ABM Now Issue #3

Enter the Age of the Webinar

ON24 on Whispering Over the Din and a Reminder That Buyers Aren’t Dumb

This article is part of the ABM Now series where we explore how ABM has changed in 2020. What will you take with you? What will you leave behind? Read the whole series here.

As I stare out my Harlem apartment window at rainy upper Manhattan, I’m struck by the fact that it’s all too easy to lose sight of people. I mean that literally—a pandemic plus a deluge is a particularly effective way of sweeping them indoors. But I also mean in B2B marketing.

Dashboards, conversions, and software turn flesh and blood humans into objects—just bits, badges, and progress bars. And if there’s one thing my interviewee today has done for me is bring people screaming back into focus.

Americans face a loneliness epidemic that predates that pandemic, though it’s worse now. Parents are burnt out. Conference season is canceled and networking has all but ceased. This moment has cast fundamental issues in our society in stark relief, and made our mandate as marketers clearer. What I know is this: I, along with many, miss seeing people. That craving for connection is a near universal feeling and an insight you can bank on in your programs: People may stay for the content, but they come for the interaction.

“We are seeing an explosion of creativity as people try to use technology as a bridge across physical distances,” writes The New York Times. As my wonderful interviewee Tessa Baron of ON24 points out, that’s why webinars have become such people magnets. And if you can personalize yours to the 1:1 level, it almost doesn’t matter how many other marketers are running them—yours will still reach the right people and work.

Or as she calls it ‘whispering over the din.’

In this issue, I share the juiciest ideas from my conversation with Tessa Barron, VP of Marketing at ON24.

Takeaway #1: Launch personal, 1:1 webinars. They’re a bottomless well of engagement.

Tessa Barron:
One-to-one webinars into top accounts allow for personalization that’s just impossible elsewhere, say with whitepapers. Show me the team that can write ten versions of a white paper that are actually specific to ten accounts, or ten personas. I can show you a webinar team that does it every week.

Plus, personalized webinars afford you a chance to answer people’s real questions. Here’s what I mean by this: When you write an ebook, you research it and you put it out into the world and you hope it landed. In webinars, there’s no hoping. You have a live discussion and the prospects can say, “This is great and all, but what we’re really curious about is X.” You can answer that real question right then and there, with your whole sales and marketing team listening.

It can seem counterintuitive to narrow your focus to just one account rather than several. But I promise you, this is how you get people’s full attention right now. They aren’t looking for little bits of information here and there—they’re seeking that one big one that can save them from whatever they’re facing. When someone’s a right-fit, they’ll gladly share it with their entire team. One-to-one webinars are sort of like whispering over the din.

Takeaway #2: The buyer isn’t dumb. They remember who helped them

So this isn’t an account-based tip per se, but it helps a lot in your ABM thinking. Our CRO calls it asynchronous selling: Hold webinars on topics that matter intensely to your prospect even if they’re completely irrespective of your product. It helps you recreate that entertainment and spontaneity that typically happens in-person at account-based dinners, drinks, or sports outings.

It can be about an event, about your industry, about career development, or have nothing to do with their professional life. People need those moments right now, and we find when we offer webinars not related to our product, we nevertheless have 10% of people raise their hand to learn about ON24. You can be the respite in someone’s day. They won’t forget.

Takeaway #3: Marketers have a responsibility

Simultaneous to Covid-19, we’re seeing an incredible uprising in social change. It’s clear that marketers have an immense responsibility. We have a database of thousands of people who we engage continuously online and through advertising, and we should treat that with respect.

There’s a wrong way and a right way to think about this. The wrong way is to ask, “How can we ride on this social movement to hit our metrics?” Obviously. The right way to ask is, how can we grow more representative of those people via the stories we tell, the images we select, and the walks of life we cover? Diversity initiatives aren’t a checklist—there’s no award for using a photo of a diverse team. (And there’s no such thing as a diverse person—you’re only diverse in the context of others.) But it’s the subtle considerations across all of us marketers that can shift perceptions. I’m paying attention to challenging my team around this.

If there really is a loss of trust in institutions, as studies seem to show, you as a brand can take a stand, do social good, and be more trustworthy. Maybe that’ll result in growing closer to your customer along the way. But do it for the person on the other end, not just the “lead.”

Based on what you’ve learned about ABM in 2020, what will you take with you?

Assigning roles based on the customer journey, not on channels. We were talking about revenue ops for a very long time and Covid-19 pushed us in that direction. With all this data and all these interactions to capture, creating a unified full-funnel view and strategy is critical because that’s what allows you to pivot.

What will you leave behind?

Relying on events to be the culminating moment of conversion. I think we were relying really heavily on physical events for that. It’s forced us to rethink our organization, and move away from channel-based roles like “event marketer.”

Christine Farrier

Sr. Director, Partner and Channel Marketing, Demandbase

Christine Farrier is the Senior Director of Partner Marketing at Demandbase. In this role, she brings together substantive marketing, communications and entrepreneurial expertise primarily focused in the investment banking and technology industries. Prior to joining Demandbase, Christine held marketing leadership roles with IHS Markit and Imagine Software and successfully exited from her arts and culture startup.

Tessa Barron

VP of Marketing , ON24

Tessa Barron is the VP of Marketing at ON24 and leads the company’s brand, digital and demand generation campaign strategy. She brings with her a wealth of marketing expertise from both in-house and agency experiences. In 2019, she was named to DMN’s “Top 40 Marketers under 40” list and is a founding member of the Women in Revenue Marketing organization in NYC.