September 3, 2018

B2B Marketing: Building a DemandGen Engine

by Renegade

No chief marketing officer understands how to scale a marketing program quite like Denise Broady. After getting her start consulting at small shops, then becoming the global chief operating officer at SAP’s industry cloud organization, she’s returned to another small company called WorkForce, which specializes in making timesheets, as she puts it, “sexy again.”

Its headquarters in Livonia, Michigan, belies the company’s global scope, which includes offices in Australia and the U.K. But when Broady arrived nearly two years ago, WorkForce was in dire need of two things: a strong marketing plan and a cohesive brand identity.

Those are two big action items, and a risky undertaking for a new CMO. Fortunately, it’s also fair to say that few CMOs are better equipped to deal with risk than Broady, whose mother fled Vietnam to Malaysia by boat with Broady and her brother when Broady was 6 1/2. Her mother’s bravery made a lasting impression. “In my career, she always would say to me, ‘If you try it and it doesn’t work, it doesn’t change anything’ and that’s really always been in the back of my head,” Broady says.

With this ethos, Broady set out to revamp WorkForce by first establishing its core values — tenets that every employee could embrace. Internal buy-in was a top priority for Broady, who believes that real marketing change is more than just a top-down transformation. “It’s not about the words on the pamphlet; it’s about getting people to embrace it,” she says. “I really do truly believe employees — if they love their brand, if they are passionate about where they work — their enthusiasm will amplify on the market and what we do.”

What she and her team centered on was a message of customer-centricity. And with customers at the center the brand, Broady moved on to the next critical step: bringing this idea to life through a transformation of their lead-generation processes. “It’s really critical to bring the core processes,” she says. “Many times, people think marketers all work on brands and logo and do this creative stuff, but without the process and without the KPIs, you can’t measure, and you cannot show effectiveness.”

Demanding change

One of the major projects was a relaunch of the WorkForce website. Within a month of the launch, 70 prospects, a record high, were requesting demos of the software. A testament to the strength of her team’s rebranding, customers were also calling customer support to laud praise on the new logo.

While a pleasant surprise, increasing demand for WorkForce was never the goal, Broady says. Her team now only aims to keep demand stable. Prospects are measured against annual recurring revenue (ARR). And whereas the company once aimed to pull 12x its ARR into the top of its marketing funnel, it now aims for only 5x. “What we’re focused on today, from a marketing perspective, is looking at effectiveness around our brand,” Broady says. “We’re really going after quality leads that are coming into the pipeline.”

To generate these quality leads, Broady’s team relies on a mix of events and digital, at 30% and 70%, respectively. LinkedIn has been of particular utility on the digital front, with an account-based marketing platform that allows Broady’s team to collect contact information, generate web traffic and put the right content in front of the right prospects.

Leading with smarter content

Attracting high-quality prospects requires creating high-quality content. The definition of high-quality has changed during Broady’s tenure, however. “Coming in two years ago, there were over 100 pieces of content,” most of which were over 20 pages. “We just had to completely shift what we were doing,” Broady says. Her team now produces “bite-sized” content in the form of videos, e-books, infographics and a blog series.

This content is constantly being monitored for its effectiveness, from the moment a person begins engaging with it. “We have a monthly marketing report that goes out … to tell you exactly who’s visiting our website …which content they’re downloading. Are they coming from LinkedIn, are they coming from other sites?” Broady says. And when the team needs to pivot its strategy, it does. Broady contends that smaller companies like WorkForce have an edge in this way. “When you’re smaller, you’re much more agile, and then you can come in and change your entire content calendar immediately,” she says.

The sales team has access to all of the assets on Sharepoint, giving them a living library of lead-gen content to reference at a moment’s notice. Converting a prospect, of course, requires more than a few choice engagements. (Broady says that some leads take as long as 500 days to convert.) Her hope is that these high-quality leads will convert to high-quality customers. “It would be great to get to 10 to 20% customer base, where you have raving customers that sell to each other,” she says. But as any marketer knows, building this type of program is a long game — one that requires risk, agility and patience. Says Broady: “We are all about fine tuning this year.”