Marketing Masters: Why All Organizations Must Embrace Change to Succeed: An Interview with David Lewis

In this exclusive interview with David Lewis, we take a deep dive on how organizations can succeed by embracing change in today's world.

David Lewis, Founder & CEO of DemandGen, and his team have helped hundreds of top sales and marketing teams deliver more value to their customers through technology and digital transformations. David recently joined us for our latest Marketing Masters conversation to discuss the challenge of change, and why organizations must embrace it head on.

What’s the one key lesson that your career journey has taught you?

David Lewis (DL): I learned that change is chance. 

In the early 90’s, when marketing was pretty much magazines, advertisements, radio, billboards, direct mail, and everything but digital, I was very fortunate that I grabbed on to digital. I can’t recall back then why. Perhaps it was my degree in marketing and computer science, but it seemed like a no brainer that we could build a website and attract customers online.

In short, I had to adapt to change and be an early innovator in digital. The success of all the business ventures that I’ve been in, the teams I’ve led, and the clients I’ve supported did not stay rooted in what worked, but explored new things and learned from failures quickly.


Another thing that I’ve learned over the years is the importance of taking a close look at your customer experience. Making every interaction with your company as frictionless as possible should be the north-star objective. We live in a world where immediacy, and fantastic customer experiences are expected. Businesses need to embrace change and invest in implementing the right technological solutions that enable them to exceed their clients’ expectations today and in the future.

What are the challenges and opportunities facing your business that keep you up at night?

DL: Every day is met with successes and new challenges. 

We’re not a thousand-person company, nor do we have a product. As a services business, we are the product. Besides finding new ways to grow our customer base, I’m always thinking about how we can continue to provide an exceptional customer experience and become more valuable partners to the businesses that choose to work with us.

Take, for example, lead scoring. If we still advised clients to do lead scoring the way that we did twelve years ago, we would be underserving our client’s needs. The methods and tools have changed. Some have fallen out of favor and others have risen to the top.  Our job is to stay on top of the best technological solutions and know how and when to prescribe them.

What differences do you see between organizations that get great ROI from their marketing automation platform (MAP) Vs. those that don’t?

DL: We see most organizations generally fall into one of two buckets. The first are “batch and blasters” who purchase a full-service marketing automation platform, but then don’t use it for much beyond email drips.They’re stuck in first gear and not coming close to maximizing the value of their platform.

The second bucket are those who have made an organizational commitment to innovation. They still face challenges around keeping up with the evolution of technology, and optimizing their workflows and internal processes, but they’re using their MAP in more sophisticated ways such as operationalizing a demand funnel, lead scoring, running dozens of targeted nurture programs, and executing true account-based marketing programs.

What’s a common challenge you encounter when recommending new technological solutions?

DL: Too many marketing teams still approach vendor evaluations and technology purchases with short-term views. They decide to invest in tech that provides a specific solution to a pain point for immediate impact, but my recommendation is to invest in technology that will scale with their needs and help them drive success  for years to come. Nothing is set it and forget it, and the ongoing administration and total cost of ownership should be considered.  Change management, implementation, ongoing training and administration are all major factors that should be kept in mind when evaluating any solution. 

Why haven’t more B2B marketing teams adopted data-first strategies? 

DL: Data-driven companies like Netflix and Amazon are winning because they’re successfully leveraging data and applying machine learning and artificial intelligence to their products, services, and customer engagement. However, B2C companies have traditionally outpaced B2B companies with their use and adoption of data so we are more and more these days helping our B2B clients become more data savvy.

Similar to the slow adoption of marketing automation and marketing technology, most B2B marketing departments never had a data operations function until recently. Sometimes their desire for a better system is born only after realizing their analytics capabilities are incomplete, inconsistent, or inaccurate. Personalization, lead scoring, direct mail, or one-on-one marketing can not be executed if there is poor data quality.

The biggest hurdle organizations need to overcome when it comes to data is allocating the time and resources to address their data needs and dependencies. Too often there is so much visibility and pressure on running campaigns that companies are not proactively enhancing the health and completeness of their data and therefore their campaigns are negatively impacted.

Talk about a catch 22. It’s one of the reasons we launched our DataMD service this year to free our clients from dealing with ongoing challenges of maintaining a healthy database.  If they don’t have to lift a finger to get their database clean and keep it clean, then they have more time to focus on their campaigns and programs but reap the benefits of a pristine database. 

ABM has been hyped to no end. Are there any myths that need to be debunked?

DL: ABM delivers the best results when sales and marketing teams align and commit to doing it the right way, but many businesses fail to understand the level of change needed to execute ABM. It’s resource-intensive and requires tight alignment across sales, marketing, customer, and product teams in order to become successful.

It’s especially difficult for marketers to adopt an ABM strategy because it’s counter to everything they’ve been doing over the past decade. Most of what marketing has done over the past two decades is spray-and-pray, outbound and inbound marketing, with minimal precision or customization.

ABM is laser-strike marketing, so your data has to be cleaner than ever before and kept up to date. Accounts need to be de-duped, segmented, and have the right contacts captured and mapped to them.  You also need to evolve your lead scoring programs to account scoring programs.  All your individual marketing touches have to work in concert with each other and roll up to your accounts. New dashboards must be created to track progress and success.  If it sounds like a lot of work, it is. That’s the myth that must be debunked. Sure, it’s easier to spray and pray, but it doesn’t work as well as a well-orchestrated account-based marketing program aligned to target accounts.

Hear More From David!

If you want to hear more about what’s hot in the world of digital, check out DemandGen Radio podcast, where David interviews the top thought leaders in marketing and marketing technology. I also encourage you to check out David’s free 120+ page ebook, Manufacturing Demand, which covers everything you need to know about lead management.

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