Filmmaker turned marketer, Randi Barshack, Senior Vice President of Rollworks, joins Marketing Trends to discuss her journey from TV, film, and video production into the marketing industry. She shares the complexities of account-based marketing (ABM), the importance of storytelling, and why diversity and adaptability are critical ingredients to achieving success for marketing teams. 

THE IMPORTANCE OF STORYTELLING IN MARKETING

“There is no sense that you can’t engage when it comes to storytelling. I think being able to apply that in marketing to many channels is what I love as a storyteller.”


I got my masters in business and moved to Silicon Valley in the late nineties. I was fortunate enough to team up with a group of brilliant engineers and spin a company out of SAP. I joined as a cofounder and from then it’s been B2B marketing and never looked back.

Working in TV, film, video, even multimedia just solidified my skill set and also my passion for storytelling. I first and foremost describe myself as a storyteller and moving into something like enterprise software marketing opened my eyes. 

I thought it was something that was boring and uninteresting because it’s just kind of tech stuff. But what I realized as a storyteller is that it’s actually way more interesting to be able to tell stories around topics or products that are somewhat unapproachable and can be off putting or intimidating for the audiences meant to consume them. It really stretches you as a storyteller.

As a marketer [and storyteller], when you believe in what you’re actually marketing, your job becomes relatively easy.

THE NEED FOR ABM IN A CHALLENGED ECONOMY

“The good times are about spend and the not so good times are about investment. Now you have to preserve that investment.”


We’re seeing now that we’re really going to go through some economic changes in the next months. It forces us to break it down and say, ‘What am I trying to do?’ 

I’m actually trying to engage the people and the audiences that I think are going to have the most likelihood of buying and do that in the most economical way. If you’re a small team, why are you spraying and praying across the whole universe when you can be targeting a very small subset of people?

I would say ABM is actually in many ways where you should start. It is the most targeted economical way to go after the people who matter most. 

WHAT EXACTLY IS ABM? 

“I’m trying to break down that myth, and the misconception that ABM is for when you’re, at the end of the line and looking to have the most sophisticated marketing mix. I would say ABM is actually in many ways where you should start.”


If you had asked me before I became intimately familiar with ABM, I would’ve said it’s sort of like when you finish getting your CRM and marketing automation systems up, have done the rebrand, and you’ve got a big team and lots of resources, then maybe you start thinking about ABM.

I’m trying to break down that myth and the misconception that ABM is for when you’re at the end of the line and looking for the most sophisticated marketing mix. ABM should be step one

There are so many definitions of ABM. I asked the sales team who their target accounts are and they gave me a list. We invited them to a box that we bought at the baseball game. Now with digital technologies and with data science, you can do that level of personalization at scale. 

It’s going to sound cliche, but it’s almost as easy as pushing the buttons and letting it go.

WHAT ARE CMO’S MISSING IN ABM?

“If you ask five CMOs what ABM is, you’ll, you’ll get six different definitions.”

Correctly define ABM. I think what’s missing is having the wrong definition of ABM. I’ve been guilty of it. We were sort of looking at what was happening naturally and thought that’s ABM. But really it was attribution at the account level, but it wasn’t engagement at the account level. 

Identify effective solutions. Start going after the accounts that matter and investing dollars in a very targeted way. And that’s much easier than I thought it was because of the data science behind it. It is a Holy grail of sorts in terms of being able to really be efficient in your marketing.

Build a diverse team. When you’re building a team, you should be building for diversity. Do not hire people that look like you, think like you, and act like you.

The magic of marketing is the different personalities. It takes experience to know how to manage different personalities and skill sets.

Adapt to change. Now we’re all in this pandemic boat and having to navigate. You know marketing is always changing, whether it’s leading through times of crisis or the latest industry trend. 

I’ve been at many companies and have held the CMO role many times. What I love is that there’s always something new. Even though sometimes that’s nothing you wished or wanted, it keeps you young and fresh and the ideas keep coming. You must have the ability to adapt to your surroundings. 

THE WRAP

Establishing a clear definition of ABM within your organization and integrating storytelling  in your messaging to your targeted accounts can drive success. 

To hear the full conversation with Randi Barshack, check out episode 186 of Marketing Trends. 

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