't exist at this level, so I was able to work with them individually and the success definitely came quickly. I think that it didn't take much time to prove the value of supporting strategic accounts and supporting these sales reps at a one to one perspective, because when you get doors open and people respond to you and you get discovery meeting scheduled in our space, that's a big deal. It's really hard to change software, obviously in any SASS space. That's a big chain. So when you can get those conversations, that impact is big and I will say that I stay focused at that high level and there's definitely de man from the rest of the sales organization, but it's hard to scale those efforts. So we have brought in some platforms, like you mentioned abm, to help scale. But it's hard to say a BM scaled is ABM because it's not, as to spoken, high Tut uch as it is at the highest levels. Interesting. Yeah, it's a good point. What are some of the primary activities look like that you perform either in conjunction with or on behalf of sales? Right now we do a lot of creative outreach to get the attention of our prospects. We do the spoke collateral when we're reaching out to them to support the sales arps efforts so the customers feel like, you know, we're talking to them specifically. We will, you know, whatever it takes to make them feel like they're the most important customer out of the top tier, we will do... You know, we're like every other business, trying to stand out amongst our own competitors. So anything we can do to, you know, truly connect with our customer or prospect and you know, their success is really front and Center for us and we want them to feel that and not just feel like a number within a large organization of customers. Sure, how large is the ABM side of the House with you right now? Are you leading that charge? You've got some team members. How does that look right now? Yeah, we're a mighty team of three actually, but we're supported by the larger marketing engine, so we have creative resources, content copy. I mean that all of those people deserve credit because they do so much for us, but I started with just I was the main person and then, you know, over time I'm kind of showing the value. was able to add a couple of people to my team. I feel like you should add pioneer somewhere to your title, because it seems like that's what you do. You go in and you say, yeah, this is a strategy I know is going to be powerful. Let me prove it. And clearly you've proven it a couple of times over here. Yeah, both times I've gotten to where I've been able to grow and add people to my team, which is a lot of fun and it is fun to bring in this type of mentality. It's just fun to be successful and see the response. Yeah, sure, and not speaking specifically to mind body, but just maybe from your experience in the ABM community. What has been maybe the biggest friction you've seen for Abim practitioners trying to deploy something like this in their or because it might not have been your own, you might have been talking to a friend and ABM and heard these complaints. So it's certainly not, you know, particular to your company, but there is some friction out there. What do you see? I would say data hygiene across the board at any company. You know, just having honest, and I know every company deals with this, like sales force being up to date and that allows you to tear customers and yeah, look at WHO's in pipeline and you know, just understanding the lay of the land and when your data isn't up to where you want it to be, sometimes that just creates some more administrative hassles that can get in the way. But besides that, I think, you know, the proof is in the pudding, if you if you're working directly but the REP and helping them be successful, because sales people like to win, so if you can help them win, you know there isn't a lot of friction. But I think just data, data hyking. I know that's big for everyone. No, absolutely. I mean in my former life I ran a sales development and agency and I had a customer who spend a lot of time and money on an ABM program only to find out that a third of those target accounts were not qualified. They actually didn't meet I mean when we talk about data hygiene just day or precision and accuracy, was the real struggle around that. Is that something you said? Yeah, we've seen that as well. You know, oftentimes it just depends on how you're targeting or if you're using just pharmographic data only or you using intent data. Are using systems to help you with that. So some that we brought in some of those tools so that we can watch intent and really see who's raising their hand or he's starting to show that type of interest, so that we're not going after company just because they fit the mold. You know, ten less locations based here and they are fitness or whatever it might be. You know that doesn't give you enough information to create a campaign that's going to be successful. Sure, how do you you know? kind of thinking final questions there, so I don't keep badgering about this, because I'm so fascinated by the interplay between sales and marketing and the ABIUM strategy here. But how do you elevate the winds and make sure to kind of share the winds with sales, because it's very easy for marketing to be, you know, kind of under the like, maybe behind the curtain, let's say, right there the magicians behind the curtain, they're getting everything ready and then boom, sales does the big show. How do you are in those winds right now? Yeah, that's a really good question to ask, because I set our team goals. They're exactly aligned with sales goals. So if the sales aren't closing or if the opportunities aren't there, then we're not meeting our goals. So we're not settying KPIS like build this mini customer stories. It's closing these deals and so, you know, that's one piece of..., is that sales people see that our goals are their goals. So that's one thing. So when there's a win, it's a win for all of us. However, along the way there's smaller wins. You might have a customer respond or a prospect respond to an email or to something we've sent to them, and then now there's a discovery call, and so I'm a big proponent of, you know, kind of keeping a folder of all the cout I call at the Kudos file, and that's where I have like a spring grabs of, if any kind of response as the customers have submitted or just the gratitude they have for something we built for them, or it just depends on what it is, but that way I can tell that story and share that success. And so part of building that trust in the beginning was I was doing kind of monthly summaries of our activity and here's what we did, this was the target, this is what we sent and this was the response. And now we've got this discovery call and we're all humble, and humble and helpful one of our core values at mind, body actually. But I think part of being humble and helpful is also, you know, make can sure that the winds are celebrated, because if you don't know about the winds or if they're not shared, then it's hard to continue to you know, get more winds because you need that support. Yeah, I think the Kudos file sounds like a great idea. It's definitely yeah, because snapshots, those screen grabs are super valuable, I think, obviously for internal motivation. Just Hey, the thing we said works actually works. Congratulations everyone, good work. Keep it up, and right for elevating that. Certainly, maybe it's a board meeting or maybe it's just an internal department or cross departmental meeting. Is Let's celebrate the winds, and it almost I mean that's exactly what ABM is right. You're speaking to like that individual felt something. It's something different because of something we did for them, which is incredible. Right. And then, and in the marketing world everything we do is sort of polished and fun. So it'll end especially at my body because my body is such a cool space. So it's easy to create visuals of the story and kind of what we did and how it played out and then the response from the prospect of the customer. And so if you have the story in a visual format and you can share that in a board meeting or in a leadership meeting or an all hands keep meeting, that is key. And I will say that something I did from the beginning is I always had sort of a presentation of the strategy and the winds ready, so ready on deck. If they need me to present, I can present it. It's up to date, in the winds are there with the customer testimonials or prospect testimonials, and I think being prepared like that helps you have a polished presentation and just helps the brand of your team. Yeah, being ready to be called on the floor. Yep, explain and celebrate and justify and have a visual yeah, you know, not a slide of bullets, just something that looks polished. Yeah, well, that makes perfect sense. I love how you're doing that. I love that you've been able to pioneer these programs a couple of times around. Feels like that's your rhythm. You're just going to keep you, you keep pioneering for the ABM and maybe one day it'll be something else. I mean, obviously jump from cust right marketing and seems like the sky's the limit when you're willing to go and prove something and you have a smart way to prove, Hey, this actually worked and elevate that right. Good. This, this Abien space, is a lot of fun and mind, body especially is a lot of fun. So for now it'll be fun to see our gust. Absolutely and it seems like the the culture there is a big component of like what brings people to mind body? Yeah, one of the people you work with who introduced US actually said I've wanted to work there for years. This was my game job. I finally got there. There's very few companies. I mean that's that's a good Google ask type testimonial. As far as the culture, people don't generally want to work somewhere for years and end up there finally, unless it's a big, massive company, innual or big, but because Twentyzero employeer IDM. So is that a big draw? Is it the culture? Yes, a thousand percent. I would say that.

Even what drew me to the brand. As you said, I was at a company for almost twenty years and I had a lot of amazing opportunities and great people I worked with at my previous company. But when I came across an account based marketing opportunity at mind body, it was as if my personal interest and my passion and outside of work kind of the five to nine versus the nine hundred twenty five space connected with my nine twenty five so that I was able to come in and do something that I love. The culture that we have around just wellness and that expectation that you make time for wellness and you are well at makes you a better person and that makes you happier employee. That is absolutely true, and so even when I was growing my team, that was the fun part of interviewing is people knew who we were and they wanted to be here because they connected with the brand so closely as far as their passion, and that really does make hiring exciting because you know you're bringing in people that want to be here and truly believe in the brand. And I know you're talking about Tara. She's a perfect example, and also Annabelle on my team. Both of them are fabulous and they just exemplify who we are as a business and as a brand. Yeah, that's I mean, you're incredibly fortunate to be in that position, but you're also building that. You know you can't just say can't be one and done, and that's the pressure. The culture is built over time. It's right continued so well and especially in the pandemic, these are two people that are joining a culture that typically has been centralized to San Luis Obispo. I've lived in the Arizona space and they're into other cities. So we've had to create that culture and keep it alive despite the pandemic and despite being remote, and that that culture is strong and it still draws people in even across the country. It's really phenomenal. Well, that's remarkable, I guess, now that we've said so many great things about your kid. You know, are you plugging any rolls? Are you looking to hire any marketers? In case there's someone out there listening, we're always looking. There's definitely some opportunity to grow the team over time. We just added a couple in the last quarter, so very cool. You know, if there's interest, I'm always open to hearing who would be interested in joining, but probably not this year, but hopefully next year. I do think there's some opportunities. I anticipate you all keep growing for quite some time. That's very yeah, definitely let's zoom out from the mind, body experience and maybe let's think about from a growth marketing perspective, whether that's through an ABM strategy or otherwise. What are some things, or maybe what's one example of a thing we should stop doing that we're commonly doing or start doing that we haven't done yet? I just think kind of got back to what I said before. Any time you take sort of that peanut butter spreading approach to outreach, and I think you'll hear this at any marketing conference. You know, the the broader you try to spread your peanut butter, the thinner it gets and the less it resonates. And in a world full of noise and emails and Stam filters and all these things, you just have to, you know, focus in and make sure your efforts are targeted and make a difference and listen. You know, I think that's another piece. We kind of think we speak the language of our process and customers and then if you go, I mean this is a perfect example, if you go listen to a podcast, that's gold, gold. When you find a podcast on your proces and you can listen and hear what's important to them, you're going to make a difference. I would just say I think some of that peanut butter spreading could be stock spreading peanut butter. We're yeah, you more. I like Thosese are great. Yeah, and okay, this is one of my very favorite questions. I've only started asking it recently, but if you could pick between these three options, double the staff right, twice as many team members, double the budget or double the time hours in the day? What would you pick? I would say today, probably double the staff. Yeah, I think so. In my situation, I'll put that describer. Of course. Of course. Yeah, I would think, because I... so incredibly impressed that the two teammates that I added to the team and I think, you know, doubling the staff, you know, bringing in more people passionate about what we do, to do more we can broaden our impact. It's just, you know, the smarter the people, the more passionate the people, the better we can do what we want to do. Certainly, budget helps with automation and some of those things, but I think that at mine body the people really do make a difference. I like that. That makes sense that you didn't choose time, because your focus is on wellness. So if you had sixteen hours of work day, you probably wouldn't pick it. I wouldn't take it. Yeah, good. Well, Yvon, thank you for joining us. It's been wonderful to have you on here. If folks want to follow you or learn more about you personally, where should they go? Where do you spend time? Yeah, they could probably follow me on Linkedin. That's probably the best place and I'm pretty easy to find out. There good, good. And if we want to learn more about mind body, where do we go? Mine Body onlinecom perfect. We leavan. Thanks again for joining us. It's been a true pleasure and we're looking forward to chatting with you again soon. Okay, sounds great. Thank you, Braxas. Thanks for listening to growth marketing camp. If you enjoyed this episode, we'd love it if you would give it a quick five star rating or share it with a friend or colleague looking to get a little more inspiration for their next campaign. If you want to learn more about the company behind the show, had to open sensecom. That's open, sken s ECOM. Will catch you on the next episode.

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