Book – Storytelling with Data

Storytelling with Data: A Data Visualization Guide for Business Professionals is an excellent resource for anybody in the business world trying to use data for decision making… or, rather, need to influence decisions done by somebody else. No SQL required 😉

The book is also trying to teach how to handle “the slide” – a significant part of the “story” – how the insightful chart need to be presented after escaping the intimate world of Excel or any other similar application. I thought I new the basics (no doughnuts, no pies), but the tips and very practical advice were immediately applicable for my next marketing program analysis presentation.

The example below shows how to transform the “data” into a very clear request for the needed action.

The example below shows very clearly (and effectively) the recommendation and also uses a long but up-to-the-point title to communicate the message.

I was always wondering what to do with multiple lines (tried to make them in different colors, many of which were the variation of grey… and even use the animation)! The de-emphasized series do not need to be different visually from one another – they still contribute to the point 🙂

Below is an excellent example of a survey results with a clear emphasis.

A brilliant chart of a complex comparison between many different categories. If only one category matters (Our business), the rest can effectively blend into the “grey mass” to make a point.

Two charts below include explanations (great for the handout), and can also be animated during the presentation to emphasize a specific part of the period, or an important point.

Excellent resource! Thinking what the “story” is before creating the visuals is the most important lesson 🙂

TOPO Virtual Summit

Excellent event with an insight into current situation from marketing perspective, sales perspective, and the most important perspective of collaboration between sales and marketing.

Interesting: many organizations are shifting focus to existing customers rather than net new, as the probability of getting net new diminished dramatically.

Industries and segments are prioritized drastically in ABM and Demand. Sales objectives in some cases moved to activity “meetings” rather than sales.

The concept of “extreme value” come to front of the conversation, even if it was discussed for years as a desirable approach.

New persona: “the deputy” replaced “the champion.”

Buying committee is also changing – the number of people involved into the purchasing decision is reduced, but it presents its own challenge and the decision is moving up in the organization.

  • Persona information is outdated
  • Important to incorporate useful research into client messaging “buyers want to learn what their peers are doing; mentioning company’s’ name is not important.”


  • Account list is reviewed (weakest accounts are removed)
  • Converting events to digital
  • Raise of eGifts (Direct Mail is de-prioritized; though new approaches are in the experimental phase)
  • Top programs: Webinars, Account based ads, Digital events, Content syndication

Demand Generation

Interesting: re-calibrating to the buyer and flawless execution is two most important objectives.

Demand Generation challenges seems to be common in the organizations, even if many organizations believe these problems are unique to their company.

  • Campaigns are built ad hoc and may not follow a consistent format
  • Organizing all campaigns run throughout the year can be problematic
  • Providing the right level of detail to everyone in the organization is a challenge
  • Not all campaigns have associated campaign briefs connecting all details, assets, and messaging in one place

Interesting: Brand and Demand need to work together, as content needs to fit into the demand objectives, but it can also be a challenge. Demand and Brand leaders need to be friends 🙂

Fantastic examples to steal

Interesting: email marketing frequency is going down as companies are trying to deliver “extreme value” to their customers.

Changing tactics seem to be obvious; the interesting point was the increase in SBM ads and decline of spend on the general demand gen ads.

Excellent conference!

DemandBase ABM Certification

Though I think I read many ABM articles and attended plenty of events, the certification helped to organize this “body of knowledge” into a more elegant shape and gave insight into more nuances of the topic. Plus – a few inspiring screenshots! 🙂

“Let us narrow our list and send a DM piece” – it is not an ABM.
Heinz Marketing

Many companies seem to struggle with defining goals. The certification course, brilliantly, starts with an explanation.

A great example of sales communication which highlights only three tasks for the week:

Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) – checklist

Quite interesting point: a need to emphasize that only a portion of the company’s revenue will come from your account list. It seems to be obvious, but many companies do try to narrow down the targeting, through all available resources into the marrow segment, and find themselves caught by a surprise when the resulting volume is too small.

Another excellent point: Be careful not to “over-complicate” segmentation in your early stages – keep it simple.

An insightful example of an account-based dashboard for sales.

What to budget for ABM? 10% of marketing budget…. (however, this is the most unusual approach). More common is to use the innovation budget, roll into another initiative, find budget in sales org, etc. It is particularly beneficial to share budget with sales, as both organizations become invested in the success of the program.

And the infamous account chart… in practice 🙂

Exponential increase in the content is not required (lovely to see this statement!)

The course finished with the “shiny tech object” caution: “Strategy first, technology second.”

But when the strategy is clear, here is a lovely classification of the tech stack.

Excellent Course!

Book – The Product Marketing Manager

I work very closely with Product Marketing Managers (PMM), and was very lucky to meet wonderful, experienced, and incredibly knowledgeable individuals in the past. Many companies have slightly different job responsibilities and goals for PMMs with remarkably diverse set of performance metrics. This book gives a concise summary of the PMM responsibilities and a few best practices any organization can explore.

What does PMM do? “Defining the positioning and messaging of company’s products as well as planning and executing product releases and launches.

Product positioning constantly changes as products, technologies, and markets evolve. PMM also creates case studies, sales training materials, attends external events, and prepare materials for the internal ones.

An interesting tool PMMs might prepare is Proactive RFP.

There are two version of the “Proactive RFP:” one contains questions about the products, while the other one contains answers. The version with questions only is available on the web site for download, and the list of answers is used internally.

The author advocating using buyer personas and also “Jobs To Be Done” approach, which does not require personas.

A good internal check to understand if the company employees understand the product: randomly pick a person from each business unit and ask following questions. Can they answer the questions? Are these questions consistent?

  • Using no more than five words, what is your product offering?
  • What is the elevator pitch to expand upon the first question?
  • What are some differentiation points that set our product apart from its competition?

Interesting: if a specific positioning or messaging is successful in one industry, everyone might have to adopt it. For example, the product might need to be “certified” and the company would benefit from collecting as many certifications as possible.

Good sales tool: sales wins videos, where the sales rep explains the sales process and what helped to close the sale.

The Product Book: How to Become a Great Product Manager

Remarkably, a free copy of the book is available online –

The book is a fantastic reference material created by the Product School, where students can learn and practice the nuanced task of product management.

The book outlines steps of the product management process, groups involved, and relationships between the groups. The difference between a PM and PMM is also highlighted at the end, though the PMM function can be included into the overall “product management” in smaller organizations.

Interesting: the book describes waterfall and agile methodology with pluses and minuses of each approach. We are aware about the advantages of agile, but the comparison was quite insightful. Agile sprints do not always result in an upgrade ready to be shown to a customer, but over 60% do produce a tangible result.

Book – The Leaders Guide to Radical Management: Reinventing the Workplace for the 21st Century

The book describes some of the common business practices, where employees efforts are directed on internal activities, rather than achieving business objectives of the entire organization.

A better approach, which combines aspects of multiple techniques, encourages to concentrate on the business objectives and empower individuals within the company to make customer-centric decisions.


  • Delighting Clients
  • Self-Organizing Teams
  • Client-Driven Iterations
  • Delivering Value to Clients
  • Radical Transparency
  • Continuous Self-Improvement
  • Interactive Communication
  • Implementation of Radical Change Management

On24: How to Create Amazing Webinar Experiences

Webinars are moving from “one-off” events to programs. “We need to become producers of serialized programming…” Useful, educational programming rather than promotions.

Slides are going away, videos are becoming more prevalent. However, the events do not need to have high production cost; basic equipment is sufficient.

Webinars are successfully used by many “boring” industries, which can easily find engaging content. A good recommendation is to create monthly series and brand them. The goal is not registrations, but an audience engagement. “Webinar experience is primary, white paper is secondary as an additional resource…”

Should we provide additional materials? Webinar attendees could be distracted… “If people are going to be distracted anyway, let them to be distracted by your content!”

  • add a subscription to a newsletter
  • promote the next webinar before you start the current webinar
Example – EllieMae webinars

Interesting: On24 MQLs webinar attendees very conservatively – a webinar engagement score is an activity considered in the overall scoring.

Interesting: On24 finds somewhat less engagement in on-demand webinars, but this difference is not significant. Recommendation to remind on-demand viewers about engagement options during the live event: “By the way, if you are watching on-demand, you can still do x, y, z…”

Registration sources: email typically generates over 90% of registrants. Recommendation for email promotions:

  • Use both HTML/text email promotions
  • Send an invite from the speaker
  • “Creepy email:” a special message to those who clicked, but did not register
  • “The first sentence in the email should be your point…” you have 5 seconds to convince the person to register

Too many questions? Put SDRs on the call to answer!

Interesting: the length of “watched” webinar increased over last several years from 38 minutes to 56 minutes... even if short form content is becoming more and more important, webinar viewers are actually stay longer.

What is the best webinar length? Give webinar in the amount of time you need to communicate amazing content!

  • C-level: no slides, C-level speaker
  • Thought leadership: about 1 hour
Example of an award-winning webinar

BrightTALK Local

BrightTALK Local events are becoming a part of “marketing habitat” across US and the world. I attended 3 of about 50 events (one in San Francisco and two in Mountain View), and looking forward to the next one!

Interesting: a webinar platform company is running in-person events to “bring professionals together” and discuss how we can use webinars to help our companies grow. Brilliant idea! Delicious food! And a pleasure to chat with industry friends 🙂

Observations from the panel and comments from the audience highlighted marketers’ concerns and offered tips for solutions of every day challenges.

  • Webinars are one of very productive channels for generating business; comparable with paid search (most event attendees are marketing to IT and cyber security audience, where BrightTALK created a sizable professional community)
  • “People want to know how others solve their problems” – companies typically start from a company-centric webinars and then proceed to a more customer-centric
  • Qualification: companies typically start webinar program from MQL-ing all attendees and sending them to the SDR queue. After a period of time following this approach, companies realize that it is a “waste of SDRs time,” and start to follow up only with webinar attendees who either raised their hand or qualified to be an MQL based on additional activity. (Presenters at other events were using Conversica to follow up with all non-qualified attendees and found this approach very successful)
  • Webinars are used in GDPR territory to promote content (through BrightTALK offering)
  • Interesting: promotion of on-demand webinars convert better (what could be understandable, as only about 30% of typical registrants join live webinar)
  • Companies like to use pre-recorded webinars, but lose interactivity (may not be the case depending on the platform setup)
  • What to do with boring speakers? An energetic moderator can save the show and make the webinar more engaging.
  • Marketers highlight webinar value: changing title “Product Marketing Manager – Solution X” to “Security Solutions Manager – Solution X”
  • Two approaches to content creation:
    • Starting with a “Big Rock” content: creating a 15-20 page e-Book, which will become a source of content for a webinar, a couple of blog posts, multiple social promotions, etc.
    • Selecting a topic and creating multiple pieces of content (a few blog posts, a webinar, etc.) and then combining the materials into a thoughtful 15-20 pages e-Book
  • Customer case studies can become webinars. This type of webinars are also popular with sales, as reps can send a link to a prospect with a case study of the company in the similar situation.
  • Does a product release warrant a webinar? Panelists indicated that they run product release presentations on different platforms and make them available only for customers, however, a product release webinar could be an interesting options to try. “IT folks want to know how their peers are using the technology…”
  • Attribution and measurement: most measure pipeline, and also engagement. “We can buy inquiries, but not engaged…” Typical webinar measurements are marketing sourced and accelerated. MQL is “soft” metric, “I can make more of MQLs now by changing scoring…” Another interesting metric: “Closeable pipeline in the next quarter.”

At the event BrightTALK celebrated a 10 year anniversary of its platform and also the launch of new iteration of the BrightTALK platform with video content.

BrightTALK is trying to “kill” the term “wbinar” and replace it with something more inspiring, such as “talk;” it will be entertaining to watch this development.

ABM – SiriusDecisions Roadshow

High performance ABM teams are:

  • more likely to personalize
  • more likely to spend more on tech

CMOs want to provide a better customer experience; technology is considered the top constraint. (Very interesting – we, as an industry, might have made some progress with “people and process” over the years to find the technology our top constraint 🙂 ).

The question of opportunity creation started to appear when the Demand Unit Waterfall was introduced, as some of early adopters of the approach even removed lead object from their SFDC. This thought process now evolved into several step leading to marketing responsibility for the opportunity creation.

A larger picture of the slide (below)

Would marketing organizations change to take advantage of the new opportunities? SiriusDecisions observing a closer move of marketing and marketing operations.

Another great image of the Demand Unit Waterfall

Webinars, webinars…

On24 Chief Webinerd emphasized evolution of webinar programs into serialized programming.

Currently, most of webinar attendance is driven by email. In the future, webinars might become a subscription channel. (I must admit I doubt it would be the case… Webinars is one of the channels to deliver a content related to a certain topic, and the person should not have to “subscribe” for each channel independently when he or she would like to see a content on this topic. But I might be wrong 😉 ).

Interesting: average webinar viewing time is going up.

Case Study webinars are useful for sales: “I have a couple of companies like yours…”

Interesting: industry-based webinar “segments” did not work for On24. Could it be because webinar platform need is similar across industries? (Cyber security in my experience also did not rely on industry verticals, beyond “this industry must have $$ to spend on security…,” as the concern was identical across industries.

Video webinars seem to be challenging for some organizations, which do not invest in studio setup and qualified personnel.

Interesting usage of calls to action below

And a promotion of the next webinar in the series

Interesting combination of slides, questions, and video below

A possibility for bottom of the funnel approach (below): a video with the demonstration of the product use, additional materials, and Q&A.

And Customer Marketing example

Buyer’s Journey with PathFactory example

As a former user of PathFactory, I miss the functionality dearly!! The platform also evolved during the last year to give better view to the sales organization based on the contact and account level.

Fireeye, a PathFactory customer, found enthusiastic support in the sales organization for its new tool. Sales were supportive and excited: “This is something I’ve been asking about for years.”

The data is aggregated on the account level (beside a robust individual level) and presented in SFDC for sales convenience. PathFactory aggregates contacts associated with the account, known visitors, and also unknown visitors (screenshot below).

An individual engagement insights give an at a glance view of which pieces of content an individual accessed and how much time had been spent reviewing the asset.

PathFactory can also automatically serve as an internal “resource library,” which allows to easily find content items associated with a specific persona, stage of the sales cycle, etc.

Excellent event!

Top Four Things to Do Differently in 2020 to Accelerate Growth

Dun & Bradstreet hosted a wonderful breakfast event for local marketers, where we learned insights from an industry research and reviewed examples how other companies are solving business challenges at the intersection of strategy, content, technology, and data.

Some of the insights:

  • Despite all the efforts from both sides, Sales and Marketing alignment is not there yet, because the data is not connected.
  • And when you have all data you need… the most important question is how to find an insight related to revenue? This is the “last mile of the data.”
  • As prospects prefer to do their research longer before reaching out to the sales person, this “education period” is filled with content. However, content does not meet customer needs.

Interesting: ROI-based info is valued at the beginning of the sales cycle

As always: prospects want to see insights backed by research

Technology: “You need to talk about the business… not only technology, but the business issues your technology allows to address…”

Interesting perspective: Infographics can help to explain contrasts (before and after).

VidYard has video personalization – check (note to self 😉 )

70% of B2B consumers find that the materials companies offer are more focused on style rather than substance. Can companies transfer their energy and resources invested into style to the area of substance to avoid wasting resources? 🙂

Business buyers don’t buy your product, they buy into your approach to solving their problem

What kind of content do B2B buyers want?

  • 79% want content tailored to their industry, role, or department
  • 74% would like to see content that showcases their country or region
  • 71% prefer content showing that the vendor understands their business or industry conditions

Creative ideas: cartoons can be used to poke fun on industry frustrations. Cartoon-based LinkedIn advertisement performed 3x of an average ad (the audience noted that the performance in this case is not related to inquiries, but a purely awareness metric – clicks).

Example: Thomson Reuters Transformation

Thomson Reuters was organized as a collection of multiple business units pursuing the same customers with different products, which was, understandably, confusing for customers. Product-based organization resulted in multiple instances of CRMs and Marketing Automation, and multiple data repositories. The company reorganized around the customer, starting with merging all business unit-based marketing groups into one entity. Only after this change the consolidation of technology and data became possible.

As this step was implemented based on an executive mandate, the change generated little resistance from the organization. However, how exactly the processes and technology can merge generated more questions. Some business units were more advanced in their use of marketing technology and data, and, in some cases, they had to take a step back to align with the rest of the company.

Excellent event!