Matt Heinz is a well-known speaker and author in the marketing world, as well as the founder and president of Heinz Marketing. He sat down with Inside.com to share his hard-earned wisdom on demand generation, AI, and sales strategy. In this conversation, founders and marketers will learn how to:
- Build not just revenue-responsible departments, but a revenue responsible organization. This involves aligning marketing, sales, and other teams to focus on the customer journey, not just departmental goals.
- Think long-term by investing in brand building and trust early, even if the ROI isn't immediate. Short-term tactics can backfire. Don't wait until later stages to engage customers as advocates and referral sources.
- Use AI to pull and analyze data to help inform your segmentation and targeting.
- Measure impact across the funnel. Don't just focus on immediate conversions. Track how your efforts build awareness and trust over time.
Stephanie: So Matt, would you start us out by telling us what you do, how you got to the place you are in your marketing empire?
Matt: Well Stephanie, this has been a giant mistake. I studied journalism, political science at school. I wanted to be a, I wanted to be Woodward and Bernstein investigative reporter, solve the right, the wrongs of the world. Many unintentional, but fortuitous turns in the road down, you know went to Microsoft for a while ran marketing for a couple of tech startups in Seattle.
A little over 15 years ago, I just decided to hang up my own shingle. And so been doing that ever since all focused on B2B marketing, really helping companies build more predictable pipeline, helping marketing teams be more revenue responsible and sort of really sort of teaching them to take that as a core competency of how they operate internally moving forward.
So it's, I'm very grateful, very blessed, very lucky to be doing what I'm doing.
Stephanie: That's wonderful. I love that path. So today we are at an inflection point, not just in the marketing world, but in the tech world at large, tell us what you're seeing right now with AI and marketing.
Matt: Yeah, it's fascinating, right? It's not just in marketing. I think we're seeing AI impact all elements of the enterprise. But I think some of the early adoption. Opportunities are sort of in marketing and selling. We're seeing companies use AI as a first draft developer. I mean, like, you know, writer's block is now extinct because the machines can do it for you.
Right. And most of the machines, I mean, you can train the machines to, to, to start to mimic your, your tone. You can train the machines to write better, but most machines are kind of a junior copywriter right now, and you still need to. Artists, you still need someone that can sort of spend more time editing and making that better.
Account planning, competitive research, analysis of data. Here's a whole bunch of people we think we should be targeting. Go find these trigger events somewhere on the web and tell me which of these people we should be calling today. I mean, there's the opportunities are endless, right? And I think about that not only from the marketing perspective, but across the entire funnel.
The entire customer journey. I think by default, most marketers that we, that we talked to, they're leaning in on this, just assume that AI can do it and then in many cases it cannot, but it will be, it'll be able to help soon the advances happening in chat GPT and some of the other models in 2000 are pretty incredible.
S: Yeah, I feel like I'm hearing a very scientific approach to all of this when you're talking about how I can even help with competitive research. I mean, there's so many opportunities to be analytical with the way that you do marketing. So, could you map out for us how you see all of the different subcategories of marketing today, demand generation versus sales, how all the departments should work together?
M: Yeah, I think if you were starting an organization from scratch and this is the real challenge here, right? Because this isn't just sort of ivory tower, but you look at sort of the way companies are set up today. There's silos, right? There's a sales team and there's a marketing team and they are separate.
And in a large organization, even within marketing, you've got, okay, well, here's my demand gen team and here's my content team and here's my brand team. And here's my PR team. You're social, but it's just one customer. Like if you are the prospect, if you are the customer, you're not sitting here saying, well, I realized that there's a complex word chart over there.
So I'm giving you, you know, it's okay. If the messages are just joined, it's okay. Like, no, the customer wants one continuous experience. So if you were to start a company from scratch and didn't have to deal with the organizational and cultural precedents, you would probably build something that was more focused on the buying journey than the selling journey, more focused on a singular approach to a customer.
And then how do you do that? How do you organize the jobs to be done at different stages of that journey? So it's not PR versus marketing versus sales versus customer success. The stages of the customer journey are like unaware, aware, interested, qualified, purchased, onboarding, success, evangelist, referral source.
I mean, then it becomes sort of this infinite loop. How do you operationalize that experience in a way that is intimate, personalized, but can be done at scale? Given the economic opportunity for each of those and each of those customers. So I think that that may be kind of a obtuse way of sort of stepping back, but I think it's really important given the complexity of buying decisions today, given the complexity and longevity potential in the relationships we have with customers to think about their experience first and reorganize and reinvent the way that we go to market.
With those customers. So then we can get into questions like, should sales and marketing be the same team, right? Are they the same organizations? Are they in the same department? Do they, are they different teams? Because sales and marketing still are different skills and different, and you have different sets of expertise, but it needs to be a far more coordinated effort.
Right. We do this already. Like many marketing teams are already starting to coordinate the channels that go into demand gen programs, right? So marketing can already do that. Sales can do it too, right? You've got an SDR and you've got an AE. And in some cases you've got a sales engineer or a customer success person.
They're all already working together and coordinating their efforts towards a common goal. So it seems to me if sales can coordinate multiple functions and marketing can coordinate multiple functions, we can do it together. Right. And so the path to predictable pipeline, the path to predict predictable revenue organizations is a team sport moving forward.
If you're in B2B, if you do any level of complex selling. Yeah. I definitely think the organizations that figure that out rise to the top.
S: On www.heinzmarketing.com, you have this awesome blog. We were just talking about this blog article about how you can apply AI to these different segments that you're talking about. So let's start off with the early stages of behavioral analysis and segmentation and targeting. What are the specific AI tools that you're seeing for those early stages?
M: I mean, honestly, if you have a 12 month subscription to chat GPT four, you can do all of this. Okay. How do you do it? What are the prompts?
Yeah. I mean, that's the trick, right? Is I think, you know, for, for segmentation and targeting, like you basically sort of give, you can give ChatGPT, you can do this with BARD, you can do this with any of the tools, just give them data and say, organize these into segments, right? Like figure out based on this data, what are the most important segments for us to create?
You can give ChatGPT some data and say, tell me the best, most important cohorts we have. Right? And if it has information, not just in terms of like company name, where they are, what industry, but if it's got lifetime value, if it's got time to sale, you could be able to say, and this is stuff that you've always been able to do with data, right?
But you've needed some kind of an analyst that can sit there with a spreadsheet and spend a whole day or spend a couple of weeks coming up with something. And then there's human margin of error. I mean, think of chatGPT as like you're crazy smart. Sidekick who isn't perfect who made so maybe it's the you know, it's the mba intern, right?
It's someone who's not the high schooler They've got some skills They still hallucinate sometimes they don't always come up with the right answers But they accelerate the path to learning right so the ability for you in like 10 minutes to get some cohorts that are based not just on your biggest segments, but based on your highest lifetime value, or you know what, this is our third biggest cohort, but they convert at a quarter of the time, right?
They convert faster and at a higher rate. And so all of a sudden they say, okay, well, that may not mean my most profitable, but if I can string together more of those deals, revenue increases margin is there as well. So. The ability to bring insights out of that data simply by asking those questions is, is, is huge.
And I think to your point, the, our ability to know what those prompts are, to ask those right questions and honestly, to get really creative. Right. You know, too often in the real world today, someone would say, well, show me in our data, who our best customers are based on the, where the most, where's the highest percent of people by industry.
There's a bias because those are the people you've already sold to. There could be a segment out there that is hugely profitable potential for you, but they're just not represented in your customer data. That's why you have to ask those questions around what are some trends you're seeing in all of the cohorts relative to profitability relative to higher lifetime value, et cetera.
Same kind of questions you would ask an analyst. You're now asking a machine to do for you. So in a similar vein, AI can help with predictive analytics. So. What have been some maybe case studies that you've seen in the clients you've worked with where AI has been used to help, you know, predict these things.
I think some of this is, is just having the right data to begin with. A lot of people will be challenged because they don't have good enough data. Bad input in even with even with predictive AI is going to give you bad data out.
But I think, the models keep getting better and the more other companies that are using chat GPT and other tools to do predictive analytics, it's making the system smarter for you as well. Right. Ask the system, like set, send it down and say, what data would you need to make this more compelling?
What questions should I be asking if my goal is X? So you've got, here's the data I have. Here's the objective. I have the middle ground is better prompts. Chat GPT can help you come up with better prompts. What questions should I be asking? What's missing in this data? What other data can I get to augment this that can help you answer the questions I have helped me get to the answers I need.
It's already able to have that kind of a conversation with you. And in some cases you could say, okay, can you go find. This this separate data appended to the information I've given you and help me answer that question.
S: Love that idea of having chat GPT find data for you!
Another segment that the article that is on your blog mentions is personalization. I think everyone is really into how personalized things can get today with marketing and with AI assisting in that. I am so interested in how niched down everything is getting today and will continue to get in the future. Can you maybe talk about some of the trends you're seeing and how personalized marketing is getting today and where you see that continuing to go?
M: I think it's, it's going to continue to get better. I think we are still in the infancy of seeing sort of the evolution of that personalization, as well as the effective seamless implementation of that. Mail merging a first name somewhere is sort of table stakes. And we still get that wrong sometimes you know, referencing at the beginning of an email that, you know, I live in Kirkland, Washington, or, you know, that I'm a college football fan can be clunky and weird. But also I think I can, I can tell chat GPT to go and say like, Hey, listen, I'm thinking about getting a birthday present for so and so tell me, go like, go research them online and tell me what you think the best topics, the best subjects could be. I was thinking about this earlier today, cause it's just coming back from the holidays and, you know, get back to the house from a little time off over the, over the new year's just had a couple of boxes and what they were, it was different, like sort of just partner Thank you. Gifts from a couple of people we work with. One was a box of. Just branded stuff, right? Like a logo, a pen and a mug that was, you know brand, you know, had the company's logo on it. So I'm like, okay, it's interesting. Another one was a set set of Tiki glasses and it was from a company that I'd spent time with at a conference.
And we were out at the part, one of the industry conference conference parties one night, and it was sort of this multi themed like event facility. And we got, we hung out a little bit at the Tiki bar and it was super fun. And so they had this whole. Sort of tie into that. So did you, you didn't need chatGPT to do that. But you could certainly research - maybe I've got like a side hustle where I sort of publish, tiki recipes. Those little things and the same amount of money, a couple tiki cups versus like a branded mug and pen, delivering those may be the same cost, but which one had the bigger impact? Which one am I highlighting here during this interview? A branded mug may end up going to goodwill like right away, but a tiki glass that my kids want to drink their drink milk in at night, that sits around forever reminds me of that relationship. So AI is making those connections faster and easier. It can go do a lot of that research for you, but I think it still has to be applied in a human way.
S: That creativity is so human. Only the humans have that random experience of being at the tiki bar at the conference. But I love the idea of building that creativity in a marketer's mind for their strategy. By having these conversations with AI, maybe AI even comes. back and is like, well, what are some of the experiences that you had with this client in the past? Something that could become personalized. That's pretty smart.
So that strategy maybe is part of a demand gen strategy. I'm curious if you could give some advice to early stage founders, maybe B2B SAAS founders who are new to demand gen and they're building that strategy for the first time. How should they think about the role of this strategy in their company?
M: I think you gotta do a couple things one. You have to enable your Organization to be revenue responsible to all stages of the pipeline. Like I want my PR team to think about what are my best personas? Who are the people we should be speaking to who are members of the buying committee? What needs to be said and understood by a prospect early in the buying process, right? I'm not pitching anything, maybe not even talking about my company, but how do I earn and keep the attention? Of a prospect with interesting content, with interesting story, right?
I think you have to think about this as an infinite loop. You have to think about all of those parties across marketing, across sales, working towards the same goal, have a measure and neck a set of accountability for those people and for those departments, but not everything can be measured immediately. Not everything is going to have an immediate pipeline return. If you are doing complex B2B sales, if you have a sales cycle, that is months, quarters, maybe years long, you can't measure the revenue impact of your marketing team in, in weeks and months, you have to think about the things that are going to go into that effort. For instance, if you're going to build trust and credibility and awareness with an audience that might not buy from you until next year, you're not going to measure the revenue impact of that this year. That is a hard thing for a lot of companies to think about, right? To say, I am building a budget and a set of expectations for marketing for 2024. And yet I have to invest in relationships and brand building and pipeline that's going to Be generated and or convert in subsequent years. The short term thinking can get you immediate pipeline, but it will come at a cost. It'll come at a premium and it might create negative interest in equity from people that don't respond.
I see a lot of companies say, we're just going to call everybody. We're going to spam people. We're just going to go shock and awe with phone calls and you'll, excuse me, you'll get your pipeline out of that. But then you might have pissed off a lot of other prospects that are just like, oh, these guys are terrible to deal with. I think thinking about having a accountable revenue, responsible cross-functional team to drive pipeline now, but having the discipline and the patience and, and the, and the, the long-term vision to build a trustworthy, credible. Attention earning brand over time.
That's going to be foundational for you. And there's a bunch of ways to do that. I mean, companies are doing that through brand investments, through content, through communities, lots of different ways to do that. But these are investments that take time to then mature.
S: Great advice. If I could just zero in a little bit more on advice for B2B SaaS startup founders, once they're past that brand new stage, say they've gotten to a million ARR, how would you then advise a company like that if they were their client on thinking about what they invest into demand gen and other sales strategies?
M: If you've reached a level of product market fit and you're starting to get some momentum, starting to get some gravity, I would highly encourage you to start investing in customer marketing earlier. I think too often early stage companies over invest in acquisition marketing, which of course you need to go get customers, you go so that you can, you know, start to generate revenue to prove that you've got a model, so go get your next round fine, but the better you can engage your customers.
Advocates as evangelists for your brand as referral sources, but also to actively continue to manage what used to be the buying committee and is now the customer user committee at different levels, the executive sponsor, the decision makers, the users, you will increase your ability to keep those customers longterm.
And keeping those customers and keeping them happy becomes a flywheel that directly impacts your pipeline. Those customers in their communities and their circles of influence will talk about the impact you're having that will generate pipeline for you. And so I think early stage companies don't invest in that customer marketing, that customer led growth motion. They don't invest in that early on.
S: Amazing. This is Such dense, valuable information. I feel like I've learned as much in this 20 minutes or so as I would have in like an hour. Can you tell us a little bit more about where the audience can find you online and what the typical client is that you work with?
M: Yeah. Thank you for asking. It’s heinzmarketing.com. As you mentioned, we've got a great blog. I'm just super proud of our team and the quality of content they've been producing. So 15 years of content, blog posts, best practice guides, frameworks, whatever, all available for free.
I'm just accessible at Matt@heinzmarketing.com. Our focus is helping companies build predictable pipeline discipline in their own organizations. So predictable pipeline and revenue-responsible teams. If you have product market fit and you're trying to scale that, starting to scale revenue responsibility across your go to market teams and drive results as you scale in a predictable manner you know, we're strategy process playbooks and happy to help.
S: And do you work across industries?
M: Yeah, it's all B2B all companies that have a more complex sale. If you're a transactional sales, that's all, that's kind of a different motion, complex sales and B2B across tech, manufacturing, healthcare, a little bit of professional services and FinTech as well.
S: Very cool. Matt, thank you so much for your time. This was really informative. I'm excited for everyone to get to learn a lot from you and continue their learning on your blog.
M: Well, thank you so much for having me. It's been a pleasure.
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