The Kula Ring podcast is essential listening for manufacturing marketers who want to grow their digital presence and compete online.
Sponsored by Kula Partners—an agency committed to helping leading B2B manufacturers craft digital experiences that transform how they engage buyers, serve customers, and outpace their competition—The Kula Ring podcast features conversations about marketing, sales, and technology with top manufacturing executives from across North America.
The Kula Ring podcast is co-hosted by Kula Partners principals, Carman Pirie and Jeff W. White, both of whom are frequently sought after for their digitally-focused B2B expertise. They regularly share their insights with audiences including conferences like B2B Online and HubSpot’s INBOUND, the Gardner Manufacturing Marketer blog, and other podcasts focused on B2B marketing and technology.
Like many B2B manufacturers, ARCA sells to a small number of very specific niche markets. Targeting a small list of banks and credit unions who could benefit from ARCA’s cash automation and recycling solutions, their marketing team crafted highly personalized one-to-one account-based marketing campaigns and successfully generated awareness and opportunities within key accounts. Learn how ARCA successfully piloted ABM on this week’s episode of The Kula Ring podcast.
Tips for Piloting Account-Based Marketing for B2B Manufacturers Transcript:
Announcer: You’re listening to The Kula Ring, a podcast made for manufacturing marketers. Here are Carman Pirie and Jeff White.
Jeff White: Welcome to The Kula Ring, a podcast for manufacturing marketers brought to you by Kula Partners. My name is Jeff White and joining me today is Carman Pirie. Carman, how are you doing, sir?
Carman Pirie: Good, good, and you?
Jeff White: I’m doing well. I’m doing very well.
Carman Pirie: Welcome to the show.
Jeff White: Indeed. Yeah.
Carman Pirie: Thanks for showing up today.
Jeff White: Yeah, well, it’s my job. And you know, I know this one will air later, but I think it’s always interesting to talk about the now, and this is the last podcast we’re recording before breaking for the holidays.
Carman Pirie: Yeah. I’ll believe it when we see it, because we’ve been on a bit of a sprint of late-
Jeff White: Bit of a tear. Yeah.
Carman Pirie: So, we’ll see. We’ll see. But it’s fun.
Jeff White: It is. For sure.
Carman Pirie: This is one of the more enjoyable parts of the job, no question.
Jeff White: Absolutely. And today we’re getting to talk about one of our absolute favorite subjects, of course, ABM. Account-based marketing.
Carman Pirie: That makes us sound boring. I think our favorite work subject. I mean, I think people should know that we’re probably more interesting people in real life. We don’t just always talk about marketing.
Jeff White: Oh, but I think they want to know that we actually know what we’re doing.
Carman Pirie: Yeah, that’s helpful.
Jeff White: Maybe it happens not just when we’re in the office.
Carman Pirie: Indeed. But you know, ABM, today’s show is gonna… Look, I’m excited to dive into it because I think sometimes when people look at ABM, it can sometimes feel like you’re boiling an ocean, you know? Like, “Oh, I’ve gotta select an ABM platform.” There’s not a lot of, kind of, feature parity between them, so that can take you down a very long and winding road, and how to structure a pilot, et cetera. There’s a lot of questions that emerge and today’s guest has, I think, taken a unique approach and has learned along the way, and I’m excited that he’s here to share it with us.
Jeff White: Yeah, and it is always nice to talk to somebody who has actually practiced ABM.
Carman Pirie: Indeed.
Jeff White: And is not just thinking about it. Because it is still very much a new thing. So, joining us today is Taylor Narewski. Taylor is the Marketing Communications Leader at ARCA. Welcome to The Kula Ring, Taylor.
Taylor Narewski: Welcome, guys. Pleasure to be here with you before you guys head off into what will hopefully be a relaxing couple weeks of napping and just hanging out.
Jeff White: Yeah. I’m looking forward… and bicycles. You know, as long as the weather holds, there could be some good biking to be done.
Carman Pirie: I think maybe we should get back to the nap. I feel like a nap to me is kind of like the summer vacation in Greece thing to do. But you know, maybe the whole long winter’s nap thing is there for a reason. I mean, I didn’t make it up.
Jeff White: It’s in the book. Yeah. It’s in the book.
Taylor Narewski: They made it for parents of young children. That’s… Yeah.
Jeff White: That was when I least napped.
Carman Pirie: But most wanted to.
Jeff White: Yeah, I know. Mine are teenagers now. You can’t get them out of bed.
Carman Pirie: Well, Taylor, let’s tell our listeners a bit about you and ARCA, because ARCA is an interesting little business, and not one that kind of people think about often, I think.
Taylor Narewski: Yeah, so I guess a little bit about me, so I kind of fell backwards into marketing is how I ended up telling most people. My background in school was in public policy, which you know, I think what I took from that and carried with me into marketing was being able to tell a story with data or look at data and be able to find a story and ended up landing at a small medical marketing agency. One of those very small shops with about six employees and kind of got thrown into the deep end and found out that I really liked learning any kind of marketing technology.
So, being able to send newsletters through marketing automation platforms, social media strategy, doing a little bit of WordPress and that type of thing, so I got to try my hand at a lot of things, along with telling doctors that no, you can’t write that on the internet. That’s a bad idea. Don’t do that. And then I found my way to ARCA after I got married to my wife and moved up here to Durham, North Carolina. She’s getting her PhD, or got, finished her PhD in English literature, so…
Jeff White: You better get that right.
Taylor Narewski: Yeah, exactly. No, so found my way to ARCA, had kind of grown tired of the agency thing and wanted to work with kind of just one client and focus on building their brand, and so came on as the Digital Marketing Manager, was in that role for about a year and a half before kind of taking over the leadership reigns of the team. And so, more specifically about what ARCA does, been in business for 22 years. Technology manufacturer. We make… Our kind of flagship product is what’s known as a cash recycler, which a lot of people seem to equate to money laundering, I think is one of the things, unfortunately. Just with that term. And then there’s a couple other companies that have names that are similar to ours that recycle refrigerators, and so our contact forms are constantly wondering when we’re gonna be by to pick up their refrigerator.
But the actual cash recycler is a pretty simple machine. It does just a couple important things. It accepts cash and it dispenses cash, and in between it’s stored in a secure vault. You’ll typically find these in banks and credit unions, on the teller line, or in the customer service universal banker desks if they have an open floorplan, or in retail shops in the back office, where they’re starting their… doing start funds or kind of end of the day till management type of stuff. And then we also take some of those component parts that make up the cash recycler and sell them to folks that make kiosks, so we have an OEM channel, so something that you would see in a carwash or a movie theater, somewhere where it accepts cash and dispenses cash, essentially.
Carman Pirie: That’s very cool. That’s very cool. This is one of the great things about the show, you get to learn about pretty interesting companies that you just otherwise wouldn’t know.
Jeff White: Yeah, and you see them.
Carman Pirie: Indeed.
Jeff White: You know, when you go into the bank, you see the machines. And we’re gonna get into the ABM side of things, but I love… You told us a story when we chatted initially about how a very successful piece of content was for the people who were using the machines day to day were laminated guides to how they work, and how fantastic that was as a resource and a requested resource from the people who work there. And I just think it’s one of those things that a lot of marketers, especially digital marketers, often eschew the idea of how they could use physical content to help power their program and create better connectivity with their customers, and I think that’s just a lovely example of here’s a piece of technology and here’s how you use it, and it’s right in front of you with the technology.
Taylor Narewski: Yeah. I think marketers can sometimes be a little too narrowly focused on thinking about large scale brand things, and something as tactile as, “Hey, here is something that’s going to be by this machine, or in a drawer next to the machine, or taped on the machine that shows you how to use it,” or, “If you run into a problem, here are some easy steps.” We are like most manufacturers and have really long, very thorough, very detailed manuals, but most of us would much rather prefer to be able to look at something and decide, “Can I fix this myself or do I need to give somebody a call?” And that was kind of the thought.
We have a good relationship with our service executive leader and our service team leaders here, where they’re able to kind of come to us with some ideas or say, “Here’s some things that we’re thinking about.” And that was one of the projects that came out of our conversations that we had I think roughly this time last year.
Jeff White: I love it, and I mean there’s a lot of companies, manufacturers included, who would force people to go to a landing page and enter their information and count the conversions in order to access that document, so you know, I think it’s great to not forget the basics and really help those folks.
Carman Pirie: Your print shop roots are showing.
Jeff White: Yes, they are.
Carman Pirie: It’s the way that works. But look, I mean, there is a certain connectivity between the intimacy with customer notion of that delivery and the structuring of a one-to-one ABM program. And as you chose to pilot ABM, that’s kind of where you started it, wasn’t it, was looking at kind of taking that deep research and doing a one-to-one approach. Can you tell us about the structure of the program and give us more detail?
Taylor Narewski: Yeah, so… and I’ll try to brief with this, because I’ve talked a lot about it internally here at ARCA, but our background is basically the same kind of timeline of most people. We were doing outbound marketing eight years ago, where we were sending a lot of direct mail, and who clicked on the email or opened the email, let’s hurry up and give them a call, and then right before I joined the organization, the two other content producers that are still with us today just wrote an inordinate amount of content, like an impressive amount. The way that I kind of quantify that for people is that we have a 124-page book on cash recycling written by… majority by Paige Clark and Matt Besh, who are on my team.
And just again, 124-page book about something that you guys hadn’t ever heard of before we talked is quite impressive in terms of a piece of content. And so, a lot of that was used with inbound tactics of hoping that people would use us as an educational resource, and then it kind of dawned on me when I listened to our sales team talk at some of their planning meetings, is while we had much more of a demand generation, lead-based, try to do content syndication, have people fill out forms when they came to the site, standard stuff, what they were really talking about is that they wanted to get into XYZ account, and had a whole list of those accounts. And so, it kind of started to dawn on me that, well, if the sales team is tactically thinking about how to get into accounts instead of just, “We’ll talk to anybody that fills out a form or chase after these folks,” then we needed a strategy in our playbook to be able to kind of target those accounts.
And you know, started to do what most marketers do when they’re trying to figure out a new tactic or new strategy, is head to your search engine and figure out how to type the exact question correctly so that you could get some results back. And my boss at the time handed me something about ABM and we kind of landed on Terminus, which at the time was simply just a kind of display ad ABM platform. They had not done the amount of acquisitions that they have done now to kind of become much more of a robust ABM platform. And so, he said, “Here, this is your project to run with.”
And we had a new salesperson on the team that had kind of been tasked with getting first appointments at some of these larger accounts and after kind of our initial conversations, what we decided on is that we were gonna take an approach where we would create, or we would do one-to-one at first, so we felt that that was the best way to go. So, sorry, but-
Carman Pirie: And Taylor, I had in my notes that you kind of picked the tough ones, if I recall.
Taylor Narewski: Right.
Carman Pirie: Like okay, we’re gonna take the accounts that we’ve had the most difficulty with over time and that’s gonna be our proof case. So, that’s how you did it.
Taylor Narewski: Yeah, so the kind of state was, and we started off with 16 in the program, was here’s 16 accounts that are these medium-to-large accounts that we have tried, we do not have contacts, our channel partners did not have contacts, our referral partners did not have contacts here, and we’ve just been unsuccessful in landing these accounts.
Carman Pirie: Which I think is like a different starting place than just nobody’s tried to call on them yet.
Jeff White: Yeah.
Carman Pirie: There’s been a few swings and misses, you know? Which I just think is… I don’t know, it’s a ballsy pilot. I like it.
Taylor Narewski: Yeah. It’s you certainly don’t want to do, “Well, these are our dream accounts and if we landed this then we would all get promotions and medals and be deemed heroes.” But you know, let’s prove that we can get into some of these accounts with this methodology, because what we’ve been doing up to this point hasn’t really worked. They aren’t coming to the website, they aren’t responding, or we can’t get through with calls, and direct mail, and emails, so what’s a more comprehensive approach to trying to gain their attention in a trustworthy manner that they actually want to talk to you, too? That’s the other part, you can always get attention, it’s just do they want to talk to you after you’ve gotten their attention?
Carman Pirie: Exactly right.
Jeff White: Well, and I think one of the things that’s really nice about this too is just the fact that your sales team identified… First of all, that they even had target accounts is impressive. It doesn’t often happen.
Carman Pirie: I mean, it’s a normal thing for sales. It’s just that we’re often shocked at the number of sales organizations we encounter that don’t have target accounts.
Jeff White: Exactly. Yeah. And that they were willing to like, “Look, we’ve had a hard time with the tactics that have worked in other places with these accounts, so what can we do in order to see if this is going to work?” I love that. I think that’s really cool.
Carman Pirie: Yeah. It’s nice that it started from a place of that collaboration. Yeah.
Jeff White: Yeah. For sure.
Taylor Narewski: Well, and anything you read about ABM is always gonna talk about being aligned with sales, and you know, I think at our organization at that time we were decently aligned, but I would say for this ABM pilot, kind of the key factor was being aligned with that singular salesperson. I think that a lot of the success came with somebody whose main focus was those accounts that we were working on for utilizing these tactics. That they were solely focused on that, as opposed to chasing other things in addition to this, this is the last thing that they wanted to do, or somebody gave them this task. It was, “Nope, this is your job, focus on doing X, and we’ll see how this turns out.”
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Carman Pirie: So, what was the extent of the one-to-one campaign? Can you give me a bit of kind of the overview of the anatomy of it, if you will? What’d you do for research? What was the account-based advertising approach? The extent to which it was customized, et cetera.
Taylor Narewski: Sure. So, it was really simple. I know that a lot of larger organizations, that the research can include market position and just lots of kind of in-depth research with these very large sales that they were doing. One of the benefits that we have in the ABM space is most people are talking about fit, finding the right fit, that’s usually from a software perspective, but you know, as a manufacturer and somebody that’s been in business for 20 years, our bread and butter is banks and credit unions and there is a limited number of those. They are not rapidly opening new banks and new credit unions throughout the year in that way.
Carman Pirie: And basically, if you’re a bank or a credit union, you can use what you sell.
Taylor Narewski: Exactly. Yeah. There’s not a whole lot of like, “Well, actually we couldn’t. We’re not interested in improving our operations and our customer service.”
Jeff White: We keep the cash in a box on Jimmy’s desk.
Taylor Narewski: Right. Exactly. Kind of the assets that we ended up creating was a landing page, and that landing page, fairly standard to start with, but as we got into the details and fleshed it out, it became a bit more thoughtful, which I think is kind of the whole purpose of ABM. Had about four sections on it, the kind of title header and what we were covering in each of those sections was tied to our company’s core values. So, explaining a little bit about ourselves, what we had to offer, but not in detail, had a video talking about how easy we were to work with from a lot of our customers that our wonderful in-house videographer made.
And then probably the strangest thing was the final section had a picture of the saleswoman who was going to be doing the outreach and basically it didn’t have a form. We weren’t trying to capture your information. It was basically saying, “Hey, we’re going to contact you. This is the person that will be on the other line calling or behind that email that you’ll see in your inbox and we’re not here to pressure you if you’ve taken the time to click on this ad into giving us your information. It’s incumbent upon us to find your information and contact you that way.” So, I thought that was a little bit of a different approach.
Carman Pirie: So, did you resist the urge to even put the saleswoman’s phone number and email address on the-
Taylor Narewski: No, so I didn’t go that far. We did put phone number and email on there if somebody wanted to reach out.
Carman Pirie: Okay, okay. I was gonna say that would be even more kind of stand-offish in a way, which is… I kind of like.
Taylor Narewski: Yeah, so had that landing page. We had a number of ads and like other one-to-one ads, we used their name, the company’s name, in the ads. We felt that that was more attention grabbing. We didn’t try to do anything like use their logo, because that’s a great way to get cease and desist letters from companies that very much are protective of their brand for good reason but had those ads that led to the landing page and then had a really nice initial email that was written. I think there was one kind of loose template that the salesperson created that linked to that landing page, it didn’t go in depth about who we are, but just we’d love to have a conversation with you about the things that we’re doing in the cash recycling space. And when can we set up an appointment?
So, it was tailored to each of the individuals that the salesperson was reaching out to. She had done the super fun work of finding out who was the right contact at these various locations through some research tools like a sales navigator or the bank’s website or calling the bank and trying to find out who it was that she needed to reach out to.
Carman Pirie: That’s old fashioned phone tree research.
Jeff White: Yeah.
Carman Pirie: Exactly.
Jeff White: That is some hard work.
Carman Pirie: It is. It is. And I like that the… I think sometimes a lot of marketers get in their own way as they think about sales, especially those that are not particularly, or haven’t sold themselves, so they’ll… They think almost in some ways it’s a bit of not a bait and switch, but you kind of like… You have to be somehow not obvious about what your intentions are. But the fact of the matter is good sales is just simply… It’s okay to say you want to have a sales conversation and we have something here that can help, and do so respectfully, and not have to… I don’t know, play hide the weenie or whatever.
Jeff White: Well, and I also like how you approached the landing page. I mean, it would have been very easy to just talk about how much faster and more efficient the cash recycler is than the competition or anything like that, but instead you talked about the ease of working with you in a video. Is that coming from a place of research or knowledge that the industry is not normally that way? Or what was the reason for including that?
Taylor Narewski: Because our machines aren’t simply something… most people that talk about something, software as a service or something like that, it’s changing some back end processes. Your IT people are gonna have to really pivot and maneuver what they do and several of your employees have to fill out new forms. Our machines are physically changing the space in an organization, and then changing these process that really, when you look at cash, cash handling hasn’t changed in hundreds of years of, “Well, I need some more cash. I’ve gotta go back to the vault. We gotta have two people here to take a look at this to make sure that that cash is accounted for.”
Once you bring in our machine, you no longer have to have dual control events, and so the thought process was that this is gonna be something that’s going to disrupt your physical space and then disrupt processes, and I feel like if you don’t have a good service-minded message even from the beginning as a manufacturer, that someone’s gonna look somewhere else because the machines, yes, there are features and this one has this widget and that one has this other widget, but people want to work with people that are easy to work with. Particularly when you’re going to disrupt that much of their time. And if you do that well, and you talk about it on the front end at the beginning of the message when talking to customers, I think that that sets you up for success and sets their expectations a little bit higher for you and if they were going to go do their research on a competitor.
Jeff White: Yeah. That’s a nice bit of insight.
Carman Pirie: Yeah. Yeah. I like that. So, look, we had the personalized one-to-one ads driving to the customized landing destination, sales follow up, email, phone, and 16 accounts initially. Let’s talk about some results. Where do we end up?
Taylor Narewski: Yeah, so we had I think 35%. If that’s not an even number, I’m not going to do math while on a podcast, then round up for me. But yeah, 35% set appointments from that, which was… I mean, again, these are as you mentioned accounts that we had had no success getting in, and so had not just one appointment, but several appointments with these customers, and from that pilot, not just from those initial accounts, but kind of some of this methodology in terms of continuing through, I think to date have had contributed $4.8 million, influenced $4.8 million in pipeline, and then influenced another… I think off the top of my head it’s like $11 point something million in pipeline to date.
And again, we continue to do some of the demand generation, and inbound, and other traditional marketing avenues, but this has been something that we’ve continued for certain accounts and kind of certain situations since that pilot.
Carman Pirie: And part of that continuation has been trying to scale it, has it not?
Taylor Narewski: Right. And so, this very easily aligned with the one salesperson who was dedicated to this and doing some of the research. Lots of people kind of start off in the one-to-one and then you try to do the one-to-many, and I would say that the one-to-many efforts, if we… They were a bit more of the, this salesperson chooses 40 accounts, that salesperson chooses 40 accounts, and for the next two months, three months, we’re gonna go after those accounts for those salespeople. I think the administrative burden to stay aligned with the salespeople on these are the accounts, and what’s happening, and being able to feed them information in real time, I think became a little bit onerous a couple of times, and probably the research.
I mentioned that initial salesperson and she was very dedicated and a very good researcher online to be able to find contacts. And while when we moved to having a lot more accounts, that became a lot harder as that spread across the sales group, because you know-
Carman Pirie: Yeah, and that competency is not universal amongst salespeople. Let’s be clear.
Taylor Narewski: Correct.
Carman Pirie: That’s not being disrespectful to those salespeople. It’s just that it’s not a natural part of the beast really.
Taylor Narewski: No. Absolutely. And I think the other sales folks that didn’t take to that naturally, their kind of sales rhythm looked a little bit different, and they were doing… They were going after when we tried to do the one-to-many, they were going after accounts of all sizes, as opposed to a specific set that had criteria. You know, so if you were to play the what would you do differently, I think the criteria for the accounts that we may have gone after in that one-to-many would have been much tighter. Probably a smaller number, because if you’re trying to do… Because you want to personalize it up to a point with everything, but there’s only so much when it’s 40 for one person as opposed to 16 or 10 for one person.
Carman Pirie: I think that’s great advice, Taylor. Yeah, as you do try to scale, I think it is critical that people think it’s not just about throwing this tactic soup at a larger number of accounts. You’ve got to find a tighter grouping of like accounts in some way.
Jeff White: And develop the messaging and process for each one of those, perhaps bespoke.
Carman Pirie: And for some people that’s vertical specific. I don’t know. Maybe credit unions are in some way unique or different than banks in how you might sell to them, so maybe carve that language out differently, those campaigns may feel different. I mean, whatever it is, it’s an important point to raise and it’s something I think a lot of people, when they begin to tier an account list, really what we’re talking about here is more your tier two account structure, they think it’s almost gonna be set it and forget it. And I think you should probably think, “It’s gonna be set it and revise it a bunch.”
Jeff White: Yeah. Test it.
Taylor Narewski: No, that’s a great point. And the kind of research piece that I didn’t mention earlier on the landing pages is we did some research on each of these accounts to see what they said about themselves on their website. You know, so two, three clicks deep at most of what are their values, what’s their mission in their community or their communities that they happen to be in? And we included some of that language in the email that we sent, and we had it highlighted on the landing page. And I do think that that shows some small initiative. Like I said, there are organizations that have the bandwidth to do some really impressive amount of research, but that fit for our industry and our bandwidth, and I do think that that showed, “Oh, these people have actually done some research about us. We might be more inclined to have some conversation with them.”
Whereas, when you went to the many, obviously you can’t… You don’t have that personalized language on there. It’s much more demand generation similar, or it felt at the time a little bit more demand generation similar, and so I don’t know that the people that we reached out to had that same sort of connection that ABM I think is supposed to garner.
Jeff White: So, given that, and kind of where you are now, what’s next? What are you excited about for 2021 with ABM?
Taylor Narewski: So, we did have some success with events and ABM, and doing some targeting that we’re going to be at an event, we’d like to talk with people, and doing that one-to-many approach I think seemed to work, being able to speak to the specific segment of users that are gonna show up to this user conference. Well, since we’re not necessarily guaranteed to have events in 2021, I don’t know that that’s necessarily gonna be part of that strategy, but in the retail space we have a specific sector that we’re going after that we’re starting to use some of that one-to-one approach for. Some of those similar large scale accounts that we haven’t necessarily had success get in front of, and I think the ABM model of carefully timed display ads with email follow up, and likely some direct mail I would imagine, to land on their desk, and that could be anything from a small gift to a printed customer story along with a handwritten note, we’ve had some success with some of those of garnering attention, is likely I think our ABM approach for 2021, is using this more in the retail space. Because we have a dedicated salesperson that is focused only on this one industry.
And I think getting back to that kind of collaboration is gonna be key for us.
Carman Pirie: And whether it’s that retail grouping, or like you said, trade events or what have you, it’s still that same lesson. A tighter grouping is what’s driving the success.
Jeff White: Yeah. The nichier the niche, the better off you’re going to be with ABM. Yeah.
Carman Pirie: Exactly right. Taylor, it’s been great chatting with you today. Thanks so much for joining the show and sharing your experience. It’s been a real pleasure.
Taylor Narewski: Jeff, Carman, absolutely a pleasure talking to you guys today. Thanks for having me on.
Jeff White: Thanks a lot.
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