Account-based marketing (ABM) – it’s the hottest thing in B2B and involves identifying key prospect contacts and treating them as a market of one (with appropriate content, contact strategy and messaging).

Demandbase is one of the big players in ABM and, this week, we’ve been speaking to Jessica Fewless, their VP of ABM Strategy. Here’s what she does with her time…

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Please describe your job: What do you do?

My day job is to run our ABM strategy group at Demandbase, which consists of field marketing, channel marketing, customer marketing, content marketing, ABM education, and ABM. It might sound like the island of misfit toys but, in reality, it makes sense that each of these teams are working together and feeding off each other.

When I’m not doing my day job — which is about 50% of the time —  I’m traveling around the country, and even the world, to talk about ABM with our customers and prospects; discussing the ins-and-outs of ABM, how to get the most out of it and how to apply ABM principles to their specific organization.

In my spare time, I worked with the rest of the organization to literally write the book on ABM which we actually launched last month! 

jessica fewless

Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?

As VP of ABM Strategy for Demandbase, I report up to our CMO and am peers with our VP of Growth and our VP of Product Marketing.

What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?

I think the biggest thing for me is to be able to relate to other marketers. As we are marketing to marketers, it becomes really important.

First and foremost, it is required to ensure that I’m driving my team to build campaigns and content that really resonate with our audience. This is evidenced by the vast body of ABM ‘how-to’ content we’ve built. From workshops our field marketing team executes, to the three levels of ABM certification that over 3500 marketers have taken to date, and now our book, it was all done with the goal of helping B2B marketers wrap their heads around this thing called ABM.

But secondly, as I spend so much time meeting with marketing teams, I need to take the principles and best practices of ABM and help these teams apply them to their own organization and strategy. No two ABM strategies are the same due to business models, corporate culture, org structures, etc., so translating best practices into actionable plans for these organizations is really important (and a lot of FUN!)

Account-Based Marketing: A Practical Guide

Tell us about a typical working day…

For me, during any given day I will have one-on-one meetings with members of my team and spend about 50% of my time talking to prospects and customers, which can require quite a bit of travel. Otherwise, I do prep meetings with our sales team or customer meetings over the phone.

I’m also working on a lot of sales enablement right now because we are marketers, marketing to other marketers. So, I’m focused on teaching our sales team how to speak ‘marketer’ and understand our customers, what they are up against, and how Demandbase solutions can truly help them be more successful.

When I’m not traveling, I work from home so I will break up the day by taking my dog, Pete, on a few walks throughout the day. I’m usually in back-to-back meetings, so I use walks with my dog to do my thinking.

What do you love about your job? What sucks?

I love getting in front of customers and prospects and helping them figure out how to apply principles of ABM inside their own organizations. Instead of doing a ton of presenting when I get in front of clients, now it’s more of a working session, which is a lot of fun. I’m there as an ABM expert to help them figure out things but, without fail, I end up learning something at pretty much every meeting with customers or prospects.

Travel can be a plus and a minus. I enjoy getting to spend time with customers and prospects but it takes me away from my husband, dog and home in the mountains. But, I do have a lot of hotel and airline points now!

What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?

Obviously, given my role, I have a lot of different types of goals that I am trying to manage to. Our field marketing team is focused on influencing pipeline and how to close pipeline faster, our channel marketing team is helping to influence and generate pipeline, and our customer marketing team is focused on retention and upsell of existing customers. And, this is not necessarily metrics or KPI-based, but making sure I am partnering with our sales enablement team to really equip our sales team to be as effective as possible when speaking to marketers. Ultimately, my north star is to help close as much revenue for Demandbase as I can.

What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?

For day-to-day, Asana is a project management tool we use that is invaluable in coordinating our cross-functional effort — largely in marketing but even with teams outside of marketing.

SalesHood is a great tool for sales enablement — you can send out a video to sales and hope people watch it but with SalesHood there is some accountability and a feedback loop, which has proved really successful.

Obviously, Demandbase all day every day!

Evernote, I love! I use Evernote to keep track of all my thoughts and various projects I’m working on at any given point. It not only rules my business world but my personal world. I also use Evernote for storing my recipes and personal to-do’s so I can get to those whenever and wherever I need.

And lastly, Google Suite because it is far better than the asynchronous way we used to have to do things. Now, everyone can collaborate at the same time which is especially important given the cross-functional nature of my role. 

How did you end up at Demandbase, and where might you go from here?

When I was looking to make a move from my previous job, I really wanted to get into the martech space but was feeling a little rusty on the latest and greatest in martech. So, I was looking into marketing automation solution providers and some other tech providers in the space and kind of stumbled upon Demandbase. As I really started digging into Demandbase’s offerings, I realized that ABM made a lot of sense. Sales and marketing teams have been at odds for decades and ABM is a really logical way to get past that, which is how I ended up at Demandbase. And, of course, then I applied and they liked me!

For now, I’m happy at Demandbase, as we’ve worked hard to really build a name and practice around ABM. Any next steps in my career would definitely be guided by ABM and how I can continue helping organizations grow by leveraging the strategy.

Which campaigns or experiences have impressed you lately?

While I know that video has been an up-and-coming medium for the past few years, I think it is really becoming important as a communication medium. One-directional recorded video has become a more engaging way for marketers and sales people to get their messages out to their audiences – they get more views, people tend to engage longer, etc. That being said, now with the rise of streaming video, now it can become a conversation… a bi-directional and interactive way of communicating. So instead of one person just doing all the talking, now they can interact with their audience through a moderated chat discussion in real time, and they can answer the questions people are dying to hear about! Here at Demandbase we are about to embark on such a program to help further our education of the marketplace on ABM and are really excited about it!

What advice would you give a B2B marketer if they could start their tech stack afresh?

The biggest thing would be to not buy a single piece of technology until you have a strategy in place. Don’t buy the shiny new object. A lot of companies are buying intent because it seems like a good idea but they don’t know what problem they are trying to solve for with intent. Even when deciding to go with ABM; don’t just say we have to do it because everyone is, but look at what you are currently struggling with. Are you not getting enough qualified accounts to engage with your organization? Is there a lack of focus? Are sales and marketing not aligned?

Know what you are trying to solve for in embarking in an ABM strategy. Then, come up with that strategy and figure out where your tech stack is lacking in order to execute on that strategy.

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