Khronos Founder Daniel Englebretson predicts the rise of AI to result in consumers expecting more tailored experiences

Media 7 | November 9, 2021

Daniel Englebretson, Founder of Khronos, talks about how he levered his experience, and the opportunity that ABM represented, to scale his company. Read on to know more about his thoughts about the impact of AI on the ABM landscape, his approach to market research and how he became a voice in the ABM community.

There is a disconnect between what the C-suite wants to see and what good marketers believe to be the future of measurement.

MEDIA 7: Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you please tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
DANIEL ENGLEBRETSON:
When I was an undergrad, I took the 8 am session for my capstone marketing course because I worked during the day. There were only 6 people in the class. As a result, I worked directly with the professor and lead a team project that built a marketing plan for 11 educational non-profits in the community. That project went on to win 1st place in a research expo and ultimately connected me with the CEO of a local company who was interested in transforming his organization marketing to be more “modern.” I took that job and worked directly for the CEO and sat in between sales and marketing, where I had marketers and salespeople reporting to me. Fast forward my career and I was recruited to do the same thing for 2 Fortune 500 manufactures and eventually landed at a hypergrowth startup with the same mission.

After building and scaling demand generation, working at the direction of the C-suite in each case, I had a ton of hands-on experience, a relatively large budget, and a fair amount of top-down support. Along came ABM and I had the budget, buy-in, and scale to be an early pioneer. So, with a lot of hard work, and some lucky timing, I became a voice in the ABM community. In 2019 I decided to start my own company, leveraging my experience and the opportunity that ABM represented to scale Khronos to where it is today.


M7: What are some of the marketing solutions that Khronos provides their clients to improve their ABM outreach and digital demand generation turnover?
DE:
As a long-time B2B demand generation practitioner, I’ve lived the pain that so many marketers live. Bad data, poor alignment, ambiguous results, sudden change in strategic direction – all of these are symptoms of traditional demand generation, for which ABM delivers the frameworks to solve. Khronos was purpose-built to solve the most common problems that a practitioner faces when scaling ABM. We install the process and technology while simplifying the approach to focus on establishing the minimally-viable foundations first so that we can ultimately move faster and more efficiently in the long run.

To that end, we address the personas, position, and ideal customer profile work first, which establishes who we want to target and what we want to say before the program begins. From there, we install the CRM, MAP, and ABM tech required to execute the program, which eliminates the integration challenges and mitigates many of the data problems. Lastly, we build and scale the BDR teams that manage the outbound sequences and action the data produced by the campaigns, reducing the opportunity for alignment gaps and delivering more actionable output for sales teams.

Read More: BROADWai’s Co-Founder and CEO Micah Hollingworth says their solutions ‘allow businesses to focus on higher-value work’


The best programs, and the best marketers, have built their success on the back of rapid iteration and a long history of testing, learning, and continuously improving.



M7: What is your approach to market research at Khronos, both customer and competitor focused?
DE:
All our programs begin with understanding the unmet needs of the market. We work closely with our clients to clearly understand the problems that exist in the market for which their product solves. This work yields the personas who have those problems and helps us to articulate an understanding of those problems and convey confidence that the solution is a good fit. Once we’re aligned on who has the problems that we solve, and how we solve them, we then build the ideal customer profiles based on either the historical data (if available) or by critically addressing aspects like firmographics, technographics, and intent signals to build a target account list.

There are scenarios where we are looking at competitors, most commonly when conducting keyword research and building intent topic clusters. However, we do not typically focus heavily on competitors when building our programs. Most of our work is focused on how our client specifically solves the market’s problems, and how that message can be tightly aligned to either a one-to-one or one-to-few approach.


M7: How do you see artificial intelligence impacting the ABM landscape in the near future?
DE:
As we experience AI in our day-to-day lives, it starts to become part of how we expect things to be. When Netflix is recommending the next show, or Amazon is showing you like products, you come to expect that experience from everything you do. As brands adopt AI into their marketing, consumers will expect more tailored experiences and those brands that don’t deliver will fall behind. That said, it's hard to imagine all the ways that AI will play out. But I can reflect on the other advancements that have come along. Gone are the days where the marketer must know HTML or the data specialist must know SQL to query the MDM.

For 20 years there has been a rapid expansion of tech into the B2B marketing sphere, and if there is anything this experience has taught me it is that change is a constant. From my perspective B2B marketers have faced countless challenges that have formed the basis of new technology – problem brings a solution. I expect AI will solve identity resolution, resolving data challenges and enhancing targeting. I expect AI will address 1:1 content at scale, unlocking the rapid deployment of 1:1 brand experience. I suspect the biggest pain points like SPAM, consumer privacy, and attribution will be hot applications.

Read More: HeadSpin's Brien Colwell shows us how humans can work together with AI to create successful systems


The combination of skills that make a candidate desirable are shifting.



M7: What are the top challenges that you see for the industry in general and Khronos this year?
DE:
If by industry you mean the ABM B2B Marketer, then: As I look to 2022, I continue to see teams struggling to design effective organizations and staff them with good-fit marketers. The combination of skills that make a candidate desirable are shifting, and the ABM job market is a candidate’s market. This is leading to available marketers being passed up, and more competitive marketers being out of reach to some teams. There has also been increased pressure on attribution, especially as the metrics by which programs are measured are continuing to shift.

There is a disconnect between what the C-suite wants to see and what good marketers believe to be the future of measurement. This creates a lot of pressure, which often comes down to teams not aligning on expectations. Combine the skills gap with misaligned expectations and you find a lot of marketers shifting jobs, which will ultimately be the biggest challenge for both the industry and Khronos in 2022. POC/Champion turnover in the marketing department can set programs back years, and I suspect that this will continue to be the biggest challenge in 2022.


M7: What is your marketing mantra to stand out in an overly saturated ABM space?
DE:
I am not sure this is a mantra, but I’ve always believed in the value of a continuous improvement. Maybe it comes from my many years in lean manufacturing, but I believe it is the most important part of ABM. You must be constantly learning, testing, iterating, and improving. So many programs die on the vine because either they try to get it 100% right on the first pass, or because they stall out on indecision. In my experience, the best thing you can do is start. It requires critical thought, planning, and structured execution, but starting with a focus on collecting the data that you need to improve is central to how I operate. This is harder to do as a 3rd party because people want results today, but the reality is that results don’t just happen overnight. The best programs, and the best marketers, have built their success on the back of rapid iteration and a long history of testing, learning, and continuously improving. This is what I’ve been doing since 2009.

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