082 - What it Means to Be an Ecosystem-Focused CMO, with Allison Munro

What is up PartnerUp!?

Chief Marketing & Ecosystem Officer? You heard that title right. Allison Munro came in to Vena as a CMO, but quickly realized that the customer ecosystem was king when it comes to distribution.

So many gems in this one. Allison breaks down the new way to win today’s “impossible to reach buyers” by living in the ecosystem, building community, partnering with influencers in a deep way, and a lot more.

We talk about how Product Led Growth connects to this, and what the future holds for marketing leaders.

*This is the episode to share with your CMO!

Allison will be speaking at plxsummit.com on Day 3, November 9th, for Partner Led Marketing Day. Register today at plxsummit.com.

3 Key Takeaways

  1. It's time to rethink past assumptions about how marketing should be done.
    Following the normal marketing path will no doubt get you leads, engaged accounts, revenue, and attribution, but there's an opportunity to be more impactful, do it faster, and reach the right buyer with higher value. Who wouldn't want to jump on that opportunity?
  2. As the market changes and as technology changes, the way people buy changes which means the way we market has to evolve as well.
    In marketing, the ultimate job is to connect audiences with messages that resonate against the needs they have. How you connect can change.
  3. Product Led Growth is social proof over marketing claims
    Allison shared how Vena created a template marketplace because they wanted to show up for what people in their community needed. If you're going to serve your ecosystem, you have to be courageous and persistent in providing value.

Share the episode with your commentary on LinkedIn or Twitter and we’ll highlight your commentary.  We love to hear your thoughts on each episode, and always comment back or respond to emails/dms.

Subscribe & Listen On:

  • Apple | YouTube | Spotify | Amazon | Google | RSS
  • Or literally, anywhere you get your podcasts. Seriously. Ask Alexa: “Alexa, play "PartnerUp the Partnerships Podcast” and magic…

Full Transcript:

Jared Fuller  0:00
Hey what is up partner up? We're back. Isaac, it's been a heck of a week. How you doing? Man?

Isaac Morehouse  0:17
I'm doing good. I'm hanging in there. How are you doing? You're? It's like, I don't know, one thing, one thing or the other. You're up in the middle of the night. You got people puking in the house. So I don't know. It's always something crazy, man, this has been quite a stretch.

Jared Fuller  0:32
Yeah, it's um, you know, When the tough get when the going gets tough, the tough get going. What's that a Dirty Harry quote. And gosh, I don't know, this was something my dad used to say. But we're in the thick of it. And I'm excited to have yet another person speaking at PL x because that's what if you're listening to this, you have to be aware of the PX on it. P alexa.com. The biggest event in partnerships history. And someone who's like in the thick of it, I would say in terms of this transformation. For one of the reasons why we created the PLF Summit is that partnerships really is a strategy for every department, ecosystems, etc. So we got Alison Monroe from Vienna, here on the podcast. Alison, welcome to partner up.

Allison Munro  1:17
Thank you, Jared. Thank you, Isaac.

Jared Fuller  1:19
Yes. I wanted to kick this off with your title. Because it struck me from the very first time that I saw it, and it still struck me. And how you got that title wasn't like, Oh, this is what you were hired for? Right? The origin story of that, in particular is a little bit different. And I think it might be instructive for like, you know where you're at today, you clearly have a belief that partnerships and ecosystems is a core part of like, what the marketing engine should be. And you know, wider remits across the company, of course, but maybe specifically, you came into venna. Tell us what was the state of partnerships, like, what were you doing? And how did that title end up becoming Chief Marketing and ecosystem officer?

Allison Munro  2:01
Yeah, so you're right, I did sign up to be chief marketing officer, and that, originally, in the first couple years was to create value for audiences, to engage our sellers and our revenue teams, across channels that we owned and operated and disseminated that value across those channels. I say that leading into the second part of the question. Because if you think about what it means to be a CMO, and what it means to understand your audience, package value from across, inside and outside your organization, you know, to meet the needs of your audience, wherever they are, and we know that's more fragmented and almost unreachable. You know, the more the internet and the way buyers by evolves, it almost seems like or maybe it doesn't yet seem like that transitioning from Chief Marketing Officer and adding ecosystem is actually a natural extension. Now, that's a three year journey that I summarized, maybe in a few minutes off the top, so let's not take it for granted. But it is a lot of the same motion that marketing professionals are running when you think about, you know, bringing in partners, and value and the channels and the people that you work with in order to meet the needs of your customer, when they're wherever they are, when they are ready. And when they're not ready to buy.

Isaac Morehouse  3:18
You, Ellison, you said something interesting. There, you said, buyers are almost unreachable? Could you define that? A little bit more, as you see it that problem?

Allison Munro  3:27
I think there's a lot of conversation even in, you know, partner forums, or, you know, marketing like, you know, there's no doubt that every channel is noisy. Everybody I know, on an average day, I get 25 prospecting emails on a daily basis. So you know, when I think about my social channel, the average inbound LinkedIn, and I've counted them to help emphasize that within my own organization, on average, I'll get anywhere between five and 10, inbound LinkedIn messages, I don't answer my phone, if I see a number that I don't know, it never gets answered, and I probably have 75 messages in my inbox. Now, it's not to say that I'm the State of the rest of the buying world. But we know that everybody is trying to reach the same people on the same channels with the same message at different levels of frequency. And let's not even consider the impact of ads and the number of ads you see or don't see, and actually ignore on a regular basis. So when I say unreachable, you know, it's not that we can't build audience segments, and in some countries reach them in different ways based on regulation. But if you build those audiences and all chasing the same people on the same channel, it just it becomes noise. And then combine that with a distributed workforce that I don't know about both of you. But if you open my calendar, I call it mark like calendar roulette. You know, three months from now you're probably going to find a stack day of meetings. So you're always competing for attention and increasingly so at every interaction. So when I say unreachable, it's the toughest job I think marketers and even revenue leaders and professionals have right now which is To get to your buyer at the right time with an effective message in order to drive an action or behavior that stands out from, you know, the 45 combined messages that have been solicited to your buyer on a day to day basis.

Jared Fuller  5:12
I have to hop in super quick, Isaac. Allison, why did why are you saying unreachable? But my other cmoh friends aren't like that mindset that you just said, I'm not seeing that translate to the rest of the market. Like, why is this like some big insight that like somehow, like marketers like, No, we still need to continue doing things the way we've always done things? Like, what was it about that that made you think that way? And maybe like the colleagues aren't quite there yet, they just haven't experienced the pain? Or,

Allison Munro  5:40
you know, I think it depends if we can certainly follow a path to say these are the motions that we can drive to drive these KPIs, I can still show you a bunch of leads, I can show you a bunch of engaged accounts, I can show you the revenue that we have attribution to from a marketing perspective, certainly, I think there is so much more opportunity for us to be more impactful to do it faster, and to reach the right buyer with higher value, that I'm not accepting the status quo to say that, yes, this is our usual rhythm that we're all going to run. And I think we do that, because that's what we can do. And that's what we do. But I think to challenge yourself, is to shake things up and be a little bit honest with yourself to say that, you know, based on the effort, you know, and the motions that we've been running for the last five years that we have to change, because it's getting noisier and it's getting more competitive. And it's certainly and I'm not talking competitive, even on a competitive set or solution, I'm just, you know, I think for 15 years, we've been talking about attention of a goldfish and there's all these cute marketing stats we throw around about people's intention. But I think worse than that, is your it's just such a noisy environment, there's a certain level of exhaust of, you know, flashing the same messages on the same channel and the same, you know, BDR emails, and I love Btrfs and working with them in partnership with orchestration. But if we just run the same motions to do the same things, there's going to be diminishing returns at a higher cost. And I think if we looked out to the market and asked a bunch of CMOS, the cost of demand is certainly going up. And there's always this debate between demand generation and demand capture. And are you justifying your existence by collecting a whole bunch of metrics? Or are you able to do the things you know, you need to do to reach your audience to drive impact, and we're all up against sort of that struggle on an ongoing basis. And I think we have to rethink, you know, what's happening on a buyers day to day and not what we want to do or what we want to push up the KPIs. We need to drive

Jared Fuller  7:27
the partner up episode partner folks that you send to your CMO. By the way, this is the one Yeah.

Isaac Morehouse  7:32
It's funny, as you were talking, I was thinking about, Jared, I think this originally came up in our conversation with Mario turabi from partner page about itself, almost like you can inherit a job title or a job, and it's okay, I'm a CMO or whatever the title is, and it kind of comes with a set of xpect expectations, almost a playbook, KPIs, and you you know, you're especially if you're new in the role, you immediately feel like well, to succeed, I got to do all the things that this role is supposed to do. And you just start doing the activities. And you're not really thinking like a human, you're kind of thinking like a job title. This is what this job title does. But if you step back and think, What do what tactics do I not like when they're used on me. And if there's a tactic you don't like, I don't like getting I ignore all of these emails, I ignore all the things I dislike getting, why would I go and repeat those same tactics and just say that's my job is to do all these very tactics to my potential customers that I don't like when people do to me, there's almost like this moment of stepping back and saying, Oh, hold on a second, the job title comes all these assumptions, because all of those are built from the past. And a lot of those are useful and going to carry forward. But if I just kind of like start from from, you know, do like a zero based assessment for a second, what's the job to be done here? And what what do I actually like? So how do I buy? How do I want to buy? How am I likely to make my next SAS purchase? What's that process going to be like, and really start to like, put yourself there and go through, you know, like living in market, of course, but it starts with you, because like you're, in most cases, if you're working in b2b SaaS, you're not that different from your buyers on at least on the level of, hey, you have a process of discovering new products, and a process for going that you want to do that. And a process that you don't want to do it. You don't want to be shoved through a funnel NBC or surveys email. So I just think it's really interesting in a final thought on that is that this is maybe one of the benefits of the partnership space is that there aren't as many playbooks already, which can be a struggle, but it's also a benefit because you haven't inherited all these things that are like just the checklist, right? This is what you're supposed to do. You kind of have to think more creatively and get in market a little bit.

Allison Munro  9:46
I just comment Isaac, I think that's so true. And I, you know, started at Vena, and I think with almost every leadership role that I've had, I'll share a story that I've shared before when I first started, I was told you know what my KPI was 40,000 leads And I gasped and said, you know, we're doing a billion dollars in ARR, who agree here like 40,000 leads? And then we did an analysis and we looked, we went all the way down. Okay, how does that cost? Or how does that lead, convert to opportunities? How does that convert to revenue? And what is the timeframe. And I think it's very easy to celebrate $100 cost per lead. But if you have a three or 4x, you know, program CAC on that spend, you're not actually driving the right motions. And so it can be very easy to come in and accept your KPI and then run all the motions to hit that KPI so everybody feels, you know that they're successful, versus flipping that on your head and saying that, what is it we're actually trying to do? And what are the motions that we're going to run in order to achieve those results? And what are the assumptions we have to build in because we can't measure it. But we can correlate spend or energy with results across the business. And I think whether that was early in my role as a CMO at venna, we were successful at achieving growth on a completely new model and did change from more of a lead gen to demand gen. And now moving forward to more of an account based, you know, go to market and we can talk about that, because it's not direct mail, and it's not orchestrate experience, like ABM is a whole other session. But driving that transformation. I think the same thing has happened in our organization and others when you think about, you know, what is partners and how does that fit in? And how do you because you don't have those playbooks, there's a lot of question marks, but it also gives you a chance to go, Okay, let's work back from the end results. And the end result isn't, you know, X percent revenue from partners, right, it's really looking at what are the growth levers for not only our customers and what they need, you know, the revenue, certainly we can generate from, you know, partners plus, and how we actually approach that as an integrated go to market to achieve the results we have. And the business goals we have not the marketing or not the partner or not the product, you know, those individual silo goals, it's really about bringing that together as a business. And I think that's where, you know, the transformation for me was very natural to go from, you know, chief marketing officer to Chief ecosystem officer, which I know doesn't really necessarily exist. And folks ask me about it all the time. But it was also really important for us to state that this is a business priority for us. And we are committed to building influencing, orchestrating and growing our buyers ecosystem and how we are an active participant as a business, not as a department in contributing to that. So there's a lot of disruption there. But I do agree that the playbook can be very dangerous, if that's what you sign up for. Right?

Jared Fuller  12:36
That is interesting to think about this in terms of like, Alison, if you were to imagine yourself sitting in front of, you know, a dinner event for an evening with, let's say, 10, fellow CMOS. There's this journey that kind of moves from Curiosity, to perhaps courage and then conviction, right? Like, you're curious, okay, there's really not that much out there. But it is interesting, there isn't playbooks. But nothing's really working. This does work. If you can pull it off, then you have to have the courage to go take that leap and make that change and take that commitment. And then at some point, you have conviction, because you're all in you're like, look, this is working. And we need to scale this, I find that gap between curiosity and courage to be one of the hardest things to traverse in business, is because it's short term versus long term thinking short term is like, wow, I'm not going to be able to do this this quarter, right? This is like a long term game. What would be your advice to those marketers sitting across the table and kind of ascending on that journey from like, hey, the playbooks not written. We're all kind of curious about this. But curiosity doesn't fix it. It's courage. I think a lot

Allison Munro  13:42
of that, first of all has to do with the culture, you know, in the organization, like how do you create space for kind of betting on your surefire wins and the things that you know, are going to drive results, but also being able to communicate some bets, or you know, some new things that you're going to try as a business and what those assumptions are. So that doesn't necessarily address how you go from curiosity to courage, but I think culture in an organization supports people showing up with, you know, as we say, on a day to day basis on my team, what did you do to make yourself uncomfortable today, because when you're uncomfortable, you're growing. And if we're all sitting and we're comfortable, we're probably bored. We're probably operating against status quo, we're not taking any risks. And so we build that into our operating rhythm. I think from a planning perspective, to your point about short term and long term, there's always and I think it's our responsibility, especially as CMOS to be building for now this quarter, well, marketing next quarter, next year, and the next three years, and what are the bets we're making? What are the experiments we're going to try, you know, based on some level of rational thinking, you know, and leaving room for experimentation, if you're not failing on and I know that's so overstated in SAS, but if you're not failing on a regular basis, and you're not uncomfortable, you're not growing, and you're not trying and you're not learning and I think it's really You know, a you have to have the right culture and be you have to have a plan, you know, that has a healthy balance of sort of surefire bets, optimization improvements and shit we know nothing about.

Jared Fuller  15:11
I think, I think that does speak a lot to the courage though, like the current market conditions are a heck of a forcing function for the world writ large. But I think in particular, it's like, look, the median executive tenure, sales leader, marketing leader, see whatever it is that I've been paying attention to it for the past 10 years only seems to have gone down, right, and it hasn't gone up. So you have this like, well, am I will wait a second, if the median tenure is 18 months, you have nothing to lose. Like you really have nothing to lose. Like, what if you played the long term game and went, you know, hey, I have nothing to lose. I'm gonna go all in on this. Because our surefire bets and operating like we can do that that's comfortable. I just know, it's not going to get me there. Like if you do everything you know how to do. I think what you just summarized was perfect. 1000. If you do everything you know how to do right now, and you look a year to three years out, you will not be at the company goals, period. You just aren't, because that's what everyone is gonna do. So you have to get outside that comfort zone. I mean, that's one of my favorite phrases is get comfortable being uncomfortable. What what a sentiment? Isaac?

Isaac Morehouse  16:20
Yeah, I'm curious. Allison. This is something that I I've just been wondering about. I actually haven't asked any other guests about this yet. But as the, you know, as the economy has gotten tighter, has it become easier to convince leadership at, you know, any of these companies that looking looking for plays that are not just about, hey, how will this immediately drive leads or revenue? But how will this prevent us losing customers? Because I see that with tech partnerships, in particular, with integrations, oftentimes, building that ecosystem is not so much, how will this drive revenue and new users play? It's more of a, hey, now we're a lot stickier. Now we're so interdependent, it's a lot harder for people to stop using this because it's tied to everything else. So and when you're in like bull market growth mode, it's like, nobody's really thinking about that. They're just like, what's gonna get me the new users. But now when you're like, Okay, how do we prevent ourselves from losing what we've already won at least does that has that changed the conversation and made it easier? Or has it made it harder to kind of make argue for a longer term ecosystem strategy?

Allison Munro  17:30
That's a, that's a good question. I think, you know, yes, there's economic downturn ahead of us. But let's also note that we faced similar or different, you know, conditions coming out of the pandemic. So I think for us as a business, we've made bold or courageous decisions that when other people were pulling back on investment, we were going all in, maybe when some organizations are looking at short term gains, and it's q4, what activity can you do now to fill the pipeline we have to close revenue, etc, etc. You know, for us as a leadership team, and you know, with a wonderful co Hunter, mainly, we've been able to keep our eye always on the short and long term. But again, it doesn't mean it's easy, because you're always up against those conversations, because we still have those conversations, you know, what are you going to do to drive impact this quarter? What are you going to do for next quarter, and I'm like, hold on a minute, marketing is not responsible for this quarter that I've, you know, posted quite a lot about that we're responsible for next quarter, because if you pull me back to focus in this quarter, the pain is going to continue to run into the next quarter. And then how do we keep an eye on not only again, the next six months, the next year in the next three years? And I think we did that at the beginning of the pandemic with community. Well, everyone was focusing on maybe pulling back and pausing. We were like, No, we're going all in our community, we're gonna launch this virtual conference, we were the first in market, it was March 14, we went into lockdown, May 15, we undid our in person conference, and we had 7000 people online, registered, and then online to engage in a format that nobody had ever done before. We've since developed, you know, a Learning Academy, we've launched our forums. So you know, when I think of ecosystem and building that out, a big part of that was, you know, we've always sort of been committed to in the right balance of, again, short term and long term goals. However, it is difficult now to kind of temper the ecosystem conversation, because now we've done a lot of education internally, like, what is an ecosystem? What does it mean, but it's also now not the silver bullet that's going to solve everybody else's, you know, concerns, or that's going to get us to 158%, you know, performance next year. So it's like, yes, we still need to invest in this. And we're even going through this and planning now. You know, how can we demonstrate and actually plan for impact and what level of impact over what period and that might be bigger in FY 25? So having that conversation is as tough as getting people excited, because now you have to temper back and put in a realistic framework for or, again? What's driving in this quarter, next year? First half, second half? And what is going to fuel your growth in FY 25? Fortunately, we have an organization and a leadership team that can have those conversations. And again, that's why go back to culture, because I've been in many organizations where all they wanted was what I'm going to do right now. And that's, and that's tough.

Isaac Morehouse  20:20
You mentioned that you've done a lot of internal discussion and education. What is an ecosystem? How do you how do you define it there? How do you guys think about that word? It's it's a question that we've asked a lot. I'm really curious how you how you define it?

Allison Munro  20:33
Yeah, I'd have to say, I think part of the easy definition, you know, comes from the community and the conversations that you have asked, but the way our organization now talks about it is all the people process products, technology and influencers that our ideal customer profile is engaging with. It's not, you know, just our community or our owned and operated channels, or third party channels. It's not, you know, somebody's cloud ecosystem or particular destination. And I think that was the biggest change that it was actually bigger than any one person had seen. It's not our partner ecosystem. It's not our cloud providers ecosystem. It's actually our buyers ecosystem. And when I go back to buyers, being unreachable, unreachable, how do we show up in every single one of those channels with the greatest value with a better together story that feeds our customer, or a prospective customer, not what we want to accomplish, and not who we think we compete against, and not the KPIs we want to drive. And I think that was the biggest shift in our thinking and has actually lit up, you know, our team and a bunch of minds of how everyone can participate. It's not a partner function is not even a marketing function. Everybody can contribute to our buyers ecosystem in an impactful way.

Jared Fuller  21:43
Ecosystems are eating everything, and it's something for everyone. What I'm curious about is like, I spent a lot of time trying to define, like, what an ecosystem is, following on that, Allison, is I define ecosystem as communities that have a shared communities, which are comprised of individuals, which have a shared professional interest, and then accounts, which are partners that have a shared commercial interest. And those two things are tied together by media, aka content, right, shared, you know, events, content field thoughts, lexicon words, language, right? Do you view that as part of it as well, like the community side, the partner side, like ecosystem is a very intentional word. It's, it's basically the things outside your walls. It's not just, you know, channel, like, Oh, it's a dedicated line of business, it's channel partners. It's not just partnerships. It's everything outside of your company?

Allison Munro  22:40
We do? We absolutely do. And I think that's, again, where it's, I think we're saying the same thing only differently. And I'm probably being a little more ambiguous based on the conversations where you're talking to people, you know, hundreds of people in the organization that understand different parts of that ecosystem. I agree. You know, I think community is a big part, we've again, we've done a really good job and had a really big commitment of building our own community for Finance and Operations professionals. We've also gone out and intersected with our strategic partners of Keystone system communities, or other media organizations that, you know, we're influencers or third party communities that support Finance and Operations professionals. And the reality is, is it can't always be Vena, or event a sales rep or event a marketer that shows up to engage with those messages, or provide that social proof. So you know, how we develop programs that, again, build out our ecosystem. And also, I don't want to say bleed in I'm sure there's a better fish underwater example that you can use, but that start to penetrate. You know, the third party and adjacent ecosystems is really what we're looking at and how we bring, you know, our product, IP and how we bring value like templates, Excel templates, I'm wearing my Excel nerds t shirt, like a core to our product, right is the ability to work within Excel. So how have we now developed templates that were able best practice templates that we're able to disseminate across our own channels that our partners can co create and develop, that they can disseminate across their channels that they can provide to their customers and our shared customers and future customers for free to start to, you know, develop a value exchange without sort of any sightline necessarily of our product initially, we have people on social media, we have media organizations, we have influencers, developing these templates and leveraging these templates. So like, Absolutely, when I think of, you know, a marketing motion, that is something we're already doing, and again, going back to value creation and distribution, if that's what marketing does, how do we do that in our own ecosystem and in other ecosystems? That's one example. But it absolutely is a shared you know, definition. And again, why think it's so important that marketing is a big part of leading that conversation.

Isaac Morehouse  24:55
So you said influencers are creating And these templates is what because because I was thinking, okay, so you have all these templates you make and then you go to influencers and say, Hey, here's some useful tools, why don't you go share this but you actually said creating that's really interesting to have an infographic give me an example of how that works, where an influencer is actually part of the process of creating this thing instead of just, alright, here you go, you're somebody that should go and broadcast this for us, right, get this out to your network for us, but actually having to be a part of that's interesting. I'd like to hear more about that.

Allison Munro  25:28
Yeah, I mean, we have a technology partnership with Microsoft. So we part of our core of our product is a universal language people understand, which is a competitive edge, it's Excel, and then also Power BI. So there are tons of fans and aficionados and even Microsoft MVPs, that are out there teaching, educating and building on, you know, familiar tools and applications and interfaces like Excel or Power BI. So the way we work with influencers is again, not to here go promote this, but to actually get them in sort of their experience and best practices to build their Excel templates is to build their How to videos, not only in templates, but they contribute to our learning for our learning academy, Vena Academy, they contribute to our forums, and they're bringing, they're almost, I want to say, dare I say their intellectual property or their expertise to our product, in the same way that our partners are starting to do that, like, we have our own templates, where we have best practice, by industry use case, you know, and a whole bunch of other things. And we have a collection of, but we actually have partners that have deeper expertise in particular areas, we have influencers that have really deep expertise in particular areas. And so bring those sort of three areas of expertise together to co create within our community and disseminate that for free. There's nothing to lose, and, you know, talk about better together talk about extending reaching distribution, you know, there's a lot of power in being able to do that. And it's authentic, we're not spoon feeding someone to go off and promote, they get to promote what they create. Same way with our partners, they get to co innovate in our platform, and share a piece of IP that demonstrates their expertise and market, and they get to give it away for free through our channels and their own. Like I can't think of a better Ecosystem Marketing play, you know, that allows us to really develop our expertise and reach your audience, again, in the unreachable way by leading with value that we've co created on channels that we own and CO own and borrow and share.

Jared Fuller  27:23
These, this is the conversation I've been wanting to have in marketing for such a long time. Like, you'd have slotted it really nicely with Isaac and me and how we thought about building everything out as a media company. It's like you're, we're speaking the same language, but it's, it's, I just have to commend you on that. Allison, like how you're thinking about bridging that gap and sort of, I don't want to use the phrase Crossing the Chasm, but making that transformation to go, okay, you know, a template strategy, right? Like, okay, we want to create and own the templates, like versus no, let's invert that and go with an influencer strategy. When I was at Panda doc, that was a big part of how we grew, became, you know, a unicorn company was, we couldn't rank for E signature, right? We couldn't rank for these high, like, we had big dogs that were kicking our butts everywhere. So it's like, well, maybe we could rank for the things that people use esign for. So it was like, sales proposal, template, marketing agency proposal template, these other things. And the thing that always angered me was I was like, these templates suck. Right? They were built by someone that like wasn't that clearly wasn't an expert, right? Like, they had no influence. Like, you know, what, I want the sales proposal template that that person used to close a million dollar deal, right, like, and then now that I think about it, like the proposals that I've put together to close seven and eight figure alliances, I'm like, gosh, like, Those are awesome. These are really, really good. But it's like, I had to really dive deep and go, it's like, Man, I could go out there and give that stuff away. Wow, I just that's what happens tying together the first part of this conversation to this one. Whenever you go from curiosity to courage, there is no playbook and you come up with something innovative. Why is it that only founders are allowed to be innovative in SaaS? It's like, oh, no, they came up with this great idea. It's like that's, that's exactly what it means to be a great executive today's kind of that transformation that you went on and like that's a phenomenal strategy. That's what needs to be happening in marketing Commerce today.

Isaac Morehouse  29:15
You mentioned that it's authentic to when it comes from those influencers and I think it's almost like the stronger and more rabid your ecosystem the or at least the diehard fans, the more that matters now I don't know a ton about the Excel world but I know enough to know that there is like their entire Twitter accounts that only make Excel jokes that you only get if you're like an Excel nerd, there's a there was a Excel tournament that was on like ESPN three or something, right. There's this whole subculture so if you're, if you're some person who's Okay, we're gonna have from our company and we're gonna make all these tools and templates and give them and you're not like somebody who's really living in they're gonna know that you know, the trust, they're gonna be able to sniff it out. They're a diehard audience, right? So you need to work with those people so they can be real and be like, hey, As you build what's valuable to you, I just think that's really cool.

Allison Munro  30:03
Well and to your point, you know, part of our value proposition is we are the only, you know, native Excel, complete planning platform. And if you're a CFO and I have been in many meetings with CFOs, even before then I were the first 10 minutes of the board meeting is all about the magic in the model that the CFO manages on their single spreadsheet, right. So through our product, we enable collaboration, you know, but all of the benefits of you know, an FPT and complete planning platform. But the interface is Excel. And to your point, there is a subculture, you know, again, my T shirt says Excel nerds, there is a sub culture around Excel, and getting those folks to contribute to your marketing campaigns is key. But also Jared, to your point, there are many companies I can point to today that are destinations, for professional best practice, you go, you download the template, whether it's an Excel sheet, or what have you, there's a column to the left and a column to the right, and they say, Here you go, what we did was we took our best practice templates, right? Like the best workforce planning, the best budgeting and forecasting, we've just launched the marketing, performance management, budgeting and planning template. Now, that wasn't easy. Because like working with partners, there's a conversation and a culture change inside, you have to be able to say, it doesn't matter if our competitors get this thing. We're focused on our audience, we're here to provide value to the market, our competitors are gonna get behind our gates and our forums and our videos that we just have to accept that. And so I think sometimes you can be courageous, but you also have to be persistent. And you can't expect people to get it in your organization, you have to, again, lead with empathy for that to understand their concerns, but show them the business value in the opportunity. And then go at it together with some assumptions, understand the risk and what people's feelings are about making new moves. But demonstrate the upside, we put a bet on the board, we launched our template marketplace in May we put a bet on the board were at 248% of that bet. So guess what the organization is very interested in this play and thinking about how we now even bring that from a product like growth perspective into our products, you know, in the future. And again, that's a long term play or strategy that was initiated by, you know, a fun bet or idea. And to some people, it might have seemed like a risk, you know, for us in order to build out our community and create greater value. And to your point, Jared, show up for what people need, you know, how to I always product like growth is so funny, right? It's like, let's get a free version. Well, I think a product lead growth, as you know, social proof over marketing claims, I can tell you anything you want. My point is you need to be able to see experience and feel. And so this was part of that it was a light lift. You know, it was a collaboration between marketing and our, you know, sales Solutions Consultant and services team. And let's clean up these templates. So they no proprietary information, anonymize them, make them best practice and send them out into the world so everyone can benefit from from them. And guess what the market is saying? Yes, we need these. We want these. And in fact, we want more, because on average, one person is downloading five templates. Well, let's get another 100 or 1000 templates out and let's see how many templates are being consumed. And how people are starting to use them in their day to day business as they build affinity and trust within

Isaac Morehouse  33:16
that that line you said plg? Is social proof over marketing claims. That's that's a banger right there. And that's a good one. I love that. It's such a great summary. Yeah, I was thinking as you're talking that in a market with a with a highly educated buyer and buyers that talk to each other and have communities, it's being willing to do things even though your competitors may be able to see it, it may give them advantage and you're not hiding it all. It signals to those educated buyer, they like that, because that signals confidence, right? It's like if you're talking to somebody who's got a startup that doesn't have a website yet, and they say I can't tell you about it unless you sign an NDA. That's not actually a good signal. But if they're like, yeah, here, I'll tell you exactly what we're going to do. Because I'm so confident that no one is going to be really hard to compete with us. That's actually a good signal, right? So when you're, when you're more open, it feels scary, because you're thinking so much about your competitors, but they think about your customers as well. If they see that and they they know they love the companies that are open and unafraid. Right? And they'll reward you for that, especially if they're a highly educated buyer. I think that's really, man, you have such a great way Allison of like, really compactly that just that sentence plg is social proof over marketing claims. Usually a really good economy of words when you describe these things. I love it. I'm just like taking a class over here.

Allison Munro  34:33
Thanks, Isaac. That means a lot coming from both of you. And this forum goes do this so well.

Jared Fuller  34:37
I've been slacking Isaac back and forth. About a number of things that you've said because what I find is such a hard thing right now is like establishing the language that should be utilized inside of each department. So if like for sales or for success or for product, it's not just co marketing to your point, something In basic, it's this specific thing to venna. That's about you like so like templates in this community. And it's very purposeful and intentful. And it just basically what I'm what I'm recognizing here, it's like the difference between being a committed executive, that's there to actually co innovate with your company, versus someone that's like, I'm just a marketer. Right? Like you took on a challenge, and you've stepped up to the challenge, and it doesn't mean you're going to be the best person that's ever done it. But like, I don't know, I think I think you actually set a really good role model example for other marketers, or leaders or partner pros, regardless out there, to come into this with some conviction and to take that courage and take that risk. And look what comes up the other side. So this is a three year journey that you've been on, I think you're a lot farther on that journey than you might think. Right? Just by virtue of you being able to articulate it that clearly and cleanly like this is clearly taking up ELT management time, right, this is clearly taking up time with your team, I'm going to be speaking with some of your team here in a little bit. I don't know about what because you've got some stuff on point. What would you say? Like, what's the thing that to unpack that one layer further? What was some of the things that you've been able to pick up from working in ecosystems or partnerships that kind of got you to this point where you could show up to a conversation like this, and be so articulate a great economy of words? Is that the marketing experience writ large? Is it working in an organization where you're, you know, you feel like you are an empowered executive to create change? Like, what leads up to this point where you can jump into a conversation like this and clearly have a command of your message?

Allison Munro  36:38
Well, I again, I, I appreciate the compliments and I'm humbled. I think that's your perception that I'm gonna digest to say that because, you know, do I always feel confident showing up and, you know, talking about these things, sometimes I feel like I'm speaking a different language to a lot of people. I've spent a lot of my time throughout my career, you know, ditching the acronyms is always infuriating to me, because you would never say that to a CFO. And I actually, because we're in the CFO business, I counted their acronyms versus ours, they have way more. Right. And if you think of marketing, or go to market as an art and a science, there are there is going to be a lexicon or language that we need to understand, you know, and share with each other. I think regardless, throughout my career, I don't by any means think I'm an ecosystem, pro, I think for 20 years, whether it was in B to C, whether it was in the early days of starting my own agency, you know, around music events, and audiences, ultimately, all you're trying to do, you know, is to connect audiences with messages that resonate against the needs they have, and constantly innovating, on how you do that, as the market changes as technology changes as the way people buy changes. And I know, we talked about that so much. But I don't think people really understand, you know, the dramatic transformation that we're undergoing, even in the last couple years on how to reach your buyer. And, you know, for me, that's just core to what I live and breathe as somebody who likes to connect buyers, and or audiences, not even buyers because I used to do this for music like audiences and value, and how do I do that in the most impactful way, and shift from my objective as venna cmo, which I think is the biggest shift, all professionals have to make, and what does my buyer need? So many people talk about that, you know, customer centricity? If you talk to any random I think marketing or sales professional, what are your objectives this month are all going to start with I need to, we want to, this is what I have to do.

Jared Fuller  38:38
That was a much more articulate response to my inarticulate question, like you hit the nail on the head, I think having this command of the language and being intentional, where it's like, look, I'm using these words, I don't understand what they mean, I need to go one layer down to that first principle. And speaking from these more foundational points is just it's so phenomenal. I'm refreshed. I've been having some harder marketing conversations lately. And even if you're like, hey, we're still on a long term journey. I think my point is, you can show up to a conversation like this, and have command of a room and a message where it's like, look, this is the journey that we're on because of, you know, we started this conversation with, let's say, these unreachable people, right, like there is a market shift that's happening in the world. We're on a transformation. There isn't No, there isn't a playbook. We got to start using the right language. So we can speak to one another. I mean, you just took us on a journey on how to kind of go about this right. So I said this was the this was the conversation if you're in partnerships to send to your CMO. Allison, you did not let us down at all whatsoever. I'm really excited for our next conversation. And have you at the pls Summit. I think Mark my words a year from now there's going to be that'll be one of the biggest watering holes in b2b Go to Market is the convergence between partnerships in marketing and making same bet Absolutely. We're happy to make it with you, Isaac, any plugs or anything else to take us home? No, I

Isaac Morehouse  39:58
don't think so get the pls By the way, if you you can go pick up right after you sign up we have a physical workbook for the pls summit so it's got got information on every session. It's got I'm getting not even in front of the camera has QR codes for every speakers LinkedIn, it's got notes on the session. So a really fun way to like, have a physical artifacts to go along with this events and give you something to take notes on. So when you register, you'll have instructions on getting that as well. So it's really excited.

Jared Fuller  40:29
Allison, this was a pleasure. Have a conversation look forward to developing a lot more content with you and the team around the convergence of partner marketing and ecosystems. Partner up we will see you all next time.

You've successfully subscribed to PartnerHacker
Great! Next, complete checkout to get full access to all premium content.
Error! Could not sign up. invalid link.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Error! Could not sign in. Please try again.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.
Error! Stripe checkout failed.
Success! Your billing info is updated.
Error! Billing info update failed.