6 Demand Gen Playbooks from Top Enterprise Startups

Priyanka Somrah 🦋
Nov 1 · 4 min read

As enterprise investors here at Work-Bench, one of the most pressing pain points we hear from our Series A enterprise startups in NYC is how challenging it is to build a world-class demand gen function: hiring for the right leader, and then scaling and optimizing the engine.

We set out to bring together the top demand gen leaders from growth companies in NYC to share their most hyper tactical and practical demand gen playbook pages.

Earlier this week, we gathered over 150 startup founders, operators, corporates, and VCs at our October NY Enterprise Tech Meetup, and led a Head of Demand Gen Panel featuring Jonah Bookman, Manager, Revenue Marketing at Sisense, Orly Halpern, Director of Marketing, Demand Gen & Operations at Chartbeat, and Dimas Martadarma, Senior Revenue Operations Lead at Catalyst.

Here are some of the key questions and playbook page responses shared from last night.

Playbook Page #1 — Account Based Marketing (ABM) in 4 steps

  1. Make a list of all the highly-valuable accounts that you want your organization to align with.
  2. Include an agreement on top of all the accounts on the target list stating your target goals.
  3. Define your tactics, detailing how you will target those accounts.
  4. Define how you will capture and measure the number of targeted accounts that turned into pipelines.

Playbook Page #2 — Define your ICP early… and then revisit it!

Things tend to change in the marketing world — and they do so frequently. Too often startups jump in to start different marketing campaigns, without laying foundational groundwork like defining their Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and identifying their most valuable customers and prospects. Be sure to define your ICP before launching your marketing campaigns, and then — most importantly — note that your ICP may and will likely change, so be sure to revisit it every few months.

Playbook Page #3 — Build out 1 campaign at a time (so you can properly measure!)

Don’t try to tackle too many marketing initiatives at once. Rather, be super tactical in your approach and nail down one campaign or initiative first before moving onto the next.

This is also critical as you are measuring the ROI of your demand gen programs — be it content, events, webinars, outbound sales — to know which variable is driving the most value, and understanding “how long you are willing to take more calculated risks to see whether your current strategy is paying off or not” to know when to spend more time optimizing programs or when to drop them.

Playbook Page #4 — The new make-up and alignment of Demand Gen teams

The role of demand gen has changed significantly, with the rise of account-based marketing in recent years. What used to be a traditional marketing approach, with the hand-off of leads to the sales team, account-based marketing with targeted accounts now requires good alignment and partnership between sales and marketing teams from the start.

Also keeping in mind that the marketing teams are traditionally underfunded at early stage companies, be mindful of what works best for your company. Instead of giving into the hype of hiring many marketing roles all at once, ask yourself, “how many accounts can my team actually go after actively?” and understanding the ratio of your SDRs to AEs to marketing resources, for example.

Playbook Page #5 — More tools, more problems

When it comes to choosing the right tools for your marketing team, there are two questions to ask: Is this an efficient tool? How well can it scale?

Martadarma summed it up best: “Tools are very important but they are only important depending on how you plan to use them.”

Bookman shared how failure to achieve proper internal alignment at his company led his marketing team to make investments in expensive tools that they didn’t necessarily need. In the early stages, not all startups need to invest a ton in getting the right marketing tools — they might not even have a real need for it. Instead, startups should focus on nailing down their strategies and execute as resourcefully as possible, and only buy the appropriate tools when they are dealing with much more complex executions that they can’t run on their own.

On the other hand, Halpern chimes in and adds: “Architecting data is king in demand generation marketing and if you don’t understand your data you won’t know when and where to take action.”

Notable tools mentioned: Terminus, Sendoso, HubSpot

Playbook Page #6 — Best campaign / channel

Direct Mail
Bookman shared how Direct Mail has helped Sisense differentiate both from a product and market perspective. “At Sisense, we personalize our emails to include handwritten notes from our sales reps, photos of our team, and we have been getting a significant uptick in the response rates since then!” Sisense also spends time customizing gifts for target customers and records each tracking number in order to follow up with each individual user and confirm receipt of the gifts. This goes to show that customized marketing is hard to ignore and truly drives value.

At Chartbeat, events alone comprise over 30% of lead generation. The team spends significant time at conferences and industry events, where Chartbeat can demonstrate its thought leadership and drive brand awareness for the company.

Google Ad Words
When asked about whether or not Google Ads is a great channel for leads, the panel unanimously responded with “it depends.”

In order to make the most out of Google Ads, you need to have enough differentiated content on the web that can accurately drive traffic. “Without the content, Google Ads won’t be as effective,” says Halpern.

If you’re a demand gen leader in enterprise tech, we’d love to hear from you. What other playbook pages would you add?

Thanks to Jess Lin for moderating our Demand Gen panel and for her contributions to this post!

Priyanka Somrah 🦋

Written by

VC Analyst @Work-Bench, investing in #nextgenterprise

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade