Growth Marketing Camp
Growth Marketing Camp

Episode 21 · 1 year ago

How a Demand Gen Strategy Targeted an Untapped Audience Segment

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Senior Demand Generation Manager at Planful, Emily Ross, was instrumental in the design and implementation of a large cross-functional marketing campaign that targeted an untapped segment of their target market, people who were pain-aware but not product-aware. Not only was the campaign successful, but it ended up becoming their first evergreen campaign. 

About. 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. Hi, welcome to a new episode of Growth Marketing Camp. I'm your host, Shay Hoffman. Today we'll be speaking with Emily Ross. Emily is the senior demandagin manager had planful. Really stoked to be talking to her. And without further ADO, here's Emily Ross. Well, hi there, Emily. Welcome to growth marketing camp. So excited you could join us today. Delighted to be here. Thank you for inviting me. Oh Yeah, my pleasure. been looking forward to it all week. So, as in Intro for our listeners, can you give us a little bit of your background and how you arrived at planful? Absolutely, yeah, so, Shay, in another life my dream was really to work in publishing and back in the day I attended a summer certificate course called the Columbia publishing course. So it used to be called the ratcliffe publishing program it's where you would go if you wanted to be a book editor in New York. So I attended a talk there by head of digital publishing at Alfred a knock and at that time it was, you know, right around the apple antitrust suit. It was really the start of kindle being a primary, dominant player and I just thought that felt like the future working in digital publishing. So I went for it and I worked as a book marketer. So I was publishing digital ebooks but working on the marketing campaigns for authors and as a book marketer. You know, even in digital there was a lot of mystery when it came to a buy our journey. So we put a lot of emphasis on organic social or like influencer marketing tactics in terms of getting the word out on our authors, but virtually there's like no understanding of where we were making the most impacts or which channels to double down on.

So when I moved to the bay area a few years later, I got my start in social and digital marketing, but I really quickly fell in love with demand Jin. I was fascinated by all the attribution channels that you can prop up. I love the full funnel strategy and really the Cross functional collaboration component of what it's like to work in growth marketing. So I've been with planful for just under year, but I've worked for startups and consumer cloud and be to be hardware very cool. I'm curious in the publishing world, I think it does make sense, you know, especially at the beginning of kindle becoming a major platform for consuming books, etc. Have they come a long way since you were in that world? Do you think that they have a better understanding of how to measure within channels and and find out what's working? Do you think they have a little bit more of a start up mindset now, or do you think that they're still kind of stuck in the past? I think it totally depends on where you're at and I think you know knowing folks who have worked for Amazon Publishing and some of these progressive teams. And also there was a really interesting talk from a head of like digital at Random House who they were testing out new tools for attribution and understanding. But what's really interesting about publishing, and also two thousand and twenty being such a big year for publishing, like people are reading more than ever. Once you hit the divide between the digital format and then the print format, it's so hard to know, like if you're in a bookstore what actually drew someone in and so that's where you see these really interesting things with Amazon go where you're tracking like what people are looking at. So I think it depends on probably the organization you're part of. But I will say having the opportunity to play and learn and grow, especially at startup level, was really compelling. So it's been a fun transition from working in such an archaic but also an industry was...

...so much legacy and publishing and then kind of bringing those learnings over to technology. Yeah, I feel like that's a great transition point. You went from publishing and then into the more startup world. I know your planful. Can you tell us a little bit about who plantful is, what you guys do, what markets you serve and all of that? I've solutely so. Planfuls of Financial Planning and analysis cloud platform. So the essence of planfull as they help unify financial planning, things like close and consolidation, reporting an analytics all in one space. So we really cater to financial leaders or financial teams and the goal of planfull is to help them make more confident decisions in the Daytoday, planning that they're on the line for and in a year like two thousand and twenty. The power of planfull has been enabling leaders to think continuously and keep pivoting on a dime, keep changing directions and just feel like they can adapt fast to everything that's been thrown at them. So it's been a fun company to be a part of and a really creative marketing team, I would say. Cool. That brings him something interesting. is so in this kind of strange two thousand and twenty year, can you give an example of like one of the folks that you worked with or one of those leaders that you had just mentioned that you know really stood out to you like a customer of planful? That comes to mind totally. Yeah, I think my favorite story, when I think about any recent customers and like what they've been up to, the CFO of the Boston Red Sox, Tim Zoo. He spoke at our virtual event just about a year ago and he did speak to how planful was essential to enabling him to forecast and refecast at a time where we were at the start of the pandemic and it was really the beginning where the shock was sinking in with like imagining a year without life sports, and so in our virtual tour he spoke to how sample was helpful to addressing like what is my season going to look like? What is my financial forecast looking like,...

...with potentially a partial or full season, I mean maybe full audience, maybe partial audience, with or without concessions, even like not knowing what the recommendations were. So I think that's a really good example of what we call continuous planning at planfull, so just the ability to move fast, think on your feet, pivot, really move with the agility. So it's a fun one and something that we definitely look to. Yeah, I mean that what a great example. It also does owns really fun also this continuous planning. I feel like I've been in startups for quite some time and it's one of the best things about working, I think, in tech rank is that ability to be super actual, think on your feet, you know, make pivots, make quick turns when you need to, ideally measuring along the way. I think that's what I love most about Demi Ungen, like if you're a lifelong learner and you're someone who enjoys problem solving and getting thrown at all the things. I mean right now it's like I was fourteen, like how should we pivot our whole new strategy for things that are constantly evolving or like in the market place, what people actually want, but the experience they want. So I agree. I think startups are famous for that and it's fun to see planful isn't a start up, but the culture feels like a startup. It feels like we're really innovative, that everyone's ideas are welcome and it's just it's a fun environment to be in. Yes, sounds like an out of Kuracy. How long have you guys been around? So plant full actually is founded in two thousand and two, I believe. So it's been a yeah, a long time. And in two thousand and nineteen the company rebranded from host analytics to plan full. So that's been an exciting also piece of the puzzle to for the marketing team. I support. I've worked on a few rebrands in the past, but I think like the plan full rebrand and how we're continuously growing and evolving the brand and adding I mean truly it's like infancy for a brand, but so exciting to see what we've done in a year.

So yeah, so that's the backstory. Wonderful. I'd like to shift gears a little bit because, as you know, most of our listeners are growth marketers and would love to pick your brain around a plan full campaign that you've been really excited about prior to the pod. We were talking about one in specific. Can you give me a little bit of an understanding? I think it's the winter soldier campaign. Yes, so referred to fondly internally as the winter soldier campaign. I didn't come up with it, but our CMO grow and Tomkin. He has three young children and you know, in January of two thousand and twenty one, we were in a position as a team where we were just ready to introduce something new. We were ready to evolve and throw our messaging on top of what you know, digital campaigns we've been running previously. So this was first and foremost a digital campaign, a top of the funnel awareness campaign. What was exciting about it from my standpoint it was packed with a lot of product marketing precision and a lot of social proof. So the top down goal of the campaign was to ultimately build pipeline and then, for me personally, like starting to build the demand generation machine for Planfull, as I consider myself still relatively new. I've been with a company year, but thinking strategically across all channel tactics and ultimately drive growth for the company. Very cool, wonderful. So on the campaign front, we talked a little bit about how the folks you're talking here generally in finance right. Tell me a little bit about like the specific audience for the Winter Soldier Campaign? Yeah, so a framework that we've been using for this campaign is something that our CMO row and Tompkin, has put forth and the idea that you have three different avenues for a campaign. So we're looking to either folks were pain aware, solution aware or product where? And let's say you're running a brand campaign that's ultimately built to drive awareness, built to drive brand recall. That's...

...something we would maybe put in the product aware category. Its position for folks who are familiar with plan full, their familiar with the space and maybe they're looking for guidance on like what we bring to the table from the standpoint of like brand Polish. The pain aware category is fun because it's like you're essentially looking for folks who may or may not be aware that planfull exists. We know that they have challenges in their FPNA practices that they're looking to solve, and so with this campaign, a lot of guidance from technical experts like our product marketing team, who actually took the lead on copy, which is amazing. We've positioned it for that pain aware audience. So we're targeting both the sea sweet kind of leadership in the finance world as well as what we would call like a finance influencer, so maybe a senior analyst, and that has been, I mean truly paid off as far as building a campaign that not only speaks to their needs so directly, but also, I think what got the team really excited is the realization that not only is this a campaign that will move the needle for the company, it's also truly like built to last. It's an evergreen campaign that we don't think we'll run maybe a quarter, but probably longer than that, which you know, in marketing it's all about the new and shiny. So it's been very refreshing working on something that feels like it's built to the last a lot longer. That's amazing. I'm justest of you guys run any campaigns against this kind of pain aware audience before, or is this one of your first poring into targeting that persona specifically. I wouldn't doubt that the company has right. Like I think that messaging is so essential and any product marketing team is constantly thinking about what is the value proposition we want to put forth on our key product pages and landing pages. But I think was unique about this campaign, at least it was for me, the first time leading a campaign of this level cross functionally with all the necessary...

...stakeholders, like on our team, and I think that was what made it really exciting. We were all truly unified or on that common goal of not only putting forth, like the plan full brand, we were also, as part of this campaign, launching seven different pages. And so traditionally with a campaign, I would think maybe you need like one to three big offers like that would be huge for any demandion marketer like you have these slick content pieces and optimized pages, and that's a whole undertaking in and of itself. But with this campaign we were looking to shine and spotlight seven different use cases and if you can imagine all of the technical messaging and copy that went into that and, on top of it, testing five different copy iterations for each on a whole sleuve channel. So from the standpoint of it being a robust effort for pain to were. I think for this it duration of marketing team at plant fold. It was the first wow, yeah, that sounds like quite the undertaking. Yes, talk about like submitting five hundred ads to your agency and saying like all right, you know, we trust your expertise, so we want to test all of these and then we can find out which is working. And Yeah, really, really fun. Wow, and it sounds like a blast. It also sounds particularly daunting but, you know, very cool. I know, like it sounds amazing. I don't think that I've ever worked on a campaign of that scale, and I've worked on a lot of campaigns. Yeah, using and it sounds like it's a situation where, because there are probably so many stakeholders and so many folks working on it, that like communication has to be key. It sounds like you probably have to be a fairly well oiled machine to pull something like that off. I know. I mean, what's funny is like for me, when I think about demand Jen or growth marketing, and I'm still relatively new right, like I've made this big career transition and it's been so exciting and from the surface,...

...looking in. Like, if you're new to growth marketing, I actually considered demand Jine just like the core piece of this big puzzle. So while this campaign was uniting our team, like I also think of the demand gener role is kind of a conductor. So, like any demandsion, team shouldn't be an island. And if really we're doing things right, demand Jines at igniting activities. So, like you need all these subject matter experts, like I couldn't do anything but about our rock star design team or product marketing team and like, most importantly, marketing ops, you know. So it's fun to think of demansion as like the person that on one level you're like, maybe I'm high level project managing, but also bringing everything to life. So I wouldn't discount the power of a daily stand up. I think that was something that really got us over the finish line, especially when you think about the perks of working remotely and then also sometimes the challenges, right, but that was huge for sure. So daily stand ups for about six to eight weeks and getting not only the pages out but all of the collateral and assets as well amazing. So, speaking of collateral and assets, would love to learn a little bit more about the channels that you used to promote the campaign. Yeah, so digital first campaign. This was, you know, now it's, I mean four months ago that we got started. So we're in a space with our team currently we're we're starting to, you know, plot and plan like whinner, live events, coming back direct mail, all these other tactics. But at the time it was like, yeah, let's get something really compelling on the channels that we were putting an emphasis on at that time. So paid search, display, paid social. We're dipping our toes into video, so running remarketing on Youtube. We also leverage this campaign and email nurture. We partner really closely with sales, so we use a tool called outreach, which I'm sure you're familiar with. And absolutely. Yeah, and...

...then what's exciting about this one? I think we were in a good space to not only tie the messaging from site to digital channels, but also bring forth the themes and at least the use cases that were resonating most to our webinar strategy and then blog. So we kind of I feel like the goal for any demand Gen marketer is also like building a campaign where everything feels really consistent in premium. So if you're someone moving through the funnel, you start to notice these patterns and trends, like if everything feels kind of consistent. It's like how this is a really well architective campaign. And I don't know if that's something I'm saying as a marketer and maybe I notice it. I think the folks definitely do notice it. They don't notice it probably with the same language that we would use. You know that. I don't think they're sitting back and being like wow, this was a well orchestrated campaign, but I think we really thoughtful about, you know, learning from bits and pieces, like learning from a specific channel, being like Oh, this is resonating really well, let's apply this to our webinar series, right, and so you have all of these small touches, but I do think that they add up and I think that, you know, there's obviously a demand jen portion of it, right, because it'll be more likely to convert, but there's also like this really cool branding piece and I think that it makes folks feel really comfortable with the brand, you know, when they can draw that nice move line where it's not like a bumpy road that they're walking down. It's kind of like a brand trust thing, like if you're telling me the same story or the campaign that I'm experiencing is like an extension of your core mission, that just feels so much more authentic than if it's like, you know, I think we've all worked on marketing teams that you're just like we need this thing, so we're going to do this out of left field and a totally different theme, and like you're like, well, we can try it, we can try it. I guess that's what I'm doing today. Yeah, like, yeah, so I agree with you. So important, awesome.

So, I mean there's already a bunch of things that stand out to me in this campaign. But in your mind, from like other campaigns, maybe not just even a planful but just in your past, and we kind of just started touching on this, what really made this campaign stand out to you? What were some of the big highlights? The biggest highlight? And of course, if this is a paid digital first campaign and a lot of these channels are top of funnel channels, this is the start of the lead journey for anything. But what I think was really interesting about this campaign from the holistic high level of kind of charting the company in a positive direction. Like we have these really big reach goals, and okay ours, that all teams on the company are tracking against and as a key part of those goals, this campaign supported the team in generating, I mean truly a record number of opportunities for the business within the quarter. So I think what was really exciting to see was I mean we didn't launch our first ads until the end of January, so I mean quarters go by so fast. We were almost halfway through the quarter when things were really churning. But I think that was not only a reflection of perhaps the strength of this campaign, but also the power of everyone on the team rallying around like a really solid, really almost simple goal. Like we wanted to get these pages live. We knew they were going to work. We were really confident with the creatives we were rolling out. And then, like we were talking about, because you have all these other tactics that you can just layer and keep layering on, it really packed a punch and I think that, in combination with all areas of the business, truly was outstanding. Amazing when it comes to these like a campaign like this, right where it's really big, it's an all hands on deck effort what? How do you were how to planful, you know, rally...

...those troops? I imagine that like sales had to be involved, all areas of marketing had to be involved. What was that like? Can you talk a little bit about like the internal communication that that got everybody hyped? Yeah, alignment is huge and for us especially, like everyone working remotely, we have been working really closely on how do we like grow our relationship across teams even more, like how can you step it up even more? So last quarter was also about, like you know, we consider these team meetings like okay, the marketing teams going to gather, now the sales teams going together, and like now we're starting to see a lot of cross pollination of we need all stakeholders together. It's like the same even goes for slack. Sometimes you have these private channels with maybe the key subject matter experts on a marketing team or sales team, but it's like why not start like a cross functional group where it's like everyone who needs to be a part of something is involved? And I think also bringing sales along and sharing really regular updates with them truly early into the campaign, like almost so early, where you're like I hope they're not worried, but it's been like a week and you know, we're just launching this things. So all of that was huge and a big part of what I think has grown the relationship and I think that's been really impactful for us, brilliant. So I think that this is exciting because, you know, we've been talking about how it's going to be an evergreen campaign, right. So the cool thing about that is one like it's obviously resonating with your audience and also because it's not going to be the new shiny thing. You know, you'll be able to iterate and learn over time. Right, it'll evolve, you know, as time goes on. Looking back at the campaign thus far, is there anything that you would change about it? Is there anything that you would do a little bit differently? Yeah, and always so many learnings, especially when you take on something as big and and, you know, at the start like ambiguous, like we knew we wanted to tackle all of this and put it out to the market. And a...

...big one for me is just like understanding that every channel is so unique and every channel has its unique strengths, and one of the strengths of facebook for us at least at the moment, is the cost per click is so low that we kind of see this as like the prime place for testing and learning, you know, and be to be like, while we see Linkedin as probably the gold stander for like title data or company data. You know, targeting on facebook is if you're targeting the CFOS. Are they all on instagram? Probably, but you know, still figuring out what makes the most sense for us and what's fun about facebook is with that low CPC. I think if we launched this campaign again, we would launch those different copy iterations that we wanted to Ab test their first, validate the creative, validate the messaging and then evolved to those other channels, so that you're maybe launching like eighty ads and that like five hundred. So right, I think that's the learning. But then again, I think we were in a place at the start of the campaign where we were eager and excited to launch something new. So I feel like the timing was just such that we, you were ready to launch cross channel. Amazing. So we speaking of facebook again. A little bit of an a side. I don't think that a lot of be tob marketers right now are really considering the impact of the new IOS update and how that could potentially impact running experiments right, testing that creative, testing the copy with that low CPC? Is that something that rainfalls thinking about? We definitely are thinking about it and I think that we're making adjustments and proceeding with caution. We do kind of aligned to there was a really good, think fee to be marketing leaders podcast with the CMO of Gong and he spoke about the budget split being eighty percent tracking to goal and then twenty percent, like the test and learn budget, and so that's kind of like the framework we're trying...

...to mimic with the IOS saying. I think maybe we would put that into that budget category where we're like, okay, we know that there may be some challenges and risk in and probably spending too much. So probably scaling and proceeding with caution. That would be my my guests and we lean, you know, lean on our agency partner heavily and they have been essential to guiding us through the transition. But the same goes for the Google Algorithm. Right, like there's no telling kind of what the future holds, but it's, I think, all for the positive. So that's the fun part of out working and growth. I think yeah, I think so as well. I think that sometimes people can get a little bit their concerns can be a little bit overblown. You know, marketers are nothing if not flexible and able to think on their feet a little bit, and I think that we're going to push through just fine. But it is a good thing, you know, it's a good thing to keep on the reader. Totally agree. Time will tell and we'll find out. Yeah, so a couple more questions for you. We were talking a little bit about learnings from this past campaign if there were things that you would do differently. So did the results of this campaign. Do you think that it's going to have an impact on any future campaigns or any campaigns that you're running concurrently? Yeah, absolutely, and I think the big learning is like the vibrant colors for us are performing best. That's what actually is pretty great about the painful brand. For me, it's like it's business not as usual. Be To be so, some of the best bet bees are mimicking or taking inspiration from B Toc's. I know that we personally, as a team, take inspiration from the MONDAYCOM and as Saunas of the world. So I mean it's interesting is we're targeting this traditional like finance audience, but they're really resonating with the fun playfulness that this campaign brought to the forefront. So I kind of looked to like the big transition that flack has brought right in the last five or so years with even just the way...

...that you write a be to be marketing email. It just all feels a lot more human and authentic and I think that will definitely look to those as a space to grow even more from in future campaigns, and certainly we would grow into a world where we're thinking about animation more, we're thinking about video more. So I think the next chapter for planful marketing is going to be a really exciting one, very cool. Yeah, I'm really excited about this as well, and I think that you nailed it. Folks like slack, folks like Gong even like I, really changed the way that we're able to communicate, and this is something that's been running through the last several growth marketing camp podcast even this, just this last one, that was talking to a gentleman named Bow Harrelson, and he's his takeaway for bb brands was, you know, copy B Toc Brands. You know, like murder learned from us. And then also, you know, just the importance of remembering that people are in conversions, their people, right, and really important to remember that, like there's a human on the other end of this ad campaign and we have to keep that in mind. I think. Yeah, I feel like my one tip for any growth marketer is like focus, you know, less on the conversion aspect but more on like what, holistically, would you actually want as the person, you know, being nudged through this journey, or kind of exploring content, like what would you actually want? And then my favorite way to test against you know, I think of marketing as being witty or providing Polish and showing up brand and all the fun stuff, but then I'm like, okay, if I'm writing a an email as sales and I'm actually writing human to human, I'm like, okay, this is a whole different game, right. So I agree and I think what's fun about like bet to be is feeling almost more like this hybrid world where you're like acting like a be Toc and it's paying off, I think for a lot of these brands. For sure. Definitely. Is that a practice that you do...

...often? Do you often write emails as or for a salesperson. Yeah, I mean we support here and there with different outreach sequences, sniffits and templates. So if we have, for instance, an announcement or if we have a new product offering, we're all over it and, you know, we partner closely with our sales folks and our SD our leadership. So I'm constantly, you know, wanting feedback and they're amazing and providing like the true, like raw look at how things are performing. So I think that's a really good way to just bring that human and authenticity. I mean even with marketing emails, I'm finding the Beaut of bees who are sending a marketing email blast without a template, without like an actual build. I'm like, okay, this my brain, it can digest this easier or absolutely so I think it'll be interesting. Yeah, how things keep changing and growing. Yeah, it is funny to think about how, you know, not so long ago the gold standard of a marketing email was so complex, right, I mean there were headers and footers and images and all that, when in reality I think that, you know, especially with the volume of email that we still are consuming, it's nice to get a marketing email that is just super simple and straightforward. Oh yeah, absolutely. I was chatting with our seema row and tunking. He's like, I think we're just going to stop saying hello, you know, name like you know they're gonna be like a slack. You know, it's better for everyone. So it'll yeah, maybe planful will pave the way in times of guys are already doing such good work. So final couple questions. Is there anyone in the marketing world that you look up to that you think people should be following right now? Yeah, there are a few, and the first one, you know, this is like dated pre covid. I went to a conference and saw Randy fresh at super flip speak about power of bingeble content. I haven't personally used Uber Flip, but just...

...the way that he frames like how you can cure it content but also personalized at scale. I thought that was amazing. Another Gut jalle res, I at meet me. So they're a start up but they're doing some really crafty things with personalization for account based marketing. So for like an smbbtob who's just dipping their toes into account based and wanting to create brand, you know, personalized landing pages and other end to end experiences. I thought that their approach was really cool. And then, finally, I would recommend our C m o Rowen Tonkin, creative progressive marketer. He's always on the cutting edge. He has his own podcast as well, so being planful. And then and FPNA Fridays and clubhouse for any of the finance folks out there were interested. But yeah, it's an exciting space to be in and I'm so glad. I'll be forever grateful that I made the transition from books to technology. That's amazing. And and lastly, if folks want to connect with you, want to find out what you're up to, where you most easily found? Yeah, you can find me on linkedin easily, also on Instagram at M Rossi. Yeah, available. Wonderful. Well, and we thank you so much for being on the program it was so nice to chat with you. Likewise, thanks Jay. 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 sincecom. That's open. Ske And skcom. Will catch you on the next episode.

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