Maintaining your competitive edge with Shelley Morrison

Shelley Morrison, Vice President of Global Demand Center at Domo, brings the same strategy for transformative growth to business as she does to her career. In this episode she shares lessons learned from a global project she had to execute in 30 days and what it takes to be successful as a modern demand generation marketer.

Or, listen on:
Watch here:
The hosts:
Trinity Nguyen
Christian Kletzl

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • The value of being curious and digging into the data 
  • The balance between testing and using a proven method
  • How to think about ABM as a crucial part of demand generation 

What to listen for:

  • [01:13] The difference between agency and in-house marketing
  • [02:46] Shelley’s thought process behind agency or in-house
  • [06:00] Shelley’s favorite demand-gen play/global demand project
  • [10:01] What makes a great demand-gen marketer
  • [12:30] Be curious and dig into the data
  • [13:45] Balancing testing and using a proven method 
  • [16:30] Get comfortable with ABM at scale
  • [17:21] Shelley’s DIY life hacks
  • [18:22] Shelley’s words of encouragement
  • [19:38] Reflections with Christian and Trinity

Check out Shelley's blog post: "How to be a modern-day demand gen marketer"

Reference Links:
Guest headshot

Shelley is the VP Global Demand Center at Domo, responsible for scalable and effective demand generation programs across all channels. Before Domo, she helped enterprise clients grow their digital marketing and demand generation programs at Accenture Interactive, Yesler, and more.

Read Transcript

SShelley: Being curious and digging into data to solve problems is really necessary. If you don't find an answer for a problem that you have, and you've looked at the data, take a step back and then come at it at a different angle because there is a way to solve a problem. 

Trinity: Welcome to The First 100 Days, a show for revenue practitioners by revenue practitioners, giving you unscripted access and tips to help you navigate any new transition or initiative both in life and at work.

Okay. So I know this is The First 100 Days podcast, but what if you only had 30 days to launch a global demand project? Not 100. 30 days. Shelley Morrison is the vice-president of the global demand center at Domo, a business intelligence and analytics platform. Before Domo, she worked at a marketing agency where she got exposure to all different kinds of projects.

With this background, Shelly was prepared to tackle her biggest project yet. Listen as she shares lessons learned and what it takes to be successful as a modern demand generation marketer. 

Shelley: When we think about the agency side, the consulting side, you're often limited to the program that your client has scoped you with.

Right? So even if you're a great agency, like the one that I used to work for, where you always are trying to go above and beyond to provide value on top, you're still limited to the scope. You don't get the full view. You don't actually see the inner workings of the customer you serve unless you're embedded in their business.

Meaning you actually sit in-house with them. You have the same .com as them, and that's a different role than the agency. That's more deep consulting. And so from the agency perspective, the digital marketing perspective, you don't get to see all those inner workings. So you don't actually know what they're up against internally day-to-day, the project you're working on, your goals you're trying to achieve with them, but you don't know a lot about what other priorities they have, what other goals they have, what are they on the hook for personally or as an organization? Like you don't always have that full view. When in-house, it's obviously different, you actually have that full 360-degree view, and because you have that, you make different decisions that when you're in the agency side, when a client changes their mind about something, you always don't, you don't always understand the why behind it. You're like, of course, we'll help. We'll make this pivot. But you don't actually understand, whereas in-house, you do. You get why you're making that pivot, so the pressure is different and how you prioritize what you're doing is different than, kind of, agency work. I 

Trinity: have two follow-up questions, actually. So, the first one was, kind of, like, step back. What was your thought process like when you were considering whether to stay with, like, agency consulting work versus going in-house? 

Shelley: So for me, it was really about what is the next step in my career? I have career goals. I have ambitions. I want to get to a certain place. And at some point, I was going to have to pivot, to go in-house, to get where I want to go. It always to me, I was, I always told myself I would leave agency and go in-house when it was the right opportunity and the right product. So it had to be a company where I could be really passionate about the product so that you're going to be, that's all you're going to be working on from a day-to-day perspective and so you have to be really excited about it. And when this opportunity came up, I was so excited because, as someone who's been in digital marketing my entire career, and really leveraged analytics to make business decisions and decisions for my customers or my clients at the time, going to a company where I could have that kind of in my hands at all time was really exciting to me.

I was like, yes, this is the dream. And, I think about the modernization and the transformation of marketing and Domo is it. Like they, they are. I think that if you really want to transform your company and really grow, you need something like Domo. Like it's crucial to helping put action and data and glean insights for every part of your organization to help you grow.

And that is what I got excited about. I was like, I get to go and architect this global demand center in this company about a product that I was really excited about. That was what kind of drove my change. It had to be the right company and the right role for me to get to my next level. Otherwise I wouldn't have made the change.


Trinity: amazing. I can definitely sense the excitement through you. So it was like... They should put you more on the stage, like that, evangelizing Domo to marketers, because like I was like the whole time. Yeah! I'm excited, too! Go help 

Shelley: Domo. That's pretty great. Eight months in I'm still like, yes. And I'm sure eight years from now, I will still be the same, yes! Because it is that exciting. It is. It is really just exciting. That's 

Trinity: awesome. That's great. So my second question was, so you mentioned about different decisions that you can make now that you're in-house like, maybe, share one or 

Shelley: two of them. There have been programs and prioritization of what type of programs I want to build to help further the growth of the demand center and the demand efforts that we do.

And some of those decisions that I've made are decisions where they are foundational to that growth, where you don't always get to build that in an agency. So when I'm prioritizing, what you think about as above the water, what are these really cool, fun, exciting things to share and programs to run, and what are the below the water, which are the foundational pieces that are just as important, but they're just not as sexy, honestly. So those were prioritizations that I had to look at. What are some of the things that are going to move the needle that maybe aren't as, from the outside, aren't as, like, shiny, sparkly?

And then what are the things that are above the water and are the shiny, really cool things that also will move the needle? So 

Trinity: you have many enterprise clients with that demand programs and now doing the same at Domo, what has been your all-time favorite demand gen initiative or dimension? 

Shelley: Well, a really good example was one of my old, global, SaaS customers, they had this really great, large, new, global research report that they did. They wanted to leverage it across all their regions, obviously to drive demand, because they saw this piece of content as an opportunity and pipeline-creating piece of content. So that's the, I guess, the context of the program. Now, we had a very short amount of time to pull this off. We had four weeks, basically, to implement, to make this report work across the whole globe in all the regions. So we had to not only quickly create a strategy and a tactical plan for the demand part, but we actually really worked closely with our customer to hone in on the right messaging and user experience to make sure that when the prospect clicked on an ad or visited the micro-site, that it was actually aligned with their expectations, both professionally, but also culturally. Because while this was a global piece of content designed to drive pipeline and opportunities, it still needed to be localized and have a really regional focus to it.

We had to convince the client that the report is awesome, but we need it broken down into more localized reports that we're going to drive demand in specific regions. So pulling regional specific details to the front of the report, they could still have the full global report, but having a focus on the region and localizing for Japan, for instance. Making sure that the report, while it was a global report, had a lot of emphasis on the regional aspect of Japan. The interesting thing is we tested in some countries, both English and in language ads. So in non-English markets, we were like, let's just test and see because some business speakers, they have their native language and they also have business language.

What we found really interesting was that in one country in particular, it was the Japan part, the Japan program we were running, the English ads performed as well as the Japanese ads, which was really interesting to see. And I think when we dug into it, it is because there are a lot of folks who were looking for this particular piece of SaaS that were in region, but weren't necessarily Japanese. And so being able to cater to both the in-language audience, as well as business people who work in that who maybe aren't as nuanced in the kind of cultural messaging and things like that, really helped the program. 

Trinity: That would have never crossed my mind. You think, yeah, you've got to localize, duh, but then this is surprising.

Okay. Yeah, that's true. It makes sense actually. 

Shelley: Yeah, it was really interesting. And we were all, like, really proud of the campaign. It performed exceptionally well. We ended up being nominated for an award for, kind of, "Best Use of Content and Channel to Drive Demand," but it was a really fun campaign where we were able to take this really great global asset and localize it and have it resonate in the different regions to really drive that pipeline creation.

Trinity: And you guys did that in four weeks. 

Shelley: We did that in four weeks. 

Trinity: Your team's amazing, 

Shelley: really amazing team. 

Trinity: It's not easy to pull off in a global program in that short a time. That is incredible. The 

Shelley: customer was amazing, too, because it was a true partnership. They had to do a lot of the heavy lifting when it came to regionalizing the content while we were working on the ads.

And that's why it was... Part of the reason why it was one of my favorites is because it was really collaborative. That's 

Trinity: amazing. So I'm segwaying a little bit because I always have this admiration for people from agency, because you guys have seen all kinds of clients, industries, and you seen all the best practices.

So this year it's like hiring frenzy. So everyone's like changing jobs, switching everywhere. For marketers out there, like the modern marketer today, like, what would you recommend in terms of what would make a great demand gen marketer today? 

Shelley: What makes a really great demand marketer is someone who isn't afraid to innovate and challenge themselves. Just because something performed really well a year ago, I promise you it's not going to perform the same. Everything is changing, even more so because of what's happened in the past year and a half. And challenge yourself and challenge those around you to think differently, too. I think that makes a really good demand gen marketer.

Being curious and digging into data to solve problems is really necessary. If you don't find an answer for a problem that you have, and you've looked at the data, take a step back and then come at it at a different angle because there is a way to solve a problem. There's a way to glean insights and just going well, the data shows it's not working.

There's something more there. What is the context behind it? Why isn't it resonating with the prospect or the current customer, however, you're working your demand efforts? So to be a really strong demand gen marketer, it is all of those things: innovating, being curious, challenging what you've done before, all of those.

And, especially if you're in the agency world, bringing new ideas to the table that challenge your client, too. Because I will tell you that, as someone who, you know, ran the digital media and analytics at my previous agency, and then moved into run all of our customer success, our sales and marketing and customer success managers, that is the one thing clients want.

They want to be challenged. They want you, as the expert, to go, I know this is what you want to do, but how about we try it this way? Instead of just going, okay, check, we're doing that check. We're doing that. Customers don't want order takers. They want partners. That's great. 

Trinity: That makes sense. In marketing things change all the time.

Now there's no cookies. What are we going to do? It's just constantly changing. It's changing. It's constantly. So for those listening, like if they want to get something specific, like when you say challenge your clients or innovate, can you give an example, or maybe there's a framework? 

Shelley: Yeah. I always say, you start with the problem that you're trying to solve.

So you identify the problem and what you're trying to solve and what results you're trying to get. And from there it is, okay, what are the important pieces of data I need to dig into this and solve this problem? What has been working, what hasn't been working. If this thing has been working over here, understanding why it's been working and how you could actually do it better or differently.

Always start with the problem and what you're trying to achieve, and then build from there with data and insights and challenge yourself. Don't be afraid to go, okay, I'm testing this thing, and give yourself this level of data or this amount of time, depending on the type of program you're running.

I'm going to reevaluate and really test if this is, poke at it myself and go, did I do what I wanted to do? Does this, is this changing anything? Is this moving the needle differently? And if it's not, rethink about it again, right? Like it's okay to test yourself and fail. That's digital marketing, especially in this world we live in now, where things change so much, testing and learning and testing and learning.

And just because something, again, I go back to just because something worked a year ago or even a month ago, doesn't mean it's going to keep working the same. So constantly be poking at things and be really curious and analytical about what you're trying to do. 

Trinity: That's great. I'm going to throw a little bit of a weird question, but so some people now want to try a new medium or channel, like, for example, advertising on Spotify or putting content for free on LinkedIn, like the ways that you can't really measure. So there's that side of demand gen where you can't always measure and have data for it. How would you suggest make a balance between something that you can measure and something that tested and proven versus something that you just want to poke around a little bit, but you might not see results for another 

Shelley: year or so. I think, first of all, everything can be measured in some form. That's the great thing about the world we live in, especially digital. It can be measured in some form.

It's really important to be really clear what you're trying to achieve, because there is a huge, important place for having channels and tactics that aren't necessarily driving towards that demand capture, getting that person to raise their hand, but they're still important. And it's one of the reasons why multitouch attribution or any kind of attribution that isn't last touch is really important, because all of these efforts up here fill the funnel.

No one raises their hand and decides just one day to wake up and they want your product if they have no idea who you are. You always want to tie the pieces together and don't just keep it as a silo. Anytime you're doing organic, for instance, if you're doing organic social, you want to see a lift in other areas, whether that's positive sentiment or visits to your website. Whatever that happens to be, there's always a metric to test or to point to, so make sure when you're testing that you know what you're trying to achieve and you're not just testing blindly. Yeah, that 

Trinity: makes sense. I think like what people usually talk about is sometimes it's not, it doesn't happen immediately. Like the organic, it takes forever. And sometimes like the attribution tools out there, there's a certain time, is it like three months, six months, sometimes you don't see the results until, like, nine months later, which is terrifying for marketers to hear, but it could 

Shelley: happen. It is terrifying, but you also have to be really aware of the sales cycles of your different prospects you're trying to reach and what are your sales cycles as a company? Because, depending on, we'll just use, if you're trying to sell to a company that's a $5 billion company, that sales cycle is a lot longer, which means they're going to be things that you do up top that, you're right, you don't see the impact on until later, which is the point of looking at what is the lift of each thing along the journey, and also identifying how many touches – looking into the data and understanding how many touches – it takes from an anonymous prospect to close one opportunity, and what are the different points along the way. That's all really important to understand. 

Trinity: Yeah. The sales cycle is definitely something that people need to think, keep in mind, because sometimes people are just like, oh, there's this new shiny techniques and methods, let's go for it.

Completely forgot. Like the ABM is something that everyone talks about, but then you've also got to balance. If your ACV is less than a certain number, it might not make sense to do VM ad 

Shelley: hoc. And it depends on how you're executing ABM, because there's the, kind of, the scale ABM, which, and then there's the one-to-one.

And so I think what marketers should probably get more comfortable with is account-based marketing at scale. So how do we market a target account, a list of target accounts throughout the entire journey. Let's focus on what are the key target accounts throughout the entire journey and then, at a certain point, it becomes more one-to-one. But you have to start them at the top of the funnel and do all that engagement and education to move them along.

And so I think about ABM as not necessarily just this really one-to-one focus. I think account-based marketing is what really good demand gen is, and it can be at scale and it can be very personalized. And both of those things should be part of the experience. 

Trinity: If I could throw an emoji right now, I would give you the two hands, like two hand-raising emoji for everything you just said.

Amazing. So we're going to segue into a fun question. Like, outside of work, what is your number one DIY life hack? I feel like 

Shelley: I have a couple. I'll take two. Okay. Frozen grapes are wonderful for keeping wine cold on hot summer days. So a couple of frozen grapes in your wine keeps it nice and chilled.

Also, good for you because grapes. I think, I would say toothpaste, specifically, non-gel toothpaste, non-whitening toothpaste can do a lot of things that people don't even realize. You can clean ink spots from upholstery. You can also get scratches out of non-coated glass, so if you have like a window that got scratched, as long as it's not specialty-coated, you can clean it with a non-gel or you can buff it out with a non-gel toothpaste.

Are you serious? Seriously? Wow. 

Trinity: I don't know. I'm like, I'm looking straight at my windows right now. I'm like, thanks for sharing those two. I heard of frozen grapes before, but the non-gel toothpaste? Interesting. Yeah, 

Shelley: you'd be surprised. Toothpaste has got many great... Beyond cleaning your teeth, it has many great abilities.

Trinity: So as a final question, before I let you go, can you say some words of encouragement for sales and marketers that are listening right now? 

Shelley: Oh, absolutely. I would say my number one piece of encouragement is to be your own advocate. Always be your own advocate. If you want a new project, you want to be promoted, you have to be the one to speak up, be vocal, carve the path that you want, which I know isn't always easy, but if you want to be a change-maker, it's never going to be easy. And you might have a wonderful manager who also sees your value. And I hope you all do, even if you don't, like, you have to be your biggest fan before anyone else is going to be. I've always been very vocal with my managers about where I want to get in my career, and I think that that has actually helped me to grow the way I've wanted to grow, because I've always asked for more responsibility, bigger projects, been very clear about my next step is X.

How do I get there? Let's work together. Here's what I think I need to do. I'm the one who owns that growth. And I think sometimes people think it's the manager's job to help them grow. So, it's the manager's job to support you in your growth, but you have to advocate for yourself 

Trinity: 100%. Yeah. Did I say that I want to do, like, the emoji again?

I love that. I want to take that part out, turn into a video and send it to everyone in my team. I love this episode and, I think, also, because of her energy. I don't know if you could feel it through the audio, but we did the face-to-face with video. Her energy is just so super contagious. She's a great advocate for Domo.

I meant it when I said Domo needs to put Shelley on more conferences and stages because, like, the passion she has for the space and for the company, incredible. And it's not even scripted because, throughout the conversation, even when I asked her like some, some of the marketing activities, like brand is harder to measure, and she immediately said, but you can measure because there are so many tools out there right now for marketers to measure the initiatives.

So she believes and breathes the analytics and believes in Domo. So it was really cool. 

Christian: Yeah. And I mean, she also has a good story in terms of, I think, especially if you're working for an agency, you see a lot of clients. So it's actually true that if you then see someone from an agency make the step to a company, it probably means like they've seen a lot and this is the best one they've seen. Yeah, 

Trinity: and the opportunity that it presents as well is really cool. Anything else that stood out to you? 

Christian: I think the one thing, what you already said about the analytics, it's what metrics are you trying to improve? Like always be metrics-driven. She didn't accept any of the "it takes awhile to get the metrics" or you don't know how to measure."

For some of these, you don't know how to measure. There's always something you can measure. And there's always something in the short-term and the long-term. 

Trinity: Yeah. The leading indicators. So maybe your sales cycle is nine months to two, three years, but there's gotta be some kind of leading indicators so you know that some of these activities are helping the initiatives, in this case, a deal moving forward somehow.

Yeah. That's really awesome. Yeah. 

Christian: With the focus on the, in a sense, I guess just don't accept this as an excuse. Look into, what are the multi-attribution, multi-touch 

Trinity: attribution. 

Christian: So just don't accept this as an excuse. Look more into tools that can help with multi-touch attribution or something like this that can measure, even if you're, say, cycling is several months 

Trinity: or a year.

Another thing that she was saying that I thought was really cool, right now I'm talking to a lot of marketers because we're in the process of recruiting. A lot of time when we talk to candidates who come from the agency world, usually I try and ask them, like, why did you drive like this initiative? And like, why this, why that?

And a lot of times the answers tend to be old because of the clients are expecting X, Y, Z. So, I love when Shelley said, like, sometimes you can also push back on the clients and say, like, Hey, I know you want this and this is what you proposed, but have you thought of X, Y, Z because this could give you different results or a different way of approaching it and see how it goes.

If I talked to a candidate coming from the agency world, and that's what they shared, I would be floored. 

Christian: Yeah. I mean, that's why I'm getting a person like an agency that they have seen it, that they should be my trusted advisor and what I should be doing. I think there's this fine line always between you knowing it better than me, even if it's my business, but ultimately at least want you to give me this credited, that advice, credible 

Trinity: consultative sales is good, right, agency. And they, kind of, roll. I feel like everyone will always want to know all the things that they haven't thought about. 

Christian: How would I know if I've never done this?

Trinity: I think I've gone. They call it the eyebrow test that they share some kind of information with you. They want you to be, kind of, crazy eyebrows like, huh? I didn't think about it. And I feel like that test, the eyebrow test can be used in all kinds of scenarios and 

Christian: situations. So on the other hand, it's also really hard.

I talked to investors and it's really hard that there's something that I haven't at least already thought a little bit about it. So I feel like agencies can give really good advice once they spend more than 10 minutes with you. This is not something that's going to happen in the first meeting. This is something I just generally hope to see from the agencies after they've spent time with me after they've analyzed the business.

That's when the advice should come, not immediately because have you thought about this? The answer is certainly a yes. If I've talking to who you for less 

Trinity: than five minutes. Yeah, absolutely. That's true. You do have to earn your credibility first before you suggesting something. Otherwise, who are you?

And I guess the last piece, I love her advice. For marketers or anyone out there, especially women, you are your own advocate. Yeah, 

Christian: that stuck out to me as well, like, beyond cheerleader. I think that's similar to one of the other episodes we listen to where it's, we always think about the business, but we think less about ourselves, 

Trinity: like in interview with 

Christian: how we develop our, how we ourselves grow within the business. And I think similarly the advice is to just always be a little bit more our own chin. 

Trinity: Are you going through a major transition within your organization or your career? Do you have a first 100 day journey to share recently or in the past? If, yes, I want to hear from you. Email me@podcastatusergems.com.

And if you're looking for the ultimate revenue leader, cheat sheets, sign up to receive them @usergems.com forward slash podcast.