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Interview with Brian Hansford

by | Jan 8, 2019 | Interviews,

Brian Hansford

Brian Hansford

VP of Marketing Performance at Heinz Marketing

Key Topics:B2B Marketing, Demand Generation, and Marketing Technology
Location:Redmond, WA USA

I’m VP of Marketing Performance at Heinz Marketing, where I’ve worked the last 6 ½ years.  I’m focused on helping B2B marketers improve revenue performance, communicate results with executive stakeholders throughout the organisation, and use the data to help make strategic decisions.  I have worked in B2B marketing, sales and alliance management for 25 years.

How did you get to become an expert in B2B marketing?

I will never refer to myself as an expert. I feel like the more I learn and do, the more I need to learn and do to keep up with great ideas and practices in B2B marketing. My very first professional job was an inside sales rep for a PC-based software company that sold developer tools in the early 90’s. It was pre-web and the marketing world was wholly focused on direct mail, advertising, tradeshows, and PR.  I clearly remember how as a sales rep, I controlled the information my prospects and customers received. This is a complete contrast to today where companies must make as much relevant information as possible broadly available to prospects and customers through a vast array of offline and digital channels. And the buying process needs to be made as easy as possible.  When I started my career, activity-based marketing communications was the core focus to help grow branding awareness. This required spending huge amounts of money on channels and tactics that were impossible to measure. And that was expected.  Early on I wanted to measure the impact to these activities and experienced limitations in data, technology, alignment, and apathy. All of those early experiences have been hugely valuable lessons for me to be a better B2B marketer today.

As my career progressed, I transitioned from sales to marketing and my first big career move happened when I ran a global field marketing program in the US and Europe.  I also began working with CRM systems to enable database marketing efforts and lead results analytics.  In 2009 I dove headlong into working with Eloqua and Salesforce and at that point I was hooked on designing demand generation workflow and measuring results.  I started consulting in 2010 which really forced me to learn enough to provide the best advice and guidance for my clients.  In 2012 I joined Heinz Marketing and helped build our award-winning marketing technology practice. I have worked with over 200 companies providing strategy and implementation services for marketing technology, predictable pipeline strategy, content marketing, sales enablement, and performance management.  I love what I do and working with other B2B marketing pros.

What areas of B2B marketing are you most passionate about?

  1. Marketing performance management – different people have different definitions. For me, MPM is a strategy and process for B2B marketers to measure revenue results, budget performance, and to provide guidance to help the business succeed in the future.  This involves attribution, marketing budget ROI, pipeline performance, and using historical data to inform decisions for future efforts.
  2. Marketing technology – martech has been the driving force that enables B2B marketers to drive revenue and engage customers. It’s been phenomenal to see how B2B marketing is growing from an activity function in the 90’s to one that that leads digital transformation and revenue performance.
  3. Data management – Great data models, clean data, and management practices enable great things to happen in B2B marketing and business growth.
  4. Coaching other marketers to help them grow – I love helping people learn new things and giving exposure to opportunities that push comfort zones.

Which B2B marketing influencers influence you?

There are so many incredibly smart and generous people I learn from.  My boss, Matt Heinz. The one and only Scott Brinker. Joe Chernov. Meagan Eisenberg. So many smart folks to learn from.

Outside of B2B marketing who else influences you?

  1. My father is my greatest influence, even to this day. I still try to learn from him and have a long ways to go in being the best person I can be personally and professionally. The older I get and deeper into my career I go, I will always be grateful for his influence.
  2. Stephen Covey and his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has huge influence on me, 25 years after first reading it.
  3. Simon Sinek – The power of WHY was a powerful eye opener for me and influences me daily on how I can engage with clients and help them engage with their customers.
  4. My co-workers and clients: This isn’t a platitude. I learn more day to day from my co-workers and clients than any other source. They all have a huge influence on me which inspires me to continually improve and learn new ideas.  In that regard it’s important that people realize how they can influence others, even when they don’t realise it.

How would you describe your offline influence?

I enjoy writing on a variety of B2B topics. I don’t write as much as I should but when I do I try to focus on meaty content that covers B2B strategy, marketing tech operations, demand generation, marketing analytics and the occasional snarky post.  I speak at a few events throughout the year and I need to up my game in this area.  I enjoy networking and meeting new people and listening to what others are doing and how they tackle problems.  Meeting people is the best way to influence them.

What are going to be the key developments in the industry in the next 12 months?

B2B marketers are experiencing increasing pressure for results and accountability for revenue performance.  Our survey data from Heinz Marketing and other sources like Gartner and the CMO Council confirms this.  The big problem is B2B marketers are struggling to provide credible and reliable data to demonstrate revenue performance results in a way that CEOs, CFOs, and other execs find meaningful and credible.  This pressure has increased over the last two years.  Just five years ago B2B marketers would freak out at being held accountable for a revenue number.  I think it will reach a tipping point by the end of 2019 and technology alone won’t solve the problem.  Technology needs to improve, data management must improve significantly, and most importantly, marketers analysis skills must dramatically improve, at all levels within an organization.  It may not be sexy like something new with Blockchain and AI. But increased accountability will have a significant impact of B2B marketing operations and behavior.  This will be especially true if a broad economic correction hits by 2020.

If a brand wanted to work with you, what activities would you be most interested in collaborating on?

I always enjoy doing webinars and podcasts. I also enjoy working on joint content projects such as guides and white papers and moderating roundtable events that share best practices. Once and for all I want to do more video and incorporate that more frequently into my repertoire. I also enjoy brainstorming product ideas to tackle anything from huge challenges to niche innovations. If you have an idea, let me know!

What would be the best way for a brand to contact you?

You can contact me via Twitter or LinkedIn.