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Marketing Strategy | Intent Data, Back to Basics with ABM, and B2B Non SaaS (with Christopher Rack)

13 May 2024
Marketing Strategy | Intent Data, Back to Basics with ABM, and B2B Non SaaS (with Christopher Rack)

Show Notes

Dave is joined by Christopher Rack, CEO of pharosIQ. Chris is a seasoned leader with a track record of driving remarkable growth. With experience spanning individual contributions to executive leadership, he's led four sales organizations to achieve 10x growth in just 2-3 years. His leadership ethos prioritizes building robust processes and fostering winning cultures rooted in a human-first approach.

They discuss

  • The future of intent data
  • ABM in 2024
  • The importance of unique positioning
  • Marketing in industries like packaging and logistics
  • How to stand out in a crowded market


  • () - - Intro
  • () - - Embracing Timeless Marketing Principles
  • () - - The Impact of Positioning on Marketing
  • () - - Adapting to Remote Work
  • () - - Identifying early-stage problems and solutions
  • () - - Decoding Intent Data in B2B Marketing
  • () - - Regulation and Data Privacy in Advertising Platforms
  • () - - Strategies for Meaningful Outreach Using Intent Data
  • () - - Redefining ABM: Back to Basics
  • () - - Focused Sales Strategy: Quality Over Quantity
  • () - - ABM: Leveraging Your Network
  • () - - The Naming Challenge in Branding
  • () - - The Power of Execution Over Strategy

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Dave Gerhardt [00:00:15]:
So, Chris, you were just telling me something interesting. You said you just got back from what some people would call a kickoff, but you actually called it a CSQ. Can you explain that?

Chris Rack [00:00:24]:
Yeah. So I generally lean in the direction of doing things different than how most do them. And I think the term kickoff has kind of gotten cliche over the years. So, I mean, sales kickoff, revenue kickoff, company kickoff, GTM kickoff. And people just keep throwing different acronyms in front of kickoff, and it's like. And I kind of like, what are you kicking off? Do we need to do? Do we need to kick off? So I call our event the CSQ live event, which is challenging the status quo. So each year I bring not just the revenue team, but also other teams into a central ish location in person to really challenge our status quo annually. Ask ourselves the questions, are we doing the right thing? Do we have the right plans in place? And, you know, some of it's the first couple days is leadership, and then I bring the rest of the team in the second couple of days, and it's just kind of a good event.

Chris Rack [00:01:11]:
You know, we're a relatively new company. We just got finished with a merger, so there's a lot of folks who haven't met each other, and I think it was a great opportunity to jump in.

Dave Gerhardt [00:01:19]:
All right, well, let's talk about your company then. Give some background on. We'll dive into your history in a little bit. But tell me about the business that you operate today.

Chris Rack [00:01:27]:
Ferros IQ is an interesting player in the b two b marketing and demand generation space. Our product is our signal data, or what most would call intent data. We aggregate down funnel signals or signals of actual intent to buy purchase into a single score. And then we sell solutions or services, leveraging that data to B two B marketers. Lead generation solutions like content syndication and direct mail high quality calling solutions with our Philadelphia based and Belfast based calling centers all the way down to ABM, targeted display and live events. So we've been around for quite a bit. Ferrous IQ is our new brand name coming off a recent merger. So, yeah, that's what we do, and we're really pumped to kind of connect with the audience.

Dave Gerhardt [00:02:13]:
So what is quite a bit, and how did you get into this world of b two b marketing? People that listen to this are your people. We all work in b two b marketing. We've all gotten here somehow. How did you get into this world?

Chris Rack [00:02:23]:
I guess you would say I'm a guest in the world, right? Because I've spent the better part of 17 years selling and engaging with customers who are b two b marketers. So I can speak to b two b marketing tactics and problems and pains and solutions only because I've heard so many of them over the 17 years that I've been doing it. I kind of fell into the space. I used to work at a at the time was like recruitment advertising back in the day when career builder and monster were kind of all the rage and they were battling for market share. I worked in that space and I got fired from that job because I told my boss at 26 something you probably shouldn't tell your boss. And then I've responded to an ad for a company that was recruiting its first us sales rep and they were doing training in the UK because it was a UK based company coming into the US. And I joined just because I wanted to go to the UK because I'd never been really out of the states before. And the first day of training was like, hey, here's what a white paper is, and we sell engagement with those.

Chris Rack [00:03:19]:
And 17 years later, I'm still talking to the same types of people and the same types of companies with generally the same types of problems.

Dave Gerhardt [00:03:26]:
So you've been in the industry for a bit. I know some things drive you nuts about how people talk about intent and b two b marketing and driving revenue and ABM. Today, what's not changed or what do you see people get wrong or fall victim to when you see people writing about particular topics on LinkedIn or certain thought leaders sharing different strategies, I know some of that stuff gets you fired up. So I want to tap into that a little bit and get into the tactics a little bit for folks, man.

Chris Rack [00:03:54]:
I mean, there's a lot that gets me fired up from the quote unquote influencer space, if you will. I mean, the constant massive emergence of buzzwords, right? I mean, what was ABM is now go to market, right? So I think everybody in the planet is now plopping GTM in front of what was ABM, right?

Dave Gerhardt [00:04:12]:
Just the whole thing. The whole now it's just the whole thing. Soon it's just going to be business.

Chris Rack [00:04:16]:
Yeah. It's just going to be marketing, right?

Dave Gerhardt [00:04:19]:
No, we'll come back. That's the next wave. The next wave is going to come full circle. We'll just call it marketing again.

Chris Rack [00:04:23]:
My biggest pet peeve is those who speak to strategies as the problem or the solution. Right. I found that any strategy executed flawlessly can do damage in b two B marketing or sales, right? And any strategy executed poorly can be terrible. So there's the constant barrage of cold calling is dead, this is dead. You should be social selling only. Create a podcast and everybody will come like all of this, right? But if you create a shitty podcast, it's not going to work, right? If you execute a crappy cold call, it's not going to work. Whereas if you do those things masterfully, they will work. So execution is really.

Chris Rack [00:05:05]:
And that's why a lot of the GTM stuff frustrates me, because in tough times, which most b two B revenue teams are in right now, everybody is crawling for a new strategy. We need to go from product led to sales led, or near bound or far bound, or there's so many different buzzy analogies to the strategies that drive it. When most people don't think internally, are we really executing on our current strategy? Well, and let's check that box before we start talking about new strategies to jump into.

Dave Gerhardt [00:05:34]:
Yeah, I've been thinking about this a lot lately, mainly because I'm now operating a business. And so I think a little bit, I think I'm like part marketer, more thing about business. And I feel like I've seen this now at three different companies that I've been a part of. I feel like my career in marketing is future proof or foolproof or timeless, whatever you want to say, because I understand. I feel like I understand the timeless principles and I realize that what matters more than any of those things that you said, like ABM, demand gen, this tactic, this tactic, podcast, whatever is, it's the positioning, it's the understanding. Like, it's the company story, it's the narrative, it's how you can uniquely. What, what is your differentiator? And I don't think enough people focus on that. That's the 80 20.

Dave Gerhardt [00:06:18]:
Like, I believe that any tactic can work. Cold calling can work, a podcast can work, YouTube can work, direct mail can work. The reason that the channel is not working is most often because of like, the story and the offer.

Chris Rack [00:06:29]:
One of my early mentors told me many, many years ago that people who are truly great at what they do generally have the ability to say very complicated things in very simple ways. And I think that's especially in revenue teams with sales and marketing. Just being able to summarize an insanely complicated platform or service or software offering in a way that in 12 seconds immediately resonates with someone is. That's the secret sauce. And I think to your point, why you've been successful, you've done that quite well.

Dave Gerhardt [00:06:58]:
A couple of years ago, I was working with a company and they, for the life of them, couldn't come up with the differentiator. And that was why they weren't winning deals. They didn't have a clear, it wasn't clear how they were different. There was a very crowded market and they wanted to try all these other different marketing tactics. And I'm like, guys, none of this mattered. Like, you need to stop and focus on this. But I feel like so often the CEO, the founder, or a couple of the other, you know, maybe the product leader or the. Even the marketing person, like, they want to be like three different things and they're kind of like half good at one and okay at the other, and they want to try to sell be all of it.

Dave Gerhardt [00:07:33]:
Where, like, I had this conversation with Dan on our team that they're, we just talking about, like, positioning. I was like, some days I wish that I didn't start the b two B marketing community. I wish I just niched all the way down and I was like, the AI community for b two b marketers in North America. Right. Just as an example, like, when you can be that specific with your positioning, you're going to have a much more effective time selling it. But I've been at companies where it's like, hey, the sales team wants a slide to help us sell against the competition. What's our differentiator? And the marketing team fills the slide with like 500 words, and it's like, no, this is impossible. I came up working at a company called Constant Contact, and they sold email marketing to small businesses, and they got their lunch eaten by Mailchimp.

Dave Gerhardt [00:08:16]:
It's pretty much the same product. You know why Mailchimp won? Because they had a free version and they had a brand that was like, they had a monkey and it was a little bit more playful, and that's how they won. And I think so often we don't have that type of differentiator or focus, and we do want to just go right deep into the channels and wonder why things aren't working.

Chris Rack [00:08:34]:
And I think the other thing, too is you have to go to the right people where they're at. I see it all the time. Like, put a podcast up and throw it up on LinkedIn and you're good. I mean, there's whole, and I call this SaaS blindness. Like the SAS and the software, the technology community don't generally understand that there's about hundreds of trillions of dollars bought and sold at b two B that aren't SaaS. So procurement, contracting, packaging, high end manufacturing equipment, a lot of those buyers aren't podcasters. They're not tuning into their local podcast or jumping on LinkedIn regularly to see the latest influencer chatter. So while some markets might be podcast and influencer and product led, et cetera, some markets are events.

Chris Rack [00:09:19]:
Still, some people want to see the robot put the packages together right in front of them and then hang out with their buddies for a beer afterwards. So that's a key thing I think is missed. Well, a lot, too.

Dave Gerhardt [00:09:29]:
Can we talk about that? I would love to talk about the b two B, not SaaS, because I do get messages from people, and it's my bias because that's where I came from. And I typically have a lot of guests and people on from that space. But I'd love to talk about marketing to b two B, not SaaS. If you have some stuff we can riff on in that bucket.

Chris Rack [00:09:45]:
Yeah, it's a really crazy. I mean, usually it's interesting because they have the same problems and solutions, but, like, they're usually about four to five years behind. I have a close friend of mine who sells in the packaging space, and she works for a $320 million packaging company. They have 200 plus sellers. She's a seven figure. She's a seven figure earner. She's a multi seven figure seller, and she manages her day on an excel spreadsheet. Her contacts, her CRM is an excel spreadsheet.

Chris Rack [00:10:15]:
And then they all upload their Excel spreadsheets to a master Excel spreadsheet. And that is how they forecast, that's how they pipeline, that's how they project, and that's a $300 million packaging company. So, like, people are like, oh, you need intent. I mean, those guys just need us, just need something. And so, like, there's so much, and most of it's on the road, a lot of its field, a lot of it's in person. And again, for them, it's just about going to where their buyer is, and sometimes their buyer is in their own warehouse. That's their marketing team is putting on road shows where they take their packaging robots to the customer and put them in their own environment and let them see them and act. So, like, it's a very different play.

Chris Rack [00:10:54]:
But I think other industries are very much following technology and SaaS, which they usually do. You're starting to see a lot more content being put out, a lot more video, a lot more digital type trends, and less big event spend in marketing. So, I mean, it's exciting for me, given that what Ferros does, it allows us to kind of jump in and in a lot of cases help non tech companies jump into or even very niche tech companies. Right. I just had a very large quote go out to a company that sells veterinary software. You wouldn't think that's a very hot market to sell into. But the vet software market is like $2.1 billion. It's really competitive.

Chris Rack [00:11:31]:
And there's hundreds of thousands of vets globally that buy and interact with software. So little things like that I find.

Dave Gerhardt [00:11:37]:
Fascinating in that world. I think you could reach the vet tech community with a podcast, and I'm sure some of them are on LinkedIn. But I think to your point, that's not going to be the majority. Is that world of b two b? Is it all mostly in person? Is it the way you influence them? Is there's a, once a year there's a big event that some of those people go to. There's maybe one or two websites or magazines that people read. There's one or two meetups. Is that the world? How do you influence buying in those?

Chris Rack [00:12:07]:
I think it is. It still is right now a lot of the time. And some of those, it depends on the industry. But again, like packaging, logistics, construction, manufacturing, again, these are hundreds of billions of dollars of industries, right? So it is migrating from both an outbound and an inbound standpoint. Right. The outbound standpoint is getting a little less in person. Cause t and e is expensive. And again, people just don't wanna meet as much as they used to.

Chris Rack [00:12:30]:
Everybody's busy, everybody's working from home with a higher propensity, but you just don't want to have those drinks or dinner with the salesperson after work. I think it's just a matter of those companies, to my point earlier, challenging their own status quo. Do I need to send this salesperson to 17 states in the next three months to be able to sell their product? Or can I put out a great piece of content about trends in manufacturing and have an inside sales team follow up with those same people and grab their interests? Are there intent signal providers in my industry in manufacturing, tech and healthcare, tech and healthcare services? And I think there's a lot of emerging vendors in that space as well. It's one of our key priorities at Ferros is those emerging markets building what we call engaged audiences and very specific or niche markets. On top of your standard B two B SaaS, malware, it, security, storage. We're really focusing on how can we give a solution to the dental software space, the veterinary software space, the manufacturing technology providers, supply chain and logistics technology companies, they're very niche audiences to reach, and we're finding ways to create engaged audiences that allow those vendors to leverage a more digital approach. And again, what's happening is they're finding savings. They're finding cost savings because the in person, the big events, the t and E, I mean, it adds up and it becomes massively expensive.

Chris Rack [00:13:56]:
So if they can cut those costs by even 20%, they're adding hundreds of thousands to the profitability line item.

Dave Gerhardt [00:14:03]:
Okay, so basically, there's an element of maybe the advice is not start a podcast, but in the B two B non SaaS industries, there is a shift of trying to move some of this buying online, at least.

Chris Rack [00:14:17]:
Yeah, I would say engagement online. Right. Versus engagement. Because buying makes me think ecommerce. Right. And I don't think people are going to buy a $2.2 million packaging machine. E commerce, although.

Dave Gerhardt [00:14:29]:
Yeah, I'll meet you halfway. The buying process. Yeah, yeah. So engagement with the, okay, so what does that look like? What does engagement, what would an ideal funnel there be like? Okay, you see, we used to go to a trade show. I used to have to meet there. How do you start to shift some of that engagement for buying to be online instead of in person? Yeah.

Chris Rack [00:14:46]:
And I think the buying journey, you mentioned things that annoy me online, but buying journey is one of them. The execution of how the buying journey happens is obviously more digital in most industries. Right. There's so much information available digitally now that the salesperson is required for less of it. So 75% to 80% of that process is now, quote unquote, marketing driven. And then the final home run happens in the 25% with sales. But the buyer journey is not necessarily what the buyer does, but what they think. And almost every buyer thinks the same, like five or six things as they enter the journey.

Chris Rack [00:15:20]:
I have a problem is the first thought, and the first thought is, can I solve it? So that's like, do other people have the problem? And is it solvable? How is it solvable? Once I understand how, like, okay, then after that, which vendors solve it? What do my peers think about those vendors? Can I afford any of these vendors? And then finally, which is the best or which should I choose? So a lot of the roadshow stuff in non SaaS industries is covering some of those fairly early stage problems they're trying to solve for do I have a problem? And can it be solved where I think that part of the buyer journey can most certainly be digitized, but just by putting out great content again in places that those people are talking about the common problems and how they can be solved, and then also pushing out, creating additional content that solves against, you have to just keep trying to answer those questions. At some point of every buying journey, somebody says, what do my peers think? At some point, everybody says, can I afford it? Those are the thought process. No matter what industry you work in, those are the five or six things that everybody thinks. So if you can attack those thoughts along the buyer journey, that's where you're going to find most of your return, whether you're SaaS or whether you're packaging or manufacturing. I think that's where there's leaps to be had across all industries.

Dave Gerhardt [00:16:38]:
Is that about the company having a unique point of view and creating content to answer those questions and to match each one of those steps?

Chris Rack [00:16:47]:
It's a little bit of everything, right? I mean, I think the leadership of the company has to have kind of a unique presence as well, too. You'll usually find that most of the leaders in any industry have a someone at their company who is either well respected or was known as a very knowledgeable or influential person in that space. They've either done it for a really, really long time, or they just built something unique or see things differently. And I think that person doesn't have to be on social media or LinkedIn, but they could speak at a conference, they may do a podcast, there may be a magazine, to your point, that they could do an interview in. So I think part of it is not just about the company anymore, but also the people at the company. And a lot of digital tactics can be done non digitally. It's just a matter of doing the same conceptual things, building your own personal brand in the places that your buyer Personas go. Some of those just might not be digital.

Dave Gerhardt [00:17:40]:
Can you explain intent data to me like I have no knowledge of it?

Chris Rack [00:17:45]:
You're diving into the Pandora's box of. But intent data was designed to track signals on the web, to be able to try to predict when a company is looking to purchase, is in the buying cycle has a high propensity to buy a specific solution or technology. That's what it was designed as. The problem with it is that aggregating and finding those signals is really, really difficult. And those vendors who've built their businesses on intent data have now realized that the signals that they've been aggregating aren't generally strong enough to show actual intent to purchase. They're more intent, like, what are some.

Dave Gerhardt [00:18:24]:
Examples of that that's not working anymore.

Chris Rack [00:18:27]:
Most of the intent data in this space is based on bitstream data, which is data aggregated by tracking bids on programmatic ad platforms. When you make a bid on a programmatic ad platform, and I can speak to this because there's a lot of b two b marketers on this. So it's a little bit in the trenches. But when you make a bid on a b two B programmatic platform, the publisher on the platform gives you a little snippet of what's on that page. Therefore you bid on it. And obviously, if you win the bid, you get, your ad gets served on that page and etcetera. But what happens is bitstream data collectors, where most of the intent in our space comes from, they build a programmatic platform and they bid half a cent on millions and millions of pages for the sole purpose of getting that snippet of information on it. So then they can look at consumption on, quote, unquote, those pages, and then they use natural language processing to say this company, ABC company, went on this page and this page was about HR software.

Chris Rack [00:19:23]:
So that's intent data to almost all of the space right now.

Dave Gerhardt [00:19:27]:
And as somebody who doesn't know a lot about this, I can think of a handful of marketing red flags instantly. Right. Which is like you just walk through kind of the, almost like Eugene Schwartz's stages of awareness, but you kind of talked about before, like, what is our problem? Does somebody know we exist? Like, you don't know why they got to that page. You don't know what else is on that page. They might not even be in the market to buy, but they happen to see that. And so the intent, it's almost like assuming that because somebody opened your email, that means they want to hear from you.

Chris Rack [00:19:57]:
Yeah. And it wasn't just that the pixel fired 62 times when they were scrolling through it. That is intent. For there was a very small amount of providers who aggregate that bitstream data and sell it to dozens of different providers in the space who then market it as their intent.

Dave Gerhardt [00:20:15]:
Right. And you don't even know specifically who. You just know that somebody from that company looked at something like that.

Chris Rack [00:20:23]:

Dave Gerhardt [00:20:24]:

Chris Rack [00:20:25]:
And then the other real mainstream intent is, is it a proprietary or co op? There are some vendors in this space who have a large enough engagement with their network of sites. They own the properties, they track engagement with the content on those properties and sell that intent data. So you have like a peer review site, like.

Dave Gerhardt [00:20:44]:
Yeah, like g two does this. A lot of people spend money. Yeah.

Chris Rack [00:20:47]:
You know, or you have like a tech target who has a lot of proprietary websites. Right. Or bambora is another pioneer in the space. They have a cooperative of partner sites that they have agreements with that they can track consumption on those sites as kind of a quid pro quo. Right. But there's value there. But again, there's only so much somebody visiting a website can tell you unless it's your website, that's the highest value intent that there is somebody going to your personal site. But that's where most intent providers tend to miss.

Chris Rack [00:21:17]:
They track signals, but are they really signals or is it just noise?

Dave Gerhardt [00:21:21]:
And so you want to play in this space because you all do it differently.

Chris Rack [00:21:25]:
Yeah, I'm trying to, like, break it, if you will. I don't use any website signal data in my intent algorithms at Ferros.

Dave Gerhardt [00:21:32]:
Isn't that also going to go, like, if there's more concerns about privacy and cookies and all that type of stuff, isn't that going to eventually become even harder?

Chris Rack [00:21:40]:
It will. Bitstream data has been under the watchful eye of many for many years. Right. And whether it's going to stick and whether it's, you know, like, will the dsps who are running the bidding platform start preventing those folks from bidding millions and millions of $0.01 bids so they could track, because really what they're doing is they're, excuse my french, they're ass surrounding a bidding platform to collect data from somebody else's systems. Right. It's kind of a, and again, it's good to get a whole lot of data. Right. It's great for a lot of information.

Chris Rack [00:22:08]:
That's why you'll see some vendors who are like 1.1 trillion signals a month. Right. It's just a whole lot of noise. But again, if the trade desk or other popular dsps started saying, hey, we're going to block these $0.01 bids, this high volume of $0.01 bids, these people have no intention of actually bidding on these sites and placing programmatic, they're just collecting data. It could shut down half of the intent industry, quote unquote, because that's the key to the kingdom. If you can't place the bid that lets you collect the information that tracks the quote unquote intent, then you can't track the intent. So it really, it falls in the, I mean, it could it be regulated in data privacy and et cetera, but it falls into the owners of the platforms that run the bidding platforms that do the programmatic advertising.

Dave Gerhardt [00:22:55]:
Keep going. We were talking about what's interesting about this new intent data 2.0 or the wave that you want to be a part of. If what you just described is the old way, what's the new way?

Chris Rack [00:23:05]:
It's not the amount of signals ingested, it's the type of signal. Right. And we spoke earlier about those thoughts that people have along the process. Process. So those thoughts generally leave a trail at some form or fashion. When I think, can I afford this? Or how do I compare against what vendors are in the mix? What do my peers think? Right? So there are places or types of content that buyers will engage with that showcase a higher propensity to engage or a higher propensity to buy. So one of those is peer review sites. Anybody who visits a peer review site to look at a piece of software generally is what we found from our data about a five x propensity to buy than just anyone else.

Chris Rack [00:23:44]:
Right? There's a really direct correlation there, engagement with certain types of content, like case studies, comparison reports, pricing guides. These types of content allude to someone who is in a purchase mind flow, can I afford this? How does this compare against other vendors? Who's the top ten? Those types of things. And finally, there are a lot of vendors who are just simply asking the audience, what are you looking to buy? So I have a fairly large call center and a fairly large signals engine that does just that. We do a lot of engagement with actual buyers and say, hey, what's on your agenda for the next twelve months? What are you buying? We track that data, categorize it, add it as another signal. From there.

Dave Gerhardt [00:24:26]:
You'Re creating this data through humans that are making phone calls and.

Chris Rack [00:24:30]:
Sending emails and sending direct mails and all the content that we push out across our signals engine. We have a perpetual engine of basically email newsletters that goes out to targeted buyers, and it's AI driven. So if I send you my newsletter and you click on an article about x, it learns what your preferences are and then it continues to send you relevant content each week until we start understanding a when you're actively engaged and what you're actively engaged in. So you might read a white paper or a blog or an infographic, but my algorithms will not say that you have intent. But once you reach the point where you're engaging with a case study that I send you, or a comparison report or a peer review site link or something more hooky, then we start bundling you into the intent standpoint. So we focus really, again, it's the type of content you'll reach, not the volume. Most intent vendors are like ABC company has ingested 1700 web pages this month, therefore they must be interested. And again, the volume is not as relevant as the type of content that people engage with.

Dave Gerhardt [00:25:36]:
What matters more than the where, I don't know. Is this your company or is this related to the merger? Like, how long have. I'm assuming you can't just start a company overnight and collect all this data and have enough budget to have a call center and build a massive email list. Where does this come from?

Chris Rack [00:25:53]:
Ferrous IQ is the, I guess you would say the, you might probably edit this, but it's the love child of two companies. One of them is MRP, who is.

Dave Gerhardt [00:26:02]:
No editing. There's no editing. Chris, this is whatever you.

Chris Rack [00:26:04]:
I just said love child. I'm sure my bosses will be pumped about that. No. So, yeah, we are a combination of two companies that have been around for quite a bit. MRP, which is a, I don't want to say it. We've been around for about 18 years, been in the call center space for many years as far as direction driving, HQL leads and email based leads, and then a company called Contention, which is the perpetual newsletter engine side of the house that drives a lot of that data. So combining all of those signals together has been. We obviously been working on the merger for quite some time, and it's one of those perfect storms where what we did really, really well complemented with what they did really, really well into a nice situation where we can kind of hit the ground, hit the market running with something that's truly different.

Chris Rack [00:26:44]:
B two B. Demand is one of the least innovative spaces that you could work in. Right. Again, I've sold the same people the same general type of thing, in some cases for 15 to 17 years. The good news is that it works tactically, what we sell works because people continue to buy it. But how it's done, there hasn't been a lot of innovation in a very long time, and I've been really pushing that envelope. And how can we innovate our space?

Dave Gerhardt [00:27:10]:
If you're someone that's buying intent data from a vendor or somewhere else, wouldn't I be worried about, like, well, can't all my competitors do the same thing? And aren't we all just reaching out to the same people? Like, how do you do it? How do you work with intent data? So the outreach is meaningful? It's like, I saw somebody asked a question in exit five the other day, and they're like, hey, we're going to. Any best practices for following up with executives after a trade show? And I was like, well, I got 100 questions, like, did you actually talk to them? Did they go to your booth? Like, who are they? Do they know your company? There's so many things there. And so it's one thing to get a signal that something happened, but then, or like, you ever see somebody gets a new job on LinkedIn, X company hires a new CMO, and then, like, she just gets flooded for the next six weeks with job change notifications. Like, how do you really make this work? It's like, it's great to have the data, but it matters what you actually do with it, right?

Chris Rack [00:27:58]:
Yeah, there's two questions in that, right? First, does everybody get the same data? And to my point earlier, when you're talking to an intent data provider, it is important to ask them where they get the data and don't let them dance with like, well, we know we've aggregated it over the years and time and place and where do you get it? Do you buy it or do you create it yourself? And then if the answer is you buy it, because most do, where do you buy it from? Because generally, again, most places are buying it all from the same two places. So you're getting to your point. If you're going to X company, Y Company, Z Company, and buying intent, all the people who are buying the same intent from what could be 15 different intent providers are getting the same data stream driven by the same co op or the same bid stream. So when you're reaching out to ABC company because they're interested in HR software, 15 of your closest friends probably are too, because they're showing the same signals from the same stuff. So ask that question, where are you getting it? Is it yours? How are you building it? If you're buying it from who? Right. If they can't ask it, that's another conversation for a different day. And then secondly, try to find the providers that have signals that are proprietary to them or those that combine signals in a proprietary way, because there are a lot of aggregators of signals as well too, and there's some value there. Second is how do you best follow up with it? Similar to your question about the event follow up, right.

Chris Rack [00:29:24]:
I'd have to know a little bit about who's following up. Are you talking about a marketing generally, I found that with most intent, because it's not very good intent, you're better taking those companies and putting them in a nice nurture flow and tracking engagement with your personal communications until they score up to a point where they're ready for sales. If you actually find an intent provider that's driving actual signals, you can work with very targeted programs and direct mail or outbound calling to turn those people into meetings and opportunities at a faster clip. Right. Like, ideally, you'd want to say, hey, I'm tracking that you're in market for HR software. And the person picks up the phone and says, oh, yeah, I totally am. Awesome. Good timing, right? Let's talk.

Chris Rack [00:30:05]:
So it's just a matter of. Because most intent isn't good enough to do that. Most people struggle with the follow up because theoretically, you should be able to reach out and say, hey, my signals are indicating that you're in market for X software. We sell that, would you be interested in hearing? And the person will say, oh, yeah, I totally am. Let's talk. Like, that's the goal. That's the promised land. And the only vendor who can do that right now is Google and Bing and basically your search place.

Chris Rack [00:30:31]:
That's why they're $3 trillion companies and everybody else is. There's Google and there's search, and then there's everything else way down here. And I think what I'm trying to do is bridge that gap to the second best option. I think it's out there, but I think no one has challenged that for what is now the 17 years that I've been doing it. There's been that still gap between search and everything else.

Dave Gerhardt [00:30:51]:
I want to talk about the merger and the rebrand, just as a marketer, but I want to do that in a minute. First, I want to talk about. Just want to spend a couple of minutes on ABM, because whenever we talk about ABM, there's always a. Okay, so what does that really mean? And you said something to me that I really liked, which is going back to basics with ABM. ABM needs a revamp. Going back to basics. No more expensive tools and tech. Back to creative, targeted, and lower budget.

Dave Gerhardt [00:31:19]:
I actually first heard of the term ABM. It wasn't even called ABM. It was in this book called the Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes. And he talked about your dream 100. Having a. Every business should have a dream list of 100 customers you want to sell to, and you should be targeting those customers specifically. And then when I got into a company where we were doing ABM, I'm like, this is kind of basically that, but there's a lot more nonsense. And then there's also a whole other angle of people that think ABM.

Dave Gerhardt [00:31:47]:
Oh, so ABM, and this is because of vendors, I think, in the space. But ABM is display ads. Okay, so we're doing ABM. And so that means we're showing ads to target accounts. What does this mean to you? What would you like to see? How do we bring ABM back to basics? No more expensive tools and tech, back to creative, targeted and lower budget.

Chris Rack [00:32:02]:
I mean, I do think that vendors created that. They did a hell of a job, too. The vendors who are responsible for convincing the world that ABM was display advertising on a platform. Amazing wizardry. Because there was a whole market who thought, I have to do ABM. I'm going to call these two people. I think that's kind of unraveling a smidge now. But ABM is, to your point, right? It's identifying those x companies that have the highest propensity to buy your solution, either in general or at a specific time.

Chris Rack [00:32:32]:
You're really hyper focused. Target ICP from a company in a buyer perspective standpoint, and then creatively going to get them creatively standing out from the noise and the barrage of prospecting that they likely get from people who look or sound just like you.

Dave Gerhardt [00:32:47]:
The best.

Chris Rack [00:32:47]:
ABM is like, hey, two accounts a quarter. Sales, marketing, customer experience, the executive team, and everybody gets together and just figures out, like, how can we get a meeting with these two accounts? Because we know they're bigger than everyone else. Let's sit in a room and get creative. And, I mean, I was reading an article about Spotify was trying to sell some people, and they wrote songs, right, to some big brand advertisers. They actually wrote songs about the people, and they hooked, like, seven of ten meetings, right? Or sending someone a special thing. That's ABM. But what happened is people did that and they saw a lot of success. They got seven meetings.

Chris Rack [00:33:24]:
And then the executives, being the geniuses that they, we are, said, oh, let's scale that. Put gas on the fire. ABM, by the nature of what it is, isn't scalable. Like, you can only be account based at a certain point to where it becomes not account based. Now you're just targeting every. I mean, somebody. I've had customers send me, like, target account list with 610,000 companies on them. That can't be that targeted.

Chris Rack [00:33:51]:
That can't be account based at that point, right? And I think that's where it's broken. Account based marketing could be two people talking about, how do we penetrate this account? One of them sales, one of them is marketing. And I'll send them a direct mail. You call them, we'll hit them at this trade show. All within this perfect. To try to get them to hook. And I think that's where ABM is broken.

Dave Gerhardt [00:34:11]:
But what you just said, you think that's the better way? It's the block and tackle. Like, if it's Dave and Chris and here's our five accounts we're trying to sell this quarter, what are we going to do to go get in front of him? Right? That's not to say you can't do the other stuff like air cover from display and digital. Certainly won't hurt. Right? I love this approach. I also, this is my answer to sometimes people ask, like, we don't have any customers yet. What would you do? I'm like this. What you just said is this, like, you need to shrink this whole thing down and figure out, like, who are the ten customers that you could sell to right now? Like, spend more time on creating the list. Right? Like, identifying those ten companies that you actually could sell to right now is going to be more important.

Dave Gerhardt [00:34:51]:
Where I think a lot of people will get a list of, to your point, thousands of accounts, blast them all with the same messages that they don't even know works yet, and expect that person, I'm going to go from a cold email to a sales call. No way.

Chris Rack [00:35:03]:
One of my favorite ABM programs, big or small company, right? And people kind of do this subconsciously when they start. But if you actually focus and target it, it's actually quite resourceful. But it's kind of a six degrees of Kevin Bacon approach where you look at all of the employees at your company, whether they're the CEO, or whether they're a BDR calling, or whether they're everyone in the company, and you ask them to be like, hey, who do you know? You start, and you'd be surprised how many of your employees went to college with someone who buys what you sell or have an aunt or an uncle who knows somebody who buys what you sell. We did it earlier last year, and it was really, really successful because some of the people were like, oh, I know somebody who buys stuff. And we were like, great, I'll talk to them. That warm introduction is just a really cool way to attack an ABM program.

Dave Gerhardt [00:35:51]:
I've done that in the past. I was at a company and they did, like, they bought lunch for everybody, put on good music, said, hey, from twelve to two, we're going to do like a pipeline thing. And they literally had the list of accounts up on a huge monitor, and everybody was like, do you know somebody? Or the sales team was like, hey, Dave, I see that you're connected to so and so at this company. Like, do you know them? And I was like, no, I don't know them. But we're first degree connections on LinkedIn. I'm happy to send a message to them and, okay, great. Oh, actually, do you know this person? Yeah, that's actually my cousin. Like, I love these things.

Dave Gerhardt [00:36:19]:
The hard thing is, Chris, to your point, like, they don't play well. They don't make for pithy little sound bites or blurbs, like, you know, for playbooks on, on LinkedIn or otherwise. But this is what I've always thought in my head, like, yeah, this is ABM. And this also speaks to, like, in order to do this effectively, you can't have sales and marketing working against each other. You have to have, like, they each have unique skill sets and they're going to combine their powers to get into this account. That's how you do it.

Chris Rack [00:36:43]:
Yeah. Or I mean, again, add executive into the mix, add product into the mix. Add all of the experts that you have that could cohesively attack. I mean, again, nowadays, it's hard to find a buying process that doesn't include a CFO right now. So when we have a big deal that's cooking on our side, our CFO reaches out to their CFO and says, hey, CFO to CFO, if there's any questions you have about this deal or whatever, I'm happy to talk to you about it. Right? Like, sometimes just that bridge to people who are from the same, who speak the same language and have that, like, hey, CFO to CFO or sales guy to sales guy, let's have a chat. Like, that's been really strong for us as well, too. And, yeah, I mean, obviously most CFO's are curmudgeony, right? I happen to be lucky enough to have one that isn't who can reach out to other CFO's.

Chris Rack [00:37:26]:
But, you know, I'm sure everybody can do that prospecting if you ask them to. I don't sell the CFO, so I just offended that whole industry as well, too, on the call.

Dave Gerhardt [00:37:34]:
So they don't listen to this podcast. Don't worry about it. Don't worry about it. And there's, you know, 50% of the marketers that do have a curmudgeoning CFO. So you just, you made them giggle. And then the others, you made them happy because they're like, oh, my CFO is not like that. Let's talk about a rebrand. Let's take off our ABM and intent data hats for a little bit and let's wrap up talking about a rebrand.

Dave Gerhardt [00:37:55]:
Was this fun? Was it a headache? You got one company that's been around for 18 years, you got another company, you got two different names, you come up with a new name. What's the process behind the scenes of, and how did you get here to get to Ferros IQ from these two companies and 18 years of history?

Chris Rack [00:38:12]:
I mean, it's really hard, right. Because especially when one company's been around for 18 years, you know, there's a lot of even a lot of market knowledge, but just a lot of, like, emotion that comes with it. Right. But that being said, MRP presented a lot of tactical challenges. Like, if you Google MRP, you don't get us, you get manufacturing, resource planning and about 72 articles about that industry. Right?

Dave Gerhardt [00:38:36]:
No, I got some like, type of like a mister Price dot.

Chris Rack [00:38:41]:
Yeah, yeah. So we're actually because the domain wasn't available at the time and our previous owners were a public company called FD Technology. So that's where that website came from. So there's a whole lot of that happening. Contention was a relatively new brand, but it was kind of like a founder led company, and they didn't do a ton of, you know, they were never happy with the brand as a whole itself. It never like, it wasn't something. They were like, we love this, and we're stuck with it. Right.

Chris Rack [00:39:05]:
So the good news is that there were two brands that were kind of ready for a change. That makes it, I guess, a little bit easier than if one of the two brands is like, I'm not changing, and there's a lot of emotion that comes with it. So nobody was really sold. That was the easy part. The hard part, especially when you're naming a company, I mean, there's just so many names already taken. Like, you might have a great name and you can't find a domain available. You might find a great name in the socials taken by somebody else. You might find a great domain and the names taken, like, that's why I'm convinced that's why so many startups have just made up nonsense names like jabooba or something, because they just, there's a.

Dave Gerhardt [00:39:44]:
Company called Winter and it's Wynter. And a friend of mine is a founder called, his name is Pep, and he told me on the podcast a couple years ago, I was like, why did you call it winter? He's like, well, I wanted one word. And so he, like, hired some vas to go and find, like, all of the relatively simple, memorable one word domain names that were available. And then, like, winter has some meaning in some other language. And so he's like, yeah. So we picked that one. That's how I came up with exit five. I was like, let me come up with a story and then try to find an available name.

Dave Gerhardt [00:40:14]:
Okay, exit five. I could tell that story. This is available. Let's pick that one. It is. You're right. It is so hard. The limiting factor is that is so often the domain and what's actually possible.

Chris Rack [00:40:23]:
And I didn't want anything. And we didn't want anything that was like, a lot of the companies in our spaces have the words like lead or demand or intent in the name, and I just didn't want to have an obvious name, right? I just didn't want to be the next, like, lead ninja or lead. It's whatever, right? There's, like, 100 lead or demand or intent companies in my space, so.

Dave Gerhardt [00:40:44]:

Chris Rack [00:40:45]:
We went through a lot of different renditions, and I ended up, to be candid, like, both my CMO and myself, like, we just kind of went to those, like, free name makers, right? And just typed in.

Dave Gerhardt [00:40:55]:
I do that all the time. Yeah.

Chris Rack [00:40:56]:
Typed in some stuff and just kept like, oh, that's shit. That's. And then, like, I ended up bumping into lighthouse with, like, a two eyes, like, light lii. And I was like, okay, like, lighthouse signals. I like it. Okay, now I'm getting somewhere. But I didn't want to have, like, this weird two eye name or Howes with a z, like, it's 1996. And then.

Chris Rack [00:41:17]:
So I need to go like, okay, you know, synonyms for lighthouse or other languages. And I ended up bumping into the, you know, like, the greek word for lighthouse is pharos. Right? And from the lighthouse at Alexandria, which was the 7th wonder of the world. So I'm like, okay, I like it. Strength, longevity. I can connect Lighthouse to signals. I'm there. I love all that.

Chris Rack [00:41:38]:
And then, like, of course there's another company called Ferros. And I'm like, we're in different industries. I'd probably be okay. Like, they're a print management company. We're never going to cross over. But I thought, okay, let's add iq just to be safe from an IP perspective, and also connecting signals and intelligence into a single flow so that's where we ended. But I thought it was fun. I really love exercises like that.

Chris Rack [00:42:01]:
Like, here's a really challenging puzzle. Solve for the puzzle.

Dave Gerhardt [00:42:05]:
Yeah, we did a smaller one. We're doing an event in September. We needed to come up with a name for that. I love those type of exercises. Bitten and I think where a lot of people get stuck is like, you have to be comfortable. Like, you have to feel free to get all the shitty names out of the way. And I feel like if you don't say them out loud and write them down, you never break through and so you have to be comfortable being looked. We're just going to go.

Dave Gerhardt [00:42:27]:
And so it was the three of us at in slack and we were like, just go, start riffing. And we just spent days and days and days. We each would share a name. Share a name, share a name, share a name. That's not it. That's not it. That's not it. Okay, check this one out.

Chris Rack [00:42:36]:
What about this one?

Dave Gerhardt [00:42:37]:
Yeah, I like that one.

Chris Rack [00:42:38]:

Dave Gerhardt [00:42:38]:
That's warmer. Warmer. That part is fun. And I think it is. It's cool to hear you say that because even for a legitimate company with millions in revenue, like, this is how it gets done. It's not always. You hired some fancy agency, they did all these focus groups and stuff. You just, you had a method and you wanted to just do it and you pick a name and you got to go.

Dave Gerhardt [00:42:57]:
And now the brand is going to become what you make it, right? I think a lot of people obsess over the name before. I do believe sometimes you got to ship it and go and then the brand is going to become what you make it after the fact.

Chris Rack [00:43:06]:
To my point, execution over strategy, a crappy name with a really amazing story that people tell well that they're passionate about, that they believe in, is going to outperform the sexy name that no one does that. Right. I loved the process. My CMO has to do all of the other stuff, like all of the, you know, just the pain that, like how are we going to migrate the websites? Are we going to, you know, how are we going to build all that? How are we going to migrate the emails over with tech, all of our collateral, all of our stuff? All like all of that. Right. So obviously I'm not as close in the loop on that part of it. Right. But, you know, but it's really, it's been one of my most fun projects that I've done in my long career, if you will.

Dave Gerhardt [00:43:49]:
It's just not bad. Not bad for a sales guy. He did good.

Chris Rack [00:43:52]:
I know, right? Like, we get bad rap. No, no, I'm a marketer.

Dave Gerhardt [00:43:58]:
Chris, we got a wrap. It's great to have you on. Great to chat more with you. I'm excited to follow your journey. It's fun to have a b two b non. I'm going to get messages about this because people have wanted. Hey, finally, somebody to talk about b two b non sass. There's a whole world out there that we don't cover, and I'm sorry for that.

Dave Gerhardt [00:44:16]:
And it's great to have you. So call to action for this podcast. As you're listening right now, go to LinkedIn. Find him his Christopher rack. He's got the CEO look on LinkedIn. He brought his true self to the pod today, rightfully showing me the tats, showing me the flat brim hat, the Ricky Bobby 2024. I love all that. I love.

Dave Gerhardt [00:44:35]:
I'm glad to see that on LinkedIn. He's polished.

Chris Rack [00:44:38]:
My CFO has them matching shirts. We're shaking.

Dave Gerhardt [00:44:41]:
I love that. That's true alignment right there. That's true alignment. Go connected.

Chris Rack [00:44:47]:
I have a podcast as well, too, called Peter boring. Feel free to check it out. Right? I know if anybody listening here is a podcast listener, each week I invite a b two b marketer on. We talk a little bit about marketing, but then I challenge them to tell me about a campaign or something that they've done over their career. That's not boring, right? I found that most of my inspiration for ideas comes from listening to other people's ideas. So feel free to listen. And or if you'd like to join the podcast, hit me up on LinkedIn as well. Talk about, like, a creative or cool campaign you've run, and maybe you could inspire another b two b marketer as well.

Chris Rack [00:45:18]:
So check us out there.

Dave Gerhardt [00:45:19]:
Love that. I love the name. I love the premise for that. So go connect with Chris on LinkedIn. Send him a note, and maybe you'll get on that podcast, talk about something interesting you've done, Chris, rooting for you all. We'll continue to watch your journey. Appreciate you coming on and hanging out on the exit. Five podcasts, and I'll see you later.

Chris Rack [00:45:34]:
Awesome. Thanks, Dave. Appreciate it, man. Exit.
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