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Hello and welcome to this week’s edition of the Exit Five Weekly Email, a weekly note with B2B marketing lessons & observations, fueled by the community at Exit Five (a private community of ~3,500 marketing pros).

Join us at exitfive.com if you're not already a member.


Sponsored by Planful


CFO: “Hey Jill, bad news. We’re cutting your marketing budget by 25%”

Jill: “Why?”

CFO: “We need to cut costs.”

Jill: “But then we won't have any pipeline next quarter… or the quarter after.”

CFO: “You can make it work, we need to cut costs”

Jill: "If we do this, we’ll lose about $10 million in pipeline and miss our topline growth goals by 12%.”

CFO: “What? Really? How do you know that?”

Jill: “Remember last year when we purchased Planful to help manage our spend and get a hold of our budget agility?”

CFO: “Yeah…”

Jill: “Well, we automated all of our digital spend forecasts, and we’re putting more money to work each week/month and with the Salesforce integration, so I know exactly where and how the budget is performing. And, I’m also able to see the impact of all of these financial decisions.”

CFO: “Interesting… Let me revisit T&E.”


Don't get surprised by budget cuts. Help prove and improve the value of your marketing efforts with Planful. Your CFO will love you for it (and, Planful can help them too).

Visit planful.com/marketing to learn more.


Do Gartner Reports matter??* 


*AS ALWAYS…it depends


This question is inevitable on the journey from seed to unicorn: should we partner with analysts?


The easiest answer is eventually yes. But the correct answer is - it depends...on everything...timing, your specific audience, competitors, other company/marketing/product priorities, and more.   


In theory, analyst reports are great. B2B buyers trust analysts as a reputable third-party source. Analysts do a ton of research, talk to companies, their customers, competitors, and partners, and make educated calls based on all of that information. In practice, it’s slightly more complicated.


Here are some things to consider as you decide if this is a good move for your specific company.


What matters to your buyer? 

Ask your current customers, or targeted prospective customers whether or not they use the Gartner MQ to short list vendors. 


Home in on specifics - “Can you share an example of a time that you made a software decision using analyst reports?” “What percentage of your decision is based on analyst reports?” Etc. 


If the answer is yes, consider it. If the answer is no, it's not worth the investment. 


If the answer is yes BUT they only consider the vendors in the top right corner (which is usually the case), that is a long journey that requires 100% commitment. 


It's a decision your whole company has to make as to whether they want to invest a lot of time & resources to be in that top right corner. 


A prospect may also say, “I look at the reports, but I’d also consider a startup disrupting the space, as long as they have paying customers and good reviews.”


Frustratingly, it’s not a black and white decision, and it needs to be stacked, weighed, prioritized, etc.


A mantra I love that I think applies here: “If it’s not a HELL YES, it’s a no.” Make sure it feels really right.

Screenshot 2023-08-09 at 11.34.44 AM

The value for enterprise buyers: Derisking AKA "No one ever got fired for buying IBM" 


Enterprise B2B buying decisions are largely based on FOFU (Fear of F*&%ing Up).


If you sell into enterprises, anything you can do to de-risk your product relative to others will give you an edge.


However, the #1 de-risking move is to be the dominant market share leader in your category. Whoever has 50% market share will tend to win deals about 50% of the time across many accounts.


So if you're a challenger brand, it's hard to overcome the incumbent bias because that's always the safe choice.


But anything that de-risks putting you into the consideration set will be a HUGE benefit and then you at least have a fighting chance. (And sometimes the best de-risking play is to invest new customer acquisition).


Viable third options


Binary thinking tricks us into a rock vs hard place mentality…viable third options help us land on the right solution. 


There are many viable third options for scrappier buyers. The decision isn’t necessarily to partner with Gartner/Forrester, or do nothing at all. 


Alternative options abound: 

  • G2 
  • Capterra 
  • Product Hunt 
  • Software advice (owned by Gartner) 
  • Trustradius
  • Gartner Peer Insights (free way to get vis with Gartner without going full on MQ)
  • Communities where your prospects hang out 


The pay-to-play nature of it all 

The tricky thing with both review sites and analyst reports is that many of them are pay-to-play, making marketers question the validity of the channel. Is it a fair race if you have to buy a spot on the starting line? 


And yet, buyers are still using these resources to make important decisions. Just because we have to pay for the thing, doesn't make it bad.


Every tactic in marketing has a tradeoff, this is no different. 

Screenshot 2023-08-09 at 11.40.10 AM

In summary:

People use analyst reports and review sites as a way to find software to demo, and justify software purchases to internal stakeholders. Partnering with the big analyst firms isn't the only way to accomplish these goals though, so scope out the options before taking the plunge. 


The most important part of this decision is where your prospects/customers look, what your competitors are doing, and what the tradeoffs are to get into the top right. 


And if you’re going to go for it, make sure it’s a hell yes across the board.

Have a great week, 



🎧 New Exit Five Podcast #89: B2B Content Strategy, Driving Revenue Through Content, Why You Need Better Bottom of the Funnel Content


Lashay Lewis is a B2B content marketing expert and founder of Authority Plug. She joins Dave to talk about how to drive more revenue through content and why you need a bottom of the funnel content strategy. They discuss:

  • How to drive revenue with your content
  • The problems with top of the funnel content
  • How to do feature mapping for your product + content
  • How to get executive buy in with content
  • And more
Listen Now On Spotify


Proven Strategies for Building Your Marketing Plan, Demonstrating Value, and Getting It Approved


In today's challenging business landscape, marketers face the daunting task of not only crafting an efficient marketing plan, but implementing it quickly, proving its value, and continuously adapting the plan on the fly.

Screenshot 2023-08-08 at 1.34.06 PM

Join our live webinar with Rowan Tonkin, CMO at Planful, and me Dave Gerhardt, Founder of Exit Five (on August 17, 12:00 PM — 1:00 PM EDT) where they’ll lead you through the essential steps to building your plan, getting it approved, and unlocking the full potential of your marketing efforts.

I already know it will be one of the most popular ones we do this year, it’s a topic that every current / aspiring marketing leader needs to have — one I wish I had years ago 👊

Anyone that registers will also get the recording

Register to Join & Get Recording

Do you need help with B2B content strategy and SEO?


My friends Demandwell are doing free SEO keyword consultations with B2B SaaS companies and it might be a good resource to check out.


Keyword strategy is the foundation of great SEO and they will help you get this right to be set up to go after the right keywords so your SEO will actually drive demand, not just visitors at the top of the funnel.


They will help you identify the full range of keywords for your company to pursue, then determine if the volume is enough for SEO to be a viable channel for growth.

Screenshot 2023-08-09 at 11.31.05 AM
Schedule Your Assessment Here

Join the Exit Five Community

Please join us in the new home for Exit Five (and our dedicated iOS + Android app). We have officially moved our community to Circle - our own private community on the web, with a dedicated mobile app for iOS and Android. It's bumping over there already and I've been loving the feedback from members so far.

Here's a video overview from me breaking down the new Exit Five community. You can join the community right now for free with a 7 day free trial and then choose monthly or annual billing (or to not join) after your trial. Hope to see you in there.

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Thanks to the 2023 Exit Five presenting sponsors Demandwell (SEO) and Zapier (Automation).


Want to sponsor a future newsletter or learn more about other sponsorship opportunities with Exit Five? Reply back to this email and tell us more about your business.

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