August 20, 2020

The Ins and Outs of B2B Demand Generation

In case you haven’t heard, it’s time to rev up your demand generation tactics. With budgets cut and in-person lead nurturing opportunities out of the picture, it’s up to marketers to put the pedal to the metal and show their CEOs and CFOs the return of marketing investment in hard dollars i.e. closed sales from marketing-generated leads.

In this episode, we’re joined by Kevin Fliess, a veteran CMO in SaaS and enterprise software who knows a thing or two about how to build an enduring demand generation engine that runs efficiently and effectively. He’s worked for SAP, Cvent, Cofense, and is currently CMO of Altum. His comprehensive insights cover everything from simple messaging to frictionless free trials to lead scoring models—as well as his take on why the brand purpose work Cofense did with Renegade last year was crucial to their COVID response.

What You’ll Learn in This Episode

  • How to start building your demand gen engine
  • How to score leads for your B2B sales team
  • Why brand purpose is crucial for business

Renegade Thinkers Unite, Episode 202 on YouTube

Resources Mentioned

Time-Stamped Highlights

  • [0:28] Renegade’s 2020 CMO Survey Results
  • [2:00] Lessons From the 2008 Collapse
  • [5:07] You Need to Show Marketing ROI in Hard Dollars
  • [7:34] Start with the Website and a Simple Message
  • [11:20] Why You Need to Provide Frictionless Trials
  • [14:32] How Giving Away Your Product Can Turn into Revenue
  • [16:25] Giving Away Intellectual Property to Generate Demand
  • [20:25] How to Develop a Scoring Model for Leads
  • [24:17] Why You Need to Respond Quickly to Potential Leads
  • [27:46] How Cofense Found its Purpose (With Renegade)
  • [33:44] Why Brand Purpose is Necessary for Demand Generation
  • [35:23] Demand Generation: What Works, and What Doesn’t

Transcript Highlights: Drew Neisser in conversation with Kevin Fliess

[0:28] Renegade’s 2020 CMO Survey Results

“In sum, it’s ugly out there, and demand generation has become priorities one, two, and three for just about every CMO.” @drewneisser #RenegadeThinkersUnite #podcast: Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser: Hello, Renegade Thinkers! B2B marketing has never been easy. But man, it got a heck of a lot harder in 2020. In a survey we recently fielded among 110 B2B CMOs, 97% acknowledged that they had revised their marketing plans in 2020. 2020 was already going and they were revising their plans as of March, April, May. 48% had to start completely from scratch. 81% were scrambling to find replacements for physical events. 58% had already faced budget cuts.

In sum, it’s ugly out there, and demand generation has become priorities one, two, and three for just about every CMO. In this episode, we’re going to be breaking down exactly how to build a demand generating marketing engine that will help you survive if not thrive whatever challenges are thrown at you.

Joining us today is Kevin Fliess, a veteran of the tech world whose experience includes big brands like SAP and HP, as well as starting up an online travel company back in 2007. I first met Kevin in 2015 when he was VP of Marketing at Cvent, and more recently had the pleasure of working with him in his role as Senior Vice President of Marketing at Cofense. Kevin, welcome to the show.

Kevin Fliess: Hey, Drew. It’s great to be here. Thanks a lot.

[2:00] Lessons From the 2008 Collapse

“If you love transformation, it's never been a better time to be a marketer.” @kevinfliess #RenegadeThinkersUnite #podcast: Click To Tweet

 Drew Neisser: I was looking at your LinkedIn profile yesterday and was struck by the date when you started TravelMuse. 2007. Right before the recession. Did you take some hard-earned lessons away from that experience?

Kevin Fliess: Oh, you bet. I had just left SAP, which was a fantastic place to cut your teeth in product marketing and go-to-market and what it means to really do things at scale. Fantastic experience.

Then I had the good fortune of being recruited as an entrepreneur-in-residence at a venture fund. Let me tell you—it was my first foray into B2C. It was my first foray working with venture capitalists. It was my first foray into online travel. I guess you could say there was no playbook for that one either.

I remember walking off the stage at the Demo Conference, which was one of the top two startup conferences in the country along with the TechCrunch conference. I walked off and I think I checked my Blackberry—I don’t think I had an iPhone yet—and I saw that Lehman Brothers had just collapsed.

If you talk about a brutal time to be starting a hospitality business online, that would be it. But I did learn a ton about the importance of being digital-first. I think B2C businesses have always been several years ahead of B2B in terms of the adoption of digital trends. That was a fantastic place to build some muscle memory around understanding user acquisition, customer acquisition, but also what it means to be prepared to pivot when faced with uncertainty.

Drew Neisser: Do you think there are some parallels to where we are now? You got into 2008/2009 and shit hit the fan. It was a pretty painful period for most of us. I know it was the hardest period for Renegade. But in terms of how you think about the COVID period and the changes that a lot of marketers have had to face, do you see similarities?

Kevin Fliess: Yeah, I feel like 08/09 was definitely a shock to the markets brought on, obviously, by the banking crisis and the collapse of the housing market. But in comparison to what we’re going through right now, it was relatively transient and kind of a fleeting thing. I think what we’re going through right now is far more systemic.

Marketing leaders really need to take the opportunity to think about not just today. What day is it? Is this March 243rd? I lost track. It’s not just what’s happening today, this week, or next quarter. This is something that’s going to be with us for quite some time. I just saw today that Google announced that their work-from-home policy has been extended to July 2021. If you love transformation, it’s never been a better time to be a marketer.

[5:07] You Need to Show Marketing ROI in Hard Dollars

“You have a great platform to say, ‘Why wouldn't you want to step on the gas if we're going to generate $3 for every $1 we spend?’” @kevinfliess #RenegadeThinkersUnite #podcast: Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser: That gets us to the subject of today, which is how to build a marketing engine that drives demand. Let’s face it, as I mentioned at the beginning, we need demand. It’s really hard. I’m just going to throw a couple of things out there that make it really hard.

We have this new character called the CF-NO. This is the no-bird in the organization that every single vendor has to get through now, even on smaller purchases. These businesses are looking at a situation where, if they can’t prove that they can save the company money or make the company money in a very short period of time, it’s really hard to get in the door.

There are lots of businesses that are getting the “Call me in six months” line, the “I’m interested but call me in six months.” Where do we start when we’re trying to build a demand generation engine?

Kevin Fliess: I think you hit the nail on the head in so much as you have to prove the value of what you’re doing. That’s always been true in marketing, but I think now with the CFO scrutinizing every purchase, it’s really incumbent upon CMOs to show that return on marketing investment in hard dollars.

One of the things I’ve learned over my career is that there are a lot of influence marketing metrics out there, but at the end of the day, what gets COOs and CEOs and CFOs excited is demand gen. Not just leads, but to the degree to which those leads turn into business.

You need to be able to actually show what I call marketing originated bookings or marketing originated sales. For every dollar you put into that marketing engine, how many dollars is the business getting back out? That’s really what the CFOs want to see. If you’re able to quantify that and they believe the data—you have to have a meeting of the minds with the CFO so they believe the data—but then I think you have a great platform to say, “Why wouldn’t you want to step on the gas if we’re going to generate $3 for every $1 we spend?” You have to prove the value each and every day, and really understanding your metrics is central to that.

Drew Neisser: That’s where we’re trying to get to. Marketing originated sales, I think, is a nice summation. It’s hard to do for some businesses. That’s the goal.

[7:34] Start with the Website and a Simple Message

“It's about essentialism. It's about understanding what's essential to your business and, more importantly, what's essential to your customers.” @kevinfliess #RenegadeThinkersUnite #podcast: Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser: Let’s talk about, piece by piece, how do we get there? I know you mentioned earlier we’ve got to be digital-first. Do we start with our website? Where are we starting? If you’ve arrived at a company, are a new CMO, and they don’t have a demand generation, where do we start?

Kevin Fliess: I think you do start with the website. Now more than ever with so much business moving online, arguably all of it, you have to recognize that your website is your storefront. Your homepage is the front door to your business. We’ve all seen the Gartner stats or the Forrester stats that 65-75% of the buyer’s journey happens before they talk to anyone in sales. Well, they’re going to your website and they’re going to your competitor’s website. That’s where it begins.

I think part and parcel to having a successful website right now is really having a clear and compelling message right upfront. It sounds so simple to do, but you need a hook. You need something provocative and aspirational and dare I say empathetic right now that really shows you understand your customers and your prospects plight.

The goal used to be to get your customer promoted. Now, the goal is to help your customer’s business survive this pandemic and maybe help them grow along the way. You need a very succinct and provocative message. And then you need a simple, simple, simple user experience.

I spent a lot of time as a product manager. You mentioned TravelMuse. I also launched a comparison website for hotel shopping called Room 77. Again, all of that work in B2C really opened my eyes to the importance of simplicity. Your website needs to be light; it needs to be airy. Less is more. Focus on snackable content and get them to that call to action as quickly as possible. You want to hook them with a message and give them a reason to explore a little bit more deeply.

Drew Neisser: Simple is hard. You and I, we’ve had lots of conversations about this because things happen. You have a product, then you add another product, and then you add another product, and you may or may not be in a platform yet. You have two things that you want to keep simple. One, the message, and then two we’ll call the website experience. We could start with the challenge of keeping the message simple. That’s even an exercise in and of itself.

Kevin Fliess: For sure. I’ve been through this process and we partnered on this at Cofense in terms of helping us really elevate our brand purpose. It’s about essentialism. It’s about understanding what’s essential to your business and, more importantly, what’s essential to your customers.

At most, SaaS businesses are multi-product businesses. But let’s be honest, not all products are created equal at any given point in time. What are those demand drivers? What are those strategic products or services that your business offers that are going to be the growth drivers of your business? You need to put your attention there. It’s a little bit of this over that. It’s making those trade-offs. Just like a product manager would prioritize features in a backlog, marketers need to prioritize messages that they want to communicate to the market.

[11:20] Why You Need to Provide Frictionless Trials

“My world is B2B SaaS, so I definitely think to the extent you can offer up your products in a frictionless model (think e-commerce), the happier your sales team is going to be.” @kevinfliess #RenegadeThinkersUnite #podcast: Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser: A lot of companies who are at least hanging in there if not growing are doing so because their existing customers are actually selling in more products or services. If you think about what product has the least resistance that you can get in the door with, that one gets you in. Then you can sell on top of that. I think that’s an interesting way to think about demand generation right now, rather than trying to sell in a whole suite. It’s like, what can I get in that will make a difference?

Kevin Fliess: I think maybe a third tenant building on the website discussion is simplified message, simplified user experience, and frictionless trial. Wherever possible, whatever you can do to remove impediments from that trial process is incredibly important. Right now, obviously, free is an incredibly powerful tool. I still see a lot of B2B SaaS websites that say, “Get a demo” and I have to fill out a form to get a demo. I understand that because some products require a solution engineer to do a custom demo, but to the extent that you can be more transparent, make your product visible. Let them experience it, whether it’s a digital product or a brick and mortar product.

If it’s a digital product, you look at the growth of Atlassian and Slack and some of these high growth SaaS B2B businesses. It’s been little embers, little fires that start within the organization, and then all of a sudden you have a conflagration of multiple little fires and an enterprise license. My world is B2B SaaS, so I definitely think to the extent you can offer up your products in a frictionless model (think e-commerce), the happier your sales team is going to be because you know what? Those are real qualified opportunities.

[14:32] How Giving Away Your Product Can Turn into Revenue

“They need to have a sense of your customer experience and what it’s going to be like to be a paying customer.” @kevinfliess #RenegadeThinkersUnite #podcast: Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser: There are different things you can give away. It doesn’t have to be your product, but if you give the product away, how do you make sure that that actually turns into revenue?

Kevin Fliess: You need a really strong sales and marketing handshake when you run a trial like this. When you get customers signing up for a free trial, the onus really does move to sales and solution engineering to check in on those customers and make sure they have everything. It’s almost like onboarding a paid customer. They need to have a sense of your customer experience and what it’s going to be like to be a paying customer. You really do want to make sure that you give them that white-glove treatment and ensure that the trial is successful for them, that they’re getting value out of that solution or service.

You need to have a dedicated solution engineer or sales rep assigned to every one of those customers who sign up for your free trial and make sure that you’re checking up on them almost every week as they go through that process.

Drew Neisser: You have a limit on the date, and at some point, you’re in there. They’re using it, they’re liking it, and again, as you talked about with the Atlassian example, once you get a bunch of users in there for free, they end up expanding.

It’s interesting. On the show, I had the CMO of a training company. They had #FreeApril and they gave away all their courses for the month of April. It turned out that it actually increased revenue substantially because a lot of end-users ended up being corporate users and companies. They realized, “Oh, we have more users out there than we thought. Let’s up the license.” Good things happen once you get to trial. It seems so obvious.

[16:25] Giving Away Intellectual Property to Generate Demand

“We were paying it forward to the industry by sharing all this information, but the benefit to us was it was a huge lead generation tool.” @kevinfliess #RenegadeThinkersUnite #podcast: Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser: There’s the second part of free, which is IP, right? It’s a little bit different than snackable content because snackable content is a 500-word blog post. When you’re giving away something significant like a research study or something, I think it’s a different thing, and you did a lot of that it at Cofense.

Kevin Fliess: Absolutely. The foundational part of the website is the core message, the simplified experience, and an easy way for me to interact with your solution. Going beyond the foundation is building out that content marketing platform. Every business, regardless of the vertical you’re in, has unique insights and knowledge that is valuable to its customers and prospects.

As a security business, Cofense had this tremendous threat intelligence team that was constantly identifying new and emerging phishing threats, which of course are timely and interesting and relevant to a broad audience. Not surprisingly, we saw a huge increase in COVID-19 themed phishing emails, so we launched a COVID-19 infocenter helping organizations identify what they can do to help protect themselves from COVID-19 phishing threats.

We published a gallery of real phishing threats, hundreds and hundreds of these. We made it searchable. We made it very easy for people to find this information. Then to promote it, we would run thought leadership webinars on these specific topics. We saw a tremendous response in terms of interest because the topic was timely and relevant and important to a broad audience.

Six months earlier, we saw a sextortion threat emerge. This is a kind of a salacious topic, but sextortion is phishing emails that try to get you to turn over $100 with bitcoin, otherwise, they’re going to share allegedly improper pictures or so forth. It’s all B.S. These are scammers, so if you ever get one of these, just ignore it. Don’t pay the ransom. Just delete it.

It’s a topic that was incredibly frightening and scary to people and it drove a lot of interest. We had a data set of 300 million emails that we put behind a secure search engine and we allowed individuals to determine if their particular email address or their company’s domain had been impacted. We saw lots and lots of organizations lining up to say, “Hey, we think we’ve been impacted, what can you do to assist us?”

To your point, we put together—and it wasn’t even a research document—simple infographics. They can do a lot for an organization, particularly for a topic like this where there’s a lot of awareness training that needs to happen. We would create infographic posters to help organizations determine what they can do to remain cyber smart in the face of COVID-19 or in the face of sextortion threats. We were paying it forward to the industry by sharing all this information, but the benefit to us was it was a huge lead generation tool.

Drew Neisser: We have a clear and simple message overall for the company. We have a website that has that clear and simple message. Then we have a free offer, which is some kind of trial version of the product. And then there’s some really strong, compelling content. What’s interesting about this strong compelling content is that you can create it once, use it multiple times. Once you had the data set, you created a webinar, you created infographics, you had blog posts, you got PR that drove traffic.

[20:25] How to Develop a Scoring Model for Leads

“If you think about those three dimensions—company size, title, and vertical—and you develop a scoring model.” @kevinfliess #RenegadeThinkersUnite #podcast: Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser: We’ve done a lot of things that helped bring people in and get them engaged. What are some of the other things that you found have been effective? Nurture streams or other areas of demand generation? Very few times, someone will come to your website and click “Buy.” It doesn’t happen very often and if it did happen, it’s not happening as often right now.

Kevin Fliess: I always think about it as two types of leads. There are those high-value leads. “I want pricing. I want a demo. I want your free trial.” Those are the ones you respond to instantaneously if you can because they’re actively shopping and showing intent. They might represent 10% of the leads in your organization. The other 90% are those that are doing their research and taking their time doing a lot of self-education. The onus is on the business to make sure that you track each and every interaction, from live events and scanning leads at booths—I remember those good old days—to tracking the download of that infographic from your website to them interacting with one of your nurture emails.

Organizations have a tendency to compete with themselves with too many calls to action. What has worked well for me is making sure that all of your campaigns are ideally unified toward a single call to action. If it’s driving a free trial of a particular product right now, that call to action needs to be persistent and ubiquitous across all of your different landing pages and all of your different assets so that you’re constantly promoting that offer to that customer or that prospect.

You need marketing attribution for those that are shopping, and then you need a scoring model. What I’ve seen work effectively is, you want to basically look at organizations in terms of their company size, what’s relevant to you. If you target SMBs, you want to score SMB prospects higher than enterprise. My business experience has been typically on the enterprise side, so we would score somebody who has 10,000 employees higher. Then title plays a role. Are they a decision-maker or are they an end-user? And then whatever verticals you are targeting.

If you think about those three dimensions—company size, title, and vertical—and you develop a scoring model, then you assign a value to each of those interactions that are happening in that shopping process. What you can do is deliver to your sales team, your BDR, a set of scored leads. I call them dynamic leads as opposed to high-value leads. They’re dynamic because they’ve taken a whole bunch of different actions and then one morning, voila. That prospect just scored 285 because they just completed their third or fourth action. You need to think about them as two different audiences and how you handle them. That SLA with sales is going to be very different between a high value and a dynamic lead.

Drew Neisser: SLA, as in…

Kevin Fliess: Service level agreement. Basically, it’s the handshake with sales that says, “Hey, look, if you get a dynamic lead, they agree to follow up within two hours, an hour, 24 hours, whatever works for your business.”

For those dynamic leads where they’ve been shopping with you for a period of time and they’ve taken a series of actions and they stopped by your trade booth and they scored up, we’re going to follow up with those in order of the score or the letter grade. We’re always working the highest value leads first.

[24:17] Why You Need to Respond Quickly to Potential Leads

“If you respond within 10 minutes with an email and a phone call, the likelihood of converting that lead goes up by 7x versus waiting a day.” @kevinfliess #RenegadeThinkersUnite #podcast: Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser: All the studies say that if somebody is interested in you, and you contact them within an hour, you have a much higher likelihood than if you did it 24 hours. A week later it’s dead.

Kevin Fliess: That’s so true. I think the data is something like, if you respond within 10 minutes with an email and a phone call, the likelihood of converting that lead goes up by 7x versus waiting a day. You don’t know, they might be filling out that same form onto your competitor’s websites, so oftentimes it’s a little bit of a horse race.

The best experiences I’ve seen have always included an email and a phone call follow up from a real human being within a very short period of time. And they’ve taken the time to do a little bit of research about me and my business so that when they put that initial call out, there’s an element of personalization.

Drew Neisser: One of the things that you mentioned early on that I just want to make sure that is crystal clear is, there are people who are showing buyer intent signals and they are doing it by visiting your pricing page. That is a clear one.

I’m curious. A lot of companies right now are using services like Drift that have real-time follow up. You can engage with a person at that moment. Is that really something in your mind that will dramatically improve demand generation?

Kevin Fliess: I think so. A lot of businesses are figuring out, how do I sell more to my existing install base? Tools like Drift allow you to actually forward that chat message to the actual account manager for that account. If it’s an existing customer who’s on a new product page, I want that to go to my account manager, not to an anonymous BDR.

I think in that cross-sell model, having a conversational marketing tool like that on your website and then having it instrumented. Sure, if it’s a pure prospect who’s unknown to the business, that can go to your inside sales or BDR team, but if this is a customer that we’ve cookied and we know is an important customer, route it to the rep. Keep that personal connection active and alive.

[27:46] How Cofense Found its Purpose (With Renegade)

“The process was: interviews, observation, and instinct.” @kevinfliess #RenegadeThinkersUnite #podcast: Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser: We’ve spent the first two segments really focusing in on how to build a demand generation engine. But very early on, you mentioned the importance of having clarity of purpose. Since we worked together on this, I want to circle back and talk about the process. One, I’m just so grateful that we did that before COVID. Can you imagine trying to do a rebranding exercise now?

Kevin Fliess: No, not at all. I’m so grateful too because I feel like having that lasting purpose, that central message, is really helpful for an organization right now to weather the storm. You need that organizational north star and if you have a strong purpose, that is helpful for you. Regardless of which way the wind is shifting right now, blowing directly in our faces, it gives you something to focus on.

Drew Neisser: Let’s talk a little bit about it. Of course, I’m quite familiar with the process that we went through together but talk about it from your standpoint. Share the Cliff Notes version of the process that we went through together to help articulate Confense’s purpose.

Kevin Fliess: The backstory there is that Cofense had rebranded, or changed its name, about two years prior from PhishMe to Cofense. PhishMe, the name, immediately describes what the business does. It’s in phishing.

Cofense is a little more nebulous and really needed a little bit more explanation. The rebranding that we worked on actually came two years after the name change. It was really about working together to uncover what is core and central to the business, what above all else matters to us as a company and to our customers.

What I liked about the process was that you guys worked at our speed, which was fast. We kept it very simple. I wrote down three things here. The process was: interviews, observation, and instinct. I.O.I. That’s what I wrote down. You guys interviewed our C-Suite and a number of customers, but you also did a lot of observation of us as a business and our space. Then you let instinct takeover, which I think is honed from working with lots and lots of CMOs and lots and lots of companies.

It was very simple and, true to the name or true to your slogan, “Cut through the noise.” You really helped us do that and get to an answer. What I found unusual about the process but ultimately really liked about it was the innate ability your team brought to help us dial in quickly to what that statement was. I remember you saying that a purpose-driven statement shouldn’t be more than six words.

Well, somehow, we landed on four words, so I feel like that was a real success. By the way, it’s “Uniting humanity against phishing,” which I think is something that is clearly memorable. It worked for our employees, the sales team embraced it as something that they could easily communicate to their customers, and I think it ultimately touched our end users as well. It really helped them feel like they’re part of this journey, that there’s a common enemy, which is phishing threats. It really helped galvanize and focus all of our different constituents.

Drew Neisser: I love your I.O.I. We do a lot of interviews and we’re really listening in a couple of different ways. What we kept hearing was this notion that you were bringing people together and technology together. It just kept resonating. And the products were working together. For us, it’s this puzzle that happens as we’re developing these purpose-driven story statements.

There was a deeper story. “Uniting” had a lot of meaning, both in the present and in the future for the brand in terms of where you were headed. But one thing that you also mentioned that is really important in these things is, sometimes, the brand name tells you what category you’re in. But sometimes it doesn’t. When it doesn’t and you’re a new brand, your purpose-driven story statement really does need to ground you in your category.

Otherwise, you still have to say, “Oh, we’re in the phishing business.” There was a lot going on in those four words. One of the things that you said very early on was about the need and a purpose-driven story statement to be bold and differentiate and be purposeful, so we kind of went big with “humanity.”

Uniting humanity against phishing is a big thing. And I truly believe that was something that your founders felt deeply in their hearts. That’s what they were doing. They were purposely trying to bring the world against this common enemy. What I loved about it afterward is that you did execute against employees, customers, and prospects.

[33:44] Why Brand Purpose is Necessary for Demand Generation

“It aligns your campaigns. It makes it clear about who your target segment is. It helps align the sales organization around who we're going after and what we stand for.” @kevinfliess #RenegadeThinkersUnite #podcast: Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser: Can we circle back to purpose? Now that you had that idea, you went through this exercise. How did it help from a demand generation standpoint to close the loop on our story and this episode?

Kevin Fliess: I think that is a great way to literally take it full circle. We talked about the website as the front door to your business and having a compelling message. Well, having that purpose-driven statement that really communicates the essence of what you do quickly and succinctly, and in a way that is provocative, is really important. The brand is the foundation from which the messaging flows. Once you have the messaging, I really believe everything else becomes so much easier.

It aligns your campaigns. It makes it clear about who your target segment is. It helps align the sales organization around who we’re going after and what we stand for. But you have to have that foundational messaging in place. It’s central to everything else that follows, including demand gen.

Drew Neisser: Interesting. When a CMO takes a job, there is an expectation that you’re going to be able to drive demand really quickly and for a lot of CMOs, that’s the first task—looking for a quick win. I can’t argue with that because you have to build credibility and so forth, but ultimately your biggest accomplishment will be grounding the brand and having an impact to get employees, customers, or prospects.

[35:23] Demand Generation: What Works, and What Doesn’t

“What works is a laser focus on your buyer community and their particular pain point right now, and being very, very succinct and clear in terms of the message and the offer you want to provide them.” @kevinfliess: Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser: Going back to creating a demand generation engine…from your past experience, what doesn’t work?

Kevin Fliess: You have to be laser-focused right now on who your audience is and what makes them tick. What doesn’t work is the proverbial spray and pray. You have to go deep in terms of your buyer community, their personas, and their goals. What doesn’t work is mass-market top-of-funnel lead gen, blindly bidding on Google AdWords. Email fatigue is something that organizations need to be very mindful of right now.

You run the risk of driving a lot of opt-outs if you over-email your contacts, but you also run the risk of message confusion. If you’re not really clear about the brand and the offer and your message, and you’re not consistent in that message, you’re going to alienate your audience, either by overwhelming them with too many contacts or by delivering too many disconnected messages.

What works is a laser focus on your buyer community and their particular pain point right now, and being very, very succinct and clear in terms of the message and the offer you want to provide them. Really successful marketers in this age of COVID are starting to incorporate some element of customer empathy in that messaging. If you just come across as hawking your wares as opposed to really understanding your customer’s business, you will be dismissed out of hand. Not only is it just being spammy, but it’s also being somewhat tone-deaf to what’s happening out in the market right now.

Drew Neisser: I think that’s such a good point and it was such a good summary. I was ready to summarize and then you did it for me. Kevin, thank you so much for spending time with us on the show. It’s been great. I feel like if you listen to this episode and if simple didn’t come through, you just weren’t paying attention. Keep your message simple, stay focused on your target, on your message, on your product. You can’t market all products the same way at the same volume. Kevin, thanks for being on the show.

Kevin Fliess: Thank you, Drew. I really enjoyed it.

Drew Neisser: For all the listeners, if you enjoyed this episode, you can thank me by writing a five-star review on your favorite podcast channel or by sharing the show with a fellow marketer.

Show Credits

Renegade Thinkers Unite is written and directed by Drew Neisser. Audio Production is by Sam Beck, Show Notes are written by Melissa Caffrey. The music is by the amazing Burns Twins and intro voiceover is Adam Cornelius. To find the transcripts of all episodes, suggest future guests, or learn more about quite possibly the best B2B marketing agency in New York City, visit And until next time, keep those renegade thinking caps on and strong.