As co-founder and chief operating officer of Aventi Group, an on-demand product marketing agency that serves high-tech B2B clients, Sridhar Ramanathan has always enjoyed helping marketers take their game to the next level. Priorities have shifted with the pandemic, and the economy may have stalled, but he still judges success by whether customers ask Aventi to extend their initial engagement and take on more work.
“We’re successful when the clients feel they’re getting the results they need to deliver internally,” says Ramanathan. “It’s rewarding when they come to count on us and see us as a strategic extension of their team.”
A 25-year veteran of enterprise technology companies, Ramanathan joined ITWC CMO Fawn Annan in October 2022 for an installment of CMO Talks, a podcast series designed by ITWC to showcase strategies for gaining a competitive edge through the intersection of marketing and technology. Their discussion shed light on the reasons behind Aventi’s recent recognition as one of the fastest growing private companies in America.
A New Appreciation
“Product marketing has been around for a while, but there’s a new understanding of its strategic importance,” said Ramanathan. “It’s kind of like the PR world in that companies are now going outside to engage a product marketing agency.”
Aventi sits in the strategic marketing bucket, with responsibility for key elements, such as messaging, positioning, search engine optimization, web design, and media. “We’re really here to support the go-to-market motion of a CMO or VP of marketing,” said Ramanathan. “It’s up to them to take the product to market, drive demand, and ultimately convert to sales and revenue, so our mission is developing and executing the go-to-market plan.”
As for what distinguishes Aventi from other marketing agencies, Ramanathan pointed first to the fact that they have around about 150 people all over the United States and Canada, which provides a depth of technology expertise in supply chain management and cybersecurity. As well, he credited product marketing function expertise with setting Aventi apart.
The Client Journey
One typical client journey begins with clients approaching Aventi because they need an acting product marketing leader. “There’s a real shortage of product marketing talent right now, so we can snap in there and play an acting senior product marketing manager role as well as an acting campaign leader role,” Ramanathan explained. “The other approach is for us to provide a very specific discrete set of deliverables, such as a personalized messaging brief or go-to-market plan.”
Aventi usually works with the product marketing executive as well as downstream marketing functions, including event teams, campaign teams, and web teams. The company’s senior product marketers and researchers conduct “voice of the customer research” – in-depth interviews and surveys done with hundreds or thousands of participants. In addition to this, they onboard new clients as part of the research and discovery process.
Happy Consultant – Happy Client
Ramanathan attributes Aventi’s 25% year over year growth to the company’s experienced consultants – the 150 writers, designers, product marketers, campaign leaders, and sales enablement specialists who are doing what he characterizes as an awesome job. “Happy consultant, happy client – in that order,” he said, eliciting a laugh from Annan for his riff on the saying: happy wife, happy life.
In researching what is top of mind in terms of spending from the CMO perspective, Aventi interviewed CMOs in the customer spending and marketing sector and discovered that sales enablement was at the top of the list. Another finding was that 90 per cent of respondents were using external agencies much more frequently for product marketing. Ramanathan chalked this up to the employee churn within marketing, in part because some people are leaving organizations that will no longer support remote work.
The Importance of Driving Revenue
Responding to a question about the importance of demonstrating ROI, Ramanathan said marketing exists in companies to create demand that ultimately converts to revenue. “If you’re a C level person or a VP, you really ought to be talking business results and not just high-fiving your team. That’s very important and very nice, but it’s not where the buck stops. It stops at revenue and profitability growth.”
The podcast concluded with last thoughts from Ramanathan, and timely words of advice for marketing professionals. “If you haven’t heard too much about product marketing, or it’s not at the top of your radar, please know that your peers are absolutely, positively looking at product marketing through a new lens in terms of growing their sales and being more competitive. Product marketing is going to be your key secret weapon.”