Interview with Peter Isaacson, CMO, Demandbase

Peter Isaacson, CMO at Demandbase

“Marketing leaders don’t need to deeply understand AI in order to leverage it any more than they need to understand Java and Python in order to take advantage of coding.”

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Tell us about your role and journey into Account-Based Marketing? What made you join Demandbase?

I’ve been doing Account-Based Marketing (ABM) in some form for the last 20 years. When I was head of Worldwide Field Marketing at Adobe years ago we did a form of ABM and called it Targeted Account Marketing to correspond to the sales process of Targeted Account Selling (TAS), but we would do specific detailed account plans for 20 or 25 of the top strategic accounts that the sales team was going after. It was very useful to the sales team, but the problem was we couldn’t scale.

Fast forward to now and we finally have the technology — because of companies like Demandbase — to actually scale our ABM efforts. I joined Demandbase because I was a customer at my previous company where I was CMO, so I got introduced to the technology and, understood the market opportunity. I also met Chris Golec,  CEO and Founder of Demandbase, and we got along famously. That was four and a half years ago, and the rest is history.

What makes the current ABM market so exciting?

For all of the buzz that ABM has gotten over the past two to three years, we’re still in the first couple of innings of play here. That means there’s so much to do, and as ABM platforms are going to evolve, it makes for a very exciting and innovative time. There’s a lot of activity in the market, a lot of marketers trying to figure out what ABM is and how to apply it to their own companies and their own marketing challenges, but also a ton of innovation coming down the pike from companies like Demandbase that make it an incredibly vibrant category.

The evolution of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning is having a huge impact on ABM’s capabilities and the platforms we’re introducing. At Demandbase, for instance, we have AI capabilities across our entire platform driving everything from account selection to advertising targeting to website experiences and even into sales insights.

As compared to B2C, how does a CMO’s role differ in the B2B tech industry?

B2B and B2C are completely different and the skills are almost non-transferable. As a B2B CMO, you are very connected in partnership with the head of sales and you have to operate as a really strong team in order to accomplish your business objectives. You must deal with very complex selling and purchase cycles with many different decision makers and influencers involved. It can sometimes spread out over 18 months making it very difficult to pinpoint the exact tactic that drove a sale, because it’s usually the cumulative effect of your marketing touchpoints.

What is a Customer 360-Degree view for you? How does Demandbase deliver these insights to customers?

 As marketers, we have so much data available to us but many people still struggle to put that all together. What a 360-degree view means to us at Demandbase is a combination of a few views. First are basic firmographics. That means knowing exactly what company a customer is with, the firmographics of that company — where they’re located, how big they are, what industry and sub-industry they’re in — that’s one set of understanding a customer.

The second bucket is knowing their engagement such as what webinars they’ve attended, which field events they’ve registered for, whether they’ve come to our website, and if they have engaged in specific content. The third and most sophisticated bucket of understanding comes from the behavior of that account and the individuals within the accounts.

So, not just understanding if they signed up for a whitepaper, but what they read within it. That allows us to understand what are they interested in and consider how what they’re researching ties into your value proposition and the solutions you can provide. Understanding that and putting it together with an activity view and the basic firmographics of the account creates a 360-degree view that both Marketing and Sales teams can leverage to close more deals.

What goes into creating a frictionless experience for tech buyers through automation and data analytics?

In order to make the experience as frictionless as possible for the buyer, you have to understand them and where they are in the journey every step of the way — no easy task. We are quickly moving to a world where “next best action” becomes a fully automated reality. But this requires massive amounts of data, and sophisticated AI and Machine Learning to accomplish it. But when we accomplish it, we will have finally achieved the dream of delivering the right message, at the right time, to the right person at the right company.

What start-ups in the technology industry are you watching keenly right now?

Any company that’s using AI to make the marketing, selling, or buying process better, faster and easier is really interesting to me. That’s being done right now across AdTech, MarTech and SalesTech in very interesting ways.

What Marketing and Sales Automation tools and technologies do you currently use?

We use Salesforce as our CRM and Pardot as our Marketing Automation solution. Additionally, we use a collection of ever-changing technologies to support our SDR team.

Could you tell us about an outstanding digital campaign?

Our results show that our highest-performing campaigns leverage both digital and offline tactics. To cite one example, using Demandbase’s intent signals we identified the companies in our target account list that showed the highest levels of intent. We then executed a campaign leveraging content syndication and used the responses from syndication for a direct mail campaign to those high-value accounts. This resulted in a 123 percent increase in our conversions and over a 100 percent increase in our pipeline opportunities.

How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a marketing leader?

Marketing leaders don’t need to deeply understand AI in order to leverage it any more than they need to understand Java and Python in order to take advantage of coding. There are companies that are using sophisticated AI to empower their Marketing and Sales to make their technologies more effective and efficient. You just have to choose the vendor that’s actually able to deliver better results using that technology. AI and Machine Learning are just that; enabling technologies that help you do things better, faster and more efficiently.

How do you inspire your people to work with technology?

As a technology company, I don’t feel like I need to inspire people on my team to engage with technology. We tend to be technology omnivores with an interest in what innovations are out there and how they can make our own jobs and marketing programs better, so the inspiration comes from within!

One word that best describes how you work.


What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

My news apps because I’m a political junkie, airline apps because I travel a lot, my Nike running app, and Sky Guide, an app that allows you to hold your phone overhead and automatically find stars, constellations, planets, satellites and more.

What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?

Hire great people. Nothing improves your productivity like having outstanding people on your team.

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou — I can’t put it down. I absorb a ton of news. With books, I lean towards non-fiction but every once in a while I’ll read some fiction.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Sometimes the best move you can make is a lateral one.

Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?

I tend not to get too high or too low. I avoid the drama that a lot of people get caught up in.

Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read?

Eric Duerr, former CMO at RocketFuel.

Thank you, Peter! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

Senior executive with 25 years of marketing experience.

Currently the CMO of Demandbase, a B2B marketing technology company focused on advertising and website personalization. Demandbase makes it possible for businesses to deliver personalized ads to people at specific companies across the web, and then help tailor the messages on their website to convert these companies to customers.

Strong marketing background with experience across consumer and enterprise marketing, product and corporate strategy, and brand strategy to demand generation programs.

Consistent focus on tying marketing strategies to revenue and business results.

Deep experience with international marketing across Europe and Asia.

Specialties: Corporate and product strategy, demand generation, channel marketing, relationship marketing, enterprise marketing, vertical marketing, lead generation and management, advertising and branding.

Demandbase Logo

Demandbase, the leader in Account-Based Marketing (ABM), offers the only Artificial Intelligence-enabled, comprehensive ABM platform that spans Advertising, Marketing, Sales and Analytics. Our patented IP technology helps B2B businesses identify companies to target, market to them across the web and on their website, and close business faster. Enterprise leaders and high-growth companies such as Accenture, Adobe, DocuSign, GE, Salesforce and others use Demandbase to drive their ABM strategy and maximize their marketing performance.

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The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.

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