By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing

I trust you’re taking full advantage of your commute by tuning into great podcasts.  May I suggest our weekly radio program called Sales Pipeline Radio?

It’s live every Thursday at 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.  You can also listen anytime via all the usual podcast platforms…. subscribe and never miss one.

We’ve featured some great guests and have a line up of awesome content and special guests in the future.  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 KeenanJoanne BlackAaron 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.

Brian Hansford hosted this time and had a great conversation with Jeffrey K. Rohrs, CMO at Yext.

Here’s just a sample of the first few minutes:

 

Especially in the B2B marketing world, I’m curious what you’re seeing, especially with Yext, if there’s some context there that could be helpful for our audience where what are some of the biggest challenges you see in B2B marketing and sales from an integrated brand experience from my own experience, working with clients or even as a consumer or a B2B customer myself, it’s really challenging to get that integrated consistent experience in B2B. What do you see out there and what are some of your ideas and how do you approach that?

Well, I think the biggest, you know, if we were going gnostically and talk about any B2B company in a software SAAS space, the biggest challenge right now is cutting through the clutter. Today alone, I have probably deleted and or filed, I would say, 20 to 30 unsolicited email outreach efforts from BDR’s at companies trying to sell Yext martech across the realm. In addition, you know, I’m apt to actually sales force connections in Chicago today and you can just walk the floor and see the myriad of companies that are vying for attention, and so that’s the main challenge: Is how do you gain mind share and how do you create awareness when the explosion of martech has only been increasing? I think the loom escape is now up to over something like 7,000 companies in a martech, adtech kind of space.

That’s the number one challenge and then that gets to the second part of your question around brand consistency because brand consistency creates a recognition in your target audience over time. Whether that is in person, whether that is in a digital ad, whether that is in content that gets in front of them, an event they attend, having a really strong, consistent brand voice, brand identity, consistent content, the value, those are all things that help that ability to cut through the clutter, be remembered, and ultimately, create engagement. Whether that’s first-touch or 50th.

Another challenge that I commonly is inexperience, frankly. The marketing message is one thing, but then when I talk with or engage with sales, it’s something totally different. We start going down a different path, different messages start to appear, and is there a way that sales and marketing, at least what you see, that they can build that, not only alignment for the work flow and the process in building pipeline, but I guess, alignment in how they can engage with customers so it’s a more consistent experience for them?

Certainly. It’s an evolutionary process. Every company’s gonna be dealt a different hand of maturity of sellers, maturity of product, maturity of marketing message. In light of that, you have to structure and essentially, prioritize your efforts based on where your organization is. We have an added complicated factor at Yext and that we are pioneering this space of digital mileage management, so it is very much an education sale, which means that sales enablement is critical. We’re bringing on, I liken it to, we’re bringing on this all-star caliber sales talent from across the SAAS ecosystem via sellers who have experience at Sales Force, or Oracle, or Adobe, or wherever, but you have to train them to play the same game and the same game is selling to marketers and then selling Yext, educating as to the product, and educating out to the space that we define as digital mileage management.

Brian:  Hi everybody! My name’s Brian Hansford. I am Vice President of Marketing Performance here at Heinz Marketing and occasionally, I come off the bench and fill in for Matt Heinz on Sales Pipeline Radio. He gets booked all over the place and it’s always a pleasure for me to interview some of the great marketing minds and sales pros out there in the business. There’s always something to learn. There’s always a great conversation, and today, I am really excited to walk Jeffrey Rohrs, who is the Chief Marketing Officer with Yext and Jeffrey, welcome!

Jeffrey:  Thank you very much! Glad to be here.

Brian:  Jeffrey, I’d like to give you an opportunity to tell us a little bit about who you are and what you’re doing at Yext.

Jeffrey:  Sure. I serve as our Global Chief Marketing Officer and we are the leading digital knowledge management platform with a mission to give companies control over their brand experience across the entire digital universe of maps, apps, search engines, voice assistance, and other intelligence services that are driving consumer-discovery decision and actions a day, so in practice, that means that a customer of ours like Arby’s manages their brick-and-mortar location information, store hours, menus, other types of information that consumers are looking for on mobile devices and other services insures that that is correct. Not just across the third-party ecosystem, but also across their own website and apps.

Brian:  We’re really going to want to dive into this a little bit, but I was looking at your background on LinkedIn. I always like to get a feel for who I’m talking and you have a fascinating background. A lot of executive experience, sales force, exact target, and it also looked like you got your law degree almost simultaneously when you got a Master’s degree. Is that correct?

Jeffrey:  I did. I did a dual-degree program at Boston University cause I knew I’d go insane if I just did a law degree, so I tacked on a Master’s in Mass Communication when they had rolled out this state-of-the-art Power Macintosh lab circa 1994 and we started using this thing called the Internet, so it was where I caught the bug and where I quickly learned that despite having to go and need to be an attorney to pay off some school loans, I was probably not long for that world.

Brian:  Just, ironically, I saw that you were actually a DJ at one point, too, at the greatest radio station in the world, right?

Jeffrey:  Yes. During college, I worked at the 97 XWOXY BAM, The Future of Rock and Roll, and the reason why I say the BAM part is it was featured in Rain Man, for those who saw that Dustin Hoffman-Tom Cruise movie, Hoffman’s character repeats that on the bridge quite a bit. It was an amazing experience. Commercial Alternative Radio Station when we’re very few in the country breaking all sorts of artists and it gave me a lot of experience kind of speaking to the microphone, but also understanding audiences and that line of business.

Brian:  Yeah. Let’s drill into that and go down that path here, so over the next 25 minutes or so, we’ll just have a conversation. Especially in the B2B marketing world, I’m curious what you’re seeing, especially with Yext, if there’s some context there that could be helpful for our audience where what are some of the biggest challenges you see in B2B marketing and sales from an integrated brand experience from my own experience, working with clients or even as a consumer or a B2B customer myself, it’s really challenging to get that integrated consistent experience in B2B. What do you see out there and what are some of your ideas and how do you approach that?

Jeffrey:  Well, I think the biggest, you know, if we were going agnostically and talk about any B2B company in a software SAAS space, the biggest challenge right now is cutting through the clutter. Today alone, I have probably deleted and or filed, I would say, 20 to 30 unsolicited email outreach efforts from BDR’s at companies trying to sell Yext martech across the realm. In addition, you know, I’m apt to actually sales force connections in Chicago today and you can just walk the floor and see the myriad of companies that are vying for attention, and so that’s the main challenge: Is how do you gain mind share and how do you create awareness when the explosion of martech has only been increasing? I think the loom escape is now up to over something like 7,000 companies in a martech, adtech kind of space.

That’s the number one challenge and then that gets to the second part of your question around brand consistency because brand consistency creates a recognition in your target audience over time. Whether that is in person, whether that is in a digital ad, whether that is in content that gets in front of them, an event they attend, having a really strong, consistent brand voice, brand identity, consistent content, the value, those are all things that help that ability to cut through the clutter, be remembered, and ultimately, create engagement. Whether that’s first-touch or 50th.

Brian:  Another challenge that I commonly see is inexperience, frankly. The marketing message is one thing, but then when I talk with or engage with sales, it’s something totally different. We start going down a different path, different messages start to appear, and is there a way that sales and marketing, at least what you see, that they can build that, not only alignment for the work flow and the process in building pipeline, but I guess, alignment in how they can engage with customers so it’s a more consistent experience for them?

Jeffrey:  Certainly. It’s an evolutionary process. Every company’s going to be dealt a different hand of maturity of sellers, maturity of product, maturity of marketing message. In light of that, you have to structure and essentially, prioritize your efforts based on where your organization is. We have an added complicated factor at Yext and that we are pioneering this space of digital mileage management, so it is very much an education sale, which means that sales enablement is critical. We’re bringing on, I liken it to, we’re bringing on this all-star caliber sales talent from across the SAAS ecosystem via sellers who have experience at Sales Force, or Oracle, or Adobe, or wherever, but you have to train them to play the same game and the same game is selling to marketers and then selling Yext, educating as to the product, and educating out to the space that we define as digital mileage management.

To do that, you need a great relationship with the BP or the EVP of RevOps and the sales enablement team, but there is a third group, in addition to sales marketing that has to be at the table, and in fact, driving a lot of this around product and that’s going to be your strategy and product team, and so those three groups, in unison, help establish the prioritization and messaging, those types of things that do create that brand consistency, but to your point, there’s always going to be variation. I don’t want sellers to be robots out in the field. I want them to be understanding the personas and the needs in the room, and tailing our message appropriately and consistently based on what they’re seeing and their hearing. To the extent that you create script readers, you’re creating a problem because you’re not creating a sales force that’s capable of asking really great questions, being curious, and getting information out on the table that allows you to sell better.

Brian:  That’s right.

Jeffrey:  And that’s not a part of a marketing script, that’s part of a sales enablement process, so we’re fortunate at Yext. We’ve got really good collaboration there and again, it’s evolutionary. Every day, every week, every month, every year to try and get better at that.

Brian:  The way you described your category digital knowledge management? Or is that … ?

Jeffrey:  Correct.

Brian:  Describe the category that Yext fits in.

Jeffrey:  So the easiest way to break it down is we are a source of truth platform that companies can use to manage public structured facts about their locations, their professionals, such as doctors, insurance agents, real estate agents, their menus, if they’re in the food service industry, their services if they’re in the service industry, and now, also, our first-party reviews, we have capabilities on, and we also have a product in beta called Yext for Events. We specialize in structured public facts. That’s critical because what we’re trying to do is put the paradigm from a world in which everything, you just wait for everything to get indexed by a search engine spider or sucked in from some sort of aggregate data source.

Instead, put the company in charge of publishing that out, injecting that directly into the Google ecosystem, the Apple ecosystem, the Microsoft ecosystem, all of these different ecosystems that then use that information across the apps mass directories and voice assistance that consumers are using today. What it does is effectively future proofs the business because you’re managing all of this factual data that consumers want. They want it in real time and they want it increasingly in granular ways. They want to know who’s the restaurant that has four or more stars that is gluten-free within 2 miles of my hotel here in Chicago.

We believe, fundamentally, the company should be in charge of that information in order to ensure that the consumer gets perfect information everywhere.

Brian:  Interesting. For a platform like that, I would imagine it has to be a significant data model strategy, data management strategy in place because there can be so many attributes you could use to describe your business in a structured manner and have that published through so many channels. How are companies able to, I guess, think about that, develop that? Is that a significant effort, is that an obstacle for you when you’re working for your customers? Generally, what’s the approach and how you see your customers moving forward and taking on Yext, for example, as a platform, to help them and then push that out? What does that effort require and how do they, specifically, manage the data to take full advantage of what the platform can offer?

Jeffrey:  Sure. There are two sides to that equation. One is: How does our customer coming on board manage their digital knowledge? Let me set that aside and I’ll answer that second. The first one is how do we get that data and manage it with the services themselves? And that’s where we do the heavy lifting. We’re trying to create this update-once-published-everywhere kind of model and so, in doing that, we have negotiated and have direct integrations with all of these ecosystems that I was mentioning. Their ecosystem digests structured data in a very specific way, so we’re not building the schema on our side. We’re following schema.org we’re following their ingestion rules and regs, if you will, to ensure that our consumers information, those facts, those granular pieces of information that consumers need align and are appropriately displayed to them, and as those services expand the type of facts that they want to digest.

So for instance, last year, last August, Google added a new LGBTQ-friendly attribute that you can essentially flag your business as being friendly to the LGBTQ community. That’s not an attribute anybody has sitting in a database anywhere, but it’s something that can be supported in our system and now, within Yext, you can turn that on or off.

Brian:  Interesting.

Jeffrey:  They’re expanding the things that people are looking for, so we manage that side of it and it is built and structured to what, ultimately, those services need. The business itself needs to be getting its house in order because they’ve never had to manage this data at scale in a singular fashion. In fact, we will have new customers when we’re onboarding them come to us with 10 different sources of data that conflicts with each other. We had a major retail company come on board one time and give us their quote-on-quote source of truth data file and 20 to 30 percent of the locations were either closed or had relocated. This is solving for a problem they know they have, they just didn’t have a solution, so the fun place to be in.

I guess the last piece of it is we can create structured fields that are parallel, those that exist out in the services, but they are, perhaps, just for internal purposes. There are some grocers we work with, for instance, internationally, who have additional fields like halal, kosher, etc., things that they can’t push out in the system on the services that they want to right now, but they’re using it for internal purposes.

Because once you have all of those source of truth data, you can integrate with internal systems, you can integrate it with other SAAS platforms, and you think about where all of that location, menu, other information, becomes relevant, and you begin to see it as both an external resource as well as an internal resource.

Brian:  That’s interesting. That’s definitely heavy lifting, a lot of work there. Everybody, I am speaking Jeffrey Rohrs, Chief Marketing Officer with Yext, and we’re on Sales Pipeline Radio. We’re going to take a break here for just a few seconds and be right back and close out this conversation. Thank you.

*Break*

Brian:  Hi, everybody! Brian Hansford here! Vice President of Marketing Performance at Heinz Marketing. I’m filling in for Matt Heinz today who normally hosts the Sales Pipeline Radio and I am right in the middle of a really interesting conversation with Jeffrey Rohrs who’s Chief Marketing Officer with Yext, and Jeffrey. You were talking about the Yext platform and the data management approach and what’s involved there and I’m interested to hear what you’re seeing with your clients, getting into the good stuff here. What are some of the results that you’re seeing? Or what are your clients seeing taking this approach?

Jeffrey:  One of the first things you see is that uptick in foot traffic to locations because you’re essentially eliminating the information that’s incorrect in the ecosystem and eliminating the friction for people to find correct information and we all know that our smartphones have become an extension of our brains and our personal navigation system, so that’s a huge win.

What’s interesting though is our analytics give you a deeper level of understanding of how you’re really impacting the business because they’re showing your analytics that you’ve never been able to get access to before, and that’s because when we negotiate the data partnerships, we’re actually negotiating a feedback loop to understand things like how many call requests are coming from your listings or local pages. If you happen to click the request Uber button on a page, we can tell you how many requests for Uber are coming through your listings or pages.

It’s this data layer that’s been hidden from you, but gives you amazing information that allows a marketer to better support the fact that “Hey! The investment, not just in Yext, is important,” but you begin to see how does your other media impact that because you’re paying, you know, if you’re a large enterprise customer with brick-and-mortar, you’re probably paying an awful lot for media, and you want that media to be driving impact, and that’s ultimately what we showcase, and it’s important to recognize that the website remains critically important, but it’s shrinking in terms of what percentage of the brand touches it actually gives your prospects or your customers.

People are more often, and in our own research shows about 70% of the time or greater, your brand interactions are happening off your site on these third-party services and that stands to reason because when I look for something for lunch, I’m not going to the company’s website, I’m going to whatever’s on Google or Apple Maps, etc., and I’m interacting within that ecosystem, so it is really cool because, again, it gives you this insight you haven’t been able to have before about these other types of interactions that are actually driving customers into the doors.

Brian:  I like how you are anchored just to the website. With the massive universe of different apps out there that any businesses can be indexed with, it sounds like there’s a lot of flexibility that your structured content can be published or proliferate into those apps, so essentially you’re taking advantage of the ever-changing universe of apps that are out there and not just being anchored to a website or to your laptop, you have that flexibility and that diversity of making information available to your customers wherever they may be and whatever apps or devices they’re using, but then, on the flip side, as the marketer of the business, you actually get the data that will help you to respond to, or adjust accordingly. Measure what’s working or identify some opportunities.

Jeffrey:  Absolutely. I mean, case in point, do you know what the fastest adopted technology of the last 25 years is from the consumers technology?

Brian:  No and I’m sure I’m going to be shocked here. It’s probably going to be something I just wouldn’t even guess.

Jeffrey:  It’s voice assistance speakers, so Amazon Echo, Google Home, these things have proliferated like rabbits. Completely changes the game when a consumer is asking for things in a voice query as opposed to a text query because it becomes much more natural language, it becomes much more serendipitous, and it’s also different on device. I speak differently to Siri on my phone than I would say Google Home on a Google Mini in my living room. And so when you think about managing for those things, once you’ve got these public facts, the structured information about your business, the digital knowledge right, you’re publishing out to all of those sources, so you’re really optimizing for these new environments where consumers are seeking to interact with your brand.

Brian:  I just had a vision in my mind where we have these different voice assisted devices, does that mean that some of them have different dialects, different ways. The natural language way of speaking to them that some of them can pick up certain queries easier than others or you have to talk to them a different way. I don’t know. It seems so strange to be able to talk to a device like that, right?

Jeffrey:  There’s actually been some really good comparative research done about which services are better for which types of things. As you might imagine, Alexa, Amazon Alexa, is amazing for e-commerce kind of questions and things of that nature. It also has, probably, the largest skill set, required skill set built up. Whereas, Google has deep information because it’s built upon the world’s largest, argumentatively, best search engine, and Apple, Siri, is incredibly good at music, but as each of these assistance evolve, they will evolve more toward the common understanding of the world, but there will be differences in personality and knowledge set, if you’d like.

Then, of course, you have the whole issue of language itself that in China, one of the copycat speakers, and it’s not a joke, it’s called the Ling Lang Ding Dong, and you have to ask it questions in Mandarin and you say, “Ling Lang Ding Dong!” And then ask the question in Mandarin. It’s gonna be very interesting to see how these proliferate because I think it’s going to take, the estimates are something like, 50% of searches by 2020. Already, it’s well over 20% of the searches across mobile devices for Google, so it’ll be interesting to watch this trend and see where voice search settles in and is of most critical importance for business.

Brian:  Wow. The data management issue, just that challenge and managing that natural language data, what’s coming in and finding the patterns, that’s mind boggling. That’s just a fascinating, huge, enormous problem it sounds like.

Jeffrey:  And that’s why we like to flip it around because the easiest way to think of it is if a consumer is asking a question that is relevant to your business, and it’s an objective fact, don’t you wanna be the source of truth for that fact? That’s the paradigm flip we’re trying to make. Again, in using the platform, texting your listings, doing local pages, all these things, it builds towards a world in which you become that source of truth, but it also creates a new responsibility, and that is to actively manage this data every single day because these services will only get closer and closer and closer to real-time such that the consumer goes to your door, and you’re closed because the manager went home sick, and it’s not reflected on the digital channel they just used to get there. That’s a problem in their mind that impacts your brand.

Brian:  Absolutely. There’s no way you can do a set and forget with this type of data challenge.

Jeffrey:  Exactly.

Brian:  There’s just no way. It would have to be very active, very dynamic data management to be able to make that work. Fascinating.

Jeffrey, I want to switch gears here just a little bit with the last couple minutes. I see that you wrote a paper with Jay Baer.

Jeffrey:  Yes.

Brian:  And our audience are big fans of Jay’s. Tell us a little bit about that and where can we find that?

Jeffrey:  Sure. It’s called The Everywhere Brand and if you just Google the Everywhere Brand and Jay and Jeff, you will get a link to be able to download it. It was this idea that we were looking at what was happening with that brand interaction on the website and off and seeing it shift dramatically to more brand interactions happening off your website than happen on, and what does that mean to the idea of brand? And it’s the idea that you have to have this ubiquitous brand that has consistency across all the digital touch points, but then you also have to build innovation and these 5 other tenets into the way that you approach branding today.

Our aspiration is to help our customers become an everywhere brand. One where they are confident they are having correct information everywhere, but also that they are positioned to have the kind of responsive interactions with customers. Planning where they need them.

Brian:  Now where can we get this paper? Now is that also available on the Yext website?

Jeffrey:  Yes. Go to Yext.com. Yeah. If you go to Yext.com and you look at our resources section, we’ve got it there. You can also just Google, put it in quotes, “The Everywhere Brand,” and in fact, also on YouTube. There is a video of Jay and I presenting that on our Onwards User Conference last fall, so you can just Google The Everywhere Brand on YouTube and you should be able to watch that as well.

Brian:  That’s fantastic. I’m glad I found that. I like looking background for people that I’m talking and having a conversation whilst on Pipeline Radio and I’ve really enjoyed talking with you, Jeff. What you guys are doing and the vision you have in that Everywhere Brand, I can see just the implications of what this means not only for consumer brands, but for businesses and B2B marketing as well. The opportunities and also the challenges that are out there, so we’re just at the very early days of what’s going on around marketing technologies and I’m very excited and interested just to watch and see what you guys do at Yext.

I really appreciate your time today, Jeff. Look forward to seeing some great things from you guys. If anybody in the audience has any interest in learning more about Everywhere Brand engagement and the technology platforms that can assist with that, highly encourage you to check out Yext.com and also reach out to Jeff. Fantastic ideas and a lot of information there and how there’s a way to actually engage with your audience, so Jeff. Thanks so much for your time.

Jeffrey:  Thank you for the conversation.

Paul:  You’ve been listening to Sales Pipeline Radio. For the good folks at Heinz Marketing. Right here in the Funnel Radio Channel.