A New Way to do B2B Demand Gen – with Vladimir Blagojevic
Vladimir Blagojevic is a highly successful entrepreneur, innovator, and author with 10+ years of experience in the B2B SaaS world. Blagojevic’s book “6-Week ABM Playbook” provides actionable, affordable tools that can be employed by teams of all sizes and budgets. His previous ventures include Grant Snap, Growth Hacking Belgium, Lean Startup Circle Brussels, and Scale XL – all focused upon helping innovators fund and scale their businesses. Blagojevic is the Co-Founder of Fullfunnel.io, a consulting firm with full-funnel marketing solutions that have been employed by many European and North American B2B tech companies. He is also recognized as the Co-Founder of Trenches, a B2B marketing community that provides support for ABM and Demand Generation, among many other topics.
“If you look at how most companies market, they will do things like publish an article every week and maybe a white paper every quarter or twice a quarter – whatever their cadence. What’s wrong with that content that is produced like that is often it’s optimized for keywords, but it doesn’t have a lot of impact.”
- Content that has been created for the sake of content doesn’t impact readers – it only creates noise.
- The reason most content creation fails is due to a lack of intent.
- Full funnel marketing is all about creating touchpoints throughout the entire buyer experience.
- B2B buying should be an easy, painless experience.
- You must be consistent to drive engagement.
All right, everyone, welcome to another session for the Demand Gen Summit. I’m here with Vlad Vlagojevic. Vlad, did I get your name right
Very good. Very good.
Awesome. Awesome. Pretty good. From a kid from a small town in Idaho that nail that so, Vlad, first, you know, we’re going to be talking about demand gen, obviously, and your approach and your philosophy over there at full funnel. But for those of you that don’t know Vlad, he’s one of the co-founders of Full Funnel.IO. They’re at Demand Gen Consultancy Agency and they’ve got an interesting approach to to demand gen compared to what I think a lot of people are doing. But before we get into that, Vlad, just tell us a little bit about yourself.
Yeah. Thanks so much for having me. So I’m a co-founder of Full Funnel.IO. And what we do is we work with brands that B2B tech brands with high ACB, usually multiple buyers, complex sales cycles. And we help them drive demand and implement what we call full funnel marketing framework to actually land opportunities, increase the win rates, increase the ICB, etc..
So the way that we do this is we have, you know, consulting, training, and we started actually just two years ago as an unknown brand. And since then we have actually built our own. We do what we preach. So we built our own demand gen program or strategy that actually so far I think it generated 176 opportunities, 72 five figure opportunities this year qualified it
We grown our LinkedIn following up to more than 40K people. So far. Our newsletter, which we never promote, by the way, we grew it to almost 12K. We had more than 7000 people attend our event. We had landed speaking at dozens of events, podcasts, you know, like Nathan Latka, B2B closing founder, 500 adverts, a lot of other like B2B growth.
Yeah, one of the biggest podcasts in our space got published by companies and websites like Excel Marketing, Cross Terminus and kind of established ourselves as a go to guys when it comes to full funnel in ABM, especially. And the best part of the whole story is that we have done this with two FT’s, basically while building our products or business consulting. Our clients
Are awesome. Awesome. I love it. So what do you think? I mean, like before, let’s talk about how you guys do things – like how do what do you think is wrong with how most people are doing demand gen right now.
All right. I think you had something you can share. Maybe it’s easier for people to follow here. I think that if you if you look at how most companies market, the most B2B companies market, they will do things like publish an article every week and maybe a white paper every, you know, quarter or twice a quarter, whatever their cadences. And what’s wrong with that content that is produced like that is that often it’s, you know, optimized for keywords, it doesn’t really have a lot of impact.
It’s like kind of “me too” superficial content that doesn’t really impact the buyers and the way that it’s being distributed usually other than Page, you know, it’s dropping links on social. So you know, if you look at their social handles, it’s usually a lot of self-promotional, you know, awards and news. And look at us what we did and our products and why does this doesn’t work is because it doesn’t really impact the buyers. They don’t get their content. It doesn’t stand out. They don’t get it to people who they actually want to influence. And then the way that they do, quote unquote, demand generation is basically whether that’s that white paper that they promoted or a webinar or whatever they’re running, generating leads and then sending those leads to sales maybe in the meantime, they have nurturing sequence, which is kind of like five emails sequence or something, and they send it to sales or they simply run called, called ads or called email, send people to some sort of a landing page driving the driving, these demo calls, etc.
And the reason why that doesn’t work is because there is no intent, right? This is the fact that you downloaded a piece of a piece of content or attended a webinar. It just means that you want to learn. It doesn’t mean that you’re buying and sending those. And as we know, like the majority of the market is not in the buying mode.
So you’re wasting like 97% of all that budget on, you know, trying to engage buyers that are not actually buying. And if you look at all of these approaches, I mean, and even if they’re buying, there is another problem is that if you’re just capturing the amount, if you’re not doing nothing to create a demand and differentiate yourself at the end, you end up being perceived as a commodity.
You usually have a very high cost of acquisition, very low in rates, and you don’t have a lot of you know, you don’t build a lot of good deals, like especially high ACB deals. You don’t win them because you’re quite often too late to the party. Right. And the other competitors have been positioning themselves for for quite a while.
And if you look at all of these approaches, what they have in common is they’re kind of trying to – they’re marketing the way that they want to sell. They’re not marketing in the way that the buyers are actually buying.
Yeah, I think, I think it’s really insightful that like we are, we do a lot of stuff because we have a process that we’re like, hey, this is, this is our process. And you know, if you want to buy from us like fit into the process somehow and every company is going to be different in how they buy.
And I think sometimes it’s easy for us to forget, especially in B2B, that like we’re selling to people, you know, as much as we sell the companies ultimately, like it’s people making the decision. So, so what, what do you think people should be doing differently? Like what? How can we really go and meet the buyers where they want to be met and how they want to be met?
Well, let me first start with an example. Right. So we we we did a lot of research done on the way that the buyers are buying. And maybe if you switch to the next one here, I have worked out an example and at the end I think it was like a 40 x step. So just very quickly, this was when a market there’s so a comment from his friend on LinkedIn and started following me are engaged in one of my LinkedIn posts and I reached out to them to connect to them and I usually you know send out the people the welcome message mentioning our community who join the community.
He saw an announcement from Andre about a webinar that we’re running the partnership in and we were on he joined the webinar, saw content hub that we shared after the webinar and he shared one of the keys that is when in the content how we the CMO, I saw in the content analytics that the CMO was checking the case study.
I went out and reached out to her. She didn’t really engage. So a lot of time has passed by. They’ve kind of like following me without really engaging until there was an internal triggers and something happened internally that basically they had the beds, you know, board meeting, they missed the targets. And as the ship tends to roll down in these kind of companies, they had to do something about it and they got new targets for the next year, more ambitious.
And after seeing another LinkedIn post from from us, the CMOs that marketer to attend our summit we are doing a full funnel marketing summit every year, and there they so bunch of presentations and this one others like how we go about planning and creating a GTM strategy. He shared that slide with the CMO comes the call after a lot of, you know, back and forth, they had a call.
They asked for a proposal to send them proposal, but then went silent. And what happened actually was that he couldn’t make basically business case answer some critical questions. Meanwhile, Andre actually reached out proactively to the CMO, invited her to our podcast, chatted about her that, chatted about her stuff, you know, challenges the way they do marketing on the podcast.
And by the way, also asked their what was going on with our deal. She mentioned what was happening and and I could then reach out to the marketer and help him build that business case. We did an engagement, you know, we delivered a project. We had good results. At the end, I organized a webinar where we shared this publicly which help us learn new deals, etc., etc. So all this big example is just to share that.
By the way, this is just like a little piece of the puzzle part of the picture that we see. We didn’t actually see all the other things that they have done. And you can see how many, you know, steps, you know, they say seven touch points. I think there is like more to 40 steps here that I just illustrated.
And it goes from very top of the funnel being the awareness and just, you can’t sell if there is not an internal trigger and some urgency and some like push internally for them to consider, you know, this being a priority and then all the way until the end, this is why we call it also full funnel marketing, because actually the way that we sold that you know, got the value out of that was through, you know, first implementing a small approach and then the bigger one, then creating the case study, sharing that internally.
So you keep on marketing until, you know, not just until you hand over that leads to the sales, but all the way until the, as long as the relationship is basically going on.
Yeah. Yeah. It’s interesting to see the whole journey as you laid it out here. It’s a lot of different steps. It’s not linear by any means. They go back and forth and, you know, as I think of just, you know, deals that we we win and lose, I’m like, yep, that’s it makes sense. You know, like every once in a while to get somebody that’s just like, I’m ready to buy let’s hop in.
Let’s evaluate and let’s go through it. But I think even in the economy today, like it’s a little more like this than it is. Hey, let’s let’s get ready to rodeo, you know? So what do you think? Like, how do you take this process, though, and, like, turn into something that you can you can replicate at some level.:
You know? Absolutely. I think that the reflection of the people will have and to see the process that is complicated, like that would be like also let’s build on some complex funnels to try to kind of control that and recognize these triggers and all of that. That’s just impossible, right? Especially because most of the conversations actually happen outside of your funnel and you don’t really have that much influence.
So maybe if you switch to the next one, this is how we present the framework, right? So the first part is all about activities, channels, content that you use to generate demand, maybe complete that, but essentially there’s a bunch of different activities and I’ll share instead of like going through the through those. But I will share some of the activities that we use to get the results that are shared at the beginning, right.
Now, what is really important is that there are two pieces of the puzzle that are often missed. The first one is that when you think about, you know, whatever you’re doing, whether you’re doing the podcast as yet very active and social, paid or organic – it’s thinking about the audiences and people often see it very narrowly. The people think about the audience as their target buyers, target accounts, even like first of all, like the decision maker, the decision maker who is usually the most busy, who is not really interested in the details of your solution.
They may be interested kind of more kind of category in the business case, but not really in the solution as such. And the details that you’re normally sharing in your demand gen content activities. So what the first thing you want to realize is you want to influence your own, but the whole buying committee, right? But then you also want and the way that you influence them is basically distributing all that content through whatever you own, whether it’s an email list, whether that’s, you know, the, you know, social following all of those things. Maybe you are doing some paid.
But the second part is it’s really important and that’s actually the the borrowed audience or, you know, proxy audience, wherever you like to call it. And these are people that your buyers already trust or they’re connected to them. Right. And you have different different kinds of people. You have, you know, guys like you who are doing this summit and, you know, being here, having the privilege to speak here, I am lucky to be able to get access to your audience so your audience that you worked so hard to get, of course, now having that access and now they’re learning about me and what we do.
So this is like one example. Another example is just, you know, just even co-creating like I could have invited you our, you know, we run our own summit. What’s you’re doing actually now you’re co-creating with me or co-creating with our people that, you know, your potential customers already follow and trust. And you’re kind of tapping into that audience as well.
Right. And authority, not just audience, but credibility, authority, etc., etc.. And then the third point here in terms of audiences is kind of like another big fan of the term, like dark social. But like I mentioned, a lot of the conversations happen outside of your funnel. You cannot influence them. People are sharing content like a lot of times if you’re creating good content, a lot of times what I’m getting as feedback is like, Hey, I’ve been like – or maybe better a story.
Like one of the recent deals that we closed, I only spoke to the CFO for some reason. That’s not usually our buyer, but the CFO brought me into their company and that’s how we started having conversations. I ended up talking to five people in total and they all kind of knew me and I was like, Wow, I never saw you on LinkedIn.
I never say like, you’re not subscribe to our newsletter like. But actually, what was happening is that a CFO who was a fan, he was sharing our our posts in their slack and that’s how it was. So what you want to be is you want to be where the buyers are and you want to be maybe also in the communities like recently we all seen the demand gen community, from get accept they think they’re running the community they’re we are active they’re just so like people are asking about our playbooks and that. And then you saw the whole conversation about it.
So being, being in that community, you know, again, sharing content and engaging with people, not just dropping promotional links is another way that you can influence that. And then the another thing that people forget and there’s the third, the third layer here, the bottom one, we’re talking about capturing the demand. A lot of people are thinking about, you know, things like and talking about things like, okay, you need to remove the friction points. Absolutely.
You want to make it easy for the buyers to buy from you. And unfortunately, a lot of B2B companies make it super complicated, too, right? Yeah. We dealt with all that shared ups and pop ups and as the hours and handovers and confusing copy and lack of information and lack of transparency and all of these things.
That B2B companies are doing to make it hard for you to buy from them. And but there is actually, if you think about it, you’ve worked so hard to generate that demand. And people who are ready to buy, they’re going to reach out to you. But what do you do with the hours? They just wait passively for them to reach out to you.
And we don’t really believe in just the passive demand capture because I think there is like you’re leaving a lot of money on the table and there’s a bunch of things that you can use to capture demand in a more proactive way. And what are just give you a few examples now before I give those examples, maybe it’s important to understand that what you don’t want to do is you don’t want to have somebody sign up for your webinar or attend your webinar, and then you’re basically passing them on to sales.
We said this doesn’t work. There’s no intent, but how can you gauge that intent? How can you basically use the data that you have, the engagement that demand gen programs have generated? Well, what you can do is you can check different sources of engagement and intent data like, you know, people visit your accounts, target accounts, visiting, your website, visiting and spending.
You know, if enough time, whatever you define being, you know, kind of a threshold for them spending on key pages of your website, your product pages, your pricing pages, whatever, you know, whatever the relevant pages are. You know, you can also, especially if you’re active on on platforms like LinkedIn, you know, you can also check what kind of engagement you’re getting from your target accounts, what kind of topics they’re interested in.
And after a while, you start noticing, you know, these people are coming back. You know, they’re attending our events, they’re visiting our website. So basically what you’re doing is you’re checking this data and we actually have somebody in our team who has a playbook, who has a clear definition of, okay, what is the threshold, what kind of pages should they be checking, how long, like, you know, at least like 20, 30 minutes long checking at least these pages. Then second, you want to check the fit like are they a fit.
About your customer profile you want.
Exactly. Absolutely. And also what we do as well is we segment, you know, accounts into three different tiers. Tier one, tier two, tier three. And of course, it doesn’t make sense to three to the most valuable account, the same as the least valuable one. I know 300 gain five key account you don’t want to three in the same way.
So based on this information I can decide, okay, what, what are the kind of things that we can do with them? And you can, you know, that’s usually actually where the way to explain where things like ABM and demand gen meet in that exact, exact place. But you can obviously continue that conversation, turn that engagement into conversation, maybe on social, if they’re engaging on social, you know, offer them, you know, more start a conversation about, okay, but what why for example, that we’re interested in ABM? Is something that are running internally, etc. You can offer them more, you know, information about it.
You can share case studies, proactively distribute case that is a great to continue the conversation because they can see not just the result of how you do things, learn something. So there is a bunch of activities that you can do to move that into an opportunity. Right. And to accelerate essentially accelerate that process. And if you look at our pipeline, if you look at our opportunities in deals usually and the example that I shared is you saw that in that example, there were a lot of proactive steps.
Right. And that was the combination, what we call kind of not just purely inbound nor purely outbound, but what we call all bound when you’re combining the best of both worlds to get the maximum.
I like, I like it. One thing before we move on to anything else – you talked about, hey, “we got to look for some thresholds for activity before we we move on”. I know it’s going to be different for every customer a little bit, but what are the top two or three things that you would say? Like, look for these you know, these thresholds. And usually if you’re around these thresholds, they’re like, that is a good sign of intent.
Yeah. I mean, I gave some examples in terms of like if they’re if you’re looking at the that website visits here, you’re having multiple visits from multiple people. They’re checking out the special intent like, yeah, they’re checking out they’re reading blog post is very different. If they’re checking out your product pages, they’re coming back several times. They’re spending, you know, they’re not just landing there and clicking away, but they’re spending, like, it’s not unusual for us to see an account spending 2 hours on our website in total,
With multiple sessions. So we our threshold is half, half an hour, like 30 minutes and multiple visits and nine, ten pages when it comes to the website. That’s a simple example, but it could be, you know, combinations of attending like middle of the funnel, some sort of, you know, case study or whatever webinar or diving deeper into, you know, case studies or, you know, description of the way that you do things or your guides and stuff.
And then maybe engagement on social or on another signal that you can use you could use as well. And, it doesn’t mean that you only have to reach out to those who pass that threshold. It just means that those are the path, even separate prioritization, and you can still have a conversation with people who have engaged so haven’t passed that threshold and try to continue the conversation, offering more content, having a chat about what they’re doing.
It doesn’t have to be necessarily always about, you know, driving that buying intent, driving that opportunity.
Okay. I like, I like it. Before we we wrap up because we’re running out of time any anything else that we should be thinking about as we go through and evaluate our demand gen programs and how we run them?
Well, one thing maybe that’s that’s kind of the last slide. I wanted to give you an overview and I promised to share the activities. You know, the easiest way for you to think about it, not overcomplicate it, is to create a kind of a calendar. And this is a simple calendar that we use, simple, of relatively simple of daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly activities like daily creating posts on LinkedIn, engaging with your audience, weekly newsletter.
We have live podcasts, we have monthly webinars where we dive deeper into our frameworks, their case studies. We have some quarterly workshops, we have our summits, like you guys have your summit every year. So, this is one way to operationalize that because that’s the most important thing. The most important thing. And the only way that’s works is if you find a way to run this consistently. And the only way you will be able to do that if you have it operationalized.
Couldn’t agree more.
And not complicate it so much.
For sure. For sure. I love it. Thank you, Vlad, for joining us and and being part of the demand gen summit for the fall of this year. And thank you and everyone. If you want to learn more about Vlad and what what they’re doing, what’s the best place for people to check you guys out?
Definitely on LinkedIn or go on full funnel.io. I just wanted to thank you guys for organizing this organizing this is just amazing and really happy that you decided to invite me here as well. Very privileged. Thank you very much.
Well, the honor is all ours. Thank you, Vlad.