By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing
Late in 2015 we started producing a weekly radio program called Sales Pipeline Radio, which is 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.
We’ve featured an impressive list of guests and will continue to do so with awesome content going forward. We cover a wide range of topics, with a focus on sales development and inside sales priorities heading into and throughout the year. You can listen to full recordings of past shows at SalesPipelineRadio.com and subscribe on iTunes.
I want to give a huge shout out to today’s sponsor, MailTag.io.
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You’ll enjoy Laura Vogel, in an episode called “The B2B Event Marketing Gap That Will Make Or Break Your Success“. Laura says:
“….a lot of event managers these days … are great at being able to produce an event. But that’s just step one. And what they really have to do is get butts in seats. … how do we get the people there? How do we make sure we’ve got 2000, 3000, 5000 people in the room because what’s really happening is you think about the spring or you think about the fall, especially if these are marketing events, there has never been more competition than there is today.
“…So the number one thing I tell people is they have to really start with their marketing campaign when they start thinking about their content. I think what people tend to do is they start thinking about the marketing far too late in the game, and they really have to take it way back. And it really starts to happen when they’re thinking about their content which tends to come first. They start thinking about their content a year in advance and they say, “okay, what’s going to be our theme?” “How are we going to create our agenda?” And “How are we going to do those things?” When you do that, that’s when you’re thinking about your marketing. Because those two things go hand in hand.
Listen in to also hear about the importance of the website and networking and more!
Matt: Welcome to Sales Pipeline everybody. My name is Matt Heinz. If I don’t sound like I usually do, it’s because I am not in the home studio back in Redmond, Washington.
I am at the Denver airport today at the Admiral’s Club. We had a breakfast with 24 CMOs and chief marketing leaders in downtown Denver this morning. I’m having a lot of fun with that. I’ve been doing some of those around the country, getting some CMOs together to talk about Sales Pipeline, talk about how to create more predictable Sales Pipeline production. But before I head off to Seattle, excited to join everyone today. If you’re listening to us live on the sales funnel media radio network, thank you very much for joining us. We are here live every Tuesday at 11:30 pacific, 2:30 eastern. If you’re joining via the podcast thank you so much for subscribing. Very exciting to — very humbling quite frankly to see the numbers that we have on the podcast grow week to week in the downloads and subscribers, and every episode of Sales Pipeline radio past, present, and future is always available at Salespipelineradio.com. We regularly are featuring, yes, Paul?
Paul: I don’t want you to tout the numbers too much because I told your next guest that it’s just the three of us chatting here.
Matt: That’s right. This is a recorded call for our own personal purposes. It’s all good. I am very excited to have our guest today. I’ve wanted to get her on the podcast for a long time. She is a crazy busy person. She has had a lot going on all year. I’m just really excited we were able to — well, I was excited she was able to fit us in. Let’s put it that way. As you know, for those of you who’ve been listening to the podcast for a while, we feature some of the best and brightest people in B2B sales and marketing. And today is absolutely no different. Very, very excited to have event marketing leader and the “crusader against boring events,” Laura Vogel join us on the program today. Laura, thanks so much for joining us.
Laura: Thank you for having me, guys. I’m really excited to be here. This is awesome.
Matt: So, if you’re in B2B and you’ve been either at the old Eloqua Experience conferences or if you’ve been at the recent Serious Decision conferences, you have experienced the level of exceptionalism that is a Laura Vogel event, down to little details and all the things that make it worthwhile for the host, for the attendees, for the sponsors and if you’ve ever done any kind of event production or event management you know how hard that is and how big of a job it is and she makes it look easy so, very excited to have you on the call today and on the program today, Laura. I know the thing we were talking about, I mean events, we could fill a whole year of programs and talk about events management. I think the thing you seem passionate about and that I am as well the idea that you don’t necessarily create an event and then just assume everyone’s going to show up. Right? I mean like this morning for our CMO breakfast we had great hotel downtown Denver, got a great catered meal, we had bacon, eggs, the whole deal, but you just assume that people are going to come by sending them one email or sending one tweet you’re probably fooling yourself. So I want to spend some time today talking about the difference between producing events and marketing events. So tell us a little bit about how you think about that difference today.
Laura: Yeah, absolutely. And you’re so right because that’s the biggest challenge, I think, with a lot of event managers these days is that what they’re tasked with is they’re great at being able to produce an event. But that’s just step one. And what they really have to do is get butts in seats. Anybody can, not anybody, but a great event manager is just expected to be able to produce the great event. And what they now have to do is produce the great event, and thank you for your accolades, I so appreciate them, I want to make sure I say that, it’s so kind. But that’s almost the given these days. The given that you’re going to be able to do the seamless execution and have the amazing production and get Magic Johnson on the stage. You’re going to do that and it’s going to look flawless and there’s going to be no mistakes, really cool, awesome, good job. Okay, cool, you can do that. Now it’s — you can do that, but how do we get the people there? How do we make sure we’ve got 2000, 3000, 5000 people in the room because what’s really happening is you think about the spring or you think about the fall, especially if these are marketing events, there has never been more competition than there is today.
Laura: With the marketing and sales events. There are just mountains of them, and we could name ten of them easy, and I don’t want to leave anyone out so I’m not going to do that. But you can list them off in your head, rattle them off. And so what everybody’s trying to do is they’re competing for a lot of the same people. And so the question is for the event manager, how do I get out there and get the folks. And so that’s the really tricky part. Not only am I now expected to create this beautiful event, create the seamless event, but I also have to be the marketer as well and work with the marketing team. I don’t want to leave the marketing team out. They provide — they are a powerful resource. They are expected to absolutely work in concert with the event team. But that’s one of the big asks now is making sure that that gap isn’t a gap.
Matt: So, I mean a good event can itself be a marketing channel. I mean, if you have an event that develops a good reputation where people come back and they say “I have to go to that again because it was a great experience, there was great content, there was great networking,” I mean that alone and the word of mouth of good events can certainly help. But that assumes you’ve been doing it a while and you’ve taken the time to build that reputation. What are some of your best practices if people are listening to this, say listen we’re going to be doing our own events next year, we’re going to do a road show, we’re going to do some of our own stuff, what are some of the best practices that you find most successfully work when companies do try to market their own events to get butts in seat.
Laura: Yeah, absolutely. So the number one thing I tell people is they have to really start with their marketing campaign when they start thinking about their content. I think what people tend to do is they start thinking about the marketing far too late in the game, and they really have to take it way back. And it really starts to happen when they’re thinking about their content which tends to come first. They start thinking about their content a year in advance and they say, “okay, what’s going to be our theme? How are we going to create our agenda? And how are we going to do those things?” When you do that, that’s when you’re thinking about your marketing. Because those two things go hand in hand.
You want your marketing to be in concert with those agenda announcements and how are you going to do those things. And how are you going to really create a cadence of, okay, I want to make sure I can create these price points, right? So I want to do an early bird special. Well, I need to make sure that I’ve announced my keynote prior to that early bird ending so I’m giving people a reason to buy that ticket before the end. And I’ve announced at least somewhat of my content before then so that they have a reason to say, well there’s no agenda up, I’m not giving them any motivation to buy that ticket at that price point. I haven’t given them anything to do. So you sort of looking at it and saying well, I should have had a hockey stick at this point. Why am I not seeing that jump. You really need to back it up and think, okay, I’m doing my marketing, I’m doing my price points, I’m doing my content, and all of those things have to work together. I think that’s really important for people. I think that’s the number one thing and I think that is one thing that gets missed a lot.
Laura: I think another thing is the website. And I know that probably seems really basic and of course I’m going to do a website, Laura. Why would everybody hire you as a consultant or anything. But I think what people tend to forget is the website is a living, breathing item that you have to update and work on every single day. It is your most powerful tool. And I think oftentimes people say, “okay, we’re going to update it four times throughout the course.” I just had a client that was their first conference and they really weren’t thinking about the fact that they needed to be having a website cadence. While we were updating this we had V-1, V-2, V-3, V-4, V-5, V-6. We had so many different website versions because it’s the way to drive topic to know what’s going on. All these different exciting things that you’re doing, and it’s how you get people excited.
So I think that’s really important and oftentimes it gets underutilized and people don’t really anticipate the workload that’s going to go in and they don’t provide good resources from the web team or the events team or the marketing team and it’s really important to allocate for that so you get down the road and you think, oh my gosh, I don’t have the resources to create this amazing landing page, and I’ve got Magic Johnson or the Bare Naked Ladies or whomever it is and you want to be able to create that awesome image or that awesome page and you want to be sure that you have the resources for it, and those are two really important things to be doing.
Matt: Yeah, love it. We’re talking today on Sales Pipeline radio with Laura Vogel. She is one of, if not the best, B2B event marketing managers in the game. She was the director of global events for the Oracle Marketing Cloud and senior director of global events for SiriusDecisions. If you’ve been to a B2B event in the last few years, you’ve probably experienced a lot of her great work. We’re talking about the ways you can leverage the agenda to get people to your event. I want to get your perspective about sort of what I think about is the sizzle in the steak. I see a lot of conferences make a really big deal about their headliners. You know, we’ve got Jamie Foxx coming, and you mentioned Bare Naked Ladies or DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince doing a show. That’s all really actually exciting. What a lot of companies do when they try to justify spending thousands of dollars to send their Demand Gen people or to send someone to a conference, it’s not just because I want you to go to a party. It’s like, “what are you going to learn, what are you going to bring back?” So the sizzle may be the exciting keynote or the concert. The steak is what’s on the agenda? What’s the best way, Laura, to balance those two things together to really maximize getting people to convert and say “yes.”
Laura: Absolutely. And you’re right, and I would like to point out that if I ever have the opportunity to hire DJ Jazzy Jeff, I will absolutely do it. Thank you for the reason. I’m writing it down as you speak. Not their friends because, obviously Will Smith, overplayed, but DJ Jazzy Jeff. So you’re right. That’s something that we struggle with as event managers, and as I mentioned it is such a crowded marketplace you go, “do I need this? Do I need Neo or Bare Naked Ladies” or any of those things and it’s so competitive. I really do think that at the end of the day both the content and really the networking that gets people there.
And so what we try to focus on or I try to focus on I tell my clients is think of ways to push that agenda forward. So when you look at a justification letter on the website and things that we tell our account managers as they’re calling their clients or we put this in videos, we focus on saying, “these are the things that you’re going to go home with. Here’s the three action items that you’re going to be able to do when you get back to your desk on Monday morning.” And that focusing on the take-aways from the breakout sessions and the keynotes and it doesn’t focus on DJ Jazzy Jeff and it doesn’t focus on Magic Johnson. It really focuses on what you’re going to learn from the actual sessions that are being taught as a customer key studies or say Serious Decisions it’s an analyst session, but that really focuses on, like you said, the steak and not the sizzle.
So you see that in, like I said, the justification letters. I focus like you mentioned on the website. I really tell my clients to make sure they have a website and that agenda page where you can filter a lot of these great event management tools these days, certain, cvent, all of those, they’ve got great tools that allow you to filter by breakouts and by type. And that really allows you to see, okay, is it by role, is it by persona, is it by type, is it by track and all those things and drive your marketing to those so that you can do role based marketing so you can say, “this is why your role has to be at this event, because if you don’t all of your peers are going to learn these things, and you’re going to be left behind.” And that’s based on what you need to know on Monday, not because of what DJ Jazzy Jeff is going to do at the party. And so you can — it’s a mistake to not have the sizzle, but you want to really focus a lot of it on the take-home on the steak.
Matt: Yeah, it’s a balancing act for sure. I will tell you, I don’t know if I’ll make you jealous of this, Dream Force here a couple of weeks ago, they’re one of the vendors that had a party and the headliners at the party were Dougy Fresh and Slick Rick. And it was pretty good.
Laura: Yeah, I get a question a lot from people that want to say, how do I get people to my trade shows. And it’s challenging now because there is so much competition and there’s so many shiny objects. And it’s trying to find that balance between getting people to your party and getting the folks in the room. So it’s tough to find that balance. But I think there’s a way to do it. I think you can. But you have to have that content there or at the end of the day it’s not a conference worth attending, right?
Matt: I agree with that. We’ve got to take a quick break and pay some bills. We’re going to be back with more with Laura Vogel on Sales Pipeline radio talking about events, talking about the chicken and the egg. Do you market a great event or does a great event get marketed and sort of build some momentum. We are going to talk about ways to do that. We’ll be right back. Sales Pipeline radio.
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Matt: Kept it simple, kept it simple, Paul. Heinz like the ketchup, not like the cake box. Yeah, very excited to have MailTag with us, MailTag.io. They are our newest sponsor at Sales Pipeline radio and literally this week, I spent — Tuesday we did our CMO breakfast in Salt Lake City. We did it this morning in Denver. Last time we did a dinner with some VPs of sales with teams from outreach and even amongst that group, I hear MailTag talked about more and more often from people that are looking for something simple but effective to manage their outbound emails. Thank you again MailTag but I have a lot more today with Laura Vogel, very excited to have her on the Sales Pipeline radio.
Laura, before the break we were talking about the sizzle of steak and how to balance sort of the meaty part of the agenda with sort of the headliners that can really kind of be juicy and attractive. I want to talk about some other elements of good shows. Like what are the things you’ve noticed that have the highest correlation with success and satisfaction rates at the end of a show that might grease the wheels for people to more likely come to the next show or tell their friends they could go there. What are some of the elements of shows and of the show experience that you’ve noticed are most important?
Laura: Yeah, absolutely. So I think number one obviously, as we mentioned sort of right before the break, you have to have the good concept. So you mentioned there was an Eloqua, Oracle and Serious Decisions and every time we put on a conference at any of those functions it was always driven by good solid content, whether it was by an analyst, by a customer, even by a sponsor. The focus had to be on that content was solid because at the end of the day there’s going to be a lot of other things, but people are going to always come for a good cause. So I think the method in the way the content is being delivered is changing and that is what people are looking for. They don’t want what we call sort of stand and shout, right someone is sort of standing on the stage and just kind of preaching at you. That’s kind of changing a little bit. I’ve seen some good conferences doing more innovative round table discussions and un-sessions where people just come into a room and they discuss and say, “okay we’re going to vote on content and we’re going to discuss it.” People want interactive sessions. People want more opportunity to network within the room.
So even things that felt old, sort of like birds of a feather which feels like an old kind of way, people really want to be able to talk about the problems they’re having within their role with other people in their role and then they work with someone who is a subject matter expert whether it be an analyst or a customer or someone from the products. They want to be able to talk about that with them. So I think content, yes, is king but then how you are able to manage that content delivery. I was actually looking at an agenda the other day with Forrester and I saw on their website they’re actually doing the three different types of sessions within their breakouts. And so you can actually go and it will sort of rotate, and one is a regular sort of breakout, the second one is a round table that’s moderated by an analyst, and the third is more of like an un-sessioned sort of creative networking workshop. And I thought that was really innovative. Especially for a standard analyst firm, and I like that they were taking a different approach. Full disclosure, I used to work for Forrester back in the day so, that’s different than when I worked there. And I like that, I like that sort of traditional firm was taking a sort of modern approach to it.
Matt: I agree.
Laura: Yeah, and networking would be my other one. Networking, networking, networking. People want to connect with other people. Mobile apps are changing for events and people want to be able to find other folks and they want to be able to connect with them and they want to be able to talk to them and say “here is a challenge I’m having, are you having this challenge too, how did you solve it?” So finding ways to be able to do that at your conference should be one of your number one things that you’re working on, either with your technology provider or within your event management team. I have done it within mobile apps where you can create, like you said really birds of a feather, breakfast, lunches, conversations, I think that’s such a huge part of it.
Matt: You know, one of the things we really haven’t talked about at all, we talked a lot about the marketing of the events, what you prioritize, interested, how you get people in the room. I think when you think about the objectives of your event which include the audience you’re going after, that might imply and give you direction on what type of events to do. So talk a little bit about the thought process companies should go through when they’re trying to target practitioners versus executives, you know when you’re thinking about doing a lunch and learn versus a networking breakfast versus something that is more product oriented. There is a time and place for everything, but how should people think about objectives, audience, and then execution.
Laura: So I think if I’m thinking about it correctly, in terms of how your audience receives their invitations if I’m understanding it correctly. So we think about this a lot because depending on how your audience is, does the C-3 even open their email anymore? I can’t think of anyone that does. And so it’s sort of challenging to think about, okay, how do I get those. Practitioners, they want to talk about product. And so you go product first. And you think about how to I get to them, and how do I focus on them, and for what you just did with a lunch and learn, they’re going to go product first and they are going to open their emails and they’re going to think about, okay here’s what I’m going to talk about. And I can approach them that way. Or I can approach them from an account manager perspective and they’re going to answer the phone. They’re going to pick up the phone if someone calls them. That’s not necessarily the case with everybody.
So we’ve done some creative things. We’ve done creative things where we do auto dialers for people who we do think will listen to their voicemails. Again, depending on who they are and who the audience is. I’m actually, and I know this might sound crazy and you can tell me that I am, that’s okay, I’m actually a fan of direct mail for things like the C-3s. I just do not think they answer their emails or answer their emails from unsolicited. And I do not think they listen to voicemail. So I think if you’re trying to get these leaked to high level executive events like a breakfast or a luncheon, I think you can do a direct mail piece that’s really high end and really exclusive, and I think it works. It just has to be very targeted.
Matt: I completely agree with you. I think that too often as marketers we try to get lowest possible costs and we think about what it costs versus what it’s worth. So I mean if you’re talking about getting sort of those C-suites to an event trying to breakthrough the noise and get something, it does not just break through the noise and communicate through them but create something of value. I use this example a lot, if you go and ask Salesforce.com sales execs, people that are selling to the Fortune 100 CIOs, you ask them what their best marketing channel is and the answer I hear most often is dinners. It’s getting something of value for people. Like last night we were sitting here in Denver, we had a bunch of VPs of sales and CROs in the room, you know a good Manhattan and a good steak at a decent restaurant, you’re not getting too pitchy. You’re promoting the networking opportunity, you’re building some value for the organization. There will be a time and a place to sell, but before you have the opportunity to pitch, you have to get someone’s attention and so I think that that time and place becomes really important.
Matt: We’ve got just a couple more minutes here with Laura Vogel. Very excited to have her and sharing some of the information she has here. We will have a replay of this entire episode on Salespipelineradio.com here in a couple of days. Laura, before we go, I just want to ask you the last question we ask most guests around the people who have been the most influential for you in your career. These could be managers, they could be professors, they could be people that have been long dead. But who are a couple of people that you’ve learned from over the years that you’d recommend other people check out as well.
Laura: Sure. So first and foremost I always have to say, I am one of the few people that have actually only had a position with events in their title. A lot of people come to events from various different places, and I’m really fortunate that I randomly, not randomly, nothing I do is that random, I’m sure you would agree, I started doing events in college and I got an internship at a small events agency in Boston called The Castle Group. And the woman who runs it, it’s a woman owned organization, and they have been running this company for 22 years and the woman who owns is a woman named Wendy Spivak and I worked there as an intern my senior year of college and then they gave me a job and I was there for six years. And she taught me so much that I know about making every experience special and everything has to be seamless and all the things that people compliment me on about how everything should that sort of Laura Vogel touch, all those kind of like very special moments, a lot of that comes from that experience and I really owe that to them. I’m always very proud to say that I started at a woman-owned business and it is still thriving today so I am really proud of that.
And also this is not a name that will be a surprise to you, but my first manager at SiriusDecisions was a gentleman named Brad Gillespie and he was the CMO there and now he actually is the VP of marketing for Enterprise Events and I came to them as their director of events and still had a lot to learn I think about marketing in that space and he really taught me a lot there and it was really great to learn from him and just the manager as well. So I consider those two very pivotal people in my life and my space certainly. So lots to learn from them still and I still every day.
Matt: Thank you for that. And, Laura, thank you so much for taking time. I know you’ve been crazy busy lately and have some new stuff coming up that we can talk about later. But very excited to have you here. Thank you so much for joining us on Sales Pipeline radio. For those of you listening, if you want to make sure other people in your marketing team or event team get some of Laura’s best practices, you’ll be able to listen to this episode on demand on Sales Pipeline radio in a couple of days and in about a week we’ll have highlights from this episode up on Heinzmarketing.com. We’ve got some great guests coming up over the next couple of weeks. We’ve got Jeb Blount, author of the book Objections. We’ve got the king of selling Jeffrey Gitomer himself will be joining us on Sales Pipeline radio in a couple of weeks. We’re out of time for today. I’ve got to go catch a flight, Paul. On behalf of my great producer, Paul, this is Matt Heinz. Thanks again for listening to us on Sales Pipeline radio.