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How to Craft Marketing Strategies for Rapid Tech Evolution

Written by:

Howard Tillerman is the Chief Marketing Officer for Making That Sale and an award-winning marketing professional.

Edited by:

Sallie, holding a Ph.D. from Walden University, is an experienced writing coach and editor with a background in marketing. She has served roles in corporate communications and taught at institutions like the University of Florida.

How to Craft Marketing Strategies for Rapid Tech Evolution

How to Craft Marketing Strategies for Rapid Tech Evolution

Greg Perotto has been a solid figure in marketing for over 25 years, working with tech giants like New Relic, TripActions, DocuSign, and Hootsuite. As a master of brand building, demand generation, and strategic marketing, Greg has driven growth and innovation at some of the world’s most trusted brands.

In this interview, Greg unveils his strategies for aligning marketing with business goals in the tech sector, explains why emotional connections are important in brand building and also touches on various topics, like demand generation in B2B marketing, partner collaborations, and much more.

This is a treasure trove of wisdom for anyone looking to excel in tech marketing, so let’s dig in!

Greg Perotto Headshot

Strategic Vision in Marketing

MTS – How do you approach building a comprehensive marketing strategy that aligns with the overall business goals, especially in a rapidly evolving tech landscape?

Greg – I always start with the customer, partnering with my peers across the business to continuously align our vision, goals, product, and go-to-market around solving customer needs.

Philosophically, I believe marketing exists as a partner in service to all other parts of the business — first and foremost, our customers and then our peers in sales, customer success, and product in particular. It’s our role to enable the company and our partners to grow by building a brand, driving demand, and inspiring customer use, renewal, expansion, and advocacy.

With that mentality, I collaboratively build a strategy, quarterly plan, and budget with my team based on the work that needs to be done across marketing to help the company achieve its vision and our customers achieve their goals. With customer success as our north star and a constant finger on the pulse of our customer’s experience to course correct as needed, I believe we stay well positioned to achieve success, even in today’s reality of a rapidly evolving tech landscape.

Brand Building Challenges

MTS – What are the key challenges in building and maintaining a strong brand in the tech sector, and how have you overcome these challenges in your career?

Greg – Most B2C marketers have figured this out, and it still surprises me how many B2B marketers jump straight into the functional benefits of their solution before understanding and tapping into their customers’ emotional motivations. Doing so enables you to build deeper, longer-lasting connections between customers and your brand.

My time at DocuSign is a great example of this. We could have captured some portion of the market by focusing on the rational benefits of DocuSigning — e.g., helping our customers close deals faster to accelerate revenue, improve operational efficiency to reduce costs and deliver a better experience to delight their customers. This was the foundation for a great value proposition and ROI.

However, in talking with customers, users, and customer-facing team members, there was a much bigger opportunity to create an emotional connection at the top of the funnel and then leverage those rational benefits to reinforce that connection throughout the balance of the funnel to drive deals to closed/won.

In fact, in those conversations with customers, we uncovered a halo effect where users attributed the success of what they were able to accomplish to DocuSign rather than just the ability to get a signature.

When asked about it, customers would rave, saying, “DocuSign? I love DocuSign!” When we inquired deeper, a salesperson would tell us that they “exceeded quota,” a recruiter would say they “closed a top candidate,” and a couple would brag they “got their first home” — all “because of DocuSign.”

In reality, that salesperson exceeded quota because they’re great at selling. The recruiter closed the candidate because they’re skilled in selling the company, its culture, and its opportunity. That couple got their first home because of a great credit score, a great real estate agent, and a great loan officer.

But in all cases, users gave credit for the entire experience — and, more importantly, what they could accomplish — to DocuSign because it was such a better, faster, easier, and more delightful way than anything before it.

In our positioning, messaging, and marketing campaigns, we aligned with our customers on a common enemy — paper — and all of the frustrations and negative outcomes associated with it, offering them the promise of a desired future state that elicited feelings of ease, peace of mind, success, and even joy by associating DocuSigning with the freedom to do business whenever, wherever, and however they wanted. Close business on a plane? From a beach? During halftime at a game? No problem. Pull out your phone, DocuSign & Go!

Undoubtedly, many factors contributed to DocuSign’s success — exceptional product/market fit, the incredible caliber of leadership, and a culture focused on customers, just to name a few. However, the emotional connection that we were able to create with customers and users was a force multiplier that positioned us for growth and helped make DocuSign the verb for getting business done digitally.

Demand Generation Tactics

MTS – Can you share some effective demand generation strategies that have worked well in your experience, particularly for B2B marketing?

Greg – In my experience, B2B sales are consultative, with most customers looking for expertise and guidance to help them make the best and most informed purchase decisions to solve their needs. I’ve found this to be the case whether the average sales price (ASP) is $25K or $1M+.

As a result, demonstrating domain expertise through our demand gen efforts is critical to earning the opportunity for our salespeople to chat further with prospects. Using multi-touch, integrated campaigns that are informed and personalized by everything we know about the prospect (e.g., their actions with us to date, intent data, retargeting data, etc.), we can deliver the right content in the right format at the right time to advance the conversation (and sale) forward.

That may take the form of how-tos, use cases, demo videos, customer testimonials, guides, white papers, analyst reports, or other valuable insights that help prospects think about their roles differently and do their jobs better, faster, more efficiently, and cost-effectively. Ultimately, we want to demonstrate that we are best positioned to offer a solution that solves their needs and possess the know-how and expertise to help them at every step of the way.

Product Marketing Insights

MTS – How do you ensure that product marketing effectively communicates the unique value proposition of complex tech products to diverse audiences?

Greg – Effective product marketing starts with a keen understanding of customers, buyers, and users. We have to walk a mile in their shoes to appreciate their needs, the pain and challenges of their current situation, the promise of their ideal future state, the value drivers for our space, and their required capabilities for a compelling solution.

We get that from ongoing, direct interactions with customers and prospects like joining sales calls, hosting customer advisory boards, connecting on webinars and at events, conducting surveys, and observing their behavior on our website and with our product. We also get it from soliciting continuous input and feedback from those in the business closest to our customers — namely sales and customer success — as well as those outside our business who can provide a view into the customer experience, like Forrester, Gartner, G2, and others.

With this foundation of knowledge, we can then build out an ideal customer profile (ICP) that identifies the business segments, industries/verticals, geographic locations, company sizes, job titles, and other defining characteristics that represent the best customers for our offering.

Combined with a clear understanding of their needs, challenges, and pain points, these insights enable us as product marketers to create positioning and messaging that inspires diverse prospects to buy in our space, buy our solution, and buy it now, and then to use, renew, expand, and advocate for our solution and brand.

Of course, this doesn’t happen in a PMM vacuum. Successful product marketing requires strong internal collaboration across the business, particularly with the balance of marketing, as well as product, sales, and customer success, as our key partners and stakeholders.

Customer Marketing/ABM Strategies

MTS – What are the best practices for implementing successful customer marketing or account-based marketing (ABM) campaigns?

Greg – Customer marketing and ABM strategies are only as good as our sales and customer success partnerships. That starts with having an aligned vision and goals for our ABM program, agreement on the target customers (both net new logos and existing customers), clear roles, responsibilities, and ownership of each target across go-to-market teams, and the culture to (respectfully) hold each other accountable to deliver results.

The best customer marketing is highly personalized, taking what marketing, sales, and CS collectively know about the customer — their unique environment, needs, challenges, pain points, desired future state, value drivers, and required capabilities — to demonstrate clear value around how our offering uniquely solves their needs better than anyone else.

From there, leveraging multi-touch, integrated campaigns focused on customer value that incorporate the right mix of the three Cs: channels (e.g., web, digital, emails, content, webinars, office hours, events, social, reviews, direct mail, billboards, and out of home advertising, etc.), content (e.g., thought leadership, blogs, white papers, research, use cases, testimonials, ROI studies, analyst reports, etc.), and cadence (e.g., the frequency and sequence of our nurture efforts) to reach and engage prospects throughout the funnel to closed/won.

Event Marketing in a Digital Age

MTS – With the shift towards virtual and hybrid events, how do you see the role of event marketing changing, and what strategies can be used to maximize engagement?

Greg – I don’t believe the fundamental role of event marketing has changed post-COVID. Event marketing remains about engaging targeted attendees in a branded experience to achieve business objectives. However, how event marketers do so has become increasingly complex and challenging. We face greater pressure on budgets coupled with higher expectations of our impact in delivering against measurable outcomes, all set in the realities and constraints of a post-COVID world.

First, getting the target audience to commit to attending an event is more challenging now. Business people continue to experience conference call fatigue and, as a result, dread the prospect of joining a virtual event. And while the concerns associated with the health and safety of travel at the height of COVID have mostly subsided, many organizations still aren’t budgeting corporate travel at pre-pandemic levels.

Ensuring a clear and compelling value proposition for events — virtual, in-person, or hybrid — is more critical than ever to help attendees justify the time and cost of participating. It’s about answering that age-old question of “What’s in it for me?” for our attendees.

Once over that hurdle, we face the challenge of building events that capture and sustain attendee attention in an era of multi-sensory overload in both reality and virtual reality across screens, large and small. With our business goals in mind, we must build our events, agendas, and experiences around our attendees, their needs, expectations, and goals.

Creativity in how events are marketed and executed is paramount. Emphasizing the unique benefits only available by attending — like being first to hear and experience a new product, advancing in your career through hands-on training and labs only available at the event, being able to interact directly with the company’s leadership and product experts, networking with other customers and power users, hearing a celebrity speaker in-person, and/or exclusive live entertainment — all can be used to create FOMO to compel individuals to register and attend.

On top of all of this, we must prioritize and integrate corporate social responsibility into our events. That includes minimizing the environmental impact of the event footprint, ensuring representation across the speaker lineup, and incorporating charitable giving into our events — both because these are the right things to do and to seize opportunities to align with causes that are near and dear to the hearts of our attendees.

If our organizations, event sponsors, and attendees are going to commit time and money to our event, the event must truly deliver value for all parties involved.

Partner Marketing Collaboration

MTS – What are some key considerations for creating successful partnerships and collaborative marketing efforts?

Greg – Successful partner marketing requires three things:

  • Mutually aligned interests with partners reinforced by SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) focused on joint customer success
  • Putting partners at the top of our priority list as #1B — right behind customers as priority #1A — so that we are modeling and encouraging the behavior we want them to display with our joint customers
  • Enabling partners with the tools and resources to successfully sell, support, and grow our joint accounts

Building and Leading Marketing Teams

MTS – As a leader, how do you build, motivate, and retain high-performing marketing teams in the dynamic tech industry?

Greg – Building a high-performing team starts with a compelling vision and strategy as the foundation to inspire each individual to bring their best self to the team and passion to their work every day. That vision and strategy inform the work that needs to be done, along with the talent, expertise, and experience required to do it.

As leaders, we need to have a keen sense of self, our strengths and weaknesses, and the humility to always surround ourselves with top talent, even when — and especially when — they are better than us. This helps ensure we have the best team to seize the opportunities and tackle the challenges that lie ahead.

From there, we must help every team member see what success looks like and how they contribute. Collaboratively creating and regularly reviewing progress against individual SMART goals puts focus on what matters most while ensuring our team members understand how they personally help achieve company objectives and the marketing plan.

I’ve often heard other leaders say, “You must provide the coaching, development, tools, and resources to position your team for success and then get out of the way.” The first part is spot on, but I’ve learned through my career that the latter part is a bit misguided. In addition to rolling up our sleeves and being entrenched in the work with our team as a player-coach, we must be a proactive, guiding force in their career journey.

Doing so helps to understand each team member’s motivations and what’s important to them. I like to do a group exercise where each person draws and then presents their professional goals, personal goals, what they are known for doing best at work, and their biggest frustration in the workplace. As a leader, this provides me with incredible insight into their motivations at and away from work, how they see themselves and their level of self-awareness, and what drives them absolutely crazy at work (this last part is particularly helpful for the entire team to be aware of and sensitive to going forward).

This, along with their answers to four career-focused questions, enables my leadership team and me to build development plans collaboratively with each of our team members. With regular discussion and follow-through on each plan, we demonstrate that we genuinely care about each individual’s success, well-being, and achievement of their personal and professional goals — and can then enjoy the by-products of the resulting employee commitment and retention.

Those four questions?
What do you want to be when you grow up? (Not what position do you want to be promoted to next, but what do you truly enjoy at work, what are you passionate about, and what is your ideal career/future role? For example, do you prefer being an individual contributor or leading others?)

When you look at people who are successful in that career/role, what education, skills, and experience do they have that makes them successful?

What of those (education, skills, and experiences) do you possess that would position you well for success in that career/role in the future?

What of those (education, skills, and experience) do you still need to acquire, build, and/or refine to be a top candidate for that career/role in the future?

As you might imagine, the answer to the last question forms the focus of the individual plan, complete with SMART goals for both the employee who must own their own career development, and us as managers whose role it is to support the employee’s development through coaching, removing roadblocks, and providing the resources that help pave the way for their success (time, budget, job shadowing, rotational assignments, etc.).

Measuring Marketing Success

MTS – What metrics and KPIs do you prioritize to measure the success of your marketing strategies and campaigns?

Greg – I always start with the metrics we must deliver to ensure our customer’s success and our business’s overall health. Depending on the organization, these include ARR (annual recurring revenue), NRR (net revenue retention), and the Rule of 40 (SaaS revenue growth rate plus profit margin equal to or exceeding 40%) as measures of growth. I look at NPS (net promoter score) and a relevant measure of user success like DAU/MAU (daily/monthly active users) to gauge the customer experience and the value our customers are achieving with us. For operational efficiency, I like CAC (customer acquisition cost), CAC recovery time, CLV (customer lifetime value), and burn rate.

Within marketing, I tend to focus on brand awareness and consideration at the top of the funnel, then pipeline, leads, conversion rates, win rates, average deal size/average sales price, CAC, and CLV as we partner with sales to move prospects through the funnel.

Future Marketing Trends

MTS – Based on your vast experience, what emerging trends do you believe will shape the future of marketing in the next few years?

Greg – Generative AI currently tops the list across much of the business, including within marketing. For quite a while, many of us B2B marketers have been marketing how our products, platforms, and solutions leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning to benefit our customers. But it is only recently that generative AI has begun to appear — and drive meaningful impact — in our own work, processes, and tools.

There is and will continue to be tremendous value in leveraging generative AI to drive operational efficiencies, automate step-and-repeat processes, and deliver better outcomes across marketing to delight our customers and achieve our goals. I see it as freeing up the talent of the team and our resources to be able to focus on higher priority, strategic marketing initiatives that will propel the business forward.

Advice for Aspiring Marketers

MTS – Lastly, what advice would you give to aspiring marketers who wish to succeed in the tech industry?

Greg – I’ve been very fortunate to be surrounded by exceptional leaders throughout my career. The most successful ones in their respective fields have always reinforced the importance of finding work you love so that it doesn’t feel like work at all. When you follow your passion, do work you love, and focus on doing that work well, everything else comes along for the ride and sorts itself — recognition, promotions, titles, compensation, etc.