The benefits of precision and consistency in marketing

Published 18/06/2024 / B2B SPOTLIGHT SERIES

Insights from Alexandre Barthel, Marketing and Communication Director at Agorize.

Alexandre Barthel started his career in B2B marketing 24 years ago, working with companies across software, tech, and business process outsourcing (BPO) services. During his eight-year tenure in senior roles at Sage, for instance, he led the rollout of the company’s first SaaS payroll software in France. 

Alexandre is now Marketing and Communication Director at Agorize, a leading innovation management platform that “helps organizations accelerate innovation from seed to execution by connecting companies, startups and talent everywhere, at scale”.

Agorize counts Accenture, Microsoft, and L’Oréal among the clients it has supported, implementing 1,000+ SaaS platforms since its launch in 2011.

We caught up with Alexandre at Agorize’s booth at VivaTech 2024, Paris, to discuss his best tactics for marketing, and the importance of instilling a consistent brand narrative to support sales efforts.

Agorize is a company with a unique proposition. How are you finding the challenge of bringing it to market?

It’s interesting work, but also challenging sometimes. First of all, we are targeting Fortune 500 companies with a niche product offering. We provide software to manage innovation, which is a relatively new line of business, so we have to explain what the impact of that innovation will be. It means we can’t leverage the most popular topics. We have to be precise in our way of communication and content creation.  

Part of this comes from being able to measure the impact and ROI of innovation. If you don’t measure it, you don’t know if it’s working. We’ve seen more appetite to measure ROI in the last five years, and this has coincided with the recognition that innovation should have a purpose, a goal, rather than just innovating for the sake of innovation. The main goal is value creation.

Have you been taking an account-based marketing approach then?

Yes. While we’re finding that ABM is not so useful for new business, it is good in supporting cross-sell within existing accounts that you want to develop. You need good insights and information to create messages that are customised enough to be efficient. That’s why we find an ABM approach works well with accounts you already know. It’s a logic that needs to be co-developed with the sales team, because it can’t be done by the marketing team alone.

So, what are you finding is the best tactic for generating leads in your marketing?

It’s the utilisation of tools within inbound marketing. If you have not started to work on SEO for your website, for example, you should start now. It takes time, but once you see the first effect, it will continue to support your business and new growth. That was one of my first actions when I joined Agorize, and it probably took a year before its significance in terms of business and revenue showed. However, it had a considerably bigger impact for Agorize than something like PPC, for example. 

It’s also about ensuring that we are very precise in our targeting. My team and I have worked hard to develop our data capture for intent to purchase at different levels. First of all, we started with an IP tracking solution for our website. It was interesting, but it came too late within the buying cycle. We then used an external supplier to get signals from a software reviews website, converting 12% more signals with IP tracking than when we track on our website directly. It’s interesting, and something that we will continue to explore, because the feedback from sales is really positive. 

How do you balance investing in the brand while supporting sales at the same time?

We’ve worked on branding since day one, and we invest to make sure that our brand is correctly represented. It’s also about associating the brand with events and companies that are congruent with us. Our co-marketing with Hitachi, Microsoft, and L’Oréal all has a purpose. It’s the same with our presence at events like Switch Singapore or the Paris Motor Show: we detect places where we can find our audience and leverage the investment in terms of business. 

I talk in terms of ‘business’ because the main KPI for us is not MQLs, it’s not ‘forms filled’, it’s revenue. At Agorize, marketing investment into brand narrative has generated more than 30% of the company’s new business revenue, two years in a row. 

Because we’re a B2B company, we do invest in paid media across Google, Bing, and LinkedIn ads. We’ve also been testing PPC on Gartner peer insights. We’re finding that it’s creating traffic but not opportunities for us. But that’s one of the main jobs for my team and I: reminding customers who we are, and ensuring they recognise us. It’s why we’re so proud of our Enterprise Leader badge from G2, for being the leader in innovation management for the fifth time in a row.

Could you tell us about a mistake in your marketing career?

My biggest mistake is not letting go! I like to make sure that everything is perfect. I enjoy it, but I have to remember that I’m super lucky to work with such a great team, and that they’re able to do it too. 

Marketing is one of the areas within a company that has the broadest scope, and that’s reflected in the team’s range of expertise – AdWords, SEO, community management, etc. I want to learn peer-to-peer as much as I can train the team too. It’s not only efficient in terms of training, but it creates a link unlike anything else.

Finally, could you tell us about a moment in your career that you’re really proud of?

A European bank came to us wanting to remove plastic from the food distribution of its employees as a commitment to ESG. Our team dedicated to scouting innovators helped to detect new solutions to solve the problem, and the bank received more than 50 applications through our software. From these solutions, the customer selected an idea for reusable coffee cups made from ‘waste’ coffee grounds. They were so happy with the solution that they made an order for 20,000 cups. 

The project inspired us to monitor how many customer programs are dedicated at least partially to ESG – 70% within the last two years. So, we collected a lot of examples and turned them into a whitepaper and video. 

We were able to share our findings among our ecosystem, we got velicity for this specific line of business by making our sourcing team a must-have service, and the marketing assets are a great new-business trigger. 

I’m also particularly proud of the project because, in the end, removing plastic is beneficial not just to this particular bank or to Agorize but to everyone.

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