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.

 

 


A Napier Podcast: Interview with Chris Willis - Acrolinx

In this podcast episode, we interview  Chris Willis, Chief Marketing Officer at Acrolinx, an AI-powered software that improves the quality and effectiveness of enterprise content.

Chris shares his journey to joining Acrolinx, his top tips for content generation, and how the platform helps increase the alignment and consistency of content for an organization.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

Transcript: Interview with Chris Willis - Acrolinx

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Chris Willis

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've got Chris Willis, who's the CMO for Acrolinx. Hi, Chris. Welcome to the podcast.

Chris: I'm Mike. Thanks for having me. I'm excited to be here.

Mike: So Chris, you've done some interesting things in your career. Can you talk about, you know, what you've done and how you've ended up at Acrolinx?

Chris: Sure. I think, you know, interestingly, I started my journey in technology, in web development. So not so much the traditional marketing track, started with light coding moved into some Java user interface experience. And that moved me to Europe, I ended up living in the Netherlands. And while I was there working for KPMG, I shifted to an account manager role. Because that's what people that develop front off user interface experiences often do is I'm going to go and sell in Europe. And when I moved back back to the US, I've got some light development, I've got some sales, moved into product management. And then one day at a company, I was at the room spun. And my corner of the room was marketing. And I was attracted to that. Because from a creative background, it allowed me to do interesting things to drive real world results, quickly learned that measurement is super important, the only way that you're going to get budget from anybody is if you can prove value. So became very data driven. And since then, have been the CMO at four different companies. And in addition to that, just because it's fun dimension, I'm also a crossfit coach. So lots of interesting things going on.

Mike: Yeah, I saw that. And I realised that actually, I'm a little out of shape. So maybe I'll talk to you about training afterwards. Perfect. So I mean, Acrolinx isn't necessarily one of the best known marketing tools, can you just briefly explain what it does.

Chris: So we're AI powered software that improves the quality and effectiveness of enterprise content. And what I mean by that is, it captures a business's writing guidelines, whether it's an entire organisation, or a department, or even a team catches those guidelines, the way they want to write content, and make sure that everybody that writes content aligns with those guidelines. So think, quality, brand compliance guidelines, so it can be correctness, that it's written correctly. It's the right grammar, the right spelling, but it can be consistency, it can be scannability. from a brand standpoint, tone of voice, the way that you want to communicate the level of liveliness or formality to your content, the clarity levels of of your content, who are you writing for? What level of education does that reader have? And can you write to that clarity level, in addition to things you would expect, like brand terms and brand language, and then from a compliance standpoint, things we don't say, you know, depreciated terms, inclusive language, legal terms, and being able to in a first draft guide writers to write that way. It is essentially increasing the alignment, and singularity of the voice of the content for an organisation.

Mike: So I guess, as marketers, one of the first things we worry about when we hear about these kinds of systems that control what's written is, you know, is it restrictive and Acrolinx grew out of R&D in Germany, which perhaps is not best known for its freedom in terms of writing. You know, so why did it come from Germany? And does it really restrict what people can do when they're writing?

Chris: Okay, two questions. So why did come from Germany, British founder living in Switzerland, doing his PhD programme in Germany, working with a DFK AI, which is Artificial Intelligence Lab. That's why it came out of Germany. But the other reason is, because the genesis of this business really is working with large European product manufacturers around aligning consistency across their technical documentation and product manuals. So think in terms of, you know, on a product manual, you might talk about how to connect a battery on page one, page 36, page 372, and elsewhere. And can we be consistent about how we talk about connecting a battery? So it made sense that this was started and lives headquartered in Germany, based on the need for that kind of governance inside manufacturing businesses. As to the second part of the question. We don't make decisions for writers So the guidelines are there, and we provide them. Let me give you an example. In my last business, we were a testing company, we were a mobile software testing company who sold to DevOps. Because we sold the DevOps, we didn't want to use the word test. We weren't used to word quality. DevOps folks don't see themselves, developers don't see themselves as QA testers, they're building quality software.

Now, I can't even tell you what we did without using the word test. When writers in my organisation would create content, undoubtedly, they would use the word test all over that content. What we do, what agrilinks will do is go in and say You said test, did you mean to because what we generally say is quality. And it's now up to the writer to say, but actually, in this case, I did mean test. Or, you're right, this is customer facing content, where I'm talking about an idea of quality, I'll shift this to quality, we have the ability to do that change autumn, automatically, we can automate that process. But because of the creative aspect of writing, we can't always know what you meant, what the context is. So we can guide you to align, we can guide you to be better, we can guide you to be within those guidelines. But we don't want to take those draconian measures of just changing it for you, because that could dramatically change what you mentioned. Right?

Mike: That's interesting. So I mean, Acrolinx is actually if you like working with the writer of the writer produces their content, rather than checking finished pieces.

Chris: It can do both. So there is a sidebar that runs within any authoring environment. So you could open up Word and have your sidebar, obviously, Google doc sidebar, but Adobe products, Madcap flare wherever you're creating your content inside CMS systems, for instance. And so as you write, you can check your content, and it comes back and says, Hey, this is really hard to read. Here's some reasons why. And what you get is essentially a scorecard. And that scorecard will take you through your quality flags. This is written incorrectly from a consistency standpoint, this isn't working for us clarity level, you this unclear hard to read of your off tone of voice, please use these words, don't use these words, and you end up with a score. And that score represents your global alignment to that piece of content. You're also getting each piece of guidance and saying these are the changes you need to make. So you can write, write, write, check, go back and make changes and see your score improve. We also have companies that use the product completely automated. So write write, write, write, write check in to a repository, and let's say overnight, that content is checked by accurate links, and a scorecard is delivered alongside it.

Mike: So effectively, you know, Acrolinx, is understanding the content, I guess that's the AI bit and checking against certain rules or requirements. And how much effort is involved in setting up the rules as to what constitutes a particular companies style.

Chris: So there's, there's a couple different ways that we manage that capture process. One is a company knows it. So the way that I think about it is that every owner of content, whether it's at the enterprise level, or in the silo, whether it's in tech docs, or marketing, or wherever, everybody has a whiteboard, and that whiteboard has everything that they think they want to write about the way that they want to communicate their quality, brand compliance, all detailed up there. And the problem is, it's on a whiteboard in their office, so nobody can see it. And if they could see it, we don't really have writers anymore, we have people that come to work, and a byproduct of us coming to work is the creation of content. So we don't all follow that we're just trying to get things down on paper to be done with something and move on to the next thing. And so what we do, what the product does, is it just consumes all that right off the whiteboard, if you know that will pull all that information into Acrolinx and set up guidelines based on that.

Now, not everybody knows those guidelines, right? So another way that we can manage that is to take what you think is objectively good content, like what what's working for you what what represents you the way that you want to, and we can read that content, and then pull out guidelines from it. And then it becomes a discussion of Do you agree that this is the content that you want? And what you end up with? Is this set of guidelines? What's a guideline? Good question, Mike, I'll tell you, the easiest one to understand, is top level, we're all gonna spell the name of the company, right? What if we could do that? Like, what would that save us? If we worked at a complex company that sometimes uses you know, one word sometimes these American Express are my AmEx and my American Express and my aes or.com involved in this? Do we always use the same do we say American Express the first time MX after that, how do we manage that? And so first rule, we all say the name of the company, right? Done. Fantastic. And if you understand that guideline, everything flows down from there, then it's, you know, we say this, we don't say this, we want this level of clarity. We want this tone of voice, and how do we create a tone of voice? If our tone of voice is I want to be witty, but wise and not arrogant? How do I turn that into actionable guidelines. So if I want to be conversational, I want shorter sentences. I don't want to do big long run ons, I don't want marketing language, I don't want buzzwords, I want to use you and yours. So that I connect with the audience. And that all becomes the rules that people are essentially using to develop their software, their their content.

Mike: The SAS, I think it sounds like, I mean, you're almost creating a style guide for a company, would you ever see companies who bring their style guide, you then run the tool? And that the company goes, Oh, we should have had that in the style guide, or we should have added that?

Chris: Yep. And most all of our customers do have a style guide they use and they can actually import that into the platform. Or they can build alongside that.

Mike: So the obvious question is, if you've got a style guide, why doesn't that work? Why doesn't that ensure consistency?

Chris: Well, back to the statement I just made, most of our writers aren't writers, they're people like you and I that come to work and know something, we're subject matter expert for something in our business. And most people have never seen their company style guidelines. So it's a matter of first getting that out in front of people, then getting people to comply to that, to learn it, to know it and to live it. And when we had dedicated Writing teams, that was a thing. But as that starts to go further and further from where we live, putting that in front of people in a systematic way becomes necessary if we're going to get that alignment. You also have a case where a lot of people are, you know, out in the world building their own voice. And you know, I work at a huge company, but I write for their blog. It sounds like me, it doesn't sound like them. And how do I align with this global business? You need that that level of assistance of high level governance to sound like the business not sound like you think about it in terms of I mean, you've used a chat bot. And that's the most obvious example of live communication with a with a global brand. If you're having a conversation with somebody through chat on a on a website, and you're trying to solve a healthcare problem, for instance, or an insurance problem, do you want somebody to communicate like them? Or do you want them to communicate like the business? You want it like the business because everybody's different, and they can offend the heck out of you without even meaning to just by adding an extra smiley face emoji? Like it's just how they communicate, but it's not how the business communicates?

Mike: That's, that's fascinating. I mean, that, you know, that there's two things there. One is the change in how we generate content. And it sounds like what you're saying, I think this reflects, what I'm seeing is that we're moving away from dedicated Writing teams, and we're having to pull in a lot more people to do writing is that what you're seeing is that the challenge, there's a lot more people generating content that is then used outside the business?

Chris: Absolutely. So it's interesting, we learned, we learned something, I guess, a year and a half ago that we didn't really see coming. So part of where we were in the iteration of us as a company was talking to our customers about value and reduction in the cost of content creation. And so you know, make the statement, I can save you X number of dollars in your content budget. And here's what we didn't expect. The response was, that sounds really great. Show me where in my budget, I have content creation money. Now, a lot of our customers have agency money, you're they're creating money out, or they're creating content outside. And that's more easy to identify. But the kind of being created inside the business isn't necessarily budget driven. It's things that you do as a as an employee. So an example from my life is in my last company, my best writer, was somebody that worked in product marketing, and in that business, Product Marketing didn't report to me. So I'm borrowing somebody else's resources to be able to create this amazing content, but that content was being written in English as a second language. So grammatically, difficult to read, clarity, difficult to read. And the editorial process was very difficult because I can't just fix it, right? Because if I fix it, and I don't really understand the technology behind it, I'm be changed in the context.

So there's back and forth between this person that wrote this content. And our editing team took forever. Because we change it changes it back. It's not what I meant, you're changing what I meant, you're changing my words. And so this, this was a huge and difficult and daunting problem. And what made it worse was we were in the process of writing a book, there's 26 chapters in the book, 20 of them were written by different individuals, all non writers writing in English as a second language, like, Oh, my, how do you manage that. And that was actually what that was, right? Where I was sitting when I discovered the business that I now work at. And this just seemed like such a, such an answer to the problem that I had of these great minds, fantastic. Technologists, who just couldn't get it down on paper in a way that made sense and that was readable. But if I could give them that guidance, real time in their first draft, it's gonna save me months and 10s of 1000s of dollars I get, it's a real value to the business. It didn't look like I was spending a lot of money, because I don't have a budget for content, but I was in every other area to be able to cover this.

Mike: I totally agree. I think, you know, think about a lot of our clients, you know, the last thing you want to do is save them well, we're here to save you money on content generation, because most of our clients would say, actually, if I could double my content output, I could double the budget it absolutely, it's much more about making it easier to generate content. And I think that's, that's a really interesting point that agrilinks is actually making it easier for people to create content, if they're not somebody who's necessarily been trained as a writer.

Chris: Well, if you think about the process of creating content in an organisation, so there's a, there's a content team, and they're tasked with solving the problem, I need this document. Cool, they're not going to create it, they're going to go to a subject matter expert elsewhere in the business, they're going to request that that content be created. And then they have an editing team, most likely, internal editing, team, external editing teams are expensive. So that person writes it, it goes to the editor. And then there's that back and forth that we just talked about. And finally, it's at a point where it works. And it makes it to the stakeholder, some management level person who looks at it and says, Oh, this is I get it, I see what you're trying to do here, this is really cool. But I have this other idea. If you could go make these changes, and boom, we're back to the writer into the subject matter expert. And now we're back in that feedback loop again, and finally gets back to the stakeholder again, they're like, Okay, this seems good. But did you have you? Have you talked to legal about this, because most of our customers are very large organisations who need to go through compliance and regulatory checks. So now it makes to legal and they're like, What the heck happened here, they're not allowed to say any of this. So all it goes back to the writer, again, who has to make the changes that are aligned with legal that back to editorial.

And so the simple request that I had from the content team, just took between four and six weeks to come to completion. And the problem with that is, I needed it four to six weeks ago, I don't need it anymore. So all this work that we just did, was essentially for nothing, because I have a piece of content, which now is great. But I don't time sensitive, I don't need it anymore. And I mean, this is a story that's been validated and validated and validated with companies that we've talked to, is that we're losing 50% or more of the work that we're doing around content creation, because it's not needed by the time it's delivered. So if I can shrink the time it takes to get that content from ideation to production, it's more likely that I'm getting more content out, I'm reducing the amount of content I'm throwing on the floor. And I'm reducing the amount of time that people are touching this, we're reducing all that and that manual work gets really more mechanical, and letting people do the things that they should be doing. So if I can reduce all of that middle of the middle of the process, labour, all those folks that were spending all that time can do more creation work. And that's where we get that loop back to more content, because everybody wants more and nobody's being given more budget. So I need more, I need more content from you, you don't get more people, you don't get more budget, I just need more and how do you how do you do that you got to fix all of your supply chain problems all the way through this process. And that's one of the things that we do.

Mike: That's fascinating. And I think you know, there's so many people listening to this that would relate to the making it easier to generate content in particular making it easier to generate content that gets through those internal filters, those people who've got to approve it. You know, that can be the toughest job sometimes.

Chris: Yeah, I mean if your organisation uses something like Aqua links, and it ties it in with legal for example, and legal has prebuilt content guidelines that you need to go through in the writing process, think about how much it costs to go through legal review in a global enterprise. If I can reduce that by any percentage, any percentage, that's a measurable amount of budget, and time. And so that's, that's where we're seeing these real gains for these organisations that and if we move into the development side and look at, for instance, tech docs, we've gotten so much better at building software over the course of the last several decades going from waterfall approach to Agile to continuous integration to continuous delivery. But one thing hasn't changed, it still takes the same amount of time to create the documentation and go through the editorial process. So something has to give. And what's been giving for a lot of companies is the review process they're covering with a small team of tech bloggers, they're able to cover one to 2% of the content that's coming out alongside their software, which means one of two things, and I'll let the audience draw their conclusions. One, they're only releasing one to 2% of their technical documentation, or 290 8% of their talking, their technical documentation is going out without any real review. So that's a problem.

And how do you solve that, when you can't solve it with people? You can't throw people at that problem? Because you mean, I have four people getting 2%? How many would I need 100%. That's a army, what you have to do is build automation in that process. And when you build that automation in, you're able to check 90 100% of that content, and see actual quantified scores that say, this is why this is okay. So maybe an 80 out of 100 means that it's good to move to the next stage, it passes a gate, and maybe in 90 means it's good to move to production. And you have that, that kind of chain of custody of that content, knowing that it's gone through those types of rigorous checks, even if there aren't people involved. And that's where, you know, again, people are seeing acceleration happen, they're able to create at the speed of the business, as the business speeds up, I can do more with less, and then use the savings in all those people that I had to let those people do creative jobs, not stupid manual jobs.

Mike: And that's such a good point. Because, you know, you hear a lot about companies investing in, you know, building more technology, you just don't hear people about putting the same amount of investment into tech docs, which which is important. That's why we end up with documentation that sucks.

Chris: Well, and the whole, the whole thing that's happened in the last couple of years, for a decade up and talking about the digital shift, and using that as a thing to drive people to action, it's coming someday your only point of contact is going to be through the internet, and you need to be ready for that nobody really thought that was going to happen. But it did. And here we are, we've moved to a world where the customer experience the way that we think about it as businesses has changed dramatically. Because now it's not just your customers experience is always kind of been synonymous with front office connection with your consumer. It's the the website where they buy their product. But now you really need to be thinking about it in terms of its in the product you sell. It's the words on your product or in your product. If you're a software business, it's your user. It's your your UI strengthens. It's in your documentation around your product, your product manuals, it moves into the education, internal and enablement. It's your marketing materials, it's your sales content, and then out into service and support and all the post sales content that you're going to create. If these are the things that I interact with my consumer around, I need a certain level of structure of governance over that whole process.

And we're not set up that way as businesses today. Everybody's still a silo. You have your your technical documentation team, your manuals, teams, your marketing teams, your education, educational content teams, and then your service teams, your service and score teams. What we see happening, what I believe will happen more and more over the next several years is that that customer experience, total Global Customer Experience will roll into a leadership role at the sea level in the business to oversee the experience that you have with the company not with the pieces company. If a company is a person, you hear Google talk all the time about we want to we want to communicate like a person where there is a outreach of Google as a person to you, a person in the audience a consumer. You got to think about that across every touchpoint not just the obvious ones. And that's where this starts to get really interesting.

Mike: Absolutely. And I guess I mean that that brings me to an interesting term on your website, which is goal driven content, people are often producing content to achieve certain things. Can you explain exactly what you mean by goal driven content? And how accurate links will help people be more successful at achieving those goals?

Chris: Sure. So good content is great. But is it good for the cause? So I think in terms of the concept of content, fitness, is it fit for purpose? So it's good, but it's not right for what I'm doing with it. So I, I wrote a really great essay, and a fantastic landing page about apple orchards. And I put it on the National Milk Board's website. It's great. But I'm going to do anything. It's not fit for purpose, it's in the wrong place. So our idea of content fitness speaks to, you know, upfront, what problems Am I trying to solve? So if it's a conversion thing, if I'm trying to convert more leads, I'm trying to convert more sales. The purpose of this is to engage and educate and move into a sales cadence? Do I have content that does that today? So can agrilinks help you look across your entire content lexicon and find a piece of content that solves the problem that you're trying to solve? If not, can we help you to build that content? So go beyond, you know, the quality, correctness and character that we talk about? And think about? How do you build content that's going to be found and usable for this purpose. And then once I've identified what that content supposed to look like, now, I'm going to build it, leveraging in brand language and the clarity levels in the voice that our audience cares about. But that last piece is relevance, will identify that this piece of content is relevant to the cause. And your score isn't going to just be this content is good. Your score is this content is fit for what you're trying to solve.

I'm trying to sell something right here, this piece of content is designed to be found for that purpose, designed to help users convert, and then is relevant to the problem I'm trying to solve and the product I'm trying to sell. And all of that comes together to have a much higher level of score than what we've delivered. In past years, this fitness score gets it the fact that this content will deliver. Now, the next question you would ask is what if it doesn't? Mike? Great question. Thanks for asking. If it doesn't, it starts to play towards some of the assumptions that you made in the creation of the model. So 80% of Gartner asked a group of CMOS? Do you build your own guidelines, and almost all of them said, Yes, they'd come up with their own set of guidelines. And 80% of them identified that they made them up. They don't I mean, it's my job, I'm supposed to be good at that. And I think I am, but I might be wrong. And so if I made them up, and I create content, and it comes out, and it's perfect, it's fit for purpose. It's findable, it's readable, it's going to do all the things that I think it's going to, really, that's based on a model that I created. If it doesn't perform, when it comes out the other end, what I'm learning there is that I need to iterate my process, I need to go back into my guidelines, and look at where my assumptions were incorrect. And that's a huge focus of moving from strategy aligned content creation, which is defining your guidelines, and building to those guidelines, to audience alignment, where I listen to the audience and their reaction to my content. And I use that to iterate and get closer to them. And that's sort of a vision in the future right now. But as businesses get closer to that audience alignment, they're creating that engagement content that's going to drive and really drive the business forward. That's where we're very much focused right now this whole concept of content fitness, will culminate in a brand new product for us being launched in January. That is delivering that full content fitness experience.

Mike: I feel I should ask you about the product. But I'm sure you're not going to tell me because it's not January yet, but that's fascinating, I guess. I guess I've got a look and see if there's any issues and the first thing a lot of people find with AI is the requirement for large training sets. So I mean, do you find that people need to producing a lot of content to make Acrolinx work effectively?

Chris: I mean, In general, this is a product that's designed for use at scale. If you only have small batches of content, it's probably not necessary to drive this level of AI. If you look at, you know, a representative customer of ours, they're doing hundreds of 1000s of content checks a month, millions a year. And that's where this evolution comes from is that use it scale. But at the same time, I use the product, where a much smaller customer or company than our customers, and I'm still getting great value out of what our product delivers. Because I, I own, you know, the central ruleset and enable to define the way that we communicate. And in doing that, learn some really interesting things even at small scale. A fun thing that I learned is that, you know, I came in to the business in 2017, our founder, and I sat down and defined the tone of voice that we wanted to move forward with. And we implemented it for our front office.

So sales, marketing, BDRs, all had access to this implementation of agrilinks. And it worked really nicely. Our audiences appreciated the tone of voice that we created, it was found to be engaging, seems like a great thing. So me, being a power hungry megalomaniac said, Cool, I want everybody to use this whole business, everybody got to do this, and pushed it out into the next best place beyond marketing, which is our support team. And when you're writing your support tickets use this implementation of agrilinks. It seems to be resonating well with our audiences. Interesting thing happened, our support audiences hated it, hated it, didn't think it was fun at all didn't want witty and wise yet not arrogant, and blah, blah, give no interest in that at all. They want their questions answered, they want it clear, consistent, concise, solve my problem. And so the idea of you bifurcating your ruleset looking at it hierarchal. So, at the top, it's we all spell the company name, right. But down from there, I may have a more lively conversational tone and one side and a more formal, consistent in, in clear tone on the other, to be able to communicate to those two different use cases. But the things that are inherited are the things that make us accompany that make us having you're having a conversation with one thing. It's just that when I'm having it over here, I don't want a lot of flowers. I just just want words, over here. You want that engagement and liveliness and somebody that sounds more like me.

Mike: That's fascinating, interesting that different audiences feel your company actually needs slightly different different tones of voice makes a lot of sense. When you say, and I'm really sorry, Chris, you know, we're running out of time here. I'd love to get your take on, you know, do you have three key things you can give us as top tips for content generation, that maybe you've learned, you know, seeing customers use agrilinks That perhaps anyone could benefit from?

Chris: I mean, I think first and foremost is know your audience demand gen teams do a really good job of knowing who they're marketing to. So you identify your persona, you create your ideal customer profile. And you're going after those, that audience, content teams need to do that same thing and really understand who they're communicating to, and how those people both consume content and want to hear content. And by tailoring that approach, you're going to create more impact, people are going to enjoy your content or engage with your content, you're going to get better business results out of that. The other thing that I think is super important, is looking beyond the obvious. I'm actually doing a speaking session at a nother conference in two weeks. And the topic is about sort of forgetting about your customer, and writing actionable content. And I mean, my provocative statement of the day is business to business content is boring, and nobody cares about it. The only people that care about your product sheets are people that already know who you are, that are looking to solve a specific problem. If you're trying to engage an audience, right, something actionable, would write something that's valuable to everybody. And so that whole theme of like thinking through creative ways to solve problems whether whether your product is perfect for that or not provides the value that expands your business and your brand well beyond your customer, your your customer base and your audience.

And that's been a way that I've launched a number of businesses over the course of my career is just by Creating content that people care about, it goes well beyond the product. The final thing is that it doesn't take software to manage governance. It's, it's great, too. But taking a more active approach towards your governance, if you think in terms of we talked before this session about style guidelines, everybody has style guidelines. But do you adhere to them? Do you? Do you push them out into non writers in your organisation? And in most cases, no, I have a sense of guidelines. But I'm not really managing that being more active around that putting those in front of people finding a way to measure content, rather than just produce it and roll it out. All of these things are software free approaches, it's just being being active about it being intentional about the way that we look at content creation, versus I got to get this done. I got it done. He read this real quick, cool and putting it up on the website. And that sounds like a small business problem. But it's not that's an every business problem, like, boom, it's up and it's out who read this, I don't know. But it's out there. And we don't really get to check content for quality of context of the content more, we're just making sure it doesn't have obscenities in the middle of it, and then it can go up. And that shouldn't be that way.

Mike: I think it's brilliant advice. I love the way that, you know, certainly at a small scale, a lot of this doesn't need any automation. You know, it just needs people thinking about it. You know, and certainly I think when you get to scale, it's very clear why a product like Acrolinx you know, comes into its own is massively beneficial for for everyone, both the content creators and the people reviewing it. Yeah. I really appreciate your time. Chris has been fascinating. I've got about 20 Other questions I could have asked you. But if anybody does have anything like to ask you, or they want to find out more about Acrolinx and what would be the best way to get in contact with you.

Chris: You can always find me at Chris@acrolinx.com and I am on LinkedIn at CP Willis.

Mike: Perfect. So hopefully we'll have lots more people contacting you because it's going to benefit everyone because the content on the web is going to be so much better. I really appreciate your time. Thanks again for for being on the podcast, Chris.

Chris: Thanks for having me. I enjoyed it.

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 m


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A Mixed Outlook on the Future of Trade Shows

With SPS cancelled with just a week's notice before it was meant to go ahead, it's been a stark reminder that the COVID-19 pandemic is still a threat to trade shows. With increasing infection rates in Germany resulting in tighter restrictions for events, the show had no choice but to cancel due to the new limitations put in place.

But up until this point, SPS was predicted to go ahead successfully. Events such as productronica were able to go ahead in mid-November and did see around 20,000 visitors from nearly 70 countries, which were required to either be recovered from a COVID-19 infection, be vaccinated or have a negative PCR test result.  Although the number of visitors was about half from the heady days of the mid 2010s, this has shown that there is definitely still life in shows, and people are prepared to travel to them. In fact, the number of visitors was much higher than expected by the productronica events team, and visitors travelled from across Europe, with the top 10 visitor countries including Italy, France, Austria, Switzerland, Great Britain and the Netherlands.

With the outcome of productronica presenting the viewpoint that there 'is no alternative to personal contact', trade shows are making a valiant effort to ensure face to face conversations between exhibitors and visitors can go ahead once more. But with COVID rates going up for winter, there is still a huge risk around attending events, particularly as European governments introduce lockdowns as the infection rates go up. Only time will tell whether trade shows can return to their full strength once more, and we know many in the industry will be looking forward to this day.


A Napier Podcast: Interview with Kate Terry - Turtl

In this podcast episode, we interview Kate Terry, Head of Demand at Turtl, a content automation platform.

Kate shares why she thinks content is essentially communication, and why Turtl is persuading marketers to move away from webpages and PDFs. She discusses how the platform encourages an interactive and personalized approach, and how Turtl provides data that marketers can use to optimise content.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

Transcript: Interview with Kate Terry - Turtl

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 talking with Kate Terry, who's head of demand at Turtle. Welcome to the podcast, Kate.

Kate: Hi, Mike, thanks so much for having me. And great to be here.

Mike: Awesome. So I'm really interested, you've ended up at Turtle, but how did you get there? Can you talk us through your career and what you've done?

Kate: Definitely. So I have done marketing in quite a few different industries, and actually in quite a few places around the world as well. I started out doing marketing for a law firm in Austin, Texas moved into actually a life science consultancy in Denmark alongside a master's programme, where I was studying cognition and communication. So the way we communicate and think and how we interact with technology. And then after that, I actually went to into marketing and higher education in London for a little bit, I was quite interested in the research and goal and kind of continuing on in that. But I wanted to get into technology marketing, in particular. And actually, I came across the perfect company, because it pulled together my interest in psychology, my interest in kind of understanding the way we think and communicate, and then my desire to kind of be in a really fast paced business working with really innovative products. So that was when I moved over to turtle. And, you know, as I said, It originally stood out to me, because the technology is built around psychology, it's an innovative product, it looks to kind of really improve the experience for those of us who are both making and reading business content. So I'd say it's something that we can hopefully all benefit from one day. And, you know, I think at the core of it content is essentially just communication, it's kind of the glue of business, and especially in a remote first environments. It's the way that we're all kind of sharing our knowledge, sharing our expertise, sharing the solutions that we have, and kind of getting getting through to the people we want to reach and communicate with. So it's it's really essential. And I think having a different approach to it and understanding kind of engagement, understanding psychology, understanding what really works, you know, we're kind of approaching it with different ways to democratize content across the organisation. So it's just a really exciting mission to be part of and, you know, kind of ties into my background in a really interesting way that makes me excited to work.

Mike: It's interesting, because you're trying to persuade us marketers to move away from web pages and PDFs.

Kate: Yes, yes, that's right. The PDF is a classic and known enemy of turtle, we, you know, there, there are quite a few challenges, I think, with PDF that, you know, we can probably get into. But at its core, it's just a legacy format that isn't, and was never really designed to be a real time easy to optimise easy to engage with digital format, it was designed to replace print and to kind of be something that fit in with that idea of like the print cycle of production, where you would go to press and get it out there. And then it's there. And just That's it, you know, so I think what we see in so many domains is that online, we act in a much more on demand and responsive way, we need to engage with content in that way. And the PDF just hasn't really caught up. Not to mention, it's just likes engagement. You know, I'll get into it a little bit later. But we've got some interesting stats about how, how much engagement you actually lose when you send out content in a PDF.

Mike: That's interesting. I mean, I guess one of the first things, you know, somebody cynical, might say, as well, people are running content marketing campaigns, and they're running them to generate leads. So doesn't everything really start and end with the title and getting that lead? Does it really matter whether people engage with the content because your sales team can follow up?

Kate: Yeah, I mean, I think that's a great question. And it kind of goes to the core of what are we trying to accomplish with content with content that we're sending out? You know, is it that we just want to get the names and emails of people who we think are interested in it? Or is it that we really want to know who is properly engaged, who is kind of, you know, using and, like, found our content useful, actually spent time with it actually kind of took some value from it? And yeah, I think that there's kind of, there's a place for lead gen where you are looking more at a surface level to say, well, who's interested in this at all, but it comes down to also being able to prioritise those leads and say, Well, you know, are they really that qualified? If we have no idea what happened to them after they kind of initially downloaded that content? We don't really know anything about The timing or how to follow up with them, or, you know, the priority that we should give them if we don't have any additional kind of data on their actual engagement. So it just gives us kind of a higher quality, spin, I guess, to lead gen if you think about adding that on as a piece of intelligence. But more generally, I do think it's important to assess the value of content and say, Well, what is really the value of this content we're sending out, we really want people to read it. And that should be kind of the end goal. And if it's not the end goal, it's kind of, you know, content being utilised in different ways. But I would say there are other ways to do that, that aren't necessarily creating a nice and really compelling piece of content.

Mike: So I love the fact that you're talking about benefits, both for the reader in terms of more compelling content, but also for the marketer in terms of more data. So can you just unpack a little bit about, you know, what kind of data you can give marketers? And how they can use that to understand whether someone is a hot lead? Or maybe not quite such good luck?

Kate: Yeah, definitely. So I think the big difference is that it's data after the that first kind of, you know, download, what you can see with a PDF is typically that someone downloaded the content. And that's kind of where the journey ends, a lot of the time, it's just like a straight up piece of static content. So what we want to provide as an alternative is data about how long people read for the different sections of the content that they actually read and engaged with versus those that they didn't, and, you know, specific returns for each of those, we want to be able to link that to companies and individuals as much as possible. So we want to be able to see exactly who did that and what their individual level of engagement was. And I think crucially, we want to be able to pull all of those insights into our CRM in real time. And that's what a lot of I mean, I'm in demand gen. So that's kind of the gold standard, for me is real time engagement data that automatically gets synced into my CRM gets mapped against my lead scoring and can help to prioritise that without me ever needing to take a look at it. So ultimately, that integrated piece is really important. And that's kind of where a content automation platform can come in, as is giving you all of that data against your own contacts and accounts, and then being able to sync that in real time. And yeah, I think for the people creating the content as well, just being able to actually take a look at how the content is performing, which sections of it work well, which sections of it don't, being able to, you know, move things around or change things up as needed to test is super valuable, and not really something that content marketers have had access to until now. So just being able to optimise your content against the actual ways that people are engaging with it is really, really valuable.

Mike: That's fascinating. I've got to ask this. Do you find some marketers pushback? Because they actually don't want to know which bit of content isn't working?

Kate: Yeah, I do think there is a lot of that mindset of just, you almost Yeah, you don't don't necessarily want to know what works. And I think an interesting application of that is companies who provide content for other companies. So whether it's a syndicated piece of content or something like that, I think there's a little bit of reluctance to actually have that data, because you might find out that the content didn't work as well as you think it did. And you might have to report those results back. So there's more transparency, which can be you know, it might shine a light on something that you don't like, and I totally understand that perspective. But on the other hand, you know, you do want to know if your content isn't working. And I think it's really important. And from that maybe advertisers point of view, being able to, you know, I think people first of all are asking for it, like people want to know, is this content actually working? What's the real value here? What am I really getting out of it. So you see people moving into different types of models to try to kind of pull more value out of content. But really, if you can show them and say, Hey, listen, this got this much engagement from your core audience that's so much more valuable. And it actually does give you like, a really important data source that I think proves the value of content. So it shows you what might be wrong. But on the other hand, you've got a starting point to improve and actually start to prove the value of content as well. So I think it's maybe a tough bandaid to rip off, but an important one.

And I think proving the value is a really important point as well, you know, people can actually show that particular content has been read rather than it's just been sent. And maybe that that's a great segue to something I think you teased earlier, which is, you talked about the things you lose when you send a PDF, I mean, we're all sending PDFs at the moment, pretty much. And so, tell us what the problems are with delivering content as a PDF. Yeah.

So, um, you know, thinking back again to this idea of what we're trying to accomplish with a piece of content, ultimately, we want people to read it. We want people to understand and ideally be kind of motivated and educated by it. Right? So, um, you know, it shouldn't necessarily just be a vehicle to get an email address, it should be valuable and kind of really engaged with. So without some of those metrics, it's hard to say how effective your content actually is. But, you know, actually, there are ways to find that out because we work with an independent research agency called lumen research. And they are doing a lot of research into this challenge of attention for marketers, so they're looking at it in different ways. And they use a combination of eye tracking studies and kind of some mixed methods survey data to understand this challenge of attention. And they're kind of putting out a lot of research around, you know, how are we actually gathering attention online? And what does that mean? So they studied digital formats, and they took the PDF and turtle doc, they put the same content in both of those formats. And they ran eye tracking studies and survey data to find out like, what is the engagement, that that's kind of happening across both of these formats. And the findings were pretty startling, actually, they found out that the PDF loses out on 90%, of possible engagement when compared to the turtle dock. So just due to the fact that it's not interactive, it's not in a format designed around psychology, and it's not responsive, they were looking at mobile as well, it loses out on quite a bit of engagement. So you know, if you put that into context, every time you send out a PDF, via your kind of paid lead gen campaign, you are losing out on 90% of potential engagement. And you know, going back to the real value, if you're if you are really wanting to engage your readers there, you're missing out, I think if you send out PDFs,

Mike: Fascinating, so I love that about being responsive about it being interactive. But the other thing that turtle offices personalization, so how important is personalization, in terms of grabbing reader's attention? Yeah,

Kate: I mean, there's a lot of stats that speak to this kind of the power of personalization, I think some of the key value that I've kind of, um, you know, been most interested in and followed is this idea of increasing customer loyalty and sort of upsell opportunities. There's some stats around how it improves engagement, you know, from various companies who have their own form of personalization. So I think at a high level, it's something that marketers kind of know, and understand and recognise the need for, you know, there's this idea, even at the heart of marketing, that if you're marketing to everyone, you're marketing to no one. So personalization is effectively, you know, marketing in a lot of ways. But what we need to be able to do, of course, particularly in b2b is do that. But for so many different personas, so many different types of buyers who are all in different places, in terms of their timing, their interests, their requirements. So without personalization, and what I mean by that is sort of being able to personalise the right message for all of those different people at the right time. You know, it's very hard to market, especially in b2b. So I think it's something that is sort of a necessity for b2b marketers, in a lot of ways. So the question is, how are we going to do it? And how are we actually going to achieve this level of personalization that we know we need?

Mike: I guess that that's a great question to throw back at you is, I mean, what works in personalization, you know, you see some people doing simple things like just putting the customer's company name onto a document. And you see other people basically changing the content to try and reflect an individual's interest. And then you've got pretty much everything in between with names and things like that. I mean, what do you think works? And how much time should a marketer be investing in personalization versus generating the content originally?

Kate: Yeah, I mean, so I think of personalization as going beyond that surface level. So I do think the surface level of personalising it for that person is important, at least in terms of grabbing their attention, right. So you've got a little bit of, you know, you have some stats around how people respond to their first name, and how people kind of respond when something is made. For them specifically, there's just an extra bit of attention that they'll pay to that. So at that level, you know, even if it is just that level of personalization, I think it can kind of uplift what you're trying to do. However, I think where it really becomes more meaningful is when you have that added layer of syncing up the data and the insight you have on people with the right content to send them and you know, that can look like a lot of different things that could be the right piece of content. Or you could get a little bit more granular and say it's actually the right combination of content pulled together for them, you know, so there's different ways to do it. And I think when you think about the time to invest, you know, I always suggest starting with what you have available and trying things out seeing what works best seeing what actually moves the needle, you know, testing, whether it's testing out trying the first name and trying that out, you know that there Ways to kind of establish whether something works and then dive in a little bit further when you find out that it does work. So, you know, for us, we've run quite a few different tests on let's try it with just the first name versus not, let's try it with the right content versus not. So there's there's always different ways to kind of engage with personalization. But for me, the most meaningful level is when you combine, it's made for them, and it has the right content for them sent at the right time. Crucially, it's very much relying on your data, to give you that insight and be able to then send it off in real time that say, I really like this idea in data, and I guess in like, kind of workflow management of the next best action. So based on what they're doing, and the signal that you have, what's the next best thing you can send them and that starts when you think about like a personalised buyer journey. If you take it to the high level, you're kind of trying to build their own journey that sends them the right content at the right time, with maybe their name and a video for them on it, that's great. But the kind of heart of it is sending it at the right time with the right message.

Mike: And that's interesting, you talk about you know that the right content the right time, and obviously, turtle, I think is known for creating the right content, customising the content for each individual. How do you get the right time is that by integrating with other systems like marketing automation?

Kate: Yeah, that's exactly it. So it's it's very much about integrations and using the data that you already have to be able to deliver something very timely and relevant. Um, there's another interesting way to do it as well, though, which I think is actually delivering content that people can engage with and give you data back. So having more of a conversation and making it a little bit more collaborative, let's say you don't necessarily know what exactly they're interested in at that time, you know, you can just ask them and use, we call it public personalization. But it's basically delivering content that can be customised in real time by that reader to create exactly what they need on demand. So timing, I think can be both ways, your own data, integrating that and using, let's say, rules and workflows to determine, like, at this time, as soon as they do this, let's send them this personalised piece of content, or flipping it back and saying, like, let's send them this content, and they can determine what the best thing that they need to see right now is so making it more of an on demand experience.

Mike: I mean, I'm intrigued by this public personalization. So presumably, you're doing a lot more than just sending a PDF and hoping person goes to page 103, if that's what they're interested in. So can you just unpack a little bit about how this works, and how a reader would choose the content that's relevant to them?

Kate: Definitely. So I'll give a couple of examples. One of them is, with Amazon ads, their marketing team, and they were looking to send out content just before their busy kind of shopping season to across our customer base, they identified six different audiences with that they kind of needed different pieces of information. And they had to actually put it into nine different languages as well. So it was a pretty big kind of content challenge in front of them, where they needed, you know, really timely information, they didn't necessarily have the data to say exactly what each person would need. But they knew they had kind of six different audiences that they wanted to deliver it to. So they decided to use public personalization, to give them the kind of, you know, way to sift through that and actually find the right information very easily. So basically, that looks like setting up the content behind the scenes, in a modular way. And using a form at the top of that. So kind of an engaging user facing form where they're asked a few questions to self segment, really, they can be questions, as fun or as you know, like practical as need be really depends in Amazon's case, I think it was asking about, you know, what type of vendor they are, the type of information that they needed, you know, going into the shopping season, and then it delivers them a personalised piece of content on demand. So they've got that piece of content that has just the right information for them. It's actually localised automatically as well. So it's in their language, and, you know, something that they can hold on to bookmark save, it's their own kind of piece of content, because it's a personalised ID for them. So they've now got a fully personalised piece of content. So, you know, Amazon was able to deliver against these pretty tight timelines content to six different audiences, nine languages, and it's, you know, they seen some really impressive engagement figures from that. So I think that's basically the core of it, you know, as an example, just this idea of, you know, understanding your audience, giving them the choice, letting them fill in and kind of make their own choose your own content journey, let's say, and then you actually get that insight back as well. So that data can be fed back into their CRM. Now they know a little bit more about that segment of customers. So the next time they send a piece of content, they've got that as a reference point. Okay, last time they selected as a vendor, I'm going to keep them on this vendor track and send them the next best piece of content to follow up with.

Mike: So that public personalization is a great way to profile contacts.

Kate: Exactly. Yeah, definitely. If you don't know, like, if you kind of have the challenge of like, we've got a huge email list and we don't know is interested, giving people the chance to actually yeah, opt in and say, Yo, I'm interested in this is great.

Mike: Cool. That's great. I I'm interested as well. I mean, one of the things I think the people who are, you know, still wedded to PDFs will say is, well, what about printing? You know, you mentioned bookmarking. But what about if somebody wants to print out some turtle content? Is that possible? Or do you lose all the benefits?

Kate: Yeah, it is possible. And, you know, it's possible to download turtle as a PDF as well. So we're not, we're not forcing people not to do that. It's definitely possible. I think, you know, there's also the idea that if you really want to kind of have a print version of your content, you could put it into a print version, and, you know, publish that and maybe have a digital version as well. I think that's totally possible. Obviously, print is still, you know, an important medium that people use and kind of want to want to, you know, reference and print out and totally get that. That being said, I think, you know, the digital world evolves so quickly and being able to update things in real time. So things don't go out of date is, you know, from a marketer's perspective, I think much more important than kind of having something that's immediate. I mean, you could print a turtle lock, I guess, why not?

Mike: It'd be crazy. But. Yeah. And then, at the other end, I mean, obviously, a lot of marketers are seeing some good results with video. So are you doing anything with video, particularly video personalization?

Kate: Yeah, video is really an interesting use case. So we partnered with a company called video card and I think some other solutions as well to embed personalised videos in personalised content. So for example, our sales and SDR team have the ability to record their video or video for a prospect or for an account, and then upload it into their personalised turtle doc and send out that whole thing. So it's got their video on the cover, and then it's got the relevant content for them contained within. So I think being able to do that, first of all, to just enable your sales team and on a one to one basis, they can send that out. But also thinking about more scale, you know, you can do you can take an account based approach and have an SDR record a video for an account and then, you know, set that up at an account level to be sent out to all the all the individuals. Yeah, I think videos is definitely a good kind of tool to use. And that kind of links back to the value of interactive content as well. I mean, being able to embed things like videos and polls and, you know, different pieces of interactivity that can be, you know, changed around and moved and engaged with adds a lot to the content as well.

Mike: That's fascinating. And it sounds like you've got, you've got quite a lot of integrations. You've talked about integration with Mark automation, you've talked about integrating with video to incorporate video. Are there any other integrations that help marketers, you know, make use of turtle more more effectively or with less investment of time?

Kate: Yeah, I mean, I think the main integrations that we're really focused on is, you know, thinking about the, the marketing tech stack, but also the sales tech stack. So I think what we're really interested in is kind of like the tech stack across the buyer journey, I would say, from the marketing teams perspective, we integrate with CRMs, we integrate with marketing automation tools. So being able to, you know, centralise all your content data in a CRM, or maybe a customer data platform, that's all possible, and then being able to deliver it via marketing automation. So you can push the data into that and, you know, be able to deliver it automatically, you know, personalization at scale through marketing automation, as well. We're also really interested in ABM platforms. So thinking about the ABM tech stack and being able to kind of, you know, gather account inside and then push that into turtle to personalise content, you know, I think there's there's quite a few integrations is is absolutely where we're headed with content automation, because in order to get your content out into the world, to get into the hands of the right people, you really do have to rely on the whole kind of biotech stack. And then I think in terms of adding like additional layers of engagement, there's like videocard, and tools like drift, which allow you to maybe embedded chatbot in it and add a different experience or engage people in a different way. That's very much conversational content. So there's different types of integrations kind of adding to the engagement of the content, but then also just thinking about the whole content production workflow and how you get it out to people simplifying, streamlining and making that much more automated.

Mike: Wow, is that there's a lot there all over the place. I love the idea of a document that has chatted bedded that's very cool. Yeah. and perhaps the most interesting thing that I think you said was you talked about market automation and CRM. So presumably, Turtle documents are basically the thing that qualifies contacts to become sales leads for a lot of your customers is that is that what you see happening? People are using engagement with the document to say, this is now sales ready?

Kate: It can be I think it has to be layered with other types of data that you have about your contact, of course. But what we do see is some interesting ways to use gates. So getting away from the kind of traditional, you fill in a content form, you're kind of engaged and you get passed over to sales, I think what we're seeing is people who are trying to find out, you know, yeah, qualify that lead a little bit further before handing it over? Or maybe maybe it's just part of the journey. You know, it really depends on the type of content and your other data, of course, but I really like some of the different uses of gates that people are doing, whether it's to add in, you know, Midway gates to say, here's some added value, do you want to sign up for a webinar on this? Do you want to sign up for a newsletter? Do you want to sign up for this ecourse we have, and that just kind of helps to nurture people along, immediately, making them more of a qualified lead, or maybe it is adding kind of a demo form or a way to get in touch with sales into your content as well, where it's relevant, I think, you know, there's different ways to think about that.

Mike: Awesome. That's, that's, that's really interesting, lots of opportunities there. So, I mean, if people are excited about this, and thinking, you know, I'd love to be able to do something I love to better create interaction. I mean, what are their alternatives? I know, I've seen some people create more interactive documents using Adobe Spark, which obviously isn't personalised, but, you know, give gives you some degree of interactivity, what would you advise people to do? If they were, they were wondering what the first step to take would be?

Kate: Well, I think in terms of creating that interactive content, you probably do need a platform of some kind to, you know, allow you to pull that all together, I think there are probably ways to do it, for instance, using your web, you know, web platform to just try out different interactive elements. For instance, if you just want to start somewhere, and for instance, try out different things, you know, different ways to embed videos and things like that in your blog, of course, you can always start there. But yeah, you know, I also think interactive content, it's an interesting, it's very broad term in some way. I mean, you could try starting with social posts, you know, put a poll around, you know, something and see what you get back and start to just engage more with your audience in different ways. And you'll start to see the value of that, I think so interactive content in terms of the what we think about with like a turtle dock, that's one way to do it, where your content, like your long form, content itself, is quite interactive, engaging all the way throughout. But as you know, if you just want to start to engage more with your audience, and learn more about them, and get them, build more of a two way conversation, start on social stir on your blog, you know, try out different ways to kind of get feedback from your audience, and get them to Yeah, comment, you know, answer a poll, watch a video, whatever it is.

Mike: That's cool. That's that that sounds like a, you know, we shouldn't stress too much about starting, we should just really start and try to be more interactive. I mean, treat them as if somebody starts and they gain traction on the poll, and people are watching more videos, and they decide they need to take the next step to, you know, to content automation platform. I mean, that, to me feels like quite a big step. And I know a lot of enterprises have had migrations to marketing automation platforms that have taken, not just months, but sometimes years. How much of a challenge? Is it to migrate across to a content automation platform? Does that have a lot of pain? Or is that something, you know, you could be producing content very quickly.

Kate: So you can produce content very quickly, we have what we had what we call our content automation maturity model, which is essentially to say that there's a journey between starting and producing your first piece of interactive content all the way down to having a really sophisticated kind of fully integrated content system that at the hub of it is this, you know, great engaging content. So there's, there's, you know, a lot of points along that journey. And I think starting where you are is super important to say like, we always kind of encourage, you know, start just start somewhere, right. So wherever you're at in terms of the level of resource and kind of complexity that you have already and want to introduce, I think that there will be kind of a meaningful starting point along that content automation maturity model. But essentially, what it might look like is, you know, at its core turtle is a better, more engaging format that allows you to really quickly produce interactive content so you can start putting more content out and you can start already getting that feedback from your audience in terms of what they're interested in the title content that you should make more of how to improve it, and you start getting data back as well. So you start learning a little bit more about your audience. And you know, you can pretty easily integrate that and connect it up to say, Okay, I've learned a little bit more about my audience now. So what do I do with that, um, so then that's kind of where personalization comes in, where you can say, well, we've got all this great data, let's structure it, let's, you know, use what we can to actually create maybe the, you know, send people the next best piece of content, or customise their journey a little bit, or start to add in elements that will particularly be interesting to them. And then, you know, getting even further, you can look to fully integrate other pieces of your tech stack, like your customer data, like your, you know, CRM and marketing automation. So, you know, it's always just this thing that kind of builds any learn along the way, you gather insight along the way. And you're able to do more advanced personalization along the way, as well. Like maybe at the beginning, you just start out by doing let's do an account base personalization campaign, where we just sort of pick a few industry segments, personalised each of those and send it out great, you know, that's a really good starting point, because you can learn a lot, you can kind of get feedback, and from there, you might make it a little bit more complex and more tailored next time. So yeah, always gonna be a journey. But you know, it's, it's great to great to get started on the journey.

Mike: I love the fact that you're, you're coming on the podcast as a vendor, and you're not saying, buy our product, and then you're done. You're actually saying, Well, you can start before you buy our product, there's things you can do. And once you buy the product, there's still this journey to go on. And still these things you can do I love that as a way to, you know, see how you can always keep getting better. That's fantastic. And I guess, you know, people listening to this, you know, will have seen turtle may have seen turtle they know that turtle, I mean, historically, I think has been very strong in the enterprise. And what about sort of midsize smaller companies? Is that something you think content automation platforms are going to service? Or is this going to really be the preserve of very large enterprises?

Kate: Yeah, I mean, we, like I said, you know, if you think about that journey, right, I think a lot of small to medium businesses can definitely benefit pretty quickly from being able to create more engaging, more interactive content. And that's definitely something we're seeing in our customer base. So we do have a kind of mid market proposition. And we've got quite a few customers who are using turtle to simply create better, more engaging content, you know, and I think that's, honestly, you know, that that can be a great and in some customers who really, that's kind of their bread and butter, and that's, that's what really works for them. And that might be, you know, where their content automation journey stops for now, you know, let's see. And then we've got other kind of customers coming in. And actually, they do have quite a bit of data and quite a bit of, you know, aspiration to personalise, and there's this real interest in it. So I think there's a segment of businesses who are really, really interested in doing more with that. So, yeah, there's there's absolutely a lot of different ways to engage with turtle, but depending on where you're at, in the size of business, you know, might depend where you're at on that journey.

Mike: Awesome. That's amazing. So I mean, we're running out of time, I'm really intrigued to know you've given us some really great advice. But you know, do you have like three top tips for people who are looking to make their content better?

Kate: Three top tips. Okay. So I think the first one would be user data. I know data is something that we all talk about. And I think we tend to try and use it, but I'm not I don't know, I have a feeling that content in particular is it is an arena where we could think more about the data on what what people are interested in, and what we should kind of serve them up next, using all this great data that we have as marketers, I think the second one would be turning your content into a conversation, you know, thinking about interactivity, and maybe the very beginning of that is just how can you open it up and make it something that, you know, instead of you're broadcasting content at people, it's like, you're sort of asking for feedback in various ways, whether that's just collecting information about how they engage with it, or whether that's directly asking a poll or, you know, maybe maybe a personalization for power advance, I guess, but just thinking about different ways where you can start to turn it into something where you're getting feedback and giving people the chance to feed into what you're doing as well, because ultimately, our audience kind of knows best what they want to see and read about and hear. And I think there's a lot of ways that we can think about turning content into a conversation. And I guess a final point would be if we go back to this idea of lead gen and what the value of content is, I always prioritise quality and saying that content at its core should be really engaging. So I don't really hold with the idea that we can get away with just sort of, we got their email and we'll call it a day I really think that, you know, we really need to think about what is the value behind the content that we're putting out there? Is it resonating? Is it really working? Is it getting people? Like, is it doing what we want? Is it getting people like very interested or motivated or inspired or whatever it is? And I think there's a little bit of interrogation that we can do there.

Mike: That's brilliant. So, I mean, data interaction and quality are the three things. I think that's a great message. Thank you so much for the advice and the tips. Is there anything else you feel we should have covered? Or we've missed during our conversation?

Kate: No, I mean, I think I think it was a really interesting conversation. Thanks so much, Mike. Again, yeah. Thanks for having me on the podcast. I think we talked through quite a few different interesting topics. So always happy to dive in further with anyone who is interested.

Mike: That'd be amazing. I mean, if somebody did want to come to educate, what would be the best way for them to go about that?

Kate: Yeah, I think LinkedIn is the best way. If you search for Kate Terry Turtle to you, RTL, you will probably find me. But that's definitely where I'm most active socially. And we'd be happy to have a chat and yeah, speak further about it.

Mike: Well, thanks so much for all your time and insight. It's been fascinating. Thanks for being on the podcast. Kate. 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.


DFA Manufacturing Media Launches New Online Portal

DFA Manufacturing Media has launched a new online portal and social media information resource, under the brand Smart Futures. 

With current publishing titles such as Drives & Controls, Plant & Works Engineering and Hydraulics and Pneumatics, DFA Manufacturing Media has launched Smart Futures to provide readers with an opportunity to learn and stay up to date about smart technologies across all sectors.

Offering an immersive and interactive experience, Smart Futures aims to support the ongoing digital transformation currently being seen across the UK and globally, for a wide spectrum of sectors, including manufacturing, medical, building, agriculture, energy, security, transport and materials.

The online portal will explore emerging best practices and will focus on being an information resource centre with the aim to provide readers with insights on a range of digitalisation topics.

Here at Napier, we are always happy to see a launch of a new publication.  It's clear to see that there is an ongoing shift as more publications invest in digital alternatives, and it's great to see DFA Media Manufacturing launching Smart Futures to address this digital change.


BEEAs Entry Deadline Extended

The British Engineering Excellence Awards (BEEAs) has announced an extension of its entry deadline, with entries to be submitted by midnight on Friday 3rd December 2021. 

The BEEAs celebrate the most innovative design engineers in the UK, and this year there is a total of 12 awards up for grabs.

Entries are assessed by an independent panel of judges drawn from a cross-section of electronic and engineering design disciplines, and the awards ceremony will take place on the 18th March 2022 at the Landmark Hotel in London.

To submit an entry, register here and complete the online submission process. Good luck to everyone entering! 


Napier Named as 'The Most Outstanding PR Agency' at The Electronics Industry Awards 2021

Some members of the Napier team at the EIA ceremony.

We are delighted to share that Napier was named as the winner of ‘The Most Outstanding PR Agency’ category at the Electronics Industry Awards for the second year running.

Announced at the awards ceremony at the Tower Hotel in London on Thursday 21st October 2021, we feel privileged to have been recognized by the industry and to have had the opportunity to celebrate with our peers in person.

Mike Maynard, Managing Director at Napier, commented on Napier’s success: “We are thrilled to be named as the ‘The Most Outstanding PR Agency’ at The Electronics Industry Awards for the second year running. I'm am extremely proud of our amazing team and grateful to our wonderful clients".

Congratulations also to Microchip Technology, Fluke Corporation and Tektronix who were all recognised for their achievements at this year's awards ceremony.


A Sad Goodbye to Gloria Langham

gloria langhamWe were sad to hear the news about the passing of Gloria Langham. Having spent most of her career working in advertising, Gloria was well-known in the electronics industry and will be missed by many.

Born in the UK, Gloria moved to the US, and was well-known to many in the electronics industry with her role as Media Director at Media and More. A lovely obituary is available online.

Our thoughts are with Gloria's family and friends at this difficult time.