A Napier Podcast: Interview with Mark Abrami - Hootsuite

In this podcast episode, we interview Mark Abrami, Senior Manager of Business Value Services at Hootsuite, a global leader in social media management.

Mark shares his career journey from psychology through to marketing, and why he decided to specialize in social media marketing. He explores why he thinks B2B social is lagging compared to B2C, and how B2B marketers need to overcome the fear associated with social media.

He also shares how Hootsuite's full enterprise solution grows and scales with different organizations, as well as tips on how to be successful, and the true benefits of having a social management solution.

Transcript: Interview with Mark Abrami - Hootsuite

Mike: Thanks for listening to marketing b2b Tech, the podcast from Napier, where you can find out what really works in b2b marketing today.

Welcome to the latest episode of marketing b2b technology that podcast from Napier. Today I'm joined by Marco Brahmi, from Hootsuite. Welcome to the podcast, Mark.

Mark: Thank you, Mike. Thank you for having me.

Mike: So, I'm interested, you know, in terms of your career, can you talk us through, you know, what you've done in the past and how you ended up at Hootsuite?

Mark: Sure, um, I feel I've got a very interesting career, I actually studied psychology, I have a degree in psychology. But when I came out of university, I was looking for a job, I fell into marketing. But you could argue that marketing and psychology are very similar. You're influencing people's perceptions and feelings about certain things. So I ended up in a marketing role. I was there at a company called Pernod Ricard, which is the world's second largest wine and spirits company. I was there for eight years. And I worked my way from sort of marketing assistant all the way up to brand manager over those eight years. And, and while I was in that role, it was traditional brand marketing.

So you know, advertising and events and packaging. But that's the time sort of the 2008 2009 with digital and social media, were becoming a big thing. And as part of my role, I got to develop and run a couple of successful brand campaigns on Facebook in early 2010. And that's when the social media bug hit me. And I believed at the time that you know, social media was here to stay, it wasn't just a fad. And I also believe that it was actually going to be something that would hugely impact not only on businesses, but on society itself. And I felt this urge this desire to specialise in social marketing. But of course, you know, 2010 2011, not a lot of organisations had dedicated social media roles. But I was very lucky to land a role at the Expedia group in early 2012, where my remit was to build and run the social media team and strategy at Expedia. And so that was, that was a lot of fun. You know, travel is a great vertical to work in on social media 70% of content on Facebook, is related to travel, people sharing their holiday photos, on their wish to listen, and so on. So it was a great time and place to be.

And it also coincided with the launch and rise of social ads, all of those annoying things that we now take for granted in our newsfeed. But, you know, early days when those were coming in, and so there was a lot of experimentation and use of these new ads, formats. And I actually even work with Facebook directly, to help them develop an ad format, which still exists today. It is dynamic ads for travel. So I was very privileged to be able to work very closely with Facebook in developing one of those annoying ad formats.

And I was at Expedia for four and a half years, and then I was I was lured away to a startup. And it became very, very apparent very quickly that the startup world environment was not right for me. And so I was only there for a few months before I left and I joined sage, and many people will be familiar with sage, you know, the accounting software giant. And again, my remit there was global director of social media. How can a company like sage, you know very much b2b in nature of what we're talking about today. But how can a company like sage use social media and so again, redefining and rebuilding teams and strategies at Sage and it was while I was at Sage that I was obviously evaluating different solutions, different social marketing tools, one of which being Hootsuite. And eventually, I made the decision to Become a Hootsuite customer at Sage and I actually I loved the product so much. I loved the people who worked at Hootsuite so much that when the opportunity came to join Hootsuite, I jumped at that. And so sort of after almost two years at that stage, I ended up joining Hootsuite, and I think it was just I had found a place where my passions combined with the passions of the organisation I was working for. And the other piece that really appealed to me was the thing I had loved about what I had done at Buena Rekha and at Expedia and sage was overcoming the challenge of how businesses can use social media. And so in my role now at Hootsuite, this is what I do on a daily basis, but not just for one company for multiple companies across different verticals, different sizes, different geographies, and so I run a team of analysts and consultants now who work with with our customers here at Hootsuite to really answer all of these difficult questions around the why the how and the what of social media within the business context.

Mike: That's amazing. And I love the idea of you like the product so much you've joined the company, I think that's brilliant, but it is true 100% True.

So I'm interested, was there a big jump? I mean, you obviously, you know, highlighted there was a big difference between working for a larger company in a startup. But in terms of going from client-side to working for a marketing technology company, was there a big difference there?

Mark: I suppose the biggest shock for me was always having in the back of your mind, this is about customer, you know, customer relationship, and almost sales. So although I'm not in a sales role, that all is always sort of a little thing at the back of my mind where, you know, what I'm doing is for the benefit of the customer, but also at the same time, it needs to benefit the organisation. Whereas before being customer side, you're almost got this view of, oh, you know, this is this is great. We can do all of these, these things, and it's good for the business objectives. But there's a slightly different pressure when you are, then you know, in sort of in the marketing sales world, more tech sales world. So yeah, that I suppose that's the only difference. The rest of it is the same. I'm I'm still dealing with all of the same questions and challenges that I used to face when I was customer side.

Mike: Cool. It sounds like the transitions worked well for you.

Mark: I guess the first question I've got to ask is around the difference between b2b and b2c? You know, b2c, I think has really embraced social media, and b2b seems to be lagging, what why do you think that is? So I think to answer this, we need to look at the psychology of social media. So I think we need to really understand why are people using social, what do they expect from it? How does it make them feel, and in reality, and if you think of your own way that you use social media and engage, there's a lot of emotional investment, whenever you open up and scroll through your various social feeds. And so that works really well for the b2c brands, where they often draw on emotions in their marketing campaigns and within their content. So a b2c brand on social can post, you know, beautifully crafted videos and funny memes and have a more relaxed tone of voice. Because it ties into the there's a closer connection to how social media users are using the platform. b2b brands, on the other hand, are generally more conservative in their approach, and they're more focused on the solution. So it's things like, you know, our product is going to help your business to do X or Y. And it's a very factual, sometimes even dry approach. And that that's in conflict with what people are expecting when they're using social media. So you know, think of that think of when you're opening up Facebook, or Twitter or whatever, in most cases, you're not wanting to engage with the brand, you're wanting to engage with humans, with your connections, those people that are either friends, family colleagues, or just, you know, people that you've connected with on these social platforms. So when there is this very heavily business-focused, factual, technical content, it's in conflict with what you're expecting and wanting to do on social. And I think that's probably why b2c brands have had an easier time and being able to embrace social a lot easier than b2b.

And so do you see the future being social media for business becomes, I guess, less emotional, social media? Or do you think that b2b brands are going to change their approach? I strongly believe that b2b brands need to change their approach. I think, you know, there needs to be. And we're seeing this already. I'll talk through some examples as we go through today. But we're seeing this already where those brands who are willing to experiment who are willing to you create a different tone of voice for social and to become more personable, more human, and more likable, and are seeing or seeing more success. And I think that's the key piece here. Think of social media as a as not as a b2c or a b2b channel, but as a human-to-human channel. That's, that's what it was created for. I know it's changed and morphed over time. But ultimately, you know, the social networks are created for human connection. And that's what brands need to take into consideration. And so if you if you're ignoring the fact that you're talking to humans who are having a very specific agenda and interests when they are on social media, then that's where you're going to face some challenges. So I do believe that b2b brands need to change how they're using social there needs to be less fear. I think there's a lot of fear today, within the b2b marketing space when it comes to social media. We need to change that and we need to overcome that.

I think that the fear point is a brilliant point. You know, we see a lot of businesses talking about being on brand on social and being on brand is normally one of the most dehumanising things you can do.

Mike: But I think there, this issue of fear is a real problem because everybody's worried that their boss is going to say, what was posted as an acceptable? I mean, how do you think we get over that?

Mark: Yeah, so education is the biggest piece that I sort of advocate for making your boss, your senior leaders, you know, executives within the organisation truly understand what socialists and why your business should be on there. I think what's happening, there's a, within the sort of the senior leaders of organisations, for many of them, their understanding of social media is limited. And they might not be power users of social, you know, they're definitely not going to be sort of tik tok as and, and social influences. But in some cases, they might not be willing to admit that they don't know, everything or the things that they do know are based on wider perceptions, I often hear vanity metrics. And I often hear executives saying, Well, why should we be on social, it's all just about cat videos, and likes and followers. But that's not the case. They're just sort of reusing things that they're they're hearing in the in the wider media. And so there's a lack of education.

And the best way is to address that. And to help senior managers, senior leaders and organisations truly understand why is social media important to your business. So it's not a case of looking at what Coca Cola are doing, and Nike and all of those, yes, it's good to learn from that. But if you're trying to convince your senior leaders, it's to say to them, This is why social media is important to our business, and you tie back to business goals, business, business objectives, and really demonstrate that, you know, we post content because it influences these key metrics that are important to the business or you know, we do these different activities, because of reasons X y&z But it always needs to tie back to business goals. So I think education is a key piece, I also think that we shouldn't be afraid, as social marketers within the b2b space to play around and experiment, don't go crazy, don't create something that's going to get you fired, or, or whatever. But you know, push the envelope a little bit and try, you know, softening the tone of voice a bit. Try, you know, tweaking some of the copy and the content, if you can and the imagery, and see how that works. And then show that to your senior leaders and say, look, we've tried these couple of things. Yes, most of our content is within this very narrow, broad nine lines. But look what happens when we go out of those lines and look at the success that we see. And also look at the success that other brands have seen and aren't delivering within the b2b space.

Mike: That's fascinating. I think one of the things I see a lot of pushback on is senior leaders being really concerned about negative comments on posts. I mean, do you see that as a problem? And do you see that as something we can overcome with education as well.

Mark: So I think just by the very nature that everybody on social has a voice, you're going to get a lot of negative comments. And we also know that the people who are most vocal are those who have something bad to say, either because they've had a bad experience, or just because they're slightly toxic. And that that's just the nature of the odd social. People who have a good experience with you, or, or a neutral experience will probably say nothing. But those who have a bad experience will go and say, but that's fine, because you know, no company is perfect. No, it no brand is perfect. And it also means that you can publicly address those negative comments. So yes, you will get negative comments, that is just the nature of the beast, it's inevitable. But it's then how do you deal with those negative comments? What do you know? Are they valid? And if they are valid, what is your comeback on that? Or if they are invalid? set the record straight? Yeah, make it clear that actually, yes, thank you for your comment. But here is it, you know, here's the truth, or, you know, here's what really is going on, because other people are looking at that. And if you are just either ignoring or staying silent on those negative comments, which you're going to inevitably get, then you're just demonstrating to other people that you don't care, or you know, or that that's true. And so it's then a case of do something about those negative comments, engage. And I think and you there may be some instances where you're just going around in circles, and then you can step back, it's like it's like normal life, you know, take any example of human interaction and apply that to to social because this is just essentially humans interacting and engaging through to a digital platform. And so yeah, I think education plus thing that sort of removal of that negative negative commentary fear will definitely would help.

Mike: That's, that's great advice. And I think, you know, one of the things that definitely helps with the engagement with the comments are tools. And I'd love to talk a little bit about Hootsuite now.

Mark: You know, and particularly, I mean, I think a lot of people know the Hootsuite free version, and yet we're talking about marketers working in enterprises and big organisations. So love the free version. But obviously, that's not an enterprise solution. So what solutions to Hootsuite offer other than just the free version, so we have a full suite, and we almost grow and scale with different organisations. So the free version is great for those individuals who maybe have one social profile, you know, they're very, very small business or an individual just doing something that they love, and they want a tool to help them with scheduling content, and so on.

But we grow, the product grows, and there's then bigger versions of the solution, which then have greater functionality and, and capabilities in there. And so you know, as we go up, you you, you get then sort of what we call business plan, where you have up to five users, and now you're starting to get that collaboration, and they're starting to build in the approval workflows. And then as your organisation gets bigger, we have, you know, bespoke packages that we create, where you're then able to do a lot more things you can manage way more social profiles, you can have a lot more people collaborating in there, you have the governance and control. And so you know, it's no longer a case of people sharing passwords, login passwords, to your social profiles, and when that person leaves the organisation, Oh, who's got the password? Oh, I don't know, Jack, you know, he's gone. And so you have that you're able to put in that, that governance and control in there, better approval workflows, an easier content creation, community management, analytics, as well. So you know, as your, as your use of the product needs to become more sophisticated, we have more sophisticated solutions when it comes to analytics, and being able to, to evaluate and understand what's working, and therefore do do more of that. You can scale your, the amount that you're listening to, as well. So those conversations and discussions about your brand about industry, trends, and so on. And we also have services and support. And that scales with different size organisations as well. So you no training and education piece, we have Hootsuite Academy, which is our education portal, lots of great content certification courses, for, again, organisations of all different sizes. And then of course, teams like the one that I run, where, you know, we have analysts and consultants who helped enterprise size organisations with things like understanding your social maturity and the types of things that you could be doing. So a very broad product that, you know, can really scale as your business grows, and all the different components and integrations and capabilities that get bigger and more complex in line with your organisation. I'm really interested about the freemium approach.

Mike: I mean, do you see a lot of companies go from free to paid? Or is the free version more about, you know, raising awareness of Hootsuite? Or is it just you guys being, you know, genuinely generous, and, and giving a product that, frankly, a lot of people are using who are never going to go to a paid version?

Mark: And yeah, so you know, obviously, the Hootsuite grew about 12 years ago, and grew out of an agency who were managing social media on behalf of other companies, and felt and saw the pain that they went through. And so created, you know, our founder created this tool for his own use within the agency. And it's now become this model. And so, we do believe that there are, there's a large number of people who need the free version in order to do what they're doing. But equally, there are a lot of businesses and organisations who immediately need a more complex solution that obviously, you know, different levels of, of subscription service to, we do see some organisations where they're almost dabbling in social or just quite naturally, the social media team are not being given tools or budget. And so they're using the Hootsuite free version, in order to do what they need to do. And as their social media activity improves, and starts to gain visibility within the organisation, they then be challenged to do more, but in order to do more, you need the investment in there. And so those are the types of companies where we're seeing out of necessity that the teams social teams are using the free version, but then they're upgrading to the paid for version and obviously different variations of that. But we also see a lot of organisations now just truly understanding that in order to be successful on social, you need a social management solution. And so they're doing the you know, RFPs and RFIs. And, you know.

In investigations, and we are being included that we are the industry leader with the oldest player in the social media marketing and social management space. We are, you know, often recognised by the likes of Forrester, as, you know, a leading solution in this space. And so we quite naturally come up in as people are evaluating tools, we become up in this conversation. So it's fascinating that, you know, the free version is really helping you grow the business.

Mike: But what I'm quite interested in is, are there any particular features in the paid versions that you think really differentiate yourselves from other social media? Tools?

Mark: Yes, definitely. You know, obviously, at the at the core level, the rotary platform and other social management tools are all built on the same API's from the social networks. So there are lots of similarities. But in terms of the Hootsuite solution, and what makes it so powerful, in my opinion, is that you're able to integrate all of your social media activities, not just your marketing pieces, but everything within one on one platform. So you're able to publish and schedule your content and get approvals and, and so on. But also, we have an employee advocacy solution. So enabling your wider organisation to be active on social media, we have a social selling solution as well integrated into one tool, customer care, social listening, analytics, rich analytics, you're all in one place. So you're not having to log into different tools or do different things, all of your social media activity across your entire business is in that one, that one space. I think also, another key element is we integrate with a lot of other marketing tech stack tools as well. So we integrate into CRMs into content management systems into content, you know, dams, digital asset management tools, as well. We integrate into business intelligence tools, so you're able to get richer and deeper understanding of the impact of your social media activities within the wider business context. So yeah, there are a lot of factors that really differentiate the Hootsuite solution. And I think the other piece on top of that, outside of the solution, but it's just them the support and services I spoke about a short while ago, you know, the education piece, activities that my team run, as value add to to customers are all part of the key reasons that differentiate us from some of our competitors.

Mike: First, great, there's a lot there. I mean, one of the things you mentioned that I think it is really interesting, you're the employee advocacy, and particularly the social selling side, we see a lot of clients, very keen to promote social selling. But typically, they struggle with a sales team, being reluctant to adopt social selling as a different model. I mean, why do you think that is? And what can we do to overcome that resistance?

Mark: So social selling is a very complex topic. And I think, you know, to understand, it's really about what is social selling, there's, there's lots of different interpretations and views of this. But ultimately, it's about how your sales people can build relationships with, with customers and potential customers, using social as well as their traditional ways. So I often say it's complimentary to how your sales team use email, and telephone and face to face. When dealing with prospects and customers. It's not something completely different or new or anything, it's just another way of engaging. And so those salespeople who know how to engage on a human level with other people through telephone and email and face to face, quite easily embraced the social media, social selling social media aspect, but a lot of them don't, there's this sort of fear or uncertainty of what to do. And so in order to get your salespeople in and the, you know, less resistant to this education, provide them with training, make them understand what's in it for them. This is often where social selling and employee advocacy programmes sort of fail at the beginning, is they're set up and they're explained as this is great for the business, which it is. But actually, what you should be telling your advocates and your social sellers is, this is great for you. This is a great tool for you to become a 21st century seller or 21st century employee. I often say I run training sessions on social selling and employee advocacy. And I often say social media is the new business card. Before we all had these little pieces of paper that had your name and your details on but now you have a personal social brand. And you have this online presence, which is how people can understand who you are, what you do, how you do it, and if they want to engage with you. So it's, even more, it's even richer than the business card. So education around personal stuff.

As your brand, you know how to use it in a powerful way, what's in it for you as a salesperson. And then the next piece is you need to empower them. So one thing to educate your salespeople, but you know, if you just educate them, and then leave them to their own devices, that's when you start ending up with stuff that's potentially off brand. And some, you know, less or less impactful activities. So you then need to arm them with content. But also, it's not just, Hey, here's the content, we're posting to our social channels. So we think you should share it as well. But actually tailoring and creating content that aligns with not only your seller's needs, so you know, why would they want to share this and what's in it for them, but also with their audience needs as well. So it's complex, there's a very complex relationship here when it comes to social selling. But when you get it right, it is hugely powerful. We see, you know, much shorter lead to close time. For you know, with the social selling, we see a greater increase in the pipeline as well generated from search. So, but it has to be done in the right way. It's not just the simple, turn it on, give your salespeople Sales Navigator, and our social sellers, there's a lot of change that needs to be done by the salespeople, there's a lot of things that they need to do and to embrace and habits that they need to form as well. It's not just an overnight success thing, it takes time to build. But when you get it right, it is hugely powerful for your sellers, for your advocates, and for the business. And I love that thought about creating content specifically for the sales team. I think, you know, one of the things I have seen fall over is where you've got marketing content that's available for salespeople to share, and it's just not appropriate for them. It's not the right style, it's not the right content.

Mike: So that's brilliant advice. I love that. And also, you'll often see in those situations, if you are connected to a number of people from that organisation, you will just be seeing that content everywhere. Which then you know, uses, it's impacted. So you do need to have more crafted tailored content for your salespeople. So, I mean, obviously presuming you help people overcome challenges, but you also see some great results as well. I mean, do you have some examples of companies that are doing b2b social media? Well, is there anybody you'd point to and say, yeah, these guys are really crushing it?

Mark: Yep. So Hootsuite, of course, you know, we wouldn't be in this game if we weren't good at it as well. And so you know that the Hootsuite social presence is fantastic. We're across different platforms, Twitter, LinkedIn, and so on. And we post a variety of content that fulfills different objectives. So we were not afraid to post that content, which is timely and fun and engaging, and really appealing to our core users. So those people who are the, you know, community managers day-to-day social practitioners, and we do all of that to keep them loving our brand. So we post when there was the big Facebook outage at the beginning of last week, you know, we posted some tongue, tongue-in-cheek comments about that, and people were engaging, and talking about that, which is, which is great. But that's very specific in terms of, we want to keep our users loving the brand and what we do, but we also post content, sort of that goes higher up the chain. It explains the business benefits of the platform, we post case studies, best practices because that's the type of stuff that resonates with key decision-makers within an organisation and also which empowers them to answer any of those questions that they get from executives, or from procurement and finance when they're having to justify why they want to invest in our solution. And we obviously share details about events and webinars and right a wide range of topic. topics that you know, cover our core user all the way up to CEOs we run webinars for CEOs as well. Outside of Hootsuite, I think slack, do a great job on social too. So they post a lot of content on different topics as well, they understand they've got a very diverse audience. So they publish a lot of different content, event coverage, they publish third party or they post third party articles on work-life balance, which is obviously very important. productivity tips, company news, but I think the key thing about Slack is their tone of voice is perfect for social, it's casual. It's relatable, it's human. It's not, you know, very rigid and bland, if you like, one more example for getting very quickly. Shutterstock did a great thing a couple of years ago, you'll probably remember fire festival. And it was the whole fake event that was supposed to happen. And Shutterstock use their own assets and created a parody campaign called Fire stock. And basically all they did was they were just showing how easy it was and how cost-effective it is to use stock images in order to create these amazing campaigns that, you know, get people so excited that they're willing to spend 1000s of pounds to go to a fake event on a tropical island. So you know things like that where it shows

To stop could have just said, Yeah, our solution, our stock images are grateful for you to do create campaigns. But they didn't they created something on social that tapped into what people were talking about that was a bit more fun, a bit more visual. And he says it's things like that where b2b brands can be a little bit more creative and intelligent, and have more meaningful impact.

Mike: That's great. I mean, there's some excellent examples there. You mentioned different platforms, I'm gonna have to ask this, do you think as b2b marketers, we should be trying out all the new platforms? I mean, should we all be on tik tok at the moment.

Mark: So we know that b2b typically stays in the LinkedIn space. But that's quite natural, because it, that's where the users on LinkedIn are expecting a business experience, they're, you know, they're there. That's what it is, it's built on. So I think that's quite understandable. But that doesn't mean you should ignore or not go to other platforms.

But at the same time, don't jump on something just because it's, it's the latest trend, or it's hot. You know, always think about how is this relevant to my organisation?

You know, just because Coca Cola are doing it, or Nike are doing it, and everybody's talking about it, and doesn't mean that your organisation should. So tic TOCs, an interesting one. And I think it's been around long enough now that people can understand more about it, and about how the users are using it, their experience, their expectations. So it's a nice time now, you're not jumping on the bandwagon too early and almost setting yourself up for failure. But it's also a case of really do that due diligence to understand, is this the right place for my brand? Is this the right place for my product? Or my audience here? And if they are, how can I make sure that the content I post here matches their experience on this platform? And so I often say to businesses, when they talk to me about tik tok and say, should we go on tik tok, I advise them think about it, is it the right fit? For four years? Is your audience there? And can you fulfil their needs, but also view it almost like YouTube light? So in other words, are you able to create video content that's going to deliver your message in a fun, engaging, and more importantly, quick way, because that's what the tik tok format is.

And so if you're just trying to then take maybe a product catalogue, or, you know, here's our latest features of our product, or whatever, video that you've done for YouTube, and you're going to put that on tik tok, it's not going to work. And so, you know, there's all this consideration and planning that needs to be happening. And so I always say, don't just jump because some, you know, a big brand is seeing success, really evaluate what's the opportunity for you? That's, that's great advice. I think that's really good. I mean, we're coming to the end of time, this has been amazing. I'm just wondering if you could finish off with, you know, a couple of tips for b2b marketers to be more successful on social media? Sure. So I think, first and foremost, know your audiences truly understand who it is that you're wanting to talk to? And then where are they? Which platforms? Are they on? Are they on Tik Tok? Or is it more likely to be on LinkedIn, and when you understand what they need and want from you provide them with that, you know, so really, it's that that matching of their experience and their expectations, you might have an agenda, you might have things you want to tell them, but it might not be what they want to see when they're scrolling through their social feeds. It might be what they want to see in a trade publication, for example, but that doesn't mean that's what they want to see on social. So understand your audiences what they're expecting, given that don't be dry or boring. Don't be afraid to experiment. And I think a couple of final tips, follow Hootsuite on social media, your social platforms of your choice. There's a lot of great stuff that we put out there that you can learn from case studies, best practices, and also bookmark the Hootsuite blog. So blog.Hootsuite.com Because we do tackle a lot of the questions that you've asked today, Mike, but also that the listeners might be asking in our blog series as well.

Mike: That's some great advice. And I think the blog is a fantastic resource. I mean, if people are feeling really enthusiastic about social media, what's the best way for them to you know, get started with Hootsuite, and maybe if they've got some questions, would they be able to contact you with them?

Mark: Yep. So the Hootsuite site has got all the details you need. I haven't done any justice today to do all of that great information that's on there. So have a look at the Hootsuite site. Follow us on social and if people want to connect with me, I'm on LinkedIn. So by all means, find me Marco Brahmi. They shouldn't be too many of us. But you'll find me there. Connect with me. One word of advice, though, if you're going to send me a connection request, just mentioned the podcast because I often am quite unhappy.

Everybody should be, you should be very careful about your network and who you're connecting with. So don't just, you know, randomly connect just because somebody sent you a request. Because what I found is often, this is the bad practice of social selling. Somebody sends you a connection request, and they take that as an invitation to start selling you something straight away. And so I've learned over time to be cautious. And so yes, if by all means connect with me, just mentioned the podcast, I'll accept your connection, and then happy to have as many conversations as you like, about the challenges that you're facing.

Mike: This has been brilliant. I mean, I think we could go on for ages. But this has been so helpful. Thank you so much for being on the podcast Mark.

Mark: Thank you very much for having me, Mike. I've thoroughly 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 me directly on LinkedIn.

A Napier Podcast: Interview with Martin Larsen - Conferize

In this podcast episode, we interview Martin Larsen, Chief Executive at Conferize, an event-based marketing technology platform.

Martin shares what led him to join Conferize, and provides some insights into why Denmark is a hotspot for marketing technology startups.

He also shares tips and advice on how B2B marketers can show the RoI from their events, why it's important to focus on the outcome as an organizer, and whether hybrid events will be the key approach for the future.

Transcript: Interview with Martin Larsen - Conferize

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 Martin Larson. Martin is the CEO of Conferize Welcome to the podcast, Martin.

Martin: Thank you so much good to be here.

Mike: Great. I mean, maybe first of all, I don't know if people are familiar with the company. Can you just explain what Conferize does?

Martin: Yeah, I can do that. So Conferize is a things based marketing technology company, we deliver an event technology, mainly to take care of all of the aspects from invitation to planning through communication, basically taking care of for an organiser for all of the aspects into SMD management. So that's what we do. And we're pretty proud of that part.

Mike: Cool. And I mean, the first thing to say is that, you know, you mentioned that is a Danish company, Denmark seems like it's a bit of a hot spot, particularly for marketing technology startups. And why is that? Why is Denmark doing so? Well?

Martin: Well, it's really a good question I see not only in marketing technology, but also in financial technology, fintechs, health tech, etc. I think there's been a change in culture, also, we've had a few changes in the education system over the last 10 to 15 years. And, and we are on top of all of that really blessed of, of the fact that we are having quite a few of the big tech companies having their development centres in Denmark, it really enables a lot of communication, knowledge share, and just enthusiasm in in just creating a great environment where you're trying to, you know, credit a difference with, you know, smaller pieces of technology. So it's it's, yeah, it's really a vibrant scene. I think it started in many ways with FinTech and really moved into many new industry areas.

Mike: Interesting. So in terms of view yourself, I mean, how did you end up a conference? Can you talk us through, you know, your career journey and what you've done in the past?

Martin: Yeah, well, yeah, it's interesting. Yeah, it's funny just to to be a conference, I'd say, I really started my career at Accenture, I've been with a couple of those major world consultancies, technology companies like Accenture have been there for more than a decade in with Microsoft in their consulting department and with Gartner as a partner in their operations. And that has really been quite a few of the foundations, and here were recent years, have had a transformation roles as CEO, CFO. And now I'm here conference where it really started off as a part of her reconstruction, where we wanted to dedicate even more effort in simply just going to the market, simply wanted to make sure that we are getting some presence, and we really wanted to create the delights our system can deliver. And that's the journey we've started off with, I'd say, I've done a lot of, you know, making an impact by, you know, delivering change. And I'm this what we do here as well.

Mike: Amazing. And so, you came to Conferize, I have to ask, and this is maybe a bit unfair, but but you joined earlier this year in the middle of a pandemic, and you joined an events company, basically. That seems a very brave move to me. Why did you decide to join?

Martin: Well, I was approached by the board, some investors, they were conference were really struggling due to the pandemic, and they needed to really find a new direction. So we had a few discussions towards the end of last year, around New new direction, what could we do? Did we have a belief in in the platform in the customer base and the actual market, and I spent some time just looking at the platform, did a you know, simply due diligence, and said I do believe that there is a need for this. I think if we can take the pandemic and the fact that the vaccinations were on its way, it would be a matter of months or maybe half years before we were really getting back to some kind of normal and for me, that was really the time where it was about rebuilding the organisation and start prepare for the future after the pandemic. It's it's really going to be different I'm sure about that. But I just believed it was a great opportunity to take and of course, it's With some risks of being in the event industry, during the pandemic, I think it's pretty fair to say that what we all come out with after the pandemic, is really a need for, for having much more engagement, it's about getting our processes, digitised even more so. And I actually think we would have a fair portion of those tasks we can help with.

Mike: Fascinating. So I mean, obviously, you know, Conferize can support both virtual and physical events. I mean, what do you think is going to happen? are we all going to go back to face to face physical events? Or are we going also virtual is it gonna be somewhere in the middle,

Martin: I think we are going to do all of that, really. And I really enjoyed here. Early, early September, we enjoyed being at conflicts in London, which worked really great. It was fantastic. As a Dane, coming back to the UK, first time since Brexit, by the way, also, but it was really good fun to be there. But but it was funny also, to see a London sub being super, super quiet. And just see the excitement of just going out again, meeting people. Having fun having fun, I think that level of personal interaction, you you probably don't probably don't want to miss that part. But I think you want to make sure that when you go into events, you are becoming even more aware that you're spending money, you're spending your own time. And you've learned so much about the fact that you can actually do a lot of great inspections by doing that virtually, I think doing virtual events, or doing events in any form is not just about whether you do hybrid virtual or physical events, it's really about getting the right level of support. And being able both as an SMD, as an organiser, to make sure that you are actually getting, you know, content out of it, you're getting good learnings. You're getting good contacts. If you're an organised and un and marketing organisation, you actually want to make sure that you're getting leads, and you're getting a better conversion out of those. And that's not just a matter of whether you're going virtual or physical or hybrid, for that matter.

Mike: That's fascinating. I mean, you, you talked about some of the challenges there that people organising events face. And I think a lot of people listen to the podcast, there'll be marketers inside b2b organisations who are organising either physical or virtual events to drive new business. So typically generating leads and things like that. I mean, what do you think are the biggest challenges for marketers in that position?

Martin: But what right now, I, I, what I do hear in our conversations are really a lot of marketing organisations has really been hit by the pandemic, just as we did as as, as countries have been redundancies, there have been changes in budgets, etc. So it's really about a matter of getting back to, to a new type of normal, you know, trying to understand what can we do, how can we do it in the best possible way. But also it so I think that's really like an immediate structural problem or challenge you need to take care of. But on the longer run, it's probably also a matter of making sure that you are getting even more insight, and you're getting no information about what's actually going to convert what's going to help you getting the right attendees to your events. What's actually, how can you actually make sure that you are not just building an event based on assumptions? You're building that event based on the data from your previous events, but probably also the data? You're getting out of the facts that what will actually convert when you're starting to send out invitations? How can you actually engage with your smds? Before they have the meeting up at an event? Would you be able to reorganise your your content to ensure that it it actually becomes as relevant as possible? So I think a lot of the challenges are really that we're we're starting to learn now, that going to events to confer conferences, and what have you, is really not just a one way communication, we kind of expect that we will be able to influence the content, and we as attendees as organisers actually want to get more out of it. I think that challenge of making sure that you as an event organiser, when you go to your gf, CSO or whoever you go to, you'll be able to articulate we actually did what we promised and we did even better so

Mike: I've that's fascinating is a lot of things there and I think I'd like to kind of break that down into some of the different points you made. So the last thing you talked about was effectively showing return on investment showing you achieved what you wanted to achieve. So how can marketers show that their events have delivered a return and how can come fries help with them?

Martin: Well, there are a lot of ways we can help and us as a markets here can make a difference, what we do see is that there are still a lot of marketeers that are simply just using different tools, different components in the entire journey of their SMB engagement. And that's, that's really one way where we can help we create this one simple tool that will be able to capture all of the information. And by that use, you also capture all of the data from first engagement to registration, you capture all of the insights. And we've enabled, you know, analytics components behind that. So you'll be able to get from just like you get from any other website, you'll be able to retrieve a lot of good Google Analytics out of that. But the other thing is really it's it's it is about data, it's about making sure that what you will get out of as one computer system like conference is you will get a data set, you can reuse to reassess and correlate to your, to your marketing automation systems and to your CMS and what have you. So by that you'll be able to get potentially a bigger data set. And you'd be able to drive that out of your systems.

Mike: So it's interesting as a couple of things you said, I mean, the first is, it sounds like one of the big benefits is you're actually handling the whole process within one system, you're not trying to pull multiple reports out of different systems to work out how well, an event has gone. Yeah, so. So that makes a lot of sense. I mean that that's really clear. But then you talk about taking that data and passing on try the system. So like your CRM or premium information. So are you building integrations with those systems? Or how does that data get shared?

Martin: Yeah, so we do have integrations. And we see that the major integrations we do with the CRM side of this world, it's very typical all for that matter, if you have particular marketing automation systems, we do have the integration there. And, and it's one that a lot of good reasons for that, of course, because we're we're taking care of customers, or attendees. But we also see that, given given our open data platform, we give the access for you to take our information and input that into your data warehouse system. So if you want to work further on that do your bi and analytics activities, you'd be able to do that. And by that you can sort of put that together with what else you do in your sales funnel, with your with your leads and your prospects.

Mike: Perfect. Okay. That's I think that's really clear in terms of how that data will be taken and reused elsewhere. So I'm now we're going to get to I guess the question everybody wants to ask is, how do you get more attendees to an event? I mean, you see a lot of events, what do you see as being the ways people use Conferize to maximise the attendance?

Martin: That's really a good question. I think that there's something about the data, there's something about the fact that if you're able to monitor behaviour, you can get a lot out of that. But but one, if I could call it more like our trick is this really that? Sometimes it's also just about the event organisers, and with, it's about getting the speed, the oversight on when you're starting to get an impact when you're getting the level of engagement. So a lot of what we actually do with our, our system, is really enabling you as an organiser, to make sure that, of course, we do know that you probably need to take care of logistics, you need to take care of speakers, you need to take care of all of the communication and so forth. But what we can do is really to automate all of the process around the smds. So you have done that, whether with with your planning, you know exactly when they register, what emails will come out, when should we send logistics, you wish to send follow up emails, or send reminders, etc, all of that communication are really elements, we can build an early in the process, enabling you as the organiser, to take care of some of the most important elements, which really work to deliver the right content. Is this prepare to perfection? This is actually what people are in demand for. Because that's that's another question. That's probably where you actually want to pose a few questions. Engage with your with your audience, and we can help with that as well. But it's really that level of communication, enabling you to focus on content on delivery. And then we can sort of speak streamline the communication behind

Mike: That's fascinating. I think you made a lot of good points there. So it sounds like one of the things comprise does is to build this registration and attendance into a process. And certainly I think, you know, one of the challenges a lot of people organising events have is people register and then don't attend. I mean, is that fundamentally down to sending those email reminders? Or is there anything else people should be doing?

Martin: I think you need to do much more. But I think, you know, we shouldn't underestimate the fact of, of doing those elements as well, right. You know, sometimes it's just about reminding, and I think you can do a lot about that. But I also think we talked about earlier about the fact that you want to make sure that you are getting, you know, return on your investment, that also applies for the smds, you actually want to make sure that you as an SMD, are attending an event, a conference, a webinar, have you that's going to deliver what you actually are looking for. And a good part of what we do deliver without platform is really an insert into action component, which enables you to start the dialogue, we actually have the right elements in our agenda, that's our schedule, actually look to your needs. And make sure that you're starting to retrieve feedback as early as possible. So you can start enhance your agenda, you can probably prepare your speakers even better. I just had one example, recently, where I spoke to one of our clients, we when we have our people, when people are registering on our platform, which enables that you can, for instance, ask a question, what's the most important for you to attend this session? What do you want to get off that they just learned that they had like was that 25% increase in attendance, just to the fact that they could actually communicate like three, four days in advance that this is actually what you do, smds has said you, you want to get out of this, this, how we're going to respond to it. They, they as organisers start to give some guidance, and suddenly, they created like a more lively conversation. And that was quite helpful. So So I think it's about engagement. And it's really about making sure that you get your nose up, and make sure that you actually focus on outcome as the organism

Mike: That's an amazing uplift, just by asking what people want to get out of it. And I think, I think some organisers are a bit afraid to do that sometimes, you know, it feels like, like they might might decide that they're not gonna deliver. I mean, do you see that? Do you see people changing the content based on that sort of feedback?

Martin: I do see some changes, you know, sometimes, maybe, maybe you don't want to change your speakers. What could happen, right, but, but sometimes it's just the benefit that you can give, give back to the speakers or what you really have that you're saying that this is actually what the attendees are looking for. And suddenly, you can have better engaged speakers as well. Because you, you know, you suddenly know much more about what's going on. And, and it's in comparison to being on, you know, just posing a lot of questions on social media. By getting into this more safe environment, you're getting even better and qualified questions. And I think just posing that question is just like, you know, being in sales, if you're not willing to ask that question, just like, if you don't want to ask for the deal, you're never going to, right? So it's, you know, think about it as selling, you need to make sure that you are prepared to be on the right foot. When when the customer is there.

Mike: That's great advice. I, I'm interested now, I mean, we're obviously you know, still within the pandemic people are struggling with, with face to face events for all sorts of reasons. I mean, how much of a difference Do you see between organising a face to face a real physical event versus a virtual one?

Martin: Well, it's out of all of the logistics that comes with that, of course, I actually, you know, in terms of process, I actually do see that many differences. I see that, you know, getting attendee engagement is is just as important on virtually engagement as on physical ones. You know, it's as difficult to make sure that if you're sitting on a screen or you're going to a fail conference, that you're having people engaged, all of that is not really changing due to the fact that you're going virtual or physical I think one of the elements I'm starting to see where people are testing off at the moment is probably as much an hybrid, you know, everybody's talking about hybrids, and it's really a great component. But I think that's really where you should be aware of the fact that it comes with a cost, the cost is the price, the cost is probably more that you need to set up the production facilities to make sure that you have the right lighting, you have the right sound, make sure that when people are being engaged, you know, and you know, on in a hybrid environment, that you're actually listening to the ones that are, you know, listening in from Singapore. And it's, it's a complete different, you know, production scenario you need to focus on. But coming to engagement is about the same.

Mike: Fascinating, so, do you see people in investing more in virtual events? I think prior to the pandemic virtual events were, frankly, in in Europe as a second class citizen, and people tended to focus on physical Yeah, do you think that's changed?

Martin: I think it has changed, we see we see customers, we had a university we talked to last week, who would really wanted to test it out. They have a lot of their students who are not yet back at EDD college at university. And we do see that they still want to make sure that they can create those hybrid events to make sure that they can really engage due to the all of the restrictions that are still in play. And I also think that people are a little more cautious on travelling on cost. I think the sustained sustainability aspects shouldn't be forgotten, either. So we would probably see that, especially their hybrid infrastructure technologies would play a bigger role in making this equip production. But I think a hybrid is really like you say, a second citizen. And it's somewhere something where you actually probably need to spend a little time prepared, right? Because it's easy to go to virtual. And we've seen more and more people do that, by going to hybrid is the way you actually need to make sure that you get a tried and tested out the small form and get your own experiences. And I'm pretty convinced you as a marketeer would do well on that as well.

Mike: Absolutely, I think from my experience, quite often hybrid offers, you know, some real benefits in terms of a little bit of excitement around the event actually physically happening, people attending, but also I think the speakers at events get much more feedback, even it's just through body language. And that can result in much better presentations. I'm sure we've all done the the webinar presentation, you have no idea whether the webinar attendees are even paying attention to its stuff.

Martin: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah, I believe people are, yeah, yes, you say you can shut off your screen and so forth. And it's not really beneficial. But by you're completely right. I've seen an we have a quite a few good partners, we have one partner who's really focusing in on hybrid, they're having like their own virtual universe. And just getting that interplay is something different, but it's worthwhile. And when you're getting there, you're getting, you know, the excitement of doing something new. And you shouldn't take that away. It's that's, that's, that is really cool.

Mike: Brilliant. So I'm interested in terms of your customers, I mean, typically, who would be a normal conference customer, who would you typically see using the product?

Martin: So what, what would you say is that our customers use Conferize when they have more than 10 events per year. You have customers who are looking into having, you know, Beyonds the scale of 50 events per year on our platform. And they are they're really from different industries. We have as mentioned before, we have some from the educational systems, we have festivals we have, we have, you know marketing, bigger marketing organisations. So it's really a good variety. We also have some agencies will really use us for, you know, just particular events, where it's useful just to have something you could probably do relatively fast. You do not need to invest in your own infrastructure to make things happen. So typically, what we look at are really organisations are hosting more than more than tournaments per year.

Mike: And that is that because people then use the system frequently they get more familiar with it.

Martin: Yeah, that's that's essentially it's also due to the fact that if you as you say it, you need to You need to learn how to do events. And if you are having just one system for it, it actually helps you to to enable your processes much better. It also comes with a cost, of course. So it's it's also an opportunity to elevate your costs into the number of events you actually do. And you know, if you're just a small organisation doing one or two events, of course we can, we can help as well. But the bigger question is really, do you have a budget to really do that in a big scale? Or is is that where you would look into use the features and functions you would find at Facebook or LinkedIn or what have you. So I think it's really a balance, we are really there to help organisers who believe events are really a key part of their business.

Mike: I've got to ask you, you talk about a being a reasonably priced product, in terms of size of company or budget. I mean, what sort of costs are involved in in using something like, comprises a dedicated platform rather than cobbling together? Multiple existing systems?

Martin: Yeah. So since we are Software as a Service, technology, it's something you would apply relatively easy, you buy that on our subscription base, our starting price, you know, when you do more than 10 events per year, is around 400 euros per month. And then of course, depending on complexity. We have a few parameters, but always glad to discuss that. But we are, as we would say we are we are reasonably priced. And oh, that's the elements if you actually want to do that on your own. If you, for instance, want to build your own website and so forth, you'd come to the same cost anyhow.

Mike: Yeah, actually 500 euros per event, which is I guess, roughly what 10 would work out as I mean, that's not looking at huge events. I mean, that that can be valuable for, you know, really quite small events, particularly with valuable attendees.

Martin: Sure, sure. Yeah, exactly. And, of course, we know that there's a level of scalability into this. So it's, it makes quite good sense.

Mike: Yeah, yeah. And I can imagine the time savings once you've got a sequence of, for example, reminder emails for webinars, that they're always pretty much the same. Each time, once you've set that up, that's gonna save you time. So that sounds great.

Martin: Exactly. Yeah. One of the funny, funny features we actually created last year was really a duplication function. You know, when you've created equative, why don't you just duplicate that so you can create another one? and fantastic. Sometimes it's as simple as that. Right?

Mike: Yeah. And that that clearly is a huge time saving. So that sounds great. So I guess we're coming to the end of our time, I'm, I'm interested, you know, do you have any tips for marketers who want to organise events, what have you seen, that might help them make their next webinar, for example, more successful?

Martin: I'd say get in touch, you know, get in touch with us get in touch with potential some of the other tech providers, sometimes, you know, moving into event technology can be a bit of a challenge. And sometimes you simply just find that through the conversation, it'll help clear your, your mind on what's possible. What's, what are you able to do? And the other part I would say, even though it's always good to plan ahead, if you're short on time, that's probably one of the areas of elements where it's really good to have a conversation with solid tech writers. I think, as an example, we know we can we can help optimization scrolling in, I'd say typically in less than two days.

Mike: Wow. So I think that's great advice, you know, spend the time engaging with your potential attendees rather than trying to do the the the admin and the logistics, which could be automated

Martin: Executors. Yeah. That's that's the that's really the point.

Mike: Absolutely. I it's been fascinating. I mean, is there anything else you feel we should have covered or anything else you'd like to say about Conferize before we finish?

Martin: No, not really. It was great being here. I'm glad to have the opportunity to meet you and, and just have these conversations right.

Mike: Now, it's been really interesting. And I'm sure people will be interested in contacting you about their next events. I mean, what's the best way for people to get in contact? Reach out?

Martin: We have, our website confides that comm would definitely be a good entry point. If you are keen to look me up at LinkedIn, I do spend time there on a daily basis or be on make sure we'll we'll reach out.

Mike: Fantastic. And that's great. Thank you so much for all the information or the advice. I'm sure a lot of us are looking forward to some physical events in the near future. Yeah, but I think we're also Gonna be running virtual events as well. So the advice has been super helpful. Thank you.

Martin: Thank you so much. And I'm hoping to see some of you potentially at events sec live in November. That's going to be a fantastic physical event again.

Mike: And I'm sure there'll be some beer available there as well. Thanks. Thank you very much, Marty.

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.

Bodo’s Virtual Wide Bandgap 2021 Event Program Published

Bodo’s Power Systems has announced its fifth Wide Bandgap conference, due to be held from 30th November to 3rd December 2021.

Inviting experts from the field of Wide Bandgap Power Semiconductors, the event will share the latest trends and achievements of this technology. Key topics will include silicon carbide, gallium nitride, passives and magnetics, and test measurement and simulation.

With over 60 presentations confirmed, live Q&A’s will be available throughout the event, with presenters and conference attendees joining from all around the world. All presentations will be available one week in advance, providing attendees with the opportunity to watch the content ahead of the event and prepare questions for the Q&A.

We were pleased to hear that Bodo’s Wide Bandgap event will be going ahead for the 5th year in a row, and we look forward to hearing what we are sure will be fantastic feedback from the event.

To register for the event for free, please click here. 

DATE 2022 Opens for Submissions

DATE 2022, the European event for electronic system design and test has opened for submissions, inviting members of the industry to submit content for its multi-partner projects, tutorials and workshops.

DATE 2022 invites innovative and high-tech research multi-project submissions which address DATE 2022’s key topics including AI, nanoelectronics and quantum and neuromorphic computing. Contributions must be submitted before Monday 15th November 2021, and the full details can be found here.

Designed to provide audiences with introductions to important topics in DATE technical areas as well as hands-on tutorials on design automation tools, DATE 2022 is also welcoming submissions for tutorial presentations in DATE technical areas. Submissions must be made by Friday 29th October, and further information can be found here.

Submissions for workshops are also open with DATE 2022 looking for workshops on emerging research and application topics, which have the potential to impact on future DATE technical areas in design and test of microelectronic systems. Submissions are due by Friday 29th October 2021, with further details here.

Taking place between 14th and 23rd March 2022, the show will take place in a hybrid format, with a live two-day event taking place in the city of Antwerp, followed by other activities carried out online in the subsequent days.

Full submissions details and further information about the event can be found here.

Napier Named as Finalist at The Electronics Industry Awards 2021

Following an online vote within the industry, we are honoured to announce that Napier has been named as a finalist for ‘The Most Outstanding PR Agency’ category at the Electronics Industry Awards 2021 (EIA).

We'd also like to congratulate several of our clients including Microchip Technology, Yokogawa Test and Measurement Europe, Tektronix and Fluke who have also been announced as finalists across a variety of categories.

The pandemic prevented the normal celebration from taking place last year, but the event will move ahead in person for 2021 and winners will be announced on Thursday 21st October at the Tower Hotel in London.

Congratulations to all the shortlisted companies, good luck to our clients, and we look forward to attending the awards ceremony.

Does Account Based Marketing Work for Small-Medium B2B?

Mike Maynard, Managing Director at Napier recently sat down with Jose Palomino host of The Revenue Throughput Podcast.  In this episode, Mike discusses why ABM might be exactly what you need, even if you’re in a small to mid-sized market without a ton of resources.

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.

A Napier Podcast: Interview with Naren Hariparanthaman - Social Animal

In this podcast episode, we interview Naren Hariparanthaman, Co-Founder and CEO at Social Animal, a content intelligence platform.

Naren shares his journey to founding the platform and reveals how Social Animal reduces the need for 'manual' work; helping B2B marketers with the full content marketing journey, from finding content ideas, through to distributing and building relationships with influencers.

Transcript: Interview with Naren Hariparanthaman - Social Animal

Mike: Thanks for listening to marketing b2b tech, the podcast from Napier, where you can find out what really works in b2b marketing today. Welcome to the latest episode of marketing b2b technology, the podcast from Napier. Today I've gotten around Naren Hariparanthaman, who's the co founder and CEO of social animal. Welcome to the podcast and Naren.

Naren: Hey, thanks. Thanks, Mike, for having me here.

Mike: Great. I mean, I'm really excited to have you on because if I look at it, you've had an amazing career building companies around digital marketing, do you want to talk through your journey and some of the companies that you've helped start and grow?

Naren: Sure, so I have a degree, master's degree in computer science. So actually, I should have been into fully into coding. But I switched gears and got into stumbled SEO to be very specific in digital marketing. And that kind of like, got me into this marketing career. So I did my masters in the US when I landed a SEO opportunity, which is your internship opportunity. And then I kind of like cloud the way things work. And it was fascinating for me, and then I after like, then switched. Then after my internship was over, I decided, Okay, this is my career, I don't want to do coding anymore. And then I start, I went and work for a digital marketing agency in Austin, Texas. And that is where I learned most of advanced concepts of digital marketing, and particularly SEO, and we used to like, do SEO for large customers, like many fortune 500, some ecommerce stores, a lot of interesting projects. And then I, my hometown is India, Chennai in India, so I decided to come back to start my own digital marketing agency. And then I started my digital marketing agency here in India and started working with clients both in the US, as well as in India, and most of them b2b companies and like enterprises. And we were doing like a, like, full for main full suite of digital marketing, like SEO, paid paid social media, content, marketing, everything. And since I have a technical background, I've always been fascinated with, how things how software work. And so that actually helped me in like, kind of like looking at, like, if I could like build something. And social animal is something that we put to use every day in our work, digital marketing related or content marketing work that we do for the client. So that is when we thought that, okay, this is a software that even we could use ourselves. So why not be just like, build it and start, like having it as a separate product. And then kind of like, it all kicked off from there. And this was back in 2016, when we actually launched social animal in its first version, it was like, very different when it was first launched. Now waiting, we have come a long way. And we are basically a data company. So we process a lot of lot of data. It's a huge infrastructure. So we have close to like 480 million articles in our database, and then some 200 million influencers, some 500 million Facebook posts. And like we add close to a million articles, fresh articles to database every single day. So yeah, that's my journey.

Mike: And I love the idea that you built the software to solve a problem in the agency, and then realised it was something you could actually sell more broadly, rather than just trying to start a company on its own. I think that that's, that's great. It was already solving a problem. Correct? Yeah.

Naren: So we were like doing like a lot of content research. And, like, we were doing a lot of spare time was spent on tasks that were taking a lot of time, which could easily be automated. And also, Google is good for search. But let's say if you want to find influencer for a particular brand, it's very hard to use Google for that. So we were like, trying to do a lot of things manually. And then we internally built a very, like I maybe MVP version of social animal and we were using it and then it was proving to be like really useful. And then we thought, Okay, why not? We just like maybe Get into like a proper product and then launch it. And that's how Yeah, so first like main, we built it to scratch our own itch and then a lot of people also found it really useful.

Mike: Awesome I'm gonna have to ask you this because obviously you've got you know, really good success both in the US and also in India. I mean, is there a difference in terms of what clients want between clients based in India and clients based in the US?

Naren: Um, you know, from a marketing and social media standpoint, it is more or less same. The only thing is in India, it's, it's more tricky, like, I mean, I would say most of our customers are from the US. In India, we don't have a lot of customers, the one in India, the requirement might be in local languages, there are like, lots of languages here. So certain things may I mean, they may need it in a in a local language. Let's say there is a Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, Kannada, Hindi, like a lot of languages. So but in English, it's even more straightforward. So in the so we went up to the US market, because we could do a lot of advanced stuff like say, NLP, natural language processing, sentiment analysis, and all that it is, like, sentiment, NLP libraries are available, easily to process English. But for local languages, it's, it's even more harder. So that's what that's the primary difference. But otherwise, the from marketing needs standpoint, it's more or less the same. And of course, English is also a big here. And enterprises, like create content, mostly in English. So we, our enterprise, clients here in India, use it mostly for their English.

Mike: That's, that's fascinating. So let's go back to social animals. So you had this tool within the agency, and you decided to spit it out as a separate company? I mean, what drove that decision? Were you just finding the cost of maintaining these hundreds of millions of articles too high? Or was it more an opportunity that you saw,

Naren: I think it was more of an opportunity, because I stumbled into digital marketing. And since I think my technology background helped. And we kind of like when I did the first version of the software, we kind of like shared it with a few agency friends and all that who kind of gave were really positive feedback, they thought that it was useful. And then I clearly got kind of a Go ahead, like, Okay, this seems to be something, it's not just useful for me. Other people also find finding it useful. So then, I thought, okay, let's just like, launch it as a proper product. So we had to do a lot more like UI UX, we need to do a complete overhaul. And then we had to, like add more sources, like data sources, because initially, we were interested in only not crawling the web, when it full scale, like how we do now, earlier, we were just like, looking at specific sources that could be of use to our clients. And then we thought, Okay, why not? We just like, crawl the entire web and process popular content, and all that. And then social animal happened. And so even now that it's a, the sources keep increasing, like, even now we continue to add more and more sources and right on so that people can get as much value out of it as much as possible.

Mike: Amazing. Sounds like there's been an awful lot of work since when it was an internal tool to make it a tool for other agencies, rather other customers.

Naren: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. So because internally, it could be like, we know how it works. So from for others, we had to like, get a proper UI UX designer, and then just reimagine certain things. So basically, like turning it into a proper SAS product, market ready product. So that's what we went after. Yeah.

Mike: Awesome. And I have to say, when I first saw social animal, I had no idea that it was originally an internal tool. So you've certainly done a great job of making it into a proper, you know, SAS product with all the UI that you'd expect if you come to it cold rather than it being an internal tool. Yeah, yeah. Sure. Thanks, Mike. So I'm interested around when you you started developing the product. I mean, what problem were you trying to solve? What was the kind of question people were asking that you needed a tool to answer?

Naren: Sure. So when we started, I mean, what problem does it solve actually, if you look at the benefit, it saves a lot of time like when you do content, research, and then content districts You're on content, like reaching out to influencers for amplification, like there is a lot of manual work involved. So like somebody needs to like just scour the web or the social media channels, and find, like, interesting pieces of content, what's trending and all that. So, so, we wanted to make a tool that will help any content marketer to content marketer or social media marketer to save a lot of time in their in their day to day day jobs. So if you ask like what social animal does, then it helps. It's a content intelligence product that helps content marketing content marketers, and social media marketers to like, in their entire content, marketing journey, the sense content creation, content distribution, and as well as content amplification. So social animal helps, like throughout whatever they want to do, from from ideation, were finding content ideas, and then once the content is created, even during that time, like what should be the length of the content, what type of content is resonating well with the audience, and deciding what to write. And then once it's created, like where to distribute it to get maximum reach, and then also like, like reaching out to influencers and building relations with them, and amplify the reach of the content? So it can it can help in all this. And in addition to this, like, people also use social animal to, like, monitor competitors, like say, what, what's going on with competitors, what content is working for them? Or like about like, also news and all these things?

Mike: The first thing in terms of what platforms you're you're using? I mean, where are you looking for content? You mentioned, you keep adding sources all the time, but I'm interested, you know, what are the key platforms at the moment?

Naren: Sure. So we crawl the web, and we get articles from across the web. So it could be like any new sites, to blogs, like all types of once we get the articles, we have a like a data pipeline. So we do NLP on them natural language processing. And then we kind of like, understand what the article is about. And then we extract entities. So without even looking deep into the article, you will know like, okay, these are all the things this article is talking about. These are all the topics. So we do that. And then we look up engagement for each of these articles on primarily for social networks, which is Facebook, Twitter, Twitter, Pinterest, and Reddit. And then we we calculate, like total engagement. And on top of that, we also have YouTube, like, we also get data from YouTube, like what's trending on YouTube. And, like, also other associated metadata with YouTube like views, upvotes, likes, comments, number of comments, stuff like that. So So basically, the article comes from various sources, by sources, I mean, websites, as well as we look at social media and if anything is trending or like a lot of people are kind of like sharing it. If anything is going viral, then we will always definitely have it in our database in our content will be added to a database almost pretty immediately.

Mike: That's, that's fascinating. So you're, you're characterising or categorising it by topic. And then you're measuring, if you like, how successful that article is, or how much impact it generates by the engagement on social is that is that the right way to explain it?

Naren: Yeah, that's correct. So on Google, it's based on the articles are ranked based on relevance where the primary like the signal for relevance is backlinks. So, that has been always the case. But here we look social signals is our primary driver or primary signal for finding popularity. So for any given topic, so now once we have all these articles, for example, if you search for Coronavirus in the last like say 24 hours, we may have like several 1000 articles. And so from that each of them gets shared in different ways. So probably we rank it based on the number of social shares. So you know, like what's, what was the most popular content on social media for Coronavirus, published in the last say 24 hours.

Mike: That's amazing. That's that's, that's really helpful. I can see how people can take that and use that to work out what they should be writing to get more engagement. So that's great. I mean, I guess one of the problems that you face in Iran would be LinkedIn because LinkedIn is famously difficult to get data from. I mean, do you think that's something that's always going to be a problem to understand what's happening on LinkedIn or do you see that changing

Naren: Ah, Yeah, you're spot on that. So in fact, we had LinkedIn share counts data up until February 2018. That's when all of a sudden without any pre announcement, they just like that cut off the API access to everybody, not just us, everybody. So we after that point, in in February 2018, we stopped having LinkedIn share counts, and we started. In fact, that's the point when we added Reddit before then we didn't have Reddit. And then we thought, okay, we'll add Reddit. So, yeah, LinkedIn has always been being unpredictable. So I don't think there is no reason for them to bring it back on. Like, they already had it. And they killed it. And it's been like, more than three years now. So I think that's not the case. Same way, we also had engagement data from Google Plus. And so of course, Google Plus has been shut down. And so we also had to remove that from our, from from social animal. So we always but look into other other sources as well, like, whenever there is anything we try to like, cover more platforms. So I hope like we'll be adding more platforms.

Mike: So amazing. I think most b2b marketers are incredibly frustrated that they're spending all this money, you know, marketing and promoting content on LinkedIn. And LinkedIn, just isn't giving them the access to the data. I mean, you obviously get some access to your information. But you, it's so hard to see what competitors are doing on LinkedIn. I mean, I certainly find that lack of API a real frustration, I think a lot of other people do.

Naren: Kind of Yeah, but I mean, Twitter is also big, like a lot of the b2b companies also use Twitter, to share content and all that. So of course, it's nothing, it's not a replacement for LinkedIn. But still, you can get a good sense of like, what they are up to, on other channels. And also, overall, the content that they're producing what's working for them, so So it's, it's okay. And also, when you go to LinkedIn, I mean, there are also like, some b2b publications, right? Say, for example, Business Insider, or websites like that. So you could also like have a bunch of websites and see how, let's say a brand mentioned in Business Insider, how is the reach of that particular article, or let's say, a PR campaign was done. And so what are all the brand mentions, across, say b2b publications, stuff like that those things could be measured using social animal? But yeah, not having LinkedIn, direct numbers from LinkedIn is definitely a disappointment.

Mike: Yeah, that's great advice, actually, that we shouldn't say here complaining, we should go and look at other ways to get that kind of insight. So I think that's great advice. And you talked about distribution, I think, you know, that's something that's really clear, you say that you can help people understand which channels are going to give them the most engagement. Can you just explain a little bit about how that works?

Naren: Sure, yeah. So we are looking at all these like articles published on a given topic or on the website, and all that, right. So you could search and then find, like popular content. So from that you can also get a lot of insights on we aggregate the data, and we kind of like give information on. Okay, so this particular website, b2b company has published articles, and then how has it performed that across social channels? So, for example, a fashion brand, or let's say, a recipe, somebody who's like producing content on recipes, that though, those type of content tend to do much better on Pinterest, compared to say, maybe Facebook will be second, Reddit, maybe not. And Twitter may not be that great engagement on Twitter. So we kind of like now what I'm saying is just a high level, like hypothesis, but you can validate this hypothesis by looking at actual data. So you can see okay, this is a if you search for a recipe, then you can see what are all the content that has been published and where all that has been shared. So if let's say you are a food brand, and you are going to create content on recipe, probably you can spend more time and engagement on your ad budget on Pinterest, rather than say, spending it on Twitter. So we kind of help in understanding that. And also we also try to give more insights on what type of content works so we look at say for a given keyword you can find we also categorise what are the different types of content being produced. So for example, if the keyword is say again, some recipe and then we can we will know whether it's an article or video or image, or is it a guide, how to guide or if it's a quiz. So we have like different types of categories content on like, different classified content into like different types. So and then we aggregate now Members, and we can tell you, okay, videos are really getting more engagement than long form articles or like, say, short articles. So we can give insights like that which you can use, we can let you can apply in spending your efforts in the right channel that will give you like maximum bang for the buck.

Mike: Oh, that's amazing. That sounds like you're not only saving time, you're also helping people understand where they should spend their time, or where they should focus to be more efficient. So that's great. Yeah. And then, of course, the last or the third, the third element is understanding influences. And here, I think a lot of people listening to the podcast will think, well, I'm working in b2b in a very niche area of engineering or something like that, you know? How can I find that there's probably not that many influences, how can social animal actually help me find influencers in a very specific niche?

Naren: Sure, so we have to influence a mod. In fact, actually three influencer mods. So you can even if it's a it's basically a keyword, right? So you can search for a keyword and you can fall in the niche or like a bunch of keywords and find three types of influencers. So how we classify influencers is one we do a tweeter Twitter search, so you can do a Twitter bio search. So you can find if let's say they are in the for example, in the welding industry, which is which may not produce a lot of like, Shadow the content, the case if you search for welding, then you see who are all the people who have mentioned welding in their in their Twitter BIOS, and you can be sorted based on the number of followers. So you can see like who are really influential in welding with by the sheer numbers, so that is first step. And then we gave a lot of filters where you can also narrow down by location by number of followers, and then whether they have a particular URL on their bio and all that so, so we give advanced filters with which you can narrow down influence. So that's one. And then the second even more powerful way to find influencers is we have a shared content board. So in that we kind of like do influencers, who, who have shared content that that has gotten a lot of reshares or engagement that contains a particular keyword. So that's the niche that you are in. So for example, let's say if you are looking for chef, if you search for Twitter, BIOS for chef, some Hollywood actor would have just mentioned chef, but in their Twitter bio, and they will show up on the top because of the sheer number of followers. But they are not really influencer in cooking or, or anything related to that. So. So when you do a shared content mode, search in SharePoint mode, we look for content shared by a particular user that gets that has the word, Chef. So for example, if Mike shares the content on the waist, I mean, the best chefs in the world, something like that. And let's say it got a lot of shares, then we'll list Mike as an influencer for chef. So this is really powerful in finding people who are driving real engagement for in your niche. So that is one. And then the third mode is the author mode. So we also gather data from within the articles, we have the author, author boxes, right? So we have information like who is the actual author who has created this particular piece of content. And so we also rank them based on how much shares this author has gotten in that particular industry. So that is super useful. And on top of this, we also have some filters, cool filters like a journalist, right? So if you search for a keyword, and if you're looking, if you want just journalists, so we have a filter, and you can find journalists in that particular post covering journalists who are covering news in your particular niche.

Mike: Wow, that's, that's really cool. And I think, particularly for PR agencies like us, you know, the, the ability to find out very quickly, what journalists have written about recently is is super helpful. So that that's really cool. Yeah, yeah. I'm so I'm interested. I mean, you obviously started this as a project within an agency. Who would be your typical customer? Or do you not have a typical customer? Are there lots of different types of customer?

Naren: Ah, yes, we do have lots of different types of customers, but I would my pocket them mostly into content marketing, and social media marketing teams in small or medium businesses and enterprises. So those are our primary. I mean, they constitute a large percentage of our customer base, who are mostly like, who take content marketing seriously, because somebody who's just doing it as a hobby may not be really interested in like growing they're getting leads are like growing their audience through content, so they may not be the great fit, but usually like businesses, small and medium businesses and enterprises do these days. Take content on social media seriously, and those are the people who can actually save a lot of time. And also get a lot of insights and monitor competitors. There are like seven several use cases. Yeah.

Mike: So I'm interested, you said to anyone from small business to enterprise, I mean, is social animal an expensive product, then it's got so much functionality, it sounds like it should be, you know, quite an expensive product.

Naren: Ah, not at all actually, it's like, so we have like a SaaS product, that's like three tiers. So the lowest plan is like, it's just $49 a month. And then we have agency plan, with Facebook features, and multi user access and all that. So that is a 190 $9 a month. And we have enterprise plan, which is 499. So compared to products in the market with like similar features, you will see that it's a social animal is definitely more affordable. And particularly for agencies, since they will be handling multiple clients at the agency plan is like, just they just need one subscription. And they can invite up to five team members, and they can use it. So we have like a lot of customers in that segment, who are like making social and multi use.

Mike: Wow, that's, I mean, that's great. And particularly if you've got multiple seats for that price as well, that that's brilliant. Yeah. Yeah. So I guess the other thing is, I mean, you've got all these functionalities, it quite difficult to learn how to use social animal or, you know, how do people pick up the, you know, the different features and how to make use of them.

Naren: I mean, it's pretty intuitive. Like, we always try to make the UI and UX like as simple as possible. So it is pretty intuitive. But like I mentioned earlier, like, it's also there are like multiple use cases. So social animal can be used for, say, content research, and then finding influencers, find monitoring competitors. And then like finding places where to distribute the content, and then keeping up to date on industry news, trends, events, which is like content intelligence, and then finding insights on like, what content is working, what are the top domains for a particular keyword. And then who are the top authors for a particular topic in the niche, or, and then like, say, for example, content curation, like what are all the content, I mean, to establish somebody as a thought leader, they may not just create their own content, but also share other people's content. So these are all multiple use cases. So we have customers who may not be using all the features, they may be using something more heavily, for example, if it's a PR agency, then they are more into influencers, they want to find journalists, stuff like that. But if it's more like a blogger, then blogger is interested in finding content ideas. So I think it's more like, that's why we, I mean, kind of call it like a, it's a, it's a Swiss Army knife for content marketers. So you there are like a bunch of tools you may need, you may use it however you like, there is no limitation on any one of these tools, or any of the subscriptions. So it comes as a suite. So like I mentioned, all these use cases are possible with social animal and based on the use case, like people use it in different stages of their content marketing and social media activities.

Mike: That's awesome. So, I mean, if people have a tool like this, I'm really interested, you've obviously, you know, through the tools seen an awful lot of activity on social neuron. Do you have any tips or advice on what really works? Well, on social that maybe some of the, you know, the people listening to podcast could use to improve their presence on social?

Naren: Yeah. So I mean, from social media standpoint, there are a few things like first one is choosing the right channels, right, that itself is super important. So it depends on where your businesses are, where your customers are, like I gave a example earlier, if it is, say, a food business, or if it's a fashion business, then I, they might get better returns by focusing on Pinterest, rather than, say, Twitter, for example. So this, I'm now giving a very high level, like how to choose the right channel. So that's where a tool like social animal can help. So when somebody is before doing a complete campaign strategy, they should pick the right channel and focus their energy there, and then move on to other channels rather than just spraying and praying, just to see like, what works, what sticks. So that's not the way to go. So based on data, there is data available out there. And you can look at like, see what competitors are doing. And another advice would be to like monitor competitors and brands that do really well on social media and try to do understand like, what is working for them and try to maybe take a lesson or two from their book and just implement it. So that is one and then Also like keeping a track of everything like so benchmarking, and then like publish a content like how is it performing? And let's say somebody else is publishing the content on the same topic, if they are getting more engagement, what have they done differently? Is it like the content itself? Or is it the distribution so that today with tools like social and well, it's easy to kind of do this at scale, like, look at, understand the metrics for a particular any campaign. And also, one basic advice that most people don't follow is not being consistent, like being consistent, and like trying out a strategy. Because social media, it takes time, right to build an audience to build a following. And then it's about building relationships. So just like publishing a piece of content today on like, or sharing it on social media, and then just like coming back after like three months and chatting on more piece, nothing is going to, I mean, it's not going to help. So the cadence, everything should be maintained, and engagement should be monitored. And like I mean, different. I mean, trying different schedules on like, when to share content. So all these things should be tried, and also be consistent. That will help in growing your social media audience. Yeah.

Mike: That's brilliant advice. Thank you for that. So I've just interesting, we've covered an awful lot. And actually, I could have kept asking you questions for hours. I think it's really interesting what you're doing. But is there anything else you think we should have covered in this interview that I've maybe missed?

Naren: Um, not much. I think we kind of like touched upon a lot of things. So yeah, so one of the things that we have also been doing recently is, so we realise that people use our data more than outside of even marketing. So we have API's, so we launched API's, and our API's are being used by a lot of products to get our data into their product. So that is something interesting. So if let's say a b2b agency wants to build a custom dashboard for their customers are for the clients to show, like, let's say, top industry news, let's say that, let's say a b2b Agency, or let's say a PR agency, or a b2b agency is has a healthcare client, and they want to show all healthcare related interesting content in a dashboard, then they could build a product build this, I mean, we give our data through API's, and they could build this dashboard in like, under a week, and just sell that to their, to their clients. So that is something now we have we have launched, I mean, we have a pay customers who are using it for this particular use case. And we found it really fascinating because we did not have an API and people came and asked us Do you do have an API? And we were like, interested. And we I mean, I set up meetings with them. And I asked like, okay, so we forgive API, what will you build, and that was like, really, that open opened up a lot of interesting ideas. So So that's something I would say, like, API's can be used to build products or like, custom apps for clients. And we also have one like, you know, blood buffer and Hootsuite right like that there is a there is a social media management product called post planet post planner is one of our eBay customers, so so they pull data from us and they give to their audience for curation, like interesting content to curate, with one click their users can curate. So things like that. So now we are seeing our data being used, even outside of marketing, which is like, super fascinating.

Mike: That's, that's really interesting. And, yeah, clearly, we need to get working in Napier, to make use of some of those business ideas. I mean, I assume people who have heard this a very interested to find out about social animals. So if somebody wanted to learn more about the product, you know, is there an opportunity for people to go and try the product online?

Naren: Yeah, sure. So they can go to social animal.com. And then we have a 14 day free trial. So they can just try the product and see, like, all whatever features I just mentioned, like they can use everything, and they can see how it works for 14 days. And then they can then take a call. And then if you have any questions like they can directly email me at Naren at social animal.com n a r e n, at social animal.com.

Mike: Wow, that's that's very kind to give out your own email address. So yeah, but I'm sure a lot of people will want to go try it out. But no rent. I mean, thank you so much for your time on the podcast. It's been fascinating. I really appreciate you being a guest.

Naren: Yeah. Thank you so much, Mike, for having me. Have a great day. And, 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.

Big Picture Business Podcast: Mistakes Create Success Featuring Mike Maynard

Mike, Managing Director at Napier, recently sat down with Dominica Lumazar and Rory Carruthers, hosts of the Big Picture Business Podcast. In the episode, Mike shares some well-kept secrets of what it means to have a successful marketing agency, the pitfalls of growing an agency through acquisition and how to win clients as an agency.

Some other topics include:

Mike's biggest mistake and the best lesson How to (or how not to) select the right marketing technology, why you shouldn’t specialize in tactic specific markets and how to market to large enterprises.

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.

A Napier Podcast: Interview with Riaz Kanani - Radiate B2B

In this podcast episode, we interview Riaz Kanani Founder and CEO at Radiate B2B, an Account-Based Advertising and Marketing platform.

Riaz shares his career journey, from initially starting in marketing at the age of 18, through to identifying a need in the market and launching Radiate B2B.

He discusses how Radiate B2B helps companies cut through the noise and deliver a better buying experience, as well as sharing the tactics and techniques he finds are the most successful in ABM campaigns.

Transcript: Interview with Riaz Kanani - Radiate B2B

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 edition of marketing today. Welcome to the latest edition of marketing b2b technology, the podcast from Napier. Today, I have Rios kanani. He's the founder of radiate b2b. Hi, Rios, welcome to the podcast.

Riaz: Thanks, Mike. Really good to be here.

Mike: Great. I mean, the first thing I want to say is I looked at your LinkedIn, and you've had an amazing career, building different businesses. I mean, can you talk us through this journey and some of the things you've done?

Riaz: Yeah, sure, sure. It's been, it's been fun, I am the first to say that I've been very lucky, I think, to get involved in or do some of the things that I've done. I mean, I, I started, I thought, when I was 16, really, I didn't really know why I was running a startup. But I was, and I didn't even know as a marketing company, actually, for that matter. I was consulting with companies on how to go onto the internet and making money that way and pay my way through university doing it. And, and it was only really, as I learn more about the sort of, you know, what you take today as the fundamentals of business, really, you start to understand all the the acronyms in the language that you start to realise, actually, what I'm winning as a marketing business. Which may sound silly, in hindsight, but it's just the way I came at it and actually doing that through university, you know, I was part of the team that set up the, the radio station there. So I got into audio video through that, and actually was that that really got me started on the path to running my own technology business rather than continuing to do consultancy. Because we, we discovered, and the naive idea of an 18 year old, I discovered that we could use Java technology to put audio and video onto every single computer out there 99% of computers would play back this content was for those that were around in the the early 2000s. You know, the best you could get was about 30% using either Windows Media Player or QuickTime. So I looked at it was like, well, surely every company under the planet that creates video is just going to automatically pick us with three times better.

And I remember, you know, jumping on a plane, the day after my last exam, a university across the Dublin was on Ryanair, we were delayed by about two hours, I landed at about 1130 at night, to meet the CEO of this company, who quite kindly had stayed up and waited for me, given I was two hours late, you know, in hindsight, I had no real understanding of you know, what was normal. And actually, in hindsight, that wasn't normal. And, you know, we had a chat. And then I walked up in the morning and gave a presentation to this company. And it was a few 100 people or something in the auditorium about this technology and what we could do. And I came out all on a high and thinking this is brilliant, and then landed back into London. And for the next 11 months, or 11 months and three weeks, not a single person returned our call, nobody was interested, they all found it too technical or too, too difficult. And so we ended up pivoting that business, to be a video advertising network. And the minute we did that the phone never stopped ringing. And it was an amazing, that amazing hockey curve, journey of, you know, doing campaign after campaign, jumping on a plane to the states and all the rest of it, right. And you know, we were all still very naive, we were all in early 20s, there wasn't as much like to do a startup in those days was still not really the sexy thing to do. And we follow best practice advice and actually screwed it up a little bit, really.

So I learned a whole lot about shares and options and equity and all these sorts of legal stuff that I again, hadn't known at the time. And we ended up splitting that business. And eventually the business that we split out, sold to silverpop. We then myself and my co founders then helped to build silverpop internationally. And of course, that was really where you know silverpop became one of the one of the best ESP is as I call email service providers. And then launched they bought a company called v two ns and launch b2b marketing automation platform right alongside Marketo and Eloqua. And so, so we built that up and actually you know, that was brilliant cuz we were setting best practice. We were talking about the best way to do b2b marketing. And, and really, it was, you know, a heady time. And again, you don't realise it at the time. And and then eventually, of course that exited to IBM and actually was around that point that I said that I would get out of doing startups I've done for startups where that point in various guises we count the pivots.

And as I was going to get out of doing that, I was going to stop travelling quite so much I was travelling a lot back then. And I was going to not focus on marketing so much, which, because I was just, I'd seen so many new marketing startups, and they were all basically Big Data plus, whatever we done before, and they were the most dull things to look at. And so I decided I was gonna get out of all that. And so and in hindsight, it felt like a decade, right? But it was only four years. Four years later, I'm back doing another startup, I'd managed to at least, at least not do a marketing startup, we did a startup all about AI and knowledge. And basically putting the right content in front of like quality content in front of business people, nobody were interested, was interested in paying for it.

So we shut it down. And I gave in and said, Look, I was talking to a whole bunch of marketing directors, and I realised how much acquisition costs have risen in the last five, seven years, and was looking at basically watching marketing directors basically, every year turn around and go, well, we're gonna go going to invest more content, more events that are smaller on average than the year before they're more micro. And we're going to have to increase reach, and whatever that whatever happens, that means your marketing budget is going to have to go up just to stay the same, really. And that's not a great place to be. And so I thought, well, there must be a better way of doing things. And so we started to look at data, again, I built my career, really, throughout all of it, the common thread is taking data and tried to do something valuable with it. And, and we started to look at what we could do. And basically, eventually that brings us to four years ago with the style of ad b2b.

Mike: I mean, it's an amazing journey, you know, and going from, you know, literally startup at university, all the way to start up. That's now part of IBM, and then back to start up again. Yeah, yeah, I couldn't, I couldn't stay away. Awesome. So I mean, tell me a little bit about radiate b2b. I mean, what, what problem were you trying to solve when you started the company?

Riaz: Yeah. So the underlying the underlying thing that we saw quite early on, we obviously had these rising acquisition costs, and the sort of drive for marketing directors to to continuously increase the amount of output, just so they could get, you know, share of share of mind in terms of the market in terms of content, and they push it out. And we looked at that, and we were like, well, if you are a buyer, and you're, you know, you don't care about a problem, until until that problem is something you care about why if that makes sense. You know, it's not on your radar. So the minute you are thinking about that problem, you sort of dip your toe in. And you know, we did some research a couple months ago on this, and still today, most people will do a Google search to look and find out about a problem we're trying to solve word of mouth comes into it as well. That was second. And you know, when you do that today, an awful lot of the time the front page is crowded with vendor content.

And most of the time, sadly, that vendor content is not very high quality. And so as a buyer, you tend to we figure we hypothesised anyway, at that time that buyers would increasingly go back to analysts and independent websites and third parties rather than vendors to do a lot of very early research, and only start to come to vendor sites later. And if that's the case, that takes us back to really the sort of environment we were in 10 years ago, when marketing automation platforms were first starting to come on the scene, where basically, by the time the lead had self identified, they will probably already talking or in talks with a couple of other vendors already. And so you're on the backfoot. So we wanted to figure out a way we could use data to basically understand your marketplace better, to therefore help sales development teams have better quality conversations, and more of them fundamentally, and that's that's what we sought to build. Now I will say I'll say one thing which which I I think you'll laugh at in hindsight, me being me, I built this brand spanking wireframe that was brilliantly called, showed everything when I showed all my contacts that I had about. And they all laughed at me and said, we as there's no way, we're going to be in our main marketing automation platform and put that in. And so I had to scale back my desire if you like to build this entirely new, fancy marketing, automation 2.0 platform, and build basically one of the early modules of it, and then expand from there sort of thing. So that's, that's basically, what we ended up doing.

Mike: Is interesting. You've mentioned a couple of times that the cost of acquisition has gone up in b2b. Yeah. Which is fascinating time when we've got all these new digital technologies that should, in theory, make it easier to reach our customers. So what do you attribute that increased in acquisition cost to?

Riaz: Quite literally, as it is competition? I mean, I mean, if you go back, I mean, obviously COVID has accelerated this. I mean, the the costs of advertising on LinkedIn have rocketed in the last 12 months. But at the end of the day, there's only so many finite spots that you can, you can buy. And we did some analysis, actually, you know, we're playing in the in the enterprise space, or we're playing in the in the selling to enterprise space, that's supposed to be more precise. And I'm sure you aren't surprised by how similar the lists of companies that that companies go after are. And and so, you know, that is the reality is that it is a competitive marketplace. And we're all going after, largely, not entirely, but the same types of customers. And, of course, we're all putting content online. And there's only so much content you can see. In one go at the end of the day, that's the one thing that all of us as humans have equal is the amount of time we have in a day.

Mike: Interesting. So I mean, your solution is focus effectively through account based marketing is that that's what her summary.

Riaz: Yeah, the deal. These are contracts that you typically are nurturing and building relationships with over time. And so we're one of the tools in that toolkit to help you do that.

Mike: You talk a lot about awareness and reputation with with customers, that seems to be a slightly different take on what you're trying to achieve with ABM too, while other vendors are saying where other vendors are kind of saying, you know, try our solution, it will get you more sales. Whereas you seem to be saying this is only from from my point of view, it seems to be this is the first part of the journey of getting more sales, it's only part of ABM is that, is that a fair reputation? representation of what you're saying?

Riaz: Yeah, that is absolutely true. I, you know, our clients do get more sales. In fact, the average contract values are higher. And sometimes, astonishingly, say, I'm one of our clients got a 7x increase in average contract value from the programme, but not for a second, would I say that? That's because they did an advertising programme. And magically, at the end of it, you got these massive increases? You know, it's it's a channel, it's one part of the toolkit, you've got to tie that in with other channels in all channels, working in coordination with each other, to drive higher value and more clients.

Mike: And so, I mean, are you selling radiate to to marketing teams? Or are you selling them to sales teams?

Riaz: That's a really good question. We primarily sell to marketing teams. But we work very, very closely with sales teams. So it may well be that the advertising campaign is is implemented by marketing. But there's a feedback loop from the sales enablement, sales development teams, that comes back to us, we typically engage with that sales team early on in the campaign. And then of course, the data that we produce from the campaign as well as our the intent data feeds that we create. They all go directly to sales and get followed up on there. And again, come back to us. There's a feedback loop afterwards, plays to that idea of ABM programmes being sales and marketing. joined at the hip.

Mike: Yeah, that that's really interesting, because presumably, then, the data you're generating you pushing that to it to other platforms, is integration. An important Yeah, you're offering?

Riaz: Yeah, yeah. So we'll push data directly into marketing, automation, CRM systems, but sometimes just email. You know, it's always it's, I think, once you've been in the industry, as long as as long as we have, you know, it's never a surprise, is it? That companies aren't always quite ready for the the feeds into the systems themselves? An email just works.

Mike: Interesting. So the simplest technologies the most effective, yeah, yeah. So I'm interested, I mean, who typically buys radio? Is there a typical customer in terms of industry or size or something that would benefit the most?

Riaz: I mean, obviously, fundamentally, the first requirement is that you sell to enterprise, right, if you know what, when we have conversations with companies that aren't selling to enterprise, and they're selling products that are 1000s of dollars in a low 1000s of dollars in value, I'm not sure why I'm using dollars in the UK, but, you know, clearly that's not a good fit for us, but but yes, if you're selling to enterprise, I typically say that you are probably, you know, for, for where we are today, more likely as a technology business, they they're typically early adopters, it could be manufacturing, it could be professional services, but most of our clients are technology businesses. We have some marketing agencies that we work with, and some it consultancies that we work with, as well. But primarily, it's that and then and then to be honest, who they sell to. I think it's always really interesting for most Over time, it's been pretty even an even mix between targeting retailers and travel companies to finance companies to, you know, from targeting HR people to marketing people or, again, finance people. Interestingly over locked down, we saw a surge in companies targeting HR people. That was an outsize shift in our client base for a period of time, we seem to be coming back to what I would call normality a little bit now, where we're, we're back, targeting pretty much all the verticals and various personas within it.

Mike: And was that moved to HR was that because COVID became to a large extent HR problem in different Yeah,

Riaz: I think so. I think so. I mean, the conversations we used to, we used to see what were basically that, you know, HR doesn't have time, we can save them time, but to get hold of them is really difficult. And obviously, one of the things that we're able to do is to plant a message in somebody and it's like a TV ad, right. So one of my big disappointments with the digital world is we got so hung up on data and click foods, that we've forgotten the impact to brand. And, and you know, a display ad is very similar to a TV ad and that it just nudges you, it's there in the side of you, I you will walk into your whether consciously. And so we're eight, we were able to go in front of these HR people who were not browsing very much because they were so busy. But when they were browsing, we were able to see them, put advertising in front of them. And, you know, make them aware of what's possible to save them time in a period when they didn't have time. And they were looking for ways to be more efficient in their time.

Mike: And in terms of targeting those people, I mean, I'm interested to know what you've seen working, you know, if you want to target HR people, typically, I mean, normally, what you have to do is target the whole company by IP and then filter out the people who engage with the ads, is that how radio operates? Or is there a different technology?

Riaz: We I mean, we use a range of things? It depends, it depends a little bit on the project, but we do all of that. Behind the Scenes predominantly though, what we're doing is using NLP natural language processing, where we'll you know, we'll look at the pages that are being browsed and we will make a decision as to whether that page is being viewed by the type of person we want to reach or not. So that's typically how it works.

Mike: Well, okay. So you're categorising the content to define who's likely to watch it? Yeah. Yep. Interesting. So, I mean, treats. No, I mean, a lot of companies have tried ABM and not been successful. I'm really interested to know, what approaches you think work What's good, what, you know, what you've seen being successful.

Riaz: Yeah, there's, there's, I mean, it's it's been an interesting four years in that regard, because we don't see quite so many ABM pilots. I mean, numbers wise, I guess, I guess they're more but percentage wise, it's less than it was two or three years ago, almost every, every conversation we had was an APM pilot. And if I look, look across those pilots, there's a range of things I don't think there's, there's a single thing you can say that was always the cause of failure. It's a whole bunch of things. So So, you know, sales and marketing not working together. I mean, I remember one client, who, you know, we sat in a room with, with sales and marketing. And, and basically, we had a great conversation. And then we weren't going to share certain content with the other team. And, you know, that was a guarantee that that project was going to fail. If we let that happen. We didn't let it happen. We, you know, we said, Look, if you do this, the project will fail. And thankfully, they didn't.

But we have seen stuff like that happen. Where it has failed data, honestly, probably the thing that is the hardest thing to solve me something like sales, a marketing moment, in theory, it's, you know, if you can get the two people to be at a table with each other and have a conversation. Yeah. You know, you at least got the opposite opportunity to make that work. But data often is a much harder piece. You know, figuring out who to go after is actually I think one of the hardest things because especially when you're starting out and you need to show return on your on your pilot. Far too often we would see companies come up with a list that may well have made sense but invariably, you don't have the processes and structures in place because you haven't been doing ABM to be able to scale an ABM programme quickly and so either. And so you fall into this weird middle ground where you've got a couple of 100 companies, let's say, but you don't yet have the processes in place to manage those couple of 100 companies effectively and worse, if you go for to smaller number like, say 10 or 50 companies, there's a pretty high likelihood that those companies aren't in a haunted market.

And so you get three months in and you realise that actually, you're left with such a small number of companies that could be in market, that your projects never going to do a deliverable return. And so what we've seen work has been a couple of different methods. Either you go after enough companies, that you can be sure that you're going to find some traction. And typically in that case, we really simplify the ABM programme. So it's an advertising programme with the sales, follow up the sales development follow up type things I really simple, not very complicated ABM programme at all. And usually, when we do that, we'll see an uplift in performance from the sales development team in that uplift alone will probably pay for the programme in itself. The other way to do it, and I know an awful lot of APM practitioners who recommend this way, which is to go after customers that you want to expand.

And that's a good way to start to understand the processes you need to put in place internally to to actually have a successful ABM programme. And then from there expand on that new business. Now, that's obviously a slower way to create an ABM programme that's driving new revenue. So, again, it depends on your priorities inside your business. But the beauty of doing the customer upsell approach, as you typically I hope, know, an awful lot about those customers, much more than you would do about new prospects that you haven't yet engaged with.

Mike: Interesting. So, I mean, obviously, there's like a whole range of levels of complexity from targeting or existing customers at one end, which should be fairly easy. I mean, hopefully, you know who they are. Yeah, way through to building these these lists of a few 100. targets. Yeah. But But in terms of actually deploying the technology, I mean, how, how complicated is it to deploy something like radiate b2b that does, you know, the advertising and tracks people on the website and brings you these? It seems like it's doing an awful lot? Is it that difficult to use?

Riaz: No, we are, we are full service. So we take all the pain away. That makes it easier for our clients. But it's not exactly difficult from our side, in terms of getting things set up, it takes us 48 hours to get set up. You know, we create a tag which which our clients put on their website, that's often the thing that takes the longest time in reality. And so then, you know, we we load up the system, we manage all the optimization of all the advertising, we make the recommendations around what our clients should do so so often when clients are starting, you know, they they get to be handheld by us right away from the programme.

Mike: So somebody could be up and running within a week. It sounds like yeah,

Riaz: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, we've had clients come in. They've called us on the Monday, and by the following Monday, the campaign was live.

Mike: Wow. Okay. I mean, I hate to say it, but this level of support and the speed and the functionality, it sounds quite expensive. I mean, is it? Is it something that only the largest enterprises can afford?

Riaz: We set our target, if you like it, you know, our goal is to make this available for mid market to mid market companies selling to enterprise. So to give you an idea, spend wise you're probably going to have to spend on the advertising side from 20 25k annually. So not so not not anywhere near the levels that you would normally need to get to to do an advertising campaign online. Annually anyway.

Mike: Yeah, so only a couple of 1000 pounds a month. Yeah. Wow. Okay. And then is there a fee to use the platform? Or is that covered by the app for that?

Riaz: So yeah, so I've, I've, I've simplified it all completely from a pricing standpoint. So that includes everything.

Mike: Wow, Okay. So, so definitely mid market companies, you know, if they're selling something that's worth a few 1000 pounds or dollars, then then clearly you can see the return coming very quickly. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Interesting. I'm very aware of time. I just interested. I mean, there seems to be so much we could talk about with the platform. Is there anything else you'd like to highlight or pick out in terms of what it does, that the listeners might be interested in?

Riaz: I think I think the really interesting thing for me, alongside the advertising is the amount of what's being terms now intent data that sort of sits around all of this, it really interests me, we obviously we do website intent data they're looking at on your website and identifying which companies are not converting but showing buying behaviour. But we also have the ability to identify who's off your website and showing buying behaviour. And then you combine that with the advertising. And what's really interesting to me is, is actually and again, this goes back to what we talked about earlier about this being all about multiple tools that you put together to allow you to have conversations with those enterprise companies and build those relationships is with the ability to identify topics, for example, or, you know, the advertising campaigns to be able to put different types of messages in front of a company, and then to start to see which types of content are causing that engagement, if you like that interaction, means that you start to be able to not just tell your sales development team who they should pick up the phone to, you know, which is in reality, one of the difficult most difficult things for self development teams, I think today is you can spend so much time going after companies and actually then going nowhere. And so if we can just move the needle so that they're more likely to connect more likely to have a conversation. That's great. But then when you get on the phone and have a conversation with them, if you're doing it cold, knowing the angle by which you want to start that conversation, you know which topic which of the various USBs that you have as a business? Do you focus the conversation on? If you get that right, it means that you have a much better quality conversation with that person. And that obviously, is a really good step towards building a higher quality relationship over the course of what could be months.

Mike: That's really interesting. I mean, the fact that intent data is not only useful for targeting but also determining topics and then and then helping the SDR when they're on the phone. I mean, that I can see how you've built this platform around, kind of driving the advertising, working out what to say and who to say it to and also seeing whether it works by tracking on the website. That's great. Yeah, and we are nowhere near finished. Now, I have a roadmap for many years. So if somebody was was interested, either in terms of what they've heard today, or you know, they'd like to talk to you about all these other exciting new developments in the future. And what would be the best way to get in contact with you rails. This?

Riaz: I mean, there's the easy way via our website, there's obviously a form there, but you can you're more than welcome to come connect with me on LinkedIn, send me a message there. Or just send an email to Hello at Radio b2b dot com.

Mike: As Fantastic. Thank you so much for your time on the podcast rails has been fascinating. I wish we had more time we could have talked about a lot more. Thank you very much.

Riaz: Thank you, Mike. Lovely to talk to you as well.

A Napier Podcast: Interview with Tim Bohn - GatedContent

In this podcast episode, we interview Tim Bohn, Founder of GatedContent, an enterprise web form and content gating platform.

Tim shares how GatedContent is helping enterprise companies scale up their marketing automation and lead generation activities, to enable companies to build consistent campaigns easily and effectively across any website or content management system.

He also shares what strategies he thinks are best for driving lead generation through content marketing, and what B2B marketers could be doing wrong with forms and content to miss out on generating leads.

Transcript: Interview with Tim Bohn - GatedContent

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 Tim bone. Tim is the founder of gated content and a marketing technologist. Welcome to the podcast, Tim.

Tim: Thanks for having me.

Mike: Well, it's great to have you on Tim, particularly as you seem so busy, you're still working in an agency as well as driving gated content. How did you manage to deal with that?

Tim: Yeah, that's true. Yeah. Well, I mean, it's really getting content is a spinoff, from my experiences from working in a marketing agency. So over the years, the agency, we built quite a few tools and applications for enterprise businesses doing b2b marketing. And, you know, a couple of them turned out to be quite interesting. And we took them to market and gated content is really the main one we're focusing on right now. So yeah, I do have I wear two hats on a day on a weekly basis.

Mike: That's impressive. So gated content was that designed to solve a problem for a specific client or a group of clients.

Tim: It was probably a sort of pattern emerging that we saw when we worked with large businesses running marketing automation. So we've been working with companies like that for probably nine or 10 years, working with the likes of Eloqua, Marketo, HubSpot apart up. And we noticed the challenge that large businesses has in trying to roll out their lead generation forms across the websites scale. And certainly, when you look at multi language or multi country campaigns, it really was a challenge, really getting it right and getting a standardisation in there. So that's kind of where the product came from.

Mike: Interesting, and presumably that that problems got worse over the the nine years, you've been running the business as people have moved more and more to inbound marketing or content marketing?

Tim: That's right. Yeah, it's and what we're finding is it's really a sort of a maturity point with our clients is that they may start with marketing automation, doing more sort of data, activities, where you might be just doing batch and blast loading lists in and things like that. And then as they mature, and start to expand out and trying to enable campaign creation for their teams, they realise this is a challenge, they realise that actually keeping control of all the data that you get from inbound marketing and doing lead capture and content gating, it can be a real problem. And that's where we come in, and we sit between the website layer and the marketing automation system, just to make it a far easier to, to roll out campaigns quickly and efficiently.

Mike: Interesting. So I'm guessing you're not another form builder, you're trying to solve a different problem. Do you want to talk a little bit bit about exactly what you're trying to solve? What the challenges that your enterprise customers have?

Tim: Yeah, that's right. We're not, I mean, there are lots of formulas out there. And they're and they're designed to sort of drag and drop and quickly put a form together at style it in a sort of one off, or a handful. What we're about is solving how you scale up your marketing, automation activities and your lead capture from inbound marketing. So it's the idea is that we you have a your marketing operations team, or your maybe your demand Centre for want of a better word, sit in the middle, and they define your standards for data capture for lead generation. You know, what, what are we going to be asking? What's our privacy policy? What are what are disclaimers? What industries do we ask, do we support what product areas we are going to ask all those kind of standards in the middle, and then they are defined in the centre. And then our system enables marketing teams to come in and use those standards and build campaigns and forms very quickly and efficiently. Stick them into any web page, any content management system they might be using, independently of the content management system. And therefore, you end up with consistent data, you know, across the entire entire enterprise. And certainly as we're seeing, there's a drive in multinational companies towards centralization of infrastructure, that, you know, we absolutely helped with that, that kind of process to bring everything into one system.

Mike: It sounds a bit like you're taking the the boring stuff away from those marketing teams. They don't have to worry about, you know, consistency of data or notices and things like that. They have to worry more about the campaign they're running. And I'm sure not only does that make them more efficient, but it probably also makes the job more fun as well.

Tim: Absolutely, yeah. So we kind of replace, if you imagine a lot of way a lot of digital campaigns are put together, you would probably have to involve your web team, maybe your marketing automation team to put together a gating experience or a few web pages, make sure they're collecting up their analytics, make sure your measurements correct, make sure we're following the data standard guidelines, do the translation work, all that kind of thing is sort of already built into our system. And all the marketer has to do is decide what content pieces that they want to gate. What what's the messaging, they're going to give to the user, maybe provide some analytics information, like, you know, what, what's, what's my asset name, or what's my event label, I'm going to push into my analytics system, you just define a few things from a marketing point of view. and away you go, you don't really have to get any of the tech team involved to actually build campaigns out.

Mike: And that must, you know, massively increase the speed of getting campaigns out without needing, you know, developers and, you know, potentially market automation experts involved.

Tim: Yeah, absolutely. And that was really, one of the things we saw over the years was the the time it took to put a campaign together, particularly multi language, just the build time, and then the QA time to make sure everything was connected up and your leads were flowing through. And maybe you're triggering the right nurtures in the background, or whatever it might be, you know, that can take weeks to put together. And it really comes down to, you know, a matter of minutes, really your hours just to do the form part of your campaign now.

Mike: That's brilliant. And in terms of how it works, I mean, presumably, what you're doing is you're taking data and feeding it into a marketing automation system. Is that typically what you're trying to do?

Tim: Yeah, exactly. So we don't replace marketing automation, we just sort of make it easier to to enable and get people using it. So we sit between the web layer and market automation. Typically, what we allow customers to do is where they may be creating hundreds of forms in their market automation platform. So let's say you're using Eloqua, Marketo, you might be creating a form for every asset that you're gating. Because we essentially orchestrate the front end layer in in the in the browser from the user sees, they can funnel all of those, those front end forms into just one or two back end forms in in in Eloqua Marketo. So, you know, the overhead in the back end is vastly reduced. And also, you end up with a much more standard workflow, sort of lead management workflow in the background.

Mike: is interesting. So, I mean, again, you're taking away the the building of forms in marketing automation, I mean, that that often is quite difficult or time consuming for marketing automation teams, because of the expertise that sometimes needed. That's right. Yeah.

Tim: Yeah. I mean, not what we've seen a lot of customers do is to when they reach that maturity point and have that problem, they'll probably just invest in technical, more technical resource to get more market automation developers in bore, they might offshore it to a company somewhere that has a lot of tech people, we can sort of help really avoid having to do that.

Mike: That sounds great. That sounds like you know, something most people struggling with the marketing automation would would like to do, because I know it's really tough to recruit people who are experts in those platforms at the moment. That's right. Yeah, yeah. So just in terms of what gated content does, is that all gated content, does it just sits in front of the the marking automation system, or do you have other integrations to provide other functionality?

Tim: Yeah, so when we talk about content gating, we're not just talking about, you know, gating a PDF, which is, you know, the classic thing to do is to get a guide or a white paper or something like that, but it could also be gating a webinar on an on demand webinar, which might be through a video platform. So we have integrations with video platforms. So we, you know, YouTube or Vimeo or video, those kind of things. We also have integrations with data enrichment platforms as well. So there are quite a few sort of firmographic smartphone technologies out there and the one we often integrate with is demand base and that allows to enrich the lead as it's being converted from unknown to known by completing the form, we can do a lookup with demand base and pull in additional thermographic data such as, you know, revenue or SIC code, number of employees, that kind of thing.

Mike: And that sounds great, because, you know, often that's very difficult data to get via a form, but can be very important in terms of lead scoring and lead qualification. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, no interesting.

Tim: The other things we integrate with as well actually, just remind me is web analytics as well. So you know, the lead conversion point is is a critical point within that the lifecycle of that lead, and you want to be doing, you know, quite a few things, and one of them would be firing off into your web analytics platform, firing off conversion events, or goal events, or firing off things like pixels as well, for media campaign reporting, we can help orchestrate that, that part.

Mike: So what you're doing is as well as data enrichment, you're also helping with with attribution and tracking as well, by making that easier?

Tim: Yeah. Yeah, that's a big part of it. attribution is a good it's a good one to bring up. So yeah, lot of companies are using the Google standard, which would be UTM parameters to track inbound channels. And, you know, our, our tool is, has that built in. And we can capture last touch, first touch or start or collate multitaction UTM. And push them through onto the lead. A lot of a lot of our clients are utilising that that feature.

Mike: Interesting. I mean, you talk about the clients, and you mentioned, you know, people with multi lingual campaigns and large numbers of assets. I mean, is there a company that is the typical gated content customer?

Tim: ahead? Yeah, good question. We do, we put our sweet spot is enterprise and multi multinational companies. But we do scale down to smaller companies as well. The probably the, the main thing is that you're doing a lot of inbound marketing, and you're utilising content in some way. So you have a fair amount of content that you're using to convert new leads. So that would probably mean a sales cycle. That's, that's, that's relatively long, it's not a instant transaction on the website type relationship. And there's a reason a lot of content that you're trying to get across. So, you know, white papers, guides, that kind of thing.

Mike: Okay. And is that, I mean, quite often, you see that around quite technical b2b Industries. Is that typical within your customers? Or do you see a broader range of customers doing content marketing?

Tim: Yeah, the kind of kind of industries we work with probably engineering, manufacturing technology, FinTech companies, business services, companies, those kind of things. And they they align quite well, probably with the kind of companies that do need marketing automation, because that leads itself to the idea of nurturing leads through a through a buyer journey.

Mike: So I mean, it's been interesting talking about gated content. I, you know, I I'm intrigued, one of the benefits of working with you must be the fact that you see an awful lot of gated content on the web. I mean, you know, I know, you've you've had millions of leads run through the system. I'm interested, you know, what do you see as working the best in terms of strategies for, you know, driving lead gen through content marketing?

Tim: Yeah, that's a good question. And I mean, the first thing I'd say there is that gated content can have a bit of a bad rap. And because people gate too much, maybe you're they gate stuff that that's low value. But what we see as being the best approach is having a site wide approach to getting content, don't just look at it as a as part of a campaign, though it can be part of a cake campaign, look across all of your content across all of your websites. And look at the opportunities to where you have valuable content or interesting content that is worth that value exchange. And that's, that's absolutely what we're about is making it easier for companies to get stuff at scale, and to get it on their main website, not just on landing pages, that kind of thing. Other other kind of features that can help is things like progressive profiling, which means that we, you can ask only a couple of questions maybe on the first visit or the first asset, and then ask a few more on each asset after that. So you're building up a profile over time, and you're not creating this massive barrier to people converting. And that's a built in feature of our tool.

Mike: And presumably, with that progressive profiling, what you're doing is all too filling a lot of those details because you know them already. And then just asking the next question.

Tim: Exactly, yeah, what we do is we leverage the existing tracking technologies that come with the marketing automation platform. So if, if you're using aliqua, or Marketo, or pardot, they will automatically be tracking your users if then if they've already converted, and will leverage that cookie and those scripts and will pull that into the forms.

Mike: And so could that potentially pull in data from a marketing automation platform that hasn't gone through gated content then? So maybe something has been uploaded by sales?

Tim: Correct? That's right. Yeah. If they're cooking in some way. So another way of them being cooked is if they've if they've clicked through from an email that's come from market automation that will make them known to market automation. Or we can leverage that that tracking cookie and pre populate the forms of the user.

Mike: That's, that's interesting. You don't lose any of the benefits of the data in the marketing automation platform. That's That's all. Absolutely, yeah.

Tim: Yeah. We're trying to work with all the technology that the clients already have and not not fight against it.

Mike: Not trying to reinvent the wheel. Exactly. Right. Yeah. So you mentioned something, a couple of questions ago that I found very interesting. You talked about how you help people get content across the website, rather than just on landing pages. And I know, you know, a lot of marketing automation systems eventually, you know, you end up with this kind of ghetto of landing pages on a subdomain, which, which can be difficult. I mean, can you talk a little bit about what you do to, to address that problem?

Tim: Yeah, so this is, again, probably a bit of a maturity thing, I think, is that when you start off the marketing automation, you start building things on on the landing pages that come in those platforms, because that's the easy thing to do. And probably your web team are busy doing other things. But that is a bit counterproductive in the long term, because you, you don't really get a good organic reach. By doing that, you know, you're like you say your landing pages are a bit a bit siloed off, and they're not part of your main website. So you get to a point where you realise that you really need to be doing gating and pushing campaigns, and doing inbound marketing, to your main website, and you're going to get the benefit of paid media going there, but also organic traffic as well. So our, our, our tool is designed to work with any content management system, it's a client side technology, if you can create a hyperlink on a page, then you can get something on a page, you don't need to create separate, special landing pages for forms, you don't need to create thank you pages, it's all done there. And then the experience and the transaction is created in the page where you put it. So a good example, I like to give is, if you've got a blog page, you might be having a blog on a particular subject, and you know that you've got a white paper that that is a really good companion piece to that blog article. If you can create a hyperlink in the blog, using our tool, then you can put drop a gate, create an opportunity to create a lead conversion point there and then on the page without any extra work.

Mike: So it's as simple as just a hyperlink. I mean, how does that actually work in practice? What's the technology behind it?

Tim: So our script sits on the page. It's a tag on a script that goes on the page like most tech marketing technology that you might utilise. And it's just scanning every page as the user loads it looking for our embed links in our embed links are basically just, they look like hashtags, basically. And when we see one of those on a hyperlink, we just replace it with some script that generates the content gate on the fly.

Mike: Wow. So So literally, you put a link in and then when you when when a visitor views the page, it gets replaced by the form. That's almost magic. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. Interesting. So, you know, looking forward, I mean, you've talked about gating. We've talked a little bit about gating across the whole website and just on landing pages, which is obviously one mistake people can make, I mean, what are the other things you see people doing wrong with their forms or with their content that's causing them to miss out on generating leads?

Tim: I would probably say having an approach which is I'm singular approach so I'm creating my campaign I'm creating generating leads to my campaign. And therefore, the my sales guys need these eight pieces of data in order to qualify them. So I'm going to create a form with those eight questions on it. Because, you know, on my on my most valuable ebook, nothing else, whereas you want to take a more holistic approach, you know, get gate a number of assets and get them across the website and reduce it down and take a longer term view. So right? Well, I may not get the eight questions I need straight away, because i'm gonna i'm nurturing these people over time may be my, my sales lifecycle is a three to six month period, therefore, I'm going to give them the time to come back, read more things, and I'll build the profile up over time.

Mike: So this is the kind of progressive profiling versus the one piece of content that Hakurei someone's gonna give, you know, all their data to, to receive.

Tim: Exactly. So progressive profiling is part of that. But the other thing might be utilising different types of forms for different types of assets. So, you know, 334 field form for something that's lightweight, maybe an infographic or something like that, and then more heavier forms for heavier content.

Mike: Definitely makes sense. So, I mean, if people listening to this are interested, and you know that they'd like to try gated content, they probably have a few questions. I mean, the first is, you know, with any migration of, you know, either form based technology or marketing automation, it always seems to be a nightmare, does it take a really long time to get gated content up and running?

Tim: It really depends. So some of our customers have been up and running in a couple of weeks, ready to go. And others we can take, you know, a few months to really nail out with them what they want, their standards are going to be maybe what their their lead flow is going to be in the background. Because what we try and do is align the questions, we're asking all the data we're sending within our gates to a back end lead process. So do we want to trigger an M qL? process that pushes them straight to Salesforce? Do we want to put them in a particular campaign or a particular list? Do we want to register them with a third party webinar system? All that kind of thing? So it depends how complicated it is. But somewhere between a couple of weeks and a couple of months, should get you there.

Mike: And presumably, that's for companies with quite a large number of forms. Correct?

Tim: Yeah. And there will be a bit of a migration process involved. But we have the capabilities of, of generating gates in bulk. So we normally go through a process where they'll audit what they're doing. Give us a spreadsheet of everything you want. And we'll generate all the gates and give you back the codes and they just get dropped into the content management system.

Mike: Wow. So the customer doesn't really even need to generate those. Those forms. They've just auto generated and they drop in a link then. Exactly right. Yeah. Just like creating a database record, basically. Brilliant. That's, that sounds great. So I mean, we've talked about an awful lot of functionality here. And yet you You said that although gated content is primarily targeted at enterprise, you know, range of company sizes. Use it is it an expensive product.

Tim: So we're we're a SaaS company, and we price it like that. So we price it on volume of use. And our starting point is around about 200 pounds a month. And we scale up from there.

Mike: Yeah, and that's definitely not expensive, particularly if someone's using marketing automation tools like marquetta. Wireless.

Tim: Exactly. Right. Yeah. I missed the on the price of automation developers as well their day, right?

Mike: Well, absolutely. Yeah. Compared to compared to hiring someone. It's, it's a massive saving. That's that's, that's really impressive. Yeah. I mean, thank you. So it's been, you know, really interesting. You know, it seems like every time I ask a question, there's something new I learn about gated content. Is there anything I should have asked about that? I haven't, or, you know, any features that you feel, you know, perhaps people might not realise are included in the product?

Tim: Yeah, sure. So there's one. One feature that we're particularly proud of is our sort of dynamic rule engine a way of we can automatically manipulate what the field forms doing, based on other data that's happening in the form. And a common use for this is actually with privacy and consent. And obviously, that's a that's a big challenge with companies again, when you're looking globally, is what consent should I be seeking, depending on which country or even maybe it's the US which state that users in? Or are they already opted in and consented to market? Are they already a customer? So all those data points come together and are we have With dynamic rule engine that we can manipulate what what's happening on the form. So our customers will take all that data, you know, what country is the user in? cetera, et cetera? And then decide what's going to be shown from a content point of view? Are you asking for an opt in? Are you asking for an opt out? Are you opting in by channel? Do you change the privacy link, and all that's got to be translated as well. And we have a translation engine built into. So that that kind of thing is we're particularly proud of, and our, our customers can manipulate and change that as their legal interpretation of privacy rules changes, they can do all that themselves, because it's a no code solution for for doing dynamic forms.

Mike: That sounds really interesting, because I know, you know, a lot of companies have problems where, you know, somebody signs up on a form they opt in, and then the next thing they sign up for, they get off of that opt in again, and they don't choose to opt in and the contacts lost then. So you can you can actually work out from the way the contacts stored, whether they're a customer or whether they've already opted in.

Tim: Exactly, right. Yeah. So as long as they've they've already been cookied, against the market automation platform, we can pull additional information that's coming from that that record, such as their customer status, or, or whether they're already opted in or not. Yeah.

Mike: Wow, that's cool. That could that could definitely help, you know, maintain a larger mailable database, which, which is a great feature.

Tim: Yeah, exactly. Some of our case studies are exactly about that is the idea of maximising your marketable reach. And we've had customers again, that have, because it was a complicated problem to fix their approach was, we're going to do the most stringent form of consent request, which is normally probably what double or double opt in, which is the German standard, we're going to roll that out globally. And then after a few months, they realised that their marketing databases just tanked to 5% of what it was. So we can come in and help create a more dynamic, flexible approach to seeking consent that adapts to where the user is, rather than the page they're on. It's, you know, it's based on their geography.

Mike: That's, I mean, I think that that could be huge. I've seen clients, you know, lose 90 plus percent of their database by making bad decisions from a GDPR or other privacy level legislation. So you know, that that could absolutely pay for the tool, just in terms of maintaining a larger database. that this has been fascinating. I've really enjoyed the conversation, Tim, and I'm sure people listening will have enjoyed it. And if they're interested in either finding out more from you or trying the platform, how should they go about that?

Tim: Right? Well, the easiest way is go to our website, which is very easy to remember, it's gated content.com. on there, there's some more information as case studies, there's a product tour in there. And obviously there's you can, you can use our contact form, which uses our own technology to get in touch. And we can do a demo. And we can even set sandboxes up for companies if they're looking like a really good fit.

Mike: That's fantastic. And I'm sure you know, there'll be people who want to do that. So thank you very much for being on the podcast. Tim. It's been a great episode. Thank you very much.

Tim: Thanks for having me. 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.

A Napier Podcast: Interview with Steffen Hedebrandt - Dreamdata

In this podcast episode, we interview Steffen Hedebrandt, Co-founder and Chief Revenue Officer at Dreamdata, a B2B revenue attribution platform.

Steffen shares his journey to co-founding Dreamdata, and how the platform is solving the problem of attribution and focussing on understanding the customer journey to support multi-touch in the B2B world.

He also shares why it's important that B2B marketers start digitalizing their customer's behavior today, and how they can get started with attribution.

Transcript: Interview with Steffen Hedebrandt - Dreamdata

Mike: Thanks for listening to marketing b2b tech, the podcast from Napier, where you can find out what really works in b2b marketing today. Welcome to the latest episode of marketing b2b technology, the podcast from Napier. Today, I've got Stephen Haider Brandt, who is the co founder and chief Revenue Officer of dream data. Welcome to the podcast, Steffen.

Steffen: Thanks a lot, Mike. I'm happy to be here.

Mike: Fantastic. So can you just start off by telling us a little bit about yourself and how your careers taking you to found dream data?

Steffen: Yeah, happy to. So ever since I came out of university, which is now more than 10 years ago, I've been working in you can say digital b2b companies in roles related to grow, sales, marketing, etc. Before starting.co, founding dream dinner, I worked at a company called air team, where I was the head of marketing. And then we went through this journey of like 15, to a little bit below 100 employees and zero in ad spend 200,000 euros of ad spend every month. And that really got me into this whole attribution journey, which I'm now 100% committed to, because at the time we were selling to schools and businesses, and I really, really I come from, like a line of thinking where like, if you do marketing, you do marketing to drive more revenue. And since air team was selling to schools and businesses, we typically saw that a journey was would easily be like three, six or nine months long. And there would be several stakeholders involved in the journey. And I desperately wanted to understand every time I put in another 10,000 euros into the machine, what came out on the other side. And I just have to admit that that was super hard to see anything reasonable about given the tools I had available at the time. which ultimately led me to joining my two co founders last Nola who I got introduced to from local dc in Copenhagen, saying that, hey, these two guys are actually solving this problem you're having. I think I read literally replied this guy. Sure, I don't think they can solve this problem. But I'm happy to meet them. And that's kind of that's kind of how I met my my two co founders said the dream data.

Mike: That's interesting, because that sounds like a lot of that's about the kind of startup community in Denmark, and particularly Copenhagen, which I believe is pretty strong.

Steffen: Yeah, I definitely think there's, there's this kind of the first spark is important, because then, you know, the first success is important, because then it kind of brief people who've seen what a startup is like and know what's working. And then suddenly, they have their own idea. And then they get together with other people that have their own ideas as well and have the experience to actually see a company going from just a few employees to Yeah, 50 or hundreds.

Mike: Cool. So I mean, Dream data was was obviously started to solve the problem attribution, you want to talk a little bit more about exactly what you're trying to do at dream data?

Steffen: Yeah, so I think there's the topic of attribution is basically try to define it a little bit. It's basically understanding all the all the things that influenced somebody making a decision on whether to buy or not, that's at least how I see it. And if you understand this, then you're able to repeat what works. And that's pretty nice in business, because then you have a money machine, put in more money, and you get more money out on the other side. And this attribution pocket in my world then has three different pillars. There's the companies who are trying to understand what happens on a mobile phone, or like in this app download environment. Then there's a b2c solution where it's more like typically ecommerce focus, kind of if he buys this pair of running shoes, can I get him to buy more at a later point, and then there's this pocket of b2b which dream data sits within and this bucket is different because here we are trying to attribute actions to An account, a company taking a particular action. And a company is a result of two or three or four or five people taking part of some kind of buying committee, that all do several different actions, moving towards them being close to one buyer salesperson in in the CRM system. So what we're trying to explain is really what what takes place when one business is purchasing a product from another business.

Mike: And presumably, for you the challenge, and the really interesting thing is, is this complexity in b2b?

Steffen: Yeah, it is. And first of all, in b2b, you're selling to a team, and you're selling as a team. Which means, as I said, when when you're selling to a team, there's multiple people involved. It takes a lot of time. And this completely breaks all the traditional tools that marketers would be using, being Google Analytics, Facebook ads, Google ads, etc. All of these platforms are built to understand what, what are the actions of an individual. And the problem about this is that marketing very typically ends up just looking like a cost centre, because the people who are starting the research that are starting this journey for your product, they typically always have a boss who have a credit card. And when the torch passes between those two people, all your spending loves looking at I just put your cost because it was some other person who came in and bought your product directly. Does that make sense?

Mike: Yeah. So I mean, you also talked about the idea of the buying committee. So I mean, I guess what you're saying is really the problem is, is that there's a lot of people who influence the decision, but probably only one person who makes the purchase. And quite often, that's not the purchase the person you need to be marketing to.

Steffen: Exactly. And we're then also a dream that we're particularly talking about revenue revenue attribution, as opposed to just the traditional marketing attribution. What we mean by revenue attribution is that we mean, we feel that in b2b all touches matter, it's good to understand which ads started the journey. But if there's three months of conversations with customer success, and sales people in between the deal being one, then is relatively stupid to just sign all the credit to the Facebook ad, or the Google ad, and so forth. So we want to understand, if any digital touch that touches the accounts before they become a customer of yours, we want to see that. And then you can make a decision on what kind of attribution model is important afterwards. But because essentially, all attribution models will be wrong if it's applied to 10, or 20%. of the whole picture.

Mike: And when you talk about customers, are you thinking about, you know, potentially, not just an entire company? I mean, because obviously, measuring impact on a global multinational is very hard, because typically, suppliers working multiple deals, but it would be groups within a large company would be your, your definition of a customer.

Steffen: Oh, that's a good, good observation, Mike, actually, so. So here, we are kind of touching kind of one of these b2b marketing quintessential that our defined ideal customer profile ICP, which is popular call this like 50 to 500 employees companies. And that's because of the reasoning you're seeing there, Mike, that, like, if it's a 10,000 person company, then to grow this extremely complex, and it's maybe not, it's hard to judge what's actually going on, what we're looking for is scenarios where you can see kind of a closed loop attribution as possible. Meaning that companies who do their marketing and acquisition of customers online, they have the salespeople who have sit in inside sales teams and called customers, and then they deliver the product digitally as well, because then you you have touches on all of the journey, as opposed to somebody who does some digital marketing, but then ships boxes through a reseller of some sort afterwards, because then the journey sort of breaks and then you cannot explain what's going on. So that's why the best fit for attribution are companies that has the opportunity to do some sort of closed loop attribution. Does that make sense?

Mike: Yeah, absolutely. It sounds like you're saying that there's still areas where you're not able to solve the attribution problem. So very large, complex suppliers with you know, third party supply chains is still something you can't really address is that

Steffen: Yeah, like Essentially, it's attribution is about knowing more. And you could probably lift those people, as you mentioned before, from knowing 10%, to knowing 30%, or something like that. But ideally, you want to lift them to knowing 6070 or 80%. So that when they make decisions upon your data, they make more money. And, you know, in some instances, it's just too little insight that you get.

Mike: Makes sense. Makes sense. So you talked about your, your ideal customer, being that being this sort of mid size company. And he also said, typically delivers digitally, because I assume that means that everything gets delivered direct to the customer, rather than through a channel.

Steffen: Yes. So like we like if we get really narrow, we actually prefer software as a service. Because here you have people logging into your product online as well. So now I'm getting a little bit technical, but the way we kind of solve attribution is that we we hand a script for people's website. And this scripts assigns anonymous IDs to every visitor of the website. And then it keeps a small log book, anonymized about what is every person doing on your website, when this person then identifies themselves, meaning that they submit a form. And that form can be a newsletter, sign up a demo request, or it can be a login to the product, then we get consent to go back and look at what did you do while you were anonymous. So it could be that somebody who was actually a big influence on this journey on this account, did not identify themselves before the product was bought, and they locked into the product. So that's why it's really good for us to work with people who have some sort of online login, because then after the fact, we can go in and correct the journey.

Mike: So it's all about getting up, you know, to a higher percentage of knowledge really as high as you can get. Yes, exactly. Interesting. And you talk a lot about journey. So it sounds like your view of attribution is is really based around understanding the customer journey. Is that fair?

Steffen: That's very true. Yeah, so that reflects back to what I said before. The first of all, you need all the touches that has a digital touch mapped, because if you are applying an attribution model, or looking at attribution only at on 10%, or 20% of the journey, like whatever conclusion you might come to, then afterwards is probably wrong. So if companies are sitting out there listening to this, I would say the first and most important thing to do is to, to start digitalising your behaviour more, all the way from simple things like if your salespeople are just Cowboys, wood phones, today, they should start using our phone, like a calling software that tracks every time they call a number, they cut it straight to the account, and it's tracked to the person that they're calling. So at least the digital trace, the same thing. If you're if you're doing your customer success in in some random mail inbox, you should probably move that into, you know, our customer success software. And like, little by little, you start to create traces of all your actions, because it's when you have all these digital touches, that's when you can start to analyse what's the meaningful touch and what's not so meaningful touches.

Mike: Interesting. I mean, I'm intrigued because you're building what sounds like a very customised approach to, you know, to the attribution model. I mean, people talk about standard models, like first touch, last touch linear, you know, and more complex ones. They just wrong, or do they provide some sort of approximation? What's your view on that?

Steffen: So, again, let's, let's think about it as a, as a b2b looking at distribution models. Well, I can see. So in b2c, I think, like a less touch model, what was the very last click before somebody bought something is can be quite relevant. Like, if you're buying a pair of running shoes, you want to see what ad put you on your website to buy that pair of shoes. But this is just never ever going to happen in a b2b scenario, because it's not a single touch world. It's a multi touch world. So the very last touch of a journey of 555 100 touches. Yeah, I don't know whether it's interesting or not. My point being is that in this first and last touch discussion is that if what you attract appeared as the first touch of a journey might actually be the 20th touch on that journey. You know what I mean? So it's, the more his most important thing is to capture it the whole journey. Because if that what you think is the first touch is actually the 10th or 20th touch, then you're actually not able to go back and replicate what God that journey started. Now you're making a decision on something that is leading you in a wrong direction.

Mike: Interesting. I mean, it sounds like dream data's view is much more understanding what matters at each stage of the journey and optimising that rather than necessarily trying to do a, an accountancy exercise of putting a value on each touch. Is that a fair assessment of how you view attribution?

Steffen: Yeah, so it kind of there's different layers to it. So if we'd say like getting the data, that's step one. Step two, is that you can try to flip, I would say, every time people is asking me what's attribution model to us, it's always saying you should use all of all of them before making any decision. Because each model is just representing different parts of the truth. And then lastly, then then there's the economic value, which is like, we're very running businesses in a capitalistic world. So we need to do more of what actually has a positive return on investment, a positive return on adspend. So the money component is extremely important. The credit component is very important that, that you actually make decisions that are profitable for you and not lead you into like, a wasting of, of money. But it kind of comes in a hierarchy that you don't want to just assign credit to some touch, if that touches an irrelevant touch. Think Does that make sense?

Mike: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So I mean, I think the simple answer, basically, is it there is no magic number for value of each touch or what you do. It's about looking at from different points of view. Is that fair?

Steffen: Yeah, I think there's so now that's another point is that it the value component is, is tricky, because we're like, what we're doing is statistics, you can see. But some touch might be more important than others, you can try to highlight that through different kinds of analysis. But essentially, only that one person that made the decision will be the one that can actually answer the question. Like, I really liked that illustration, or that salesperson did a really good sales presentation, all of the touches will just be recorded as digital touches, not weighted on the quality of the touch.

Mike: So so just unpack that, what you're saying is, you can have a touch, for example, a sales presentation that could actually be different in terms of impact, depending upon who's delivering it, you've got kind of a human factor there.

Steffen: Yes. And then that that's the part where computers and digital analysis will fall a bit short. And that's why I'm saying you should think about it as a statistical framework more than necessarily representing 100% of the truth. Because you're never gonna get to 100% of the truth. You can only strive to know as much as possible.

Mike: Yeah, and I think that's a really great point. I mean, we see that a lot with digital, you can get numbers that look super accurate, you know, to three decimal places, anything else has got to be right. But actually, there's, there's precision on the number and then there's accuracy of the number and procedures wrong.

Steffen: Yeah, let's say you're all the website metrics looks super good one day. And you didn't change anything. But you did have like, a super big interview in the guardian or something like that. That will never be any digital touch for The Guardian, if it was just printed in the newspaper. But all the metrics on the website looks looks better. So it's just not everything that is caught in these digital calculations.

Mike: Absolutely. So when you go and see or talk to a new customer, I I'm interested what sort of stage they are, are they typically, you know, do they have a model they're hanging on to that's not working for them? Or do they come to you and say, Look, we really have no idea what's working.

Steffen: So then once we deal with are typically beyond the stage of having a website and having Google Analytics installed, but still, like let's say 90% are still still operating in a single touch understanding of the of the world. Which in b2b with end by single touches that they look at only the first record, or the last record, like first or last touch, which might not necessarily be the first or last touches just what it says in the original source field in the CRM. But all in all b2b purchases are in a multi touch world that the several stakeholders, there's calls, there's emails, there's chats, and so forth. And almost nobody has a really as a legit multi touch setup. And that's a complex way of saying that the data that they're making decisions on is just wrong. Because like b2b is not single touch. It's, it's a lot of touches on a lot of different people. Interesting.

Mike: So I mean, the obvious follow on question to this, as I assume people are doing single touch attribution, because it's easy. Presumably, one of the roles of dream data is pulling in data from all sorts of different systems. So that might be CRM, marketing, automation, your chat software, presuming that that's quite a big part of the product. Yeah. So talk about, you know, where you pull data from, and, you know, maybe where sometimes you can bring in insights that, you know, perhaps someone hasn't seen before, because you're aggregating data from multiple platforms?

Steffen: Yeah, so there's two components here, I think, let me just, there's the website and what goes on there. And then there's all the tools that you're using. If we start with the website, just getting through a multi touch approach on the website is hugely important. Because typically, you'd see that a personal visits your website, three, four or five times, before they actually convert to like a newsletter, or demo sign up or something like that. If you're looking at a single touch, you're looking at him typing directly dream data.io into the browser, and then converting to a demo call. But that person actually started his journey from an ad on LinkedIn, or an ad on Google or something else. But that was the first visit he had to your website. And ask that person now. types in during the.io directly in the browser, it looks like he came directly to your website. This makes you unable to actually do more of what actually starts doing this for your companies. And that's a huge loss. But that's just the multi touch approach to the website. We then also plug into essentially every tool that touches your T account journeys, which typically will be the CRM tool, Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, HubSpot, etc. And then some sort of marketing automation tool that sends emails to the leads and the customers, then it can be like a customer success or like chat software on the website, it can be an outreach software that the BDR so using, to contact new potential customers. It can be a webinar software, any kind of software that touches the journeys and are generating its own data silos today. We want to plug it in, plug into them, and then pull all the information out of it.

Mike: So you kind of building a effectively a data warehouse of all the touches with those customers. Is that a fair way to describe it?

Steffen: Yes. So our our like, the core of our product is, here's the database. And this database holds all the touches that you have available on your accounts. And then our magical algorithms then cleans the data and sold it so that all of these people who were looking like individuals actually gets sorted into the same timeline, and all the touches that they've had as well. Because then you can start to go and say, Hey, we just want one this 10,000 pound customer, what was the actual real first touch of this account? Oh, secondly, this ad, and we actually paid less for this ad that we made on the account, then you can go back and spend more on those ads.

Mike: Right, right. That makes sense. So, I mean, I'm still intrigued about this pulling together all this these digital touches together, it sounds quite complex. Is it a very time consuming process to deploy dream data?

Steffen: It's not, it's not anymore, at least you send it you know, when you do start up you do. You start with doing something non scalable, but we've actually reached a stage now where it kind of, you can sign up for our free product. Then we create an account for you and then you you connect all your data sources. And the next day you log in with our algorithms have done the first run and And then from there you will will speak to you about how is the data looking? Is there anything we can improve? So, it's, I think we're trying to do something that is extremely technically complex, but we're making it we're democratising it. So the marketers can actually do this with no code involved.

Mike: So so all these integrations are all baked in now. And literally, you know, it's 24 hours from signing up to getting your first insights. Yeah, that's, that's impressive. That's really cool.

Steffen: And that's kind of because like, when you get to know all these systems better and better, you can stand the dice. What does it mean? If this system calls a customer and the other system calls it an account? How do we then join that in, in our database, and that is that process of standardising all these integrations that we've we've been going through?

Mike: Brilliant, and then, I mean, obviously, one of the difficult things is getting people up to speed with understanding your approach and understanding how to use dream data. Is it difficult to, to use dream data, particularly if you've come from a single touch attribution background, which sounds like most of your customers do?

Steffen: To be honest, I think this is one of our biggest challenges that people are used to looking at the world in a certain way, regarding some numbers from some tools as the truth. And now we're coming and saying, What made you look like a success before it's not true anymore, or the way you've been doing things are wrong? So this education of the market, because the deep b2b marketers are being asked by their CEOs to to explain what is the best ad channel for us? If they start replying this, then they know that Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, somewhere else has all touched that account. So by replying that one of the channels are better than the other state, they know it's wrong, but the CEO is still asking, Okay, the next 10,000 years, where do we put them in? Because he's thinking in a singular, sits in one single touch world. So there's a lot of education for us to do in making people understand this, I think this is our biggest challenge explaining this complexity.

Mike: Interesting. How do you how do you achieve that with effectively a software as a service product? You? Do you have assigned Customer Success agents. So how does it work?

Steffen: So I think we, first of all, we try to address companies who are a bit more mature in terms of understanding this complexity. But we also are betting heavily on content. So we produce a lot of different content on on the topic, ebooks, podcasts, etc, to try to help people get more educated on it, and they self educate them on what's the challenges so that when our salespeople meet potential customers, there's actually a lot of information available on the website before the call. And if the customers are asking particular questions, then we have blog posts that the salespeople can send to the customers afterwards.

Mike: Cool. So combination of people and content seems to be the solution there. Yeah, yeah. Now, you mentioned something very interesting. I mean, you've got what is a really complex product, that's that, I mean, just pulling the data together is a real challenge. And then you said, you have a free version people can try? I mean, does that mean that dream data is actually not that expensive at all?

Steffen: So for us, we have a free tier that that has two purposes. One, it's for small companies who can get these insights for free. And then it's for the larger companies to test what we can actually do with the data. So some can stay in free forever. Some will be bound for, for paying at some point. But I'm leaning towards giving a little bit more value selling reply to your question. So the best of our customers are only wasting 30% of their digital ad spend. That's the best of our customers. And then it only gets worse from there. So if you think about, like a company who's spending 50,000 pounds and one finance, you know, what is the high cost for like, gaming back 20 or 40% of that spent?

Mike: Absolutely, yeah, so so the the opportunity to get a positive ROI is is huge, because inherently these companies are spending quite a lot on advertising and don't know what works.

Steffen: Yeah. And like that's what's going on, to be honest, like Google Analytics, Google ads, Facebook ads, LinkedIn ads are all not telling you the truth, because They're looking at people as individuals. Whereas like the purchases are happening from an account. And that means that the revenue component is always detached from the cost component. Yeah. So, yeah, I think this this thing, I hope that I can find a really, really large microphone and sell off to b2b marketers about.

Mike: Yeah, no, I love that, that concept that that marketing and revenue are detached or somehow split and b2b. It's, it's a great way of explaining that the challenge of doing b2b marketing. So I think it's brilliant.

Steffen: Yeah, that that's the essential problem. And it's also why, you know, when a crisis comes, the first thing that's being slashed is this. It's the marketing spend, because marketers have too little proof of revenue of their activities. Because we can, we can show to our customers heard that, hey, an average journey from the first touch in an ad until you win an account is 100 days. So by slashing 50% of your ad budget today, then three months down the line four months down the line, you're going to miss half of the leads that you have today.

Mike: Interesting

Steffen: This information, b2b marketers, for the larger part doesn't have they don't have that available today.

Mike: Yep. So you're giving much more, I guess, much more solid data and more reliable data that's going to allow people to make far better plans and justify what they do.

Steffen: It's really there's a big, there's two things, knowing it's knowing what to do next. Because you can see from the data what's, what's the best decision. But then there's also just the proof for the salespeople, for example, that there's a lot of marketing touches on this journey, or those two, upper management. We spent this much money this is how much how many sales qualified leads we provided.

Mike: Makes sense. That's, I mean, that's a really optimistic view, I think of what dream data can do for marketers. Is there anything else you feel we should cover and I think we've covered a quite a broad range of different things. And, you know, finishing off by basically ensuring that the market can show their value and keep their job, I think, a real positive way to end but anything else you'd like to mention.

Steffen: I would say, there's two advices, that I will give to b2b marketers, there's one, start to always talk about why you do what you do in order to generate more revenue. So you should have a narrative of I'm doing this activity, because XYZ will bring us more revenue. That's the one part always be able to explain verbally, why what you're doing is driving more revenue. And then secondly, start building data that can prove that your story is true. So that whenever you do an experiment, you can say, I want it to do this, and this is what happened. If it's a positive return on investment, you can double that investment The next time you do it. And if your boss is questioning how you spend your budget, you actually have proved that you've delivered value.

Mike: I think that's that's great advice. I love that. I'm, I'm sure there's people listening to podcasts, who will be very interested in dream data, and maybe trying it out. I mean, obviously, you mentioned the ability to actually, you know, literally go try it on the website. But if someone has any questions, what would be the best way to maybe reach you and ask you about dream data or anything you've covered on the podcast? Oh, that's just go to LinkedIn and find me. That's where I spend most of my day. Perfect. Perfect. That'd be great. And obviously, we'll make sure we put the link to your LinkedIn profile in our show notes. Thanks a lot, Mike. Well, thank you so much for being on the podcast, Steffen. It's been a really interesting discussion. I think we've covered an awful lot about data in a very short time, and I really appreciate your insights and, and, you know, the advice to marketers, thanks so much for being on the podcast.

Steffen: Thanks a lot for the invite my guy, I enjoyed it. 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.


Helping Organisations Thrive Podcast Interview: Developing Young People in Organisations

The Helping Organisations Thrive, hosted by Julian Roberts, aims to provide leaders with insights, discussions and robust strategies to help their companies thrive.  They recently sat down with Mike, Managing Director at Napier, who discusses his passion for recruiting and developing young people at Napier.

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.

Transcript: Helping Organisations Thrive Podcast Interview: Developing Young People in Organisations

Julian: Hello, and welcome to the helping organisations thrive podcast. This is your host, Julian Roberts. This podcast is to provide leaders with insights, discussions and robust strategies to help their companies thrive in these challenging times. We will be interviewing business leaders, owners and experts in the field of business resilience. Welcome to helping organisations thrive. Today I have the great pleasure of Mike Maynard. Welcome, Mike.

Mike: Julian, thanks for having me on the podcast. Yeah,

Julian: It's good to see you and get to have a conversation with you today. And I just got to tell the audience a little bit about you. You are the MD of Napier Partnership, which is a PR lead full service marketing agency that specialises in the b2b technology sector. And you say you're a self confessed geek who loves talking about technology. And you began your career as electronics design engineer working for companies ranging from GC, Marconi and DDA developing products from complex radar systems to Kim Wiles mixing this, which is really interesting. Whether we get onto that I'm not too sure. But it's certainly an interesting thing to talk about, as they ask everybody on the show, because I'm really nosy and curious about sort of why people do what they do. So what do you love about what you do?

Mike: So I wish I could say it's just so easy, you know, but actually, I think what I love is the challenge. Every day is different, every client is different. And the rate of change, I mean, you mentioned the fact that I'm a bit of a geek, I love technology, I love the way technology influences things, and probably, you know, marketing, and I think particularly b2b marketing has been more influenced by technology than almost any other industry.

Julian: And Have you always been a geek sort of technology wise? Have you always been interested in sort of the aspects of marketing? I mean, what where's this all come from?

Mike: So that the geek bit Yes, yeah, I mean, I, when I went to school, you know, I did the physics and maths, I did an engineering degree. So absolutely always been a geek, whether marketing thing came from, that's a little bit of a longer story.

Julian: Because it does feel a bit of a job doesn't go from an engineer to marketing. I mean, that's like a quantum leap.

Mike: It's, it's not that uncommon. But I can't really claim it was desperately planned. So I started off as an engineer, I was designing electronic systems, I didn't really enjoy a lot of the, the kind of bureaucracy and admin behind taking a product from design to manufacture. So you know, clearly, you need to make sure that everything was right, or the parts were listed, all that kind of stuff in it, it wasn't really my thing. So I looked around what I could do.

And I realised that the technical support engineers were coming to me had a company car, and at the time, you know, 30 years ago, that was a big deal. And very tax efficient way of having a car. So I thought, why quite fancy a car, I could help people. So I moved into a technical support role. I got myself a car. It was a lovely Astro GSI fantastic car, loved it.

And started doing technical support, worked on that for a while, moved to an American semiconductor company, and then eventually realised that really, the route forward in my role was to go to the States. And I didn't want to do that. So kind of looked around for the next logical career step and decided marketing was the thing I had an opportunity to move to become the European marketing manager for this, this company. And, you know, it had some great insights. So I spent 10 years with this semiconductor company moving really from that engineering to marketing role.

Julian: Okay, that's interesting. It was interesting. And obviously, you like that you enjoy it. Now, I know you've done it ever since?

Mike: Yeah, I mean, I love it. I there's a lot of similarity between marketing. And, you know, thank goodness, I'm doing marketing now rather than 30 years ago, because, you know, 30 years ago started the 90s. You know, it was almost still the Mad Men kind of era. It was all opinion. It was theory, there was very little data. Today, the world is completely different. You know, all of marketing revolves around data, and understanding whether things work and to be honest, that's kind of an engineering problem. Hmm.

Julian: That's interesting, actually. Yeah. And it's interesting because I've known a lot of marketers who've come from a science background actually. So it's very similar sort of logical way of problem solving, trying to work and navigate things through. So today We've had a conversation already about this before about, I know you've got a real passion for really bringing on young sort of people within the workforce. And, you know, we know that millennials now are becoming some stats that within 10 years, they're going to become a significant part of the workforce almost will be there now. And then we have the old Gen Zed coming up behind them now. And unlike ourselves, the Gen X slot will be sort of becoming a little bit less in the workforce. So it is changing this dynamic. And I just want to understand, what is it about the sort of younger sort of people that you're quite interested in and got a passion for? Because you do have a passion for it?

Mike: And that's a great question. I think that, you know, there's a few things one is, you know, surround yourself with younger people, you don't feel quite as old, most of the time until you talk about music, and then you feel really old. But, you know, a lot of that is around helping myself helping me be a better marketer by getting a wider range of views. But I think particularly one of the most exciting things is how fast you know, people can develop at the start of their careers. And I think this is always an interesting challenge.

You know, I remember when I started my career, you know, you leave University thing, you know, everything, you walk into your first engineering job. And, you know, the first thing you get told is right, you've got to understand the degree gets you in the position where you can start learning, the first important thing, you know, you don't know anything that's wrong, and very quickly realise that you pick up things really fast. And I think that's, that's always quite exciting. So we've seen, you know, younger people join the company, and really learn and develop very quickly. And so I really enjoyed that. I found that that really useful.

I think clients love to see, you know, people at their agency develop quickly. And it also brings some new ideas as well. And you know, some of them, some of them great, some of them maybe not so great, but it's great to see different perspective people from outside coming in and having a different approach.

Julian: And it's just a nature of your business. That is obviously b2b technology. And I don't know what an innovation or is did you make a deliberate sort of play for bringing in younger talents, or a combination of both?

Mike: I guess, I'd love to claim as a strategy. mean, ultimately, what one retrospectively is no is Yeah, we clearly, you know, looked and analyse the situation and worked out young people or right people to bring in to optimise our business. Although a cynic might say that being based in Chichester, there's actually very few senior experienced marketing professionals in the area. And that's honestly the truth. We very rapidly realised that in order to support our growth was we could get some senior people we couldn't get enough to grow as quickly as we wanted to. So we recognise we had to bring in younger people and had to train them up, it was the only option.

Julian: Okay, and how have you gone about doing that in terms of bringing people on board making sure that they are fits with your culture, and fit with where you're going as a business?

Mike: So it's a great question we've had, I guess, you know, two real different routes. I mean, one is bringing on people as apprentices. And we've had a couple of real significant success stories with people coming in as apprentices who've not done degrees, who've not got these marketing qualifications. And we've worked with just a college who've been fantastic in terms of helping us develop those people. And, you know, that's been a really successful way to bring in, frankly, you know, very young, very green people into the business and make them successful.

And the other, probably more conventional way is through sort of a more of a graduate approach, where we're hiring and graduates and developing them. And typically there, we might be offering them a CI M. So chartership marketing qualification. Because that's somewhat more practical than they would have gotten the degree the degrees are still, I mean, to academic to, you know, really let people hit the ground running. I mean, when you really do a degree, and I've lectured on some PR courses, you know, you're asking the students to think about strategy. You're asked him thinking at a very high level, and actually, you know, if you leave university as a graduate and move to Coca Cola, they don't ask you to decide the strategy for marketing for Coca Cola on your first day, you know, you're actually doing a lot of the execution.

So it is about, you know, changing that graduate mindset into execution and delivering tactics. And rather than having this big, overarching strategy, trying to think about very specific campaigns or activities and how to make them work,

Julian: And if you sort of focus, is it mainly our graduates or do you take anybody from a non degree background? I mean, what's your focus on that, obviously, is a lot to talk about. You don't need degree or you do need a degree and a lot of negativity towards degrees? I just want to get your sort of thoughts on that. Really?

Mike: Yeah, I mean, it's really interesting, you don't need a degree, you don't need a degree to join napeo, we've had people very, very successfully joined Napier, I mean, I've got, you know, one of our account managers now Emily joined, I don't know, five or six years ago, literally straight out of school, no experience as an apprentice. And she's actually got to the point where she's running, you know, some of our major accounts. And, frankly, you know, if I had, you know, some challenges around, for example, digital marketing, I mean, she's the person I want on my account, she's, she's brilliant, she's got some great insight into account based marketing, she's done tremendously well. But equally, if you look at people who've got degrees, they've had three years of training.

And as I say, it's not always what I call directly on the job training, but they actually come with, you know, something slightly different, maybe a more strategic outlook, certainly, you know, they're more experienced more mature. I think both are great ways to recruit people, I don't know, you can say one is better than another, they're just different.

Julian: So what is it you're looking for when you're trying to recruit somebody in that sort of sort of the younger people sort of brackets? What is it about them that makes you think, actually, they've got something they've got this potential that this spark has certain aspects that you sort of see,

Mike: It's unbelief, I don't know if any young people are listening to the podcast, but it's incredible, when people come and talk to us, particularly they come for interview, within two or three minutes, you know, if they're keen or not, you know, if they're enthusiastic. And what we're looking for are, you know, people who actually want to do the job. And that sounds crazy. But literally, that's what we want to do, we want to find people who are keen, enthusiastic, because they're the people who put the work in, and they're the people who develop really, really quickly.

And, to me, it's really interesting, because you'll have some, particularly the younger people coming in who maybe it's their first job interview, I don't know, it could have been Emily's first job interview. And, you know, they're nervous, and they're not, they're not performing at their peak, but at the same time, you can still see that sparkle, enthusiasm. And to me, you know, that's the most important thing is is somebody who wants the job, and wants to make it a success. And I think, as a business, we can give them, you know, what they need the tools and the training, to make it a success if they're prepared to put the work in.

Julian: And what you know, bringing in younger people, because I know you have to don't just have younger people, you have a wide range of, of demographics in your organization's Is there any challenges to other people in the organisation, when you're bringing in lots of younger talents, so to speak, I mean, or even pitfalls from sort of bringing young talents,

Mike: I hope those challenges, I mean, we'd love the younger people to challenge the older people, and we love vice versa, you know, older people to challenge the younger people. So from that point of view, you know, I guess there's always an underlying element of competition in any business. But we're not, we're not an outwardly competitive business. And one of the great things about running a smaller business, is you don't have this huge kind of corporate structure to deal with. And if I have someone who's brilliant, I can make them a job, and I can create a job, I can create a job title, I can, you know, I can even build a business around somebody who's got a particular enthusiasm for a certain area of marketing.

So I can absolutely, you know, make someone who's keen, enthusiastic, successful. So it's not a zero sum game. You know, I love the younger people to bring new ideas to, you know, frankly, push some of the older people on the importance of digital, equally love the, you know, the older people will look at it and push the young people maybe on quality. You know, and it's a very interesting balance, you know, younger people are perhaps more used to seeing marketing on Facebook, which is a little, often a little raw. Whereas, you know, if you've been in business for, you know, 30 years, I've been seeing that you've seen, like these, you know, pieces of content that have gone through 2030 revisions that have been perfected to the point of, you know, almost utter boredom. But you get to see these these kinds of, you know, really polished bits of content, and that's what you expect. So, you know, everyone can bring their own perspective and their own perspectives, always valuable.

Julian: And I guess, bringing that diversity readers sort of create that sense of thriving mindset and stimulation amongst the rest of the business isn't.

Mike: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I'd rather hire someone because they're good not hire someone because they're, you know, 45 or they've got 10 years experience or anything like that. I'd rather hire someone who's good. And, you know, the other thing, being a small business, it's much easier to have a, you know, a much stronger culture and I think we've really folk customer, a culture of people enjoying working together, you know, and I really hope people enjoy working with each other because we pick, frankly, we pick people that we as a management team want to work with, you know, that's what we do at the end of the day.

Julian: No, and I think I've talked to a lot of businesses where they're starting to think a bit more about hiring for attitude as opposed to skill, because you can always teach the skills, the abilities, as long as you got the attitude to, to learn and develop and grow. That's really important. So in the last 12 months, how have you found your business? Or how you found developing people in that time job or bringing new people on? I mean, it's been quite a challenge, I guess, was it not in might not be in your business.

Mike: For us, it's been a massive challenge. And we're still trying to work through why. But not having that face to face element makes makes training particularly where people are new to the industry or you know, baby have a new to work. It's really, really hard to do. So we are planning a move back to the office, probably as a hybrid kind of move. But we know, you know, one of the biggest drivers for us we know is training and improving the training. We are doing other things as well to try and make our training a little more formalised. I think this is probably one of the reasons why some people have been very successful. Some people haven't, we've had a very personal, you know, always individual training programme with everybody. And I think some companies that have had very standardised training programmes, have actually found it easier to train people when they're remote.

And I think the challenge is getting, you know, the benefits of that individual personalised training, people can focus on what they want to do and learn what they need, rather than having to learn everything, and then work out what's important. So you want to keep that, but you also want to introduce maybe a little bit more formality. So that's what we're doing. We, you know, we've spent a lot of this year where we've done training, it's all been video recorded, where we're, you know, we're building this library. So we're getting to the point where we've got that kind of training built in now.

Julian: Okay, I've been talking to a lot of businesses where they've liked yourself and a lot of stuff on mind, or they've onboarding people. It's been obviously quite a challenge. And I remember, I was talking to one sort of a CEO, where I think some of his direct reports were, when they they on boarded somebody on in terms of their teams, they would literally put an open room on a zoom. So they could just access them almost like a water cooler. They didn't need to ring them, it was just on all the time. And then they would just pop in and go Hello, can I assume? Have you done anything like that any ways of trying to create those water cooler moments, so to speak, and try to create that almost almost normality of dialogue without being so forced with a formal meeting?

Mike: Yes, we do a couple of things I mean, with with new people, particularly, we do a lot of like sheduled, one to ones. So that meet people that don't necessarily even directly work with just so they can get to know the company get to know the people. And then we've tried really hard to get some informal kind of elements to the business. So we've done the pop quiz, we're still doing the pop quiz. Not every week, but we're still doing the pop quiz, which I think is, you know, we must be one of the last businesses still still, I don't know anybody else is still doing publicly. I think this Friday, we've got a pop quiz on penguins, which is terrifying me. I feel I don't know enough about penguins. But, you know, that's how far we've got down the pub quiz route. So we're doing that.

But we also do a, like a couple of 15 minute morning calls that are, you know, a little bit of some good news from the business. So this morning, we had someone who'd just pulled in an extra 10,000 pounds of business we didn't expect. So bit of positivity. And we play a game we call throw and catch, which is we basically have a topic and we talk about that. And last week was jokes this Thursday, I think we need to talk about what are the three apps you really couldn't live without on your iPhone? I mean, just anything off the wall crazy kind of discussions, and it always is quite entertaining, you get to know people. So I think we've tried to try to have some of that, you know, follow on there, but it is it isn't as fun doing it remotely. I mean, that's sure.

Julian: Oh, no, not at all. I agree. And just just on that, and what are your thoughts on the sort of future of work? I mean, it's a big topic in itself, just from your own perspective, but also generally, how do you think people are going to navigate this niche next phase of, of a post pandemic?

Mike: And I think most people are going to navigate by guessing. And hopefully we'll end up somewhere that's good. I don't think anyone knows. You know, and I think there'll be a I mean, issue where we don't want to go back to the office full time, kind of, you know, people being a bit reluctant to go back. And you know, whether that's from safety health concerns, or whether it's from, you know, the benefits of working from home. And then suddenly, there'll be like, a bit of a rush back when people go, yeah, sure, I do want to go meet people at work with my friends.

And you know, and then there'll be a bit of a pullback, and I think it will be like these waves of people coming in and out of the office, and was settled. I mean, I think it's unlikely that we'll see businesses go, you know, everybody working remotely, if their office based or everyone working full time in the office, it, you know, it's this magic hybrid word, which is kind of like a classic British fudge, you know, we don't know what the answer is, it's going to be somewhere in between the two complete extremes, which I think is a fairly safe bet.

Julian: Yeah. And if you got any sort of principles, or how you're going to think that through and put it together, because it is, you know, I've talked to many organisations, and there's like, 5000 ways of doing this. And it's really difficult. But have you got any sort of thinking other core ways, you're going to know, we're going to approach it in this way, and base it on this to try and ensure we bring everybody with us and keep the communication going?

Mike: So think, in terms of principles, there are certain things that we know are more effective in the office. So if you ask people individually, are you more effective and efficient working from home? They'll go, yes. If you ask them, what about the rest of your team? They'll go, No. The reality is, is that individuals become more efficient at home, but teams become less efficient when they're fragmented, you know, and it's obvious, I mean, it's gonna happen. And I'm trying. So first thing is to explain that that's the problem is we're not trying to bring people back into the office, because we think they're not efficient at home, or we don't trust them, it's that the team doesn't work as well, if you're not together.

So we need to find what that means. And I have no clue what that means at the moment. But I just know that what we need to do is do things to encourage people to spend time in the office, because that matters. And ultimately, it increases their contribution to the business, you know, whilst individually, they may, you know, may have a bigger individual contribution. The team as a whole is less effective. And what matters really in the business is how well the team performs, not whether you've got one standout individual.

Julian: Yeah, and I think you're right, I think having that almost principle at the core about team is really important that I've been talking to a lot of organisations about, you know, making sure you keep those connections going. And those collaborations and collaboration is part of the team and you do that more effectively, it can be done remotely, because we've proved it, but more effectively in person. But through it all, making sure that communication is is is all the way through because there will be moments where how organisations do it where someone be in the office, or somebody at home is how you keep them connected on in the same meeting at that same time. And that people don't miss out on things that are going on, and almost be an inclusive without really just going back to bringing on young people and and try creating that sort of culture of focusing on that, because that's obviously where the workforce is going. What are the sort of pitfalls might there be bringing on somebody other straight from university, or from an apprenticeship sort of point of view?

Mike: I think the biggest challenge is not assuming that they know things. And I think that most of the problems we've had is we've assumed something. And the individuals never said, Look, I just have no clue. And I think we, particularly with younger people, they find it quite hard to admit they don't know stuff. And we keep saying it's fine, it's fine, you don't know just ask we'll fix it, it's fine. And they go where they go a compliment to the boss. I don't know that, you know. And it's very frustrating from our point of view, but it's also very understandable. So, to me, the biggest issue you've got is is really making sure that you don't make assumptions or if you do you validate those assumptions with the individual make it really clear and ask questions in a way that that are not you know, a direct Well, can you do this or not? Because there are definitely people, particularly younger people, not exclusively young people, particularly younger people are reluctant to admit, you know, something they can't do because they see it as a weakness. And as advice to younger people, it's not weakness, just be direct. And you know, you'll get taught it, you'll learn it and it will all be over very, very quickly. But yeah, I mean, that's the biggest challenge we have.

Julian: Yes, interesting point actually, because my youngest daughter, I think he works in a cafe and some things she found was found in difficult and I just say to say the only you don't I do. I can't do that. I can't do that. manner, I think it's okay to say, I don't I, you know, they've been shown, yeah, this works. And it's that sort of vulnerability, I guess, at the age where you feel like you need to know it all. Because otherwise you'll lose your job, which is obviously a concern. So what do you do besides that to ensure that there that you'll get success when you bring somebody in from that perspective, in terms of helping them to be successful through your organisation?

Mike: I mean, that's a great question. We've I mean, we've got an amazing HR manager, Debbie, who spends a lot of time talking to people and making sure that they're happy. I mean, she's the person we always send, you know, if we feel that there's a problem with someone not understanding something that she's the, I guess, the non, in a way than the non managerial person they can trust. She's, she's not nasty like us. You know, it's really about talking to people, and it's about communication. And I think there's, you know, there has been a challenge and without doubt, whilst people look at, you know, remote working and say, well, zoom is great, you know, it can replace meetings. Yeah, it can kind of replace meetings, it can't replace the Hi, how you doing chat when somebody is making coffee?

And I think, you know, it's those informal chats that we're trying to trying to develop to find the problems. I mean, to be honest, I think most businesses don't have an issue with solving problems, you know, if they have people who don't understand something, or, you know, haven't been taught something, or, you know, just never experienced it, it's easy to train people. But it's really hard to find the problem in the first place, that that's the real challenge. So, you know, that's definitely an area, I would love to do a better job on. I mean, I think it's something we're trying and, you know, we'll get there, but it's pretty tough. You know, and particularly with the dynamics of not everyone wanting to be completely honest about, you know, what they see as weaknesses, and we might just see, it's our training failure. Normally, it's, I mean, it's normally, you know, a lot of these problems are down to issues with training, you know, and we can look at it and go, yeah, I can understand that. Now, when I said to you, I understand that I saw you really didn't, but you said, Yes, I trusted you. And, you know, I was stupid, it's my fault, you know, and it often is, you know, the the senior people's fault for not picking up the issues.

Julian: Do they get assigned, like mentors, because I know a lot organisation work on that sort of mentor buddy system to help them not somebody who's not their direct reports, or their manager, sorry, somebody they can talk to an offload with and almost ask these stupid questions that perhaps they feel a bit embarrassed to ask their boss.

Mike: Yeah, absolutely. So we, we have a buddy system, which a buddy system for everybody, no matter how senior they are, when they come in. I got told recently, we shouldn't call them buddies, because senior people get offended. And I kind of thought, well, they're senior people, they can grow out of that. So we call them buddies. And it definitely helps in some areas, I think it doesn't cover everything. And one of the things is, is because you're not necessarily matching to somebody who's who's doing exactly the same job. I mean, everybody's doing something slightly different in the agency, because the clients are different.

Other campaigns are different. It doesn't always solve the problem. It definitely helps. I mean, without a doubt, you know, it's been a good approach from our point of view. But it yeah, it can be, it can still be a challenge. It's not the it's not the fix, you can't, as a management team, say, right? There you are, you've come in, you're new, give you a buddy, everything solved, we'd have to worry about it, I think you've still got to work and make sure you you deliver that training. And to me, that's the important thing, what we can do is we can we can expose people to far more than they'd ever see in. Even in a university course, we can get them to learn far more things. And it's obviously highly practical, as opposed to perhaps more academic, but, you know, the range of things we can get people to work on is huge compared to what you'd see elsewhere. So I think that the trainings really exciting and maybe that's another challenge is you know, the way marketing is going with with this increase in technology, it's so easy to keep throwing out new things to people who are just starting.

Julian: Not as interesting. And just just on reflection on the last year. What So one thing that you've either learnt or done as a business that you're going to continue to do going forward, whether you go hybrid or not. be interested to know, wow.

Mike: We've learned so much over the last year in terms of just all sorts of things from Like being a bit clearer with planning and sharing content and documents all the way through to learning that we don't have to maybe travel as much as we thought we did, I think I think one of the things we have learned is, and this is going to sound a bit strange, because not directly related the pandemic. But I think as an organisation, we've we've realised that we're working with very, very large companies. So we're working with several companies that are multi billion dollar companies. And sometimes I think being a relatively small agency, you don't feel confidence pitching to somebody that big, you know, you're, you're there, you're 30 people there 300,000 people.

And maybe it's a little less intimidating, because you're not going into the big corporate HQ, and everything, because you're doing everything we've seen, we've realised that, actually, we haven't good at this stuff. And we're really good at helping these big companies. So I think that's the one thing I'd probably take overall, and it's not necessarily a direct learning from the pandemic, but it's a result of, of perhaps not, you know, no longer being intimidated by these big corporate lobbies, and, you know, all the glitz and glamour that, that surrounds huge companies, because it's, it's just that it's just a bit of glitz. You know, and so, yeah, I think we, we will definitely be more will be more forward about how we approach some of our bigger target companies and a much more directed and when we do, you know, it seems to work really well.

Julian: Perhaps the, the pandemic is created a bit of a level playing field for you, which is great.

Mike: Yeah, I think I think it helps as well, you know, I mean, obviously, when clients, you know, again, go to visit a huge agency that's got hundreds of people in London, they can afford to have a very nice lobby area. And, you know, you can put the Koi Carp in there and have a waterfall or whatever else, you know, kind of floats your boat. But I think that that kind of has levelled things out a bit, for sure. But it's made it it's made it much easier. And we've had, you know, several really successful pitches with companies I, you know, I think a very aspirational, you know, company I really want to work with. And we've won it and, you know, we've actually found that we could do a great job. So, you know, the more we keep seeing that, the more we can keep pitching, pitching those, those very big companies. Brilliant,

Julian: That's really good to hear small companies doing some good stuff. Excellent stuff. Well, it's been great and a delight to have you on today, Mike. So if people are interested about what you do, if young people out there young leaders are listening and want to get in touch with you, how can they do that?

Mike: Well, absolutely Anyone is welcome to contact me on LinkedIn. Or they can email me Mike at Napier b2b Comm. Or they can listen to our podcasts. We've got a podcast that talks about marketing technology called marketing b2b technology, very simple podcast name. And lastly, if there are young people who would like a job in marketing, and like the sound of working in an agency and working on b2b, we currently have two vacancies open. So people can either email me they can go through the Napier b2b website. Or you can probably find, I think we're advertised them on places like indeed as well. So you can probably find them there. And we'd love some applications.

Julian: Brilliant. Excellent. Well, thank you for your time today. Much appreciated.

Mike: Thanks very much, Julian.

Julian: If you liked this episode, then please do subscribe to share with your friends, and do check out other episodes in the series. If you're looking for support and help your organisation to create a resilient culture, and please do get in contact with me on Julian Roberts consulting.com Thank you.

A Napier Podcast: Interview with Cassandra Jowett - PathFactory

In this podcast episode, we interview Cassandra Jowett, Senior Director of Marketing at PathFactory, a B2B intelligent content platform.

Cassandra shares how her passion for content marketing led to her joining the PathFactory team, and how the platform helps B2B companies connect content to their customers and create experiences to grow revenue.

She also shares how PathFactory takes personalisation to the next level, and the importance of understanding what’s in your content library.

Transcript: Interview with Cassandra Jowett

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 Cassandra Jowatt, who's a senior director of marketing at path factory. Welcome to the podcast. Cassandra, thanks so much for having me. Well, thank you very much for joining us. You've been at powerfactory quite a while. But I'm interested to know how you ended up there in your career, I'm always interested to hear how people end up at marketing technology companies. So tell me, you know, how did you end up at powerfactory?

Cassandra: Sure, it probably started when I was in university, I went to journalism school and thought I was going to be, you know, a foreign correspondent changing the world with my reporting, but unfortunately, graduated into the recession in 2009, and just kind of fell into working for technology companies, startups here in Toronto, Canada.

And, you know, the most transferable skill that I had was the ability to write and create content and publish things online. And I didn't realise it at the time, but what I was doing was called content marketing. And, you know, I worked for a small startup here, and basically built the business doing that. And after a few years of that, I started to, you know, become aware of the concept of content marketing, and that it was a really strategic lever that businesses can use to attract customers, retain customers. And so once I started learning about that, I fell into, you know, just learning more about it and getting more involved in that community. And I ended up getting recruited to a company called influitive, which is an advocate marketing software company. You know, there's a lot of folks here in Toronto, who are from the original sort of Eloqua team, this is where aliquot was founded.

And so some of those folks were now working at influitive. And I was able to join that team very early on and be one of the first marketers there. And content marketing was a critical, sort of part of building that company trying to create this new category in marketing at the time back in 2013. And so I sort of got my start in martec, there spent four years there and, you know, met a whole slew of other amazing marketers, while I was there, and one of them was Elle Wolf, who was also a former aliqua alumni. And she was working at a company then called lookbook HQ, which was what we were called here at Packard before we rebranded in 2018. And, you know, asked me, if I wanted to join the company, I saw the product.

And as a content marketer, I was so excited about what it already did, but definitely about where it was heading, what the vision was, I felt like it was really solving a lot of problems that I personally had as a content marketer at a software company. And so I was excited to sort of be part of marketing that and helping marketers, you know, change the way that they, they bring their content to market and measure their content marketing, and, you know, try to have an impact on the business using content, which is basically how all b2b marketing is done today.

Mike: Awesome. And it's interesting, you know, I think one of the best things about elicker is actually probably the companies that spun out from the people who work there, you know, almost rather than the actual product itself.

Cassandra: Yeah, you don't have to look too far to find former eloquence here in the marketing community in Toronto, they're just sort of sprinkled out everywhere, different generations of them, and you're just sort of always stumbling across them. And it's a very small world, especially here, but I know, you know, they have they've had now have offices all over the world and part of Oracle. So it's just a huge community that is, is really interesting to be a part of.

Mike: Amazing. That's cool. So, I mean, you said powerfactory solved a lot of the problems you are facing as a content marketer. I mean, can you just explain what powerfactory does?

Cassandra: Certainly. So to put it really simply, we are a b2b, intelligent content platform that helps companies Connect content to their customers, create experiences, and use those to grow revenue. And, you know, the way I think about it is that the intelligent content side of things, if you put that in air quotes, kind of allows you to do three things outside of you know, just deliver content, which is sort of the most obvious piece, but the things that are happening under the surface is you can understand your company's content library.

So for example, what content types and topics do you have? How many of your assets are complete or incomplete? How many you're actually receiving traffic today versus not? Are you utilising your entire library of content that your company has invested in? Those are really important questions that you might need to answer as a marketing team.

You can also understand how your audience is engaging with that content. In my opinion, that's, you know, the most important piece content is great, but if no one's engaging with it, then it can't possibly have an impact. So can you figure out maybe that ebooks are generating more engagement than blog posts or that case studies are driving form conversions better than videos or that content about Topic X has a higher return visitor rate compared with topic why or that one is trending with an in one industry but not another, like there are lots of interesting insights that you can derive when you're looking at that engagement. And then the third piece is, you know, of course, attributing business outcomes to that content and to that engagement, which is something that so many content marketers in particular struggle with, because they're often sort of divorced from the demands, I think it's getting better. But sometimes they're a bit siloed, more like a service team.

And so, you know, together, the entire marketing team can come together and say, Okay, we're looking at this engagement, we're looking at this content, and we're seeing that, you know, opportunities in our pipeline where more than three visitors engaged with topic x for more than 10 minutes each have an 80%, close rate, you can kind of like, bring together the CRM data, the content, engagement data, and, you know, pull together some insights for your team to make sure that you're creating those optimal content, journeys of note, cards, content asset ABCD. Or, because a visitor spent more than four minutes with a certain content asset, he's more likely to be close one, like you can start to develop some of those insights and maybe even some predictions about, you know, what that engagement means for your business, and how the content will impact your business overall, you know, some of that stuff is not 100% in our product today, but it's what we're working towards. And we've done some really interesting early pilots with some of our customers on these things. And it's the kind of data that they're most excited about.

Mike: Amazing. I mean, I think this is a problem that a lot of people are trying to solve is, is making sure that you know, content gets used and determining which contents the best, you know, I think even eloquent, would say that they try and do a lot of this. So how would you differentiate powerfactory? from something like a marketing automation platform?

Cassandra: Sure. Yeah. So I mean, path factory isn't sending emails, it's really the destination for any click versus the mode of getting, like actually delivering the call to action. That's, that's the biggest differentiator. And, you know, there, we're using machine learning to analyse your entire content library to figure out what is there and understanding you know, how much content you have, what is about building some models around that, so that I can actually power recommendations on the other side when people are actually experiencing it. And then bringing all those different types of data together between, you know, things like your content repository, maybe your customer data platform, your marketing automation platform, your ABM platform, and then all the different channels that you might use the path factory kind of like sits in between those two sides of your, of your marketing organisation, you know, to be that content intelligence layer, giving you insights and also activating the content if you want to, but some people are also just using the content insights and taking care of the activation themselves.

Mike: Interesting. I love the term content intelligence. I mean, do you want to just unpack that a bit and explain what you mean by content? intelligence?

Cassandra: Sure, yeah. I mean, I think most people today, most marketers today are measuring the channel performance of their content, and they don't necessarily fully understand, you know, like the full picture of what's going on. So, you know, I talked a little bit about, you know, understanding what's actually inside of your content library, so that you can understand your coverage. Today, many marketers are doing manual content audits, and trying to make some assumptions about where there are gaps, you know, I, I have always done spreadsheet audits where I kind of have, you know, maybe different personas and different stages of the funnel, and I tried to slot in all the different content assets in there. But it becomes unreasonable at a certain point to do that manually. Because as marketers, we're just creating so much content, and especially at the enterprise level, you might have 1000s, or even 10s, of 1000s of website pages and content assets, PDFs, videos, all kinds of stuff that you want to understand.

And so you definitely need a machine to help you do that. So that's part of it is, you know, really understanding what content you have, bringing all of that like basically turning your content assets into data that then you can understand as marketers to figure out what you have. And then of course, the actual engagement. And this is omni channel engagement, you're not measuring like how ads are performing necessarily, or how emails are performing. You're looking at the you know, the individual visitor or the individual account, or maybe the overall visitor segment, if you're doing ABM, you might have a number of accounts within that segment, how are they engaging with the content, no matter where you're putting it. So it's sort of agnostic of the channel. And the experience that you're creating may also be agnostic to the channel, because, you know, people are going to be engaging with your content all over the place. So, you know, it's kind of using the data, the intelligence about the content, as well as the engagement, the data that sort of gets thrown off from there, and bringing in data from third party sources as well to sort of like fuse it all together, and make really smart recommendations about what people can can see next. So thanks Little bit complex. But I think once you think about, you know, fusing all of those different things and understanding that all of those different interactions and assets can be turned into data with the right technology, then it starts to make sense.

Mike: So, I mean, it kind of sounds like power factories taking data, which could be, you know, pages people have visited or, you know, perhaps IP address or something for a VM and using that to make the magic recommendation of the right piece of content that's going to have, you know, the most impact, is that a good understanding of how it works?

Cassandra: I mean, I would say it's less about their IP address. And it's more about, you know, what have they engaged with in the past, what have people at their account engaged with in the past, we're not necessarily saying like, okay, IP address, number, number, whatever, is this account. And so we are going to show them that although marketers can automate that they can sort of set up those kinds of, you know, responses in pass factory. But what's more common is, you know, someone lands, and if it detects, we have an integration with six cents right out of the box, or people might use demand base or something as well. You know, if we're detecting them from an account, then maybe we want to show them things that other folks that their accounts have looked at, because they all need to consume, you know, similar information in order to form a buying decision. Because we know especially on the enterprise side, buying committees can be absolutely huge.

And so getting them all on the same page is important. We might show them what's trending at their account, we might show them what people like them have worked out, but it's mostly based on their own engagement. If I haven't engaged with anything yet, then, you know, the recommendations might not be as tuned into them specifically. But as soon as they engage with even a single asset, it starts to form the recommendations and take them down a journey that's more personalised for them. And, you know, it's not just about like, did they engage with an asset? Yes, or no, it's also about the quality of their engagement.

So you know, if they only spend a second on something, and then moved on to something else, like, that says something, if they spent 10 minutes with it, though, you know, that sort of says, okay, they're really interested in this topic, they, they should probably see more information on this or, you know, see the next step in the journey. And, you know, the intelligence that you can get from that, as marketers, the insights you can derive from that data is really interesting as well.

Mike: Interesting. Can you just talk about how powerfactory makes the recommendation what it looks like when powerfactory is working on a website?

Cassandra: Sure. So it depends, you know, the out of the box, visualisation of those recommendations can look like, you know, similar to if you're visiting any blog, and they have, you know, check out these related blog posts at the bottom of the post, you can, you can insert those types of widgets into the website. And it just sort of populates those kinds of tiles or lists that you should see next, but it's powered by that content intelligence. There's also, you know, you can insert them across different web pages. Anywhere in the page, you can have something called Guide, which is basically just like a tooltip pop out that follows you around the website, and shows you what you should see next, or you can, the marketer can configure other things to show like, you know, what's trending overall, what's trending at your account, what's trending in your industry, so that people might see things that are more relevant to them.

And increasingly, enterprise marketers want to totally customise that and just use our API to create their own visualisations. So, you know, for especially the enterprise companies that really want full control over how it looks and feels. And I think that this is the direction that all marketers are probably going to go in soon. They don't want a widget, they just want something that looks completely baked into their website. And so that's definitely feedback that like I and other customers of ours have given our product team over time that, hey, we can't just like we're never going to come up with the perfect widget that appeals to all marketers, so we just need to give them the power to insert that into their website, however, they want to make it look however they like.

Mike: It's interesting is that I mean, people were very excited about personalization A few years ago, and now feels like almost the best practices to completely hide the fact that websites personalised and you just get the content you want, and don't quite understand that you're seeing something different to everybody else.

Cassandra: Exactly. Yeah. I think for so many years now. It's been no Hi, first name or Hello company, like a lot of the website personalization that you see on b2b websites today is still that just like, okay, we're gonna pop up the account name, and maybe the content below it will be personalised or maybe not. It's kind of unclear. And we hope that people will just be impressed by seeing their own company name there. And I just think that people are not impressed by that they're impressed by, you know, actually being helped and getting the right content at the right time to help them, you know, accelerate their buying decision. And so if you're not doing that, you know, showing them their own company name just doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things.

Mike: Definitely. You talked earlier about needing a certain volume of data to be able to personalise to individuals. mean, how much data does powerfactory need before it starts to become effective?

Cassandra: Well, you know, the cool thing is, is that as soon as you put your content into path factory, it already has a lot of data about the content. And so that's really the most important part. And so, you know, it could take a couple hours for for pass back through to, you know, ingest everything on your website and analyse it and that kind of stuff.

So you know, that that initial crawling can take a little while. But you know, really not. It's not like it's going to take weeks or anything. And basically, as soon as people start engaging with it, it makes decisions based on, you know, how it understands the different topics, and content types and the relationship between different content assets. And so you really don't need to have a certain number of visitors necessarily, like, as soon as one person lands on the website, it'll start personalising it for them. And, you know, really our overall. You know, overall data just gets better, the more people use it overall. But, like a lot of things, if, if marketers have to wait a long time for it to work, then that's a problem. So it really just starts working right away.

Mike: Cool. I mean, you said like a minimum number of visitors that that makes sense. So anything like that you talk to customers about?

Cassandra: Yeah, no, we use it on our website. And I would say our website does not have a huge number of visitors each month, like we're nowhere near the size of our enterprise customers, for example, who might have you know, hundreds of 1000s, or even millions of visits a day, you know, we're more in the 1000s per day, and it works really well. So I'm not aware of any minimum number of visitors or things like that. Because my understanding is that the initial data really comes from analysing the content, and then, you know, the recommendations are just based on the engagement that comes after that.

Mike: Interesting. And, I mean, is it really the simple you don't need anything else, you could literally point powerfactory at the website, and it would start working straightaway, or do you need to do anything to your website to make it work.

Cassandra: Um, so I think any website that has a lot of content on it is a great candidate for this type of thing. And this is more of our, our website side of things, a lot of our customers don't use Packer on the website at all, they just keep us to their, their, their marketing campaigns, they use the non intelligent version of fat factory, which allows marketers to just like, arrange their content, however they like, you know, which is still totally useful. And marketers get a tonne of value out of it. But it's not as exciting as the recommendations and the content intelligence side of things.

So yeah, like, I think some work that I've personally done on our website, for example, is we did not have a huge volume of content there, especially outside of the blog, we really had like a few product pages and a few customer story pages. And that was it. And so, you know, that means that you sometimes just see the same pages come up on the recommendations all the time, because there just aren't that many things to recommend. So I've slowly been building out the number of pages on our website, but no, I think the the customers of ours that find our website tools, module, the most useful are the ones who have large websites.

But it's not required necessarily. And I think most people forget how much content they actually do have on their website between blog posts, and press releases and product pages. And, you know, we are also working towards sort of marrying the two content pools between the content on your website and the content that lives anywhere else. And so that's what I'm really excited for in terms of the next step of what will show up on our website.

Mike: And when you say by that, I mean, what sort of things will that be, we will be pointing to people to content that that's PDF, so content that's not on the website at all.

Cassandra: Yeah, so it could be PDFs, it could be videos that are embedded, it could be third party content that, you know, is just relevant, if you want to sort of show off, you know, customer reviews on review websites, or positive press or you know, all the different things that can cut the podcast, you could have podcasts, you've recorded with folks. And that can show up. And so you know, having all of those different assets in your content pool to recommend to people is hugely valuable.

Mike: That's that sounds very exciting. You did say earlier, some people were not really using the smart parts of powerfactory. Is that because it's difficult to use?

Cassandra: No, it's just because it's newer. So our business was built on the, what we call now the paint tools. And really, that's the idea that marketers can build content tracks. And they can kind of curate the journey for for their visitors on any, any channel. And so there has always been a smarter version of that, that that is available to our customers that we call recommend. But it's not quite as smart as the new version for the website. And so yeah, most of our customers have just always Use campaign tools. And in the last year, we've come out with the website option with this sort of really, really smart content intelligence stuff. And also our virtual event offering.

Mike: Interesting. I mean, presumably, you need to integrate with a number of different systems. You've talked about different data sources and things. I mean, integrations, are they a big part of what you need to do to make the product work?

Cassandra: Definitely, yes. You know, it's definitely a red flag to us. If someone comes to your sales team and says, I don't have a CRM, I don't have a map, I really just have my website, like, you can use it, but it's going to be more challenging, and you're not going to be able to get as much value out of things. So, you know, we always say pad factory sits between, you know, all the different sort of systems of record you have, whatever your content repositories are, whether that's your CMS, your website, your dam, your video tool.

There's also you know, your ABM tools that again, success comes out of the box, but you might add, add additional success functionality, you might be a demand based customer instead, or Terminus customer, you can connect it to Salesforce, to show sales people content engagement data, right in Salesforce, of course, your marketing automation platform, you want to connect all those content assets to campaign to be able to measure them to power smarter nurture programmes do lead scoring based on content engagement.

There's all kinds of really, really cool automation and measurement, and just smarter ways of doing things that workers are doing already, when you're when you're bringing that content engagement data into the mix. And so you definitely need to integrate it with some things. And the more sophisticated you get, the more powerful, you know, the use of the data and the ROI and all those things can become.

Mike: Either the off the shelf integrations, or does it require, you know, some sort of engineering to get things to talk to each other?

Cassandra: I don't think it requires engineering. Again, I'm not, I'm not a marketing operations expert. So why understanding is that most of our customers get up and running in under a week, like that's what GPU reviews say, you know, most of our customers start twice as fast as our closest competitor, one week versus two weeks. So I think that's really, really fast to be able to get everything up and running. And you know, unless you, of course, things can sometimes get bogged down in larger enterprise organisations.

But you know, most of most of the integrations just use API keys, and then you can connect everything together that way, you know, sometimes you need to make changes around, you know, how are you going to incorporate the data into your lead scoring model, you obviously have to change your model. In order to do that, you might have to train your sales team on how to interpret the new data they're seeing in Salesforce that they now have access to through hassle free for sales, you might have to set up new email alerts for your BDR team to jump on to fast moving buyers who are consuming a lot of content, like there's lots of things that you can then set up. But the actual setup and integration process is really quite easy.

Mike: I think if if anyone's talking about enterprise customers, and they've they've got a deployment onto a website in a week, then it must be easy, because normally it takes about a month to do anything on a large enterprise website.

Cassandra: Yeah, I mean, of course, you need to have buy in from everyone internally, and everyone can be on the same page in advance before you before you go, if you know if things are slow, it's mostly because of herding cats, not necessarily because the integration is hard to cool.

Mike: Well, at least that's one headache. Nobody has to worry about. You talk about it, obviously being targeted as a b2b tool, which makes sense. But are there particular industry verticals that get the most benefit out of powerfactory, or particular characteristics of customers that get the most value?

Cassandra: Yeah, so I think that most of our customers today are very high tech organisations, they tend to be selling, considered purchase b2b software that you know, has longer buying cycles, or at least, you know, goes maybe from a free trial into a more sophisticated product. You know, it's not transactional stuff. It's not trying to be e commerce or anything like that, you know, it requires usually a larger buying committee longer buying cycles, many pieces of content to get to that buying decision. And also, you know, making sure different people in the buying committee are getting the content and the information that's relevant to them specifically in their role in the organisation.

And of course, in order for the company, the vendor to facilitate that marketers and salespeople and customer success managers, account managers need to have access to all of those insights on their end as well either, you know, to set up the right automation or to send the right personalised email outreach or to follow up with a customer at the right moment to upsell them. You know, there's all of those different reasons why, why our customers might use half factory to get better results from their marketing And so yeah, there's, there's a lot of different elements that go into that I mentioned the technology piece, you know, having a sophisticated Mar tech stack is definitely a good indicator that someone could get value out of a factory, because they're probably delivering content across so many channels already.

But if, if some things are missing, like, if you're not doing ABM, or you're not doing, you know, paid social advertisement or something like that, like, that's fine, whenever your channels are that you're using, if you're an IF email is your big work workhorse as a channel, then that's great. But if you're more diversified, or no, you're more into partners, like one of our biggest customer success stories is Cisco partner marketing, where they use path factory to deliver all their content to partners and understand, you know, what they're doing. So they kind of have a totally different approach where, you know, they, most of their company revenue comes through these partners, and they need to educate their partners versus the end users of, of the solutions they're selling. So you know, whatever that is, you can you can use path factory to deliver that content to the right audience, it doesn't necessarily have to be the end customer, that's actually buying the thing.

Mike: That I mean, that sounds brilliant, it sounds like the, the more complex the sale, and therefore the more touches you have, during that that sales process, the more impact per factory can have. Absolutely. Awesome. So with all these capabilities, I mean, does it make powerfactory an expensive tool? Is it is it something that is limited only to biggest enterprises, or, you know, how does the pricing work.

Cassandra: So the pricing is based on you know, which modules you buy, there's, you know, sort of a menu of different functionality that you can get, and, you know, the, the market for curated solution is going to be less expensive than the more intelligent solution. And if you only have a marketing team of three people, that's going to be a lot less expensive than an enterprise marketing team of 1000s, of marketers, for example. So, you know, it kind of depends which things you you add on, like, a lot of software companies know that that's how the pricing is built, the thing I always say is, you know, you need to have a certain level of sophistication as a marketing team in order to take advantage of path factory, and so, you know, we're not going to be great for or it's just not going to be possible for like, a solo entrepreneur, Tobias, like, we're not one of those, you know, free trial tools or freemium tools that people can just sort of like jump into, because it does require integration with all of those systems of record, and you do need that huge volume of content.

And those businesses are unlikely to have that. So, you know, our smallest customers, and some of them have been really successful with us are, you know, around 100 employees, I might only have a handful of marketers, but they've made the right marketing investments to make passpack very worthwhile. And then, you know, the other end of the spectrum, of course, is, you know, the Cisco's. And the Adobe is in the oracles who know, have 1000s of users multiple business divisions, and you know, they're, they're paying on that sliding scale. So, you know, definitely, if you're using a marketing automation platform in a CRM today, then path factory would be not as much as that, but in that ballpark.

Mike: Yeah, that sounds pretty interesting. It sounds like path factory can also really grow as an organisation grows from, you know, maybe 100, or a couple of 100 people up to becoming a large enterprise. So I think that that's, that's fascinating.

Cassandra: Yeah, I mean, often what our customers do is they will buy a certain module or a bundle of modules, but not the entire platform to get started to really prove the value, they might run, you know, a year long pilot to, you know, get things up and running, get used to everything, get it integrated as much as they can into, you know, their email nurture programmes, and that maybe their website and they can start to see the power of, of that content intelligence, that they get both from, you know, the analysis of their content library, but also, you know, just how that performs the engagement, all that kind of stuff, and then they start to build on from there. And I think, especially now that we have these really exciting sort of smarter website tools and that sort of stuff, people are going, Wow, that's really interesting. I can create these journeys just automatically without having to think about it. Like that makes so much sense. Because doing that is hard. And it requires a lot of thinking, it requires a lot of understanding of, of what content you have in order to create those journeys manually. So I think as you grow, it just makes a lot of sense to to upgrade to that, to that new, smarter way of doing things.

Mike: Awesome. I mean, it feels like we've, we've barely scratched the surface of all the capabilities of powerfactory. But we're coming to the end of our time. So I mean, is there anything else you feel we should have covered?

Cassandra: Not necessarily. I think I really appreciate having the opportunity to talk about path factory today. Hopefully people can tell that I'm really passionate about it. That's why for over four years, and why I continue to be excited about what we're doing. as a marketer, as I said at the top, it's just so exciting to see where technology is going and how you know, content in particular can become even more important in, you know, in b2b marketing and the role of the buyers journey, I don't think we're going to see that, you know, scale back after the pandemic, and it's just increased and accelerated faster and faster. We were already expecting large organisations in particular to sort of adapt and start to become more digital, and move to more digital experiences. But over the last year, it's just kind of exploded as everyone frantically ran to figure that out, especially if they were more reliant on sales people or in person trade shows and that sort of stuff. And so it's just been really interesting to see how quickly things can evolve based on world events, of course.

Mike: Yeah. I mean, if somebody is excited about powerfactory, or just feels, you know, they've got lots of questions about how it works, what's the best way to find out more?

Cassandra: Yeah, pathri.com is a great place to start, you can actually see our product in action across our website, which some people find really interesting. And you know, from there, we do you have regular, sort of like short demos, short live demos of different aspects of our product that our demand manager does each week. And, of course, you can always just go on and get a personalised demo, if you want to, there's no more than more than more than one happy salesperson who would be willing to take a call. But yeah, I think that's a great place to start. Just go to the website, we have a lot of great information there. And I'm also happy to chat with anybody if you don't want to talk to a salesperson yet. You just want to speak Margarita marketer. I think myself and anyone else in our marketing team would be happy to do that.

Mike: Great. And what best way to contact you through LinkedIn or?

Cassandra: Yeah, you can reach me on LinkedIn. Just search for Cassandra Jo and I should be pretty fundable or my email address is Cassandra at path. factory.com.

Mike: Nice Well, Cassandra, it's been fascinating. I mean, I think I could have talked for hours about powerfactory. We, I'd love to ask about all the details. But I really appreciate your time. Thank you so much for coming on. Thank you for having me. 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 favorite podcast application. If you'd like to know more, please visit our website at Napier b2b dot com or contact me directly on LinkedIn.

A Napier Podcast: Interview with Shea Castle - Terminus

In this podcast episode, we interview Shea Castle, Senior Customer Marketing Manager at Terminus, a leading Account-Based Marketing (ABM) platform.

Shea shares his story of how he became part of the Terminus team, and explains how Terminus and ABM flip the traditional marketing funnel, to deliver a full market approach to enable B2B companies to target the people that matter.

He also shares how Terminus is an orchestration platform that brings together first and third-party data points, and what the platform allows its customers to achieve.

Transcript: Interview with Shea Castle - Terminus

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 Shea Castle, who's the senior customer marketing manager at Terminus. Welcome to the podcast, Shea. Yeah, thanks. Happy to be here. Fantastic. So just to start, can you give us a bit of a background about yourself and how you ended up at Terminus?

Shea: Yeah, it's actually, you know, not to make too much of our production. But it's a funny story. So I started out in acting, and kind of through a process of developing a television show and going through some fundraising, I kind of took on the marketing persona, if you will, and running our social channels, and a lot of the PR, things like that. And as I moved out of acting, I was looking for a career path that, you know, a little more stability, but still had a lot of that creativity that I was looking for, and thought, Hey, you know, marketing is a little bit of what I've been doing already. So why not pursue that and after a couple of years, working in more corporate environments, had an opportunity to join Terminus, it's account based marketing is something I've always believed in as a strategy. And so it was kind of a no brainer for me to join the team and kind of work on supporting our customers.

Mike: Fantastic. I did notice, I guess, in between the acting and Terminus that you found, and that is a website called Shea hates everything.com. Are you really that grumpy?

Shea: Yes. So it's, it's funny in in college, I had a lot of friends, you know, where we were in acting programme and really passionate about entertainment, that sort of thing. And I was kind of always like, the super critical one. And that became a running joke that whenever we would go see a movie or go to a concert, like I bet she hated it, he hates everything. And so I kind of just despite them, when I was putting together a website that was just sort of reviews on you know, video games and movies and comic books and things that I was into, I just kind of leaned into that a little bit more. They're the critical attitude. So got to own the brand, I guess.

Mike: Fantastic. I take it you don't hate everything. And actually, you're quite enjoying your time at Terminus. Yeah, I don't think I hate everything. So So tell me, can you explain to the listeners exactly what Terminus does? What what is it that terms of setup today?

Shea: Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, coming from a background that was really focused on demand Gen, I kind of lived in the trenches of looking for leads, and passing leads to sales, and hearing, we're not getting enough leads or the leads you're giving, you're not good enough. And just feeling kind of cut out of the process through no one's fault. That's just kind of the way that b2b marketing has been done.

And so when I first heard about Terminus, you know, it's this idea around account based marketing, where, instead of boiling the ocean, trying to get those 1% of leads to convert into sales, why don't we flip sort of that traditional marketing funnel and start with the people that we know, we want to sell to our ICP that are showing us signals that they're ready to talk and ready to buy. And so that's really what Terminus does. It's, you know, an orchestration platform that brings together first and third party data points, various channels of engagement, like digital advertising, chats, email, and a lot of measurement and insights to kind of show the value everything marketing's doing to influence and create those opportunities and pipeline.

Mike: Interesting. So, I mean, how would you describe the difference between account based marketing and conventional marketing?

Shea: Yeah, I think it's really like that, that that funnel mentality, like that traditional funnel of let's get as many leads as we can, we'll nurture them through the funnel, hand them off to sales, and eventually some of them will close. And instead, starting with these are the accounts we know are a good fit for us firma, graphically, technic graphically, we know that they're showing signal in the market, they're coming to our website, they're showing, you know, levels of intent. They fit the firma graphics that we're looking for. And then really just focusing in on those accounts, engaging them everywhere they are on the internet, on our website, generating content specific to their needs, and working hand in hand with sales to really amplify all of that content to the folks at those accounts that matter.

Mike: Interesting. You talk about two things there. One is focusing on the accounts and the other is personalising the content. I'm interested to know whether you think account based marketing works primarily because you're focusing the budget on certain companies, or whether it's because you can do more personalization, or maybe it's a bit of both.

Shea: Yeah, I think that's the easy answer is that it is a little bit of both. It's about you know, from a financial perspective, it's about creating efficiency, and more, you know, pipeline that can be expected to flows versus like looking at a number of leads we need like, it's like backtracking, right? Like you start with, here's the dollar amount we need from that new business to keep the business going. And how do we back out of that to what's the quantity of leads, we need to hit that revenue. And instead, it's starting with the revenue, and the accounts that we know want to buy from us. And those things go far more hand in hand. And then on the personalization side, because you're focused on a much smaller number of accounts versus boiling the ocean, it lets you create more relevant content for those people as well as more relevant content to help sales and customer success make those customers successful. So I do think that it's both.

Mike: Interesting. And I mean, I guess from what you're saying, there'll be different levels of proficiency if you'd like for companies that are trying to do account based marketing.

Shea: Oh, absolutely. And like, account based marketing, we have a sort of a running joke internally at Terminus, that it was kind of a bad name, like we're too far along into this ABM thing to change it now. But it really it's more than just marketing. It's about a full go to market approach across your customer facing teams. But there's a tonne of variability in the sophistication.

And the reality is, is that most b2b companies today are already doing things that we would, you know, quantify as ABM, like, most companies have their whale accounts, right, like their top 10 accounts, their enterprise people that they're trying to close. And that's they have sales reps dedicated to those folks. They're running events that are private to those people there might even be generating content that specifically calls those companies out, running advertising campaigns, specifically to those people like all of that is ABM. And I don't think that there needs to be necessarily like a gatekeeping around, are you doing ABM or not, I think the bigger thing is that the approach is a strategy. It's not about any one solution or any one team, it's a full go to market approach that has changed in the past couple of years.

Mike: Interesting. So I mean, people, you know, more proficient and, you know, presumably will be reflected by your customers. You know, I'm interested in Terminus talks about, you know, having effectively three key elements that the software package, can you just explain how that works?

Shea: Yeah, absolutely. So the way that we talked about sort of our full platform, and it starts with data and insights into those of the things I'm talking about with, you know, first and third party data, bringing in intent data through a partnership with bombora, those types of things. And then we have all of our different channels of engagement. And that's how we're actually getting in front of the people you care about, through things like display advertising. You know, retargeting, our partnership with LinkedIn. And in terms of advertising, we have chats, email experiences, those sorts of things. And then on the back side, it's the measurement, which is really, really important not just to marketing in general, but especially especially when it comes to account based marketing. Because, you know, as we're talking about here, like we're talking about changing a strategy, and there are lots of expectations involved when that happens. So we just want to give credit, where it's due to the programmes that marketing is running, and sort of how they're influencing the pipeline, instead of tying everything back to Oh, this programme generated x leads, it's, oh, this programme helped create these opportunities to influence this pipeline and accelerated deals. It's helping with retention, getting back to the money metrics that matter. And that's a big part of what our measurement does.

Mike: That's interesting. And it sounds like a lot of what you're doing is interfacing to other marketing technology tools are partnering with them to get all this capabilities. Is that right?

Shea: Yeah, it's a combination. So Terminus has been around for a little over six years at this point. And we started as primarily a digital advertising vendor. So that was kind of like, if someone's looking to get started with capital letters, ABM, where do they start and account based advertising was and then a lot of ways still is the best place to start. And since then, we have grown our capabilities through partnerships as well as acquisitions. So just in the past year, for example, we acquired three different companies, or the year and a half apart three different companies that have different types of data, different types of engagement chat, for example, is one of them. So, you know, what we're looking to do here is build a platform. And it's something that would sit right alongside a CRM or a marketing automation platform. And to do that, and to build a one stop shop. And that way, you have to do it through organic growth, acquisition and strategic partnerships.

Mike: Sounds quite challenging to have to do the acquisition, the internal development, and also partner with people as well.

Shea: Yeah. And the great news is that I'm not responsible for buying companies or setting up all the contracting, I just get to tell our customers how cool all the new functionality is, so it's fine with me.

Mike: That's awesome. So, I mean, if we look at using Terminus you know, presumably somebody sat there, they've maybe got a marketing automation system, they've almost certainly got a CRM system for a marketing team or something, how they go about that deploying Terminus and starting to get value from it.

Shea: Yeah, it really starts from an integration perspective. So kind of to your point, you know, when we look at who our ideal customers are understanding that, you know, they have a CRM, they have some sort of Mar tech stack that we will sit alongside as well as, like sales tools. And it's really about how do we work with those things, and bring data back and forth. So you know, one of the primary benefits of Terminus in particular, when it comes to ABM solutions is that we are like, we can be a one stop shop for your data and your insights and your actions and your engagement channels. But it's also, as we have learned over the years, it's super critical that we're also able to bring that stuff back to what a lot of folks still consider their point that there is no single source of truth, which would be their CRM.

So the integrations is a huge aspect of that, and knowing where you want the data to live, where you want the measurement to live, and like, Where are your users and like sales, in particular, Where do they live is their workflow, because we want to give them all that data and all that insight, versus trying to train them to do a completely new process? So then secondarily, you know, as I mentioned, like ABM is a strategy and a lot of the work to be successful early with Terminus is done before purchasing Terminus, like, you know, do have you mapped out your ideal customer profile. And how did you do that? Is it based on data? Or is it based upon who sales says they want to sell to? How do you work with sales today? Do you have, you know, weekly bi weekly meetings with them, where you align on programmes that you're running? Or is it seen as like a fence in between where you're throwing leads over the fence to sales, and they work them or they're, or they don't like a lot of those process, things are really critical to having success with ABM early on more so than like the button clicky in the product stuff.

Mike: Interesting. So if you had someone coming to Terminus who was was really interested in ABM, they felt that they were ready to go and you looked at them and said, they just haven't done any of this kind of, you know, strategic kind of planning stage. I mean, how do you deal about that? Do you actually have ability to support them through it?

Shea: Oh, yeah, absolutely. I mean, so, you know, in particular, our onboarding team is phenomenal in really getting to the meat of what a customer is trying to do and how they're trying to do it, what they're doing today, and what the, in identifying what those roadblocks are. It's just something that like, especially in the sales process, we're getting better at identifying not not as a like a reason to not buy Terminus or to not pursue ABM, but really like, the reason that customers come to us is because they know what they're doing today isn't working, and they know there's a better way. And there are things internally that will prevent you from having success with that better way immediately. And so we're happy to partner with you strategically and just from a process perspective to build that out. I mean, we have over 1000 customers, like we've been around for a while, we, you know, know a lot of the best practices. So it really is just about understanding what those roadblocks might be with a particular customer. And then, you know, we'll help you battle through them.

Mike: And presumably, a lot of those prospective customers are very keen to get that knowledge. I mean, it's an almost Another benefit of buying terminals is the process expertise.

Shea: 100%. Yeah, and, you know, one of the biggest pieces, you know, I'm on the customer side. So I hear a lot of this too. And one of the biggest pieces of feedback that we always get is how supportive our customer success team, our onboarding team, our support team are and how customers really view them as an extension of their own team, that when they come across a process problem, or a strategy problem, or this campaign didn't work the way we wanted it to like what do we do to iterate and they feel totally comfortable coming to our team to get that expertise and that knowledge.

Mike: Awesome. So somebody's been through the kind of strategic stage, they've signed up to Terminus. So I'm really interested because Turner seems to do an awful lot from you know, finding out intent data and the insights, all the way through to pumping out the end analytics, the end. I mean, how, how do you deal with something that that is, you know, really quite complex, and add it to your marketing stack?

Shea: Yeah, so you mean from the perspective of like a buyer? How do they do that? Yeah.

Mike: How would How would a customer you know?


Shea: Yeah, yeah, I think the internal alignment is a huge part of it, and like getting the right people at the table. So you know, one of the big things that we always preach is like because ABM is a strategy, it's more than just, we're gonna have one person on our marketing team own Terminus, and that's how we're going to do ABM. And you know, my response to that is like, you're probably not going to have success because you need that executive alignment on new metrics for marketing and for sales. Like we're no longer looking at an M qL goal, the way that we used to what we're running programmes to support pipeline, which for a lot of companies is not a marketing metric, we're we're running programmes that actually tie back to retention, which is not typically a marketing metric. So it's about getting that alignment from a leadership perspective and buy in from sales to know that this is a different kind of support. You know, we talked about leads and a lot of ways, and I never want to, you know, make someone think that we hate leads, or that leads are completely valueless. But it's just a different way.

It's a different approach that we're taking here. And so it's important for sales to understand to write, like, the things that we're doing, the intent is to not generate leads for you. It's to support the accounts, you're already working and help you identify specific accounts that are in market to buy, which is so much more powerful. But the the challenge often becomes like the proof is in the pudding. Right? And so one of the things that I always try to preach to our customers that are just starting with ABM is get really buddy buddy, which is a handcuff a handful of sales reps, you know, do more work with those folks to show that success. And then those become internal case studies to prove the value of what you're doing to build that adoption.

Mike: Perfect. Now, that's really interesting that you talk about the fact that ABM is not just a different way of thinking but different way of reporting, you know, up to the board, which is, I think, a really important point. Yeah, definitely. So in terms of deploying Terminus, is there a particular you know, market or industry category, that seems to get the most benefit from this kind of product?

Shea: Yeah, b2b businesses. I mean, like, that's the truth, when you look at our total addressable market, it really is. Any b2b business, you know, that's where we're focused. But inside of that, there are things that we look at that make people a better fit for us. So I mentioned, you know, you have a CRM, there's a, you know, a metric for what your Mar tech stack actually looks like today, just to understand how we would work with those things. And to show us a little bit more of that sophistication, we find that companies that are like, you know, very, very small, one person marketing team, like just brand new startups, sometimes don't have as much success just because they don't have the support systems there.

But on the other side of it, I, you know, I have a handful of customers that I work with already that are super small, and they started with ABM, because part of this is, you know, it's a transfer transformational process. And so if you have a lot of processes in place that fight against an ABM strategy that can become more difficult. But if you're starting from the ground up saying like, this is our strategy, this is what we're doing, you can definitely have a lot of success with Terminus. And another thing I would mention, so, you know, we have a variety of different verticals as well, but we often find that SAS companies are really successful, just because of the approach of ABM fits pretty well into the SAS kind of mould.

Mike: And presumably SAS as well is probably easier to measure than some other b2b companies. Yeah, absolutely. So, I mean, you talked about working with very, very small companies. I mean, I think one of the perceptions of ABM is that you can do a certain amount of ABM, you know, as a small company with a limited budget, but but you know, these big tools like Terminus, they're really the preserve of, you know, global enterprises with huge teams. I mean, it's the product expensive, or can you actually really make it work in a smaller company?

Shea: Yeah, I think I mean, it depends on your approach, right? Like, and you can buy Terminus in a handful of ways with our different channels and different kinds of measurements. Sweet. So there's, there's certainly a here's how you get started option with Terminus versus like, the full on I'm gonna buy everything. It's really interesting to hear you know, ABM as sort of more of an enterprise approach, because for a long time, it was kind of the opposite, right? Like, it felt more so like small businesses and the mid market because there's those marketing teams are so much more nimble. And those types of companies have to work so much harder to build awareness of what they do and who they are compared to a huge enterprise company that ABM seemed more approachable for more of those smaller companies.

But I mean, specifically to the cost perspective, you know, I think that if you put us up against something like a CRM, then no, it's not an expensive solution. But if you're putting us up against a singular point of engagement channel solution, yes, we're going to be more expensive because we just have so much more to offer. And really our goal here is, let's stop marketers from having to have 10 solutions to solve one problem, and instead have one solution to solve that one problem in 10 different ways. And that's kind of the approach that we take.

Mike: Interesting, and I like to bring out this kind of solution that covers the whole range of ABM because there's certainly a lot of point solutions that may be you know, provide some of the insight or, you know, perhaps runs advertising or email campaigns and what one of the real benefits about having this integration? What do you see your customers doing that? Maybe they couldn't achieve with multiple point products?

Shea: Yeah, I think it's it's primarily about the orchestration and letting the data points and the engagement talk to each other. So instead of having to do all the backend work to have an email solution and the chat solution and the digital advertising solution, like where does that data live? How do those things talk to each other? And, you know, going back to the ABM is a strategy point, like, the goal of this is to create a full funnel experience that is comprehensive and personalised for your target customer, how can you do that if the individual systems that you're using aren't talking to each other in a robust way, and so we to solve that problem by saying everything lives with inside Terminus, like, you know, everything that you're doing from a chat perspective and a digital advertising perspective, you know, creating the audiences that you're going after all of that can live within Terminus and be measured within Terminus?

Mike: Interesting, could maybe you could give me some specific examples about you know, how people would approach campaigns or or use insights with Terminus versus using classic marketing, you know, sort of the whole broad market approach.

Shea: Yeah, so starting with the point of who we're going after, right, so so identifying, you know, we live within this market with these specific verticals are sort of our bread and butter, this company size is sort of our bread and butter. And that's how you would typically start with like a generalised ICP. And we kind of sit on top of that to be able to say, okay, amongst those companies call it 1000. Companies, amongst those, how many of them are already coming to your website, aka know that you exist, you can focus in on those people with a different type of message than the ones that are not coming to your website that need more awareness, advertising, for example, to tell them who you are and what you do to drive that website engagement. And as they're going through the funnel is really where you layer on additional channels.

So I mentioned our partnership with bombora intent data that lives with inside Terminus, to understand outside of your website, what are these accounts doing on on the internet? What types of things are they researching, to give you better insight into if they're also looking at competitors, if they're looking at solutions that you can add to, you know, to to as an expansion, opportunity, etc? What problems are they actually trying to solve that you can help them with to really contextualise that sales outreach to make sure that the content that's being delivered and the message that's being delivered is relevant. And then you know, once those accounts are continue to come to your website, you we you have, we have chat that exists where you can use that original account list to say when accounts that are within this list, come to my website, this is the chat message that they're going to receive, that points them to specific content that connects them with, you know, a BDR and ADR that knows what they're doing already online.

And again, can contextualise that conversation. And then once we get towards the bottom of the funnel, where more than one to one email outreach is happening, you can use our email experiences, which basically creates a banner and an email signature that points to content or it can point to chat, or it can point to a webinar or to book a meeting those things to help support that process. And then once they are a customer, using all those channels to sort of create a great customer experience.

This is obviously something you know, as I work on the customer marketing side that I'm super passionate about. We spend all this time and effort getting someone to be a customer, what are we doing after they become a customer, making sure we get that full journey experience and that they're being treated the same way post sale as they were pre sale. So you know, just from a high level, walking through and adding channels starting from that list that you built just as a quick example.

Mike: Interesting. That's great. I mean, I guess one question I have to ask is, you know, we're hearing a lot about, particularly Apple, clamping down on tracking and cookies and Google talking about eliminating cookies. And also we're seeing a lot of people working at home, and therefore presumably not necessarily popping up as having an IP address that that is owned by the company you're targeting. So is it becoming more difficult to do ABM or are you able to get around these challenges?

Shea: So to give the sort of competitive dig answer, I will say that it is becoming more difficult for some vendors to do ABM I do not believe it is becoming more difficult for us to do ABM because this is something we've been planning for for a while. So just just as a you know, as a quick example, you mentioned cookies. That's something that had been foundational to our advertising, which was different than some other vendors that were really focused around IP targeting. So when someone's in the office, they can get in front of them. us being able to track cookies on different devices we can catch you when you're at a Starbucks you're at home etc. as folks move to move home it became more difficult obviously from an IP perspective to get in front of those people where we saw far less of that challenge, as it go forward now that Google in particular is moving away from cookies, we actually just ran a really great webinar on this topic and kind of what our plan is.

So our acquisition of sr, who was an email provider that that we now have as a channel, as well as ramble who was a chat provider that lives with inside Terminus, both of those two platforms have really robust one to one data that they're able to capture because of the email because of the chat. And those things are the foundation of our go forward, like advertising plan to really understand those data points beyond what cookies could do. So really, in some ways, it's a boon for us as a forcing function to move forward with like the next stage of targeting. Because, you know, we're confident we're gonna see a lot of customers that will have much better ability to get in front of folks than they even have had historically with cookies.

Mike: That's amazing. That's brilliant. I mean, I have to ask, you know, we've talked about an awful lot of functionality and a single tool. I mean, is it difficult for people to use Turner's what was the kind of learning curve to go from being a customer to really getting value?

Shea: Yeah, I think a lot of it goes back to my earlier point on, you know, what you're doing Before starting, because that's where we see the most customers fall down is around those internal processes and in alignment. And I think that, you know, it really depends on what the business outcome is that you're trying to drive is, for example, if you're a smaller company, that is going after a couple of big fish, like we have 30 accounts, that if like, if we sold to those 30 accounts, our business would explode, there's a lot more front end work, you need to do around awareness to those companies, getting them to understand who you are, what the value is. And a lot of those companies might not already be in the market for a solution like yours. And so there's a lot of warming up and introducing of a problem that needs to happen before a sale.

So you know, if that's what you're trying to do, it takes longer to get that close one revenue, which is why we really focus in on are you driving those people to your website? How are they engaging with you? Are you at least creating opportunities to really show the success early of what you're doing, compared to a company who's more mature that, like, Hey, we we are going after 5000 accounts, we pretty much understand who's in the market today, we just really need to get this pipeline faster, you know, to close faster. And that's much easier to turn that around quickly and see those metrics because you compare compare it against historical data. So it really you know, not to give us the super fuzzy answer. But it kind of depends on what outcome you're looking to drive. The positive thing I would say is there are so many data points that show the value of the work that you're doing outside of historically, did we create a conversion? Did we qualify that lead did sales except that lead as really the only main touch points, we can look at much more contextual measurement of the success of what you're doing today?

Mike: I think I chose a great answer. I think you basically said that it's much less to do with how long it takes to learn the total is much more about the other factors around your campaign. So I think you very nicely said it's actually not a gating factor.

Shea: Yeah, I think so. I mean, learning a new platform, it can be a challenge for anyone and so that that will always be part of it, just you know, of robustness and understanding of how to navigate and like that's that's a problem for any software solution. But the real challenge is all the work that's done ahead of time.

Mike: Great point. I'm, we're just coming to the end. I mean, Terminus is such a big platform with so many features. Is there anything you feel we've we've missed that you'd like to cover or talk about?

Shea: Yeah, I mean, I mentioned that a little bit. But one of the things, especially over the past year, where businesses had to pivot so quickly from to a retention conversation. So like with budgets being slashed due to COVID, you know, a focus around how do we make our customers happier? How do we keep them? How do we expand within them? Got so much more light shone on it, then historically, and I think that, you know, working on that side of the house, that's certainly my passion in general, but it was kind of like a thank you moment for me to see so many more people focus in on their customers because we get it especially in like b2b marketing and sales. We get so focused on like, how do we just create more pipeline, how we close more deals, how do we get more people here versus focusing in on how do we make our existing customers really successful? And that's an area especially with ABM that we saw our customers lean into more heavily versus, you know, historically how

We create awareness at companies, how do we create more pipeline that's predictable? How do we engage with people throughout the sales process, and then once they become a customer, the ABM stops, the ABM is only focused on that pre sale. And so a lot of customers came back and we're like, Okay, now we're really excited to use these channels that we already have these strategies that we already have to make our customers really successful both to save them as well to expand within them. So that's just an area that I always want to hit on, when it comes to ABM, because it's always so thought of as a pre sale strategy. But the whole point is that it's a, it's about the full customer lifecycle. So the more that you can do there to support folks on the back end, the happier they're going to be, the more they're going to stay with you, the longer they're going to stay with you and the more they're going to spend with you. So that fits into ABM just as much as you know that awareness conversation.

Mike: Absolutely. So that's a brilliant point. I think look after your customers and an ABM is a great tool to do that. Yeah. And so if anyone's listening to the podcast, and they're, you know, either interested in talking to you or interested in learning more about Terminus, what's the best way to get in contact and find out more?

Shea: Yeah, I mean, terminus.com is best place to go just to learn broadly about ABM as well as how we fit into the market. tonnes of great content there, but I'm also happy to answer questions point you in the right direction. Anyone can email me Shay sh eae at Terminus COMM And that'll get in front of me.

Mike: Fantastic. Well, thank you so much. Your time has been fascinating, and I'm sure a lot of listeners would be interested to, you know, take their ABM to the next level after hearing this.

Shea: Yeah, really appreciate the time is a fun combo. So thanks. Thanks very much.

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.

A Napier Podcast: Interview with Andrew Hally - Bynder

In this podcast episode, we interview Andrew Hally, Chief Marketing Officer at Bynder, a digital asset management platform.

Andrew shares how digital asset management has evolved over the last few years, and how Bynder helps companies 'scale-up', using DAM to power the digital experience.

Transcript: Interview with Andrew Hally - Bynder

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 Andrew Halley, who's the CMO of Bynder. Welcome to the podcast. Andrew.

Andrew: Thanks, Mike. It's great to be here.

Mike: Great. So, bynder is a company that does Digital Asset Management. But before we talk about the company in detail, can you tell me a little bit about yourself and how you ended up in this sector of marketing technology?

Andrew: Yeah, sure. Happy to my so I guess most importantly, I'm, I'm here in Boston. speaking to you from home, of course, as most of us are these days, after, you know, starting my career after school and consulting in venture capital for few years, the last, you know, slightly more than two decades, I've been doing software software as a service and marketing. I really my favourite stage, having done kind of, you know, raw pre product startup through larger public companies is, is the scale up stage right? When a company's figured out how to solve an important problem for customers. And it's all about, you know, scaling that up. So that's, that's what Bynders at that stage. About half my career has been in the mahr tech realm. Also, I really enjoy, you know, marketers are always happy to tell their stories. I love you know, that the technology of marketing. So it's been an industry that I've been in. So when, when Bynder was looking for marketing leadership back in 2019, it was a great, a great fit.

Mike: Fantastic. So what is it that Bynder offers what's the what's the product you offer

Andrew: Well, as you said, the the product category is digital asset management, which we deliver, you know, as software as a service. And, you know, in doing so that's the category, but put the label on the category, but to me, we've got a really important mission. And you know, the digital assets that we take care of, it's, it's the best marketing creativity, and we really see it as our mission to take that marketing creativity and really elevate it into the heart of digital experience. You know, marketing is very digital. Now. There's a lot of technology involved. But at the end of the day, it's really the spark, it's that the heart of that creative story that makes the difference. And we really want to make sure that's part of digital experience and help brands use that to build relationships with our customers.

Mike: Excellent. So I mean, a lot of things you're trying to help marketers do, but just to, to unpack a little bit, you know, digital asset management? What exactly do you mean by that? What exactly is the software doing for marketers?

Andrew: Yes, sure. It's, um, it's a good question. You know, at its core, digital asset management is the system of record, if you will, for marketing content. It's that single source of truth. And that's what it originally was, but but through its history, digital asset management, or dam, in short, has actually taken on a much bigger role, you know, so we really kind of see, Digital Asset Management isn't in the third wave, right, the first wave, you know, like most software, it was a software that the it organisation ran on premise. And it had a pretty narrow scope, it handled big media files for broadcasting and publishing companies. But bynders were one of the vendors that then came along and pioneered dam delivered as a service with user interaction that was really great, really well designed and accessible to all marketers and and dam became the system of record across the marketing organisation to place for assets and to management manage the content lifecycle.

And so that's been kind of the paradigm that's really seeing a lot of the the industry growth and Dan become very mean mainstream. But in the last year, so, you know, as the economy rapidly went digital, right, a trend that was already happening, but accelerated by the pandemic. market has shifted. And as we're in a digital first world, digital experience became really just mission critical for most marketers. And you really don't have digital experience without creative content. So the need to have create a content powering great digital experience, has a whole bunch of new needs that have really kind of started this third wave of dam where the dam is, it's sitting in the core marketing technology infrastructure, next to data next to analytics, and driving a personalised digital experience to touch points. So started out as the system of record for assets, but now it manages the complete asset lifecycle, including powering personalised digital experiences, so it's coming on Way enough in a couple of decades.

Mike: So I mean, that's really interesting. You've covered a lot of things there. And I just like to, to dig into a couple, particularly. So you talked about originally being the system of record for digital assets. So explain that to me, is that helping marketers make sure they have the right images, the right version of the images? What do you mean by by that terminology?

Andrew: Yes, you've you've put your finger on on the core of it. Maybe one way to think of it is when when customers first come to us first, get into the market for digital asset management. Everyone puts files somewhere, right? Even if you're just a start up with one person. And typically they're putting them on either you've got, you know, computers, they're an enterprise, your own servers, and you're storing things there. Maybe it's on SharePoint, or people are using Dropbox or Box is a service and it just dumping your files into folders there. But the problem with that is, it's these systems are designed to figure out, they're not designed to make it easy for people to find content, they're not designed to make sure people find the right content content through versioning, things that are approved, you know, things like that.

So, you know, the first time that dam buyer is usually solving the kinds of operational pains you're talking about of, you know, making sure people can find the right assets, making sure it's easy for people to find them so that the content team isn't kept busy just emailing things to people. The content team isn't worried about people using the wrong asset, because the only the right one is available. And then managing managing the workflow of creating content, you know, what's what's in working process, what's approved, what is revisions that are needed, etc. So that's some of the baseline things people buy digital asset management to solve.

Mike: And then you you talked about how it extends to actually serving content dynamically. So people pulling, you know, these digital assets, these images and other content directly from the dam using a marketing automation system onto their website. How does that work?

Andrew: Right. Well, so first, in, people are still absolutely no individual marketers are going to the dab and grabbing assets as needed, right. I mean, there's lots of things that are physical in nature, right? Like, oh, we need new uniprint new posters for the store. But yeah, the when it comes to powering the digital experience now, yeah, that's exactly right. Integration with the marketing stack has really become a critical part of what what what a digital asset management does. So we've digital asset management system does. And so you mentioned marketing, automation tools, that's definitely a critical one, you know, the the, the most critical integration point is typically with the CMS, or the the content management system that powers the website, or the digital experience, platform power powering the website.

Also integrations with with e commerce, right, making sure that the right product images are, are served, that are right for the device responsive to the type of device that are optimised to have a fast experience. And then, but there's also Mike, there's also integration upstream, for example, into the creative tools, that that that marketer that creative marketers will use to generate original assets and things like that, so that we're able to integrate with those things, bring those into the, into the life side asset lifecycle, we're able to take assets and actually help automate the process of creating all the versions and variations that modern market marketing typically needs. And then we'll also integrate into workflow tools, if a marketing organisation has, you know, a write a work front or something like that we can integrate with there. So it really integration is really the name of the game. You know, after you solve those initial kind of pains of just having the right asset available

Mike Maynard 

as that that's amazing. I mean, it sounds like the dam almost disappears, and it just becomes this resource that's available everywhere. And it's not seen as a separate system.

Andrew: I think I think that's the idea. Of course, we still got, you know, the dam administrators, right to just the critical work of making sure the system's running, you know, making sure that the permissions work, that the metadata that's used to categorise assets is logical and up to date. So you do have kind of a core group of folks who are the, you know, tend to the care and feeding. But yeah, a lot of that a lot of the the important than use of the assets happens machine to machine, if you will. Cool.

Mike: I mean, just hearing the range of capabilities. I'm interested in what drives a company to buy a dam is it is it because they get into trouble because they're, they've got people using the wrong versions or using you know, images that the licence has expired. I don't know something, or people buying dams with with this idea of creating, you know, a complete integrated system from day one

Andrew: Yeah, the answer is both I think we we at Bynder, we usually think of the problems we solve and the value we deliver is there's kind of three levels, if you will. And the first level is, is, is one of the things you mentioned that that operational pain of it just marketers are wasting time getting the right asset to people, people are using the wrong asset, out of date, assets, those sorts of things. And it's, it's kind of narrow operational pain, but it can be big. So, for example, one customer of ours, Akzo Nobel, you know, when you look at across organisation of every employee having difficulty finding things, they were wasting over 1000 hours a month in aggregate, just solving that operational pain can still have big returns for the business.

So that's operational pain. But the the second level is really around helping marketing teams achieve success with critical initiatives. So think, you know, big brand pivots, as we saw a lot, you know, in 2020, rolling out new products going into a new geography integrating an acquisition, or a rebranding. And so one example would be Nord a, as a customer of ours, they're a bank with a strong footprint across northern Europe had lots of different look and feel and the different geographies they covered, and they had a goal of rebranding with a, a geography wide, consistent brand. And they just realised that was going to be tough to be successful if people couldn't find the new assets that instantiate the brand. So by having a single season system of record, it was super easy to use, everyone across the company was able to get the right things, and that that rebranding effort was successful. So that's kind of achieving critical marketing objectives that second level. And then the third is the other thing that you mentioned, were really is company strategic value, right. And, again, being successful with digital transformation, having a digital experience that sustains and grows the business. That's that kind of third strategic level of value that we're that we're starting to see Dan play more of a role in.

Mike: Thanks, Andrew, that, I mean, that's great. I'm a, I'm interested actually, it sounds like people are buying dams with a relatively short outlook. Yep, dams have got all these integrations and, you know, potentially their complexity, is it hard to, to deploy and use a dam? Or, you know, is it easier than it sounds?

Andrew: So, when we moved out of the first way, when it was kind of software that it ran into the second way, that was one of the key things that happened, right is, you know, Bynder, pioneered delivering Damn, as a service, you know, software's a service, which, you know, one of its characteristics is, it's a heck of a lot easier, you don't need to do a lot of installation, you know, you're, you're basically logging in with a browser. So that made it a lot easier to deploy, there is to really get the most out of dam, there is some level of work that goes into it, and a lot of it's just around thinking through how you want your content, you know, to look at it, you know, what was that? You know, what does the metadata need to look like? What is the what is the ways, you're going to look at your library, if you will, and if you think about when you search for products, you know, in e commerce, if you go to like a an electronics, you know, vendor, you know, like Best Buy, or Carphone Warehouse, you know, you go there, and you can slice into, you know, these dimensions of, of home versus auto and, you know, speakers, versus cassette versus turntable versus CD, audio versus video, there's a number of these dimensions, right, that, that you want to kind of think through what are right for your content.

And so there, you want to invest a little bit in that, because that's then what makes it super easy for marketers and for employees, in indeed, at the end of the day customers to find what they're looking for. So you want to have a little bit of thought there. But you can get it been running pretty quickly for those basic work, you know, solving those problems around operational problems of finding the right asset, you know, the integration into the marketing stack does that that is something also that takes more time. That's, you know, your, your plug in software together. And even though we've got 50 odd, you know, pre made connectors, you still want to do that, right. And sometimes, you know, sophisticated large enterprises actually will, will code to our API to be able to integrate with their tech stack exactly the way they want. So kind of varies on the according to the scope of what our customer is trying to accomplish.

Mike: Great. I mean, it sounds like that there's just multiple levels of what you can do that it you know, introduced Obviously more complexity but more functionality? Definitely. I've got to ask this, you know, you've talked about all these amazing capabilities, and you know, some some very large customers, you know, a dam is expensive, and they just, you know, really for large enterprises, or can smaller companies benefit?

Andrew: I think one of the great things about the SAS model is it really does help even the playing field of companies able to access the very same software, regardless of the size of the company, right? You don't you don't need to have your own large IT department who can set up servers run servers instal software, right, it's delivered by a SAS, you know, Bynder, and other SAS vendors take care of all of that. So there's definitely a lot of the, you know, even of the playing field. And, yeah, we've got, we've got customers that run the gamut, right, from, you know, some of the largest brands in the world, all the way down to, you know, startups that are really digital first, and content is a huge part of their growth plans, but they're, you know, less than 100 people. So it really does, you know, run the gamut, I think thinking recently, right, we've got customers, large enterprises, you know, like Herman Miller in the furniture space. But then we've also got amazing customers like human scale, which is a smaller provider, but doing every bit as good things and able to, they've got to make the same sort of brand pivots, right? When the world backs away from the office and spin up, direct to consumer businesses spin up work from home categories, and they're able to do that just as well as multi billion dollar companies.

Mike: Interesting. I mean, you mentioned this, this move to direct to consumer, I can see, you know, how being able to serve personalised content would help. I mean, do you still see a big demand in in what I call, you know, the conventional, big b2b sector, so people selling, you know, large engineering products or something to other organisations?

Andrew: Yes, definitely. what we refer to as industrials, large b2b companies like that is one of one of our strongest industries in there. If you think about what they're offering, you can see how digital asset management's important, right? These sorts of companies are like, take Syngenta as a customer, they've got hundreds, or perhaps even 1000s, right of products, lots of technical detail about it that needs to be served up correctly. So there's a lot of kind of, you know, complexity in what the offering is that they've got, and it needs to be just right, because these are, you know, industrial sorts of products, you can't have errors in there. Sometimes it's regulated, right? In the case of like, you know, healthcare related things, pharmaceutical stuff like that. So, yeah, it's, um, that's one of our strongest use cases, a lot of complexity there that digital asset management can help tame a mare.

Mike: It sounds like you're saying that they're using bynder to make sure that, you know, for example, if somebody is interested in a product, they're serving up the right photo, and the right data and the right information, is that, is that how they're using it?

Andrew: That's right, that's exactly right. Yep. It's, um, sometimes it's integrated with other technology, such as Product Information Management, or Pam, that that's going to have a lot of that, you know, technical specifications around industrial products, and Bynder will serve up, you know, imagery, or perhaps documents related to it, you know, guides, how to videos, things like that.

Mike: Interesting. And one of the things I think a lot of people might be interested in is obviously, Bynder or another dam will serve up content, but how does that interact with, you know, following style guides? Is there a way to use a dam to ensure that you're, you know, observing more of the rules and regulations in a style guide

Andrew: Absolutely, that's a great example, Mike of some functionality that, that digital asset management has added, you know, as its evolved from its its early days, is just storing big media files. Yeah, and so, you know, initially what happened is, you know, brands will have a style guide, it's a static document. And that's one of the things that's actually in the dam, so you can go find the style guide. But, you know, in the last few years, it's become much more popular to actually have the style guide be more of a living. html based document isn't really even right word. It's a brand guideline. It's accessible. It's accessible online, and much more dynamic than kind of static PDF so things can change on the fly. You've got new logos there instantaneously updated, you're not worrying about some agency or business partner having an old style guide, you know, as a PDF sitting on their hard drive. So that's definitely one of the more popular, typically add on modules for digital asset management.

Mike: Interesting. So you presumably then have people with different access rights to be able to update different areas of the style guide, for example, or simply be able to read the style guide and not change it?

Andrew: Sure if that's right, a lot of times it's publicly available, right? I mean, like you say, That's owning the style guide is the the job of the creative team, the brand team. And then, you know, a solution like Bynder lets you have very fine grained access and rights, such that it could be made available to partners or you know, a lot of them. You know, like Burton, fully available, anyone can see it, they're, they're happy to have people see all the great stuff that they've got.

Mike: Great. No, I mean, that sounds really interesting. Um, another feature we touched on it didn't really go into any detail was was versioning. Does this mean that, that a product like Bynder can help people during the development of assets as well as serving finished assets?

Andrew: Yes, that's been one of the, you know, the areas that dam has grown into, you know, managing that whole content lifecycle. There's a there's an element of this kind of managing a creative process where, you know, okay, who's going to develop this one, which of the creative team, do they have a when they have a rev, who reviews it, who approves it? What comments are made, get incorporated, then finalise this kind of a workflow? element. But I think one thing that's really exciting and that kind of the value that Dan brings to the content creation process, is to automate and distribute a lot of the simple but high frequency changes that need to be made to content in a globalised digital world. So if you if you, let's take a hypothetical English brand British brand that's doing languages across the continent, maybe five different languages, they need to localise to, let's say that they're advertising across Google and Facebook. Google has 12, different IAB standard content sizes and formats they use, Facebook has five. And then let's say they're really ahead of the curve and tried to do a B testing for just about everything they do right to test their way to the most effective content. So for each ad, or each piece of digital content they want to create if they're doing all of that, that's 20, size versions, five different languages, and two different testing variations. That's about 200 versions of each piece of content, so a lot to be done way too much for individual creatives to do. But since those changes are very simple, straightforward, they're repeated, those are the kinds of things that damn can help us templates to share the work of creating localised versions, share these all these versions, or automate some of them in some cases, and really not completely overwhelm the creative team.

Mike: So that the dam is is effectively providing the template and then the team responsible for localization is perhaps just putting in the, the local language, is that is that how it's working? Or is it more complex?

Andrew: That's, that's essentially right. The only element I would add to that quick story is, you know, upfront the creative team, they are creating the template. So they're using their usual tools, you know, frequently something like Adobe's Creative Cloud, to create that initial asset. But instead of creating a final asset, they're creating something that's going to intentionally be turned into a template. Bynder takes that asset, and then allows the creative team to set the the guardrails, if you will of that template, you know, what are the things that the local marketing teams are going to be able to change? Maybe they could use, you know, only, only the colours that are in the official style guide. Maybe they're allowed to change the call to action copy, they can switch out the images, but only for ones that are, you know, approved for usage within the dam.

So the the creative team, you know, puts those guidelines puts those guardrails along around what is permitted for the downstream teams to do but then just as you said, then the local teams can can localise the copy for their language or, you know, if it's social media team, it's another big use case. They can change exactly what said the images right so they're relevant to whatever social media conversation is interesting for The day. And this can be done for images and video. But yeah, so it's tip like it's created dancers the template and then marketers are allowed to really much more quickly kind of take that piece of content and then do that last bit of personalization of tweaking of localization for their deeds on their own, much faster. And that's really how you can kind of scale content creation to support the volumes needed for, you know, modern digital experience.

Mike: And is that one of the driving factors behind you know, the, the growth of bynder and the use of dams is the amount of digital content, particularly if you want a B tests, and you want to localise is just getting huge compared to what it used to be, where people perhaps were doing, you know, more conservative digital activities, and perhaps a more conventional print?

Andrew: Absolutely, yeah, it's, um, supplying the volume of creative needed a fuel personalised digital experiences, absolutely, you know, just the, one of the kind of key growth drivers, I mean, that's one of the, again, it's, it's big enough that we think of it as this third wave of Damn, you know, it's it's the volume, but it's also the speed and the agility, right? Things happen fast digitally, you've got to, you can't be executing entire multi week workflows, if you're trying to fuel digital campaigns these days. So it's the volume, it's the agility, but it's also the productivity, we, we have to maintain bandwidth for our creators to still do what they do best, which is coming up with, you know, impactful visual storytelling that can grab an audience in that microsecond we've got when they view an ad online, right, and engage them and build the brand online. So we've got to accomplish all three of these and taken care of the digital drudge work, if you will, by having the damn help with that throwing software at that problem. I think that's the key to, to making it work.

Mike: Interesting. And I think everyone would, would love their creatives to spend more time on the real creative ideas and, and less time on the production and producing the variants. That sounds like a huge benefit. Absolutely. Well, thank you so much for talking about a bender and dams and how, you know, digital has changed the way we think about assets. I mean, do you feel there's anything I've missed or anything else you'd like to cover?

Andrew: You know, we got, we got to talk about what I think is exciting, right? The way, the way content is really acknowledged now is a critical part of digital experience for, for a lot of my career, we've talked about data, the analytics, machine learning, all those sorts of things, which is critical, but the end of the day, it's about having great content and putting it in front of the customer at the right time. And I really, it's great to see that creativity is kind of getting its acknowledgment and getting its Do you know, even though things are so digital, and so technology driven these days,

Mike: Perfect. I mean, lastly, I'm sure there'll be people listening to this, who will be, you know, thinking, well, I really need some of these benefits for my, my organisation or my marketing team. So if people want to get in contact with you, what would be the best way

for getting in touch with a company, you know, the website, b y, nd er, calm is straightforward. And we we have a lot of conversations, you know, through through chat on the website now. So that's, that's great. People can find me very easily through LinkedIn, or Twitter at Andrew J. Holly, h Ll y comm sorry, at Andrew J. Holly, or on LinkedIn love to I always love hearing from people. I I just think what we do is so interesting. And, you know, we're blessed to be able to do it and have somebody pay for it. So I'd love to talk to other like minded people.

Mike: Perfect. Well, thanks so much for your time, Andrew, I really appreciate it. It's been a fascinating conversation. Having joined us well, Mike, stay safe. 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 favorite podcast application. If you'd like to know more, please visit our website at Napier b2b dot com or contact me directly on LinkedIn.