- Phononic is a technology startup that manufactures a solid-state chip used in cooling and heating technology.
- One of the first challenges Phononic faced with regards to marketing their technology was in proving the commercial viability of their products.
- To address this challenge, Phononic adopted an ABM approach which is well suited to their target buying groups which are typically comprised of 3-4 people and have long deal cycles.
- The Terminus ABM platform enabled Phononic to reach the new verticals they wanted to market to even though they had no historical access to relevant contacts in their sales database.
- When creating campaigns at Phononic, Englebretson developed a methodology that enfranchised sales and other departments in the campaign design process.
- The ABM approach has been very successful for Phononics. They’ve had nine consecutive quarters of growth, taken 26% of the share in the market over the course of their ABM efforts and one ten-month campaign in particular enabled them to close on 100% of the tier one accounts they targeted.
Phononic, headquartered in Durham, NC, manufactures a solid-state chip used in cooling and heating technology. They’ve developed one of the only commercially viable alternatives to traditional heating and cooling technology.
Their chips eliminate the need for compressors, making them significantly more environmentally friendly than traditional heating and cooling solutions because they don’t require the use of toxic refrigerants and are much more stable (e.g., the chips don’t break the way compressors do).
Phononic’s customers span a variety of industries including food & beverage, life sciences & healthcare, and optoelectronics.
ClickZ recently spoke with Daniel Englebretson, Phononic’s Director of Growth Marketing and Demand Generation, to discuss how they leverages an account-based marketing approach along with the Terminus ABM platform to reach qualified customers.
A background in B2B demand generation
Englebretson started his marketing career over a decade ago at a B2B services company where he oversaw the marketing and sales teams. It was a high growth environment that required he focus on demand generation.
From there, he moved onto an industrial manufacturing company where he became the first digital marketing hire to focus on demand generation via, primarily, search marketing (SEO and PPC).
He subsequently brought this B2B demand generation experience with him to Acuity Brands, where he led five distributed teams across creative, content, operations, sales, and marketing.
Englebretson began working with ABM platform Terminus while at Acuity. It was there that he recognized the potential the Terminus platform had in driving demand generation using an ABM approach. When he was offered the position at Phononic in 2017, one of the first things he did was sign with Terminus.
ABM addresses the challenge of marketing a new technology
Phononic, founded in 2009, is a startup with groundbreaking (and award winning) technology. One of the first challenges they faced with regards to marketing their technology was in proving the commercial viability of their products.
Says Englebretson, “We focused on Healthcare and Life Sciences, targeting hospitals, some labs and pharmaceutical companies, organizations that needed to store vaccines or regulated temperature drugs such as insulin. There are about 6500 hospitals in the US, and we targeted roughly 2000 of them based on how big they are and how connected they were.”
Phononic went on to target other verticals including retail after developing the world’s first thermoelectric freezer for use in retail stores.
Currently, their biggest and longest standing vertical is optoelectronics, which sells components to datacom and telecom companies that make transceivers and receivers that shoot data down the optical fibers.
“It’s a relatively small sector with only about 100 companies in the world that we sell to,” explains Englebretson. “We’ve been using an ABM approach over the last several years and it’s a very defined buying group. There are three or four people involved in the buying decision and the deal cycles are fairly long, so it’s an excellent fit for ABM.”
Phononic partners with Terminus to execute an ABM approach
As noted above, Englebretson already had experience working with Terminus while he was at Acuity, and his decision to work with them at Phononic was a deliberate one.
Terminus has been an integral partner to Phononic over the last several years, ensuring they get the most from the platform.
“It doesn’t really matter what the technology can do if you can’t use it,” says Englebretson. “So many technology vendors sell you the technology and never help you figure out how to use it. Terminus, in my experience doesn’t do that and that makes a big difference.”
After implementing Terminus, Englebretson subsequently went through an RFP process with other ABM vendors, but he came back to Terminus because of their strong commitment to partnering with their clients and ensuring the best use of the underlying technology.
Account based marketing and advertising enables B2B marketers to displace the tactical approach to lead generation because it enables them to put targeted messages in front of a relevant audience in an effective, fast, repeatable way.
When Englebretson started at Phononic, they did not have a structured demand generation process in place. Their marketing was still very tactical and reactive (e.g., trade shows, emails, etc.)
“Phononic had contacts in their database, but we had no historical access to the people we wanted to reach in the new verticals we were targeting. Using a platform like Terminus enabled us to reach these verticals from a marketing perspective,” says Englebretson.
A cross functional, collaborative approach
Englebretson has worked with Terminus for over four years and thus has some unique insight into onboarding with the platform. Since Terminus was founded in 2014, they’ve been extremely focused on the cross functional nature of ABM that heavily involves sales in the marketing process, an approach that Englebretson embraced.
When creating campaigns at Phononic, Englebretson developed a methodology that enfranchised sales in the campaign design process. “All of the campaigns that we build at Phononic include sales,” he explains. “Sales has to sign off on the goals, objectives, targeting, the target accounts, and the roles we’re targeting. They even sign off on the content that we’re producing, before it gets produced.”
This cross functional approach includes a multidisciplinary team comprised of Phononic’s marketing communications leader, the product marketer, and the sales owner, which is the GM of the business.
All campaigns start with a consolidated process owned by the product marketer who brings in the brand team to make sure the campaign aligns with the brand and brings in sales to make sure they agree with who they’re targeting.
Once a campaign is launched, the team meets at regular intervals to look at how the campaign is performing, if it’s targeting the right people, and what needs to be done to optimize the approach.
“It’s very collaborative and cross functional,” explains Englebretson. “It’s been that way from the beginning.”
Nine consecutive quarters of growth
From an outcomes perspective, adopting an ABM approach has been incredibly valuable for Phononic.
Says Englebretson, “In the context of optoelectronics, which is our longest standing vertical, we’ve seen nine consecutive quarters of growth. We’ve also taken something like 26% of the share in the market over the course of our ABM efforts. By the end of one of our ten-month campaign, we closed on 100% of the tier one accounts that we targeted.”
Englebretson is confident that the vast majority of Phononic’s marketing efforts positively influence their success and credits the Terminus platform for enabling their ABM approach.
“Terminus enables us to go into these opportunities which are typically multiyear, multi-million dollar opportunities and see all of the touches, at what point they got touched, and how many times got touched across all the different channels and tactics.”
On the qualitative side, Phononic has sold deals to customers that includes providing ABM assistance to help their clients create demand.
Getting started with ABM
Englebretson advises B2B marketers interested in adopting an ABM approach not to think about demand generation in the same way they think about traditional digital tactics like search.
“The results you get from an account-based program are different in what you’re measuring than in a traditional demand gen program,” he explains. “Traditional demand gen pushes really hard for an active, ‘I want you to call me’ response from the lead that you’re targeting. You need them to fill out a form or click on something or email you. A lot of traditional demand gen is focused on that. But in a good ABM program, you’re monitoring your accounts and you’re monitoring the roles of the account. You can do this in an automated way and look for surges in engagement with your content and your brand. Then you should be proactively responding to those surges of engagement.”
Englebretson added that the biggest mistake he sees marketers make is in over complicating the ABM approach when first getting started.
“If you try to build the biggest and best program on day one, you’re using somebody else’s benchmarks and that might not work for you,” says Englebretson. “In my opinion, it’s better to start with a more simplistic framework and understand the context for your business, then build from that. It’s almost impossible to do it right in the first pass. The best thing to do is to get started, gain a better understanding of what’s working, and then refine it.”