2020

Gen Z Trailblazer

breezy beaumont

Breezy Beaumont

Alation 

Chelsey Axline

Chelsey Axline

PFL 

jennifer fields
2020 Innovator Of The Year
jennifer fields

Jennifer Fields

Plex Systems  

Breezy Beaumont

Breezy Beaumont joined Alation as the Senior Manager of Growth Marketing in February 2020, just a few short weeks before all events would come to a halt and a strong digital strategy would become more crucial than ever. Stepping up to the challenge, she launched a series of ad campaigns across search and social, created a company-wide SEO strategy for higher visibility, and implemented a chatbot on the company website to handle increased traffic. Breezy is an incredibly motivated full-stack marketer with tons of hands-on experience in multiple hyper-growth software companies. She’s always bringing in best practices and new technologies to improve processes through data-driven marketing with the motto “work smarter, not harder.”

Can you share any particular achievements you are most proud of in your current role?

By implementing lead gen forms and utilizing skills, titles, and groups targeting on LinkedIn, I was able to increase conversion rates through native lead gen forms, and dramatically lower cost-per-click by targeting highly active LinkedIn users. Through strategic targeting and alternative delivery initiatives, the paid advertising campaigns brought in a huge influx of high-quality traffic and leads that quickly moved through the pipeline during what could’ve been an uncertain time.

As a result, Alation saw a 270% increase in paid leads over three months, while simultaneously decreasing CPL by 82%, and increasing lead-to-MQL conversion rate to over 60%. This growth was seen not only through a global pandemic but was maintained and further increased over the summer months, a time known for B2B software traffic to decrease.

Can you share any details about how your team, or individuals on your team, have helped drive innovation? How have you maintained your collaboration and innovation despite the current WFH reality?

As we all know, no marketer is any good without an amazing team to support them — and the entire team at Alation is full of rock stars. From our designers, to content writers, to operations, to product, to the managers who pave the way for success, every single person is crucial to our success, so this is really an award for my entire Alation team! “Listen Like You’re Wrong” is one of our company values at Alation. This concept opens the door for diversity of opinion and gives everyone an equal opportunity to bring to light new ideas to help take our product to the next level.

I joined the company knowing I would be a remote employee, but that was not the case for most of my colleagues. Unable to collaborate in person, we’ve focused on maintaining and building relationships virtually. We take time during weekly meetings to chat about life and catch up, send funny memes over slack, celebrate quarterly wins with cocktail/mocktail mixology classes and trade our tips and tricks for staying happy and healthy. With lots of tools for collaboration and a culture that fosters open communication, we’ve been able to continually innovate and grow both individually and as a company.

In the midst of Covid-19, what are some lessons you’ve learned that will impact or influence the future of your work?

The lines of work and personal time have been blurred, and thus, so has how we need to market to people. We have remarketing and social ads that sneak into people’s personal time and we need to be strategic about the messaging we put forward in those moments. People have enough going on between the pandemic, political news, balancing work, caring for their families and trying to keep themselves happy and healthy. As marketers, sales folks and innovators, we need to be empathetic to this increased stress by helping people in their careers — keeping them up to date with best practices in their industry and showing them the tools that make them rock stars in their role.

That said, even if they’re stuck at home, people still want meaningful, fun experiences. Plan small group wine tastings or pizza-making for a specific vertical, role, or other persona so people can network, laugh, take a break from their bedroom to living room commute, and learn about your product along the way. Maybe even invite their kids to join.

Last but not least: Keep your cool. Get your budgeting in order. Keep marketing. When times are uncertain, many companies step away and pause their campaigns to see what will happen, when instead you should be diving in.

What sources for inspiration help you stay excited and invigorated in your work?

I am a huge LinkedIn nerd! I really enjoy hearing from the folks who are on the frontlines of marketing and demand generation. This is where I get most of my ideas for larger strategic concepts and industry changes. By the time something is a “best practice,” you’re likely already behind, so networking helps you stay in front of that.

Every week, I set aside time to educate myself. Whether that’s joining a webinar, listening to a podcast or working on a new certification, these activities give me the ability to take a step back from executing and pivot our initiatives as needed in the pursuit of larger company goals. By taking that bird’s-eye view, you might uncover something big. You might find that although one marketing channel is converting leads to MQLs well, it may not be converting MQLs to opportunities/deals. On the other hand, a low volume channel may look like it’s not doing well on the surface, but converts incredibly well with larger deal sizes, so a bigger investment in the latter may be in the company’s best interest in the long run. Without taking the time to evaluate and educate yourself, these insights can be missed. So, pry your fingers off the keyboard and take some time to make yourself a better marketer.

Advertisement

Chelsey Axline

Chelsey Axline, Senior Manager of Channel and Customer Marketing at PFL, is a dynamic innovator who has evolved several key functions of PFL’s demand generation strategy, including event processes, channel marketing and customer journey programs. In the wake of events being cancelled, Chelsey quickly charted a new path for success by creating scalable channel and customer marketing programs. She established herself as an extension of the Strategic Alliances team and its partners, spearheading opportunities for co-marketing and bringing data-driven decision-making to new campaigns.

Can you share any particular achievements you are most proud of in your current role?

Two things come to mind. The first being the path we are creating for PFL customers. Just like us, they experienced a hard shift in how they can successfully go to market. We have put a lot of effort into helping our customers learn “new” best practices with orchestrating direct mail with their digital experience, and we’ve learned a lot and grown in the process. The customer programs we’ve created are truly helping other marketers innovate their direct mail programs, so they can continue to bring success to their team and company in this climate. I’m consistently inspired when I hear what our customers are creating and the results they are seeing.

The second one is a personal achievement of reaching a new milestone in my career. I started in field marketing at PFL, but I’ve always enjoyed dipping my toes into customer and channel marketing. I asked for the responsibility to take it all on and create new pathways for customer and channel marketing, and PFL leadership granted me the opportunity. My goal is to be an example for women in tech to be bold, take on the hard challenges, and not be afraid to change the way things have been done in the past.

Can you share any details about how your team, or individuals on your team, have helped drive innovation? How have you maintained your collaboration and innovation despite the current WFH reality?

First off, I would be absolutely nothing without my amazing teammates that support me on a day-to-day basis! I am so proud of how agile and creative we have all been over the last year. To my surprise and delight, we haven’t missed a beat since we started working from home. Though we do miss each other, we catch up daily to just chat or go over project blockers and updates. We also started doing what we call “mental health lunches,” which pair up four to five PFLers each week from all departments to have lunch and decompress — work talk not allowed.

As for innovation, the PFL team was quick to respond to market needs when we went remote — 2020 was not cancelled for us or any of our customers. We simply took a breath and went into creative overdrive. For example, in that brief time period, my teammate Lori Schreiner came up with one of our most successful 2020 programs. This outreach campaign used (what would have been) our tradeshow items and collateral. Together, we creatively developed a way to send those materials out to prospects and customers to show them how to shift their tradeshow plans and budget to virtual events and direct mail.

In the midst of Covid-19, what are some lessons you’ve learned that will impact or influence the future of your work?

Take time to be creative. I know it can sometimes seem like the hardest task to block time for yourself or with others to simply brainstorm, but it’s essential. I am a repeat offender of getting “too into the weeds,” and I have to consciously pull myself out of that state to think beyond my weekly to-do list. Find a problem to solve. Bring your smartest and most creative people together, ask for the wildest ideas they can think of, and work down from there. These meetings are where the real magic happens!

Invest in your personal growth. When I say personal growth, I don’t mean go get another certification or read another book about how to be a better leader. I mean start a new hobby, travel (when we can) or get going on that passion project you’ve been pushing back. I started piano lessons at the beginning of this year because I wanted to learn something new. Without something like piano to distract me, I eat, sleep and sometimes dream about marketing campaigns (super nerdy, but you get it). Although, I love my job, it’s easy to lose sight of how important it is to step outside of the comfort zone and learn a skill that isn’t work related. This is your reminder to be a student again, in whatever form that may take. Your brain will thank you!

Never stop growing your network. A side effect of getting too busy or being holed up in your house too long is you stop connecting with people, and I’m just as guilty of this as anyone else. When 2020 got flipped upside down, I had to lean heavily on my mentors and network to shift plans and find new ways to bring in pipeline and create a more engaging virtual customer experience. Without this network, I wouldn’t have been able to shift plans as quickly as I did.

What sources for inspiration help you stay excited and invigorated in your work?

The marketing programs being created during this time have been truly inspiring for me. The current environment demands innovative thinking, and our customers and team have created some incredible and unique experiences as a result. From CMO book clubs to virtual wine tastings and the direct mail kit we sent for B2BSMX — these are projects we might not have invested in if in-person tradeshows were still on the books for 2020. We’ve been forced to stop thinking about SQLs and MQLs and start putting all our focus on solving problems for the right people, at the right time, in a way that is helpful and memorable. And that is really all I want to do — make marketers like me successful with the multichannel experiences they create for their audiences. I want them to feel like complete rock stars for their sales teams, executive team, customer success teams and entire company.

Lastly, my team keeps me energized. When things don’t go as planned, they are my source of positivity. I can’t even put into words how lucky I feel to be supported by such a talented team at PFL. They inspire me every day with their “get shit done” attitude and constant drive to elevate our marketing. Cheers to you, work family!

Advertisement

Jennifer Fields

2020 Innovator Of The Year

Jennifer Fields

Jennifer Fields has led the Plex Systems demand generation marketing strategy to launch into the food & beverage (F&B) industry. She began just as the pandemic hit and many manufacturers were shutting down. With the rise of the pandemic, Jennifer had to quickly reform existing events schedules for 2020 and strategize a play into the F&B industry to diversify Plex business interests. Jennifer prides herself on having a mix of creative and analytical marketing skill sets. She is passionate about aligning and partnering with internal stakeholders to surpass pipeline and opportunity goals.

Can you share any particular achievements you are most proud of in your current role?

One of my proudest achievements is alignment with my sales team. From attending their weekly team meetings and quarterly business reviews, to spearheading regular communication of a weekly marketing newsletter, the team has welcomed my ideas and comments in their meetings and inboxes. They’ve taken to my new ideas and tools I’ve introduced to them, and trust has been established in the relationship. I learn from them on a consistent basis and they embrace a willingness to work with me.

Another accomplishment is the development and launch of a fully integrated campaign into the F&B industry. This was a huge highlight as the company pivoted quickly to focus on this industry shortly after the pandemic hit. Since launching in May, the campaign has seen success metrics such as top performing emails averaging 44%, providing support to a webpage relaunch — contributing to 145% more pageviews and full alignment and coordination with other marketing and business stakeholders.

My achievements wouldn’t be possible without a group of supportive team members on the marketing, sales, and entire Plex team — shout out to them for being an awesome group to work with.

Can you share any details about how your team, or individuals on your team, have helped drive innovation? How have you maintained your collaboration and innovation despite the current WFH reality?

I work with a creative team of enthusiastic marketers. We’re very open on knowledge sharing and constantly try to elevate each other. We’ll circulate external links to articles via email that we find relevant. We’ve also divided and conquered different virtual events or learning courses — each taking a separate course and then debriefing what we’ve learned as a team during a virtual lunch and learn roundtable. We’re all relatively new at the organization and each have different backgrounds we’re bringing to the team to test out. Testing and learning is encouraged within our group and if ever I need to brainstorm, I’ll happily call one of them up to think out loud. Every idea is plausible since we’ve all been trying to navigate a new reality since March and figure out what works. By doing this, we’ve been able to introduce new tools and ideas into our marketing mix.

The marketing team also just recently discussed Scott Sonenshein’s concept of being “stretchy” – embracing your resources to be scrappy rather than chasing for “more.” This concept translates into our work and in today’s environment to help us be creative and resilient with the hand that we’ve been delt.

In the midst of Covid-19, what are some lessons you’ve learned that will impact or influence the future of your work?

The easy answer here is “being flexible” and always be prepared for change! But this isn’t a new lesson — we’ve known for ages that successful marketers are the ones that are agile… maybe now we’ll all be just a bit more prepared for the unexpected.

However, what’s become very apparent over the course of the pandemic is people want to feel connected. As a marketer, we have a special way to make that happen. We can empathize with people through our storytelling. Being forced to shift into virtual experiences also forced marketers to find ways to connect people digitally. It has led to the introduction and use of new tools on the team, such as Drift videos, direct mail kits, E-gift cards to buy prospects virtual coffee. And we’re still experimenting with more ways we can foster human connections in the digital age!

Feelings of togetherness, true teamwork and solidarity is needed in 2020 and we can expect to continue to fight for the same for the next year. As a result of the pandemic, I’ll think more to extend gratitude, empathy and kindness to those who surround me and those who I’m marketing to.

What sources for inspiration help you stay excited and invigorated in your work?

Learning helps me stay motivated — I love learning new things. I believe marketers are in a unique position within a company to continually test and learn. One of our most powerful assets is the ability to do this and bring knowledge back to the organization. Whether it’s A/B testing an email or testing out different vendors that will elevate your company’s message, we could learn and improve a little each day. Sharing that knowledge with the organization also makes us better as a company and pushes us to being a “well-oiled machine.”

Categories

Account Targeters

B2B Technologists

B2B Vanguards

Buyer-Focused Marketers

C-Suite Strategy

Content, Creative & Execution

Data Scientists & Operations Optimizers

Generation Z Trailblazers

Marketing Mentors

Powerful Partners

Sales Drivers

SMB Maestros

Vertical Virtuosos