By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing
Late in 2015 we started producing a bi-weekly radio program called Sales Pipeline Radio, which runs live every other Thursday at 1:00 p.m. Pacific, moving soon to 11:30 a.m. Pacific. It’s just 30 minutes long, fast-paced and full of actionable advice, best practices and more for B2B sales & marketing professionals.
We’ve already featured some great guests and have a line up of awesome content and special guests into 2016. Our very first guest was Funnelholic author and Topo co-founder Craig Rosenberg. Next we had Mike Weinberg, incredible writer, speaker, author, followed by Conrad Bayer, CEO & Founder of Tellwise. Recent Guests: Jim Keenan; Joanne Black; Aaron Ross; Josiane Feigon, Meagen Eisenberg, and Trish Bertuzzi.
We cover a wide range of topics, with a focus on sales development and inside sales priorities heading into and throughout the year. We’ll publish similar highlights here for upcoming episodes. You can listen to full recordings of past shows at SalesPipelineRadio.com and subscribe on iTunes.
We were thrilled this last time to be able to talk to Mark Granovsky. Mark is the President & CEO at G2Planet. We talk about Event Marketing 2.0 – How to Get more ROI from your event strategy in 2018 and beyond. Listen in or read our conversation below:
Matt Heinz: Thank you very much everyone for joining us on Sales Pipeline Radio. Another edition. We are here live every week at 11:30 Pacific, 2:30 Eastern. We are also available on the podcast universe. You can subscribe to us on Google Play, and the iTunes store. Then everyone of our episodes is available anytime On Demand at SalesPipelineRadio.com. We are here every week to cover the best and brightest and newest ideas in B2B sales and marketing and regularly featuring some of the smartest people that are innovating what’s happening in B2B sales and marketing. Today is no exception. We’re very excited to have Mark Granovsky, the president and CEO of G2Planet, with us today.
We’re going to be talking a lot about event marketing and talking about how data science can be applied to a marketing tactic that has traditionally been a little bit of a laggard in terms of adopting some of the new big data and predictive and technology elements. First and foremost, Mark, thanks very much for joining us today.
Mark Granovsky: Thank you very much. It’s nice to be here. I appreciate you having me on, Matt.
Matt Heinz: Absolutely. Well, I appreciate you joining us, spending some time talking event marketing. G2Planet. For those that aren’t familiar, give a quick idea of what we’re talking about here.
Mark Granovsky: Yeah. Absolutely. G2Planet. We’re a software company. We’re an enterprise software company. We build large enterprise applications. The area that we focus on is delivering these applications to corporate event marketing departments. Fortune 50 companies and Fortune 200, Fortune 500. The big companies that are out there kind of pushing the envelope innovating with various kinds of event marketing activities, those are our clients.
Matt Heinz: When people think of event marketing, they don’t think of the latest and greatest and most technologically advanced campaigns in the world. I think when people think about big data, they think about marketing technology. They think about lead nurture programs. Then you have events which in many cases have kind of lagged. Talk about where event marketing is today in the 2017 B2B world and where do we need to take it to make sure that it aligns with the way that we’re managing sales and marketing today.
Mark Granovsky: I think it has been a lagger, and I think it’s quickly catching up. I know when I first got into this business one of the motivating factors was every financial officer I ever talked to was frustrated with their event spend. They didn’t know what value it was bringing. Tons of money going down that channel, but they didn’t really understand the benefit they were getting out of it. Early on event marketing was very logistics focused, tactical, processing names, registrants coming to an event, putting badges on people. It was kind of pretty basic meat and potatoes. As marketing analytics have evolved and people have gotten smarter about looking at data and taking data and turning it into information, the events industry and the discipline has certainly caught up.
What’s happening now that we’re seeing is software solutions like the ones from G2Planet are being pulled into a direction, and we’re pushing our clients in a direction of taking this data, mining it and making more intelligence out of it. Giving them insight, giving them reason to act on it. The principle purposes of events is to facilitate the sales process. That’s our cornerstone area that this industry is evolving.
Matt Heinz: Well, I feel like events haven’t really gone away as a part of the sales and marketing mix and I could argue they’re becoming even more important as more companies do more target account selling, named account selling, or what many marketers called account-based marketing. You go and ask Salesforce.com. You ask them, “What’s one of your most valuable channels for reaching senior IT executives?” The answer I always hear is dinners. They’re not going to reply to an email. They’re not replying to your Twitter DMs, but you can get them into a room with their peers. They share ideas, have a nice glass of wine, a nice steak, and it’s a good way to sort of build rapport and get the relationship going.
Those events too often exist in isolation from other things happening in marketing. I think one of the opportunities and I know you guys are working on this is to bring that data together so that we can see a more full picture of what’s happening with that prospect.
Mark Granovsky: Absolutely. To be part of the ecosystem, the overall marketing ecosystem and the sales ecosystem. Event marketing has been an island. With evolution and advancements and information technology and communication, it now has gotten more connectivity to the core.
Matt Heinz: How should marketers should think about this in a complex sales cycle, right? I mean if you’re not doing transactional sales, if you assume that the white paper didn’t generate the sale, what do you recommend for marketers that maybe … It’s mid-August, but a lot of people are already thinking about 2018, to start to think from a strategy and a planning standpoint of how to do we incorporate events and event marketing technology into their mix.
Mark Granovsky: The event marketing discipline or the portal that we call it, it really is … It’s not the head on the dog. It’s the body on the dog, right? It’s got to follow the marketing objectives, the campaigns, the purposes. These things are manifesting inside of the events activations, right? Whatever those corporate marketing initiatives are, bright people are sitting down and they’re spending time and they’re saying, “Okay. How does this manifest inside of my event activation campaigns,” whatever those objectives might be. Then once the link is created from the strategy office in the house down into the activation fields, event marketing being an activation field, now we’re getting into planning and activities that support meeting of those goals whatever those goals might be.
They change industry to industry, company to company, depending upon where that company is in the evolution of their growth, right? What they’re doing with product innovations, if they’re making a push on a sales effort. With events, there’s two fundamental kind of categories. Corporations either produce an event, it’s their hosted conference, it’s their seminars, it’s their summit, or they attend industry events. They’re going as a trade show exhibitor, as a sponsor. Once you start to break down the event activity into its sub parts, you start to get a little smarter about how do I place these strategic components in the form of activations down into the field.
Matt Heinz: Let’s talk about different types of events here. We’re talking to Mark Granovsky, the president and CEO of G2Planet on Sales Pipeline Radio today. I feel like we’ve been a little bit now in the summer in this lull between spring event season, it’s fall event season for B2B. We’re going to get back into it here pretty quickly. We’ve got Content Marketing World coming up for a lot of B2B content markets. You got Dreamforce. You got SiriusDecisions events. You’ve got lots of other things. You’ve got these big, big conferences and then a lot of companies continue to do very small intimate events. They may do customer events. They may do workshops. Maybe they just really just host a dinner for 10, 15 people.
Is there a difference in how people should be thinking about managing and integrating insights and ROI from data or from events whether they’re big like Dreamforce or small like in customer dinner?
Mark Granovsky: Absolutely. Our recommendation to our clients is to have a central repository. Somewhere where you can get it out of the email threads that go back and forth and endless Excel documents or perhaps it’s a shared Google file, but let’s look at an enterprise portal that allows us to centralize information and it’s really a communication platform. It helps us understand all of what we’re doing, so our various event types whether they’re dinners as you say or they’re rewards programs or they’re trade shows or hosted seminars. Could be even webinars and getting online in addition to the face-to-face marketing activities. First thing that we would advise is to make sure everybody’s on the same page and that can be facilitated through a centralized portal.
Then when you got that portal and you got that event detailed at a database record level, all of a sudden now you open up standardized planning or best practices and planning and resource management and metrics. Being able to say, “Here are my goals for this event.” You assign the goals to them. You come back later and you say, “Here’s what I got out of the event against those goals,” then you can pair them against each other. Analyze them against each other.
Matt Heinz: I assume you guys probably some examples of customers that have maybe been a little more tepid on doing events, but then after being able to see some ROI have been a little more aggressive at leveraging them to drive ROI.
Mark Granovsky: Absolutely. Absolutely. There’s a lot of companies in the valley that we work with, that are out there pushing the envelope, that are being sophisticated with their portfolio planning. Then after year one, year two, now they can have a better sense of the different events for the business units and standardizing metrics. Then that CFO knows what they’re getting out of their event spend.
Matt Heinz: Let’s talk real quick about that CFO and then we’re going to have to jump to a break here in a couple of minutes, but with the CFO, I think a lot of times events continue to be seen as parts of the arts and crafts of marketing that companies do, right? Things like PR. Things like events. Your logo on a pen. Your CFOs used to say, “Okay. I do these digital campaigns. I could see the results. I could see it in my marketing automation. I could see it in CRM.” Events continue to be perceived as a little more ethereal. What have you seen work well to sort of communicate to CFOs why it can be a little more accountable moving forward to use events?
Mark Granovsky: It’s data. It’s all data. Data sciences, right? There’s the emotional connection. It isn’t that logo on that pen cool or grab the squeezey ball and now your stress is reduced. That the 1980s, 1990s version of events. Today it’s all about data. Who am I getting there? Who are they? How do they align with my overall mix of product offerings? What do they look at? What do they do? How much time do they spend? Who do they talk to? One of the things that fascinated me early on was big companies spend millions sometimes investing into an event to only then delineate down that personal exchange into a paper card. They’ll spend just a tremendous amount of budget to ship stuff to Vegas or to go down to Orlando and put this big show together.
Get a band. Get all this kind of stuff. Then when it comes to actually capturing a sales lead and alerting people if a VIP client has walked into a booth by way of an alert of some kind on the sales rep or account’s cellphone because “desirable has just walked in” and then be able to capture it. I mean that’s just only recently come into play. It used to just be you make this big investment and you break it down into a paper and pencil exchange. Now with technology and data we can do a whole lot more and deliver a whole lot more value.
Matt Heinz: Boy, it is an exciting time to be a marketer and a sales professional in B2B for sure. Excited to hear what we’re doing now with event marketing. We had Kevin Akeroyd who’s the CEO of Cision on a few episodes ago talking about the content cloud and sort of what we’re doing even with PR and big data to be able to measure what’s going on. Still, some fairly complicated streams to innovate all this together and make a real story around it, but pretty excited that we’re finally actually able to get some data. We’re going to take a quick break. Pay some bills.
We’ll be back with a lot more with Mark Granovsky to talk a lot more about event marketing, the economics of event marketing ROI, how sales and marketing teams can execute better together in these events that by definition are a joint experience. We’ll be right back. Sales Pipeline Radio.
Paul: Now back to Matt and his guest.
Matt Heinz: Thank you very much, Paul. Well, thanks very much again for joining us everybody, talking about event marketing, event marketing ROI and integration with B2B marketing programs today. If you like what you’re hearing and want to make sure you can share this with other people on your team, maybe you’ve got an event manager or someone working on your event team you want to hear this as well, make sure you get a copy of this episode today available On Demand in a couple days at SalesPipelineRadio.com. We will have a highlight of the entire conversation on our blog at HeinzMarketing.com as well. If you like this conversation, I don’t want to guarantee it, but I can near guarantee you’re going to love future conversations we have as well.
Next week we are going to have James Thomas who’s the CMO of Allocadia. Speaking of ROI and measurement, Allocadia is a great platform that helps you measure results of your marketing relative to your budget. An immediate tool that help make sense of what you’re spending and where that money’s coming from. Coming up in a couple weeks, we’ve got Daniel McGinn. I’m really excited about Daniel joining. He is the senior editor of Harvard Business Review and the author of Psyched Up: How the Science of Mental Preparation Can Help You Succeed. Some great insights to really help sort of the mental game of B2B sales and marketing moving forward. Today I want to just spend a little more time with Mark Granovsky, the CEO of G2Planet, talking about event marketing.
Mark, I want to continue the conversation a little bit around the economics of events ROI. We talked about the data going in, but when we come to the financial picture of how to evaluate and justify what’s happening with events, what are you seeing your clients do that is helping to justify additional investments in events moving forward?
Mark Granovsky: I’ll give you an example. We’ve got automotive manufacturer. I’ll give this through example. We’ve got an automotive manufacturer that’s trying to figure out how much money they’re going to put into ride and drives versus sponsorships of events or auto show activity. With ride and drives, they’re getting people behind the vehicle. They’re serving them before and after they’re done with their experiential time in the car. They’re serving them after. They’re asking them how likely are you to promote this brand? How likely are you to buy this car? They’re asking it before and after and they’re able to measure the shift, we call it our list report, in brand and net promoter score.
Again it gets back to measuring people and understanding where they are and how far they’ve moved down the funnel in some capacity. I probably sound like a broken record, but it goes back to data. It goes back to understanding who your clients are and where they are in the pipeline. Giving them the event experience for which they came, assessing them afterwards and then being able to compare beginning to end and seeing how the needle was moved through the investment and the experience that was had.
Matt Heinz: I think it’s tying that data together and applying to not only the results you see, but also the money you’re spending and looking at hard cost and soft cost to understand what’s working is a huge, huge opportunity. Another thing, if you like what you’re hearing today, you want to learn more about big data related to events and marketing, highly encourage you to go to G2Planet.com. Letter G, number 2, Planet.com. Click on downloads and you’re going to find a really outstanding eBook, as well as a lot of pretty detailed data and analysis on what’s happening with events. This kind of precision I think is what we need at cross marketing, but especially in areas that are traditional not been measured very well.
One of the challenges, Mark, I know that event marketing has and events in general for companies have is that it is by definition an integrated sort of mutual responsible channel. Like email campaigns, you could argue like that’s marketing doing it. Cold calling, that is sales doing it. Events typically you’ve got sales and marketing working together. What are the best practices you’ve seen for sales and marketing working in integrated fashion to make events more successful?
Mark Granovsky: In sales marketing it’s IT, right? The technical guy has got to involved and the infrastructure people who are in there. There’s a saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” There’s a little bit of that that applies here to the event. Different events of course. If it’s a small kind of a campaign or an outing versus a large customer conference. You can get a good half dozen or more different departments involved. Of course, marketing and sales being at the core of that. How do you leverage them? How do you get them working better together to be more productive for the end goal? It’s really around information transfer, communication and coordination.
At the end of the day, these are some basic human principles that we stand on to do good work. For marketing to understanding what sales goals are, what the objectives are. For sales to understand what marketing goals are, the objectives, and how they tie to this event and these activities. It really is communication platform, on demand information and being able to contribute and have your voice heard and at the same time be able to understand what the plan is. If you got to disagree and commit, you disagree and commit, but you go with the brand and you do the best job you can for your company.
Matt Heinz: I want to ask you to open the kimono a little bit if you’re comfortable with it and talk about how G2Planet has been kind of eating its own dog food so to speak and sort of using your technology, your philosophy here for your own events. You don’t have to share the whole event strategy obviously, but if you’ve got an example or two, just a success story from your own market of applying these pretty same principles and seeing success.
Mark Granovsky: It’s interesting. We market and sell our solutions to event marketers. It’s kind of an interesting environment to play in. You’ve got to do a pretty good job with your event marketing when you’re actually engaging and trying to help your client who’s an event marketer evolve. We spend a fair amount of time upfront understanding who’s going to be at these events. They’re our events or event marketers. We source that data pretty heavily on the front end. We break it down. We analyze it. We see what kind of conversations we’ve had with them before if any. We see if they were on our targeted list, if it’s an account-based approach that we have or more of a horizontal blast.
Then there’s a lot of preparation that we do upfront and it’s around analyzing who’s there and what can we know about them, along with looking at our CRM records and understanding where we are in conversation. At the end of the day, everybody’s looking for a personalized experience. We’re connecting with people through very personal connections, right? Again you don’t want to take this investment and distill it down to something generic. Everybody who goes to an event is looking for something relevant for them.
When we start to engage in conversations before the event or on the event with our onsite technology, we’re talking to this person about who this individual is, what they’ve done, who they’re plugged into our company and what they’re looking for to the best of our ability. With our own technology, we’re trying to number one, create the most personalized experience and number two, we’re trying to inform and empower every G2Planet employee who may run across a client or potential client with that information so that they can have the best exchange they can.
Matt Heinz: A couple more minutes here with Mark Granovsky, the president and CEO of G2Planet, talking about event marketing. What are some companies they should be looking at as examples of how to do it right? These can be from your customers or other companies you see, but if we’re looking for good examples in the marketplace, who can we look at?
Mark Granovsky: I got to say I got to tip the hat to McAfee. That’s a real brand out there. They’re doing some very, very innovative stuff. It’s really cool what they got going on. We do a lot of work with Cisco. We do a lot of work with Workday recently. Been plugging in with them. In the automotive space, we do a lot of work with Mazda. Mazda’s really innovating and doing some new things. Hilti is doing some cool things. Getting back to one of those companies I mentioned, they have got a customer conference coming up, a big large hosted conference. We’ve all seen them. They’re innovating this year and they’re actually getting all of their sales reps plugged in to the attendees in a whole new way.
When we’re out there promoting the event and marketing the event, sales reps are actually getting bonus by way of how many of their customer contacts are coming. They’re empowering them with their own communication tools, their own relationships, they’re driving attendance. Then they’re actually giving those sales reps and account managers visibility into a journey map. I can see my client, where did they go, what breakout sessions do they go to, what booths do they see and what exhibitors do they talk to. Me as a sales guy or an account manager, I can now look at my client, Mr. Smith, and Mr. Smith actually went to these breakout sessions, but that’s not a product that he’s currently buying from me.
That tells me Mr. Smith is interested. It’s helping me drive toward Mr. Smith and engage with him on perhaps a cross selling opportunity just through the tools, and the innovation that this client is bringing. That’s a pretty cool one for me as I’m watching the industry evolve.
Matt Heinz: I appreciate that. Those were some great examples. All right. Final question for you, Mark. We ask this of every guest at the end of the show. Let’s assume there is a Mount Rushmore of sales. That there is room for three or four peoples’ busts to be up on a mountain that we all stare at and acknowledge as having among the greatest impact on sales, business development for us. It can be people you think have had the most impact in the industry overall. It’d be people that you think have had the most impact for you, but who are three or four people that might be on your Mount Rushmore of sales?
Mark Granovsky: Oh wow. Interesting question. Interesting question. Who would be on my Mount Rushmore of sales? He might not be a sales guy, but I love Jeff Bezos. I love his philosophy. I love how he approaches business. At the end of the day, there’s a philosophy that we’re all sales people. I really believe that. We are all evangelists for our company. I really like what Bezos is doing and how he’s doing it with his clients, with his corporate culture and his philosophies. He’s really I think doing a great job, right? He’s right there. Right there front and center for me. I like Elon Musk.
I think more of him than a business guy than a sales guy from that perspective, but just when I think of a good salesperson, I think of someone who’s going to churn, they’re going to focus on their goal, they’re going to work tirelessly toward reaching it. He’s selling his company and his vision, right? He may not be writing contracts like some of the folks that I work with are from a sales perspective, but he’s building these businesses. Again his passion and his energy I think are just incredible. Bright guy. Fun to work with. I had a good opportunity to work with him years ago in his first startup at Zip2. Those are a couple of people that come to mind.
Matt Heinz: I really like the way you’re thinking, Mark. I mean I think these don’t have to be people that are sales authors. These don’t have to be people that have had a career exclusively in sales. Boy, I think if Jeff Bezos is not a great salesperson to learn from, I don’t know who is. Elon Musk as well, right? I mean sometimes you’re not just selling widgets. You’re not just getting POs. You are selling a vision. I think there are plenty of people that probably thought both of those people were completely nuts when they talked about what they wanted to do. I read enough origin stories of Amazon. I know that people thought that Jeff was completely nuts that you could actually sell books online and look where they are today.
Anyway, I know we got to wrap up here. Mark Granovsky is president and CEO of G2Planet. Thanks so much for joining us today. Highly encourage you to go to G2Planet.com. Click on resources. You’re going to find a lot of great stuff up there to learn more about how big data can support your event marketing efforts. We will put that link in our show notes as well. Speaking of this show, if you want to hear this again or share this with your colleagues, make sure you go and get the On Demand version at SalesPipelineRadio.com. If you want to hear future episodes, join us live. 11:30 Pacific, 2:30 Eastern on the Sales Lead Management Radio Network or don’t miss an episode by going to Google Play, iTunes Store. I know we got to wrap up.
For my great producer Paul, this is Matt Heinz. Thanks again for joining us. Sales Pipeline Radio.
Paul: You’ve been listening to Sales Pipeline Radio. With your host Matt Heinz right here on the Funnel Radio Show, for at work listeners like you.