Talend’s AMA: Pivoting Plans While Hitting Targets

Reacting with agility is impossible if you have to spend time scrambling to even understand where you’re at. Talend’s marketing organization wasn’t in that position this spring, thanks to key foundational changes they’d made at the end of 2019.  

Although everything seemed to be changing, the only thing that didn’t change for marketers was a need to hit their targets. If you need to pivot plans and still hit targets, it’s critical to adapt as quickly as possible to the myriad of changes. How did Carol Hague, VP of Global Demand Generation at Talend, help her team pull off both?

Step 1: Running on the Right Foundation

When Carol started at Talend in late 2019 she implemented a strong documentation process. A self-described “planner by heart”, Carol needed the rest of the marketing organization to up-level their planning and documentation skills. 

This exercise put Talend in the right place to move with agility just months later when COVID-19 hit. If your plans, budget, and strategy aren’t well documented it makes it impossible to make calculated decisions, let alone at the speed they needed to happen with this spring. Now all of Talend’s plans list out the goals, the objectives, and how success is measured. Part of this strong foundation is helped by how they can tie plans and budget to targets in Allocadia. 

In the immediate aftermath of COVID-19 and the remote working orders, Talend put together tiger teams of no more than ten people to re-do the campaign and key messages. Only a week after being sent home, Talend was able to re-adjust their plans and campaigns. They decided to make their user conference virtual and move it earlier in the year. They planned and executed the whole event in only eight weeks.  

Step 2: Become a Data-Driven Team

Along with better documentation, Talend invested in training to become a data-driven organization. All the marketers were trained on how to enter data and how to interpret it. 

You need to understand the data, to own the numbers you’re held accountable for in terms of driving pipeline.

Carol Hague, VP Global Demand Generation, Talend

It’s become a new go-to-market approach that’s revealed various nuances by geography and territory. They can dig into what’s different and how they need to shift to hit targets across the board. It’s critical to be able to differentiate between small businesses and strategic accounts, and check that the right spend is allocated to support targets for those segments across all geographies. It’s the best future-looking plan to guard against all the uncertainty. 

Now that Talend has more detailed insights on their data, it’s clear that there isn’t a one-size fits all solution for demand. They can see that a lot of their programs were supporting a few segments. At this point, they can break it down to see which channel most acquisitions are coming through or which campaigns are performing best. With this information, they can choose to continue investing in those areas or pivot to fill investment gaps that could support other segments. 

Step 3: Generating Pipeline During a Pandemic

Marketing will always be held to the mandate of moving the needle for the company and driving revenue. How did Talend’s marketing organization plan to hit pipeline targets while pivoting their whole strategy? They decided to front-load their quarter with campaigns and events.

Talend made the bold decision to move their user conference sooner and turn it into more of a prospecting event. More people were able to attend because it was virtual and it was such a success, they’re doing a similar event in the fall. 

But that’s one quarter, how is Talend continuing to drive pipeline? Thanks to their deeper understanding of data, the team has a better view into what’s working vs. what’s not working, and can be proactive with their changes so they hit their targets. It’s also the continuation of the “one-size doesn’t fit all” approach. 

For their fall event, they’ve decided to take it “on the road” as a virtual world tour. For each geography, they’re making adjustments to better tailor the experience for their audience. Field marketers are taking more of an ABM role. They’re incredibly skilled at creating unique, personalized experiences for a targeted group of people – now it’s about creating that virtually. 

Through the data, they’ve learned that every territory and geography is different. Having a strong connection with sales, so that you can move with agility together is critical. One area might need help with prospects, while in another area you need to accelerate pipeline. It’s all about responding to the specific needs of the situation.

AMA Highlights

About a year ago the pandemic hit, what was the biggest business problem Talend faced at that time and how did you prioritize which problems to tackle first?

A year ago today, our CMO and I were looking at what the new approach would be for the marketing organization at Talend: how are we scaling the business and how do we get ready for growth? We had to look foundationally at our systems and see how they could be scaled. We’d always done a lot of events from an awareness perspective, and we wanted to change that. The focus was laying the right foundation in all aspects. Let’s hire the right team, put a diverse marketing mix in motion, make sure we are optimizing digital and our website, and  have an integrated marketing campaign. 

When the pandemic hit, we had to pivot messaging quickly. But we had a foundation, and tried to think how we can use that integrated campaign framework in the new COVID world. What are the demand materials we need to create to get that message out as quick as possible through paid digital? What events do we need to do from a virtual perspective? 

How did the visibility into spend help make you more agile? 

All of our spend used to be organized from an events perspective. When we brought Allocadia on, we also re-adjusted how we bucketed our marketing spend. We looked at our analytics to see what was performing and to understand what we needed to get out and what we were going after and re-adjust from there. We felt digital needed to be one of our higher investments, so we moved a lot of dollars there. We prioritized the demand side and moved dollars into new campaigns. Then we looked at our field campaigns and thought about how those needed to be financed. So now I have a complete view of what every function is doing and can make adjustments as needed. 

Now that it’s been a year, we have Allocadia maximized to be data-centric. We’re partnering with our analytics team to understand how everything is performing. What is pipeline-source vs pipeline-influenced and how do we make sure we have the right mix? Now we’re moving into a segment approach as well. We’re trying to make sure we have the right mix for the right audience, and the right investment model to support that. Right now we’re building our plans according to what performed, what do we need to add to, and what are those new ideas, testing, and areas of innovation we need to be on top of. 

How do you evaluate the risk-cost assessment: are those riskier options worth the investment or will the status quo will serve you better?

One of my previous CEO’s had a mentality of fail fast, learn, and keep going. I have that mindset of testing it out, and if it didn’t work you still learned something new, and can go try something else. But let’s test it first. Of course from a dollars perspective you don’t want to do a huge investment. But you need enough to really test it, try it, and see if it works. I like to incubate, make it comfortable to fail.

Check out the full AMA session with Carol!

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