Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hi. I’m Andrei Zinkevich, co-founder @Fullfunnel.io - Account-Based Marketing (ABM) and full-funnel marketing for B2B tech companies with high ACV and long sales cycles. We train and guide B2B marketing and sales teams to connect, engage & win deals with target accounts, create a stable demand for your product and accelerate growth.
I launched Fullfunnel.io with my co-founder Vladimir Blagojevic in Sep 2020, bootstrapped, and without full-time employees. In 18 months we were able to generate $1M in the sales pipeline and extend our portfolio with on-demand courses and live bootcamps to grow the company to $500K ARR (Sep 22).
What's your backstory, and how did you come up with the idea?
Before launching Fullfunnel.io, we partnered with Vladimir Blagojević on one project developing an ABM strategy for 30+ B2B tech startups from Belgium as a part of the anticrisis program developed by imec accelerator.
When we were running office hours, the majority of companies talked a lot about ABM, but their understanding of ABM was limited to:
Create a list of companies that fit firmographic data
Identify decision-makers, find their LinkedIn profiles and emails
Upload the list to LinkedIn and run some product ads
Reach out via email and/or LinkedIn
To my biggest surprise, lots of B2B companies still think about account-based marketing that way.
Forget about quick wins and focus on long-term results. Like in the gym (or football) you don’t see huge changes after one training, the same is in marketing. Growth hacks are like junk food, you get immediate satisfaction but destroy your health in the long term.
We decided to launch a pilot campaign for 6 weeks with a $300 budget to validate if there will be demand for developing in-house ABM operations.
Here is a step-by-step overview:
Our ICP was Belgium B2B Tech (Hardware / SaaS) with ACV > $50k, long sales cycle, execs background not in sales or marketing.
2. Warm-up target accounts by leveraging Content Networking.
We invited our target buyers to appear as guests on our Full-Funnel B2B Marketing Podcast.
From the 21 accounts, we got a response from 16 (76%), and 9 accounts agreed to an interview (46%).
Our goals were:
- Connect and discuss with strategic decision-makers the challenges they face in growing B2B tech companies + what works for them
- Create unique content we can use for LinkedIn and guest posts
- Share a new initiative and validate our idea by asking if a service like this makes sense to them and might be valuable
- Mention the case studies we have to create a demand
3. 1-1 Personalized Outreach.
The interviews allowed us to understand our target accounts’ priorities and challenges, and identify the accounts that were a good fit with an existing need.
We decided to activate these accounts using a 1-1 personalized outreach via direct mail.
Our swag included:
- 100% personalized proposal with a clear plan on how to tackle their challenges
- QR code that redirects to a content hub with relevant case studies
- Personalized gift
Most opportunities are created during follow-ups. We had a chance to explain our proposal, align it with their needs, and get the team’s buy-in.
As well, we received direct qualitative feedback on our proposal.
This ABM campaign generated 6 sales opportunities, and 2 deals and helped to validate the idea of Fullfunnel.io in September 2020.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Here are 10 regular marketing operations we ran with Vladimir Blagojević to make Fullfunnel.io a 6-figure business in the 1st year with a team of 3 people.
Daily thought leadership on LinkedIn.
Daily engagement with 4 audiences: target accounts, engagers, thought leaders, and partners.
Send a weekly newsletter.
Check intent data sources daily.
Talk to your customers weekly.
Weekly pipeline review meeting.
Weekly review of friction points in marketing and sales processes.
Weekly performance review.
Collecting ideas daily, and reviewing monthly.
Review marketing strategy and plan quarterly.
Results in 2021 (1st year of business):
- 63 inbound opportunities
- $600k pipeline
Check this slideshow to see the tactics in detail.
Focus on your niche. Your specialization and experience will be your core differentiator in the future.
I've analyzed all won and lost deals of Fullfunnel.io in the 1st half of 2022. Here are 15 takeaways.
1) 91% of clients mentioned they have heard about us on LinkedIn.
2) Most of them say they saw our content in the newsfeed because somebody from their network engaged with it.
3) Absolutely all clients attended at least one of our webinars.
4) At least one person from our clients' team reads our weekly Full-Funnel Insider Newsletter.
5) Before winning deals with Tier 1 accounts, we engaged with at least 3 buying committee members on LinkedIn.
6) Our detailed case studies had the biggest impact on their decision to choose Fullfunnel.io as a vendor.
7) 85% of clients had at least one person in our Trenches - B2B marketing community.
8) Personalized non-sales touches (like asking about feedback or inviting them to the webinars) helped to stay on top of their minds and remind them about us in an unobtrusive way.
9) Timely outreach after noticing they had passed through our target engagement threshold on the website or content hub helped to accelerate the sales cycle with every second client.
10) Our LinkedIn content, case studies, and webinars were shared a couple of times on the team Slack channel or Teams, which created awareness among the entire buying committee.
11) Clients with the highest ACV were generated via our cohesive demand gen and ABM programs.
12) All inbound opportunities that came directly from the search were a bad fit, so we needed to disqualify them. This leads me again to the conclusion I made years ago:
People buy from people they know, like, and trust. Connections on LinkedIn were crucial for our success.
13) In 2022, we had around 30% of all inbound opportunities from referrals (though, not all of them were a good fit) and 2 from guest posts. One of our best clients came by recommendation from a well-known B2B marketing thought leader.
These stats again prove why you'd build relationships not only with ICPs, but also with industry thought leaders, peers, communities, and industry media.
14) Diversified demand gen strategy (our content is focused not only on B2B marketers but also on sales and execs) helped to create awareness and accelerate the sales cycle.
Some opportunities were generated via communication with the CRO or head of sales, who introduced us to the marketing team.
15) Whether you want it or not, the buying process has changed.
To create awareness, and generate demand and sales opportunities, you need to do account-based demand generation.
The earlier you'll jump into that wagon, the faster you see the impact on sales pipeline and revenue.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
As I mentioned in the beginning, we hit $50k in MRR while sales pipeline velocity shows $700k ARR.
I share a detailed breakdown in this interview with Nathan Latka.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
When thinking about this question, I came up with 18 things I wish I could tell myself 16 years ago when I started in B2B marketing. They reflect a lot of the learnings not only from the corporate career but also learnings from running Fullfunnel.io.
1) The earlier you start documenting and regularly sharing your knowledge, the faster you'll get to where you want to be.
2) The first 4 years you spend in sales, will drastically change your B2B marketing approach.
Instead of looking at marketing through the lenses of pink glasses, you'll focus on how to help sales generate more demand, generate opportunities with target accounts and win more deals.
3) Focus on what you love doing without thinking about money and all the potential pitfalls. It will pay off very soon.
4) Get away from people who tell you that they learned B2B marketing at school or university, and "get it".
5) As follows, B2B marketing is not taught at schools.
Most execs and sales don't see the big picture and think only in terms of revenue. When planning marketing, make sure it's tied to revenue, and you can clearly articulate the program ROI.
6) If you follow «marketing best practices» and copy other tactics blindly, you’re going to fail fast.
7) Focus on your niche. Your specialization and experience will be your core differentiator in the future.
8) The earlier you understand and apply 80/20, the faster your career will grow.
9) Proper planning -> 80% of the success of a marketing campaign.
10) Luck is a consequence of consistent and regular actions.
When you see a successful campaign, usually, it was extremely well planned.
11) The number of followers, views of content, likes, and shares say NOTHING about the health of your sales pipeline, revenue, and cash flow.
It’s better to get 100 views from your target buyers than 100k views from people who don’t care about you and forget in a moment.
12) Define your core skills early and focus on them while trying to avoid, delegate and outsource everything else you are not good at.
You’d get the desired results way faster.
13) Co-marketing with non-competing partners is the easiest and fastest way to create awareness and demand.
14) Those who consistently focus on creating demand will win in the long term.
15) Never stop learning. The day when you stop learning or decide it’s enough, you start to degrade.
16) Always Be In Trenches. The more conversations you have with the buyers, the more insights you get from the field, and the better performance you’ll have.
17) Forget about quick wins and focus on long-term results.
Like in the gym (or football) you don’t see huge changes after one training, the same is in marketing.
Growth hacks are like junk food. You get immediate satisfaction but destroy your health in the long term.
18) Don’t be confused by people who promote their stuff and put one marketing strategy against another (lead generation vs demand generation, paid vs organic).
Don’t believe those who say you can win only by doing one thing (SEO, email, Google Ads).
The best B2B marketers and leading B2B companies are always doing full-funnel marketing.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Our marketing channel is LinkedIn which generates around 75% of our inbound pipeline. I explain it in detail here.
Our marketing stack costs $250 and includes:
- Salesflare: CRM
- Paperflite: sales enablement
- Linkedin sales navigator: (account research and enrichment)
- Happierleads: website visitors identification
- Notion: campaign orchestration and management)
- Lu.ma: event management
- Encharge: email newsletter & marketing automation
Our campaigns include a lot of manual research to personalize the engagement and outreach to strategic accounts. Tools are secondary here.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
80/20 Richard Koch and 80/20 in sales marketing Perry Marshall. These 2 books give a clear framework for identifying the most important areas not only in business but in your life to focus on and get more results.
Marketers will understand the power of segmentation, narrow positioning, and focused marketing campaigns instead of running in parallel 50 tactics.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
I always answer this question by sharing two things:
To be happy, healthy, and wealthy you don’t necessarily have to be an entrepreneur :)
Focus on what you love doing without thinking about money and all potential pitfalls.
I always share one story that inspired me.
When I was living in Kraków (Poland), we went to the Wieliczka salt mine.
We took a 2-hour guided tour led by a 65-years-old man.
These two hours have passed in the blink of an eye.
A person was so energetic, told stories, involved people in the discussion and interacted with the group, played with kids, and people were excited.
When we finished the tour, I came to him and asked how many years he is guiding the tours.
You know, 30 years ago I was lucky to buy a home right above us. I started to guide the tours, and I’m the happiest person on Earth.
I love seeing smiles and excitement on people’s faces, and I especially, love when they come back to me.
And this is the best possible advice on entrepreneurship I’ve heard from a non-entrepreneur.
I share the learnings and takeaways of running 3 companies here:
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