Hardware Pioneers Max Announces Date for 2022

Hardware Pioneers Max, the annual gathering of IoT Innovators, has announced that it will be going ahead on 25th October 2022, at the Business Design Centre in London.

The event provides a place for engineers, as well as technical and business leaders whose companies are developing B2B and B2C IoT device systems to meet and network with a community of leading experts and suppliers in the IoT space.

Visitors will have the opportunity to attend seminars by industry experts, and the event will also feature an exhibition hall that will showcase the latest hardware and software technologies available for IoT devices.

At Napier, we think it's great to see the events sector back in full swing and be able to provide the industry with these opportunities to come together as a community.

Further information on exhibitors and speakers will be released soon, and pre-registration is now open on the Hardware Pioneers website. 

 

 


Aspencore Announces PowerUP Conference 2022

Aspencore will be hosting a three-day virtual conference and exhibition focusing on power electronics, taking place from 28th-30th June 2022.

The PowerUP Expo will host a technical conference, which will feature topic-specific sessions of keynotes, panel discussions, technical presentations, and tutorials about major technical trends. Alongside the conference, an exhibition hall will be available, featuring virtual booths from leading power electronics companies, as well as a live chat tool enabling visitors to directly connect with booth personnel.

The event will focus on several key topics such as wide-bandgap (WBG) semiconductors, motion control, smart and renewable energies, and wireless power transfer.

Call for papers is currently open, with submissions due by 30th March 2022.

Over the last couple of years, it's been clear to see how successful virtual events can be, and Aspencore continues to make an investment in the future of digital, as they welcomed Kai Hsing as its new General Manager and Publisher last month. Kai joins the team with a career in the digital media and advertising industry, with a focus on building and scaling audiences for specialised verticals.

We look forward to hearing what we are sure will be great feedback from the event, and seeing the direction Aspencore takes in the future.


A Napier Podcast: Interview with Carolin Bink - 1plusX

In this podcast episode, we interview Carolin Bink, VP of Customer Success at 1plusX, an AI-driven data management platform.

Carolin shares what makes 1plusX different to other data management platforms, how their AI-first approach helps both publishers and marketers to utilize data, and what the impact is for marketers with third party cookies going away.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

Transcript: Interview with Carolin Bink - 1plusX

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Carolin Bink

Mike: Thanks for listening to marketing b2b Tech, the podcast from Napier, where you can find out what really works in b2b marketing today. Welcome to the latest episode of marketing b2b technology that podcast from Napier. Today I'm joined by Carolin Bink, who's the VP of Customer Success at one plus x. Welcome to the podcast, Carolin.

Carolin: Hi, nice to meet you. And happy to be here.

Mike: It's great to have you on now. I mean, I've been really keen about this interview, because I looked at your LinkedIn profile. And it seems to me that you were a customer of one plus x and then joined the company. I mean, was it really a case of joining a company that you were using and love so much, you felt you had to work for that?

Carolin: Yeah, basically, it was pretty much like that, to be honest. So I was searching in 2016, DMP back when for the publisher in the sales house. But I worked at Axel Springer holes owns a lot of classified. So I also got into contact with a lot of markets classified data. And yeah, basically, I found this Swiss exotic looking startup that didn't do any marketing and just had engineers as employees and started working with them. And then yeah, really enjoyed it. And yeah, then I got this opportunity to, to do what I what I love the most full time consulting publishers and marketers worldwide about data strategies, and that's why I moved to work with the technic technology, I introduced this.

Mike: Well, and a big change in terms of company size from Axel Springer, which is huge. To a start up.

Carolin: Yeah, yeah, indeed. But I had the lack of Axel Springer to be kind of in start up environment like data strategy was always Yeah, it was an innovation hub. So yes, it's a change. But it was mainly changed in terms of people engineers knowledge. And also, for me a really high learning curve to learn more about AI. And really what's going on in the backend? Yes.

Mike: Awesome. So, I mean, one plus x is a data management platform. I mean, there are no end of data management platforms to help publishers and marketers. So can you just explain a little bit about what you do? And what makes you different in this market?

Carolin: Yeah, so I think what makes us different is that we always had this AI first approach. And this was something that I felt also extremely attractive when I chose one plus excessive DMP back then. Because, yeah, frankly, we had another technology before. And there were so many high expectations on using this technology. And I just remember, like a really concrete case of classifieds page that was offering a price comparison. And then people were so excited, yeah, we can finally use, people are searching for washing machines and directly sell them to washing machine providers. And yeah, obviously, the washing machine providers were quite excited about those news. And then in the end turned out like, there may be five kg of people interested in Germany in buying a washing machine, visiting a price comparison site. And still, the media currency was CPM. So basically, there was a lot of back and forth a lot of emails, a lot of high expectations.

And in the end, the marketer couldn't spend budget because there was simply no reach and the cost and the publisher was obviously also frustrated, because there was also no money coming in. And so, this is the this was the setup that I was used to when I was searching for companies that have this AI first approach like how can we utilise the data that is coming in and predict on top of the seat said users that make sense to Target and I think that made us a little bit different because this was the approach for us from day one on and for the customers that are marketers particularly, we prepare to cleanroom product that is mixing both best of both worlds where you can upload as a marketer your data set set and then you can use the publishers embedded spaced like a publisher database, obviously, privacy compliant to do expansion based on your own seat set. So we have this best of two worlds approach, which I would say is also different towards other cleanroom solution, which I personally fear or going back towards the situation that I faced in 2016. When I tried to sell Yeah, a washing machine intend to campaign to washing machine marketers to be honest.

Mike: That's true. The interesting I mean, you've used a couple of technical terms that might be be worth just explaining to people listening. So you talk about a cleanroom. What What do you mean by that? When, when you're referring to advertising?

Carolin: Sure. So yeah, obviously, right now, because of GDPR, because of CCPA. It's not easy to match data, right. So you can't just, you know, use the third party cookie that you used to use like couple of years ago, and match your users in your publishers database. So if you would like to use your CRM data, or any kind of data source that you own your first party data, and you would like to find those users into an in the publisher audience, you need a cleanroom, which is making sure that you're doing this matching privacy compliant.

Mike: Okay. So the cleanroom is, is making sure that you're meeting those requirements from GDPR. And the other regulations around the world. Yep. And obviously, that's hugely important. Because if you're not doing that, then then clearly any products are not going to be able to be sold. So it's an interesting term there. So what you're trying to do is use AI to understand how people are thinking, so whether they're considering it, in your example, buying washing machines or not, what is the benefit of AI? For the marketers who want to use that data as compared to using something simple? Is it just reach as you talked about? Or are there other benefits?

Carolin: I think, obviously, reach is part of it. So if you aren't just referring or if you're just using this technology that you always use, you will be always fishing in the same pond, more or less, especially as the internet goes blind, your opponent is drying out a little bit. So there will be less and less fish to target. And obviously, yeah, kind of it's kind of getting harder and harder for you to find your right audience or retarget your audience. So AI is helping marketers significantly to keep reach up, and also reach, let's say qualified leads, right instead of just random audiences. And yeah, I think that's also a concept that is highly known, right? If you are uploading your email addresses to go or Facebook, or you're uploading your audiences based on device IDs, and then you click on Generate look alike, audience. So I think this approach now is just getting more wider, wide. So we're also trying to have similar strategies for the open web. So I think one clear benefit for the marketer is to use AI, to increase a, let's say, qualified audience group. It's, yeah, hopefully, also, or should be also still precise, right. So it's not about just reach. But obviously, it's about this holy grail of meeting that say, the sweet spot between reach and quality. And if the internet goes blind, if the third party cookie goes away, it's also the only way I think, to at least try to have this more or less transparent customer journey tracking, maybe need to call it this way. Because, yeah, obviously, it's getting harder and harder for you to know, with whom you were already in contact on which platform platforms are fragmented. So I think these are really big benefits also, for marketers to step into the game.

Mike: I love your use of the term, the internet going blind. And maybe it's worth you just explaining that a little bit about what the the impact of the third party cookie going away means for marketers, and why that that means the internet then appears a bit blind to marketers.

Carolin: Okay, so yeah, basically, data is, I would say, also still really dominated by the demand side, if it's not by the marketers directly than it is by the agency world. I just remember a world where, you know, group had a pixel and each and every publisher page worldwide to retarget, to user they were in contact with. So they knew like I users, they have seen, I think programmatic media buying is only based on audiences that you know, already, right, you don't buy unknown traffic. But this is all based on third party cookies. And if the third party cookie is going away, because Google decided to restrict it as well and Firefox, it's already blocked on safari, it's already blogged, then it's getting harder and harder for you to identify the user in front of the page. And this is what I mean when I say the internet goes blind. So the measurability and the matching of users is what is missing, but it's still a basic concept on how programmatic works

Mike: That's, that's such a good, good explanation of what's happening. And so what you're doing is you're bringing more intelligence, presumably so that publishers can understand, you know, or predict who's likely to buy without having to track people all the way across the internet. So, so how are these publishers using this AI to generate products that they can then sell to marketers?

Carolin: Yeah, I really like this question, because that's really where I put a lot of, you know, brain power in in the last couple of years. So I think that publishers have an amazing database. So I think, if you would like to understand this, this concept of marketing with AI, you need to have both, you need to have a really good database that you can use for predictions. And you could, you also need a seed set that this really high quality that you can use as a seed for your prediction. And I think the publishers are really good and having we call this the embedded space. But what is an abandoned space embedded space is basically your database. And on the publisher page, publishers see, or it's the publishers I work with, they see the users nearly daily on two pages. So they know exactly what the user is interested in. And the users have a lot of different interest, right. So you can also check Google knows where a user is what he's intending to buy, Facebook knows exactly the relationship starters. And where what the people do in their private life, by publishers really know what people are interested in, right, and what they're frequently reading, and which sports club they support.

And if it's more about celebrity news, if it's about local politicians, if it's about global economics, so they really know what users are interested in. And they have this tonnes of data points that they can use to build up really, let's say, differentiated models, and that they can then use to, yeah, predict how these users who would I don't know, squat towards a specific seat audiences if they have likelihood to be interested in this specific product or not. And that's, this is the superpower that publishers to have that they can now use for marketers. And that's obviously what they do already now. So with their classified data, with their looking data from the subscribers, that they use the seed set, and then they're expanding those users towards a specific likelihood. The second thing that the publishers can also do is that they can use this data and enrich their assets. So the publishers basically have two superpowers, they have, on the one hand, the users, but they also have the assets. So what does this mean? It basically means that you can say I have a likelihood of 85%, this user is male. But I think I can say at the same time, I have a likelihood that this article is read by 85% male audience. And then even without knowing exactly that the person in front of the camera, or in front of the page is is male, you have this likelihood per asset that you can use to identify, which could be the right audience, even on the first impression, and that's the second superpower that publishers have.

Mike: Fantastic. I love the idea of having two superpowers. And publishers cleaner clearly have a lot to add. I mean, if we look at the first superpower, I mean, what you're doing is you're actually saying that publishers have the ability to look at a group of people your seed set, as you say, understand what they're interested in. And then what you're doing is pulling in people with similar interests. Is that right?

Carolin: Yeah, definitely based on this, this behavioural data and all the data that you can collect from the publisher. Exactly. That's what we do. We predict the likelihood for somebody to be in a specific segment based on all of this data interactions that we can collect.

Mike: And that's great. But that is a little bit as you said, like the Google audience tools where you can have look alike audiences. The other superpower you said was was really interesting, which was around knowing who reads each page or who looks at the assets. See, can you talk to me a little bit about how you help the publishers understand, you know, who's being targeted by each particular story on their website, so that they can then deliver ads that are even more relevant.

Carolin: Yes, sure. So, basically, again, you can do two things like you can crawl the the content, you can use the semantic understanding, you can identify interest out of the article itself. But you can also use the audience that you are that you are allowed to use. For example, you can use your subscribers and check them out and see how their interact with a specific article or video. And then you can make, again, a prediction and then you can use both information sources just to make a really complete prediction on the user itself, and then use this again, for users that you see for the first time that you're not able to track anything about just to personalise your, the feeling of the user, this can be an ad, but this could also be, for example, personalise the page itself.

Mike: And presumably, also, there's a benefit for publishers in terms of personalising the page because they can recommend content that the visitors more likely to read next. That's, that's great. So I'm really interested, you know, how do marketers approach publishers about this? Because that, you know, one of the things I see is a lot of the time it feels like publishers want to work with only their very biggest customers on the exciting stuff. And some of the smaller advertisers maybe don't seem to get as much attention is, do you think there's a way that more marketers can work more effectively with publishers and help them sell better services?

Carolin: Clearly, so I think, first, there is, I think, right now, there's a huge demand for trying out this new partnerships, as Google postpone the decline of the third party cookies. So everybody's still working in the old environment. But now, they really talk about alliances, Id alliances, for example, they talk about cleanroom setups. So I think, for smaller advertisers, there's also always this possibility, I mean, obviously, you need to have an automated version of the solution. So I think, especially for smaller advertisers, if publishers need to do a lot of things manually, then it's getting unattractive for them. But this needs to be the goal for the cleanroom providers to have like a 100% optimised data onboarding setup, that is allowing the publishers just to do this with a lot of advertisers, and not waste time on this 101 data transfers that are indeed unattractive for smaller advertisers. So I think, right now, the whole tech ecosystem is heavily investing in automating all of these setups. And obviously, we do as well. But I think in the future, this is exactly how it's going to work. So publishers, will this just have plugged into their system, and then advertisers can use it for matching, and then for expansion purposes without the need to go to the publisher, and, you know, do something by hand on their side.

Mike: And certainly, I think that's, that's a really good point, reflecting a lot of marketing, if you can't automate it, it's very difficult and very expensive. When you've got a tool that can automate the process, it becomes much more accessible to you know, pretty much everybody. So yeah, I love that idea. I mean, one of the challenges I see, particularly with with your solution at one plus x is it's obviously very heavily reliant on artificial intelligence and machine learning. And realistically, none of the marketers or the publishers are experts in this technology. So how do you have a conversation with your publisher or a marketer about this technology, when you don't have a deep understanding of how it works?

Carolin: I think you don't necessarily need to have a good understanding on how it works in the backend. I also honestly didn't happen before I joined one plus six. So you just need to trust us that we are really experienced and exactly that. And besides that, the rest is only onboarding, which is quite lean, and not so complicated to do. I think in I think, in general, it's just important to be open and open minded, because I also see in the industry, some people are just afraid whenever there's AI on something, they're like, Okay, I'm not going to understand it anyway. So I'm not going to try it out. And obviously there are also the people that are still really focused on their gut feeling. Because that's something I need to admit right if you would like to. If you would like to use AI, you need to trust the AI. You need to say this is my seat set. And now I find the right users for me, if you keep saying but they need to be male, they need to be between 35 and 45. And they need to have high interest in in buying cars, but only convertibles then it's not really needed us, then you can still use the standard segmentation that is offered somewhere, right? So I think this openness is something even if you don't need to understand how it works, but you need to trust this algorithm and you need to be open to tested. And that's something that I face quite often that there's still this personas going around that the market research institutes created, that the media agencies can only try to rebuild based on data. And it can be first party data, second party data. But yeah, if you really would like to try out this cleanroom approach, you need to be open, that you don't know exactly before you run the campaign, how other people look like that you're targeting, because whom you were targeted, is not defined by your gut feeling, or your research is defined by AI.

Mike: I love that. And I think that's, that's such a good indication of how marketing is changing. You know, previously, people used to create an ad, for example, an ad everybody decided they loved it, they ran it in printed publications, nobody really knew whether it was effective. But if everybody liked it, that was great. And we're moving to the situation where, you know, Google on Google ads will tell you which headlines work and which headlines don't. And it doesn't matter what you think you'll know which ones work and which don't. And, you know, it's very humbling to be wrong. And I've certainly been wrong on that. But, you know, with with products, like one plus x, you're actually helping the market or defining for the market or a lot of the audience. And that is another, you know, step for a marketer to trust technology to deliver the audience rather than to define it themselves. That's, that's fascinating. I mean, I think, you know, there isn't obvious questions. Well, there's been quite a lot of products that have hyped their use of AI, both in marketing and other areas, that actually have been very disappointing when people have tried them. So I mean, why do you think some of these AI products have failed, particularly in marketing? And what are you doing at one plus x to make sure that it's not just applying technology, but it's generating a real benefit for marketers and publishers?

Carolin: I need to say the real differentiator is the consulting, I can give you a really concrete example where I failed, to be honest. And maybe that's also something that not companies talk so open about, but I will just do because I think it's important. So I had a customer, it was a really nice customer, and they had a portal where you could buy tickets, and they had a lot of amazing ground truth data, they had like 3 million Lockton users. But the problem was that the specific tickets you could buy, obviously, it was a transportation provider. So there are differences if you're travelling with kids, if you're travelling business related. But in the end, everybody is booking a ticket the same way. So even if you have a lot of data, all data sets look the same. And we started to try out the algorithm, like our algorithms and their database, and then the machine learning expert came to my place. And he said, you know, what the seed set is shit. And I was like, No, this can't be the case. I'm 100% sure the seed set is amazing. It's locked in users, they are verified, so no way. And then I started digging deeper.

And then what we found out is it was simply not working for this particular marketer, because he had a lot of data. But the data was so similar that you could not predict any patterns that made sense. And this was the moment it's already like quite some time ago, when we thought, okay, we need to pivot. You know, we need to, we need to bring those two worlds together. Because publishers are really suffering from, let's say, seats, it's a lot of people are anomalous, a lot of people will never buy a subscription, especially in specific age groups, right? It's a, it's really a bummer. But it's the status quo. And the marketers, sometimes they have a lot of data. But if it's a platform that is not a, I would say, an online store, or if it's not a classifieds side, where you can really see differentiation, and it's going to be hard to use AI. And even the best trend algorithm is not able to do anything that makes sense with this data set. So I think a lot of products failed also because of this missing consultant and dismissing reality check. And that's also why we came up with this connect idea to connect the the strength of two sides to build something new on top of that. And I think that's one of the reasons why consulting is really the differentiator like not just accepting what the AI is telling you, like the data set is shipped but really go there and understand why is this the outcome and what can we do to change it and then be open to pivot and yeah, just go completely change your system towards a new architecture in case it's needed.

Mike: That that's amazing. Because I think, you know, sometimes people think, well, there's some technology, we just apply it, it's gonna work. And, you know, it's great to see that, actually, you do need good data, that's gonna work and you've made the point with, with audiences, the audiences need to look different. If they look the same, then there's nothing to say. So I think that's great. So it's about understanding the data, and that needs experts that needs people to come and provide that consultancy. So I love that as an explanation. That's fantastic. So, I guess if people are excited, they believe that AI absolutely can help them. I mean, how do they get started? You know, is it best to rush in? Should they be talking to a provider? Like you? I mean, how should people start adding AI to their marketing? Do you have any advice for them?

Carolin: Yeah, I think screen what's in the market? Like maybe do some basic checks, like I just told you, like, do you have enough data? Do you how many data sources do you have? How big is your data? Silo right now? Do you think that you alone with your own data will be able to have prediction that makes sense? And if yes, then try out some some some tools. If not, then search for solutions that will help you, for example, that are allowing you to run your own train your algorithms in I don't know better environments for more precise outcomes. Obviously, a cleanroom, I think has a, like the solution like that one that I just explained where publishers and advertisers meet, there's a relatively low entry, because you just need to find one publisher who is open to do it with you, you need to try it out, you will have like one test campaign, you can a B test, do it now, now that you still have a third party cookie just to check if it works, right. Because now you can really do a B testing in terms of performance. Don't shy away the first moment the first campaign might not have the results you were desiring because they're always you need to add optimization, you need to add some more brainpower. But I think it's not so complicated to start, if you are searching for tools that might help you to overcome your personal challenges. And this doesn't, I think that the biggest problem a lot of companies in enterprise have that they think, Oh, I'm building this all on my own. I'm I have such a great tech team, I have such a great Data Silo, I would just build everything in house and then it simply takes too long. So I think here we have again, this, tried to find like an MVP, tried to pivot your ideas and fail but fail fast. I would say this.

Mike: Yeah, I love that. Just give it a go and see what happens. And don't be worried if it doesn't work first time. That's, that's great advice. I mean, obviously, you know, with your product, it's particularly around serving ads and marketing content that way, but how do people really understand that the system is working? So do you integrate with other parts of the marketing technology stack to help people measure performance? Or is it very much an independent product?

Carolin: No, like obviously, you use your data audiences in your in your activation channels, like whatever activation channels you have from obviously from from media buying to email marketing everywhere where you you can utilise that. Furthermore, a lot of our publishers particularly are challenging our machine learning algorithm again, market research panels, and as the third party cookies to their so we're getting challenged a lot against nears and for example. So we are really used to getting this external feedback, and are really proud of us there because, yeah, this is really our bread and butter business. But in general, yes, we are completely integrated in this in this edtech system. We are also completely I think one of the biggest or I say one of the biggest advisors or most important things for tech providers is not to be a standalone solution, right. But to fit in perfectly as a puzzle piece and most of the mahr tech stacks that companies use. And we hopefully we are with our API's and raw data access and all this touristry provide hope that we are fitting seamlessly in most of the martec ecosystems and stacks that the customers are choosing.

Mike: Awesome as that sounds great. That sounds like you've really thought that one through. And this has been fascinating. It's been really interesting. I've actually feel I've learned a lot about AI as well which is great or a lot about what you need to think about when you're using is AI? Is there anything else you think we should have covered in this discussion?

Carolin: Yeah, no, I think we covered it quite well, I think trying it out now, while the third party cookie is still there, to have this ability to see, the potential new world in the still existing world is like, I would say, this is a luxury, we will not have in a couple of months. So I think for the marketers, the, you should now urgently move towards this kind of directions, because you will learn so much, right now. As soon as the third party cookie is gone, we will rely on all those cleanroom solutions matching partners. And that's just maybe too late, right, because you would like to see the before and after effect yourself and your own data. This is one thing. And the second thing is obviously it cleanroom is also dependent on identifiers. And you should invest in ID alliances or check where you can join alliances in general, which IDs you can provide. Because if you have the best data set in the world, if it's not matchable, with anything else, then you will not be able to find your audience even in the most sophisticated publisher embedded space you will find. So that's maybe my second advice, I would say for marketers. Yeah, and then obviously stay open and let the AI do the magic without trying to influence the algorithm with overfitting.

Mike: Trust the technology. This has been brilliant. I mean, I'm sure people would be interested to know more about one plus x and what would be the best way for people to find out more about the product and also contact you if they've got any questions they'd like to to ask you.

Carolin: Yeah, so I think the website is a good starting point, you can always click on book a demo. And depending on what you would like to see, we can do a bit of consulting, or we will show you the platform. So just get I don't know, your our neutral view and things may be in in a little session together with us. If you have specific question to me, you can also find me obviously on LinkedIn. You could also reach us on LinkedIn as a company.

Mike: Awesome. This has been great. I really appreciate it. Carolyn, thank you so much for your time and for being on the podcast. Thanks so much for listening to marketing b2b Tech. We hope you enjoyed the episode. And if you did, please make sure you subscribe on iTunes, or on your favourite podcast application. If you'd like to know more, please visit our website at Napier b2b dot com or contact me directly on LinkedIn.


There's No Excuse For Not Understanding What Your Audience Wants

The Content Amplification Podcast, hosted by Blue Cow Marketing, invited Mike, Managing Director to share his insights on why there's no excuse for not understanding what your audience wants, and how marketers can ensure they are getting it right.

Listen to the full interview here, or via your favourite podcast app, and don’t hesitate to get in touch and let us know your thoughts.


New Conference Introduced for the Embedded Market

Hitex UK has announced the launch of UKEmbedded, a new conference and exhibition for the embedded engineering sector.

Taking place on 12th May 2022 at The Windmill Village Best Western Plus in Coventry, the UKEmbedded event brings together a community of embedded professionals in one place, to explore new ideas and share innovative, technological advances from across the UK.

Working closely with companies such as The Institution of Engineering and Technology, and publications such as new electronics, the show aims to provide a one-day medium-sized technical conference for engineers at all levels of experience.

With the event free to attend (although a charge will incur for attending the workshops), the event will focus on providing a strong conference agenda, supported with an exhibition, workshops and training. Current exhibitors include companies such as Arm, Infineon Technologies, RBV Elektronik and Anglia, whilst speakers include Markt Dunnett from embeddedpro, Helena Dunne from QA Systems and Joseph Yiu from Arm, to name a few.

Mike Beach, MD at Hitex UK, commented "This is a fantastic addition to our smaller, user-group events which Hitex has become well-known for hosting. There are a few large “expo” style events and many smaller one-day technical conferences. The gap between these micro-events and the larger-sized events is wide and has created an opportunity to plug a gap, which I believe we will achieve with this event.”

Hitex UK has clearly taken a specific approach with the development of the UKEmbedded show, choosing to partner with other suppliers, to provide a truly informative and valuable event, which will bring the embedded community together.

For further information about the show, and the full list of exhibitors and speakers, please click here. 


A Napier Podcast: Interview with Alun Lucas - Zuko Analytics

In this podcast episode, we interview Alun Lucas, Managing Director of Zuko Analytics, a powerful form analytics platform.

Alun shares how Zuko helps businesses understand the analytics behind forms, and the why, when and where behind users not converting. He also explains how Zuko works with A/B testing tools to allow businesses to A/B test on a granular level.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

Transcript: Interview with Alun Lucas - Zuko Analytics

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Alun Lucas

Mike: Thanks for listening to marketing b2b Tech, the podcast from Napier, where you can find out what really works in b2b marketing today. Welcome to the latest episode of marketing b2b technology, the podcast from Napier. today. I've got Adam Lucas from Zuko analytics. Welcome to the podcast, Alun.

Alun: Hi, Mike. Yes, thanks. Thanks for having me. It's a pleasure and a privilege.

Mike: Great to have you on. So, I mean, before we start, I'd like to know a little bit about your career, you know, looking at your LinkedIn, you've done everything from working in venture capital to you know, a long time ago teaching English. So how did you end up at a company that does form analytics?

Alun: Well, it's an interesting one, because I like to see it at least kind of bringing all the strands of my previous experience together, because I worked for many years in, in advertising, marketing media, and in both London and Manchester, and then I kind of decided to transition from that as you do when you get into your mid to late 30s. So via an MBA and a little stint at Google, I moved into venture capital, investing in digital and creative companies around the northwest of England. From there a car kind of decided that I wanted to get my teeth into something a little bit more. So I moved into tech companies in the Manchester area. So I was working for a couple of those. And then the opportunity came up to run Zuko, which obviously with it, being a Mar tech company, suited me so it brought together the tech, the investment and the marketing piece that I'd done before. So it was kind of perfect for me at the right time as well. So it made sense to hop in and and give it a go.

Mike: It seems like Manchester has got quite a lot of marketing and marketing technology. Businesses sort of popping up is that is that the case?

Alun: Yes, definitely the case Tech Tech is booming here. Obviously text big in London. But in Manchester, we've got a lot of university. So there's a lot of talent that comes out. And a lot of company bigger companies are basing here because obviously some of the costs are much cheaper than than London. I mean, this is pre pandemic. Now obviously a lot of people working remotely anyway, so it doesn't matter quite so much. But But yeah, certainly there's a thriving tech scene here

Mike: It’s cool. It's good to hear there's there's a lot going on outside of London indeed. So you joined Zuko, but previously the company was called for mismo. So why the rebrand from a moment kind of said a little bit about what you did to something was more abstract.

Alun: It's a it's kind of a funny one. And then a lot of this is kind of predates myself but but in terms of the story, obviously we were founded as for Massimo to you know we we look and optimise forms on websites. So for me sumo kind of does what it says on the tin. We created a second generation product, which was aimed at the enterprise market. And so we were running the form smo products and the second product, which we christened Zuko Zico by for mizzima. But then I think he quickly became apparent that Zuko is so superior in every way than the original product. So why are we limiting it just enterprise clients. So Zuko then became available to all our clients. And we slowly deprecated the for mismo platform. So it kind of came partially by accident, partially by design, I think there were issues around with the name in terms of spelling pronunciation. People not finding it when they were searching for it. So there's issues there. So the team decided to go for something short, simple, memorable, Zuko it's it's hard to miss miss Christmas mispronounce Now obviously, there's a debate to be had to know is that the best way to represent our brand in terms of you know, what does the code do? Also, there's a there's an anime character called Zico, which kind of messes with our SEO as well. But we kind of are where we are at the moment not going to we, the company still is formisano to HMRC and to the accountants and to the lawyers, but we decided okay, rather than try and say Zico by for mismo, let's just be Zucco to our customers, just keep it simple. And so that convoluted story is kind of what we are where we are, as many companies kind of find themselves

Mike: it's certainly easier to spell I'll say that and it's great to hear it's great to hear a story of you know, you build a second product and he was actually so good at killed the first one and for a company to have the confidence to let that happen, I think is really good.

Alun: Yeah, yeah, no, I think that's kind of the The way it evolved, I guess it didn't start that way. But you know, rather than having two sets of tax support, and you know, two sets of instructions, stick with one.

Mike: Awesome. So, I mean, let's get into it. So you do analytics about forms? What does that mean? What does that actually do for people?

Alun: So sort of our goal, essentially, is to make the web less frustrating, one for one for my time. And so, for me, Sumo was founded because of frustration with online forms, I think we've all been to web forms and had a horrible experience, you know, you know, error messages, crashes, unclear instructions, particularly when you're using mobile phones. So there's a lot of potential to get it wrong. So sukkos say mission was based on that? How can we make things better for businesses for consumers? ourselves, so So the form analytics platform was built, obviously, for Missamma, which became Zuko just to make it easy for businesses to to identify the when the where and the why their users are dropping off. And so these are people who want to buy from you, but because of a crappy form, they're not buying. So actually, if you can, if you can solve that it's better for businesses, it's better for consumers, it's better for everyone. So that's kind of where we're at. So the analytics piece is, is the data around that. So as I said, the when the where, and the why, okay, identifying where the problems are, what the problems might be, and then providing potential solutions to fix it.

Mike: It's interesting, I mean, sounds very broad. But you mentioned that, you know, mobile is a particular problem. Is there an industry that suffers most from the problem of people dropping off halfway through a form fail? Or, you know, what pulls together the companies that have the biggest issues?

Alun: Well, I mean, I suppose it's, it's any, any company in any sector can have an issue, because obviously can have a bad fall. But in terms of ourselves, you know, there's, there's kind of three factors that drive the whether people can get value out of Zucco. One is the complexity of the form. So if you just got a contact form with three fields, well, you can still mess that up. But it's probably pretty easy to diagnose. And whereas if you've got a long complicated form, with 40 questions, over three or four pages, well, there's more opportunity to mess things up. So obviously, the more questions the more complex the questions, the more likely you are to need a product like Zuko the next two around the economics. So firstly, that the cost of customer acquisition, how, how expensive is it for you to acquire a customer, and also the customer lifetime value? You know, how valuable are they, because obviously, that determines if you invest time, in optimising your forms, you're going to get a much better return on investment. So obviously, if you if you're selling Ferraris, whatever they go for now, say 100 grand, you obviously, you your potential lifetime value is, is higher than the smaller product. And so they tend to be our clients tend to fall, have a combination of those, those three factors, ideally, all three. And so it's probably no surprise to know that basically, our biggest customer sector, by a reasonable chalk is financial services. You know, they credit cards, banks, insurance, foreign exchange, they're asking, you know, complex questions sometimes because they have to, because of regulations sometimes because they just do when they shouldn't, and so that they're messing things up, but obviously, they've also got a high customer lifetime value. So to say that they're our biggest sector, we also have, you know, every sector to be honest, but you know, other big clusters are around ecommerce, you know, the checkout getting that, right? And education, surprisingly, but, actually, is because they have complex forms, they ask lots of questions. So a lot of universities across the world users. And then online gaming, which is one that you might be surprised on, because actually a lot of their forms are relatively simple, unless there's a regulatory aspect to it. But they tend to be sort of really up on returns because they, you know, they know how valuable each player is. So they'll invest in getting it right, cuz, you know, even a half percent improvement can mean a lot of money to some of these guys.

Mike: But that's really interesting. So, I mean, the thing the thing everyone's taught, you know, when they first do online forums is the shorter, the better. And you mentioned that, obviously, some industries have to ask more questions, but some industries choose to, is it actually true, the shorter the better or can sometimes a longer form work better? Well,

Alun: yes and no, I guess The question depends what you got to think about is the motivation. So I'll give you an example. So we have an It's on our website, we benchmark across a number of number of sectors. And I think the best performing conversion rates for any sector is local government. But they have the largest number of fields on their forms. See, like, what's going on there. But actually, it's more than motivation, because they are. They have a monopoly on their services. So people slog through these forms and complete it, and they have really high completion rates. So it's kind of it's not an absolute rule, you shouldn't really be unser asking things that you don't necessarily need at this stage. But it's not. It's not always the killer that you think it might be. And you've just got, you've got to be careful. So just, you know, typically we advise, okay, what what do you need? Now, don't be afraid to ask him because sometimes, and again, it varies by sector and form purpose, some some forms, if you don't ask a question, then actually people get nervous. You know, particularly in financing, he might, he may, you may have to have to ask qualifying questions. But if it's just too simple the form then people like, well, hang on, you know, you know, are you serious? But in general, just in general, yes. strip out any fields you don't need. But it's not an absolute.

Mike: I mean, that's interesting. So what causes people to stop filling out a form? I mean, it's obviously not just boredom and the number of fields. I mean, there are some things that you can make mistakes on, that are relatively easy to fix.

Alun: Well, yeah, I mean, there's there's a lower level things which we might get into talking about, but there's probably sort of three high level areas where people go wrong, or businesses go wrong, and mess things up. The first one, probably the most common and the most visible, the most frustrating is user issues, or user experience issues. And this is frustration with the form itself. So you may have bad validation. The classic example is phone number, you put a phone number field in there, do I put the zero? Do I put the plus four four? Do I spaces dashes? No, what happens? And you know, you're causing issues for that you don't need to cause that's, that's the classic example. But there's, there's hundreds of different ways of doing it, you know, bad error messages, taking people all over the thing. So that's the form design itself. So that's area one, the second area is around is around the questions. So not so much in terms of the length that we talked about previously, but actually asking things people don't want to answer at this stage.

So an example being if you're looking for an insurance quote, so you're doing you're shopping around for insurance. What you find is if and this is an exception to the normal rules with forms where you do easy questions first and bring in slowly get people into the form. Well, if you're if you've got an insurance form, you don't want to be asking for their personal details up front, you want to go in take the broad details, you know what type of car you know what type of home insurance you want, so they can get the quotes. And they don't want to give you the personal details. If he asked for the personal details early, you'll see a big abandonment rate, which isn't the case in other types of forms. Because people have started on the journey, so it's questions they don't want to answer. And then that's the class just the classic example. Sometimes you're asking for the other example I always give for this is ecommerce. Ecommerce sites often ask for a phone number, why you asked him for my phone number, you know, you have my address, you have all my credit card details, you've got my email, if there's a problem, I'm not going to give you my phone number. You see people drop off that all the time. So but that that falls within their category, and then kind of the third areas around the area of expectation, money management. So which is about the form taking too long? Someone thinks it's a short form. And before you know it, there's no progress bar, and then how long or long is this going to take and they drop out? Or you're asking for things? They don't have to hand a driver's licence a passport, we never told me I needed this. So you know, if you're not managing expectations up front, that's one of the broader reasons why white people drop out, if that makes sense.

Mike: I mean, that's interesting. I guess from a cynical point of view, I could say, well, can people find this out simply by AV testing forms? Isn't it a fairly simple thing? Because a lot of these things, if you like negotiable or their order things, you know, they're fairly easy to test. What Why don't people do that through conventional form tools?

Alun: Well, I think there's a broader question there about experimentation and AV testing. I think the issue often with with businesses and forms is you think it should be simple, so therefore simple, they spend a lot of time around the broad the sexiest You know, the website, you know, the marketing to get people to the website. And then you know, when it comes to the shop, and they don't spend nearly as much time money resource attention, it's just like, well, how difficult is it to fill out a form. And as I say, typically, that's not the you know, the guys in the marketing department, that's not particularly sexy for them. Often, you know, the the main, the main not even be a single individual who's responsible for the form, you might fall in between the web guys and it guys, marketing digital, depending on how the company is structured. So that that's kind of often why people don't do it. But you know, to go back to your question, a B testing, absolutely, that's something you can and should do in the way we tend to advise clients is the first thing is find out the big issues.

So look at the data, see the things just fix it, you know, there's a, there's a massive drop off in this field, you know, why it's broken? You can you can change that. Or maybe you can a be tested if if you want to as well. But once you fix all the big things, it's okay, Where's, where's the next 1% coming from? And that's where you do your A B test and refine maybe if we change the error message or the validation a particular field or drop a question or change the order. That's where you can do that. And Zuko integrates with, with a lot of AV testing tools like Google optimise Optimizely converts, to allow you to do that on a granular level. So rather than it just being a black box, so knowing how many people reach a form, and how many people drop out the bottom, which is what a lot of companies now it's actually what is happening in the form, how are people flowing through your form? Where are they struggling, where they having to go back to make corrections, that sort of thing. And you can you can get the data and also push it pull your AB test variants into a tool such as ICA.

Mike: That's really interesting. I'm presuming you're giving. You're giving marketers, you know, extra information, like how long it takes to fill out each field? Is that the kind of information that they're using and working out? What slow someone down? Yeah, exactly.

Alun: So yeah, that's where people go back to correct it, whether they drop off at a particular piece, what happens after the submit button? You know, because that's often one piece of advice that we often give is, okay, what happens? Your low hanging fruit, other people who've spent a lot of time filling out your form, and then they click Submit, and they've still not successfully completed what's happened there. Most likely, there'll be one body with red light of error messages. And I'm running away from this. So you can find out exactly what's going on, which are the problem fields, those sort of things that you fix it so they don't have that issue.

Mike: Interesting. That's really cool. So I mean, I think the thing everyone wants to know is, if you use a tool, like Zuko, and you really optimise your form, what sort of improvement do people see typically?

Alun: Well, at the risk of doing the old, it depends answer. It does depend on how bad your form is in the first place. And so, you know, we have doubled conversion rates in some cases, from 30 to 60%. But typically, we aim for a 10 to 20% uplift in the volume of conversions at the same traffic levels. And that's what we will typically aim for as a as a, you know, a reasonable case scenario, sometimes the form is really good, and it might be a little lower. Sometimes it's, you know, there's some obvious issues that you can fix and get a better return. So but we say between 10 and 20%, that's kind of where we pitch in where our goal tends to be when we when a new client comes on board.

Mike: So that's a significant impact on overall campaign performance. I mean, adding 10% more visitors can be quite expensive.

Alun: Yeah, exactly. And it's, you know, something you've got control over. You can do it relatively easily when you fall, you know, having to go out and do a marketing message to convince them.

Mike: So, I mean, it sounds it sounds like a very easy sell. I mean, how many forms do people use Zuko typically have they typically uses a large number of forms, they try and optimise or they focus around one that really matters.

Alun: We have a broad gamut. So we have clients such as Capital One or credit card form, and they've gotten dozens of them. We've also got people who've just got the one form isn't ecommerce checkout, that's that the be all end all. So I'd probably say it's a roughly 5050 between people who are one, maybe two forms, and then we've got portfolio forms that they want to do, but often people will try it on water and then roll it out across other forms.

Mike: Interesting, and typically, what are people using to generate this form? So you're having to integrate to other marketing technology tools, or is it more custom coded applications had had had your customers normally work?

Alun: Most of the time they build the form themselves with HTML using standard form elements. That's the majority there are some that have off the shelf pieces like WordPress or HubSpot, or you know we have direct integrations with with suppliers jot form. Because if you take the form and put it in an iframe, then we need to have an integration. But most of the time you work straight out of the box, you just put a couple of pieces of code on your, on your form using a contact manager or whatever. And Zuko does the rest.

Mike: It sounds it sounds pretty straightforward. You mentioned earlier though, there were some more in depth technical issues, rather than the form structure issues that can cause problems. Do you want to talk a little bit about, you know, what are maybe some of those second level gotchas.

Alun: So then we will ask kind of the details, as it were the devils in the details, and I suppose a slight plug a we do have a lot of content on our website, and a full eBook Guide, which breaks down loads and loads of those. So, you know, there's lots of things about how do you optimise an email field or Name field or, or, you know, the common stuff, which we can go there. But I suppose in terms of actually, I suppose I'll flip it slightly, I'll talk about what we see as having the biggest impact, typically. Because that doesn't, there's lots of lots of potential issues. And you can you can see that in our ebook, but in terms of what we see is the biggest inputs, there's probably two things. One thing which I mentioned earlier, so I won't dwell too much is focusing around the submit button, looking at the data around what happens to these guys who just want to buy and they can't. So you know, we have specific reports that show you, okay, they're clicking Submit, and then they migrating immediately to this field.

And so actually, if you, if you look at that, that's where you get your quickest insights, and you find your your problem fields quickest. So that's sort of one, one area where then I suppose the second area is around validation. So when I say validation, that's when someone enters an input, and then you check whether it's an error message on to generate an error message, or if it's okay, or what have you. The biggest uplift we consistently see on forms is when they implement what's called inline validation. And what that essentially is, when you type in your answer to a form, you get the answer whether the input is correct, as soon as you move to the next field, though you put in your email address, and you miss out the act, tells you straightaway, doesn't wait to the click Submit, and then you get 10 or 20 error messages across the whole form. You know, that's, that's a big cortisol stress driver, and causes people to drop out. So yeah, if we see no 20, you know, there's a famous study that showed about 22% uplift from implementing inline validation on average. And we kind of see that as well, when we see it. It's such a big thing, if you think about when you fill out a form, so much less stressful. If you type it out. You obviously don't want to generate the error messages too soon. If you do too early people, you know, gets frustrating, because you just started typing, you get an error message someone, but when you move on to the next field, okay, you've you've done that. And then you get you either get told in a helpful way, helpful error message, okay, you know, you've missed out the app, you probably want to add that in, or you get a nice green tick. Yeah, that's, that's the thing more than any, any other that consistently delivers gains across all types of forms.

Mike: That's such great advice. And I think everybody's, you know, filled in a form and then got an error message, you know, half a page or a couple of scrolls back up. There's an obvious error and obvious typos. It's so frustrating that goes back to the top, find out where the error is, and then scroll down and submit again, so I can understand why that makes such a difference. Yeah, absolutely. So um, one of the things you've talked about earlier was the fact that Zuko initially started out as being a product design for enterprise and now as your effect for your your main product. So I'm just intrigued to know, you know, how expensive is it to get this kind of technology that's, that's watching people filling in forms and actually analyse is where they, they have issues.

Alun: Yeah. So we say we've structured it, so it's accessible or price points. And so the way we charge is around the number of form sessions trapped. So that's an individual going into a form, how long they spend on the form. And so it's based on that so it's based on how much traffic you essentially get to your form. So our lowest level packages is 100 pounds a month to track 10,000 form sessions, and all our subscription packages, you can turn off and on and on a monthly basis. So you have full flexibility of when you do we obviously we do have Enterprise packages still which you know, have a longer commitment, but obviously have a much lower unit price for each session track. Because in return for the volume commitment, but it's a it's it's flexible and it's affordable for, for businesses of any size, at least that's what it's designed to be.

Mike: Yeah, and you obviously don't need a huge lifetime customer value to, you know, have attempted increase in formfields. If you're, you're only paying 100 pounds for 10,000 form sessions, or sounds like that could be easy, positive ROI. Yeah,

Alun: that's definitely the main, the main thing is always is the will internal will to do something with the data. That's always the tricky bit with any with any analytics product is like, you find what's wrong, then you've got to fix it. And then you've got to prove that you've had an impact. And so it's not it's not difficult. But as we know, with companies often, you've got to get your request into whoever's looking after the form technically, and change it and spend a little bit of time analysing the data. But we do have a customer success team as well who know all I do is look at forms. So they see the common common strains of issues and can kind of get to the answer. Quickly.

Mike: You said something really quite interesting early on that there doesn't tend to be someone who's responsible for forms. And yet forms are typically the conversion point, the moment of truth is when you capture a customer or prospect. I mean, why do you think forms? I think, as you put it, where were unsexy compared to other elements of marketing?

Alun: Well, I think it's partially, you know, it is partially legacy of the offline world, you know, who likes forms. We know old days, when you got a piece of paper, I think we're both old enough to remember you got a piece of paper to fill out in triplicate and photocopy and you have to fill out I mean, it's just horrible, isn't it? And that's kind of translated, that approach has translated to the online world, and no one really wants it Okay, as it's just, you know, because in theory should be easy, you're filling out a piece of paper with your details. So I think, you know, there's, there's not many of us who are really getting into forms, and you know, that people in conversion rate optimization and experimentation of kind of love forms, or they, you know, they use it as part of their broader portfolio sale. But generally, if you're, you know, if you go to all the marketing courses in the universities, or were online or wherever, no one talks about forms, in it's a very direct response type piece, you know, again, some people but he to get me, at the higher levels of any company, getting marketing at the top table is often difficult, let alone a Nishat marketing, even though it affects your bottom line, you know, hugely so I think it's kind of it's kind of just not he's never, never managed to get it put his head above the parapet as a nice, interesting, sexy thing for people to go into. No one comes out of university. So I wanted to, I just want to do forms.

Mike: Although maybe they should, if they can make such an impact on the bottom line. That really should be the future. I remember doing an MBA and our finance lecturer said, he said, You all want to go into management, consulting and things. He said, Don't do that. There's so many people are smarter than your management consulting, you'll be average at best said, open a laundrette you'll be really smart as a laundrette over, and I think it's the same with forms, you know, do something around forms, you could be really smart, and in an area that can make a huge difference. Yeah, exactly.

Alun: And that's our goal, because they ZICO is the only specialist form analytics player out there, there are sort of brought it UX software suites out there that use forms as a bolt on, but because that's all we do, we specialise in having the most in depth reports, and obviously, the most knowledgeable team in the area. So you know, that's, that's the way we position ourselves.

Mike: I mean, that's been fascinating. Is there anything else, you know, we should be talking about in terms of forms or Zuko?

Alun: I know really covered a lot of it. I mean, we, as well as being a SaaS provider. Suppose we also offer consultancy, and we have our customer success team, which means we help all our clients out with the forms, but some, some of them like well just tell us the answer. You know, we want a written report, we want to tell us what to do. So we also kind of we do offer that as well, because it kind of is a natural extension of the service for people who have less time to sort of get to the answer. But, you know, that's not not that's not necessary, because we say we have a customer success team that can help you out. So that's probably the only thing we're not covered to say. I would recommend to go on the website. There's lots of lots of content in the blog, there's white paper, we've just launched on financial forms, but we've got a big guy with general advice for all forms as well. So even if you just look at those, you'll probably improve your forms just by reading it. And even without using Zico, so yeah, that's probably all I've got to add to that really

Mike: great. So people want to You know, get the data. I mean, can you just confirm the website address? And maybe if somebody wanted to get in contact with you, what would be the best way to ask you a question about forms?

Alun: Yeah, so www.zuiko.io And if you want to contact me, you can get me on LinkedIn is Alan al un Lucas. We can email me ln at Z Coda IO. Or you can just email support@zico.io. And one of the team will pick it up if you've got a general question as well. So more than happy to take questions for anyone who is interested in improving forms as much as we are.

Mike: That sounds great. And it does sound like some people do come out of university and want to be world experts in forms. But it sounds like Zuko is probably snapped them all up already. So anyway, thank you so much for being on the podcast. Alan, I really appreciate it. It's been fascinating. And hopefully people go away, you know, download the eBook from zuko.io and maybe try using some analytics on their forms and see if they can improve the conversion rate.

Alun: Yeah, no, that would be great.

Mike: Thanks very much.

Alun: Thank you very much. It's been a pleasure.

Mike: Thanks so much for listening to marketing b2b Tech. We hope you enjoyed the episode. And if you did, please make sure you subscribe on iTunes, or on your favourite podcast application. If you'd like to know more, please visit our website at Napier b2b dot com or contact me directly on LinkedIn.


Vehicle Electronics Celebrates its 100th Issue

Congratulations to Vehicle Electronics which will celebrate its 100th issue in April.

Vehicle Electronics released its pilot issue on the 20th of December 2013, and quickly became a well-known name within the industry, providing a free copy of its magazine monthly to automotive electronics engineers.

Congratulations to the whole Vehicle Electronics team.


B2B Digital Marketing Strategy: Impact of Privacy Laws and a Remote Workforce

Mike, Managing Director at Napier, sat down with Camela Thompson, host of the CaliberMind podcast. Mike discusses his insights on the right digital marketing strategies, the benefits of direct mail, and what marketers need to consider about GDPR.

Listen to the full interview here, or via your favourite podcast app, and don’t hesitate to get in touch and let us know your thoughts.


elektroniknet.de Introduces Matchmaker+

WEKA FACHMEDIEN has introduced a Matchmaker+ section to its elektroniknet.de website, which provides companies and suppliers with the opportunity to develop a Matchmaker+ profile, which will share information about products, content such as editorial articles, videos and presentations, and will also provide links to the companies website and social media platforms in one place.

To generate traffic to the specific company webpages, the Matchmaker+ profiles are linked via keywords in editorial content and via logo placements in elektroniknet.de's newsletters. Readers will also be able to contact companies directly via an integrated form on the Matchmaker+ profile and the profiles will be highlighted in the supplier search.

The move to introduce Matchmaker+ profiles adds to previous digital offerings WEKA FACHMEDIEN has introduced, and it's great to see that the investments in digital alternatives continue, to maximise the use of their websites to benefit both suppliers and readers.

 


Editorial Changes at IML Group

Last month, we reported on the departure of Paige West from the IML Group, as she took on a new challenge as Managing Editor at Electronic Specifier.

So we were delighted to hear that Sophia Bell, previously Assistant Editor at IML Group, will be taking over as Acting Group Editor of DPA, PBSI and Connectivity. She will work alongside Gordon Wong, who has joined the IML Group team as the new Editor of PBSI and Connectivity.

We wish them both the best of luck in their new roles and look forward to working with them.

 

 


A Napier Podcast: Interview with Jeroen Corthout - Salesflare

In this podcast episode, we interview Jeroen Corthout, Co-Founder of Salesflare, a CRM platform.

Jeroen shares his journey to setting up Salesflare, and how the platform can help make sales teams lives easier by automatically entering data that previously would have been manual. He also explains how he thinks CRMs should be benefiting salespeople, what the future of CRM's look like, and why lead scoring is a vital tactic that all B2B marketers should consider.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

Transcript: Interview with Jeroen Corthout - Salesflare

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Jeroen Corthout

Mike: Thanks for listening to marketing b2b Tech, the podcast from Napier, where you can find out what really works in b2b marketing today. Welcome to marketing b2b technology, the podcast from Napier. Today, I'm joined by your own at Jeroen Corthout, who is the co founder and CEO of a CRM company Salesflare. Welcome to the podcast Jeroen.

Jeroen: Thank you happy to be here.

Mike: Great. So I think the first thing to ask is really, how have you managed to end up developing a CRM system? What led you to this role?

Jeroen: Sounds crazy, right? Who would want to I mean, there's still people every day creating new CRMs, which I think means one thing, and that's that the current CRMs are not really doing their job. That's also the reason why we started, we tried many different systems. And none of them worked for us. So we actually we had a software company, it was a business intelligence, and we had a bunch of leads. And what we needed was basically, a system to organise that follow up in a good way. And, in principle, that's what most sales CRMs are built for. And in a way, they're I mean, the software is built for that. But there's also always one bottleneck where we tripped up with every single system. And that was our own discipline. And that was because there was a mismatch between the amount of discipline and dedication we had to get to data input, and the amount of discipline and data and dedication. The system was asking us in terms of data and but and a common thing with with almost every CRM, I think it's it comes from a time where I mean, there was a day when you will have these sheets, and you will diligently fill them out. But the material drawer and whatever, that it became all digital, and people just took the paper stuff digital, but never really rethought. What, what else could it do. And we're in a place where we're basically people are still like, like robots or monkeys, filling out their serum all the time with data from different places.

While if you look in the consumer world, the apps you're using every day, they organise the data for you, you're not curating data in these apps. And if you are, it's an app, you're probably going to give up on at some point. Same thing with CRMs. And we saw that, and we saw that actually, a lot of the data we were inputting in our CRM was already somewhere. So if you would go into CRM and say, We just email that person that was actually already in our email system. When we would copy phone number and, and name and email from email signatures and emails, that's already in there as well, when we would say we had a meeting with them that was in our calendar already, when we call with them that was in our phone already. Then there was like tracking stuff we had set up that we would have liked Oh, visit to the site, put it in, that was in there already. So we saw lots of different sort of disparate data sources, with all information that should be in the CRM. And if you would have it in there, it would really help us do our Salesforce, but it wasn't there. So at some point, we set out to build that system. And we started with the email integration, but that we built all the other ones as well. And we built a system that really starts from that existing data and makes it really easy for you to curate, based on that, what is already there. And basically, you just need to indicate uncertainty that company knows everything about it already knows who you know, there, it knows the timeline knows their, their, their details they shared with you, and all this kind of things. And that it makes it really easy for you to do the sales follow up based on that. So that's, that's why we why we built this company.

Mike: That's fascinating. So I think most people with their CRMs you know, the biggest problem is getting the sales team to actually enter the data. And your solution rather than trying to beat the sales team up was to actually get the data entered automatically

Jeroen: That's correct. When I was doing customer interviews in the in the beginning, I would interview people like around how do you sell? What sort of process do you have? What kind of software do you use? How does that work? What doesn't work? And people would always say like, oh, no, the CRM is fine. I mean, it's just, it's just you know what the problem is, salespeople are lazy. If we would just if we just beat them with a stick, but figuratively If we take away their bonus, or we just forced them, otherwise, we fired them or whatever that works. And it's not really the software, they said, that's not really the issue. It's really the salespeople. And then I would always try to convince them like, no, no, I think the software could be better. And they're like, No, I think I really think it's not the software. And so we have to keep persisting and keep believing that the software could be better.

Mike: And I'm interested, I mean, because you're actually from from a healthcare background rather than from from being in a development background. So what made you you know, so determined to fix CRM that you actually decided to build a product and sell it?

Jeroen: Yeah, so my healthcare background i i studied electronical engineering, which then in MIT, a master's in Biomedical Engineering, it was it was already very focused on on data processing. So my master's thesis, for instance, was taking the heart signal. And based on the heart signal, seeing whether somebody has sleep apnea or not, it's typically based, done based on 12 signals, and I would only take one signal on and do the classification. I don't want it to be marketing and pharma companies. And then, actually, from there shifted into a consulting role, where we would help pharma companies digitise and CRM was always a big part there. In every project, like we would do marketing projects, or sales projects, but there was always a central CRM in which will track the data. And I always saw that salespeople, even though, they gave, like the situation in these five companies, they came from Siebel, a very old sort of ugly CRM from Oracle. And they would be migrated onto Salesforce, which was like a dream to them almost. Even though it seemed like a dream, the dream never really came true in the end, because even though they switch to the new system, they usage remains abysmal. Which, which I found really weird. Plus, in the in the company I was working, we were also using Salesforce internally. I really tried to use it myself for practical purposes, but I never really succeeded. And I always wondered why, I mean, this was the software that was supposed to change my life and organise my sales. But instead, it seemed more like a reporting tool towards my manager, in which he could put make nice reports and find all the data, it wasn't really a tool for me. And that's frustration sort of built up over the years. And but it was only really, when we needed something badly for our own software company, which I was working on. That's when we decided to, to start fixing it basically.

Mike: Fascinating. So I mean, it was a case where you build a software company, you found a need, and then you almost morphed into this new CRM company. I mean, I'm interested from from the point of view of CRMs, you mentioned that a lot of people see a lot of salespeople see CRMs, as being, you know, really primarily used to get data to report to managers. I mean, what do you see as the benefits that CRM should be delivering to salespeople?

Jeroen: I think the, it depends on the sort of sales you're doing. But if it's b2b sales, it's helping with managing that customer relationship, like the name says, which means, in very simple terms, helping to follow up leads, if I ask our customers, so what is the main thing Salesforce helps you with is following up leads. It's not more complicated than that. So in a lot of companies, a lot of revenue is lost by just doing improper follow up. We just forget about a certainly though you forget what you discussed, or you just not following up at the right time, or you know, in all these cases, the sales process comes to a halt where it where it shouldn't have come to a halt. And salespeople really want to fix that. Now, the thing is, with most CRMs, if they want to fix that, they need to do a whole lot of work to keep the system up to date. And there are easier ways. So what you'll find in many companies is they have a CRM in which they need to put stuff because management says so. And they'll put some stuff in there. But they built a system for themselves next to it, which will actually help them organise that form. So maybe they have their tasks in Outlook, or they have some sort of task management application. Maybe they have a notebook in which they keep stuff. Maybe they have an Excel sheet even next to the CRM, all of these things happen. And that's, that's just a pity. And the thing is, you need to make it as easy as possible for the salespeople to follow up their leads better. And if that can happen in this CRM, then that is a major plus for everyone else as well, not just for the salespeople, because from that moment, you will have the complete view on which customers are talking to about what, which days opportunities are, what the data is about these people, things about, I don't know, maybe products they buy, or all these kind of things, it's it is great for reporting for their sales manager. It's also great as a sort of channel of collaboration with the marketing team. Because you can look at the same data and be like, Okay, these are the customers the sales team is working with, and the marketing team is targeting leads maybe the same as maybe other ones. In such a way. All of these things are really easy normally to track for the marketing team, they can put a database there and and if you send an email to a to a list or so it's it's pretty easy to do to record that. But if it if it's not completed with that data that comes from the sales team, you're missing out on on a whole lot to have that complete view. And you might you might even be doing stupid things like for instance, sending promotions to a customer who is just about to sign a contract or so. Which is obviously something you want to avoid.

Mike: Absolutely, I think I think a lot of marketing people have inadvertently done that. And so it sounds to me like you're making CRM very simple. I mean, you're really saying it's all about just basic tracking of interactions, not about detailed call reports or anything. And then it's really about what the next step is, is that is that is that what you're saying? Is that your view, it's all about driving that next step

Jeroen: It's definitely about that's, that's what I usually say this, there's there's two important things, when you're to sell well, it's understanding where every person is in the process and keeping all the information around that. So you can organise things at scale. That is what distinguishes the good salesperson from the great salesperson, because the good salesperson that that person will be able to empathise with every customer one on one in a really good way. But what makes it great is be able to scale that across 10s or hundreds of leads, that is really hard. And it really requires organisation. And the next step is really the essential part there. That's the key thing you want to focus on. To drive the sales, the sales process forward to guide the customer from having a problem to actually solving the problem together with you.

Mike: Perfect. Okay, one other area that I think you know, particularly listeners of this podcast, which is primarily about marketing will be interested in is the interface between marketing and sales. And it's always a big challenge, handing off leads. So I mean, I guess to start with, you know, what do you see as being the best practices for marketing, generating and qualifying leads? And then how should they hand them off to the sales team.

Jeroen: To be honest, that happens differently in every company. Also, at different stages, often, in some companies, they just basically call every marketing leads that comes in, like somebody downloaded a white paper called, in some companies, there's a lead scoring going on, which is definitely a gentler way of doing it. But then again, it also depends on the deal size you're dealing with. If it's a very large deal size, then it's might pay off to also call the ones that just download the white paper. Because then you can really put in that effort. And you have more chance to find the, the gems in there, so to say. Because there are not many, and you need to need to find them. Right. So I don't think there's one general rule but I'd say if possible, to try to implement some sort of the scoring on two sides, like first, how interesting is that customer to us? Like are they in the right? Sector, geography, revenue size or whatever. You don't need to bother people who are not obviously not a good customer for you. And secondly, how interested are they in you? Did they just do a very simple thing? That doesn't mean anything? Or do they really express interest? What's the level there? And then if you combine these two into one score, you have a good idea of what the probability is there that you have a good marketing qualified leads.

Mike: That's fascinating. I love the the two stages, they you know, how good a fit they are, and then how interested they are in you that that I think is, you know, really good indication about, you know, likelihood to buy and then likelihood to buy now in terms of level of engagement. So that's, that's fantastic. So with Salesforce CRM, I mean, how do you integrate with marketing platforms? Do you do you have direct integrations? What's the best practice in terms of linking your marketing database with your sales? CRM?

Jeroen: Yeah, there's different possibilities there. With some systems. We have native integrations with some systems, we have integrations through tools like Zapier, which are really like if something happens here, then put it in there. integrations are a native integrations can also be built that way. And there's also synchronisation platforms, like for instance, a sync Penguin or so that can really keep keep two databases next to each other up to date with with real life to a sync, instead of being the sort of if this happens, and this isn't doing any other system, if that doesn't necessarily also sing the two ways if you know what I mean. So there's there's different options there. It it also depends a bit on the use case and the sort of process you want to automate. If it's a thing like if this happens in the marketing system, they become a marketing qualified lead above a certain score with them as a lead in CRM, they probably only needs sort of Zapier type integration, the push push the thing from one to the other, if it's really about keeping the full information up to date, and you need some sort of sort of sinking system.

Mike: Cool. Now, I mean, we've got a fairway into this interview, we've managed to avoid mentioning Salesforce. So I think, you know that this is something we need to talk about. I mean, clearly, what we see particular amongst enterprise customers is Salesforce is just absolutely dominating the market. And you've chosen to take on this, this huge competitor. So where do you think Salesforce, you know, falls down? Where is it weak, and why would sales won't be successful with

Jeroen: Salesforce is is is weak, where it's strong, I would say where it's where it's really strong is with enterprise customers. And that's, it's in the sort of, they've built almost a developer platform, where you can define the whole thing. And that's is their main strength and the whole consulting ecosystem they have around that, if you're a huge company, and you want something exactly the way you want it, then Salesforce is a good way to go. The whole way they sell also is very enterprising, with a contract to you by maybe multi year and all this kind of things. Once you go to small businesses, they try to make that work as well. But somehow it's it's not really built for small businesses. So they what they've done is they take the, the enterprise software, and then make an essential package of them, like just just take that thing and then remove all the other features basically, and then try to sell that to small businesses, but that's not really the way it works. Because the software because it's so customizable, that means you need to make certain trade offs, like for instance, everything is is very generic in the interface. It's it's not necessarily built the way it's optimised for me to use in every place because I mean, it could be it could be changed so that's that's that's where in as a as a product manager or developer you need to I can I say you get out customise things very deeply because it's so customizable. And then also the whole way they sell and stuff is not super adapted to small businesses. So we often actually small businesses, it's more in a medium sized segment that we often compete with Salesforce. And then they say well, Salesforce, it's big it's it's it's expensive, and salespeople don't like to work with it and all these kind of things. And then of the smaller companies we compete with some other systems which are big innovation If like HubSpot or so that's a it's a whole other thing. I'd say Salesforce is not super present in the small business segments.

Mike: And that's actually interesting. You brought up HubSpot. And I think one of the things we see is in the smaller sector, a lot of the marketing automation tools are trying to offer CRM as part of their software suite. I mean, do you see that as being a bigger challenge for you in the smaller medium sized market? And Salesforce?

Jeroen: Yeah, yeah. Because that's definitely a bigger challenge for us. Because there's a tendency for businesses to just think like, we need a CRM, and it's like a checkbox, which is you need to just check it off without thinking what you're actually trying to achieve with that. So just need CRM and then you think like, oh, God, would be nice if it's integrated with other stuff. And then you see this thing, and it's like, oh, it's all in one. And then businesses go for that without thinking much. It might not, then in the end, be really used by our sales team, which then invalidates the whole point. But it's, it's a harder thing to see. Well, if you look at Salesforce, it's very quickly apparent that is not going to work. With HubSpot. It's like gonna work. Will it not work? It's yeah, so not not as clear as a difference.

Mike: Interesting. So I mean, I'm sure you're gonna say it's much easier to deploy sales for flair than it is to deploy Salesforce. But I'm interested to know, I mean, how easy is it to deploy, you talk about automatically pulling in data from multiple sources? Is that complicated to set up? Does that take a lot of time?

Jeroen: No, you just go on our site, you click Try three. And then it says, What do you want to connect with? And then you say, Google, okay, you click another time to authenticate Google, it connects. You get in the software, it gives you a walkthrough, it shows your sales letter works. In the meantime, it is already synchronising everything, by the time you get into the software, everything is there and you can just start working. You can also quickly connect your calendar the same way. You can instal the the sidebar for your Gmail or Outlook very simply, maybe one of the more complicated things is taking the website tracking and putting in the site depends how technical you are whether you need to go through a developer it or so. But it's all very easy. We're actually the number one easiest to use CRM on G two.com, the world's world's leading b2b software review site.

Mike: Now, you actually skipped over something there that I thought was very interesting. You said, When you connect your email this the CRM starts auto populating. So you're actually creating contacts from email interactions. Is that right?

Jeroen: Yeah, so there's a sort of a big personal database you have as a user, which is with all the people you've ever emailed, or had meetings with. And if you create a company, it will automatically suggests like, oh, we see in your contact database, we see these people at the company, do you want to add them, they already have all the information collected on them. So you can do this? Well click what when you do that, and you assign it to companies, then they become part of your company, contact database, because then it's clear that they are relevant to the company. So that's in a very easy way, you can build up a shared address book

Mike: that presumably saves a lot of typing data in for the sales team.

Jeroen: It does save a lot of time. It's actually almost all the time, you would you wouldn't need Yeah, that's awesome.

Mike: So I mean, looking forward CRMs, in a way, as you say, have been quite similar. for quite a period of time they initially tried to replicate this paper based system. What do you see is the future for CRM? Where do you think it's going?

Jeroen: I think it's it's it's it's all becoming way more of a pragmatics, it used to be more of a database, let's say it's becoming more of a platform that is actually used to do something nowadays. So in in the area we're in all the CRMs are going to become sales platforms in the end, some serums are going to become marketing platforms or marketing platforms will have CRMs that the CRMs will actually have a purpose they will go beyond being a database. So for instance, in our system the the timeline is very central, like that the the interactions which makes sense because the interactions define a relationship. The phone number of a person does not define your relationship. Put them that's nice information to have, if you want to call them but but then you in the system, you can also immediately call a person or email or, you know, it's a it's it's more of a communication system than a than a database and, and a way of organising everything around where the database is there, but it's a secondary next to the next to the, the sort of the interactions you're having.

Mike: Interesting. So, I mean, really more and more focused around driving that, that if you like, customer journey and moving people through on to a next step towards a purchase.

Jeroen: Yeah. And that's actually now like, we are expanding beyond that. Now. Also, in the CRM space, you'll see all CRMs starting to absorb if it's a Sales Service absorbing sales tools. Like back in the day, we had a, we had an email tracking tool as part of the CRM, we had a way to, for instance, send email sequences, there was software for that it's part of the CRM, there was what else scattered reminder tools, you can instal in your Gmail inbox, or it's part of the CRM and and that just expands because it just becomes a sales platform. So all of these functionalities all make sense in there. Plus, when they're together, and they share the same data. They're all the more powerful, so

Mike: perfect. I mean, I really appreciate your time you're in talking about this. I wonder, is there anything you feel we've missed? Or you'd like to highlight about sales flow that we haven't covered yet?

Jeroen: No, no, if you want to find out more about Salesflare, you could just go to salesflare.com flares, Fl, fl, ar e, and you can try the software and on the site as well.

Mike: And a free trial as well. You just plug it in, enter your email details and it starts it starts.

Jeroen: The next day your emails, it starts. You start off at seven days. But that's it's a it's it goes up to 30 days, if you set it up, you get extra days on a trial. We've seen that people who set up the software better, it's good for them, it's good for us because they're actually more successful with the software which for us means that they stay longer. So we we motivate people to set it up completely by giving them days while something up. That makes sense. So if you for instance, in like invite another user get an extra four days on the software, if you instal the email sidebar, you get an extra day and like that, you got 30 days.

Mike: I love that using interaction to extend the trial is great, because, you know, it clearly gets people much more engaged in the tool, but it also rewards them for for actually really giving the tool a good evaluation rather than just, you know, something that's a bit cursory. Yeah, brilliant. Yeah. And lastly, I mean, if somebody is listening to this, and they're interested in like to get hold of you your own, what would be the best way to for them to contact you and ask a question.

Jeroen: A best place probably LinkedIn, you can just, there's only one person with my exact name. So if you find it somewhere here, type it into LinkedIn or copy it, and you can send me a connection request, please do add a personal message. So I know what it's about. If there's no personal message, I will have to assume spam, like most things I get on LinkedIn. But if you add one, I also did connect with you and we can chat.

Mike: Awesome, that's great. Thank you very much for that. Well, I really appreciate it. It's been really interesting talking to you and seeing, you know how you're taking a slightly different view on CRM, and what that offers sales team. So I really appreciate your time. Thanks, Erin.

Jeroen: Thank you. This was fun for me as well.

Mike: Awesome. Thanks for being on the podcast. Thanks so much for listening to marketing b2b Tech. We hope you enjoyed the episode. And if you did, please make sure you subscribe on iTunes, or on your favourite podcast application. If you'd like to know more, please visit our website at Napier b2b dot com or contact me directly on LinkedIn.


The Hustle Awards 2022 Now Open for Entries

The Hustle Awards 2022 is now open for entries. Presented by Startups Magazine, the Hustle Awards aim to highlight the outstanding achievements of individuals and companies within the tech startups space.

With a focus on recognising innovation, the awards will have a particular focus on diversity, inclusion and sustainability, with a total of 12 awards up for grabs. A range of categories are available ranging from the most innovative tech and mentor of the moment to the most successful scale-up.

Entries will be reviewed via a transparent judging process with a panel of business leaders, and entries will close on 7th April 2022.

Here at Napier, we are great supporters of awards ceremonies, which provide recognition to so many well-deserved companies that are successful across the technology industry; and we look forward to seeing the great innovations from startups that will be presented at the Hustle Awards 2022.

For further information on how you can enter, please click here. 

 


A Napier Webinar: How to be the Ultimate Professional on Zoom and Teams

Video platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams have become an integral part of everyday communication. Even as people return to the office, the hybrid working approach remains popular. With a recent LinkedIn survey showing that 41% of people think how you look and sound on calls is crucial for your career, it’s vital to portray yourself well on video calls.

Napier recently held a webinar 'How to Look the Ultimate Professional on Zoom and Teams' with on-camera coach Luke Westwood, and explored:

  • Why good quality sound and video is vital
  • How small background changes make a big impact
  • Tips on how to have the optimal set up for online meetings
  • Easy ways to make your calls look like a professional video production

Register to view our webinar on demand by clicking here, and why not get in touch to let us know if our insights helped you.

Napier Webinar: ‘How to Look the Ultimate Professional on Zoom and Teams’ Transcript

Speakers: Luke Westwood, Mike Maynard

Mike: Hi, everyone, and welcome to the latest webinar from Napier. Today I'm joined by Luke Westwood. Luke is a zoom coach. So his job is really focused around making people look like the ultimate professionals on Zoom and team teams. So Luke is going to run through some guides some hints and tips on how to look better. And hopefully during the webinar helped me make my Zoom game a little bit better than it is today. Welcome to the webinars Luke.

Luke: Hi, Mike. Thanks for having me really excited to be here. I'm really looking forward to sharing tips and some top tips how to make your zoom setup and teams better and take it to the next level. So really excited to be here.

Luke: So the first slide I want to talk about before we get into the tips and tricks is actually thinking about why we should start thinking about zoom. With the COVID pandemic, it will happen so quickly remote working actually became a thing that was something we could do, it happened very quickly. And we kind of started rushing to work from home or from office co working spaces. And we haven't really had the time, even two years later nearly to take the time to think about the setups and how we're presenting ourselves to our companies, our clients and our colleagues. And this might sound dramatic on why we should think about it. But it can actually have an impact on your professional brand. We've all heard about personal brand as marketers and PR people. But in our internal brand within the companies we work with with our colleagues and our clients. It's important that we think about how we come across and how we're representing the companies we work for, and how we're looking in front of clients as well.

It's amazing, even PR companies or video production companies all focused on how we look in and how we come across in the media. But even on a resume and team meeting. Sometimes we're still not given the best image. And if you're looking to go into roles that are client facing or sales or marketing, it can actually have an impact as well. So when you're not thinking about how you're coming across, we will think about first impressions and how workouts look, well, first time we meet someone. But as a professional brand is important that we think about how we're coming across and why it matters to the people around us that we're working with. And this slide I want to share my journey of my setup. Now on the bottom left, you'll see the typical setup, low angle, low light in the room lights and just about you creating a bit of a halo effect. And it's what you'll see on the news. And I'm going to reference news and media throughout this tips and tricks training because it's why I always talk about in these sessions, your news, the universal we see the news everywhere. And you'll be amazed when you start seeing these mistakes people making that you'll see them over and over again, politicians, industry experts and commentators given a chance to shine on the news and talk about their industry. But when they're on the news, and they don't take the time to set up their remote video calls, instantly killed their credibility, and they completely lost the impact they could have had as a thought leader in the field, they've lost the chance to come across as someone impactful and can really make a difference on the news. So the bottom left, like I say is what we will start with the middle one is something I tried to create like a YouTuber look. Many people on YouTube you see lots of coloured lights in the background, lots of studio make it look our full professional set. But for Office day to day, I really found this was too much it was a bit too in your face, and a bit too distracted with the colour backgrounds as much as I love it. And I think it's really nice. I think for day to day and day to day meetings as well. There was a bit too much and a bit too dramatic. And bottom right is what you can see now is the plain coloured lighting. I've got a clean background, I've got some artwork in the in the background, I've got a shelving unit over here, which I personalised everything from Amazon really cheap and affordable, some ornaments and fake nature, some hobbies of mine cameras and photography, and just some nice lighting as well. I've also got the lights and in the background behind me which is changing throughout my meetings, which is another way just to personalise the space that you want to look at. And you want people to see that you come across as professional. And again, small, very easy steps, not expensive to come across as incredibly professional. And he's actually taking the time to actually impact and put the effort into making your professional setup come across as well.

And you've actually taken time to think about it. I'm going to come back to Mike setup in a minute throughout this set this webinar as well and in a minute and how to improve his setup but this slide really just shows you what I'm trying to have you avoid looking like on your backgrounds. Obviously it's a bit of an exaggeration, but things like clutter, home life, clothes in the shop clothes in the washing line. You'll be amazed amount of times I've been on professional team events on Zoom, or teams and company events where people have just got stuff The background from home life, and they haven't taken the time to look behind them. And all it does is distract you the whole time they're talking. So Mike, if we go back to your setup now, it'd be nice to look at some maybe some clutter you've got in the background and see what we could improve for your next meeting.

Mike: Yeah, thanks, Luke. I'll just make this a full screen as well. So I'm now realising that my setup is not great. I could see quite a lot of clutter in the background there.

Luke: Yeah, so what we're seeing here, we've seen some stationery behind year we've seen some file filing cabinet I think would be fine by itself. It's the filing cabinet. But we've got some books on the bottom right of the screen. We've got some like some homie ornament things, but that would be nice if they were by themselves, but without the clutter, got some stationery and some filing as well. I think for your next meeting, if you just remove all of that, and then have it as a nice clear background, and maybe you have pet some home ornaments you've got from homes and things that mean something special to you. I think they'd be a great way to clear that space as well.

Mike: Yeah, no, I mean, it's something I've not really realised in terms of the amount of clutter I've got there. I mean, I guess my question is about the pictures, because I've also realised that my pictures are kind of out of shot, aren't they?

Luke: I think if you're able to do it at home, I think it'd be really nice to bring them down. Once we get rid of the clutter, you can organise it around the filing cabinet, it might sound a bit dramatic to move artwork on the wall. But even just having something in the background, it's another way to show your personality and your hobbies, you've got the artists that I've got this from Steven Brown, he's one of my favourite artists. And I just put him in the background as behind me, just in short, not too dominating. But again, talking piece, it's another way to have some conversation in your meetings and have a talking point force behind you. And when you do have sex out, which is different to everyone else, which doesn't look like what we saw before the bottom left of the screen, the low angle shot, the bad news lick, it really does make the impact.

Mike: Great. Now that's really helpful, I think I'll have to go on a bit of a spring clean, thanks, Luke.

Luke: So if we just go back to the slides, so we've had the avoiding the distracting backgrounds, we're going to have to tidy up, we're going to take some time to really think what's behind us. And now we're going to talk about the hardest part of being on a zoom or meetings call. And that's been on camera, many of us hate being on camera, I hated being on camera, even just for zoom or team meetings or company calls, it's still something that people are still struggling with two years on. And it's one of those things that when you do start doing it, you get used to it. It's a bit like what we call media trading. And in the PR world, when you're recording a video or recording media, you start doing it and you get used to it, you forget about how you're listening to yourself, or how you look on camera. And the more you do it, the more you get used to doing it. And there's a few reasons why I really want to encourage you and people you work with to turn your video on as well. The first is it creates a human connection. When we see people we can read body language, we can see how they're reacting to us. And we can have eye contact with them. We can see how they're thinking, what facial expressions are given to us as we're talking, maybe you're on a sales pitch, or you're presenting to a client a really big project. And if they're not on camera, and you're not on camera, you're not going to be able to see who those reacting and who's in the room even as well. Sometimes you want to know who's in the room or who just looking at. And when you haven't got the camera turned on, it's really difficult to see how people are reacting. And I know from talking to Mike, that they're struggling with a neighbour still, and might give you some talk about that. If that's something you're still looking into to try and figure out how to get people on camera as well, your team?

Mike: Yeah, I think it's something that every company does. I mean, nobody really wants to be on camera. I think the interesting thing was we did a survey on LinkedIn. And 41% said that how you look on Zoom is crucial to your career. And yet, the number of times on calls were less than 40% of people even have their camera on. So it's really difficult. It definitely within a company, I think builds it builds a team spirit. But it does require you to be prepared to turn the camera on and, you know, put a bit of effort in and I think, you know, I don't like it. But equally I probably was aware that my background wasn't great. I you know, I didn't look so good. Maybe if I put more effort into the background, that's gonna make me feel more comfortable on camera.

Luke: Definitely. And I think it's quite interesting when we all started working from home that companies actually created a no camera policy where you weren't forced to be on camera. And that was something that started getting introduced. And I think we did that too quickly. Maybe I understand about different levels of poverty and home life. Maybe some people are embarrassed about where they work. But I think the more we start to become comfortable on camera, the more we get used to it and it becomes such a less big of a thing that is at the moment. And hopefully again, like you're saying, just create that team morale and you see each other. If you haven't seen people in person, you've joined the company remotely. And some people I know have joined companies remotely and people just don't go on camera and you don't see your team For the past few months, and it's really demoralising for people who do want to be on camera as well.

Mike: Definitely, I mean, we've just hired a couple of new people. You know, I've been in the office today, it was great to see them face to face. And I think part of that is we probably don't use our cameras enough. So it's something hopefully we're all gonna have a resolution to improve going forward.

Luke: Yeah, that sounds great. So the next part I want to talk about, I've mentioned it already, but about personalising your space, add objects that you find from Lily that you find relaxing to be around in your environment. So many people I've spoken to, since we started working from home out of necessity, because of COVID, that we started hating the working spaces that we're working in, maybe you've got a home office like I have. But after a while, maybe the first six months, it was exciting, it was fun. But you started hating the space you're working in. And again, adding things from your home from your family. It's all part of making space and enjoyable space to work in. I hated this room for a while just because I spent all my time in it. And it was just I wasn't enjoying it. And it was just boring. And it wasn't making me happy to be in here. But by other things like background lighting, some nature, some qualifications to show your credentials, I've got my degree in the background, as were anything you want to show that's yours is all about adding the space which makes it yours, which makes it personable, and it makes makes an enjoyable space to work in. And as working from home, you're starting to ease off a little, I still think he's going to be here for a long time. And if we can make these spaces more homely, like they're part of us and part of who we are, then we'll start enjoying actually working in them as well.

Now I want to talk about making your calls like a video production, where we talk about the lights, the cameras and the audio as well. We've all heard in the Commonwealth video, world Lights, Camera Action. And now we need to start thinking about that. And we're going to be looking at Mike setup after these ties as well. And going more into detail. I'm going to talk about the three levels of the different parts of the lights, the cameras and the audio. So lighting, like I said earlier, the first thing you'll usually see is no lights at all, it'll be the low angle or the webcam on the laptop, there may be some overhead lighting in the room that you're working on. And that just creates shadows because it's above your head. It's creating shadows all underneath you. And it's really unnatural. And it's really bad what's called news look. And the first thing many people do is use what's called a ring light, you'll see this on YouTube a lot. It's literally a light that is a rain that can go around your camera and just add some extra light. It's not expensive, and it's not a big cost for you or your company. But the impact it has is massive. So for lighting for me, I've got two lights here, I've just got one there and one there is a more high production LED lights, which will be provided links for afterwards as well. I've created three different budgets for your lighting and your cameras and your audio. And if I show you a low budget, like there'll be something like this, it'll be an LED light, where you can just have it behind your camera. Or even what I do now is face it against a white wall and it bounces up on my face. And the reason I do that, because in the film world, when you have a big soft light, there's no shadows is a soft light isn't a harsh shadow lighting. And it creates a pleasant look, when you haven't writing your face, it creates a little glare, you're squinting the whole time. And it's very difficult to concentrate when you've got a light shone in your face. So light is really important. So Mike, if we could go back to your setup quickly.

Mike: So here it is, I don't actually have a light on at the moment I sit in front of a window. And I'm kind of relying on that for light.

Luke: Yeah, and that's a lot of tips you'll hear people say is use natural light use the Windows news to you. But the problem with that, especially here in the UK, around mid afternoon like today, around three o'clock isn't the moment the light starts to go and the clouds start coming over. And we start losing light. And that's where an extra light, just a simple LED light in Lightroom I think would really make an impact even if he just bounced it off the wall in front of him. And then it comes across on his face. It's a nice soft light. And we know that Mike's got some green walls in his room as well. It'll get rid of that green glare on his face. And just make him look a bit more human.

Mike: Yeah, I don't think the green wall is very flattering because the light comes through the window bounces off the wall and then people ask if I mils. So that's a really good bit of advice to try and get rid of that.

Luke: So we go back to the slides again, like cameras. Now this is one of the biggest issues that people struggle with. They get so hung up on the cameras and they forget about everything else. And one thing I always say before investing in a camera is invest in your audio, which we'll be touching on next. But the cameras doesn't have to be expensive. There's lots of ways to get around using big expensive cameras. Some people will say use big professional photography cameras. Some people say invest hundreds in the webcam. But if you just want to use your smartphone and you don't want to invest in a webcam, you can do that as well. There's an amazing app you can use called Arium, which We'll give a link to you on the landing page after the webinar, where you can actually just connect up your smartphone and use that as your webcam, you can have a list of adapter that connects your phone to your, your monitor or wherever you're working, and it creates a webcam out of your smartphone. So if you don't want to invest in a high big webcam, or a photography camera either, and that's another great way to go. I think Mike, that'd be worth something for you to do as well, whether either using the smartphone or investing, maybe upgrading the web camera a little bit, I think for your setup currently, that'd be a good thing for you.

Mike: Yeah, that's that's probably a great point, because I've got quite a cheap camera. And as a confession, I've had to wedge something underneath it, because it's so cheap that it's actually a bit lopsided. So yeah, I think I can certainly see the benefit of getting a better a better webcam, and therefore a better picture.

Luke: Yeah, and that trick of sometimes on my web camera, it can actually be a bit wonky, so I've just put a bit of loose tack underneath mine to make mine a bit more stable. And it stops at wobbling and just looks a bit strange, as well. So that's the camera. So don't get too hung up on the cameras. There's lots of cheap options out there. And we'll be providing links to Amazon on all different projects and options that you can go to, and start experimenting with your video setup. Now let's talk about audio. And this is the biggest issue along with video and lighting. But audio can really kill your video setup and your zoom meetings. How many times since we started working from home that you've been in a meeting someone using a really bad headphone or they're outside, and there's wind blowing, and there's rustling noises, and you just can't hear them? It's the biggest killer to having a bad meeting. And it can be even frustrating for people in the meeting as well. For your clients, especially for people you're working with your stakeholders, and just your colleagues in general. And audio doesn't have to be difficult either.

There's three levels to what I call the audio setup. The first is using headphones like this, the Apple White headphones that you'll see all the time. And there's nothing necessarily wrong with that. But even that doesn't look great, it's messy, you're seeing your wide headphones on your neck. And even that can be a bit distracting. Then the next middle range setup is what you see typically on the news, people in offices are these headsets, similar to what Mike's using at the moment. And that's great. If you want a mid range for a really high quality setup for your audio. That's the best way to go. And what I also started using recently is wireless headphones as well, they come in these little boxes, and just little small with ear pieces like that wireless. Now the only issue the wireless ones, which we just had before we started, sometimes they can be a bit unreliable. So the wired headphones is really good. And or the headsets as well is a great way to go. I would advise avoid trying to get away from the wide headphones just because it can look a bit messy. But if that's all you got at least have the microphone close to you as well. And lastly, before we finish, I just want to say just have fun with it. Try and make your space your own, I spoken about this already. We're trying to enjoy the space, try and make it somewhere that you enjoy working, and that you'll be proud to work on as well, your video calls, there's nothing worse than the look of the blurred background. And that's something we've all tried to do to hide what's in our background and our home and the space we're working in. But when we see the blurred background, we all know what we're doing, we're trying to hide the space around us. And if we just took the time and the thought and the effort to really try and make it a space we enjoy and we're proud of that we wouldn't have to do that. And it takes away the stress of the space we're working in as well. And I think now it's gonna come to q&a. And if you've got any questions or any tips or questions on the tips I've spoken about be happy to take some questions.

Mike: Thanks so much, Luke, that was amazing. And clearly, I've got a little bit of work to do to make my space look, you know, something similar to yours. But, you know, one day I'll look maybe not the ultimate professional, but at least professional on teams and zoom. Just a note for everybody. If you want more information, we do have a landing page, it's Napier b2b dot com slash look Pro. And if you go there, there's not only the materials from this webinar, but there's also as Luke said, he's put together three different kits and a different price points to improve your setup. So you can actually go click through and see the products on Amazon. And also, most importantly, if anybody is interested in talking to Luke about, you know, getting some one to one coaching, there's also contact details for Luke on the webpage as well. So I know Luke helps a lot of people just a short session going through their current setup and giving them some tips in the way he's done for me, and certainly that's something I'd really recommend.

Luke: Yeah, thanks, Mike. And if anyone does want to connect as well, online, LinkedIn is the best place to find me. So feel free to correct me on LinkedIn as well.

Mike: Fabulous. Just one thing to say is we do have some time so if anybody has any questions So some already, please just put them into the chat. And I know Luke will be very happy to answer them. And the first question from John, thank you is, he's asking Luke, can you turn the camera around so we can actually see your setup?

Luke: Yep. Okay, forgive the wobbliness. So obviously, the desk is a bit messy because we're doing a demo with the webinar with the equipment. So with my lights in, I've got one LED light there on the right hand side of me. And then I have a microphone for recording voice over an audio work that I do. And then there I've also got my second LED panel as well. And you'll also notice that there is some bedding just on a very simple frame stand, which has been coming up with some clamps. And the reason for that is that the bedding actually provides some dampening for the audio this from the very, very echoey room. And by having just some bedding on the back just behind you doesn't have to be a huge setup like this. But it provides just a bit of way to remove the echo. And Echo was something that I was really conscious of about the audio in my meetings as well. And probably another way that can really annoy people in your meetings. So hopefully this is helping just reduce that echo for you as well.

Mike: Brilliant, that's really helpful. I got a question from Hannah. So Hannah's asking, I think, a really good question here. If you've got a set up, that's not great at the moment. What would you do in terms of prioritisation? Would you spend money on audio lights or camera? First? What would be your priority?

Luke: Yeah, that's a great question. And it's gonna be a bit controversial, but I'm going to say audio is the most important thing. Laptops these days generally have a webcam, you might already have a webcam or camera available, you can use your phone already, if that's available to you, as well, like I mentioned with the app, you can connect. But the audio really is the way to improve your setup straightaway. And it doesn't have to be customer can have one of these headsets, like I mentioned earlier. But by investing some money in your audio setup, you'll be able to impress the people working with you, everyone around you in your team, your clients, your meetings are going to have bad audio, but by being the person that the audio is that clear and professional, and they can hear you and understand you most importantly, the audio is going to have the biggest impact, then go with the lights and then go with the camera.

Mike: Perfect. That's great. Another question here from Elana. And I guess she's asking about a selfie, she doesn't have a home office as a separate room. So what can you do to make the best of having to do zoom calls in a normal living space.

Luke: I think even if you're working in living space, which I do sometimes as well, it's finding a way to make it seem professional, even if you have to work on the sofa or on city or chair. Even if you have to do that still trying to make a way to make it sound professional. Having good audio, having your background clear. If you're on a cypher and not having personal items on you, it just makes a way just to have a space that's yours or working. If there's a corner, you can work in the room where you can have the corner the background corners, also great raised to have space in your background as well. So if I show you briefly, so let's say that corner is my working space, behind me, corners adapts to your background. So if you've got a living space, like a lounge you're working in, you can find a corner that you can sit in front of just have a plain background or not, you have got a dedicated working space, which I know many people haven't. Another way is to find a space that can be yours that can be clean, that can be tidy, and just look professional. That's the main thing. You don't have to have this big setup or office space like I've got, you just need a space where you can work that you can have dedicated and calm and tidy and just look at you know what you're doing in professional and you're coming across as tidy and professional as well.

Mike: Perfect. That's really good advice. I love the advice about the corner. We've got a couple of questions from John now. The first one, I think it's quite technical. He's asking about reducing TCO. And he says, is it worth using a shotgun mic to reduce echo or is that just too much money?

Luke: Funnily enough, John, that was actually my first option that I tried to do when this all started my background is in video production and film production. I've worked with Mike in the past on video work and my first idea was to have a shotgun mic just on top of the webcam pointing down research you would use the echo I thought about putting like a wind muff on front of it to reduce the echo. But actually I found because of the way the shotgun mics are designed, it was actually creating more echo there maybe with a webcam I was using or the the microphone I mentioned it as well. And I also think it's quite overkill especially for the price that shotgun mics and go into when you want the quality one. I would avoid the shotgun route. I gave it a try. But it was more hassle then it was worth because you need adapters, you need connectors that connect to your laptop or your computer. So I'd stay away from the truck primary mind.

Mike: Some great advice there. So last question again from John. And I think this is, this is a fantastic question. So a lot of us see people using the corporate logo as an artificial background. And so John's asking, what's your view on using the logo? As a background image rather than having a real background?

Luke: I think it depends, it depends on a few things. One, your company policy for one, are they happy with you using the corporate company logo, when COVID remote work and started, a lot of companies invested in custom graphics, or maybe their own internal team or they outsourced it to companies that could actually make it for them. So be careful on how you do that, and contact your local internal team, make sure they're okay with that. I think if you really can't work in a space where you can dedicate it at work, and it is a way to hide what's around your home, and that's great, as long as your company's happy with it, and it isn't too distracting. Just don't have your logo in the background, which is a huge logo behind your head, and it just dominates your screen, maybe have a photo, your logo in the corner or in another corner, just having somebody in the shot as well. Photo backgrounds with a logo on top. That's a great way to go.

Mike: Brilliant. And I said I do a last question. But I think I'm just going to add this. You know, it's a question, asking about the background again. So following on from the previous one. If you don't have a good natural background, what's the best thing? Are you better to use a single colour and neutral background? Or something with you know, more going on? So perhaps and marketing logos and things? Do you have a view as to what's a good artificial background,

Luke: I think we'd like to single colours and keep them kind of single. If you're not going to have a graphic or photo just a background, we can have a plain background, the simpler, the better, the less distracting you want. It's really important. So my wall behind me is just a cream wall. I know I've got my background behind me things but it's pissing away. It's not distracting. By keeping it simple. If you've got lots of behind your marketing messages behind your slogans, again, people will be focused on what's behind you. And they'll be strapped in and not focusing on you in the meetings, which is what you want. I think keeping it simple is the most important thing.

Mike: Perfect, I really appreciate it. Thank you everyone, for listening. Thank you for the questions that came through as well as some really good questions there. And just as a reminder, if you want more information, the slide deck, Luke setups are all available at Napier b2b slash look Pro. And most importantly, if you want to talk to Luke and perhaps get some personal advice about your own setup, or maybe get advice for your team, and help your team look good, because obviously, as a manager, having all your team look good on Zoom is going to reflect well on you. Then there's contact details for Luke there. So once again, thank you all for listening. I really appreciate your time. And if anybody would like to share the the webinar or take a look at any part again, we will have it available on demand that will be on the webpage. And that will be up by the end of the week. So thanks once again, and particularly thanks to Luke for your contribution. It's been absolutely brilliant.

Luke: Thanks, Mike. Thanks for having me. And thanks to everyone for the great questions and for attending today.


A Napier Podcast: Interview with Matthew Hunt - Automation Wolf

In this podcast episode, we interview Matthew Hunt, Founder of Automation Wolf, a company that supports B2B founders and CEOs create snackable content to develop personal brands on LinkedIn.

Matthew shares the process of how the team at Automation Wolf work with founders and CEOs to develop snackable content that keeps them top of mind and stay consistent in prospects' newsfeeds; while also bridging the gap between short and long-form content. He also explores why it's important to encourage CEOs to get involved in social media, how honest you should be in your posts, and his views on how broad the social marketing effort should be across a company.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

Transcript: Interview with Matthew Hunt - Automation Wolf

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Matthew Hunt

Mike: Thanks for listening to marketing b2b Tech, the podcast from Napier, where you can find out what really works in b2b marketing today. Welcome to marketing b2b technology, the podcast from Napier. Today I'm joined by Matthew Hunt. Matthew is the founder of Automation Wolf. Welcome to the podcast, Matthew.

Matthew: Hey, Mike, thanks for having me. Glad to be here.

Mike: Fantastic. Well, firstly, with a name like automation wolf. Well, I, you know, I'm really interested in what does your business do? Can you explain very quickly, you know, what you offer and how you help people?

Matthew: Yeah, sure. So we work with really busy CEOs and founders, who run b2b companies, and we help them create all of their snackable content for LinkedIn, within one hour a month. The real challenge for most people in general, particularly busy people, it's not money or not knowing how to do something. It's actually time. That just doesn't seem to be enough, you know, days and each month, enough hours in each day and enough seconds and each hour.

Mike: You said, an hour a month, is that right? So what are you doing? You're just doing two pieces of content? And that's it, right? I mean, how do you do it in an hour?

Matthew: Yeah, of course, yeah, we just, we just put out one piece of content every year, and we're good to go No. So so the way we do it is we actually lead with with video very, very similar to this format, where we interview the idea that you know, the our clients, however, we lead with the intention that it's going to be snackable content versus long form content. And the reason we do that is we can do it privately, so that we only keep the best stuff. And that becomes the lead domino that inspires the rest of the content. So creates video content, it creates text content, it creates images, it creates PDF carousels, and polls and so forth. And so it's a really good use of that individual's time. And then we take it post production and do all the slicing and dicing and distribution and syndication of that content afterwards. So basically, we take client for one hour at the interview, and then we need them for 30 minutes afterwards to either approve it or provide feedback. And that's it, the job is done.

Mike: Certainly, let's just unpack exactly what you're doing. So you're effectively you're interviewing a CEO on video, you then chop that up, but you don't just take clips, you're also then then reuse that with different forms of content like text. Is that right? If I understood that?

Matthew: Yeah, that's correct. So so you know not. So when we create content, we look for two different types of content that we want to create. One is to create the right notes to build a personal brand. So we call that the ACES method. And aces just stands for authority, connect, engage in show. And so authority is any sort of tip or advice or any authority that you want to be known for that make someone better or more awesome. Within a short snack or piece of content. A connect piece is something that shows that you're human that you know, we don't usually care too much about what you do until we know how much you care, we don't really remember what you said. But we remember how you made us feel. And so this is any type of content that hits the heart, hits the gut, or hits the funny bone. And then engage is anything that starts a conversation.

So a lot of times, we're trying too hard to create all of our content when we can lean on our network, our warm network, our community, the people we're connected on with social media or on LinkedIn, and ask a question to start a conversation and let them create our content and then show instead of sell, like we shouldn't really sell or tell people how awesome we are. What we should do is show them how awesome we are with transformation stories featuring our clients or case studies or before and afters. Everyone's on our sneak peeks behind the scene of what's going on. So that's the first step. The second step is getting it into all the different formats, people like different types of formats. You don't know what people like. And so we say lead with video and video is the lead domino to creating text posts for transcriptions or quotable snackable pieces of content on an image car. Or maybe it sparks a conversation as a poll, or there could be a listicle Earth tips that could create a carousel PDF. And this snackable content when you do it that way plays a beautiful song. So think of it like playing a piano. If you only hit one key on the piano, it becomes a very boring song but when you play all the keys on the piano becomes very interesting and just sort of diversify. And it's a great way to repurpose and recycle Maybe the same sound bite in more than one way, and you just don't know what's going to connect with people. So we want to mix it up and keep it interesting.

Mike: And so in terms of this content, I love that the idea of the three elements of the ACES content. Can you give us, you know, perhaps some examples of you know, what you might use for each particular category of content?

Matthew: Sure, so there's many different ways to do authority content. But my preferred method of authority content is when you state something that is counter intuitive. So where you can first start off with setting the scene and describing someone's problems better, they can better than they can describe themselves, which means you need to go deep on the fears, wants, aspirations and frustrations. And if you do that, then it feels like you're reading their mind, right. And that's how you get their attention. Next is to describe how everybody else is doing it. And tell them how that is the old way of doing something. And then here is a new idea that is counterintuitive to what most of the marketplace talks about to do something new, and it provides something usually instantaneous that someone could take action on immediately, where it immediately makes someone else's life or business better, is what we want to do. And we could do that in video format in text format, and an image format, etc. And one of the best things to do is to give away some sort of additional asset that will bridge the gap from your snackable content, and get them into your long form content or into your marketing funnel. So things like a cheat sheet, or a checklist or something that's one click makes their life better is an awesome lead magnet that you can include with that, which will then hopefully lead them into your long form content, or your controlled form content.

So what most people don't understand is the snackable content is really just to keep people top of mind and to stay consistent in people's newsfeeds. It's the discoverability format. This is where they get to know you. But we need to make a bridge to long form content. This is your ability where people get to like you. And then you need to make the bridge from long form content into controlled form content. This is usually a form of community. And this is where people get to trust you just remember people only buy from you if they know you, like you and trust you. And in fact, you can't do any selling whatsoever you shouldn't do any into you know that you've made it to that made it to the trust level, right, you got to look at the trust metre and where you are there challenges most people try to sell too early, and they're either end up looking like a stranger. Stranger means danger, or too even if someone entertains your offer early before you have trust, you're just going to be treated like everybody else, the sea of sameness that's out there. And you're going to be treated like a commodity, which makes it really hard to sell. And then you have to compete on price. But if you take your time, and you bridge the gap between these three levels of short form, long form and controlled form, and get people to the level of trusting you, you can suck at sales, and you can charge more, which makes your life a lot easier.

Mike: It sounds fantastic. And I think I think I'm halfway there. I suck at sales anyway. So you do this through video. And obviously that's great for the CEO. But how do you prepare the questions? Is that something you're preparing? are you monitoring? You know, feeds, how do you work out what topics because I think that's always an issue for, you know, particularly, you know, some more senior people is what they talk about on LinkedIn.

Matthew: Yeah. So before we even start creating content, we we spend two or three workshops with each individual. And we go through a go to market strategy, as well as a bunch of questions to understand their IP, and what makes their ideal prospects or their existing clients, you know, tick what's important to them, what are their hot buttons, right. And so once we understand that, it makes it a lot easier to create the stackable content. So if you don't already have, let's say, a signature process, then that's a problem, we will help you create that signature process, which is really most people do, they just have a chance to articulate it or put it on paper. And we have a very simple exercise where literally we create a three three by three matrix, or sometimes a three by four matrix. And there's usually three pillars. And then each pillar usually has three steps or four steps. And once that happens if you have four steps as an example, you really have 12 pillar talks that you can talk about, right? You can't cover it all in in each snackable piece of content your whole system, but we can cover a little bit of that. Plus we also you know work on talking to clients a lot about themselves and giving sneak peeks behind the scenes. So this is the whole, you know, Simon Sinek thing, you know, start with why. And talk about values and other things and analogies and stories that will move people and hit the heart that gut or the funnybone. Or even just give sneak peeks behind the scene of what you're doing in your personal life as well as your business life. This is this is what social media is about.

Mike: And to say to you come to the, you know, these video interviews with a set of questions, or does the CEO say you bring the questions? Yeah, so we're just heads up.

Matthew: Yeah, we propose the questions to make it as easy as possible, we send it in advance to them. If they don't like the prompts or the questions, they can make recommendations, and we and we go from there. And we then do it privately. And as anyone knows, what you practice privately, is what you get rewarded for publicly. And the great thing about editing is, even if someone stumbles or doesn't quite get it, right, we have an opportunity to work with the individual as a feedback loop privately to make it better on the spot, so they don't need to rehearse or do anything but winds up happening is after someone's done four or five sessions with us, they actually become what's called like media trained, right where they're prepared. And now they feel confident they've got their sound bites down, they could show up on a podcast long form like this and just talk about it. Or they could even show up at the six o'clock news and nail their sound bites as they're going. So it's, it's a great way of like doing that Plus, they get the feedback loop afterwards of it going, you know, public, and they can see how they're warm network engages with it, what's working, what's not working, and there's enough breathing room where you're doing one per month, all we see is with all our clients as they get better and better and better and stronger and stronger, at sort of this interview format, which is preparing them to actually create long form content, which would be the next step, you can't create your short form content, you're most likely not going to be able to do long form content, because it requires even more effort to do that.

Mike: That that's interesting. I mean, I think we've seen a lot of companies move to, you know, make their their senior executive team, more human and more visible. And obviously, you know, your support for that. But what would a marketing team do? If a CEO was reluctant? I mean, how do you persuade people to get involved in social?

Matthew: Sure, so I mean, listen, it's not it's not for everyone nor everybody necessarily sees value in it, or is necessarily even interested in doing it. I mean, a lot of times this place of not doing it is usually coming from a thing called imposter syndrome, which is very real, like everybody is always a little bit worried about putting themselves out there. Publicly, and even scarier today, if you hit the wrong notes, you know, sometimes people can get easily offended and so part of our job as well too is to help them navigate that and make sure that we keep it you know, helpful and cheerful. And you know, put out the right persona that that that they want to have representing their personal brand and the challenges if you don't do it, you have no control over doing it.

And the reality is, everybody has a personal brand today everybody is a media company today. This is something that's become democratised. It's not owned by several big companies anymore. And it's becoming distribute and and decentralised and so this, this is not going away. So the longer you wait to do it, the longer it takes to, to build up that personal brand. It's something that compounds over time to requires a lot of time Rome was not built in a day. And the most important thing is to stay consistent. The reason why people fail again, at doing this is it's usually time. So I like to use the analogy all the time of going to the gym. So we all know that if we want to look fit and feel fit, we probably need to eat clean and go to the gym on a regular basis. Well, our company doesn't ask you to go to the gym every single day or eat clean every single day, we ask you to come to the gym once a month. And then we make it look like you go to the gym every single day and eat clean every single day. And that's why it succeeds. And then because they're consistent, just like anything where the sums were the sum of our daily habits, that consistency is where the results come from. And if you understand some basic universal laws, like compound interest, then you'll understand why this works. This is why Einstein said that compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. Okay? Those that understand it, earn it those that don't pay it. And so I think most CEOs and founders understand that concept, they understand the idea of delayed gratification. And they understand the idea of divert of consistency, their biggest challenge is really just time. And if someone could just solve that time issue for them, they be good to go, most of them already know they need to do this, they know how to do it, they know what the right notes are, they just need someone you know, a private coach in a private setting that can, it can be done in a friendly way with no pressure, and then someone to clean it up and make it look really good and post production. That's it

Mike: You make it sound very simple. I think one of the things, you know, a lot of our listeners will be thinking that they're from large enterprises. And, and they're, I think communication tends to be much more conservative. You know, the idea of connecting as a human is, it's not exactly alien, but it's really not the style of communication. I mean, what would you say to people in an enterprise, as, you know, your advice on how to approach social media? Well,

Matthew: I would say that this is actually not foreign to them at all. They're just doing it privately. Like they, they if they got to that position. And they are in these enterprise companies, they're very good communicators already. They're very good with people, their soft skills are probably through the roof. And all we're going to do is take that and capture it privately, and, and then put it public based, and they at the end of the day, you know, they approve or provide feedback on anything they want, nothing goes out without their approval. And so it's pretty safe way of getting that information out there. And it prevents any kind of false starts, like if you're not used to doing this jumping on podcasts may not work for you right away until you get rehearse the media training, right?

Like, there's actually like media trainers, like PR companies that will spend months and months and months with these these enterprise levels, when they decide, Okay, it's time to get public on this matter. This is kind of what we do without really being a PR company. It's a happy byproduct of this process. But you know that they're already know how to do this. They're very, they seamlessly just roll right into it. I think the first couple times when you do it, it's always like a little bit. How is this going to work? And is this going to be okay? Well, once you get through two or three cycles, you're like, Ah, okay, cool. And if you have a positive feedback loop, and what is happening is, their warm network immediately starts saying, having seen your videos, they're, they're great. And they'll start hearing that feedback loop. And they'll be like, keep keep doing it, it's a great way to amplify themselves. And a great way to do one to many selling one to many connecting, connecting, and including most of our senior leaders, their primary focus has nothing about getting getting new business, their biggest challenges side of this is actually acquiring talent. And so these videos are created to, to give a flavour to what the culture and the leadership is like at a company. And people do see that. And it's a great way of amplifying your ability to recruit, and to attract even better talent, because people want to belong to interesting teams and interesting leaders and interesting companies. And so it's a great way of just being top of mind and doing that sort of one to many selling, whether you need to get more prospects or more talent, both both is similar. And it's just about being consistent with it. And you can't do that in a one to one level, when you're busy CEO and founder you need some sort of leverage, and someone can't do it for you. So the best way to do it is to record you and to have you do it.

Mike: I think that's really good advice. Um, you know, thinking about organisations, and I think particularly larger organisations, you talk about helping CEOs, but how broad should the social media marketing africo? Should everyone be involved creating their content about their company? Do you think? Or should it be something coming from the top?

Matthew: So So yes, everybody should be doing it. However, you want to start at the top and work your way out. So usually, what I recommend is there's sort of four steps to people going through this process of what is really technically called demand, Chen. And there's the show up to share up the size up in the scale up and the scale up would be last this is where you get your company and your in. So you would go with the leader first, then you get the senior leadership team. And then you would teach everybody else on how to do it. Mostly when you're working with the rest of the company, you would actually need to create the majority of the snackable content for them or the fill in the blank process for them to make it easy for them because they they are experiencing the exact same thing. But what they but like anything Seeing is believing. And if you if the leader isn't willing to do what everybody else is being asked to do, it's very unlikely that it's going to become sticky, but it's a great way to find multiplication. Right. So you can do one thing, you know, they all say is, if you if you want to go quick, do it alone, if you want to go far do it together, right. And so, of course, at some point, there'll be a point of multiplying. But usually, that would be like the last step, the first step is just show up. The second step is share rot. The third step is size up, and the next one is scale up.

Mike: That's brilliant advice. I love that, that sequence of growing it and the way that you see, the CEO is actually leading the effort, because I think, quite often organisations, the CEOs, the one that you really have to drag kicking and screaming to the to the party, sometimes

Matthew: Well, again, the reason is, is because they're very protective of their time. And, and they're hyper aware of, you know, the 8020 rule and, and knowing that they need as much leverage as possible. And if you ask them to actually do this on their own, the likelihood of finding success is gonna be very, very small. And the reason why it works so well is because we lead with video, it's their voice, right? It's their body language, it's, it's who they are. If it if you lead with something different, it'd be very hard to write for an individual's voice without them doing it themselves. So that's, that's why it works. And I think that if a marketing team just like wrote for it, it'd be just so many hours in so many bodies, that somebody revisions that it wouldn't have the momentum that you need to be able to be able to get going, it needs to be really, really easy. Just like any good operations person, you know, really good CEO or director of operations or VP of Operations, they really understand that the visionaries and the CEOs are usually very add very, very all over the place that got getting pulled in a million directions that if it's to succeed, it must be easy. You know, like most things in life, like, if it's too complicated, it's too much of a, what we call a Rube Goldberg machine, it might look sexy and fun, and this thing hits this thing and that thing and fires off this thing. It looks awesome. But the reality is, it's probably not going to work because there's just too many steps and too many processes. And it's too slow. To get a result. This is you know, we do a workshop for a month, next month, we do our first interview, and it just starts dripping out right away, you know, so you can just it just really easy. It's got to be simple, simple, simple, simple.

Mike: And I'm sure the CEOs, you know, as you say, they're very protective of their time. So they appreciate simple. Um, I'm actually interested, you know, obviously, when you get to interview CEOs, there must be quite a range. I mean, some must be, I don't want to say boring, but maybe a little conservative in what they're prepared to say. And some, you know, maybe push the envelope a bit. I mean, what's your view about the most effective way to address social media? I mean, should you go out and be controversial and shouty? Or should you be more thoughtful and quiet?

Matthew: I think, for being controversial for the sake of being controversial is is not very helpful. In general, you may get attention, and some people can do that. Well, like if you're Donald Trump, for sure, you can just you know, make shit up and say the opposite of everybody saying to stir the pot and get more attention. But most CEOs, that's not really their their goal. Again, we want to tie it back to what is their signature system? What is their values? What is their mission? What is the vivid vision for the company, and focus on that, also, you know, we don't necessarily need to make it about the CEO or the company. One of the easiest ways to create content and take the pressure off, is to focus focus on your ideal prospects or your ideal clients or your team and make them the hero of the story. Right? So we can and no, everybody loves someone who is actually interested in others or telling other stories or edifying others. So it takes the pressure off and being on you. So a lot of times we can find this just by talking to the clients and asking them some basic information. It's all within them, they just need some of the right prompts to get it to get it out. And to format it in a way that becomes interesting on social media. Now, of course, you know, people on social media when we're in the news feed, we are you know, we are addicted to short form snackable click Beatty content.

So having a good headline is is important. There are some different technical things you need to get down to stop scroll. But remember that that's not where transformation takes place. That's that's the gateway drug into the longer form content. The longer form content is usually where you get the transformation. So this is where you invite people to the workshops or you have a longer form podcast or you have a very amazing playbook or private course or a community that you invite people to you And then how you build trust is consistency within a controlled environment that you owe. So this is just one step of a bunch of things you need to do to make it really well. However, just like a kid, you know, you got to remember kids, when they're learning how to, to eventually run, I don't know, if you have any children, but I've got some whippersnappers here at home, now. They first sit up, then they start to crawl, then they start to walk, then they start to, you know, kind of jog, they almost look like they're kind of half hammered when they're like, four, or five, and then and then you know, and then they eventually start to sprint. And as they get to my kids age, they start doing backflips off the shed in the backyard, and you're like, oh, my god, please stop, like, you're going to kill yourself, right. But the whole thing is about being doing parkour and how cool they are, and how they can climb the house, and that, you know, pole and their stuff. So So you know, when you look at it this way, doing your snackable content, is, is the first step, it's the gateway drug to your journey as a personal brand, as well as the gateway drug for others to get into other awesome marketing that you're doing. And this is where I recommend that most people start is they start with that, that process and locking that down it? Because if you can't lock that down, you're probably not going to lock down the long form content or the community content that controlled form content, right?

Mike: Absolutely. I love that. That process of you know, crawl, walk, run, rather than just try and sprint with the long form content, and then worry about short form afterwards. And I guess another another thing that that, you know, CEOs new to this, will will perhaps wonder about is authenticity. I mean, how honest should you be on social media? I mean, obviously, everybody wants you to be authentic. But at the same time, maybe you shouldn't be admitting all the company's failures, what's your opinion.

Matthew: So people can smell when you are not being authentic. I mean, we could sniff it out Intel and believe it or not, having the occasional omission of mistakes that you've made and shown how you grown and learn from it is very endearing, it makes you very likeable. And I'm pretty sure that most of these leaders already know that and, and do that, privately, it's just a matter of getting comfortable with doing it publicly. And listen, we don't want you to do anything that's going to create a PR disaster for yourself or your company. But there are little things that you can omit and share that can be quite useful and insightful. To let people know that you are that you are a human, just like everybody else, and humans are flawed. You know, like that's, that's what's interesting about them. I mean, if you go and look at any movie anyways, or any kind of story that we get sucked into, it almost always has to do with humans failing at some point and then somehow overcoming or learning from that failure. So this is this is again, baked into our DNA, this is not as difficult or scary as people want to make it out to be.

Mike: I feel very reassured that our failures make us endearing. I think that that's a very positive view on things. I really appreciate your time we've, you know, we're coming up against, you know, the time limit. But one question I've got is for the CoCs, great, they pitch up, it's an hour's time, and they get all this content, but for you, you're doing a lot you're doing the prep beforehand, you're generating all the content afterwards, is this an expensive service? Is that why you you only do CEOs

Matthew: I don't think it's terribly expensive at all. I mean, if someone has to work with us, it's literally only they get started with as little as $2,100 a month to do this. So it's very like you couldn't hire someone internally to do this. And when you think about the video editing and post production, everything else like you would need four or five bodies to be able to do this internally and then you would have to even manage those people and I don't know if any people know who the the rapper Biggie was. But Biggie always said Mo Money Mo Problems but that is not true. It's mo people mo processes, Mo Problems right and so what they need to do is partner with if this is not their core competency here is never going to be his partner with someone like us who's got it locked down to make it seamless and easy because it's not even the money thing. It's really all the other pieces that it's a nightmare that nobody wants. Last Last thing I've ever heard a CEO ever say is I want more people to manage you know? Absolutely not. Right so So again like I don't think it's the money is the issue. No one ever comes to me like that's unaffordable and hard to do. Now, it might be if you are a marketing manager at a company and that's, you know, 1/3 your salary or something like that, that that would be very scary. But again, that's not the people we're usually helping with this particular issue. We're, we're working with high net individuals and people who run successful companies and have budgets and 2100 bucks a month this, they can sneeze at it. I mean, they can spend that at a mastermind dinner with a couple other, you know, C suite individuals.

Mike: Yeah, I mean, yeah $2,000 for, you know, generating that much content around a CEO is amazing value. And I think you are the first person on the podcast to quote Biggie as well. So congratulations.

Matthew: Well, then hopefully some of the some of the CEOs are younger and younger today, they would have grown up with that music so they'll know what it is.

Mike: Yeah, whenever I whenever I quoted musician, all the all the younger people in the company, look at me getting way too old. That's awesome. And I think you're absolutely right. You know, the value of having all these different services combined together is amazing. So if there is somebody listening to this, and they're thinking, you know, actually couple of $1,000 a month to get all this content, get it all created, get the get the ideas. That's a fantastic deal. How would they go about contacting you?

Matthew It's really easy. There's only two places you can reach me, you can either go to automation wolf.com, it spelled exactly the way it sounds. Or you can go to LinkedIn, the only social media network that I'm active on and type in Matthew hunt. That's Matthew with two T's last name hunt, he Wente. And you might need to add automation, Wolf as well in there in the search, and I'll pop up and you'll see me.

Mike: That's amazing. Well, I mean, this has been fascinating. I think we've covered a lot and I love the approach to generating social media content. I'm sure a lot of people think that that's genius when I think of it so thank you so much for sharing your ideas, Matthew, I really appreciate it.

Matthew: Hey, Mike, thanks for having me. I really enjoyed my time with you. Thank you.

Mike: Thanks so much for listening to marketing b2b Tech. We hope you enjoyed the episode. And if you did, please make sure you subscribe on iTunes, or on your favourite podcast application. If you'd like to know more, please visit our website at Napier b2b dot com or contact me directly on LinkedIn.


Beyond the Uniform Podcast Interview

Mike Maynard, Managing Director at Napier recently sat down with Steve Bane, host of The Beyond the Uniform podcast. In this episode, Mike discusses his career journey from engineer to marketing expert and the process of acquiring other businesses.

Listen to the full interview here, or via your favourite podcast app, and don’t hesitate to get in touch and let us know your thoughts.


Electronic Component Show Confirms Seminar Schedule for 2022

The Electronic Component Show (ECS), has confirmed its seminar schedule for the 2022 event.

Taking place on Thursday 19th May at the Oxford United Kassam stadium, the event provides the opportunity for industry-leading manufacturers and distributors to network with design engineers and purchasing professionals. Offering an informative dual seminar program, sessions include:

  • Paul Garner, ABB - Collaborative robots offer big value in a small size
  • Debbie Rowland, Charcroft – Avoiding counterfeit components with quality–led distribution
  • Rhett Evans, Anders - Diagnosis of challenges that OEMs face / The tell-tale signs of successful companies who overcome design challenges
  • Ken Greenwood, Rochester Electronics -  Obsolescence: Not the end of the World

The show will be open from 10am-3pm, and all remaining visitors at 2.30pm will have the chance to win a selection of prizes based on a unique number on the reverse of their name badge.

As ECS moves forward with no postponements in sight, it's clear to see that the events business is starting to recover as we overcome the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. ECS joins a list of shows such as Embedded World and HANNOVER MESSE, which also plan to move forward in the summer, strengthening the positive trend of events returning to provide a safe yet more familiar environment of face to face networking.

ECS is free to attend, and registration is now open. 

 


Paige West to Join Electronic Specifier as Managing Editor

Electronic Specifier will welcome Paige West to the team as Managing Editor at the end of February 2022.

Joining Sam Holland, Kiera Sowery and Beatrice O’Flaherty, as well as Contributing Editors Mick Elliott and Caroline Hayes; Paige will become the first point of contact for all press-released enquiries and content delivery for Electronic Specifier and will oversee the content uploaded to Electronic Specifier's family of publications.

Paige will also become editor of Electronic Specifier Design, which will continue to be sent out digitally, and as supplements for major electronics trade shows throughout the year.

Currently Group Editor at IML Group, Paige is well-known in the industry, having worked at IML for the last 7 years, looking after publications such as DPA, PBSI and Connectivity. 

We look forward to working with Paige in her new role and seeing which direction she will take with Electronic Specifier going forward.


A Napier Podcast: Interview with Emma Valentiner - CanIRank

In this podcast episode, we interview Emma Valentiner, Director of Strategic Content at CanIRank, an SEO software platform that uses AI to provide specific action recommendations.

Emma shares how the platform supports B2B marketers with improving SEO, why it's so important to layer SEO into other marketing activities, and why small search volumes in B2B can drive valuable and qualified leads.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

Transcript: Interview with Emma Valentiner - CanIRank

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Emma Valentiner

Mike: Thanks for listening to marketing b2b Tech, the podcast from Napier, where you can find out what really works in b2b marketing today. Welcome to marketing b2b technology, the podcast from Napier. Today, I'm joined by Emma Valentiner. Emma is the director of strategic content for CanIRank. Welcome to the podcast. Emma.

Emma: Thank you very happy to be here.

Mike: Awesome. Well, great to have you to join us and tell us how we can all rank on Google. But before we get there, you know, I'm really interested, can you give us a little bit of background about your career and how you've ended up with a career in SEO?

Emma: Yeah, so, I think probably like a lot of folks in marketing, it's been a bit of a winding path, I started working in advertising and marketing in around 2004. So been hanging out for a while, I was doing copywriting. And eventually, that took me into working in marketing and startups, that took me into working for a very large corporation doing product content, and from and I was not an SEO at the time, so writing a lot of blog content and a lot of sales type content, but with no understanding of kind of where that fit into the ecosystem of SEO. Um, and then after I left that, I ended up interviewing with Kanye rank and getting this opportunity to learn kind of SEO from the ground up, they have a really great training programme for new employees coming on, you kind of learn about all the different areas of SEO, and it just was a perfect fit for everything that I was interested in and the things that I had done previously. And getting to kind of use that in a way that really helps clients get visibility.

Mike: Sounds great. But then you left and then came back to CanIRank. So tell us a little bit about what happened there and what you learnt in your little holiday from the company.

Emma: Yeah, so I was offered an opportunity to work with a startup that was based in San Diego, and they were doing some really interesting technology around AI. So kind of identifying your ideal customers using this really interesting AI software. So I was an in house SEO for them for about 10 months. And they did a bit of restructuring. And so I was, you know, on the market, again, looking for another opportunity and got in touch with a Kanye rank, folks. And it was just a perfect fit for what they needed at the time and what I thought I could bring to the table. So it was an interesting experience to go from working on the agency side of managing multiple clients and putting together different types of campaigns to doing kind of that in house work. And I think it helps me get a much better understanding of like the b2b challenges for SEO because it is a whole different animal. So I think I can come into my work with Ken, I rank clients with a lot more perspective on those specific challenges for b2b.

Mike: That's fascinating. I mean, is there? Is there something you pick out that you see, agencies or technology suppliers not doing that really would help clients?

Emma: Oh, probably a few things. Um, one big thing that I think a lot of companies struggle with is, you know, b2b, the search volumes around b2b, the the, I'm talking specifically the keywords that matter to your business that are going to drive conversions. They're tiny. So I, you know, I'm a huge fan of SEO, I think it's a really important piece of a marketing campaign. But as a b2b, you have to kind of layer that in with the other aspects that you're doing. And I think a lot of companies see those small search volumes, not realising the cost per click is massive. So they're really great for conversions, but they're like, well, it's only got 50 searches a month, or 70 searches a month, that doesn't seem worth our time. But it can actually drive really valuable and qualified traffic.

Mike: That's a great point. I think, you know, from my point of view, the other thing that a lot of people forget in b2b is you don't need huge numbers. If you look at Napier, we get you know, several 1000, over 5000 visitors a month to our website, we can only deal with about two new clients a month. So we actually care about a very small proportion of the traffic. Is that sort of typical, do you think with b2b Or do you think people just go for the big numbers? Because it sounds good.

Emma: I think that's a problem kind of industry wide in terms of SEO. It's a lot of focus on kind of those marquee keywords like oh, this has 40,000 searches a month. Yeah, but how many relevant people are going to come to your website from those 40,000 Because they're so broad, typically those kinds of keywords that you're getting a lot of traffic that actually doesn't have value for you. And I think that kind of skews your data into terms of what people are looking at on your site, what they're engaging with. And I think those smaller, more qualified, you know, visitors are going to tell you a lot more about who your target audience is and how to best speak to them.

Mike: Definitely. And actually, our websites are, you know, a case in point in that a lot of our traffic goes to a SMART goal generator that writes goals in smart, you know, the smart format. And it's like, I can tell you, virtually none of those people are ever going to be clients of Napier. And most of them are students trying to pass their their various courses. But yeah, chasing volume doesn't make a lot of sense in SEO,

Emma: You are doing good things for students and their goals. So there is a win there.

Mike: Yeah, actually, the truth is, I used to do some guest lecturing, part time lecturing, and actually produced it for the students because I got so tired of them not being able to write smart format for goals. Anyway, I think back back to your career and back to Can I rank so i You're back at Can I rank? And now I'm going to ask you the question. Aren't there enough SEO tools in the world? Why do we need another one,

Emma: I am a huge fan of can I rank all I'll put that out, I use it every day. It is filled with data. So it can feel really overwhelming when you're getting used to it. Because there's so much to look at. And I think that's in general true of marketing, there's a gazillion things that you can do to get your company's name out there and to connect with your people, or your future people. So it's one of the things I really enjoy about can I rank, they have an opportunities feed, that tells you really quickly, I have one content piece that I can do this week, what's it going to be and I can look at opportunities, feed and filter through opportunities that the machine has created for me, here's a keyword that your competitor is targeting that you don't have any content on. So you know, optimizations are also in there as well. And I'm also a big fan of that as a tactic. So I like it, because it gives me the information that I need. And I can run with it. I think a lot of SEO tools aren't quite as good as that like actionable steps, piece of the puzzle. I also frequently use sem rush a lot for the visuals, I love to share their their kind of the keyword graphs. And when I'm reporting with clients, I think it's really easy to understand and see really quickly where you're at with a campaign Moz. Of course, I use Moz. Local a lot to see kind of where brick and mortars are struggling with their internet presence. So I mean, every there are a tonne of SEO tools out there. And they all do certain things really, really well. And there are certain pieces of data that maybe I'm not getting from them.

Mike: Now, you said something really interesting about can I rank because most of the SEO tools have got complex dashboards and things. And you talked about an opportunities feed. What do you mean by that? What does that look like in practice.

Emma: So when you first sign up with CanIRank you enter your website. It also works for agencies. So you could be managing multiple sites. And you'll put in your homepage URL, you'll put in your seed keyword that you're going for probably some competitors. So once the software once that's in there, the software kind of goes and pulls all of the companies that are ranking in that general domain. So if I'm selling a software, it's going to go and pull from my competitors sites and see what keywords they're ranking for. It's going to pull from the the number one rank or the page, one rankers right now and see what they're ranking for. And it's going to score my site based on that information. So it will tell me, okay, compared to competitors, right now, this is your strength and content, this is your strength than con optimizations. This is how you rank in authority. And here's how you're doing and social. So I can tell really quickly, okay, so I'm, I haven't about the same amount of content as my competitors do. But man, they've got a tonne of backlinks, their authority is really high. And I need to focus there. So all of that information is kind of crunched behind the scenes using algorithms I do not understand. But they're magic. And it comes up with this opportunities feed. So you can filter that feed by content opportunities, promotions, opportunities, optimizations opportunities, and that'll just really quickly say, Hey, here's a great idea for a piece of content, it's going to take you roughly this amount of time and this is the keyword target that you want to aim for. And then it will tell you what the value of that is if you write this piece, you have the ability to attract X amount of people to your website a year and drive X amount of traffic value. So super easy to use, especially if you don't have a lot of time.

Mike: Okay, so you talked about three different opportunities. So content presumably is isn't new page, so a new blog post or something? And then can you just talk through the the other two optimization I think there's one other.

Emma: Optimizations and then promotions opportunities, so the optimizations people It will look at your existing rankings and give you ideas for where you can improve them. So you've got a page that's ranking on page two or page three. And with a few tweaks, you can get it over to page one. And so then it will tell you exactly what you need to do add these related terms, use your keyword, this amount of times have this much content on your page, maybe answer these frequently asked questions. So it's really robust in terms of the exact things they're telling you to do, it's not going to be broad, like, you know, use your keyword one time, and maybe use, you know, two or three of these related terms, like it's very specific, you can see in the reporting down to how many times your competitors are using any given related term. So that's really helpful. It gives you the keyword density, like, like I said, it's a lot of data. So it has that in there, it has like high potential pages. So it might be a keyword that's crazy valuable for you, it's really relevant to your your brand, but you don't have a page that's really focused on that keyword, whereas your competitors do. So that one will, it'll bump it up and say this is one that you should focus on. So that's the optimizations piece, there's a corresponding improve my rankings tool within the software that really helps you kind of dig into that. And then there's the promotions piece. And this is probably the piece that I am the least familiar with, just because I don't do a lot of promotions. But we have it connected to like journalists pitches tools. So it'll say, hey, this journalist writes a lot about laboratory software. And since your client does that, you might want to reach out to them and see if you can get, you know, feature with them. Or, you know, here's a guest post opportunity that might be a great fit for you. This corresponding tool for that is promote my content. And I think there's about 20 different strategies that are listed in there that you can pursue. So, especially for promotions, folks, I think it'll it'll be really valuable to bubble up some stuff that they might not think of otherwise.

Mike: So it's amazing. See, you've got a tool that from what it sounds like it's giving you advice based on content you should create or how to drive new backlinks. But it's specific to that keyword is looking at what competitors do. Is that Is that right?

Emma: Yeah. It's specific to the keyword like your seed keyword in your industry. I think that's one of the things that kind of sets can I rank apart from the other tools is that it's very focused on No, not only like your industry, but your website and how you compare to the other folks that are in your industry and or ranking for the terms that you're aiming for.

Mike: That's cool. So, I mean, obviously, you're working with a lot of companies and presumably talking to a lot of companies who are struggling with SEO, which is why they come to any vendor. I mean, why is it that so many companies struggle so much with SEO? Do you think?

Emma: Well, I think as an industry, we don't do a great job for ourselves, we can't, it's kind of positioned as this dark art, with a lot of verbiage that most people are just like, I don't have the time to learn another thing. Um, I think when I speak about it with, with new clients with, you know, folks that I work with on my team, I like to position it as like our job as SEOs is to help a search engine do their job better, they want to give their users the very best information for their query. So as much as we can do that provide that best information for the given query, the better we're going to rank. So like, take all of the like the Voodoo out of it, that at the end of the day, we're helping a search engine do their job.

Mike: That's a really cool way of looking at it. And I mean, you hear a lot about the challenge of ranking and the number of people investing in SEO? I mean, is it getting harder to rank?

Emma: Um, I mean, potentially, I think that there's a lot of a lot more companies are adopting SEO, there's a lot more jobs for in house SEO is I think a lot more like compared to five years ago, 10 years ago, it is as a marketer, as a digital marketer, you're expected to know, at least SEO fundamentals when you take on a job. So I think, in that aspect, we have a lot more people with expertise that are that are working for companies and working to get their companies ranking. And also, you know, SEO, it is it's challenging. Like you'll change something on a site, you'll get a page one it's very exciting, and then your competitor changes something and they take over your space. So it's like a constant, constant dance.

Mike: And I mean, one of the things also we hear about SEO is the wide range of different ways you can appear on the search results page. I mean, how does Can I rank you know, look at those different opportunities, can it pick out opportunities to appear in different places rather than just the organic list?

Emma: There isn't right now. So um, for like, if you look at sem rush, they've got it broken down by like the additional features So you've got like your featured snippet you have or position zero, you've got, you know, image links, you've got frequently asked questions. And can I rank doesn't have that yet they have built out like a Frequently Asked Questions module for that improve my rankings, which I think from a content perspective is really helpful. Especially you're looking at the blank page going, I don't know how to write about this. And that's kind of a good jumping point there. I would love to see the addition of those SERP features, because I think it's, you know, we get so focused on like, I just want to get a page one ranking, which has now become, I just want to get a top three ranking, I just want to get positioned zero ranking. And it's like, there are so many other opportunities to catch somebody's attention. And you know, the old school marketing adage, you have to be in front of somebody X amount of times before they really recognise who you are. So I think any time you can get a SERP feature is going to be valuable.

Mike: But of course, I guess once you start talking about those features, it then gets more complex for people who are perhaps less skilled in SEO.

Emma: Yeah, I would say I think one of the best, best tools that's just out there is using a search engine, like search your your target keyword, search your industry, see what kind of content people are sharing what their page titles look like, what their meta descriptions look like, if you're wondering how they got position zero, go look at their code, and just get a feel for did they format that in a certain way? Did they say that in a certain way that made Google kind of are a search engine in general, pay attention? And give them that spot?

Mike: That's, that's really cool advice. I mean, it sounds, it sounds in a way that you've got to replicate, what can I rank doesn't look at your competitors, rather than try and follow what's deemed to be common knowledge? I guess?

Emma: Yeah, I think it's one of those like, kind of fundamental easy things to do that people often forget about. We're so focused on the data and what the data is telling us. And it was like, you have like, in real time, what a search engine feels is valuable for this query. So why not take advantage of that and see what you can learn from it? Are they looking for transactional pages, informational pages? Is this? Are these all local businesses that are ranking for this query? So there's a lot of value that you can take from just doing a simple search?

Mike: And when you look at SEO, I mean, who do you see as being responsible? Is it is it responsibility of the SEO team? Is it people generating content? I mean, who do you think should be driving the SEO? Or is it or is it everybody,

Emma: I'm really biased, I work with a really great team. And we're kind of everybody has their specialty area. I think it works best when everyone is working together. So I think you know, you have your director of marketing, or your director of SEO, that setting the strategy and then you've got your technical person making sure the website is working, right? Everything looks good core web, vitals are solid, all that fun stuff. You've got your content person that saying, Okay, what content is relevant in this industry that we can create that engages people that are searching for keywords, you've got your optimizations person that's, you know, keeping track of the rankings and looking where those opportunities are? What can we do better here to engage people, and then you've got your, you know, either social or promotions, those kinds of folks that everybody is working together. So if I'm, if I'm optimising a page for sample tracking software, I've got my content person who's writing a couple of supporting blog posts on sample tracking. So what what does a lab need to know about sample tracking and 2021? And then I've got my promotions person who's going to make sure that that blog post is shared in relevant LinkedIn groups or, you know, other forums that are out there, maybe reach out to journalists and say, Hey, we're writing about sample tracking, you might be interested. So I think it works to get much better together when everybody is rowing in the same direction.

Mike: That's cool. I mean, I think one of the challenges I see particularly with our enterprise clients is everybody wants the same thing. But quite often, because of the sheer size and complexity of the website. You've got people who are not SEO professionals, generating content, maybe for blogs and things like that.

Emma: I've never seen that.

Mike: What do these people do? I mean, they're not they're not SEO experts. How can we do a better job?

Emma: I think talk with your SEO team, especially if you're building out new pages for your website. I think we've we have a tendency to silo ourselves specifically for for in house SEOs. You've got your product marketing team, you've got your design team, you've got probably some you know, corporate marketing that's wanting to make decisions and like get everybody at the table, including SEO and say okay, so we understand this is the design, we understand copy would really like this to be their h1. And here's what we're, what our data is telling us would be valuable here because I think you can have the best design in the world. But if nobody's visiting your website, doesn't you know where the value there is going to be hard to sell?

Mike: Yeah, and I think I think that's a great point is the people who are writing a lot of the content who aren't the experts, they actually really want people to read it so that they're desperate for that knowledge. Yeah. So if we go back and talk a little bit about can I rank? I mean, you talked about the different people in, you know, the SEO team? I mean, who is can I rank designed for? Is it designed for, you know, content specialists in the team? Is it designed for people with other roles, or maybe people who are who aren't perhaps SEO specialists,

Emma: It was initially designed for non SEO specialists. So a lot of like, we have a lot of DIY clients, we have a lot of like, smaller agency clients. Because we've all been trained up on it and and understand the data that we're seeing, like it is a you know, it's kind of our go to tool for everything that we do, whether whatever department that we're in, we're using Kenny rank in some format during the day. But I think it's especially for folks that are new to SEO or don't have a lot of time, I think that that's when that opportunities feed really comes into play in terms of like, here's what, what the priority is right now.

Mike: Yeah, I love the fact you sit down and the tool says, this is going to give you the best bang for the buck. I think that that's a great feature of can I rank? So, I mean, we've talked a little bit about the product. You know, it's amazing. I mean, I've had a look at it, and I think there's free trials on the website. But is it expensive?

Emma: Um, it's, I don't know, the price points offhand. I think there's three different tiers. Um, I would say compared to some other tools that I use frequently, it's on the lower end of that, I'm there, like with anything, there is a bit of a learning curve. So I would just let people know there's a Learning Centre on each tool, that's super helpful. So do take advantage of that. But I would say, you know, you'll see some SEO tools that are 100 $150 a month for a single use licence. And that this is not that you can if you're an agency, you can get your whole team on. And I think it's I want to say like 200 a month, but I could be wrong.

Mike: Oh, so actually, in terms of cost, per seat, it's really cheap.

Emma: Yeah. And you share the information. So like, for me, for my clients, we all share the same access to the client data. So because it's based on a machine learning module, like everything, every keyword search that I do, that goes out to the whole team. So even if I'm not, if I'm working on content strategy, even if I'm not talking with the optimizations person, I can see the keywords that they're looking at, and the things that they're tracking and focusing on same with promotion. So it can be really helpful, especially if you're, if you have a busy team, if you have a team that's distributed and your time zones don't quite match up, you still see what's going on in the client account in real time.

Mike: Awesome. Actually, one thing I love that you've only just mentioned, machine learning, it seems like everybody has to mention AI and machine learning when they talk about tools. And and you've not done it in the first answer, which is brilliant. I mean, obviously, there's there's some AI or learning within the tool in order to work out what's what's important. But I mean, it sounds to me, like you kind of hide that and people don't have to worry about it, it's just about getting the results,

Emma: We could probably do a better job of messaging it upfront. But yeah, I think my my focus is on SEO can be really challenging and intimidating for folks that are new to it. And they don't necessarily need to know what's going on behind the scenes or care to know what's going on behind the scenes, they want to know how they can get their website to rank and how they can start their organic traffic going. So I think it does a really great job of that kind of demystifying SEO for folks and you know, finding the like the grow my content tools, kind of our keyword research tool, great opportunities to drive organic traffic with like long tails in there. So I think that's more of the focus on like helping people feel more confident, rather than like, the amazing technology that's happening behind the scenes that does all this stuff.

Mike: I love that. I mean, the grow my content tool, so that that's all about understanding your industry and then working out what people are looking for, you know, a company like yours will be searching for.

Emma: Yeah, so that's, you know, again, if I'm selling software, it's gonna say, Okay, you're in this industry. So people are writing about cloud based software, desktop, software apps, you know, all those kinds of different things and it's gonna bubble up even those longtail terms, so like software suites for laboratory software suites for healthcare, things like that. So it's just kind of like a good brainstorming tool, but you also happen to get the search volume and the value that you might not get otherwise.

Mike: Amazing. That's great. So, I mean, looking forward, you know, I'm interested to know, what do you see as the future of SEO? Where do you think the SEO industry is going? What do people need to know to be successful in two years time,

Emma: I would say to be as focused as possible on giving site visitors the best experience. So if you're writing content for a specific query, be very clear on the information that you're sharing, there is a time to be clever. And sometimes there is a time to just give them the information. So I would say as much as possible, like increase your page engagement include a lot of internal links to other relevant content, that's something I think a lot of companies forget is there's no internal linking. So it's like, I found this great blog post, and I read it, and now I'm done, because there's nowhere for me to go. So that's something I think that that is gonna continue to be important. Um, Google tracks everything, they track your time on page, they track your bounce rate, they track your exit rate. So as much as possible, focus on how you can improve those numbers. So if you're seeing a high bounce, something's not your either your page is loading really slowly, or they're not seeing the information that they expect to see. Or maybe your site design is a little bit old and needs an update. So I think just paying as much attention to the actual user experience, and I in my belief that will bubble up the best content on search engines.

Mike: That's great. That's really good advice. And, and in terms of the content itself, um, you talked a little bit about internal linking, making sure that you give someone somewhere to go after they read the blog post or whatever. Is there any other tips that you have for people generating content, that might help them rank a bit higher?

Emma: I would say I'm a big fan of the content spec. So that's a process that we use for our clients. We'll spend about 45 minutes before before writing a single word on deciding what that keyword is going to be doing research around that keyword. So, you know, what are the page titles look like? What kinds of pages are showing up in Google what common terms are, so I say related terms. So what terms would come up naturally, if I was speaking about this, as a topic, so I mentioned basketball a lot as my example, if I'm talking about basketball, if I want to rank for that, I'm probably going to mention hoops and net, and B ball and Michael Jordan, and you know, the Boston Celtics, all these things that would naturally come up when I'm talking about the topics. So I think, you know, creating a list that content spec has a list of about 10 to 15 terms that we want to work in. And then making sure that we've got really smart headers, so H twos and H threes that are the all the content is really clearly formatted. So it's easy to read, adding images is really helpful just to kind of keep people engaged and on the page. And just think about your own search experience. When you land on a website, looking for information, and you see, you know, four pages of like 12 point, text, nobody, nobody wants to dig into that you want something that's like easy to scan and that you feel engaged with. So, you know, consider your own search habits, when you're doing content for your website.

Mike: That is brilliant advice. I really appreciate that. And we're obviously coming to the end of the session that I guess, you know, is there anything else we should have covered, or anything else you feel, you know, people should know?

Emma: I would say don't be intimidated by SEO, there's a gazillion guides out there that will make it seem really, really challenging. But SEO like there is a tonne of marketing things that you can do. But SEO is really valuable for long term organic traffic. And I know we often call it free. It isn't that it takes time and investment and resources and strategy to get there. But it will serve you for a very long time. I've got clients that i i optimise their page three years ago, it's still driving the majority of their traffic today. So there's a value there.

Mike: Definitely. And I would say you know, try some of the tools as well. I mean, if you look at Can I rank you know, I you log in, there's a free trial. And it just says do this and things will be better. I think that's an amazing tool. It just gives you a list of things that are going to improve performance. So it's amazing. This has been really good. I really appreciate your time. If people have questions what's the best way they can reach you?

Emma: I can be reached at Emma.Valentiner@canirank.com

Mike: That's great. Straight to the email.

Emma: Yeah, I'm terrible with social media. So if you blinked in me, it could be a long time before I get back.

Mike: This is has been an amazing discussion. I think it's really interesting. And a really challenging subject. I mean, lots of people struggle with SEO, particularly people who are working with it, but maybe not the professionals. So I'm sure they will appreciate it. Thank you very much for being on the podcast.

Emma: Thanks very much for having me. It's been great.

Mike: Thanks so much for listening to marketing b2b Tech. We hope you enjoyed the episode. And if you did, please make sure you subscribe on iTunes, or on your favourite podcast application. If you'd like to know more, please visit our website at Napier b2b dot com or contact me directly on LinkedIn.


HANNOVER MESSE Reschedule Dates for 2022

HANNOVER MESSE 2022, has been rescheduled and will now take place from 30th May-2nd June 2022, due to the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases.

With previous experience showing that Summer is an ideal time for face to face events, HANNOVER MESSE has chosen these dates to ensure as much safety as possible for all participants. Due to the concentration of events in the summer months, plus vacation times, the industrial fair has been reduced from five to four days for 2022 only. HANNOVER MESSE 2023 will resume its normal five-day schedule in April.

Wolfgang Weber, Chairman of the ZVEI Management Board commented "HANNOVER MESSE is the world's most important industrial showcase for our companies, so the new date is correct given the current circumstances. We are convinced that in the summer we will reach a larger audience interested in Industrie 4.0 and its contribution to sustainability. With our innovations in automation, digitalization, electrification, and energy efficiency, the electrical and digital industry is guiding the industrial transition to a climate-neutral circular economy. We want to show the broadest possible audience what this path can look like, because we can only master this challenge if we work together. HANNOVER MESSE offers the perfect setting for this".

With the trade show focusing on the topics of digitalization and sustainability, the postponement from April to June should allow several more members of the industry to arrange travel to attend the show. With no digital alternative in place, it seems organizers of trade shows are trying to move forward as normal as they can, and provide exhibitors and visitors with the pre-COVID trade show environment which has been deeply missed over the last couple of years.

We look forward to seeing the event take place, and the positive response we are sure the show will receive.

 

 


EETech Announces Industry Tech Days for 2022

EETech has announced the dates for its third annual Industry Tech Days event, which will be taking place from September 19th-23rd 2022.

The five-day event is hosted on the All About Circuits website and is the largest virtual trade show and conference for the electronics industry.

Last year's event was a huge success, with Industry Tech Days achieving a global presence with attendees from 210 countries. With 97% of visitors surveyed post-event stating that they would return the following year, live sessions also generated 14,000 leads, indicating that 1 in 3 attended a live session.

It's great to see that Industry Tech Days is continuing to grow, and we look forward to what the event will provide in 2022.

For more information on how you can exhibit or sponsor, please contact an EETech sales rep.

 

 


A Napier Podcast: Interview with Ike Singh - Social27

In this podcast episode, we interview Ike Singh, Co-founder and CEO at Social27, a virtual and hybrid events platform.

Ike shares how event platforms can accelerate revenue, how Social27 uses an AI recommendation engine to recommend content to the right people, and why he thinks there needs to be a change in the way we deliver content due to COVID-19.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

Transcript: Interview with Ike Singh - Social27

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Ike Singh

Mike: Thanks for listening to marketing b2b Tech, the podcast from Napier, where you can find out what really works in b2b marketing today. Welcome to the latest episode of marketing b2b technology, the podcast from Napier. Today I'm joined by Ike Singh, who's the co-founder and CEO of social 27. Welcome to the podcast Ike.

Ike: Thank you so much, Mike, for having me. It's a pleasure.

Mike: So you're into virtual and hybrid events in social 27. So if you want to give me just a quick overview of what social 27 does, and where your market is.

Ike: Certainly, Mike. So yeah, social 27. We focus on all sorts of events these days is primarily virtual events. But certainly a lot of our customers are planning for hybrid events in the very near future. Are we all provide a platform focused on providing the content, matchmaking and networking, which is powered by AI, and also a pretty robust Expo solution so that people can actually find amazing solutions and services in the ecosystem? So it's all about really connecting people, building communities and the big factor around accelerating revenue, the revenue cycle? So I mean, we'll talk more about that in just a bit. Yeah.

Mike: Fascinating. I mean, I'm intrigued to know, you know, a little bit about yourself, how you got here, what your career was like, and why you decided that events was the place to be?

Ike: Okay, certainly, Mike. So I'll go back a little bit. So I did about eight years at Microsoft, that was starting around 2000. You know, and when I was at Microsoft, I actually did a bunch of events, I used to work in the global partner marketing teams, so I would be on aeroplane every two weeks, somewhere in the world, it was a great time to see the world, but also meet lots of people. But what I found was that events certainly did not have the best ROI, you're spending a lot of money going everywhere. Sometimes you'd find like 500 people at an event and sometimes 50 people, you know, so just, you know, it was just all over the place. So I think for me, it was more around being able to build something which would bring people together, irrespective of where they were located. But also kind of be able to extend the in person events, you know, the so that if even if there's an in person event, the people who can't come there can still somehow participate. So that was what I left with it with Microsoft, you know, and then around 2012 was the first version of our virtual events platform. I'll be honest, it worked for about a year or two years or so but did not go where I wanted it to go. Just because I think the technology wasn't there yet. Streaming was really expensive. At that time, it was only the very, very big companies who could afford it. So we didn't get as much traction as I wanted. So then I kind of did a few different things. You might check them out on my LinkedIn, I've been all over the place. And then in 2019, is when we kind of came back to the board on our side and said, Look, there is a lot of advancements that have happened in from a technology perspective, streaming, as well as AI is becoming more real, we can actually use some of this stuff, you know, which is provided by the big cloud vendors. So we re architected and created a new version of our platform. And that is what is in market right now, since the last year and a half, two years. That's kind of the backstory.

Mike: And I'm really interested when you decided to go back to that business. And you know, I guess trade again, with the new technology, was there something specific that that drove you to do that? Was it something you were seeing in the market? Or was it a particular aspect of technology?

Ike: Certainly. So whenever it comes to b2b, I always think about how do we use technology and or just do stuff in our daily lives as just regular human beings, you know, so what I refer to is, as the consumerization of IT is what is kind of happening in the world right now. So a lot of the experiences that we have in our daily lives, we also want some of those same experiences at work. So what I was seeing, as a paradigm shift in the last few years was how people consume content and how people collaborate. You know, so what are events? Right? I mean, events are all about consuming content and collaboration. That's what they're all about networking. So consuming content is equal to Spotify is equal to Netflix, Amazon, you know, movies were prime. So the whole point behind some of these content consumption patterns that we see in the world right now, as in our personal lives, there's one thing which is very clear among all of these, that is that they provide us with tonnes and tonnes of content, but then they also provide us with recommendations and help us personalise our experience. So give me a lot but pay system, please understand what I want and give me exactly what I want. You know, so I don't have to waste my time, you know, just finding things right. So that was the kind of the North Star that we were going for, which was like how can I create an event perience where the event isn't in the middle, and the people are kind of like circling around it like, you know, shift from one room to the other. I think it's more about the, the human being being in the middle, and the events circling around the human being in terms of what they want, just like it happens in our daily lives with Spotify, and with everything else. And then plus the collaboration piece was more around LinkedIn for that matter, right. So think about if you could put LinkedIn from a collaboration online collaboration, perspective and networking perspective, and add some of that content consumption, aka Spotify style. That's exactly what we set out to create. And we've done that and our customers love it.

Mike: That's fascinating. It sounds like there's, I mean, there's lots of elements there in terms of the delivery of content, it says terms, one is delivery, which pretty streaming has become much easier. But you also talk about the AI in terms of being a recommendation engine, I'm, I'm really interested because historically, with physical events, we've not really had the AI recommending it. So I mean, do you see that as being your big, unique selling point for hybrid events, as well as online events?

Ike: Absolutely, Mike. So again, what the experiences that I believe in again, irrespective of our platform, right, so the whole goal is to give people the opportunity, especially in a business environment to get to what they want as fast as possible. You know, you hear things like Netflix binge, but believe me, nobody wants to binge on event, you know, b2b event videos. So the point is, you know, you have to get them to what they need to go to really, really fast. So the goal is to really understand who they are, you know, and there's lots of information available for that particular purpose. There's third party data, but in many cases in our environment, we actually create, give the opportunity to people to also self select some of those things, just like on Spotify, I'll give that example one more time. So as you go on Spotify, you choose your genres of music, that you're interested in soft rock, but I also like hip hop, okay, well, you come in there, and you choose certain categories of that you're really interested in, and then we kind of based upon that information, their actions, plus, based upon some of the information from their second party and third party data, we were able to pull together some pretty amazing recommendations. So that just really kind of helps, you know, reduce the friction, in terms of getting them to exactly what they're looking for. And as they like, start liking things in there, our algorithm starts sharpening its recommendations accordingly.

Mike: And I mean, this is kind of hard. But do you see your recommendations as like, showcasing interesting content that people might not have necessarily looked at before? Or is it more about removing the irrelevant content?

Ike: I think it is, the first one is more around giving them recommendations around what we think they might like, because it's also again, be put them into a cohort in the backend with other people who have similar profiles, you know, and it's just like, hey, this, there's 1000 other people who really liked these sessions, I think there are similar to you. So you might like this as well. So yes, and then again, the the recommendations become better as we see their actions inside. Right. So that's a starting point. But then it's also a lot to do with their own actions. So yeah, that's how that works.

Mike: Fascinating. So one of the things I've seen is that, you know, with COVID, particularly, obviously, a lot of stuffs moved online, but in general, companies have tended to go towards easier content webinars. And a lot of the event organisers have actually, you know, to some extent shut down during COVID. I mean, how do you see things coming back? Do you see events being run by large enterprises? Or do you see it going back to trade show organisers?

Ike: So I think, irrespective of who runs these events, I think what needs to happen is that there needs to be a change in how we think about delivering content. Events are just again, one more way to deliver content, right? So again, I'm just going to go a little bit broader, because I know your audience is not just events, right? They're more than that. So but delivering content. So now right now, in most cases, you're delivering content, mostly online, you know, and it will continue because people do want access to you know, content easier faster whenever they are variant of the or any device, all that fun stuff, right. So the point is, when it comes to in person events, and or virtual events I from based upon every everybody I've talked to, in my industry, as well as among the bunch of CMOS that we have from our customer side, these are companies all over the world, right? What they are telling us very clearly is that going in the into the future in the near future and onwards, every event is going to have a virtual component, you know, and yes, some of them very few of them might be in person only, but mostly everything is going to have some virtual component because people are used to it now. They want it and also the value that most corporations as well as exhibitor, exhibitor companies have found like the scale that they can achieve with, you know, some of this having a virtual component attached to it. So how we think about the world in the near future is that every event will have pre, during and after phase, in the pre phase, everyone is virtual.

And I think most organisations who are doing events, irrespective of their company or their a big event company, whatever be, they should put a bunch of that 100 level intro content online before the actual event happens. Why would you want to rent out a bunch of rooms and pay so much money for just delivering intro level PowerPoint doesn't make any sense. And nobody enjoys the nine to five on those uncomfortable chairs, looking at PowerPoint, right? So the goal is to achieve Do it fast, get it done online before the actual event happens, Spot the minds of the people, get them interested in, you know, the value of what's going to get delivered, and then also get them networking. So once you are delivering that content, people are already going to be there they meet others who are similar to them. So that once they go to the actual event, that is the question is not Oh, what do you guys do? Because that's the one question that's asked a billion times at every event, there's that's just such a waste. If they should know that intro stuff should happen pre event, during the event, rolling up your sleeves or getting deeper into the content, attending some exclusive workshops and things of that kind. You're having your side meetings with people you've already met before you go into the booths where you've already seen the demos before, right?

So it just completely changes the game. And you find a lot more value in person. And so for us, the way we think about events is let's take the events away from being email list generators, because that's what they are today. That's all you get from an event is an email list from that email list generation two more like revenue acceleration, where you actually getting business done not asking what do you do? Right? So that's all that what do you do sure happened in the in the pre event phase, and then post event is all about, you know, seeing some of the content you might have missed out on and or reconnecting some of those people and having a connection always on community until the next event happens, you know, so it's kind of like, that's our approach and strategy towards hybrid. And a lot of our customers are very aligned to that.

Mike: I love that idea of thinking a lot about before and after the event. I think that's, you know, that's something that online can give us that we really couldn't do before events were becoming hybrid. So that's great. In terms of, you know, one of the challenges of virtual events, I mean, one of the biggest complaints I hear is about networking, you mentioned there working, where, quite often it's very easy to network with people who want to sell you something very hard to network with anyone who's, you know, from your point of view, an interesting contact? I mean, have you seen this? And what do you see event organisers doing to overcome that problem?

Ike: Now, certainly a very, very valid question I, you know, I do say this many times, I'll repeat it one more time. It's not like that buyers don't want to buy, it's the process, the process of buying, especially in the upper mid market, and the enterprise is pretty tedious. I think it's tedious even feel buying, like, anything for your personal life. I mean, you go to a bunch of reviews and check out a bunch of videos. I mean, that's what people do. So it's that process that has the friction in it. Buyers want to buy it, that's what they've been given by a charter by their boss go buy me XYZ, you know, solution. It's the they have to kiss those 100 frogs to find the prince. That's where the problem is, right. So now, as the event owner, slash, you know, the platform, there is tonnes and tonnes of information that I have on both the parties, the buyers and the sellers. So I think the what I could do best for the buyer is first of all Q rate, what the kind of people I can connect them with. So we are many solutions and ways to do that. Yes, the recommendation engine certainly helps.

But then we do a further curation, where we do something called Online speed networking, in which you know, there's a, for example, you might be in the market for, you know, I'm looking for a CRM solution for healthcare. So you know, the, the event owner will find you eight or 10, so called solutions and partners who want to talk to you, and they'll be given three minutes on a quick video call. And you talk to them. And if you like someone, you continue the conversation beyond that, right. So that that's the kind of like do your pitch and then see how it goes? So curated? I think experiences for networking will certainly help. The next thing I think, from my perspective of the sellers is, well, maybe there isn't any curated stuff happening at all, networking, speed networking, what else do I do? Well, it's all about giving them an access to the information. So let's say out of those 5000 people at this event, here's the 50 people that have the highest propensity on what you're trying to sell. So basically, that is an interested party, because all they've been doing is looking at content and meeting people around that topic area. It's they love working for home solutions that are compliant with the healthcare system. Great. So that's what they're looking for. Don't send them a cybersecurity ebook, send them exactly the one pager on that solution, and it will strike. So that is the kind of information we're able to provide to both the parties where it becomes relevant in terms of having that connection. It's not a spray and pray kind of style stuff that happens mostly in events right now.

Mike: That's awesome. And I love the idea of that speed dating because I think that reflects very much an in person event where you could have two minutes talking to someone you You know whether you're a fit or not, and you either continue or you move on. I love that idea. So I'm moving on. I mean, one of the things I'm interested in is companies running their own events and how much work is involved? Because obviously, if you're looking to create the event and the pre and post event experience, do you think that the bar has been raised for what people are expecting from events in b2b now?

Ike: Yes, the bar has been raised, I will not say it's been raised, essentially, I think that the bar is a little different, you know, so it's, there's been some additions to it. So the whole point out here is that still I've seen over the last year and a half, since people have really gone in with virtual events, because of COVID. They're still doing what used to happen in E commerce back in the day, where, you know, people would take their, their catalogue book thing, and you know, just take pictures of that and put it on a website and say, Here's the phone number, call me if you want to buy something. Now, that was the beginning of E commerce, right, but then became Amazon, the recommendation engines, and you know, everything else in between. So that is where the event work needs to go as well. You cannot just take your offline content format, we're gonna do three days, I'm gonna do 50 sessions at the same time. And that's what we're going to do. Like, why would you do that? It seemed I mean, there's no, you know, there's no limit on how long you can have this thing. There's no limit on rooms that you can have, why would you bother, like, just change the thing? And next thing is around the time, it's like, oh, we'd normally do 45 minute sessions. That's what we should always do online as well. Well, nobody listens to anything 45 minutes online. I mean, yeah, if they're sitting on a chair, in your convention centre, and they are your so called captive audience, because they flew in there, and they stuck there for three days, they might do it, but they'll be on their phone for the most part. So the point is, let's understand that we have to start looking at the best practices from the digital world. We're living in the world of tick tock and Instagram right now. You know, and so the goal is, Listen, give them content, which is, which is very much in tune with the digital world.

Best example could be TED Talks. The TED talks are the best, you know, most watched content online, there's a format to it, but 15 ish minutes, not super salesy. Hardly any PowerPoints, and yes, let's do that 15 minutes session. Plus, you can also do your deep dive a one hour session, as a as a link, you know, so they, if they want to go super deep, they can go there. So those are some of the things that we just talked to our lot of our customers about. So the bar has not been raised, it's just that we have to start thinking differently, the medium is different. The ways that people are interacting and looking at all this stuff is different. And I mean, always listen to people saying using the word zoom, fatigue, and so forth. And people always say, well, people are kind of like zoom fatigue already. I don't think anybody wants to stuff anymore. And I always say to them, Have you ever heard the term tick tock fatigue, or Netflix fatigue or Instagram fatigue? No, people watch, look at their screens all day, they have no problem looking at screens, they just don't want to look at bad content. They look at they're used to looking at good content. So guys, I mean, come on, everyone, please, let's rethink this thing. And let's not be so lazy.

Okay, so the goal is, and then one more thing I want to bring up is the best thing about online is participation from the audience. Okay, so now a traditional event, or any of those kinds of events that happened as we choose, like, few people, which are roughly about two to 5% of the entire audience, and they're given the podium and 95% plus of the people just sitting there, like kindergarten kids looking at them. Right. So the point is, that's wrong? Why are we wasting the collective intelligence of this massive community. So with online and the way online works, it's all about participation. So let those chosen few speakers ignite that fire. They're just the spark, they're not the fire, the fire is the community, and so have a bunch of avenues and give the opportunity for the rest of the audience to actually chime in. And they can do their own, like small sessions in there. Right. So we have the ability, for example, in our platform for anybody to start a six person or a 30 person, mini session on any topic that they want, again, so aligned with the you know, the bigger topics or the event, you know, but the goal is that, you know, they can start their own mini sessions inside there. So now you've got, you know, hopefully more than 5% of the people contributing content, and it's coming from the community. And that is certainly more interesting. So there's two good parts about it. Number one, the you don't have to work as harder. So it's not like oh, it's online, I have to produce this whole new kind of content. No, you don't, you have to just do what you do. Do it in an online format, but give the mic back also to the audience so they can add as well. Right. And that will create an amazing event. And yes, it's not going to be a bunch of work from your side. If Instagram and or Tik Tok were supposed to create all the content themselves, they would have, I don't know a team of a billion people working there. They don't The point is, that's the new word. Let's look at that. Let's not just, you know, put our heads in the sand and pretend it's you know, 1984 it's not you know, so let's let's move on. You know, that's a That's brilliant.

Mike: I love the idea of that kind of unconference approach where, where the the delegates can actually form their own events. I mean, leading on from, you mentioned bad content. I think a lot of b2b companies over the last year and a half have really struggled with exhibitions. So where exhibitions have gone virtual. Typically the the format's are not very inspiring, and there's not very much interaction and generally speaking, the, the quality of leads is pretty poor. I mean, what do you think's going wrong? And how do you think we can fix it?

Ike: Okay, again, very good question, Mike. So quality of laser start with that, in the past, you know, both nauseous in the past, and generally traditional style events, you go there, you collect a bunch of business cards, you call them leads, and you come back home, and you put that into a Marketo, and you start dripping them. So the question is that the number of leads, so call him at a collector, maybe 100 cards with everybody you met at a coffee shop, you know, everybody met at the drinks, you know, Stan, and whoever came to your booth. Now, I've got 100 leads from there. And look at the all of them are directors and CVPs. Well, we all know how many of those people actually do a deal with you, maybe 1%, maybe five, you're really lucky, right? I mean, I've been to so many events, I know that rice representing Microsoft. So I mean, it was not too bad.

The point is, it's the way the virtual, you see those leads in front of you then in there, and you're able to measure more. So that's the reason why people are feeling this, like, oh, the Vert the leads are not great, well, just depends. I mean, brilliant. Blimey, in most cases, they were the same before. But then the best thing about works alone and or hybrid on that other side also is that, as I said earlier, the ability to create those experiences where you can curate on both sides of the audience and give them the right connections to each other. I think that is something which a lot of the event owners have to really take onus off. Again, I don't want to put people on the, you know, bid on the on point for this. But mostly in traditionally, the event owners have all been about, hey, I've got all these people coming, this 5000 People coming there, the booth is, you know, $50,000 come in, and you figure it out after that, it has no responsibility whatsoever for anything, and you just take the money, right. So the goal, I think now, because everything is so much more transparent, but digital, you can measure things better. So the point is that it's all going to come out.

So you have to have, you know, an experience that you have to work for you. Because he as the event owner, you're the only person who actually knows both the parties, you got to connect them in the best possible way using technology, right. So I think the old event owners have to step up their game just a bit, you cannot just say I have an event. So give me money, I think it's all about all MLOK more to do with giving them real value. The other thing, I think also is, from a digital perspective, I really believe in micro transactions. So for example, in the traditional event world, you would say, Okay, you got to pay me $2,500 to come in here, otherwise, you can't come and what's gonna happen there? Well, here's 10 pictures of amazing speakers, that's what's gonna happen. And the rest is up to you. You know what, now in the digital world, it's not like that, if you go somewhere, you you know, you engage a little bit you like it, you pay a little bit more, you like it more, you pay a little bit more. So I think that whole micro transaction has to come to the virtual world and hybrid events world as well, where you get access to, you know, keynotes and the basic stuff. But then if you want to indulge in some of that matchmaking, some of that, you know, speed network, and you just pay elaborate extra, you find value a little bit more extra, you know, and that way everyone feels the value. So yes, everyone, from event owner perspective will have to really be more responsible for what they're doing. And from the event, you know, attendee perspective, I mean, I think we will get a better value going forward.

Mike: That's fascinating. So it sounds like you know, one of your messages is flexibility. And the other one is around, really trying to curate things and using AI to make sure that people get the right content. So tell me, how does social 27 achieve this in practice?

Ike: Yeah, so again, we are still the platform, I don't have all the control or the content that comes in. But again, I'm very lucky to have some very amazing customers. I mean, the kinds of customers I have Microsoft, Salesforce Capgemini, you know, the UN and, and so forth. We have lots of really, really amazing customers, and most of the customers that we are dealing with are digitally advanced, because they've been doing digital for a while, you know, and so the point is, these companies already have people in their teams who understand digital. And so it is easier when we talk to them or some of these best practices, that they actually believe in them and want to do something about it. I then yes. And so I think as a as a platform, our main responsibility is to first of all Yes, provide the best possible service from a platform perspective, but then also share a lot of best practices from across our entire audience and also connect our customers to each other. You know, where they can share best practices, right?

So we do our best try to do our show at least in that particular regard, I will still say that, um, there is still a lot more work to do, you know, the tools are there. But I think people, you know, are slowly, slowly getting warmed up, you know, to this whole idea of doing things a bit differently. And not just using events as number of registrations, but after using events as how much influence did we create for revenue perspective, right. So I think events have are traditionally the highest, or the biggest line item on the marketing budget for the expense part of it, the ROI certainly isn't very clear. And the point is, in this world, where we hardly get any response on emails, so using events just for email list generation is probably not a good idea. So use the events, because that is the only place where the customer is out in the open, you know, otherwise, they're going to go back and hide behind their desk and never answer email. So the point is, they're out in the open, give them what they want, understand their needs really, really clearly give them the option of finding the right people making the right connections and do a lot more off your revenue. You know, cycle can happen in the event itself, it does not need to be just an email list, right? There's a lot more conversations demos, you know, giving them the ability to just kind of do their own thing in there, you know that I think all lot of those things will help. But yes, going back to your question, yes. Even though I have amazing customers, I think all of us are trying slowly, slowly to kind of unfold this new world.

Mike: And so I mean, you mentioned some really impressive customers there. But do you think Virsh events are just going to be the domain of these huge enterprises? Or are smaller, midsize b2b companies able to organise their own events successfully?

Ike: I think it is everyone. I mean, just I mean, again, look at the spectrum of things, right. So in reality, if you really think about it, online events, or online experience of this kind is the domain of individuals right now. It's the people on Youtubers, it's the Instagramers. And everybody else, I mean, there's a bunch of kids doing pet dog videos all day. So the thing is, it's actually the domain of the individual person, the tools are available, they're pretty cheap. I mean, they're very, they reach very far. So that I think it really comes down to is all of us embracing this new medium. I think very found some of the hesitation has been around the control that you know, a lot of the teams, a league, legal teams, and so forth, they have on every word that goes out, right, actually. So in reality, I think there's more hurdles in the upper mid market in the enterprise space, because the control on what content has to go out, versus, you know, the SMB space, I think the the small and medium businesses, well, they don't have a crazy team of lawyers sitting there, you know. So the point is, you know, I mean, learn from, you know, from what people are doing individually every day on the social media platforms, I'm even seeing so much of that happen on LinkedIn right now. There's a lot more people a lot more waster. So I think it's just all about, you know, getting out there, like the what we're doing right now, Mike, the point is, you know, just get get to get your word out there talk to people, I think there'll be, there'll be some interest, hopefully, especially from the if you make, you know, a sense to the relevant audience.

Mike: Fascinating. So, I mean, if somebody is excited by this, they want to, to launch their own event. I mean, what's the best approach? I mean, is it just sign up for the platform and build your event? Or are there better, more effective ways to make use of social 27?

Ike: As far as Social27 is concerned? I mean, yes, you know, I think the best way to be is, you know, just come to our website and just, you know, fill out a contact us form, maybe we'll do a demo, understand your needs, and then give you the right solution that works best for you. Again, we work with events that are 100 people and events that are nearly 100,000 people, you know, so it just depends upon what you're trying to do. For us, again, the goal is to have a long term relationship. So you know, all of our agreements are more or less than the you know, and we'll arrange and we find the best possible package that works for your organisation now.

Mike: Amazing. So get in contact on the website. If people have specific questions about what you've said today. I mean, is there a way for them to contact you on LinkedIn, LinkedIn, perhaps?

Ike: Absolutely. I mean, I'm on LinkedIn every day, you know. So the point is, please send me a quick message on LinkedIn more than happy to answer any questions and or discuss anything that might be of interest.

Mike: This has been great. I mean, I've really enjoyed it. I love I love the focus around improving the quality of the content and the fact that actually, it doesn't have to be more work because the expectations in terms of the length of time is probably shorter for for each presentation. So I think there's a lot there that that's really positive.

Ike: No, absolutely. Mike. I think it's the new world. And again, it was already coming. We just were dragging our feet, you know, so I think it's just a Yeah, it's here now. So let's, let's get started all of us. Yeah.

Mike: Thanks so much for being on the podcast. I've really enjoyed it.

Ike: Thank you so much, Mike. It was an absolute pleasure. Thank you.

Mike: Thanks so much for listening to marketing b2b Tech. We hope you enjoyed the episode. And if you did, please make sure you subscribe on iTunes or on your favourite podcast application. If you'd like to know more, please visit our website at Napier b2b dot com or contact me directly on LinkedIn.


embedded world 2022 Postponed till June

Organizers of embedded world have announced that the show will be postponed to June, to allow exhibitors and participants to plan with confidence, due to recent uncertainty regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now taking place from 21st-23rd June 2022, the trade fair will hold both the conference and exhibition in parallel, with key topics including the current state of research and development, open-source solutions and secure connectivity. The trade fair will also address themes of current interest, such as RISC-V and solutions to problems where chip shortages are evident.

Benedikt Weyerer, Executive Director at embedded world, commented "By deciding at an early stage to defer embedded world 2022 until summer, we are meeting the wishes of many exhibitors and enabling them to plan with confidence. We are very grateful for the many constructive conversations with industry representatives, which provided significant encouragement for this decision. Together with the exhibitors, we are looking forward to seeing the international embedded community again in Nuremberg from 21st to 23rd June."

The 2022 event will also feature a digital offering, providing global visitors with digital components of the trade fair via the talque platform. This will include showcasing new products and innovations, as well as product presentations and lectures on various topics and application examples.

Although a digital element is available for the 2022 event, it seems that the focus is on ensuring that embedded world can return safely and securely in a face to face format. With the decision made to postpone to accommodate industry expectations, it's clear to see that both exhibitors and participants support this decision to ensure an even more successful trade fair in 2022.

Here at Napier, we are delighted to see the return of embedded world as a face to face event and look forward to attending the show later on this year.