Yesler is a BtoB marketing agency that offers data-driven, buyer-centric marketing solutions for every stage in the customer life-cycle. B2B marketing has changed. Yesler specialize in BtoB Marketing with expertise in Research & Strategy, Content Marketing, Marketing Automation, Sales Enablement, Customer Engagement, and Marketing Analytics.
GDPR was ongoing news in the past year. As marketers, everywhere you turned you heard stories about how companies revamped data-handling processes to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements. Marketers have lots of concerns, like whether GDPR will kill their ability to send nurture emails, drive leads from their websites, and do effective account-based marketing (ABM).
In short, no, it won’t prevent us from doing any of these things. The regulation doesn’t mean you can’t contact your customers, but this atmosphere of increased privacy protection has marketers turning to new channels and tactics to stay compliant with strict data regulations when running campaigns. This applies doubly to ABM campaigns.
Get clear about the requirements to find wiggle room
Let’s look at the ABCs of how these two buzz-worthy terms relate. ABM is big news for a reason: It focuses marketing on specific prospects. And GDPR severely restricts our ability to target specific individuals with outbound marketing—especially by email in the European Union. GDPR also limits our ability to track website visitors, which affects our ability to effectively retarget.
One major new requirement introduced by GDPR is for organizations to have strict control over opt-in data. So if your company isn’t well prepared to directly verify consent for everyone on your email list (among other things), what do you do? The answer might surprise you: We are working with more and more clients to send direct mail, i.e., good old-fashioned snail mail—and we are not alone.
While we always recommend you talk to your lawyers first, many marketers feel that direct mail doesn’t rely on private data because it uses publicly available business mailing addresses. It’s a vague point in how GDPR defines legitimate interest that gives marketers some flexibility: One can argue that business addresses, main switchboard phone numbers, etc., associated with a company are not personally identifiable information (PII), because they are already publicly available and apply to companies, not individuals. Thus, they don’t receive the same scrutiny under the GDPR as email addresses and activity histories. Here's a good blog post about the viability of direct mail in a post-GDPR European Union.
Build an end-to-end ABM process based on direct mail
We used direct mail for a successful multi-region ABM campaign for a client whose prospect list had less than a 5% opt-in rate. Even though many of the campaign’s prospects were located in the United States, the client didn’t want to risk sending email to them without proof of their explicit permission to receive marketing email. Data vendors were no help—their records didn’t include direct opt-in verification.
The client also wanted to build a scalable solution from the start, so it took over all automated processes for marketing operations from its vendors to handle sending initial and subsequent mailings, record assignments, and sales follow-ups.
Here are the important elements for creating a solution like the one we built with our client:
Strategic data acquisition. We started by requesting a list of target recipients from the client’s data vendor. It’s good form to get all the data you can from this type of partner, so request everything relevant they have. A good example is intent data—information about prospects whose actions indicate they’re in the market for a product like yours. Getting this extra data will cost more initially but it will ultimately help you attract higher-quality leads.
Smart, compliant data management. In this example, as soon as a prospect from the intent list filled out a form on our client’s website to opt in to their email list—and not a moment before—we appended their record to the client’s database, which included the rest of the data associated with that person. We also gave each of the prospects who opted in a unique code in the client’s database to track their opt-in status and indicate they were part of the ABM campaign.
Mailers that entice target prospects to visit your site. Thanks to the gray area around direct mail, the client was comfortable sending target leads a direct mailer. This mailer included a compelling offer to help drive targets to a campaign landing page, where they must enter their unique code before they can fill out the contact form. This code is a second layer of validation and helps ensure that the landing page isn’t discoverable or indexed by search engines.
In this case, we created a two-part campaign for our client, sending a paper mailer that promised a relatively low-value item to prospects who scheduled a meeting with a sales rep. Prospects who attended the meeting were given a higher-value gift afterward. These prospects were all highly qualified, which justified the cost of the gifts.
Companies that have direct opt-in data for their target recipients use tools like PFL or Sendoso to automate sending the paper mailers. We used some best practices for this stage, like including certain wording required by GDPR in our offer copy. And, because our client started out with opt-in data on only 5% of prospects and and didn't have records for other potential prospects in the database, we sent a worksheet with the public mailing addresses for the potential prospects to the postal-mail fulfillment company for every batch of direct mailers. Keeping these addresses out of the database reduced the risk that someone in the organization would send email to prospects who hadn’t opted into email.
Sales team and marketing automation readiness. We prepared for targets to submit their information through the landing-page form by assigning a sales rep in the client’s marketing automation program. When triggered by a form submission, the system sent an “I look forward to meeting you” reply email signed by the salesperson, confirming the requested appointment.
Marketing automation programs can be helpful here. For our client, we integrated calendar functionality into the landing page, where prospects selected an open time on the assigned salesperson’s calendar. When this isn’t an option, some companies send email on behalf of their rep asking for a good time to meet using reply management solutions like Siftrock, to track replies to these “on behalf of” emails.
After the meeting, when you move the status of the prospect’s record in the campaign to “meeting completed,” you can set up a trigger to automate the sending of the other half of the gift (if applicable). For smart data management, we made sure the requested meeting was associated with campaigns in the client’s CRM and marketing automation platforms, to track pipeline and revenue ROI to the campaign.
Signed, sealed, and delivered
With just one piece of direct mail, our client saw a 20% increase in conversion-to-meeting ratio, with 50% of those prospects contributing to forecasted pipeline.
How do those results grab you? (I would take an outcome like that in a heartbeat.)
Your results may vary, of course. Our campaign did so well in part because our client is a highly recognized brand in a hot tech domain. But we’ve seen other client campaigns hit conversion-to-meeting rates as high at 15%, with 75% of those going to opportunity over a three- to six-month period.
Back-of-the-napkin math for a direct-mail ABM campaign
If direct mail isn’t in your quiver of marketing tactics, it should be. Although it hasn’t been getting a lot of attention, it can do some things much better than other channels can. Don’t limit yourself to thinking of it only for converting leads into new customers—you’ll run into opt-in data issues for existing customers, too, in a post-GDPR world. Look to direct mail to drive retention, cross-sell, and upsell.
Want to talk through how you can set up an effective ABM campaign using direct mail? Just get in touch.
Maybe you’ve considered having your development team build a custom martech tool. And why not? It could be a great opportunity to leave your mark on the company, add efficiencies and customizations, and expand your development team’s portfolio. Projects like this can pay off in a big way, but there are many things to think through first. Otherwise, a lot of money and time could be wasted—and careers damaged—as many technical or operations directors in mid-sized companies have learned.
As a marketing technologist who has worked with tech and mid-sized companies for years, I’ve worked with dev teams on a broad range of initiatives and projects. I’ve seen in-house martech projects succeed but have also watched some spiral into disaster. Whether you’re at a $9 million company looking for a new revenue stream or a multibillion-dollar enterprise hoping to create efficiencies, here are some key questions to ask before committing resources.
Will it support your business future?
The potential benefits should justify the time and cost of building, updating, and maintaining an internally developed solution. A good yardstick is whether the projected outcomes will support an existing process or product that is core to your business. The better it supports a critical component, the more valuable it can be.
For instance, you might have a great partnership with a lead channel that represents 40% of your income, so it might be worth it to the business to create automated process flows specific to this channel. However, if your proposed tool supports new revenue channels, processes, or departments, you’re in unproven territory (more about this below). Unlike small to mid-sized businesses, enterprise companies are better able to absorb the costs and risks of developing custom tools for newer processes or revenue channels.
One of our enterprise clients developed a strong content strategy supported by a custom automated content delivery solution that aligned strongly with its different product lines. The solution supported a long-running program with proven outcomes, could be used by teams across the organization, and was based on a simple content delivery method: When contacts signed up to receive content, the information they provided tailored the content displayed to them, which made for more accurate lead scoring.
Can you tie benefits or KPIs to the solution?
If your development project will support a significant company goal, objective, or process, you can make a good case for it based on its potential gains. You’ll know you’re on the right track if you can tie the potential solution to provable metrics, benefits, or KPIs, such as increased efficiencies.
I once worked for a fast-growing mid-sized lead generation company that still relied on a lot of manual processes. I managed the company’s direct-mail program, which relied on two team members to send over 12 million mailers a year. To manage and clean data, these employees manipulated filters using Excel spreadsheets, and the marketing department had to manually create reports through SQL scripts. Because the team handled millions of records manually, it was easy to make mistakes or spend valuable time troubleshooting IT and process issues.
Before building a solution, we gathered requirements for automating the entire process and for robust reporting to see if we could justify the development time. Because we were able to tie benefits to the number of working hours saved, cost savings from bulk data purchases, and decreased issue management—and because we could identify clear solution requirements—the project succeeded. Its gains far outweighed the costs of development and maintenance.
Are processes and needs likely to change?
If the issue you’re trying to solve has a chance of being short term—for example, you're expanding your product or service to a new market or territory—third-party solutions are a better bet. They can be swapped and updated more quickly than an in-house system.
At one lead-generation company, the development team scoped a project for altering the internal lead-intake system to accommodate a new branch of industry leads (and thus a new revenue stream). The company started development without looking at potential changes to the industry and associated regulatory requirements. Ultimately, the new lead-generation category was deemed non-viable, and the project was abandoned.
Does your dev team have the skills?
Going into a development project with only junior level-developers or a lack of knowledgeable project management resources can make any software development project a nightmare. Make sure you know the expertise level of the team you’ll be working with. If you need to proceed regardless, ensure that you have the time and budget to hire, can make appropriate arrangements for developers and project managers, and you have mechanisms to transfer knowledge so that your project doesn't fail when someone leaves the company.
In one case, I saw an automation solution get greenlighted without anyone considering who would be doing the work. When the project managers and junior-level developers were presented with a list of requirements and told to begin work, the team was overwhelmed. To fix the situation, a very expensive project management firm was brought in. The communication and technical issues were never resolved, and the project wasted money, hurt productivity, and led to a director being asked to leave the company.
Will it drive high enough volume?
To justify project costs, the answer to this question could be associated with considerable boosts to new content, leads, traffic, or revenue. If you’re looking for operational changes to handle just 200 leads a month, look for third-party solutions or workarounds. In general, smaller companies tend to fall into a trap here by spending on development in order to reach for additional revenue streams or areas of growth that aren’t proven.
While I was consulting for small real estate training agency, someone decided to create a community-based software solution to support communication between investors and facilitate deals. By the conclusion of the $1.5 million development project, the volume and demand for the communication channel just weren’t there. The company tried to repurpose the new tool, but it was ultimately dropped.
Can you test it with a paid service first?
If your development decision is based on a hypothesis or new process, it may make more sense to buy before you build. Check to see if you can use a turnkey solution to gauge the viability of your development idea before committing the budget and resources. Based on what happens, this option might also help you identify changes you should make to your original idea.
A small company I worked with wanted to implement a custom project management solution for its developers by building a simple tool that would tie into the company’s unique organizational structure. The resulting solution was clunky and ultimately didn’t work according to the specified requirements. This was because the concept hadn’t been used or tested first, so the vision of how the tool needed to function was unclear. By testing out different project management tools, and putting requirements around those tools, this company could have succeeded.
The idea of a company building its own solution is exciting and very rewarding when done with forethought and knowledge. Just make sure that before you start, you consider these questions to ensure that your company is in the right position to take the leap. If you’re thorough in your assessment and preparation, you can be confident in taking the first steps toward your development plans.
Happy developing—feel free to keep researching, or just get in touch with questions.
Time and time again, you enlist the help of a B2B marketing writer—only to have their work fall short of expectations.
They have trouble capturing your brand voice. They fail to engage your audience. They have difficulty articulating your messaging.
So how are other businesses doing it? How have other marketers developed special connections with writers who deliver outstanding work day in and day out?
Yesler’s Creative team has forged rich, long-lasting relationships with some of the world’s top B2B marketing organizations. And we’ve learned along the way what it takes to form fruitful writer–company alliances.
Below are things you should absolutely expect from a first-rate B2B marketing writer, and some steps you can take to partner with them in creating captivating content that impacts your business.
What to look for in the perfect writer
Your search for a B2B marketing writer begins with a choice:
Do you make a beeline for Agency Avenue or venture down Freelancer Road?
Agency Avenue gives you access to multidisciplinary specialists, including strategists, editors, and designers. It allows you to easily scale your content marketing efforts with support from other agency staff.
Freelancer Road helps you minimize content creation costs. It also provides you with greater flexibility for scheduling and availability.
Whichever option you choose, your writer must prove their worth. They’ll need to:
Demonstrate an understanding of how to engage with prospects at different points in the customer journey. For example, generally speaking they should avoid mentioning specific products until prospects reach the consideration phase.
Show they have expertise in writing for different channels. The breezy tone of social copy, for instance, should differ from the authoritative voice in a thought leadership blog.
Make it clear they know how to create consistent, multichannel messaging. Customizing content to individual channels is one thing; crafting an incremental story with consistent messaging that’s finely tuned for different channels is something else altogether.
You can often spot these qualities in the samples your writer provides. If you can’t, ask your candidate to write a few things for you. Give them explicit instructions to use your company’s brand voice or tailor the messaging to a specific point in the customer journey and see how they do.
How will you know you’ve hired the right writer? Simple. They’ll ask you a boatload of questions. Good writers have an insatiable thirst for knowledge. They want to know as much as possible before putting that proverbial pen to paper.
Truly great writers will take that a step further. On top of asking questions, they’ll make suggestions. They’ll point out ways you can increase engagement or improve your content strategy.
Why loading your writer up with information is essential
A lack of information leads to lousy content. If you fail to provide your writer with the proper insight, you’ll receive content that fails to meet your expectations.
How can you help? By giving your writer a comprehensive creative brief that contains:
Goals: Tell your writer exactly what you’re aiming to achieve. Whether you’re trying to educate your audience with a thought leadership blog or share brand recognition on your Twitter page to earn customer loyalty, this is the first thing your writer needs to know.
Content types: What do you want developed? An email? A case study? An infographic? A top-notch writer will be well versed in the best practices of all those content types. And provided you tell your writer what type of deliverable you need, they’ll be able to create content to your liking that also generates results.
Schedules: Your writer likely has multiple projects on their plate. A detailed schedule—featuring draft due dates and final deadlines—will help them juggle their workload and prioritize.
Customer personas: Different audiences require different messaging. Let your writer know the professional title of the person they’re addressing in their copy, along with the industry, line of business, greatest pain points, and anything else you deem relevant to connecting with your audience.
Marketing funnel stages: Do you want to raise awareness of a growing business problem? Do you want to convince your reader to make a transaction? Share that with your writer, and they’ll create copy tailored to precisely where your audience is in the customer journey, whether at the top or bottom of the funnel.
CTAs: There should be one action—above all others—you want your readers to take. It could be registering for a conference. It could be downloading an e-book. Whatever it is, make that action clear to your writer.
Sound like a lot of work? It’s not. In fact, it’ll save you work in the end. You’ll avoid countless rounds of revisions and feedback, as your now-informed writer can deliver on-point copy from the get-go.
How staying engaged helps your writer stay in sync
With your writer in the fold and in the know, you may think your work is done. Not true.
It’s crucial to stay engaged with your writer. Why? Because the more you communicate with them, the more effective they’ll be. Continued engagement is especially important when your company:
Rolls out a new brand narrative your writer will need to follow.
Introduces new campaigns your writer will need to promote.
Hires new employees your writer will need to interview.
There’s no shortage of ways to maintain a strong connection with your writer. You can schedule one-on-one chats, invite them to team meetings, or give them access to your content calendar.
By staying engaged and making your writer an instrumental part of the team, they’ll be empowered to contribute. And they can help shine a light on potential strategy, campaign, or communication shortcomings.
Your writer will do the heavy lifting when it comes to creating content. But every weightlifter needs a reliable spotter. Be that for your writer—and strong content will surely follow.
In 2012, when Yesler opened its doors, we used to tell our colleagues and our clients there has never been a more exciting or rewarding time to be a B2B marketer. While I believe that statement is still true, it is perhaps obscured by the fact that B2B marketing has never been as complex as it is today.
It’s a daunting field, where we need to anticipate the needs of customers, adopt the mindset of a publisher, become an expert at content marketing, navigate an exploding martech landscape, and master analytics. We have to be equal parts artist, data scientist, and technician. And we're expected to take risks, be disruptive, and innovate.
Complexity makes our jobs harder
If that sounds exhausting, it’s because it is. And managing those competing priorities distracts from what is important for your business. The challenge isn’t going away. There’s nothing to indicate that the rapid technological change that transformed our industry will slow, which means that we have to find a new way of managing change—we have to take a posture of intentional change. We can no longer say that it’s just that we need to focus in order to manage our distractions, it’s that we actually need to get a different perspective.
In November, I gave a talk at the MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum on the topic of how complexity distracts us from our vision and our mandates as marketers. The talk comes out of the work we’ve been doing at Yesler to get perspective on our business for our own growth, but also so that we can apply the insights from the exercise in consultation with clients to help them set up their businesses on long-term growth trajectories amid constant and rapid change.
Prioritize broad and specialized expertise
One of the greatest values we offer our customers—and that marketers should expect from their agency partners—is both broad and specialized expertise. In-house marketing teams tend to be specialized in their roles for their particular product or industry. They might have deep knowledge in what they do, but less so in how it fits within the whole chain of sales and marketing activities that lead to revenue. Our work building and unifying marketing programs for different companies grants us insights we can share so our customers get the benefit of optimizations learned over hundreds of programs run over many years.
When we’ve struggled with this, we assess whether the latest thing will help us measurably act on our priorities to decide whether it's worth the investment. So, when faced with a new technology or a new way of doing something, we can ask whether it pertains to reaching our goals. If it does, we do it. If it doesn’t, we don’t.
If we think something will be important for our business or to marketing in general, but we’re not sure it’s the right time, we pilot and test it—not just for us, but because we want to be able to discuss emerging technologies with our clients from firsthand experience and so we can continue to offer ways to transform their marketing to serve their business for the long haul.
Perspective simplifies decisions
This is how we stay focused on what will secure Yesler’s future. We use perspective before we start planning to simplify complexity and identify the best path forward.
At the B2B Forum, I talked about the processes we’ve developed at Yesler to help us keep our priorities clear so that we can keep a firm perspective on our business. While we were there, we talked to a lot of marketers who visited our booth about what keeps them from delivering on their goals: All of it had to do with complexity. Whether it was complex data management or trying to manage a growing array of nurture streams and the increase in content production that requires—we’re all struggling to manage it.
What is it you’re determined to get a handle on this year? I’d love to hear what you’re trying to solve and see how we can help. Get in touch.
It’s a good thing when clients like Marketo and SAP ask you to work with them again, so it’s no wonder we’re feeling doubly fortunate these days.
After a long and fruitful technical relationship, Marketo has chosen us as its new digital marketing partner. And SAP is trusting us with the strategic task of building its global demand center. I’m proud that these companies continue to choose us, and that our long relationships with both continue to yield new opportunities to innovate.
A full-circle partnership with Marketo
We’ve been a Marketo customer since 2012, and in 2013 became a delivery partner, running customer-engagement and nurture campaigns for Yesler clients on the Marketo platform. Becoming the company’s digital marketing partner is a great opportunity to put what we’ve learned about being a customer and delivery partner to work.
Marketo shares our perspective that cohesive B2B strategy requires expertise in the interdependence of different marketing efforts. It’s evident in their business offerings, which are comprehensive and widely respected. We’re elated to have Marketo as a client and eager to help them expand their customer footprint.
Connections among people, technologies, and processes in a central SAP demand center
I’m honored that SAP chose Yesler as its strategic partner in building its demand center. SAP is a leader in helping companies manage financials, human resources, and other core business functions, and continues to build momentum in these areas.
We’re about to celebrate seven years of running SAP marketing programs and campaigns from a centralized campaign desk that we built. The global demand center is an exciting step in improving marketing performance for the future of both of our companies.
Momentum: It’s what’s going around
The SAP and Marketo developments are just the latest in a year of strong growth for our company. Earlier this year, we opened locations in Singapore and London. These additions will support regional teams and around-the-clock production, to bring customized marketing support to global clients like Marketo and SAP.
Yesler has served the tech sector since we opened our doors, and working with some of the biggest and most influential technology companies in the world has made us better marketers. We take a strategic and analytical approach to each engagement, using what we learn from one engagement and applying it to others. This is the vision that drives us—to never stop innovating, testing, learning, and improving. It’s our commitment to our customers: to help them succeed and grow.
B2B conferences and trade shows once consisted of cookie-cutter booth constructions and sales demos but they have evolved into major opportunities to generate leads and make lasting brand impressions on attendees. From offering a place for attendees to charge up their devices (and charge up on caffeine), attend exclusive after parties, or take a picture in a photo booth for some free swag, events now offer B2B marketers the chance to really treat their event audience like consumers, and earn face time with potential prospects that they’d otherwise need to wait weeks or months to get in touch with online.
In 2017, we aimed to maximize engagement through our sponsorship of MarketingProfs’ B2B Marketing Forum. We developed a theme around a simple call to action: “What happens when you leave your marketing to chance?” and placed a Plinko puck in the attendees’ conference bags with an invitation to visit our booth and play Plinko, a popular game of chance. No software demo, no sales gimmick, just a low-risk opportunity for attendees to meet with us, win prizes, and have some fun along the way.
We also gave away our integrated B2B Marketing Strategy template for free, which encouraged attendees to architect their marketing strategies based on revenue goals and the needs of their audience, rather than chance.
What felt like a big branding risk ended up generating a crowd of potential prospects around our booth, a couple hundred new leads, and post-event praise as “the hit of the show.” This year, we’re returning to the B2B Marketing Forum as the platinum sponsor, which means the stakes are higher and we’re on the hook to one-up ourselves with a new experience.
As we gear up for the event taking place on November 13, we’re looking back at what made our 2017 sponsorship a success and sharing some key planning tips to help you make the most of your next event or sponsorship.
Start with a simple question: why should attendees really come to our booth?
For many B2B tech companies, event sponsorships help them achieve three goals: build brand awareness, showcase products or solutions, and generate leads.
And while a physical booth space can help marketers break down the typical barriers they experience when engaging with prospects online, an in-person event is a completely different marketing channel, and event attendees are still on a buying journey—one where they may not be aware of your brand or solution, may not be the right person to influence a decision, or aren’t ready to talk to a sales person.
And yet, a large majority of today’s booth experiences are built to mimic that of a digital landing page, where attendees of any buying stage are asked to hand over contact information via a badge scan in exchange for a free giveaway or software demo, followed by an awkward conversation with a sales person.
When this type of transaction is the expectation, attendees begin wandering the expo hall with an increased perception of risk. Having lost the power to digitally window shop for solutions behind the safety of a private browser, their desire to engage with an exhibitor or sponsor is outweighed by what they’ll need to give up in return.
This simple, seemingly obvious idea—that the event experience should be built to serve the audience, and in turn, meet our own goals—was what really shaped our strategy for last year’s B2B Marketing Forum. We saw an opportunity to flip the traditional sales-oriented event script so that our audience would visit us without pressure, get something in return for doing so, and help us build excitement with other attendees at the event.
“The difference between you and the rest of the sponsors is that you made this about your audience, not yourselves.” — 2017 B2B Marketing Forum Attendee
When you and your team are trying to answer the question of why attendees should visit your booth, think about your conference audience just like you think about your buyer personas. What do I know about the accounts and prospects attending the event? How can we help them solve their challenges without pressuring them to buy? Where does this event fit into their journey?
Put yourself in the shoes of the attendees to really understand what they need and want from a conference—not to mention how you’ll get their attention in a room full of exhibitors—and create an experience that balances their time and interest with your goals for the event.
Land(ing) the event experience
Once you have a strong enough reason for your audience to engage with you at the event—one that may initially offer the audience more return than you originally planned—you need to bring the experience to life.
And if we revisit the analogy of the expo hall being a room full of of real-live landing pages (which is a scary thought), then you’ll need to build the most attractive, user-friendly, and conversion-optimized landing page experience you’ve ever built.
But the key word here is experience, which means thinking bigger, brighter, and louder than your typical “landing page” to create something that will sell itself—rather than just your product or solution—to the audience at the event.
We can’t give you all the answers here (you’ll have to hire us for that) so we’ll give you some of our own examples from last year and a simple place to start: the human senses.
What attendees hear: You might assume that the expo hall will be loud, with hundreds, maybe thousands of attendees walking around, but that’s even more reason to create a sound to help your booth stand out from the rest. And that doesn’t mean loud and obnoxious music that will make conversations difficult. For us, the sound of the Plinko pucks dropping down the Plinko board were enough to capture initial attention spans, and the roar of the crowd whenever someone won a prize helped us organically spread awareness with attendees.
What attendees touch: This is where creating the experience can get really fun, from setting up your booth as a place for attendees to hang out between sessions, to perhaps even getting attendees to help construct a part of your booth—such as a puzzle wall or data visualization. In 2017, the Plinko pucks given to attendees not only offered a physical connection to our booth, but it put the rest of the booth experience in the hands of the attendees.
What attendees taste and smell: Tread carefully here. This is the one sense that has the potential to really make an impact … or go horribly wrong. Coffee, cocktails, or some popcorn in the booth? Maybe. Food, drink, and scents that could potentially spark an allergic reaction or stink up the rest of the expo hall? Not so great. (Full disclosure: we almost built a craft beer bar in our booth last year, but nixed the idea for one other reason to keep in mind here—the cost.)
What attendees see: More than just the design of your booth, this is where the rest of the senses really come together to create a vision for your experience. Does your booth look inviting? What will attendees see when they’re scoping it out? Will they see a line of people waiting to get into your booth—and if so, is that good or bad? Demand to play Plinko at the Yesler booth last year led to a line snaking around our booth and a growing crowd for giveaways, which in turn inspired the rest of the audience to find out what the hype was all about.
Do you have this event in the bag? (No, really.)
Think back to your last experience at a conference and what you remember most. Was it the best practices and tools you learned from top influencers and sessions? The new connection requests you received on LinkedIn? The after party?
What did you really bring home? (Hint: We’re talking about the swag.)
The backpacks. The tchotchkes. The endless supply of branded keychains, pens, sunglasses, device chargers, and water bottles—enough to set up your own merch table at the end of the year.
It’s probably a good idea to stock your booth with some generic swag, because attendees will ask for it. But what if you could give them something that they weren’t expecting? Something that would require them to take one more step with your brand or solution after the event? Or even better, something they would start stealing from other attendees?
“Would it be wrong if I went digging through other attendees’ bags for their Plinko pucks?” — 2017 B2B Marketing Forum Attendee
Your options for swag and giveaways may be endless, but how you choose to use merchandise could make a big difference in the level of engagement you see from attendees.
The Plinko pucks that we put in every conference bag at the 2017 event were not only an unexpected, dimensional item that stood out among the items from other sponsors, they also served as a “ticket” of sorts that attendees had to bring back to us to receive something else—the chance to win a larger prize, and a pair of marketing strategy dice to serve as a reminder to take an integrated approach to their marketing efforts, not a tactical one.
Swag, bag inserts, and giveaways are your opportunity to reinvent the transaction that attendees expect from sponsors and exhibitors. Give them something that offers more ren than they expect, and you may see the same for your company at the event.
Don’t drop the ball.
There’s much more that goes into building an event strategy than what we’ve covered here, but if there’s one tip to take away from this post, it’s that a tactical, piecemeal approach to event planning won’t get the job done—for you, or for your audience. Use physical events to make a lasting impact on your audience of brand advocates, partners, prospects, and customers.
Will we see you at the 2018 B2B Marketing Forum? Follow us on Twitter for a sneak peek at what you can expect from us in the B2B Learning Lounge! (And if you’re not registered yet, send us a note to receive a promo code!)
We are proud to announce the addition of new board members Karla Horwitz and Heather Redman.
Our decision to add to our board was spurred in part by our recent rapid growth. As you may know, we’ve opened new locations in Singapore and London to complement our Seattle HQ and our offices in Portland, Philadelphia, and Toronto. This strategic expansion means Yesler’s regional teams can deliver customized, full-service marketing support around the clock and across time zones.
While it’s true that these two new board members are experienced in guiding companies through transformative change, we also invited them to join us because they are visionary executives with wide-ranging business experience and a dedication to civic work that will help Yesler stay true to our mission no matter what direction we take.
With that in mind, we’d like to introduce you to our new board members.
Karla Horwitz, Founder and CEO of the Horwitz Group, is a financial and strategic-planning expert well-versed in acquiring, integrating, and growing organizations internationally. Horwitz served as CFO at PopCap Games, PlayFab, and others, and she ran the Pacific NW advisory practice of Arthur Andersen, which included clients such as VoiceStream. Horwitz has 25 years of experience helping consumer-web, high-tech, gaming, and media and entertainment companies solve financial and accounting issues. We look forward to drawing on her skills in planning and valuation analysis, strategic initiatives, and technology-focused financial management. Horwitz’s civic work and belief in fair and equitable business practices make her a great addition to the Yesler family.
Venture capitalist Heather Redman is Cofounder and Managing Partner of Flying Fish Partners. Redman has a background in law, intellectual property strategy, business development, corporate strategy, and finance. Her career highlights include heading product development and acquisition for Atom Entertainment and serving as General Counsel of Getty Images. Redman is an investor in Techstars, 9Mile Labs, Founders’ Co-op, and Alliance of Angels. Active in local and national policy and politics, she is also a Regent at Washington State University and has served on boards for businesses and nonprofits, including her position as Vice Chair of the Washington Technology Industry Association.
“Yesler is a great company with world-class values, and that’s what’s fueling its growth. I’m excited to be part of helping the team make an even bigger difference for Yesler’s clients, people, and communities,” said Redman.
We are excited to add creative, talented people to our board and to our new offices as we continue our quest to pair innovation with world-class marketing support. Hit us up if you’re interested in learning more about our B2B services, which range from martech support to creating content that sells. We’ll keep you informed in this blog of more new developments as they happen. Happy marketing!
I’m proud to announce that Yesler has opened agency offices in Singapore and London to strengthen service coverage for local offices of our global technology clients and for clients headquartered and operating primarily outside North America.
These locations join offices in Portland, Philadelphia, Toronto, and our Seattle headquarters to support our growth plans.
We’ve had great success working with trusted partners located in regions around the world to run nimble, customized, and high-quality global programs tailored to the business needs of our multinational clients, and we’ll maintain those partnerships.
By expanding our footprint, we realize plans to offer improved efficiency at scale for our clients’ global marketing programs, without compromising expertise. This includes the ability to hire highly skilled marketing staff in those locations. And it facilitates using time-zone coverage to accelerate campaign production and execution.
Both serve our goal to offer clients innovative solutions that continually improve ROI while exceeding standards of service.
Our vision is to locate our company culture and our expertise in influencing B2B technology buying decisions in every region, so that we can continue to scale based on our strengths and core values.
The way we see it, what began as the best workplace in Seattle has become a web of best workplaces around the globe.
For a company that grows as much and as fast as we do, change is pretty much constant. That’s why it’s so thrilling to see our name on this list again—it reminds us that listening to our employees can take us wherever we want to go.
And it’s our people who got us here. Recognition from Seattle Business Magazine is determined entirely by staff participation and feedback. Our employees responded to a survey about their experiences working at Yesler, from workplace culture and rewards to executive leadership and corporate responsibility. What we learned is that Yesler has what so many companies wish they had: employees who love where they work.
But making the list again means much more than that.
It means that we’ve created a company worth working for. Our focus on creating a healthy, happy environment has helped us find and keep the best talent around. We believe it’s up to us to support employee growth both inside and outside Yesler, so we offer professional development funds, travel grants, and plenty of opportunities for charitable giving.
It means we’ve fostered a culture worth being part of. Not only are our teams smart as hell, they’re collaborative, creative, and strong advocates for each other. Yesler is committed to excellence in everything we create—including the relationships we build at work. (No need to be shy about expressing opinions around here, either.)
Our dev Nick Harberg says it best: “I come to work for my coworkers. I’ve never worked in another place where everyone supports each other as a matter of process.”
It means we can deliver great work to our clients. When our employees trust each other enough to speak their minds, we can focus on being the best industry experts we can be and deliver work that has a meaningful impact on our clients’ businesses. We’re proud of the work we do here—we’re always ready to sink our innovative chops into the next challenge, together.
So, we’re honored to have made the list again. Our people are our most important assets; they’re what make Yesler so Yesler-y. They make all of this not just possible, but enjoyable. Memorable. And ultimately, they make our company successful.
As we continue to grow, we learn more about what it means to empower our employees and set them up for success. Every year, it gets better. We get bigger. We get smarter. We get happier.
You might be in a rush to get an ABM program running, but it’ll go more smoothly if you slow down and take the time to hold an internal workshop before you begin.
Every successful ABM program we’ve run for our tech clients, without fail, has started with a good internal workshop.
When you get the core people in a room hashing out ideas, you find out important information, get to alignment faster, speed up your time to market, and increase the likelihood of great results.
So, what makes a good workshop? Here’s how we do it.
1. Get the right people in the room
We make sure to invite the individuals who know how to run marketing and sales and the people who have decision-making authority for the program. Regardless of title, think about who will be involved in or making marketing decisions across the entire buyer journey.
Keep it to 10 or fewer people who have roles like:
VP of Marketing
VP of Sales (target account focus)
Marketing automation lead
Regional Sales Director
Marketing content lead
Sales Development Rep Lead
Sale Enablement Lead
If your list has more than 10 people, write out what each person will bring to the discussion. This’ll help identify who doesn’t need to be there.
2. Prepare for the workshop
In the weeks prior, compile documents and information that will help you make the most of your workshop.
At Yesler, we ask for the documents listed below, and our integrated marketing strategist reviews them to build a framework for the ABM strategy.
Business goals: revenue targets with average customer and sale values
Marketing and sales objectives by quarter
Buyer personas: target audience, job titles, pain points, any specifics available
Buyer journeys: the purchase path from becoming aware of a problem, identifying solutions and making a purchase
Industry overview: trends, challenges, etc.
Previous marketing performance, general demand generation, and ABM-specific tactics
Overview of current marketing infrastructure and measurement capabilities
This stuff isn’t always documented. In that the case, identify and interview the individuals who know it.
3. Run the workshop
Being responsible for and running the workshop can be a big task. You’ll have a diverse group of people with a range of job titles and seniorities, and it’s your job to keep people engaged and motivated. We like to make the workshop interactive, with handwriting on cards posted to the wall and active participation to keep people moving and engaged.
Tip: Make sure participants know when breaks are scheduled so they can plan to check email during those times. And yes: stick to the breaks on the dot.
Bonus tip: If you go all day, order a light lunch.
We begin the workshop with the goals written on a large white sheet stuck to the wall. After intros, we review them first thing. At this point you can cross things off or add to it based on feedback from the people in the room.
With goals locked down, quickly review the agenda so you can make any adjustments. It’s easy to overpack the agenda, so we always ask the group: “If we had to remove one thing, what would it be?” That way, if we start running long we know what to skip.
Establish business context
The workshop begins with reviewing and agreeing on the business goals—written on a large white sheet or board.
Some business goals are locked in for the year and others change by quarter and can differ by groups. The goals often include numbers for revenue, leads, MQLs, pipeline, and so on. Note any other goals for project work as well.
Once written and agreed on, everyone can refer to them when talking about other priorities throughout the day.
Think your company could benefit from an ABM workshop? Get in touch.
We’ll help you identify the best options.
Create a target account list
Does everyone agree on what an ideal customer looks like? This is when you find out.
We give a quick overview of what should be included in an ideal customer profile (ICP). Demographics, firmographics (demographics for companies), and technographics (a company’s technological characteristics) are the usual primary buckets, but they can vary.
Next, ask everyone in the room fill out a card describing their idea of the ICP. As people finish, ask each to give a quick overview of their ICP before sticking it on the wall.
When the cards are up, group similar cards together and review similarities and differences with the group. Then discuss and come to agreement about what the ICP should be and if there should be more than one.
You’ll then have the first components of your ABM target account criteria.
Using the ICP as criteria, ask everyone to list the companies that they think fit the profile and that should be on the target account list. We often find a few more criteria to add to the ICP during this exercise.
Get all the companies up on the wall and identify duplicates and ways to group them. Now you have a target account list. (A much larger list should be built during a research phase following the workshop.) All companies should be evaluated based on likelihood of helping you reach your business goals.
Agree on your target audience
If you have documented buyer personas, that’s a great place to start. Review these with the group.
If you don’t have buyer personas, start by asking everyone to write down target job titles on cards. Get the cards on the wall and go from there: Segment them by decision makers and influencers.
Your goal is to get everyone to agree on who you should be targeting. You also want everyone to understand the roles that make up the buying committee.
If you have time, drill into persona pain points, primary drivers, and how to influence them.
Map your buyer journeys
Then work through the paths buyers will take to making a purchase. In B2B, you can usually start with two main journeys: the direct journey and the partner-channel journey. Map these during the workshop so you can draw on all the knowledge in the room. Then, pinpoint where in those journeys the target audience can be most influenced.
What topics are on the minds of the personas at which buyer stages?
These journeys will guide your marketing strategies and highlight where you have gaps. If buyers are getting free trials during the evaluation stage from your competitors and you don’t have a free trial, you have a gap.
Build your ABM plan
Think about specific people within a target account, name them if you can, and list all the ways you can reach them—include all channels and tactics. Then rank channels and tactics from best to worst and align them to the buyer journey to determine how the effectiveness of the channels differ when you have contact info and when you don’t.
Your budget is a key factor in how you reach your audience and for building your distribution plans. It’s usually more difficult deciding what not to do. This is where ranking channels helps. During the workshop, you don’t need to finalize your distribution strategy, but you should walk away with a good idea of the main channels you will use—and you need that before you can discuss your content strategy.
Determine your content and messaging strategy
We recommend thinking about distribution content first because your channels will influence what content formats and messages you should create.
Start with your buyer-journey maps. Ask:
What topics are listed for each buyer stage?
Where can you provide the most value while influencing the target audience to your solution or product?
The sales team usually has good insights into what works best at later buyer stages for different personas. Build out as much as you can with the knowledge from the room, and note where you need to do more research.
Sketch out measurement and reporting
Make sure to touch on how you will measure and report the program’s performance, relying on the knowledge in the room to inform the group. ABM is best measured by:
Reach within an account
Engagement with your marketing, and
Overall, you want to influence the individuals involved in an account’s buying decision.
How you measure this influence will be determined by your martech capabilities and ABM program details. At Yesler, we always map out what’s possible with the current infrastructure and what isn’t.
Think through coordination details
The entire workshop is about alignment and making decisions as a team—everything from the ideal customer profile to the content topics that work best for different personas. We always discuss specifics about communication and handoffs between different teams because ABM requires precise orchestration to keep the personalization working smoothly.
List the main tasks to be completed and assign responsibilities to teams and individuals. Identify the actions that trigger the handoff of a lead from marketing to sales. You won’t solve for every task during the workshop, but it will get you thinking about what actions you’ll need to pay attention to and where you might have process gaps.
4. Wrap it all up
It’s been a long day of heavy thinking, and your team is at the end of their attention span. If you’re leading the workshop, this is the most difficult part to the day. Hopefully you’ll now know:
The criteria for the companies you want to target.
Names of some companies that match target criteria.
Who the target audience is and the personas you plan to target.
What the buyer journeys are, the topics you need to focus on at each stage, and where you can be most influential.
How you can reach your target audience.
The content topics and formats that will be most effective.
How you will measure success.
Look at what you’ve listed out: Will it work to reach your business goals? Where are the gaps? What do you need to focus more on?
Finish by setting priorities and establishing a list of roles and responsibilities.
Workshops like this are a big undertaking, but if you do them correctly they’ll accelerate your account-based marketing efforts and align your marketing and sales teams.
We find that getting cross-team alignment early can save weeks during the planning process.
If you’re thinking about account-based marketing, we’re here to help—just contact us. If you’re not quite ready to chat, visit our ABM service page to learn more about how we work.