Coming Soon: The Webinars That Rocked 2020

Webinerds know that there are webinars, and there are webinars that rock. One is serviceable; the other is exceptional. The former is impressive; the latter is absolutely engaging. But what makes a webinar that rocks, rock? Is it just a good console and an engaging format? Or, is it the content itself?

The answer: it’s a little bit of everything. The best webinars stand out because they seamlessly incorporate each element — from engagement tactics and interactive segments to video production and design — throughout the entire webcast. The result: a webinar you can’t look away from and a company you return to for more information.

But realizing webinar nirvana takes inspiration. And we think the best inspiration out there is to take a look at what others are doing well and incorporate those elements into your own production. That’s why, each year, we dedicate an episode of our Webinar Best Practices Series to the Webinars That Rocked that year. And 2020’s Webinars That Rocked is coming up soon.

What are the ‘Webinars That Rocked?’

Simple: Webinars That Rocked is our list of the top eight webinar programs taking place in 2020. But we’re not the ones who go out and identify these stand-out webinars — you are. For every edition of Webinars That Rocked, we invite you to identify the webinars that impressed you and explain why.

This year, though, we’re going to mix things up a little bit. Webinars That Rocked is no longer limited to just webinars. You can also include fantastic Engagement Hubs and enthralling Target pages.

Okay. How Do We Participate?

Rack your brain and think of all the webinars, Engagement Hubs and Target pages you created in 2020. Identify the ones that stood out to you (you can make as many submissions as you’d like) and plug them into this form.

Here are a few items to have prepared for speed up submissions:

    • Enter your work emails to start the submission process.
    • Identify whether the submission is either a Webinar Experience, an always-on Engagement Hub Experience or a Personalized Target Page Experience.
    • Have the title of the webinar, Engagement Hub or Target page and a link to the page in question ready.
    • Write out three reasons why this experience stood out to you.
    • Let your nominee know!

And that’s it! From there, we’ll whittle down the list of submissions and identify the finalists for Best Webinar Experience, Best Engagement Hub Experience and Best Personalized Target Page Experience. Stay tuned for more information on the Webinars That Rocked 2020 and get your submissions ready. We’ll see you on Dec. 9!

Announcing Our 2020 Virtualized Digital Event Award Winners

No one expected 2020 to be commandeered by a global pandemic. But when the lockdowns and stay at home orders went into effect, event marketers went to work on making the most of the situation.

Their solution for remote conferences and summits: Digital experiences that emulated and went beyond in-person events.

We wanted to highlight a few organizations that raised the bar on virtual events, so we created the first-ever Virtualized Digital Event Awards. Below is a recap of the categories and the winners.

Best Event Experience: Beyond Trust

Beyond Trust’s Go Beyond Virtual Partner Summit won the award for the best overall event experience. This event featured a music festival theme and all elements of the event followed that trend. The engagement tools were renamed to be on-brand: Now Playing became Main Stage, speaker bios became On Stage Now, content resources became Resource Backpack, customer case studies became Customer Unplugged. The engagement hub was tailored to have tents with a festival feel. Other fun activities were hosted in their Beyond Fun Zone which featured a concert from Spinphony, a yoga session, a coloring PDF for kids and the ability for participants to create their own playlist.

Best Event Environment: FIS

The FIS InFocus 2020 virtual event, themed Rise & Thrive, won the award for the best event environment. FIS created a virtual event that was amazingly immersive for participants. It featured multi-dimensional and 3D elements with different rooms participants could enter. They created an expo hall with virtual booths, general sessions with keynote speakers and breakout sessions. They were even able to secure Giuliana Rancic as a host. There was an abundance of downloadable content, networking events with different lounges for different languages, message boards, yoga and meditation sessions, a scavenger hunt and a Dierks Bentley concert.

Best Event Branding: Informa

Informa’s Restaurant Rise event won the award for best event branding. With COVID-19 drastically impacting the restaurant and foodservice industry, this event featured inspirational presentations to help people in that industry figure out what they’re going to do next. Their webinar console, promotional materials and website featured excellent logo placement and frequency, industry-relevant graphics, an incredible color scheme and superb sponsor promotion.

Best Virtual Engagement/Networking: RedGate

RedGate’s Streamed event won the award for the best virtual engagement and networking. This multi-day event featured presenters in eye-catching costumes and puppies. They offered a multitude of engagement opportunities for participants including chat capabilities for attendees to interact with each other and the presenters. Other engagement tools were content downloads, future event sign-ups, podcasts, virtual booths to visit and a trivia event with built-in polling and a leaderboard.

Best Globalization of an Event: Juniper Networks

Juniper Networks’ Where AI Gets Real won the award for the best globalization of an event. This event was excellent for people all around the world because they offered real-time presentations and session tracks in different languages. This event featured a drop-down menu at the beginning where participants could select a different language for the presentations. Juniper Networks really thought ahead and planned different tracks and topics for different languages. They had participants from 122 countries and six different language options.

The Humanize Award: Runway of Dreams Foundation Sponsored by SAP

The Runway of Dream Foundation sponsored by SAP won the Humanize award. This award celebrates an organization that is trying to do something good for their community and helping the world become a better place. This event was created by an organization that is aimed at helping people with physical disabilities be included in life and culture in ways that they should already be included but are not. This event featured neat videos of people proudly walking the runway to raise donations and lifting up their community.

The ROI Award: Janssen Korea, Ltd. – a Johnson & Johnson Subsidiary

Janssen Korea’s Focus web-symposium won the ROI award. Medical device and pharmaceutical companies typically rely heavily on in-person events and calls to grow their business, but Janssen Korea proved that isn’t always necessary. They hosted an omnichannel digital event with interesting and engaging multi-dimensional experiences with medical presenters and panel discussions. They saw 24% growth over the previous year and 40% budget savings by taking their physical event into the virtual world.

Congratulations to all of the winners and nominees. Your creativity, ingenuity and passion for your field changed digital marketing and digital events forever!

Four Excellent Events to Attend In October

It’s October, meaning marketers across the world are starting to think about what they’ll need to accomplish in 2021 and how they’ll make it happen.

Fortunately for you, we’ve three outstanding webinars — and one great event — designed to help spruce up your marketing strategy for the coming year and whip your digital experiences into shape.

Here are the October events you need to keep in mind:

Ahead of the Trend: Using Current Events to Drive Relevance and Urgency

These days, most B2B marketers are using the same channels, going after the same metrics and executing the same tactics as everybody else. So, how can marketers find the whitespace in B2B marketing and get ahead of the next trend?

Join us for a live webinar on Thursday, October 8th, at 11 a.m. PT (2 p.m. ET) to get fresh ideas for getting ahead of the trend, by using current events to drive relevance and urgency. Featuring top B2B marketers from ON24, NetLine, and Meltwater, we’ll discuss how to:

    • Use news themes and engagement data to find out what’s trending
    • Take the right decisions in choosing what to cover
    • Strike the balance between viral reach and attract your target customers
    • Build the right engagement programs for short-term wins and long-term goals

Let’s break away from the same old and start thinking about what’s next — register now!

The Ultimate Guide to Planning the Perfect Webinar

There are a lot of elements that go into building a successful webinar. From ideation to promotion, content creation to production, greatness requires the right mix of planning, process and teamwork.

On Oct. 14, attend “The Ultimate Guide to Planning the Perfect Webinar,” and learn how to build successful webinars from the ground up, including:

    • Webinar planning from A-Z
    • Building effective webinar consoles
    • Choosing formats and managing speakers
    • How to optimize lead data

This is your chance to see how the experts do it. Register now.

How the CSEA Broke Conference Attendance Records by Going Digital

Almost 2,000 people were registered to attend The California School Employees Association’s (CSEA) annual conference in Vegas. But lady luck had other plans. So the CSEA team played the hand they were dealt with and pivoted their event into a digital experience that doubled registration and broke attendance records. Can we say … jackpot?

Join us for “How the CSEA Broke Conference Attendance Records by Going Digital,” on Sept. 15 at 11 a.m. PT (2 p.m. ET) to learn how CSEA brought together a record-breaking number of members and guests during their first-ever virtual conference.

Find out how they:

    • Conducted virtual meetings according to Robert’s Rules of Order
    • Featured benefit providers with booth-style Target Pages
    • Combined live and on-demand content to engage attendees
    • Raised over $50,000 for their 501(c)(3), supporting victims of California’s wildfires

Register now!

FastFWD Summit

The days of marketing generating some “hot leads” for sales and calling it a day are over. In a digital-first world, where buyers self-educate through their own decision-making journey, marketing and sales must join forces to more effectively drive pipeline and revenue. And a shared revenue team requires new strategies and new thinking.

Attend ON24’s FastFWD Summit on Oct. 28 where you’ll learn how to build a predictable pipeline model with a shared revenue team across sales and marketing.

In this interactive digital event, you’ll learn:

    • How to create experiences that convert the new digital-only buyer
    • Real-world execution of a marketing-driven pipeline
    • Strategies modern marketer’s are implementing to impact revenue across the funnel

Bridging the sales/marketing gap is no longer a joke, it’s an imperative. This is your chance to learn how. Register now!

Five Great ON24 Events to Look Forward to In September

Looking for some excellent webinars to attend? We’ve got five great options for you to choose from here. See what webinars ON24 has in store for you:

Digital Honeypots and Attracting New Audiences

B2B marketers are using the same channels, chasing the same metrics and executing the same tactics as everybody else. So, how can marketers find the whitespace in B2B marketing and get ahead of the next trend?

Join us for a live webinar on Wednesday, Sept. 9, at 11:00 a.m. PST (2 p.m. EST)  to get fresh ideas for building “digital honeypots” to attract new audiences and connect with your next great lead. Featuring top B2B marketers from ON24, NetLine, Visualize ROI and MarketMuse, we’ll discuss how to:

    • Produce SEO-enhanced content across your website and blog.
    • Create interactive, engaging tools, such as ROI calculators, that new prospects will sign up for.
    • Weaponize your own unique data to develop better content.
    • Use interactive, game-ified content to learn more about your audience at first touch.
    • Let’s break away from the same old and start thinking about what’s next.

Register here.

Training the Teacher: How The Learning Network’s Webinar Strategy Drives Best Practices in the Classroom

The New York Times’ The Learning Network is on a mission to help educators teach by establishing and nurturing professional development in virtual environments.

How?

Tune in on Sept. 10 to discover the methods The Learning Network uses to drive digital engagement — and education — in the virtual classroom. Featuring Professional Development Managers Rachel Manley and Ross Flatt, you’ll learn how the Times approaches and nurtures its digital engagement strategy.

Tune in to discover:

    • The Learning Network’s approach to remote learning.
    • The NYT’s team’s “must-have” webinar features.
    • Lessons you can apply in your own digital approaches.
    • How the team measures success and why.

Register here.

How to Create Webinars Across the Buyer’s Journey

Most webinars are used to simply generate leads, but successful marketers know that webinars are the best way to engage prospects throughout their entire buying journey.

On Sept. 16, attend “How to Create Webinars Across the Buyer’s Journey,” and learn how to replace static content offers with engaging digital experiences to drive prospects from lead to revenue.

In this interactive experience, you will learn:

    • New webinar formats to engage buyers.
    • How to create mid and bottom-funnel webinars.
    • How to create demos that convert.
    • How to use webinar triggers to find your best leads.

Register here.

FastFWD: Predictable Pipeline Workshop

From ideal customers to buying committees; from messaging values to content strategy; from campaign planning to measuring results — what’s needed to build predictable pipeline directly into the DNA of your organization? What’s required to create sustainable positive experiences that in turn create long-term, loyal customers?

Join Cheri Keith (Head of Strategy at ON24) and Matt Heinz (President of Heinz Marketing) for “FastFWD: A Playbook For Building Predictable Pipeline,” on Sept. 23. Tune into this three-hour workshop to learn, discuss, interact, and work through — live — the 10 essential stages to create a predictable, profitable pipeline.

Register now for free and get access to:

    • A three-hour live, interactive workshop with predictable pipeline experts Cheri and Matt.
    • The Predictable Pipeline Workbook containing best practices, frameworks, and worksheets on the foundations of creating your own predictable pipeline.
    • Understand how — from beginning to end — to organize your internal teams and strategy and build your very own predictable pipeline.

Register here.

Spend Trends: How to Plan Your Marketing Budget for a World of Uncertain Events

One of the greatest dilemmas we face in a world of uncertain events is not just what kind of marketing we’ll do next year, but how to budget for it.

So, what are marketers doing to adapt their 2021 plans for a future where in-person marketing is still TBD?

Join us for a live webinar at 11:00 am PST (2 p.m. EST) on Thursday, Sept. 24 where marketing experts from Allocadia and ON24 will share their insights on:

    • Pre-COVID benchmarks for physical and digital event spend and what’s changed.
    • The channels and programs where marketers are currently investing today.
    • Emerging spend trends for 2021 and breakdown of physical to digital focus
    • Tips for building resilient budget models and making plans more flexible.
    • Real-world examples of what companies are doing to prepare their budgets for every scenario.

Register here.

CMO Confessions Ep. 34: Matt Heinz of Heinz Marketing

Hey, Webinerds! We’re back with another episode of CMO Confessions, our B2B podcast with the top leaders in marketing and sales today. Today’s CMO Confessions features Matt Heinz, President and Founder of Heinz Marketing.

In today’s episode, Matt and Cheri Keith, Head of Strategy and Research at ON24, discuss Matt’s upcoming book, The Predictable Pipeline, marketing fundamentals and shifts in the field as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As always, you can find the full episode of CMO Confessions on Podbean here an edited transcript of our conversation below.

You can learn more about Matt’s career and experiences through his LinkedIn page here and his Twitter feed here. 

If you’re interested in listening to our growing podcast series, you can find all of our episodes right here on Podbean. Alternatively, you can also find us on both iTunes and Google Play stores.

Welcome to another edition of CMO Confessions!

Table of Contents:

The Predictable Pipeline Book
The Writing Process
The COVID-19 Pandemic and Marketing Fundamentals
Marketing Discipline and Shifts in the Paradigm
Seven Focus Areas of Predictable Pipeline and Matt’s Favorite Part

Cheri Keith:

Hello, and welcome to CMO Confessions, the B2B marketing and sales podcast, where I speak with amazing guests about what it really means to be a marketing leader in today’s business world.

I am Cheri Keith, Head of Strategy and Research at ON24. Today, I’m excited to have Matt Heinz on the episode. Matt is the President and Founder of Heinz Marketing. Matt, thanks so much for coming on.

Matt Heinz:

Oh my goodness. Thank you very much. It’s my pleasure.

The Predictable Pipeline Book

Cheri Keith:

All right, let’s get right into it. One of the projects that I’m really curious for an update on is the book that you’ve been working on called The Predictable Pipeline. First of all, how is this process going for you?

Matt Heinz:

If you have ever written a book before, you know that it is painful as all get out. It’s one thing to write a 600 to 800-word blog post. It’s another thing to put together a 50,000-word book.

The good is this is not a new topic. I know some authors, especially for some of my favorite nonfiction writers like David McCullough and others. They pick topics they know nothing about. Then they go and research it because they want to learn about it and then they write a book about it.

For me, fortunately, the whole idea of The Predictable Pipeline is something we’ve been working on for 12 plus years. I think the more we work with companies on what’s keeping them from creating predictability, what’s leading to random acts of marketing. It continues to feed the copy into the book.

I feel like every month that goes by, it might be a little bit different, a little bit more enriched, but we’re going to get it out. It’s going to launch in February now at this point. February 2021 and then yeah. Excited to get it out and get it in front of everybody.

The Writing Process

Cheri Keith:

That’s awesome. You mentioned the process that other authors use. What are you doing to either keep yourself on track when it comes to getting those prints down or just generally kind of your approach to developing all that content?

Matt Heinz:

Yeah, there’s a couple of ways, a couple of things that really helped me in the process. One is I think a lot about Ann Handley’s process of writing, where she has this four-part process, four parts of writing. She says 50% of writing is preparing for writing. It’s doing your research and organizing your thoughts, writing an outline. So, understanding what you want to write. She says the actual act of writing is once you have all that organization in place, it’s the discipline of sitting down and doing it. So that’s maybe 20% of the time.

Then there’s a short period of time during the writing process where you really questioned your career choices and that imposter syndrome sort of feeds in. Then there’s editing at the end. I think if you ignore the imposter syndrome part, it’s preparing to write, writing and editing are the three steps. And the shortest part of that actually is the writing, if you do the first part right. For me, that’s been really helpful just to spend a lot of time organizing my thoughts before I started writing.

Also, in some cases, if I feel like I have writer’s block, or if there’s a section that I’m really struggling to put on paper, instead of writing it, I’ll speak it. I’ll literally make a video.

Many of the videos that I’ve made for this will never see the light of day. They sometimes have just been me talking through things. Some of them won’t make the light of day because they literally are me out sweating, walking in 90-degree weather here in Seattle that we’re having, thankfully, here this summer. I just turn on my audio on my phone and record myself on a talk track. That talk track obviously needs editing. It’s way too wordy, but it helps me think through the progression of the content in the book.

Honestly, I would recommend that for anyone writing blog posts, writing scripts for videos, any kind of content, just to get your stream of consciousness out of your head and do it in a format that you promise yourself will never get published. It eliminates those barriers of complexity and perfection. “I better have my makeup on and I’m a face for radio.” No, forget it. Just get it down and you’ll have something you can build off of and it’ll make it a lot easier to turn your ideas into print.

Cheri Keith:

That’s awesome. It’s interesting you say that. I remember one time I had writer’s block and I was feeling kind of silly, but I was like, you know what? I need to go for a run right now. It’s amazing what you can come up with when you’re like, “Oh crap, that’s a really big hill in front of me.” Maybe I’ll have an idea here that I need to jot down in the notes section of my phone before I tackle this bad boy. It’s amazing how that works.

Matt Heinz:

Yeah. I mean, there’s something to be said for taking time to focus on something else, like get yourself out of the context of sitting in front of your computer. We joke sometimes when ideas come on when we’re in the shower or working out or in the car and it’s in part because your brain is partially at rest. You’re focused on something else.

I’ve done a lot of reading on neuroscience. Our brains are amazing. If we give it something to think about and then leave it alone, it’ll work on that problem in the background. It’s pretty amazing.

Before the iPhone, way back in the day, I used to run with a little mini recorder. It may still be around here somewhere. It’d be hilarious to go and listen because you’d have these ideas. Like you said, you’re going up a hill and you can barely breathe, and I have these ideas to record. You really have to listen to it three or four times afterward and try to figure out what I was trying to say.

But I think there’s something to be said for just giving yourself space and sometimes a little distance to get the idea out. But, also that idea of when those ideas come. To constantly have some means of capturing your ideas and the things that go through your brain because let’s face it, no matter who we are, most of the ideas we come up with are going to be terrible. But that’s part of the process of working through things in your brain and on paper and on your video or in a recorder to get to the good stuff.

Cheri Keith:

Yeah, I also think the distractions that you have sitting in front of your computer, the things like email and your Slack messages. Where you’ve sat down to start writing, whether that be the book or another piece of content, and you get all of these distractions that aren’t really distractions. They’re work, but it’s hard to shut off all of that and then sit there and not feel the need to pull up Amazon and do some shopping at the same time.

Matt Heinz:

It’s really hard. It gets really, really hard. And I think, I mentioned a business book oftentimes will be 50,000 words. If you sit down and try to write 50,000 words, God help you. That’s going to be an awful process, right? So, you have to sit down and say, “Okay, I’m going to do 500 words at a time or a thousand words at a time.” Whatever sort of time you have or whatever your process is.

I’ve also found that for things that feel intimidating I use something called the Pomodoro method. Pomodoro is Italian for tomato and the guy that created it apparently used one of those little kitchen tomato timers that you can turn it. Twist the tomato and you get to your time. Well, it’s very simple.

You take 25 minutes at a time and then take a five-minute break. Then you can do another 25 minutes, take a five-minute break. You can string them along or you could just do one. And the whole point is, it’s hard. If you haven’t sat and done one thing for 25 minutes, you’ll realize just how distracted we all are. Or just how much our brain is straining to try to do something else because we’re focused on something intently.

Our brains can’t focus on something for more than 40 or 45 minutes at a time. So, you do it early. You do it for 25. But it’s amazing, if you could just do 25 minutes of something and not distract yourself, how much you get done, how much progress you make. If there’s a project you’re sitting on that feels intimidating, that you don’t want to start, don’t finish it, just do 25 minutes.

You’ll realize in that 25 minutes how much progress you’ve made. It’ll feel less intimidating because now that you’re into it, you get a sense for how much is left. Like, “Okay, I only have this much left to do.” Instead of thinking, it’s going to take 40 days, it’s probably only going to be a couple more hours.

Then you can choose another Pomodoro period or just say, “Okay, I get it. I know how this is going to get done.” So really sort of giving yourself short focused periods of time to focus. I know you guys have a diversity of people listening to this podcast. Listeners, email me as soon as you listen to this, matt@heinzmarketing.com if you think you can’t get away from your email or Slack or text for 25 minutes. If you can’t spend 25 minutes away from that stuff, God help us all.

Cheri Keith:

I saw a really funny meme the other day. It’s like, “Did I really go to college to become a professional email writer?” That just needs to be the enabling mechanism for something else to be happening. You’re not supposed to be a full-time emailer. It’s missing the point at that stage.

Matt Heinz:

Yeah. Yeah. Well, it’s really easy to feel like you’re being productive by just responding to other people’s stuff, right? In your inbox and your Slack channel and everything else.

It means it’s that much more important at the beginning of the day, the beginning of the week, beginning of the year, you have to know what’s most important. Your inbox is 90% of other people’s priorities and their priorities may be important to the business. You may be part of the solution to help them achieve their priorities. Well, that’s important to know, but if all you do is focus on other people’s stuff and don’t get your stuff done, that’s a failure. That’s not a success. So there has to be a strong balance.

The COVID-19 Pandemic and Marketing Fundamentals

Cheri Keith:

Absolutely. So, one more question here about the book before we talk a little bit more about just predictable pipeline in general. Has the pandemic changed the way you’ve written? Has it changed the overall process that you were using? Certainly, this was in the works before the world completely shifted for us.

Matt Heinz:

The short answer is no and I would argue that it’s even more important. When things are going well, when we’re in great market conditions when the wind is at your back, you’re sailing downstream and whatever metaphor you want to use, you can afford to be less disciplined. You can afford to do random acts of marketing or not have all your processes in place between sales and marketing and things might still work out.

When opportunities constrict, when your pipeline shrinks, when deals stop coming through as easily, it’s even more important to master the fundamentals.

If you read the book, The Predictable Pipeline, and you’re like, “Well, this is all kind of fundamentals.” It’s like, “Yeah and none of us are doing it very well.” Defining our target audience, who do we sell to and why, defining roles and responsibilities across sales and marketing.

If I had a nickel for every time I heard a company say, “Oh, we know exactly what a qualified lead looks like. We don’t have to go through that part of the process.” I’ll be like, “Great. Show me where it’s written.” And they’re like, “No, no, we all just know it.” I’m like, “Okay, then let’s get five people in the room and I want everybody to tell me.” If it’s anecdotal, if it is institutional knowledge, it is inconsistently applied, right? To be actively defining that and staring everybody in the eye and saying like, “Okay, do we all agree with this?” I mean, this isn’t set in stone. We can adjust this, but this is what we agree to now. That is so important.

I think it’s even more important now to have those things in place, to know your ICP, to know rules and responsibilities, to understand what happens when a good lead comes in, having alignment between sales and marketing and sales kickoffs. Great. What about alignment on Tuesday morning? If a good lead comes in, how do you know what’s a good lead? Who follows up with it? How often? With what message? How is that recorded? It’s not about getting draconian. It’s about defining the consistent components of your process, which allows you to be creative more of your time. It allows you to spend more time being creative with your programs, more time being creative with each individual opportunity. If you can get the fundamentals right and make that predictable, consistent and scalable as you grow your business.

Cheri Keith:

You’re preaching to the choir here. It’s not the sexiest part of marketing, but it’s the part that just needs to be done. I think my favorite example isn’t necessarily about the definition of lead, but usually, I love to ask people about their personas. “Oh, we have those. Yeah. We have those. Yeah.” “When were they created?” “Uhh…2014?” I’m like, “Come on!”

Maybe that’s one of the good things that comes back to looking at the fundamentals right now is no one’s persona should be the same as they were before the pandemic. Chances are, you are marketing to a target audience that had some sort of shift or change within their environment over the past six months.

At least it’s that opportunity to go back to understand what’s going on in their world so you can market in a better way to them. So that you can actually make the messaging that will resonate to them. That you’re not being tone-deaf, either.

I think that’s the big missed opportunity for people right now is just that understanding that the message that worked before might not land now. And that’s okay. Now’s the time to go back and think about this in a different way.

Matt Heinz:

Yeah, I agree. And like we said earlier, ideally you should be doing that anyway. If your persona was written seven years ago, that person, that member of the buying committee still may be relevant, but what they think about and what they prioritize may be different.

We’ve seen buying committees change in the last eight, nine months, right? I mean, when I started my business 12 years ago, I started in November of 2008 and that was the beginning of our recession. There was a lot of buying committees that changed.

I had a client that was selling into HR and the primary buyer previously was a director of HR. Well, going into a recession, all of a sudden, the buying authority for their size of a product actually went up to the CFO. So, we now have to add the CFO to the buying committee. By the way, the CFO didn’t want to get on any sales call, even though the CFO had purchase authority needed to sign off on the final purchase. It was still such a small deal, she didn’t want to get involved in the details. So, we had to teach the HR director how to speak CFO language, which isn’t necessarily a natural skill for a lot of HR managers, right?

They also talk about personas. Personas are a great start, right? Understanding who that person is and what makes them tick. That’s a great start, but it’s missing three components. If you have personas where you don’t understand the context of the buying committee, right? The multiple members of the buying committee internally who are going to ultimately reach consensus to make a decision, you have to put the persona in the context of their colleagues.

Two, you have to understand the buying journey that that prospect is going through. What are the problems that need to exist for them to be willing to do something about it? What’s the status quo that’s going to get challenged that gets them to commit to change? So, there are stages of that persona through a buying journey with that buying committee, you have to think about.

The third piece relative to that buying committee are buying committee cohorts. So let’s look at a big enterprise deal. There are eight or nine people that have a vested interest in the problem. So, there are eight or nine members of the buying committee. You don’t need all eight or nine of those people to make decisions at each stage, right? There may be subsets of the buying committee that can reach lower case “yeses” to move the deal along, to eventually get to the all caps “Yes” that gets your deal closed.

So, understanding the buying committee, buying journey and then journey cohorts. And again, I don’t want to overcomplicate this, but if you can think about those three things, you will have dramatic differences in the efficiency and velocity of the deals you’re working on.

Cheri Keith:

Well, I think one of the reasons why marketers get so scared once you start to introduce this notion of the buying committee, which I think everyone realized it wasn’t just one person saying “yes” all along, but then they start to do, I call it marketing math in their head.

To use your example, they’re like, “Oh my gosh, there are 10 people involved through each stage. Now I need to multiply everything I’m doing by 60 in order to make this work.”

When in reality, I think if you’re going through this process thoroughly and you’re really being introspective about it, what it’s actually going to help you do is better prioritize the work that needs to get done. It’s not that you need to create the most earth-shattering experiences for everyone. It’s about knowing when they will need that type of content and being sure that it’s available at that point in time.

Matt Heinz:

Right. You’re exactly right. And “content” quote-unquote does not mean a 20-page white paper in every case. Content may be a quote. It may be a testimonial. It may be one or two sentences that just sort of address the right person at the right time with the right sort of context or right sort of issue that they’re dealing with. Right?

I think the other perspective we get is like, “Oh my gosh. I thought personas [blip]. I just got this medical company I want to sell to. This just got way more complicated than I’m willing to deal with.” I’m like, “Well, buying is hard. Selling is hard.” We have to be willing to embrace a level of complexity to do this well.

You asked at the beginning of this interview, “Hey, what’s different now in terms of the beginning of the year relative to predictable pipeline?” Well, this is one example. In a good market when there’s lots of money flowing when people are willing to fund priority number five on their list, you can get away with having more of a one size fits all message. But when people are no longer funding the priority number five on their list, when they’re only funding one through two, you have to be a lot more precise about how you’re approaching that prospect and with what message and why. So, there will be a lot of companies who embrace this complexity and embrace the discipline behind it and come out of this pandemic stronger than ever before.

If you think about this in terms of a racing metaphor, I’m not a big racing guy, but I like this metaphor that we’ve been in straightaway for a very long time, right? And in a straightaway, in a race, you just [blip].

We’re right now in a curve and a curve is the hardest part of the race. You have to slow down, you have to watch all your metrics and make sure you don’t hit the wall. But races are won in the curve because some race car drivers know when to accelerate through the curve into the straightaway.

You don’t wait to hit the gas pedal when you’re on the straightaway. You hit it when you’re coming out of the curve. And there will be companies that do the workaround creating critical pipeline systems for themselves that not only help them sell more now, but it’s going to help them create competitive differentiation as we move into a new normal and work our way back into another straightaway.

Cheri Keith:

Hmm. I really liked that analogy. My parents are race car drivers. I was raised at a race track. So that definitely resonates with me.

Matt Heinz:

Whoa, really?

Cheri Keith:

Yeah. That’s how they met. They were race car drivers. It’s kinda crazy.

Matt Heinz:

I want to hear about that.

Cheri Keith:

I know! That explains why I drive a six-speed MINI Cooper, right?

Matt Heinz:

Yes.

Marketing Discipline and Shifts in the Paradigm

Cheri Keith:

I think that’s interesting because especially if you look at the shifts that are happening. It’s like being able to build the discipline right now. In a way, right now for marketers, it’s harder to be disciplined because of all of the other things that are happening within the organization, but if marketing can be the forcing function to getting things done and having that repeatable process with sales, I think that’s also where people will start to see the real impact. It’s not a racing analogy, but I was thinking about it the other day.

Of course, if you think about like the pandemic bingo card, I’ve checked off getting a puppy because I’m not traveling anymore. So, the kids finally got their way. We got the puppy and it’s not easy, right? But I’m like, if we’re disciplined now with the approach, we don’t have to worry when the dog gets to be whatever size that it’s going to jump on you. You need to do it now so that you have that creativity like you were talking about, to play with, but you can’t do that in reverse.

I think that’s where it’s about building good habits early on for people. But I think event marketers actually, strangely, might be some of the best people to think about this because they have the biggest new normal that’s going on right now. They need to figure out how to do digital marketing all of a sudden. And I think they can be an interesting enabler for the marketing team right now. What do you think?

Matt Heinz:

Oh, this is crazy, this is a really exciting time for event marketers. I think that we will eventually go back to more in-person events. Those are never going away, but I think you’ve seen so many companies start to reinvent what events mean, to reinvent what field marketing means, to reinvent what it means to engage someone in an online experience.

Sitting back and watching someone walk through a PowerPoint without seeing their face on a webinar is like, that hasn’t worked for a while and now we’re seeing it with even greater attention that that doesn’t work. Right?

This is a really exciting time to rewrite the field marketing playbook. I think there’s a little bit of experimentation that goes along with that, for sure. But if you’re wondering what that should look like, just go back to your customer, go back to your understanding of the personas, your understanding of the buying journey, your understanding of the buying committee. It will give you evidence. It’ll give you a blueprint of which things you should go invest in in the market.

Cheri Keith:

Well, that’s interesting too, that you say that because I think one of the biggest strengths, and I see this both professionally and personally for my friends who are in field marketing and event marketing and event management, I feel like one of the biggest differentiators for them is that attention to detail and discipline that they have. That is really within their DNA and makes them really good at what they are and that’s all back to predictable pipeline. Infusing that type of rigor could be an interesting role that they could play in all of this.

Seven Focus Areas of Predictable Pipeline and Matt’s Favorite Part

Matt Heinz:

Yeah. Well, and the way we’ve defined predictable pipeline, there’s sort of seven focus areas that we recommend companies work through. It doesn’t mean you have to go work all seven at once.

Usually, we’ll go in and if we audit the benchmarks, so to speak, where people are at, there are places where you’re strong and there are places where you need improvement and that gives you a bit of a roadmap of where to go and focus. So, you’re not going to go do everything at once. You’re never going to have time or the ability to do that. Usually, it’s not very efficient to do so anyway, but to know where to put focus and to know where your best leverage is going to be to not only create greater impact now, but to create more consistency, moving forward. It’s super helpful to have that level of clarity.

Cheri Keith:

So, of those seven areas, what’s one of your favorites to work on with clients?

Matt Heinz:

There are seven areas and the first four are in a grouping called Plan and Understand. We impress upon people that the majority of this process is before you start to execute, because I think a lot of companies say, “I just need to go get leads,” right? So, let’s just send more emails, let’s make more calls. And then you end up with those random acts of marketing that really don’t have a face. It’s like, “What are you saying to who and why? Or what happens after that lead is generated?” It leads to chaos very, very quickly.

I would say the most important piece is understanding your target, right? Understanding who you’re selling to and why from an account standpoint, as well as who the people inside the companies are. I’d say that’s the most important, but my favorite part might be actually the roles and responsibilities part of the process.

So many companies haven’t just thought through consistently what happens with the lead and why? Like if it’s good, here’s what happens. Here’s the kind of follow up that happens. Here’s the right kind of message and the right format. Is it video? Is it email? Is it different? Is it social? Having that documented and having an iterative improvement process for that.

Sometimes that alone, sometimes we’ll go in and we’ll say, “Listen, the personas are okay. The buying product, the ideal customer profile and a definition of discipline is fine for now, but there are no processes in place. You go fix that and you go get that in place.” And boom, I mean, you can say you have existing opportunities, you have existing leads, you fix that process piece and the impact can be, I don’t want to say, immediate is a bad word, but it can be very quick. Right?

Sometimes we have a process we use called pipeline rescue. It’s the idea that if you have deals frozen, opportunities frozen, let’s figure out where to get them unstuck. Sometimes it’s about honing the messaging. Oftentimes, it’s about just getting your process dialed in.

There are those things that, depending on the nature of the company that you asked, what are my favorites. There’s a couple I gravitate towards, but once we’ve benchmarked where they’re at, usually there’s something that stands out that I think can have that boom impact for the company in terms of unleashing this pent-up demand, this pent-up interest that they just haven’t been able to get out of their own way to address. It’s exciting to watch.

Cheri Keith:

That’s why you’re in the business you’re in though. Because you enjoy seeing the clients being able to unlock those results based on the methodologies and the guidance. I think that’s what differentiates people who spend their career in client service or on the external view. That’s the most rewarding part.

Matt Heinz:

Yeah. That’s what this is about, right? This isn’t about documenting personas and creating processes and sending more emails. This is about impacting people’s lives by impacting their business.

We joke internally that none of this matters unless it impacts metrics you can buy a beer with. If you start to really impact pipeline velocity, closed deals, consistency of getting those deals across the line, increasing the accuracy of forecasts and the accuracy and predictability of pipeline development. That can change a business. That can change a business’s growth opportunity. It can change its profitability and there are often places with companies where that can happen in a pretty short order.

Cheri Keith:

Absolutely! Well, Matt and I are actually partnering on a workshop on predictable pipeline in the next few weeks. I’m sure the audience will be invested in joining us. I think there’ll be a lot of [blip] in there and a lot of great resources that we’ll have.

Any closing thoughts about either that workshop or guiding perspectives on predictable pipeline?

Matt Heinz:

No, I’m excited about the workshop. If you like what we’re talking about here, the workshop is going to land the plane, right? To be able to walk through what does this look like? What does the template look like? What does the sample process look like?

I’m not big for ivory-tower theory. I’m big on pragmatic, how do we get this done? And so, the workshop’s going to get pretty detailed and just how this can actually impact companies pretty quickly at the end of the workshop.

I look forward to that and look forward to getting the book out, too. It’s one of those things that’s 12 years in the making, right? I have a methodology that I think has really impacted a lot of companies in a positive way, so excited to get that out to more people.

Cheri Keith:

Absolutely and we’ll all be waiting for that. February, as far away as it seems, it will be right around the corner. I’m sure with all your deadlines, you’re feeling that crunch a little bit more, but thank you.

Matt Heinz:

Very much so, but no, it’s a good thing.

Cheri Keith:

Well, thank you for your time today, Matt. I always value our time together and, Audience, thank you for tuning in and make sure that you register for the workshop that Matt and I will be running in September about predictable pipeline. Thanks and have a great day.

Why Predictability Is Important for Marketers

There is no shortage of opinions about what marketers need to be prioritizing right now. We can pretty much say without a doubt there is one characteristic that we’re trying to embody: Predictability. In a world upended, we’re looking for predictability, at home and work. In particular, marketers are looking for predictability in the pipeline. This is how marketing teams are able to measure their contribution to the business.

But predictability doesn’t just appear. It takes rigor, structure and process in order to achieve a marketing organization that is able to deliver pipeline predictably and sustainably. In simplest terms, creating predictability is a return to marketing fundamentals:

      • Understanding the market,
      • Defining your buyer,
      • Having visibility into their buying scenarios and length of cycle, and
      • Knowing about the buying group dynamics, who’s involved and when.

Even if you feel like you had these under control before the Pandemic, they certainly need a refresh now. Even though your product may not have changed, what is going on in the world of your buyer certainly has.

The fundamentals certainly aren’t sexy. But they are what is required to set yourself up for continued success. I’ve seen too many organizations get lulled into a false sense of security because of market conditions or see Random Acts of marketing generate results — but can be a slog. Having to recreate the wheel each time and be unsure of results is an anxious state of a marketing mind.

If these topics are of interest to you, make sure to register today for an upcoming workshop I’m running with Matt Heinz of Heinz Marketing on these topics.  We’ll have lots of practical advice and worksheets to take with you on your journey to creating a more predictable pipeline. We’d love to see you there — virtually!

Three Great Webinars to Attend in August

How can you drive webinar registration? What does it take to build the ultimate virtual conference experience? What, exactly, do with your content after your virtual event?

We’ve got three excellent webinars to address each of your burning webinar questions this month. Tune into one — or all — to learn how you can get more out of your events and create dazzling digital experiences. Here’s what’s in store:

WBPS: Keys to Driving Webinar & Digital Event Registration in 2020

In a digital-first world, webinars have redefined how we engage with our prospects and customers. But your webinars and digital events are only as good as your ability to get people to attend them.

Tune in this Wednesday at 11 a.m. PT (2 p.m. ET) attend “Keys to Driving Webinar & Digital Event Registration in 2020” and learn best practices that have helped companies build their audiences from tens to thousands. During this event, you’ll learn:

  • How to optimize your email invitations
  • Picking subject lines and titles
  • Best days to promote your events
  • Strategies for A/B testing your promotions

Register here!

The #Webinerd Channel Series: How ACFE Built the Ultimate Virtual Conference Experience

ACFE took its traditional in-person annual conference virtual in just a matter of weeks and flawlessly delivered 92 sessions over two-and-a-half days. The best part? They still provided a stellar experience for more than 4,000 attendees and dozens of sponsors.

Tune in to The #Webinerd Channel this Thursday at 11 a.m. PT (2 p.m. ET) to learn how ACFE made it happen. During this event, you’ll learn:

  • Best Practices for virtual conference pre, during and post planning and execution
  • Tips for driving attendee networking and engagement
  • Best Practices for involving sponsorships at virtual conferences

Register here!

After the Digital Event: Turning virtual events into new content experiences

Most digital events exist as a moment-in-time but all of the content from that event still has a lot of value. It’s time you learn how you can get more from your events.

Attend “After the Digital Event: Turning Virtual Events Into New Content Experiences” on August 19 at 11 a.m. PT (2 p.m. ET) to learn the strategies for using digital event content to generate demand in entirely new ways.

During this webinar, you’ll learn how you can:

  • Repurpose event content for global audiences
  • Create mini-events from larger ones
  • Create standalone webinars from event sessions
  • Use event data to fuel research needs

Register here!

It’s Time to Get VIRTUALIZED

To help marketers navigate these unprecedented times, we’re putting on a little summit: VIRTUALIZED. It’s a first-of-its-kind live digital event and certification program designed to ensure professionals like you are educated and skilled-up the latest techniques and strategies that you need to succeed in a digital-first era.

Taking place today from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pacific Time, VIRTUALIZED kicks off with a live keynote webinar featuring leading experts in webinar and experiential marketing. After the keynote, attendees can take a five-part on-demand webinar certification course that will provide participants with the knowledge of how to build digital experiences that engage across the entire customer journey.

Powered by the ON24 Platform, VIRTUALIZED features a line up of world-class marketers to share their insights and best practices in a post-COVID world. Jason Talbot, Managing Director of The Crocodile, will provide a keynote, “The Art of Human Connection.” ON24 VP of Content Marketing Mark Bornstein will host and also deliver a keynote.

Those keynotes will be followed by a decorated panel, whose speakers include: Ash Parikh, SVP of Marketing at Informatica, Steve Arentzoff, VP of Demand Generation, Medallia, Jack Foster, Senior Director of Demand Generation at SurveyMonkey, and Deanna Ransom, Global Head of Marketing & Marketing Services at Televerde.

Attendees can expect to learn:

    • A framework for running ongoing VIRTUALIZED campaigns
    • The set of tactics for omnichannel promotions, from email to chatbots social
    • Innovative production and presentation formats, from virtual talk shows to after-parties
    • How to supercharge live engagement and networking in virtual experiences
    • A playbook for putting engagement data to work

VIRTUALIZED comes after ON24 powered MINDSHIFT in May, a digital event assisting the fight against COVID-19 while connecting and inspiring professionals all around the world.

Want to transform your marketing in a digital-first world? Register today.

Why Digital Experiences Need a Mindshift

Whether you love it or hate it, working from home has its challenges. The Sunday Scaries may no longer worry you, but now every day feels exactly the same.

That’s why, in mid-May, we partnered with Epic Keynotes to deliver an engaging event that helps professionals shift their minds and perspectives while working from home. We called it MINDSHIFT, and it was a first-of-its-kind digital event that helps professionals like you to dream up out-of-the-box ideas all while benefiting the COVID-19 Response Fund.

In two hours, MINDSHIFT connected attendees with ten of the greatest thinkers in business and personal development. However, a new mindset isn’t the only thing that’s changing. How we host events like this has shifted from physical, in-person events to a complete content journey experience ranging pre-, during- and post-event.

Here is how we did it:

Getting The Live Event Going

MINDSHIFT started as a live digital event in mid-May. As with any event, it’s important to promote the event to gain as much attendance as possible.

In addition to an email campaign, we focused our promotions on our three social media channels: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. We made sure to tag the event speakers, include event branded images and a link directly to the event page website with an easy registration form. The goal is to make it as simple as possible for participants to say “yes” and sign up. We even streamed the event to Facebook live for maximum engagement:

But the real magic for marketers is the landing page itself. Through a combination of ON24 Engagement Hub and Target, visitors are greeted with an interactive, dynamic experience that’s engaging, branded and, for marketers, data-rich.

An Engagement Hub for Virtual Experiences

With ON24 Engagement Hub, MINDSHIFT registrants and attendees can learn all about the event, its details and register for upcoming sessions. The Engagement Hub also empowers marketers to organize their virtual experiences anyway they see fit. They can guide audiences to tracks and breakout sessions, let attendees filter by speaker or topic and more. For MINDSHIFT,  audiences can stream the entire on-demand event with the click of a single button or explore each speaker’s biography and session by clicking on their corresponding section.

Bespoke Experiences via Target Pages

So what happens when a MINDSHIFT attendee clicks on a speaker’s portrait? They’re taken to a branded Target page that contains additional resources about the speaker and a link to the speaker’s MINDSHIFT session. Each MINDSHIFT presenter, then, gets their own page filled with their own contextual content.

Always-On Content Experiences

MINDSHIFT is an event that anyone can watch at any time, over and over again. It is always going to have relevant information and is something that can be revisited as often as a participant desires. The information on radiating positivity and being open to possibilities will never be stale and is something we all need to remind ourselves about, especially as we get so busy in the day to day grind of work and life.

Because this is infinitely relevant, and we can all use a reminder to be more positive and open to new experiences, MINDSHIFT is the perfect event to live on through on-demand streaming.

One of the best things about digital experiences is the ability to easily scale with an audience’s needs. Attendees could focus and watch a 45-minute presentation in the midst of a busy day or narrow-down on a specific topic, track or theme during a two-day seminar. And best of all: virtual experiences scale. Events can range from 100 participants to 10,000 participants — and you can even use in-person content.

So, when you think about how you can mindshift your day-to-day approach to working from home, think about how you can also shift how your work gets done with comprehensive digital experiences.