Sales Pipeline Radio, Episode 123: Q&A with Amy Holtzman @demandmarketer

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By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing

We invite you to listen to Sales Pipeline Radio, live every Thursday 11:30 am PST. It’s just 30 minutes long, fast-paced and full of actionable advice, best practices and more for B2B sales & marketing professionals.

We cover a wide range of topics, with a focus on sales development and inside sales priorities. You can listen to full recordings of past shows at SalesPipelineRadio.com and subscribe on iTunes.

We were thrilled this last time to be able to talk to Amy Holtzman, VP, Marketing at Splash.

This episode is called “GDPR WTF and What Now?”  for good reason.

In recent months we worked with Splash on a couple webinars and a great guide on GDPR and thought an update would be helpful.

But before getting into GDPR, we talk a bit about company culture and building a marketing team from scratch.  Amy explained:

“I feel very strongly that every one on the marketing team, regardless of function, should be measured in some way … it should be measured in some way aligned to the metrics of the business and to revenue. So, every one on my team, from our designers to our content people, to our demand generation folks, certainly are measured on the overall marketing teams contribution to opportunities and to revenue to the company.

And what that does for my team is it keeps them very focused on the tasks at hand that matter and that will truly impact the business. And I think it’s a fairly unusual way to run an entire marketing organization but it means that my designer will prioritize helping sales with their next one sheet or their next deck or whatever it is over ordering piece of swag or something like that. It just means that when we’re going through prioritizing, we’ve got kind of something that the entire team gets behind in the opportunities and revenue.”

And of course, we talk about the uncomplicated guide to GDPR. Folks can find it at SplashThat.com/resources and one of the things that it was kind of fun working with Splash on this is it that they definitely take a more casual approach. I think GDPR guides sometimes can be a little intimidating and can be very legalese.  What do you think?

Listen in or read our conversation below to learn more!

Matt:  Well I’m so glad that our guests today did not cancel due to either World Cup or due to heat waves on the East coast. Very excited for our guest today. Welcome everybody to Sales Pipeline Radio. Thanks for joining us. For those of you who are joining us live and the numbers listening to us live continue to increase, Paul, every week. I am flabbergasted in the middle of the work week, we’ve got people joining us so, for those of you joining us live we’re here every week 11:30 Pacific, 2:30 Eastern. If you’re joining us from the podcast thanks for subscribing. You can find us where all good podcasts are sold and downloaded, and every episode of Sales Pipeline Radio, past, present and future is always available at salespipelineradio.com.

We are every week featuring some of the best and brightest minds in sales and marketing in B2B and today is no different. Very excited today to have joining us from the heat and humidity of New York City, we’ve got Amy Holtzman, she’s the Vice President of Marketing at Splash. Amy, thanks for joining us.

Amy:  Thanks so much for having me.

Matt:  So I mean heat and humidity might not … I mean someone who is a Florida Gator alum this is really not that big a deal as wimpy West Coast folks like Paul and I from the Upper Mid West a little more familiar, but excited to have you online and I mean there’s so many topics we could cover here but I know recently with the work you guys have done at Splash on the event marketing side maybe give people a little overview of what Splash is and sort of what your role has been there so far.

Amy:  Yeah, sure, of course. So I joined Splash little bit over a year ago. And we are an end to end event marketing technology. We make it really easy for brands to design, measure, and scale. Branded and highly converting a bunch of experiences and we focus on all the touch points throughout the event life cycle; from the very first email communication, to landing page, to your onsite touch points and post event follow-up.

I think what’s been interesting is when I joined Splash we were a company of about 60 people and we had no formal marketing function. I’ve had the great pleasure and challenge of being the first head of marketing here and have been in this role for little bit over a year, really, just forming the function, growing the team. The team is about 10 folks right now, and the company is almost 120, and it’s been a really quickly growing and fun ride.

Matt:  So I think a lot of people listening when they hear you were kind of the first formal marketing employer who was able to build a team from scratch, maybe see that as a little bit exciting and terrifying at the same time. Can you talk a little bit of what that was like to do that? I think there was probably some very positive things around building the culture you want but also the culture of a company that exists and is growing without marketing may have its own challenges as you develop that team as well. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Amy:  Right, yeah, so I wanted to join a company that was earlier stage than ones that I had previously been at. So before this I was at Conductor which is an SEO in contact marketing platform. I joined them when they were series seed funding so they were already about a 140 people when I joined them. And prior to that I was with Demandbase, B2B targeting and personalization platform. They were going on their series seed funding and, or about 70 people, but they had had a pre-established marketing function.

After those two experiences I really wanted to kind of go in at the ground level and build my own systems and my own team from scratch and they sync. My advice to others that may be considering the same is be careful what you wish for. Because it has been way more challenging than I ever thought. Also way more rewarding now that I’ve been a year in, but those first like three to six months are incredibly challenging, especially for a company that I would say was late to build out their marketing function. I appreciate that the company spend years focused on products and on engineering and really spelled out their sales function pretty late and also build out their marketing function incredibly late. But in a lot of ways, still a year in, I feel like I’m playing catch up because we were so late to build the marketing function.

So yeah, I think it has been a unique opportunity to hire my own team. I think in that opportunity there’s also challenges of trying to find other builders that are willing to do functions from the ground up. A lot of times folks go into a role and there’s at least some kind of norm or status quo that they’re trying to fulfill and improve. But it’s been challenging and rewarding to find team members that are really builders and willing to do things for the first time from scratch. I’ve learned that it takes a special kind of individual that wants that challenge and also that succeeds in that challenge.

Matt:  Well, talking to Amy Holtzman today, she’s the VP of Marketing at Splash and ,yeah, if you look at her resume very quickly has risen up the ranks through a lot of very well-known companies and I appreciate your candor is sharing about how difficult it can be to build a team. To build a marketing culture from scratch. I’ve had the opportunity to work with a few people on your team and have been impressed with quality and caliber of the people you’ve got, but it’s never easy to get all of that aligned.

Talk a little bit about culture within your organization. It’s one thing to find people that can do the work. You mentioned having people that are builders. There’s certainly a skill set and also experience and intuition that helps with that. But as you’re building a team from scratch, how do you think about culture? How important is culture and what have you done to try to build a culture for marketing at Splash?

Amy:  What’s interesting is I think the first thing that I’ve looked for is people that can operate under a bit of ambiguity because when you’re building a team and function for the first time and doing things for the first time, there’s not a very clearly defined road map. I have very carefully looked for people that have had previous roles where they haven’t had everything clearly spelled out for them.

It could be big company or small company people. Perhaps say, they lost a boss midway through. A job that they had and had to operate. Had to figure the function for themselves or something like that or they had a boss that was not always available to them or perhaps they’ve run teams in the past and kind of had to set their own direction.

The other thing that I believe firmly in, and I think is very relevant to this podcast is, I grew up a demand generation marketer and so I feel very strongly that everyone on the marketing team, regardless of function, it should be measured in some way aligned to the metrics of the business and to revenue. So, everyone on my team, from our designers to our content people, to our demand generation folks, certainly are measured on the overall marketing team’s contribution to opportunities and to revenue to the company.

And what that does for my team is it keeps them very focused on the tasks at hand that matter and that will truly impact the business. And I think it’s a fairly unusual way to run an entire marketing organization but it means that my designer will prioritize helping sales with their next one sheet or their next deck or whatever it is over ordering piece of swag or something like that. It just means that when we’re going through prioritizing, we’ve got kind of something that the entire team gets behind in the opportunities and revenue.

Matt:  So I think that you’re right that that is kind of unique, right? I think organizations that either have a previous culture or inertia around something that isn’t revenue responsibility that something that isn’t a great alignment with the sales organization’s goals. I have to imagine that that perspective helped accelerate certainly not just alignment but also credibility and partnership with the sales organization. Talk a little bit about how you do that and how that has worked for you and maybe that has been part of what’s been challenging. Cause I think that creating not just strategic but also operational alignment between sales and marketing isn’t always easy. But it sounds like the approach you’re taking certainly would give you an advantage.

Amy:  Yeah, you’re right. It’s never easy. What’s interesting is because I was forming marketing functions for the first time, there were ideas of what marketing should do, but there was no real expectation and so no one asked me for our first demand generation model and my first take at what marketing was going to contribute to the business. It was something that I had to put together myself based on very limited data. But I think it was not even a month in to my time here at Splash I had been asking questions around the company and asking everyone’s expectations and what kinds of things they thought marketing should be and do for Splash and not no one, but almost no one really said, “I want to know how many opportunities you’re bringing to the table and how pipeline and revenue is going to increase because you’re here?”. Most of the business, kind of said, “We want to do some events. We want better collateral. We want all of these things”, but not many people in the business were talking about marketing’s contribution to revenue.

I think it was about 30 days in, I went and I put together a first demand generation model and said, “Historically the websites brought in roughly these kinds of things without even trying and we’ve done little sponsorships and things and there happens to be a campaign and so forth, we’ve gotten these kinds of results from events. And it’s roughly been tied to revenue in this way.”. And I used like probably very bad data and very bad reporting to back into what I thought could be our first revenue model for my first full quarter here. And that really changed the conversation with sales leadership and really the executive leadership team when I said, “Here are the things that like roughly we’ve been doing and this is my prediction of how marketing is going to help; my first quarter, my second quarter and a year in.”.  And it’s incremental improvements that even 5 to 10% improvements through different stages of funnel can really impact revenue for a company as I’m sure you know.

And when I started talking in that way it really showed to them the numbers and the math. That’s when people started to get excited and realize that marketing at Splash would be a revenue partner and not necessarily just a one sheet factory or service organization.

Matt:  One sheet factory is not a good reputation for marketers. Let’s shift gears a little bit. I think that the title of this episode is GDPR WTF. We published together what we called the uncomplicated guide to GDPR for event marketers and it was specific to event marketing and events in particular but if you take out the events it’s still a pretty good guide to GDPR in general. Talk about a little bit first about why that a theme that you wanted to cover at Splash and how has GDPR become a core part of your, not only the product, but also part of your marketing?

Amy:  Yeah, so it’s funny, it was never my original intention to produce so much thought leadership content around GDPR. And it kind of happened … it kind of happened because we fell into it. And so, and what I mean by that is, as we at the company started to work through our own GDPR compliance, and more specifically work through the requests that our customers were having around GDPR and how we would help them comply and what our approach to it would be, I was very involved in the mix of how we would handle GDPR compliance goals for our customers and for ourselves.

And I don’t know, I was sitting in very long meetings week after week, kind of going through the nuances of compliance, how the products help their customers comply, how you’re going to handle it internally, etc., and a few weeks in, I said, “We have like a great amount of thought and content on this and we need to put it together and we need to tell not just our customers, but the industry about it because it affects all marketing, not just events.”.  Events has some unique components to it, but it affects all marketing and I think we saw a rush of GDPR content towards the end, and not even the end, but as we approached the compliance state, but in the beginning there was scarce information. There was not much information on how to apply the regulation to your business and to your marketing tactics, right? There was very general information about the regulation but no one was really talking about or understood how to apply it.

Amy:  So we started to form our own opinions on GDPR compliance. Obviously started talking to you, Matt, about it and realized that we had a lot of the same thoughts on it and decided we really need to produce this content cause there is such a need for it. And there’s such a need for that practical content that actually helps you apply it to your business. In short interest, we kind of fell into it because we needed to do it for our customers and we needed to do it internally and then we really felt strongly about educating the industry on it as we learned, and having them learn alongside of us.

Matt:  Yeah, if you want to check out some of what Splash has done with their GDPR content go to SplashThat.com/resources, scroll down, and you’ll see the best practice guide that published, couple of the webinars we did, and I’m biased for sure because I was involved but I think they-

We’ve got to take a quick break here, but when we get back I want to talk a little bit about some of the unique ways you worked to make this stand out. That kind of reflects some of your brand and sort of how some of those decisions are made versus what other people were doing but we’ll be back in just a couple of minutes. We’ve got Amy Holtzman, she’s the VP of Marketing at Splash. We’ll be back in just a bit. This is Sales Pipeline Radio.

*Break*

Matt:  Thank you, Paul, thank you very much again today for joining us. If you like this conversation we’re having on Sales Pipeline Radio, you want to share this with some of your peers. You’ll find this episode on demand up at Salespipelineradio.com in just a couple of days. Every one of our episodes get taken down into an edited transcript and you can find highlights of that for every one of our episodes up on our blog at Heinzmarketing.com. Coming up next couple of weeks as we Paul, we continue the summer of pipeline we’re in the middle of summer pipeline now, it is here we are mid-July. It feels like summer is already quite slipping away. My wife is a school teacher so literally in a month, she’s got to go back to school and get ready for those chitlins again, but excited for our episode today.

Next week we have Chandar Pattabhiram, he is the CMO at Coupa Software. He is the former CMO at Marketo. He was the VP of Marketing at IBM, one of my favorite guys in B2B. We’re going to be talking about building and scaling sales and marketing engines, and the last show we have in July, as we continue the summer pipeline, we’ve got Jason Loh. He’s the global head of sales solutions at Anaplan. We’re going to be talking about sales ops. We’re going to be talking about managing the sales pipeline; Managing sales engineering and the technical aspects of managing your pipeline. So good couple of guests coming up here as we continue the summer of pipeline on Sales Pipeline Radio.

Amy Holtzman is our guest today. She’s the VP of Marketing at Splash and we were talking about the uncomplicated guide to GDPR. Folks can find it at SplashThat.com/resources and one of the things that it was kind of fun for me working with you guys on this is, I don’t know how you guys describe it from a brand standpoint, it was not irreverent, not necessarily whimsical, definitely more of a casual approach. I think GDPR guides sometimes can be a little intimidating and can be very legalese. You intentionally wanted to have a little bit of a different approach. Talk a little bit about why and then how you did that.

Amy:  Our overall approach I think to brand and to how we present ourselves is really we want to be the most accessible event marketing platform out there. There’s no reason to be so serious, and I think that B2B marketers often get caught up in being serious and presenting themselves in a certain way. And the reality is that there’s often no need to be that serious. There’s obviously a need to build credibility and trust, but we find that the best way to do that is to be human, and so we try to be human in everything we do and we try to talk to you as we’re talking today. And not talk at you as I think a lot of B2B marketing does, and in that we try to be very accessible to our audience.

We took the same approach to GDPR compliance and it is a very serious topic, but you’re absolutely right, it was important to us to maintain our brand voice and our brand integrity in the same way that we do every day here through the guide. So I think and I hope we’ve done a good job of being credible but not unnecessarily serious.

Matt:  Well and I think that approach was validated. We both got a lot of feedback from the guide, as well as the webinar, and the approach you take. You can have a serious topic that has real meat in it, but still not take yourself too seriously. Still have some fun with it. Still make it something that is engaging and dare I say entertaining. And I think that’s part of our charter as marketers is to go from being interruptive to some level of irresistible. I think it’s not just the type of content we put out there but the approach that we take as part of that. So it is a serious topic, GDPR is real. There are already lawsuits being filed against big companies that have violations. It’s almost two months as we record this from when GDPR came into effect.

Amy what just happened? Now that we’re two months in, what happened and what does it mean, and is it what we thought it was going to be? Now that GDPR is two months old what is it?

Amy:  I think the entire world knew that something was happening. That week of May 25th when our email inboxes were flooded with thousands updated privacy policies which was a part of the regulation and I think if you didn’t know GDPR was happening, and you weren’t a marketer, you definitely knew that it was happening by the end of that week. And then since that week I think it was hilarious you also saw what companies were a little late to the party and saw kind of a slow drip of updated privacy policies for the next few weeks. I think those things have stopped now which is nice.

Matt:  I got one this morning, it’s still coming.

Amy:  Did you? That’s hilarious. That’s so funny, I haven’t seen one for a few weeks. And knock on wood, now probably go back to my desk and see 20. Yeah, I mean I think what happened was it really forced us to have a conversation that we needed to have anyway, right? And that is around how we handle our data base and how we capture consents and how we market to people. And it’s really been about making sure that we are treating people how they want to be treated, right? So the reality is that if somebody didn’t want to be in our database before or gotten there in an untransparent way and was upset about it, they shouldn’t have been there to begin with.

I think GDPR forced us all to look at a very important issue of consent. How we manage date, how we respond to requests for data, and requests to be removed from things, and it really forced a conversation that was a long time in the making. It’s interesting, I’ve seen that a lot of forms on different websites have changed. I’ve also seen that some people are completely ignoring GDPR compliance, funny Matt, forwarded me an email the other day from someone that clearly had no idea about the regulation and was using it to promote unsolicited lists which was hilarious. I think that in general we have seen companies and different marketing teams make big improvements to the way that they are capturing consent and also be much more transparent about what they are going to do with your consent. And I think that was needed in the industry.

Matt:  I think so too. Now, Robert Rose at Content Marketing Institute described GDPR as a “gift to marketers whether they wanted it or not”. So really kind of come to terms with really addressing and prioritizing customer requests. So I think more to come. We’ll see what happens with the legislation, but legislated or not your customer is still in control.

We are out of time unfortunately here. I want to thank our guest Amy Holtzman VP of Marketing at Splash. You want to see some of the examples of the good marketing they do overall as well as some of the GDPR content they’ve created, check out SplashThat.com/resources and you can download to your heart’s content. We are out of time for another episode. If you want to catch this episode again on demand please go to salespipelineradio.com where every episode, past, present, future is available and we out time for now, from my great producer Paul, my name is Matt Heinz, thanks for joining us for another episode. Sales Pipeline Radio.

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