Interview with Michael McLaren

Executive Vice President at Merkle

michael mclaren executive vice president at merkle
Video Transcript

hi this is Bob Samuels founder of tech
connector tech connector is a
marketplace and campaign management
platform of Best of Breed account based
marketing lead generation solutions
we’ve partnered with the serious
decision summit to bring you wisdom from
leading account based marketing thought
leaders to that end I’m happy to
introduce you to Michael McLaren
executive vice president at merkel
michael is a passionate and dynamic
leader with over 20 years of experience
in the integrated marketing he’s
considered a globalist with extensive
international experience and a love for
technology digital innovation and his
clients businesses Michael it’s a
pleasure to speak with you how are you
I’m very well thank you and I really
appreciate the opportunity to have a
chat I’ve been a practitioner in b2b
marketing for many years I was running
the mrm organization as part of my
camera group which is you know CRM and
and performance marketing agency and
have now been with merkel for the last
three years sort of more performance
data driven marketing with the focus on
b2b audience so i suspect you’ve you’ve
come across some pretty interesting use
cases and and case studies of account
based marketing along the way yeah I
mean I think that that most of our
clients are sort of somewhere on the
maturity curve of leveraging ABM in
their marketing programs you know and
most of those clients that are doing it
are definitely seen list in their ROI
from these programs so you know while
they’re still some Lagarde’s who are
doing more traditional you know
marketing programs in b2b you know we
see this becoming increasingly
and quickly maturing as a discipline
where you know you’re now starting to
see sub segments of ABM programs
starting to take shape
particularly around different tiers of
account sizes so I think it’s it’s very
interesting it’s being driven largely by
the mark tech and ad tech capabilities
that are now available and also I think
by the proliferation of some lower-cost
production capabilities that enable us
to develop content at scale and which
still remains a bit of a challenge for a
lot of clients but you know you add
those things and then you add the
richness of data which allows you to
target more effectively and you know
sort of run algorithms across
interactions more effectively so that
you can predict the next best action a
little more accurately and you’ve got
all those factors working together to
say you know ABM should be I think a
cornerstone of most b2b marketers
playbook excess success one of the
things I’m learning is that a lot of a
lot of companies think that it you know
once they find some of this new
technology then they have their ABM
program and and plug it in and there
they go but I think they’ll probably be
disappointed yeah you know that the
planning and the and the infrastructure
upfront is going to be key yeah I mean
it’s certainly not a plug-and-play kind
of construct and in fact if if you go
into it thinking that it is you’re going
to walk away disappointed you know
I think that there’s we try to counsel
clients on taking a very methodical
approach to their ABM strategies I mean
everything starts with alignment of
sales and marketing that’s probably the
most fundamental rule of any kind of
successful ABM program and that runs all
the way through the program it’s not
just sitting around
on what are our goals but it’s working
hand in hand to define target account
list prospect profiles KPIs of the
engagement you know content development
and the types of messaging that we think
going to be most influential so at every
stage of the development of an ABM
program you want that sort of locked
alignment of the sales in the marketing
organization and then underneath that
there’s a hell of a lot of technology
that needs to be actively evaluated
whether by the client or by their
partners so whether it’s in the
selection process and whether you’re
bringing in intent data to try to target
your accounts that are you know you want
to try to target those accounts that are
actively searching for content that’s
relevant building out the contact list
so you know taking first party data
adding third party data by using a
variety of data vendors how you’re going
to extract insights from that
information so you’ve got your account
list then you’ve got your contact list
as people who see inside that account
now you’re trying to extract insights
about those people so that you can start
to customize content and journeys that
are relevant to them and once again
there’s a plethora of technologies that
allow you to do that and then obviously
what’s the content that’s going to be
compelling and which is a channel and
the interaction that’s going to be most
compelling to try to develop that sort
of personalized journey once again a
range of different technologies that are
out there that could help clients get
more effectiveness from each of those
things and then what are the
orchestration and infrastructure
requirements you know how are you going
to integrate this with your you know
your CRM stack with your you know your
outbound and your inbound channels so
that it’s orchestrated in a meaningful
way and then finally you know how you’re
going to evaluate it what kind of
technologies are going to help you you
know sort of
really look at what are the metrics what
are the outcomes and then how can you
optimize go back to the beginning of the
process take all that learning and start
over and keep making it better so it’s
very much a methodology a process and
the process and the players have to come
before you get anywhere near the
technology or the data in the content
that’s so very well that and so so
there’s a lots of different pieces like
you said it starts with coordinating
with sales all the way through the
process account identification
prioritization getting those content
signals getting the messaging so the
messaging I think is a bit tricky and
there’s no technology it’s really going
to help with that unfortunately and then
messaging to the different personas and
the different perspectives that the
prospect seems to be tricky as well well
I mean I I would agree there’s no
certainly no silver bullet but I would
definitely say that some of the good old
lessons of good old-fashioned direct
marketing come into play here pretty
strongly so you know you’ve got to have
a very rigorous testing methodology so
that you can start identifying different
aspects of messaging that are driving
higher responses so whether it’s you
know whether it’s in the offer whether
it’s in the context whether it’s in the
level of personalization that you’re
able to integrate into the messaging you
have the ability to a be test and and
factorial e test a range of variables
that are going to help you get more and
more effective messaging but you know as
you say there’s certainly no you know
wave the magic wand and all of a sudden
the world’s best message will emerge I
think that you know these things are
constructed based on proven engagements
with relevant audiences and the more
that you kind of commit yourself to the
process of testing and evaluating and
and making sure that each time you’re
sort of getting a better result
or if it’s a worse result then let that
one go and fail fast and move on to the
next one the better I think the results
you’re going to see out of your overall
IBM program in terms of some of the
areas that we’ve seen I mean I think
there’s some really exciting evolutions
in ABM that I think of well worth noting
I mentioned earlier that you know you’re
seeing the stratification of accounts so
you know in the old days old days you
know five years ago okay it was it was
kind of like what are your key accounts
and who are the prospects that you’d
most like and whether that was put
together qualitatively or quantitatively
or a combination that was really where
you sort of landed but now there’s this
stratification of how do I get more
sophisticated with my enterprise
accounts with my target accounts with my
core accounts how can I apply
technologies in a different way so that
for my enterprise accounts I’m going to
do more kind of pursuit based marketing
so I’m going to land that big deal I’m
going to surround sound that list of
players inside that organization I’m
going to just compel them to evaluate
our offer more sort of favorably than
any of our competitors so you’re
building almost like a bespoke program
for a very specific individual target
company versus something that’s more in
the mid market where you’ve got a list
of 150 target accounts or you know up to
a thousand target accounts I’ve heard of
you know like different clients will
have where they’re looking to apply
artificial intelligence and some of the
decisioning technologies to optimize the
offer the message their content and and
try to get a better return on that so
we’re starting to see flavors of ABM
evolve as technologies become more
sophisticated and then I think the other
interesting thing that is happening is
you know if you’ve spoken to James you
know we have this concept of account
based marketing to account based
everything from a BM to a B X and I mean
this is a
concept but you know what we believe is
that is we should be thinking more than
display more than traditional channels
we should be thinking of how do we
integrate all aspects of marketing in an
account based model so you know whether
it is social whether it is events
whether it is any of the inbound and
outbound tactics can be optimized with
an account-based lens so you know you’re
starting to see some companies get very
advanced not I mean if you if A’s won is
sort of optimize your landing page
optimize your outbound marketing streams
optimize your offer phase sort of five
is optimize everything optimize the
experience at the event optimize the web
experience optimize the call center
experience so that wherever the touch
point comes where the inbound or
outbound you’ve got the ability to
create a personalized customer journey
and I think that that’s how we see
that’s how we see the AVM programs
evolving and okay I think a very
integrated yeah yeah and I mean I think
the other thing is there is a good
article from Oracle where the head of
marketing at Oracle is their customers
are researching selecting purchasing and
communicating and they want to choose
how they interact with with companies so
you want you want to be ultimately
flexible and kind of sensitive enough to
try to anticipate the way that a
prospect wants to engage with you and
optimize your experience in the way that
that’s works best for them and it’s kind
of like it’s a very high state of
awareness and then a very sophisticated
technology back sort of background
that’s going to enable that level of
personalization yes really I mean so
besides the intelligence you gather
about intent and with what people are
researching on and so forth if you can
find out what methods are using whether
they’re within weather
they appreciate phone calls or or text
or web web visits or social or email or
whatever it’s nice to know with it what
their favorite is but but hitting them
all all the different directions in an
integrated way makes a lot of sense
yeah at Clio yes exactly an amenity uh
yes go ahead go ahead sir no I was going
to change the subject to and you can
fill this end too if I’d be curious if
you had some examples of some some
clients that were where you seem to my
success and what are some of the
examples they did with some of this some
of the results that they found yeah I
mean we do a lot of account based
marketing and you know we do a lot of it
in the activation layer so you know
obviously DWA is our activation you know
sort of performance marketing and I’m
guessing that they’ve spoken to you
about some of the success that they’ve
had at Sprint
so spring it we run all of the the
business-to-business programs for Sprint
and you know we’ve recently developed a
program which was very effective at
expanding you know the the engagement
the account reach and the account
engagement levels around incorporating
kind of first-time technologies so we
use some digital video technologies from
Adobe we use some new custom segments
from gongura and we use that new
one-click lead generation program from
Lincoln and we built a ADM program that
was trying to give deepen engagements
with the thousand-odd target accounts
for sprinkly to be and some of the
numbers we as we achieve were you know
actually sort of eye popping by engaging
with these audience segments through
kind of new and emerging technology sort
of experiences so that was one where I
think we we did a nice job of taking
some innovative
technologies that were just emerging in
the marketplace some proven approaches
that we’ve been building on over the
years with sprint and and creating
exponential growth in both reach and
engagement you know I should have
mentioned that every ABM program has to
have its unique set of you know what are
you what is what does success look like
what are the core objectives of an ABM
program and they vary by quite you know
so well sometimes it’s all around
revenue it’s around conversion from mql
to SQL to sale sometimes it’s more
softer metrics it’s around the depth of
engagement number of touches time spent
brand and because you know different
metrics have been proven to be
indicators of deeper and longer lifetime
customer value so you know every example
a rolloff
is going to be tied to specific metrics
that have been built for that specific
organization I’ll give you an example of
a of a pursuit which i think is very
interesting we have a big client vxe it
was the company that came out of the
sort of merger of CSC with HPE services
and we were building rapid mindshare
that in a strategic technology strategic
consulting and implementation and what
we did was we we would identify from a
variety of different sources
people who within the target customer
profile so when they were going in for a
big deal
and so pursuit is about closed the deal
closed the deal for a big target account
and then we would basically
surround-sound them you know we had we
had location GPS location content that
was around their headquarters we had you
know we knew where the travel maps were
where the executives would travel we
would sort of connect with them in
airports and transit messaging and we
would do it all around a particular
phase so a big b2b acquisition is a six
to nine month
purchase period which I’m sure you know
so we’d build a
plan over a six to nine month period
with a high proximity touch and a high
combination of digital and traditional
media channels and you know we can show
and we showed the client how that
engagement drove closed deals and you
know we’ve got a payback of you know
100x types of payback from those
programs so that’s an example on DXE
where we were able to intelligently
enhance their pursuit marketing programs
using the insights and knowledge that
we’ve gleaned from the known customer
profile sitting in their large-scale
enterprise account I love the fact if
you built that in the localized creech
that’s wonderful yeah I mean it’s a it’s
actually a really good case and I mean
the client is happy for us to talk about
we’re you know sometimes in particularly
in technology big deals game changes
right if someone’s going to buy some
massive piece of technology or or make a
big strategic investment in a new
partner or an existing partner the
ability of highly targeted and highly
personalized marketing to in hate to
sort of influence that decision is very
very powerful it’s done if done well
right right
make sense so what do you if you can if
you can put your crystal ball reading
head on what do you see how do you see
AVM progressing at this point you
mentioned five years ago was forever ago
how do you see it AVM in a year from now
or in five years from now oh yeah well
we yeah actually I saw that you’d spoken
with Peter Isaacson and he would see the
motor mining I spoke at their demand
base Innovation Summit I was asked that
question so I’ll tell you what I told
the audience and I didn’t get thrown out
so I’m guessing that some of them agreed
so the first thing is you have to expand
beyond digital display in syndication
you’ve got to start getting into
some of the physical touches like like
proximity marketing like the other home
content that I just mentioned like
telemarketing tiny telemarketing playing
your events claim you direct tie in your
CRM so if it’s about evolving it across
all touch points and not just relying on
the syndication of you know some search
some display and some you know web
landing experience so that would be the
first thing the second thing I would say
is get very committed to personalization
and you know it’s a tricky exercise
because personalization at scale is a
little mind-boggling you know how do I
know Michel McClaren when there’s 500 or
5,000 micro MacLaren’s out there so you
have to obviously build a persona get
very dedicated to continuing to evolve
that persona so that you can almost put
a name tag on it and then customize the
content that you’re delivering against a
persona so whether it’s in messaging
whether it’s in offer whether it’s in
visual whether it’s in the landing
experience but the whole idea is you
match this personalized content to the
journey that that persona is going
through so what happens on the first
visit what happens on the second visit
what happens on the third visit and look
to personalize everything you know be as
authentic as possible be as natural as
possible show Humanity in that
engagement that is the key so really
building making a all-out commitment to
personalization of these journey and
this content I think that’s one and then
the other one I would say is we see a
lot of this and I won’t name clients but
there’s quite a bit of and I’m sure
you’ve seen it where there’s like an
outbound strategy and then there’s an
inbound strategy and you know it’s
almost like the left in the right hand
they talk to each other because if the
outbound is about you know targeting and
retargeting on an IP or whether it’s
about trade shows or email and the
inbound is about you know stuff that
hits you organically stuff that comes in
through you know whatever sort of blog
or content or web experiences
how are you mapping those two things how
do you how do you use a DM as a sort of
response and effective response
mechanism to inbound as opposed to sort
of sitting around waiting for those
named accounts to kind of happen to find
your content and download something so
this synchronization of inbound and
outbound in a sort of a
peanut-butter-and-jelly approach I think
is something that is often overlooked
and I think that it’s a way that we can
continue to get more returned from you
know the the sort of investment to
clients are making so that’s a few
things I mean I mentioned this idea of a
BM to a bx we feel very strongly about
this but you know you’ve got to sort of
stretch yourself so that all those
experiences are more relevant more
compelling more personal and I think
that’s going to be just sort of wave of
the future beautiful created by it’s a
great great insight thank you so I don’t
know I think you’ve answered most of my
questions I had is there anything that
that I missed otherwise I appreciate
your participant has been wonderful I
think the only other thing that I would
say is you know there’s this new and not
that new I guess three four five years
it is whole area of artificial
intelligence machine line and the
ability to apply that sort of
algorithmic based approach to
optimization so you know once you’ve
captured intense signals from whether
it’s coming from something you bought
from Ballmer or from your own search
party data how do you apply that sort of
AI layer to target key accounts with the
right personalized messaging I we
encourage all clients to be looking at
these sorts of platforms to how do they
make it more relevant how do they make
it more customized how do they make it
more personalized and when you’re doing
scaled ABM so you’re sort of doing a one
to few approach but the few is still 500
you know it’s very difficult for humans
to make that
for the personalization call it’s much
easier fatigue apply machine learning
and get into that so that there’s some
suggestions about this this stimulus
will offer your highest propensity to a
positive next best action and set up
those tests so that you can apply these
technologies and get more and more out
of your ABM program so we expect to see
AI and the benefits of AI be is
increasingly pervasively in ABM yeah
that makes sense an accessor that’s
definitely in it and that’s as early as
its already around but the one you’re
inside you certainly will get more and
more more and more intense and then one
of the things that James James Miller
had mentioned was the g5 or whatever the
the speed of data becoming window and
getting more data passing through there
just if it’s it’s the good news is
there’s more data to be able to play and
extrapolate from the bad news is you can
choke yourself or hang yourself with all
the state a well yeah and the benefit of
the benefit of 5g and this is where it
really gets kind of mind-boggling is you
know a picture tells a thousand words
right that’s just a human truth the
ability to distribute video content at
scale at a highly personalized level
with ubiquitous sort of upload download
speeds that 5g enables means that all
clients need to be thinking about how
can they take advantage of video
technology to distribute ABM messages in
five size pieces to a to an own
individual you know so developing
customized one-to-one content at scale
and video and any native language so
using native language search etc so as
the new technology is built on a five
cheap platform start taking taking stock
you’ve got to really think about how
you’re delivering this content to a
customer and let’s face it a lot of them
are increasingly going to be digital
natives who were brought up consuming
video content we’ve got to be able to
help clients engage
audiences taking full advantage of the
rich 5t environment you know it’s
actually going to be a game changer
there’s no two ways about it it’s
actually very exciting oh very close I
look forward to well Michael it’s a
pleasure thank you very much for your
time and your and your valuable insight
and I look forward to speaking with you
again soon
yeah I really appreciate it and I look
forward to if there’s anything else I
can help you with more than happy to and
I’m hopefully this will be the beginning
of lots of conversations I look forward
to it thanks again thanks a lot bye