| |

Buzzwords, Playbooks, Funnelholics and the One Event You Absolutely Need to Attend in 2016

February 11, 2016 | Justin Gray | 3 Comments |

Buzz, Buzz, Buzz

Terminus, the group behind the #FlipMyFunnel movement, recently sponsored a Twitter chat. Like a good marketer, I participated.

The forum was great and some really great leaders like Matt Heinz, Joe Chernov and Jill Rowley were on hand to share some awesome insights around cutting edge trends like account-based marketing.

However, like most free form exchanges, it didn’t take long for me to disagree with some of what was being said. Ultimately, I have a real problem with buzzwords and what I call “summary thinking.” Thought leaders often summarize and oversimplify problems for the sake of inciting excitement on the part of, really, anyone who will listen.

I get it. Drumming up a buzz is exciting and with the mobile pulpit of social media it’s often convenient. It’s also dangerous as it often fails to address the true problem, and of course, the tactics to fix it.

A few weeks ago I put out a post that was really more of a plea to focus on tactics. Response was good, but not as good as when I talk high-level from a more strategic point of view. When my PR team brings me topics to write about, many of them seem like they are rooted in the mindset of decades past.

That’s because editors of very popular publications want summary-level, broad appeal pieces. Therefore I always find myself straddling that line – trying to speak around topics that are engaging to the general reader but also coupling those with actionable insights and takeaways. Dammit! See, there I did it again – WTF is an insight or takeaway!? Buzzwords are so ingrained in our daily speak as marketers we do it without thinking. Our vocabulary is on autopilot.

The danger in this type of general speak is that no one is getting to the core of what actually needs to be done. What keys need to be pressed, what tasks need to be completed?

To clarify my earlier statement “insights” and “takeaways” don’t have an inherent form, other than someone’s head – and we all know that is a dangerous place. Ideas die in heads. I’ve struggled with formats that create action. As a consultancy, we throw the term documentation around like it’s the cure for cancer. We mean well. Documenting process and approach and tactics is critical to ensuring long term adoption and success.

So, what’s the problem?

The problem is that most documentation is unreadable and often worse, un-usable. We’ve struggled with documentation since 2009 when we opened our doors (this is somewhat un-true because my spare bedroom office actually did not have a door to open). Seven years later, as the top Marketo consultancy in the world, the struggle is still real. The problem with documentation is that due to the history of this heavy, paper, long-winded, un-readable deliverable, even great documentation often goes unread.

When you pour your heart and soul into a project, as we truly do at LeadMD, there’s nothing worse than the idea staying in someone’s head. Marketers are too transient and change is too fickle to believe that a newly implemented process will take root on it’s own. Once again, the struggle is real.

Until one day, it wasn’t.

That time the Funnelholic blew my mind with a playbook

I met Craig Rosenberg in 2008,when, he tried to kick me out of a community called focus.com (don’t click that I have no idea where it leads) that he and his biz partner Scott Albro had created as a feeder for their lead generation business, Tippit.

There’s a great story around this that I’m willing to share anytime over a beer. Anyway, since that time I’ve been turning to the both of them for help as I transitioned my career from the traditional marketing of my past, to what would become LeadMD.

I was shocked at how succinct and open both Craig and Scott are in their insights. Most executives I talked to tended to ramble and, often I walked away more confused than before. But here were two guys who really made sense.

As I look back now, I realize this was because people who are successful actually want others to succeed, they want to share the insights they have gathered over their careers. This may seem more common now, but I can tell you in the mid-2000s people were not as open with their “secret sauce”. Content wasn’t king. Convolution was.

Years later, when Craig and Scott formed TOPO and I jumped at the chance to become an early client. Why would a sales & marketing consultancy hire an outside sales & marketing consultancy you might ask? The answer is simple, and I believe this with every ounce of me: it is incredibly hard to see yourself with warts and all.

I wanted a no-holds-barred evaluation of how my sales staff was actually using the processes and content we were training them on and I wanted the perspective from our clients. I also wanted actionable strategy and tactics to fix anything they might find that wasn’t optimized. What I got was the most actionable documentation I have ever seen or created, they called it a Playbook.

Just like the name sounds, it conveyed the strategic vision for what we wanted to achieve, presented the takeaways learned from our own customers (they secret shopped our sales calls and interviewed customer buyers) and like a football manual it outlined orchestrated actions our team needed to take. It was genius. It was a structure that resonated with both executives and executors. It was the answer I was looking for to solve the documentation problem we’ve see so many times, where important information sits dormant on a shelf (read: cloud storage) rather than empowering great people.

TOPO has further evolved their process and their outputs in the last two years, working with much larger orgs than ourselves like Salesforce.com, VMWare and RingCentral but the playbook remains central to their value. Tactics matter and these guys are pancaking them in a way that cuts through the normal summary speak and really creates momentum.

The Summit to end all summits

When I heard TOPO was putting on their first ever Sales Summit I reached out to see how we could be involved. That’s not normal behavior for me, or for LeadMD. On the whole we aren’t big fans of big conferences. Not actionable enough, you know.

So why get involved in Sales Summit? Simple. I know this won’t waste my time. I know that in addition to getting access to hyper-savvy leaders and practitioners that I, myself, will come away with the same actionable learnings I’ve been tapping these guys for over the last 8 years – but from dozens of new sources.

If there’s one B2B conference I recommend this year, it’s this one. And I’m not just saying that so Craig doesn’t kick me out.

Hope to see you all in April at the TOPO Sales Summit. You can Register Here.


  1. Craig Rosenberg on February 11, 2016 at 9:13 pm

    Thanks Justin. Great post. I wrote down “summary thinking”

    • Scott Albro on February 12, 2016 at 12:11 am

      Exactly! I just got a tattoo that reads “Tactics matter and these guys are pancaking them in a way that cuts through the normal summary speak…”

  2. Scott Albro on February 12, 2016 at 12:11 am

    Justin, thanks for the kind words and thanks for being a customer!

Leave a Comment

Want more? Here's some related content


#MAfails: New to Marketing Automation and Looking With Your Eyes Shut

My most memorable fail in the marketing automation world happened when I was still pretty...

Do You Have It? Thoughts on the "Optimism Effect"

I often wonder: is optimism an inherent, or learned skill? I hope it can be...

The Two Things Your Business Must Have to Grow

When I graduated from college way back when (can a little more than a decade...
email best practices ebook

Walking the Talk: Email Best Practices

 Here's how WE talk to OUR clients about email. (more…)
click to convert: landing page best practices

Click to Convert: All You Need to Know About Landing Pages

The only guide you need for consistently high converting landing pages. (more…)

Content Planning Checklist

Your first step in the right direction to creating high caliber content is a content...

Back to the Marketing Future: From Demand Gen to Account-Based Marketing

Great marketing doesn't require stolen uranium. And while we may not need roads where we're...
Email Subject lines ebook

Email Subject Lines: How to Write Enticing Copy that Readers Can't Resist

With the rise of digital marketing, businesses are using multiple platforms like social media and...