Marketing Automation Veterans Take Content, Campaign Expertise To Startups

Published: December 4, 2012

As the marketing automation industry matures, some of its most prominent players are moving on to new markets and new challenges. Demand Gen Report recently caught up with a few of these executives to discuss their new roles, including their use of content marketing strategies and the challenges of working in startup environments.

As the marketing automation industry matures, some of its most prominent players are moving on to new markets and new challenges. Demand Gen Report recently caught up with a few of these executives to discuss their new roles, including their use of content marketing strategies and the challenges of working in startup environments.

Joe Chernov: Content A ‘Foundation’ For Startup Marketing

In the years leading up to Eloqua’s successful IPO last summer, Joe Chernov became a familiar name and face as the company’s content marketing architect. From its popular Grande Guide series to being named 2012 Content Marketer of the Year by The Content Marketing Institute, Chernov supervised everything from user experience to media and community management to social strategy.

In September, Chernov left Eloqua to become VP of Marketing for Kinvey, a mobile “backend as a service” firm that helps developers bring apps to market faster and more affordably.

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Based on his actions since leaving Eloqua, Chernov showed himself to be a true believer in marketing automation. “My very first ‘spend’ at Kinvey was an Eloqua license,” Chernov told DGR.

“Although Kinvey is a start-up, our needs are sophisticated,” Chernov stated. “ I think there’s a fallacy in the market. Buyers perceive HubSpot to be for small companies, Eloqua for large companies, and Marketo for those in between. While company size is certainly part of the decision-making process, much more important questions to answer during vendor selection include ‘Where are we trying to go as an organization’ and ‘What obstacles must marketing clear?’”

As Eloqua’s content marketing czar, many think Chernov took the discipline to its peak. Yet he said it will play an even larger role at Kinvey.

“I ran a content marketing operation [at Eloqua] that existed largely as a discrete function,” he said. “I was in the ‘pixie dust’ business, sprinkling content to make our marketing sparkle. Today, content is the foundation for our marketing. At Kinvey it’s horizontal, across the [entire] company.”

Maria Pergolino: The Power Of Repurposing

Maria Pergolino is another familiar name within the marketing automation industry. As Senior Director of Marketing at Marketo, Pergolino specialized in demand generation through the company’s online and social channels. Her mastery of email, webinars, E-books, white papers, blog posts and video has helped Marketo establish itself as arguably the dominant mid-market brand in the automation space.

Recently, Pergolino departed Marketo for Apttus, a partner and emerging player in the Configure Price Quote (CPQ) space. Pergolino’s move to Apttus put her into the enterprise solutions business – arguably a different space compared to Marketo’s mid-market focus.

According to Pergolino, the skills and business precepts honed in marketing automation transferred effectively to her new role.

“As I selected a new opportunity I chose an organization that had an industry leading product and that wholeheartedly cared about their customers, but that wasn’t reaching its full potential because of a lack of marketing strategy,” Pergolino said.

“Marketing automation will be one of the ways I create success for Apttus,” she added. “My ability to use marketing automation to help a buyer through their journey, paired with my ability to create content that will regularly help solve the problems of our target audience, will create a competitive advantage at Apttus.”

Pergolino said her 2013 plan for Apttus covers four key areas: operations (hiring, systems); demand generation; corporate marketing; and customer marketing. Content marketing, she stated, will play a key role in each one of these areas.  

“Among the tactics I’ll employ at Apttus is repurposing content to help stretch the budget and get more out of each effort,” she said. “You’ll see me turn a webinar into a white paper, slide presentation, content for lead nurturing, a long video and clips for smaller videos.”

“I’ll also make sure that everyone new to the marketing team understands that content creation and engagement in social media is a requirement of all jobs on the team, not just for one team member,” Pergolino added. “This will help us scale our content and presence online without lots of extra headcount.”

Steve Gershik: Marketing Automation Leverages Limited Resources

With a background that varied from marketing a preeminent B2B research firm (SiriusDecisions) to helping create a conference tailored to the demand generation sector (DemandCon) to VP of Marketing Innovation at Eloqua, Steve Gershik already has a well-rounded background. Now, in his new role as VP of Marketing at StackMob – a mobile-centric start-up providing end-to-end creation and deployment solutions for network-connected applications – Gershik said his carefully developed playbook is being put to good use.

“I’m now working at a startup in the white-hot mobile space,” he stated. “While the company is recently posted Series A [its first significant round of venture funding], we’ve implemented marketing automation as part of our core marketing infrastructure. I don’t think any B2B company is too small to start thinking about automating marketing, particularly with scarce resources and time at a premium.”

Even with solid funding and immense potential, most start-ups practice tight resource management. They direct talent, skill and dollars where they will matter most. “Smaller budgets and fewer team members often go hand-in-hand with the awareness imperative and the need to establish trust and credibility with your target market,” Gershik said.

“We do that through careful listening to our end users, being very transparent in our marketing outreach and developing content that is fascinating and compelling. We also plan to execute constantly, make mistakes, and learn from them at a rapid pace.”

Jim Williams: Giving Marketers A Competitive Edge

Another Eloqua alum, former Senior Director of Product Marketing Jim Williams, recently moved into the fast-growing advocate/advocacy marketing sector. Williams is now VP of Marketing for Influitive, whose AdvocateHub solution offers a framework for mobilizing brand evangelists to create better client-vendor matches.

Williams, who is responsible for generating awareness for a start-up with a fairly new concept, said that lessons learned in the marketing automation and content marketing sectors are a core part of his strategy.

“If anything, marketing automation is even more important with less people and fewer resources. But the world of marketing automation has expanded so dramatically in the last few years that it’s hard to keep up,” Williams stated.

“Yes, we need nurturing programs for leads gone cold and welcome programs for folks that convert on our web site. But for a ‘freemium’ model business like Influitive, it’s how leads are behaving in your app that’s the real game.”

Williams, like his colleagues, is also emphatic about the use of content marketing.

“Content will be central in Influitive’s go-to-market strategy,” he said. “Our buyers are senior level marketers looking for an edge. They’re highly ambitious leaders focused on elevating their company with innovative practices – and elevating their skills and reputation in the meantime. They have this insatiable appetite for content that provides them with tangible examples, ideas and practices.”

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