Hey, good morning, Brian. How you doing today?
Fantastic. Excited to be here.
Yeah. I'm glad to have you on the SaaS Breakthrough podcast. Part two of our episode with Banzai, really learning more about the marketing strategies and tactics and demand generation items that you guys are doing over there. But before we just dive right into all the things that are going on, give us a little background. When did you actually join the team?
So I joined the team little over a year ago, actually just had my one year, maybe a week or two ago.
Congrats. That's huge.
Yeah. Which was also kind of interesting timing because it was right at the, like a couple of weeks right before COVID hit. So I actually only had maybe two or three weeks in the office before the entire company went remote.
Wow. That was probably a huge change. I know last week we got to talk with Corrine more about like the huge marketplace changes and pivots that Banzai had to make. And I guess you saw a little bit of the pre-COVID life of Banzai, a lot of the pivot times and the hard work that went into that and looking forward based on this kind of experience, what's kind of your view on the event landscape, how are you seeing things shaping up for both offline and online events? Are you seeing things going one direction or another, or, you know, what's kind of your thought process?
Yeah. So it's a really good question. I think I actually to answer that I'd like to back up just a little bit and talk a little bit more about the overall MarTech landscape and kind of where it's currently at. If you look at where marketing automation as a category has been for the past 10 to 15 years, it's kind of been this giant monolith platform that does a little bit of everything. You know, it's your ETL platform, it's your email platform, it's your database, it's, connections to the internet for forms. It's it does all sorts of things. There's tons of different jobs to be done that one platform does and marketing, I think what we're seeing now is that this one single platform that tries to do everything is kind of getting unbundled for the lack of a better word.
And all these different platforms now are arising to take away and do one of those specific jobs really well. So you kind of see Tray for integrations or Zapier for integrations. I want to think is interesting about that is we're starting to see that what previously was a meeting platform adapted for webinars that's then integrated with marketing automation is actually a whole entire category unto itself. That's one of the big changes that I'm really excited about in the marketing landscape is that we are now able to start unbundling what previously was kind of an afterthought and a lot of marketing automation platforms and a lot of meaning platforms and create a deliberate purpose built platform for field and event marketers. So that's one of the things I'm really excited about. I think that changes started to happen before COVID. Now I think that COVID has hit, I think we're now starting to see that that change is accelerating. And what's really great about that opportunity as a company is just that that market is absolutely massive, that typically at a B2B company, events can incorporate, encompass, roughly 30% of a marketing team's budget. So it's nice to finally be able to build a platform that solves those specific needs.
So really built through the lens of marketing and sales and understanding the pain points of those specific people, instead of just talking about events as like a blanket statement.
Yeah. I love that. And you know, now that you know, Demio is here, what are you excited about in Banzai? Obviously you're talking about kind of the overall marketplace, the problems that are being solved. Is there anything specific that you're looking forward to in the next three, six months from a marketing point of view?
First of all, I just want to say the people. Like everyone I met at Demio is just amazing. It's a great, great culture, great team, great company. So first of all, just working with the team, I think is awesome so far. You know, just from a product standpoint, it's obvious that there's been a lot of thought and care put into the product, and I'm really excited to be able to bring that to our Banzai customers, but then also just see where the product is able to go over the next six to 12 months from that perspective. And really help us capture this market that I kinda mentioned earlier as well.
Yeah. And I think one of the things that we talked about last week with Corrine was just kind of the difference between the Demio ICP and the historic ICP of Banzai. And, you know, in that conversation comes kind of our organizational structure where we don't have a sales team, right. We are a self-service platform. Me and Wyatt, I've talked about this before, I've done like 5,000 live demos or something crazy doing a of the sales ourselves. But at Banzai you are enterprise. You do have SDRs, you do have SQLs that you're trying to hit, you have the sales team. You know, I think prospecting has been your bread and butter right over the past year for you. What are your views on how the SDR demand gen relationship is changing and how do you align that on KPIs? How are you guys doing, you know, cross company communication? You know, what does this future look like for SDRs as this all evolves?
Yeah. So I think it's good to first understand just where the SDR role currently is. Not only at Banzai but just in general and kind of why we got to this point. So, you know, if you think back like 20 or so years ago, Salesforce really pioneered this process of enterprise sales with the SDR role. They were kind of the grandfather in SaaS in general. But definitely in this case as well. And out of that came this model where you can hire X number of SDRs, have them send a certain number of emails, assume a 2% reply rate or conversion rate to demo, and then have them do a bunch of phone calls, maybe get a 4% conversion rate on that. And you ended up building out what's a, what's a very predictable revenue source. So instead of focusing on inbound where you might have to wait for the leads to come in and you don't have necessarily direct control, while inbound is still absolutely a key part of overall demand gen strategy, there's this nice aspect of SDR prospecting that's a little bit more predictable and that's where the term predictable revenue comes from is that it's really ends up being funnel math and you can control your inputs into it.
So this has worked for many years and has contributed to many different companies success. And I don't think we can are going to completely get rid of it, but I do think we are going to see some changes. And first of all, one of the things I'm really excited about is that I think we're going to start to see the way we can measure SDR teams is going to change. So typically you would only be able as a manager to ever measure the success of your SDR team based off of their activity. And where I think we're going to go, just seen a lot of the different new MarTech companies that are coming about, is this opportunity to start measuring them based off of more community building, engagement and personalization.
And this is one of the things that gets me really excited because I think we've probably all have seen these mass emails. We've probably all received them. We've all received the impersonal email or phone call at different times. And it's kind of annoying. I know personally I've taken demos just because of the rep had put some personalization into it and reference something on, you know, my website or LinkedIn profile that I've written in the past. It's like, okay, this person actually did some research, I'll talk to them. But I think we're going to start to see that change from, you know, X number of emails and phone calls that are all kind of standardized to really focusing on personalization and community building is going to be one of the big changes that we're going to see over the next 10 years for the SDR role. And I recently wrote a blog post on Banzai if you're interested, it's just, it's called Beyond Smile and Dial. That kind of goes into more detail about this. So that's, that's one of the things I'm really excited about. I think that's happening as an industry, but also one of the things that we're really focused on here at Banzai as well, is getting past that and making sure that we're creating custom engagements every time that a prospect interacts with us.
When we take a step back, it's really just about to your point. It's not about smiles and dials. It's like let's build real relationships. Like let's actively find the people that could benefit from our services. Let's build your relationships. It's not about like how many sales in one minute can we get, but like let's nurture those relationships over time and get the right customers. And you did mention the word community. How do you see like SDR demand gen relationships with community?
I think overall as a demand gen professional, you know, there's really two choices that we have. We can either build out a very expensive budget and run paid campaigns, or we can try and earn attention. And earning attention is far more difficult, but it's far more of a moat for the business and a key ingredient for long term success. So when I think about this community building, I think you typically hear a lot of marketers talk about that and marketers will say that, they might create a Slack group. They mighthave a website dedicated to a community. Those are all great. But I think what we're going to see is that this line between what's typically considered SDR role or sales and marketing is just going to become more and more blended. That if you really do optimize for the customer and the buyer journey, that they don't care if they're talking to sales and marketing, they just want to build a relationship with a trusted advisor that helps them solve a specific business problem. And the more that you can enable SDRs to take on that greater responsibility of more than just sending emails and phone calls and actually building relationships and building community and helping people with the day-to-day business problems that they're facing, you're going to create far more sustainable revenue engine. And you are going to build that moat for your business that can't be attacked by a company that's just hiring more SDRs.
That's a really great point. I love the idea of like, you know, this merged role where it's just relationship building. It's just, it's prospecting at its core part, but just all about relationships and that longer term building of a value exchange. Right. That's, that's absolutely fantastic. You know, one of the things we've also been hearing as far as, you know, changes in the landscape is really talking about marketing techniques that have been used exclusively in the B2C space historically, starting to blend and cross into B2B, coming into the B2B world. How are you guys seeing that? How are you utilizing that in marketing at Banzai?
Yeah, so I've recently really been trying to learn as much as I can from growth marketers within the B2C environment. If you look at how they approach marketing, they're often building towards this idea of optimizing for a North star metric. And, you know, an example of that would be for Airbnb, they want to optimize for nights booked. And kind of going back to our previous conversation as a demand gen professional, I'm often either supposed to be geared towards MQLs or SQLs. And I think it's really interesting that in the B2C environment, they're trying to optimize for value delivered to the customer. And there's inherent challenges in the B2B world for doing that. You know, one being the long sales cycle, it could take from ideation to a customer up and running from a campaign, having gone through the sales cycle and onboarded, it could be six to nine months in the enterprise and that that's probably normal.
I think most businesses would consider that good. So it's really tough from a B2B perspective to try and incorporate some of those more holistic optimization strategies that you might see in B2C. But what I'm really hoping to do is to start being able to incorporate some of those at more of a tactical level, or just in a little bit more focused area along the buyer's journey. And I think what's great is we can start to look at just the rigorous kind of scientific approach that a lot of B2C marketers taking growth and incorporate those principles at a very specific level. So like at Banzai right now, we're running an A/B test on H1 messaging for the website. And I think I've been at many companies and probably everyone has that in the past where even when you have these kind of messaging conversations, it's loudest voice in the room.
You know, everyone gets in a room, loudest voice in the room, kind of wins the messaging conversation. I think what's great about this, if you start to incorporate some of these different principles is like we can put it on the website and see how our prospects respond in real time. And we can have data to say, what's working and what's not. We're also doing the same thing with outreach sequences. We're testing different sequences in real time to see you what's working or not. So it's really when fully implemented. I think you can see that B2B marketers can start incorporating some of these B2C best practices for growth, not only at a cultural level of just embracing testing at every step of the way, but also be really cross-functional. So it's not really, it doesn't have to be just a marketing effort. You can see how you would unify this across sales marketing, and even customer success to make sure that we are optimizing the customer journey at every step. So it's honestly a world that I'm still hoping to get more into. Sean Ellis has produced a lot of great content around it and it's currently a weekend passion is to learn more about some of this information that's out there.
Yeah. I know growth hacking and growth marketing, like that is absolutely fantastic. I think, you know, we had a big conversation in the Demio growth team is like, what is our North star? And you had mentioned that before, it's a really great conversation. And just, you know, I guess as a reference point, we started realizing that like our North star was really like the attendees of Demio. Like, if they have a great experience, then the presenter host have a better outcome of their event, which means their event went well, which is a win for Demio. And so like, it's literally like three steps down the value exchange, but like that is the North star. So how can we do that better that drives, you know, product decisions, growth decisions, onboarding decisions, all that kind of stuff. But that's a really great example of what a North star metric can do and how to align your organization to do that. So that's awesome. So we've been talking about, you know, a lot of these shifts, you know, do you see any other new ideologies or anything radically shifting in 2021 now that we're kind of coming out of this, you know, very crazy pandemic year where so much did change?
Yeah. So when I first started to get into demand generation and starting my career in marketing was right around the time that serious decisions had implemented what they called the the waterfall. The serious decisions waterfall, and the general idea behind that if you're not familiar, is you have a lead do something, anything it's an inquiry. If you, if they then reach your lead scoring threshold, it's an MQL, pass it over to sales, they qualify it, set up a demo. And if the demo goes well, it's an opportunity and close one. That's a super simplified version of it. That framework has put a lot of marketers in the mind that their goal and the way they help the business is by creating MQLs and that's their KPI. And that's what they need to optimize for. What I think we're seeing a shift in many marketers opinion is, is that they are moving away from this idea that their KPI is MQLs and more so focused on either demo set or opportunities created.
And that doesn't mean that MQLs don't still serve a function. Like we still use them at Banzai, but I'm not going to key myself off of that being the indicator of overall success in terms of how I contribute to the business. And I think there's a couple of simple exercises you can go through to know whether that's right or not. You know, it's, if the business doesn't hit its SQL goal, but I hit on my MQL goal, is that okay? It's like, well, no, it's not right. The business has to hit the SQL goal, you know, and you can do vice versa. Say, well, if the business hit SQL goal, but we didn't quite as get as many MQLs. Well, that's maybe a good thing, maybe we're getting more efficient, right. And you shouldn't have to be tied to this idea of just having more MQLs.
If those MQLs are being more impactful and still driving towards the bottom line. So I think there's this radical shift away from just saying that as a demand gen professional, I'm here to manage a large budget geared towards just driving MQLs. And instead take this more holistic business owner perspective of saying, I have an SDR team of five or 10 people for example. I know that they can work a certain amount of records at any given time. How can I maximize their effort to set demos for the business? And that if you take that perspective and optimize for that KPI, you get a different set of behavior. You get more of a one team mentality. And I think you get an overall better impact for the business. So that's one of the big shifts that I think we're starting to see. And one of the things I'm personally trying to advocate for as well.
It's really about alignment is what you're talking about there. Good communication alignment. You mentioned the word before data, you know, being data-driven as well. And I think something that just sparked in my head while you're saying that it's like, not every SQL is created equal, right? Like there are going to be those that have a higher ACV, that convert better. And it's also like understanding the full pipeline afterwards. Like, what is the churn percentage of this group? What is the term percentage of this group? How do, you know, where did onboarding work? Because, you know, if you can drive a better customer as an SQL, like the better your pipeline becomes, and maybe you reduce that pipeline, the numbers don't have to be as high to hit the same goals over time because it's just knowing more of the business economics.
Yeah. That's fantastic. And what about people, you know, getting into demand gen, marketers looking to join organizations here in 2021 with these things changing, you know, what advice do you have for them maybe from your experiences or just from the past year?
Well, I think one of the biggest challenges for demand gen marketers and marketers in general is that marketing is what I often refer to as like, as an undisciplined science. Meaning that there's very different takes on it across different organizations. And you can't really, you know, in the same way that you can go to college and get a degree in computer science and have a very fundamental understanding of these different aspects of computer science. You can't quite do that with marketing. Partly just because marketing is changing so quickly, but also because there's just so much variation, there's not like a single source of truth as to how these systems should work. And I think what that means then, it's really incumbent for each marketer to try and grow and learn as much as they can and, and find out all these different approaches, and find out what works well for them and what doesn't.
And then when you think about joining a new organization, see if that strategy or that approach is in alignment with the leadership team and the CEO to make sure that you guys are all, that everyone's on the same page as to how you would approach generating demand at a company. And there's so many different ways that it can be done and you could go about it. That just it's really is important about from a communication perspective, to make sure that everyone's on the same page as to how to think about these things. And what's important and what to be focusing on in the next, you know, your first six to nine months.
I guess you just kind of answered what I was gonna ask, but like, what would be some like tactical good questions to ask people? Like, what are your expectations of me in the first three to six months? How do you view demand gen? Like what would be those specific questions to ask?
Well, I think it kind of goes back to a little bit just to the conversation we've been having. Like, what are the KPIs that you expect out of your demand ge professional? You know, like personally, I think it should be more SQLs than just MQLs. So I think that's one thing to be focused on, you know. The second is like how closely aligned do you want to see your SDR team and marketing team and in reality they should be practically one, right. And you know, in many organizations that's not the case there's for different reasons for that, but they might act in very different ways and have poor communication. So I think if youare a demand gen marketer, like there's a lot of these different aspects that will be key to an organization that will be key to your success that you really just want to dig into before joining.
Red flags, when they come up. Does that mean that you should avoid that organization? Or should you ask deeper questions? As far as, you know, our ideology is open to change? Like where is my ability to bring in my own thought process?
Absolutely. I mean, no situation is perfect by any means. I think you can, as part of that process, if you do identify any red flags, it is about bringing that up and seeing how the team might react to approaching those things differently. I mean, it might be that internally they've already identified that as a, as an item that needs to change, it could be why you're coming into the organization in the first place. So I think it does eventually go back to this idea of just making sure that you're all on the same page as to how you like to execute a demand gen strategy and properly communicate that.
Yeah, so much of today's episode is about alignment. Like you said, communication alignment and making sure everyone has the same expectations for this role. And really it's just about, you know, finding your most valuable customers and then being able to drive them with great expectations and in a scalable fashion, right? That's the whole point of this process. And then I guess looking over the past year with Banzai, you know, a lot of things changed. You guys were tweaking and testing as you made your pivots, but you know, any hard lessons learned from things that didn't work out as expected or missed opportunities that you wish you could go back and do again?
Just going back to this idea of building out an audience. I think there's in many ways, as soon as the market started to change to virtual, that (inaudible) that marketers started to come together, just trying to understand what everyone's doing and share best practices. Hindsight's 2020. It's really tough to have been able to have done this in real time, but I wish we could have been more ahead of some of those actions and been more of a focal point for some of those. So like I know there's different Slack groups that ended up popping up as just different ways for field and event marketers to communicate. I would love for us to have been more at the forefront of creating some of those, those communities, those areas for conversations. And you know, again, hindsight is 2020. You never really know if you could got ahead of that or not, but I think different opportunities like that, where our buyers are having a very unique challenge and need guidance that if we could have been a little bit more ahead of that in terms of what we were producing, that would have been ideal. And that could have in very different mediums, it could have been a Slack group, could have been just more repurposing our own videos and trying to gain a wider audience for them,it could have, you know, looked like many different things.
A lot of what you're talking about is like thought leadership, right. And building community around it. And I would say it's never too late to start that stuff. I think there's always opportunity. It's just finding like what's needed in the marketplace, like you said. And so that's why, you know, this is a good question. It's like, what, what did you miss? But you would do again. And so I think, you know, to your point, you know, build community, really focus on thought leadership. The hard part about thought leadership and marketing is if your leadership team isn't totally bought in on a long-term approach to marketing, it's a hard sell, right? Because it's not direct, you know, SQL's tomorrow. It's building a community for the next year, but in that long term approach, you're building brand, you're getting, you know, affinity, you're getting potential customers, MQLs really just like warmed up through this pipeline and getting a great relationship built with the community. So a really powerful idea, I think of communities like RevGenius, which was like a huge marketing community. I mean, it's a great place if you're marketing to marketers to own a community like that. Right. And it doesn't just have to be like, Demio wouldn't have to have a community about webinars. It could literally have a community for marketers because that was our target market.
Absolutely. And I think you could see a lot of different companies that have done this. I mean, HubSpot, which has already produced tons of content still went out and purchase the Hustle because it was something unique, you know. Outreach purchased Saleshacker, because there is a unique community there and a unique voice. Like you're starting to see even companies that you would say are maybe already a bit ahead of the game are going even further in just outright purchasing some of these different organizations that have produced community.
That's a good idea purchasing, like a group like that and just getting in front of that community. That's a great idea. What about challenges or opportunities? You know, you're in a growing, changing marketplace, things are radically shifting day to day with COVID and you know, there's a lot of question marks on the air, but are there, are there things that you see that are exciting you from the event landscape specifically with demand gen for 2021?
Well, I think there's just, if we look ahead and we have a little bit of optimistic viewpoint, there's reasons to be excited that the second half of this year won't be as impacted by COVID as this first half of this last year have been. So hopefully it's okay to be a little bit optimistic in this regard, but I'm hoping that we can have some level of return to in-person events in the later half of the year. And I think there's an opportunity for us, for Banzai Demio and just marketers in general, but to help lead that conversation around, what does it look like to return to in-person events? Cause it's not going to be a hundred percent the same as it was before. I think there's a lot of different conversations that are probably going to be slightly different now because of this. For example, accessibility for your events is probably now going to start encompassing different health implications that people might have, right?
Like not everyone's going to be able to return to in-person events at the same level of risk. So you're going to have to offer some level of hybrid or virtual offering for a lot of your events, because not everyone's going to be safe to go out to some of these larger events, once things get, get better. There's conversations like that, that I think that we can be at the forefront of and help lead. And then I think there's just in general, marketers are going to start to want to know how to progress and what their colleagues are doing around these different areas. And I think we can probably create some level of transparency and openness around how companies are now approaching that and what level of their own internal events are now in-person going forward, just as kind of like an industry benchmark. So I think there's a lot of interesting ideas that we can implement to help marketers move forward for the last half of the year.
You're saying this stuff right now, but I'm thinking like that's all thought leadership stuff that you can dive into, right? Like the 2021 roadmap for hybrid and in-person events, like really where to benchmark yourself, maybe, you know, allocation of funds, like those are great things. And you just kind of mentioned those are lesson learned, but I think there's always going to be that opportunity to build on that. So that's awesome. What I want to do now for the sake of time is jump to our lightning round questions. Just five quick questions that you can answer with the first best thought that comes to mind. You're ready to get started?
Let's do it.
All right. Let's do this thing. What advice would you give for early stage SaaS companies starting marketing today?
Yes. Start building an audience the moment you start writing code.
I love that. So it's almost like that traction mentality, right? Get that traction at the same time you're building a product. What skill do you think is vital for marketing teams to improve and build on today?
Documentation. I've been in many early stage companies and one of the worst things you can do is have to constantly revisit something every six months, just because someone left or never properly documented, or we don't know why he made that decision. Like if you can document everything, you just create, increase the velocity of the company greatly.
That's one that I haven't heard for that question, but it's a great, great answer because it's about scalability, right? Systems and scalability. That's fantastic. Best educational resource you'd recommend for learning about marketing or growth?
I'd have to go back to that growth masters university that Sean Ellis has. That's kind of my favorite resource right now.
I love it. And we'll link that in the show notes as well. For those of our listeners who haven't gone through that yet. What about a favorite tool you can't live without?
Old-school paper planner.
That's great. That's actually an answer we hear a lot on here because it's just so nice to write things down, see it visually, get it out of your head. So I love that. What about a brand, business or team that you admire today? Obviously Demio is number one.
Demio is number one. Number two, actually say Drift. I just remember watching them early on like 2017, 2016 with David Kensal and David Gearhart were just working together on building out that company. I think they just did an absolutely amazing job scaling some of those early principles that work for them into a company-wide brand and just social media effort. I think it's amazing what they've done.
They've done a absolutely fantastic job and I think they would win the award for this question. It's a great question for marketers and I think hearing Drift so much on it, it's just a great testament to what they've done. We're also impressed at their continued growth. And we do have a couple of great episodes with Drift on here. So if you guys are interested, they do have a lot of great breakdowns of the things that they're doing well over there. But Bryant, thanks so much for joining me today on the podcast. Thanks for sharing. Talk a little bit about the future of demand generation. I think there's a big shift happening right now and I love your answers. So thanks for your honesty and transparency and all your time.
Thank you, David.
All right. Talk to you soon and have a great rest of your day.