How Predictable Revenue’s Team Beat All Predictions With Their First Ever Virtual Conference

Jass Binning
Feb 2, 2021 9:45:00 AM

Growth Marketing Camp, Ep. 3

How Predictable Revenue’s Team Beat All Predictions With Their First Ever Virtual Conference

If you are just starting out in growth marketing, trying to look for your next job in growth, or simply trying to be better at your craft, consider this podcast as a peek into how leading marketing experts think about their campaigns, metrics, and what’s important to them.

 
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In the 3rd episode of Growth Marketing Camp, Rex Biberston speaks with Julia Heesen the Head of Marketing for global sales brand, Predictable Revenue. Tune into this episode to get the details on how her team successfully made the leap from regular webinars to their first ever virtual conference.

Here's what you can expect on today's episode…

  • 2:20 - Own Your Growth campaign overview
  • 8:00 - Power of utilizing a Slack community
  • 10:00 - Value first-approach & lessons learned 
  • 15:00 - Structure of the PR marketing team 

Read the full transcript:

Okay, everybody. Welcome to another episode of Growth Marketing Camp. I am joined here by Julia Heesen who's the head of marketing for a company you've probably all heard of Predictable Revenue. The name, the brand being made famous a few years back, and it is a sales outsourcing firm. We'll learn a little bit more from Julia about what she does there and what the company does, but Julia, welcome to the show.

We appreciate you making time. Thanks for having me great to be here. Give us a little bit of your background. Julia, you've got a past in marketing. You're passionate about marketing, but how'd you get into your current role? Yeah, sure. So I'm originally from Germany. I moved to Mexico and when I tried to search for a job, I knew I wanted to do something in the marketing area.

So I came across Predictable Revenue and I started in social media marketing and yeah, just steadily with it as the company grew, my responsibilities grew and now I'm heading the marketing team here. That's awesome. Yeah, you've been there about two and a half years. It looked like, and that looks a great trajectory for you.

Congratulations on the moves within the company. Tell me a little bit about Predictable Revenue, what the company does and who's your target audience that you work with? Sure. Yeah, so most people know the book Predictable Revenue, like the best-selling book by Aaron Ross and Aaron Ross is actually our co-founder.

So he and Colin Stewart founded  Predictable Revenue the company. And we at the company, we help other companies multiply their revenue by either helping them with their existing sales teams. So by coaching consulting assessments, or they can actually rent our SDRs. So we have STR pods and then we do the sales side for them.

So that's what we're all about. This is good. I think this will be a particularly interesting episode for everyone listening, because it's a competitive industry as someone who formerly co-founded two different agencies I've been in. And it's tough to differentiate. It's tough to prove that enough for somebody to trust you with even consulting, even just teaching their own reps internally, how to do it, but, especially outsourcing.

So be really interested to hear how you're targeting those folks and educating them. Let's get straight into this campaign that you've been thinking about that I'm excited to talk about. Tell us what was the goal of the campaign? How do you describe it internally? What do you name it?

I guess, first of all, Yeah. So the campaign is our virtual conference called Own Your Growth ,own your growth is actually one of our company values. So we thought it makes total sense to own your growth by coming to our conference and just like educating yourself. So yeah, virtual conference, everything SCADA and remote with COVID and such.

So we thought. Okay. What was the goal of this campaign in particular? So getting people to the conference, who are you trying to get there? And I guess what was the hope that they would walk away with or that they would do afterward? Yeah, so the main goal was brand awareness and to create connections with our audience and with other companies.

So really building connections Through a remote conference because we weren't able to build those connections going to your conference. And we were targeting sales and marketing leaders and practitioners. So that's our ICP, our sales and marketing leaders. And then the  practitioners are the ones currently working in the role and then a couple of years they might remember us and get back to us.

Yeah. Makes total sense. And so is that the strategy when you work with practitioners, from your content perspective, are you trying to get in the minds of practitioners for years down the road when they're in that leadership role? Or are you hoping they'll sell this up the food chain? Hey, we could really use some of the things predictable revenues talking about, just curious how you guys are thinking about that.

Oh, totally both. Yeah. Awesome. Okay. So you were trying to get folks to this conference. You had a good sense of who you wanted to get there. Talk to us about the channels that you're using to promote the campaign, because I saw a good deal of this. I remember when it first was coming out, that you guys did a lot of social at the very least.

I'd love to hear what else you guys were using and break it down. Yeah. A big piece was email marketing. So we have a newsletter with a pretty decent list size. So we promoted it through the newsletter on a weekly basis. And then we had an email push, so a dedicated email to our audience talking about the conference of course social media was a big piece for us.

So with LinkedIn mainly, and then  a little bit on Twitter and Facebook. And then we had affiliate programs going on. So we had some sponsors not paid sponsorships, but just an agreement we'll share their lists. We shared some contacts, we can add your logo.

And that actually brought in a big bunch of registers to our conference. That's fantastic. Did you have any, you don't have the name of the partner, but any types of partners that particularly  were, maybe the most beneficial for you guys in terms of gathering the right audience for the event.

Yeah, just like to name a couple of, we have like Sales  Hacker, Outreach on our side and then yes, some others, I won't name them all, but yeah, kind of partners. We knew that they had the same audience as we do. Yeah, one of the things I've always admired about Sales Hacker, they've done such a great job curating, like just the most clean, actionable content.

I only wrote for them once. And I remember how very specific their guidelines are. So I know I'm sure that the audience for you guys was a perfect fit or really nice partnership there. With Sales  Hacker, Outreach obviously owns Sales Hacker, and a phenomenal company to partner with. In any regard for anything sales related.

So that totally makes sense. Talk to me a little bit about the email marketing component.  Let's break down the email marketing. How many lists were you marketing to? Do you have one massive database of just everyone who's ever subscribed? Or do you have subsets of that or like re-targeting leadership with different messaging then, maybe the practitioners themselves for this specific campaign we didn't, so it's really one big list that we were targeting.

And then we have  some of us that are depending on their engagement. So if they're very engaged, we know they've been to a couple of our events, so we target them differently than people that maybe they're part of our list, but they're not very engaging, but yeah, very nice.

And I'm just curious, what platform do you use for managing your email marketing autopilot at this point? Cool. Very nice. All right. Now what in your mind made this campaign stand out from all the other campaigns? You've obviously as head of marketing and coming from social marketing at the same company.

This is one of many campaigns you've run.  What was eye-opening about this campaign or what made you want to call this on now? It was the biggest campaign we've done. It was a two day event. It was huge for us. It was like this big thing. Okay. Our own virtual conference.

We had 25 speakers, roughly 4,000 registrants. I believe over 10 sponsors. So it was just very big for us and everybody, like within the company, we had a couple of people participating as speakers. We had  people helping promote it. So it was just like the whole company was very excited about this, which made it great.

How did you sell that internally? I'm curious because that's part of it, is get everybody inside the company excited to share it online, to talk to their customers and others about it. Yeah, it definitely helped that we had a lot of people involved in the process. So we had Sarah as most people know of, Sarah Hicks.

She's one of our podcasts hosts. She hosted and moderated the show together with Colin. And then we had another person who  had her own session. And then a lot of people were actually, we reached out to them, Hey, could you help with live chat? Or we had our sales reps be part of I don't know with the Slack community taking care of questions.

So we had a lot of people involved internally, and also we had an incentive for people that weren't involved to help promote it. So I don't know what I think we had a giveaway, something that they could win. So basically help share the word and then maybe you can win something. Okay. There were a lot of gems in that.

So I love the giveaway idea. I want you to talk about the Slack community though, cause I've been a part of some of your events in the past, and I've enjoyed as a, as both a participant and watching some of the events, but also as someone who's speaking, being able to go and chat with the audience afterward, talk to me a little bit about how the Slack community played into this event in particular.

Yeah. We launched the Slack community with the Own Your Growth Virtual Summit. We still have it, but that was like the big moment for us.  Yeah, we created a couple of different channels: sales, marketing, job hunt just like different kinds of topics and also ask the speaker. So what we did, we asked our speakers to hang out for like 15, 20 minutes after their session on Slack and answer any questions that we didn't get to on the show.

So of course we wanted to answer all the questions being live, but it is impossible if there are too many questions. So that was great that incentivized our audience to actually participate in Slack and reach out, and they got all their questions answered and also to meet each other. Yeah. Great to get your questions answered, but also to network with other people. Yeah, no, that's cool. I noticed on one of your LinkedIn posts about the event, that one of your recommendations for anybody running a digital event is to try and recreate that feeling of, Hey, I can go meet people. Like you would at a physical event, is that really the core component was using that Slack community for everybody?

Yeah. We're trying to replicate the most important piece for most people going to a conference is actually to meet people. Get in touch. It's tough online, honestly. So it was our try to do it with Slack and I think it worked to some point, of course it's not the same, but yeah. That's great. If you could do it all over again, let's say tomorrow, Colin comes to you and says, Hey, let's do another one of these. And I imagine you're planning more of these. This is not the only attempt because it sounded like a great event. And from my participation, I think it was a phenomenal event. Well done. What would you change about it?

If you could do it all over again? Yeah, we actually did it all over again on a smaller scale. So more focused on a specific topic in September. So second one. And The biggest thing we changed, what we noticed is the first time everything was new, and I was like, okay, where are we going to build this conference, our landing page, the emails? There's like a lot of things that go into it, and we had no idea because none of us has ever done it. And then we found this great platform, it's called HeySummit, which is awesome. It's just like drag and drop, you build all your information in there, it sends email, everything's automated.

Perfect. But the big piece is you lose the traffic. So for the second one, we actually said, okay, we have the capacity, we have the skills this time we have the time, so we built everything like the event site itself on our own website and then our traffic for that month increased 56%. That's great.

I'm sure that there was an increase in inbound lead flow that month as well. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. So I think that's something we'll definitely continue doing for the next ones. So you're owning your growth and your owning your traffic. I think that's a good move as the next. That makes total sense.

Yeah, no, obviously the result of that first campaign of Own Your Growth now inspired you to do a second smaller version.  In what other ways has that impacted future campaigns? What have you learned from that, maybe that you're carrying for even smaller non events or what did you find that was a good learning from that event?

Definitely that the value first approach for us was the right one. So it was like when you plan such a big event  what is your goal? Do you want to mainly focus on sales and revenue for us? It was like, okay. Content first value. First. We want people to come and really walk away with actionable insights, so have great speakers, great topics.

 And that worked for us that worked out just fine. So that's definitely something we'll continue doing for everything we're going to plan this year and moving forward. So the content first, and then in the end, it'll pay out. So we actually got a couple of deals, which is great, along the way.

So yeah, no, that's great. Did you learn anything surprising? Was there anything that you didn't see coming that this event, or the campaign surrounding the event taught you? Anything surprising how much work it is, yeah.  You mentioned that, but I talked about it on my LinkedIn, just a little we've organized.

A ton of webinars and it seems something so similar, like organizing, it's basically a couple of webinars in one day. But it's actually not.  That's something you definitely need to calculate a lot of more time. Something I hadn't planned with, but we learned throughout the event is to plan the post event strategy pre event.

Just like the whole follow up is crucial to have it timely. Yeah, I think that would be something. Makes total sense, going from a few webinars in your mind to an actual big full-blown event. Is quite a difference. I've never personally run an event. I've been a participant in an event and I can see how much the inner workings just multiply.

It's definitely not just like running a couple of webinars. That makes total sense. So I'm glad you brought that up. I'm sure there's a lot of folks who are going to be listening to this episode who will be considering virtual events. It sounds like yours was a hit, but that there is definitely a mindset shift from, maybe an individual event to a larger scale event.

Definitely. So shifting gears here, getting outside of the scope of that campaign and thanks for telling that story, it was great. What's one thing in your mind, thinking about growth, marketers, those of us who are trying to grow. In any capacity as a marketer or maybe as a company leader, what's one thing that we should stop doing that we're doing now, or start doing that maybe we're not doing yet.

Yeah. So what I see a lot of marketers are not doing yet is repurposing content, or maybe they do a little bit like a post or something on LinkedIn, but really this taking one main piece of content, like kind of the Gary V Content Pyramid I think that's what he calls it. Yeah. I think that's huge.

And that's something we started doing last year and it's been huge for us, talk to me a little bit about that strategy. Help us maybe with some of the practicals or an example that you've got. Sure. So the Own Your Growth virtual conference, we had 12 hours of content, like 20 different sessions. Take only one session, 30 minutes of an interview that you already have.

You could turn that into a blog post. And then from the blog post, you can I dunno, cut out four to five learnings out of the blog post, and you can distribute it on all of your social channels. You can add it to an email . Taking the recording again, you can cut out some snippets for social media, like two to three minute snippets of some things. A key message that your speaker told you about add some subtitles to it and distribute it on social media.

So you really have weeks and weeks of content that you can just, you already have, you just have to use it and you can distribute it throughout all your channels, which is great. Yeah. So from a content marketing perspective, it sounds like that was a big hit then from the event you had so many hours of content, that's incredible.

We're still using it. Yeah. And some of your favorite speakers, is there something magnetic about a big event like that versus a webinar where you can get folks who maybe were less likely to participate in a one-on-one event, like a webinar? Did you get speakers that maybe you were like hopeful speakers that said yes, because it was a bigger event or was it the same reception as a webinar?

No,  I definitely think it helped that it was something big also  to get some speakers on and already helped that we had other speakers already confirmed. So I know we had Mark Roberge. We had Becc Holland just like a couple of names out there Justin Michaels. So just like a couple of people, really great speakers.

And as for the people, I think it also helped get a totally new audience, just like with the type of speakers that we had, because they helped promote it.  We sent them for some material to, to help promote the event and the sponsors as well. So we attract a lot of new people too to the conference that I guess we wouldn't have otherwise.

Makes total sense. Love it. So zooming out from the execution of this campaign and even your advice to growth marketers, let's talk about the structure of your department, because one of the things I love to learn is how does someone like yourself pull this off? How do you get this all done in such a short period of time?

Like what does the team look like currently? And then just, how are the responsibilities split up in the team right now? Sure. So our marketing team consists of two designers, so one graphic designer and then one video editor, which helped to make everything look pretty. We have a demand gen coordinator and a content like inbound person, so content coordinator.

So yeah, the demand gen person, she mainly took over the responsibilities of  webinars .Of course the virtual conference was a big piece. Everything in that direction, the content person, social media, blog, or podcast. Yeah, and I support the team. I was going to ask, how do you support the team?

Do you head up any of those projects or are you more coming in with the ideas or what kind of work do you do with them? Both. Yeah, definitely help coming up with ideas and then also jumping in on the execution.  I'm still in there with them, because that's what I love. Maybe I shouldn't be as much, but yeah.

And then I head up to our head of revenue and we work very closely with the sales reps. Very nice. Okay. Now I'm going to ask this because you mentioned at the very beginning of the, this episode here, you're German, you're living in Mexico. And now everybody has been forced to, to some degree work with folks who are not in the same physical location as themselves.

So this is new for a lot of us. I fortunately have been working remote for a long time, but would love to hear, especially across time zones and borders, any advice, any tips for those of us with global teams or maybe those who are forced currently due to COVID or other restrictions to work remotely, anything that you found that works particularly well, especially for marketing, I'm curious.

Cause there's like collaboration, there's creativity that has to happen that generally we believe. Oh, and in-person works so well. Anything that you found that works particularly well for you? Yes. I think the key is to have a good atmosphere within the team. So really dedicate enough times to, to meet with the team.I know, team lunch, even if it's over zoom, play some games online. I think.  If you have a good relationship with your team, everything's easier and the creativity sparks over. If you're more distant, I think  there's a bigger barrier, even though there's already a barrier, just like talking via zoom or Slack or whatever.

So I think that's, I would say that's the key to actually. Yeah. Get a lot of things working. I love that. Yeah. It's just people having fun with people, enjoying working with people. That's going to spark some creativity. Do you use any particular tools for like when you're having a creative moment, do you drop it in Slack?

Do you put it on a board somewhere like a task board or anything? How do you guys manage that? Yeah, the project management we have is Zena. But then other than that, we were chatting on Slack basically all day, like about work, but also other stuff. So just like continuously flowing. And then when something's spontaneous, I have this great idea of like jump on zoom and it's literally just, Hey, you're free, let's jump on zoom.

And then we just chat. So of course we have dedicated time to meet one-on-ones and everything. But we would jump on spontaneous zoom calls. Pretty often. That's awesome. Okay, great. Love the advice there. I'm just curious now, as we're wrapping up, are there any other marketers that you think of? Oh my gosh.

Like I look up to her. I look up to him, anybody that we should invite on the show here. I love Chris Walker stuff and Dave Gerhardt with his DGMG group.  Are you a member of the group? Yeah, I am. Yes, very nice. Totally recommended. Yeah. Dave Gerhardt, Chris Walker, two of my favorites. I will absolutely be inviting them on the show and we appreciate you joining Julia.

Thank you so much for your thoughts for sharing your story of your successful campaign. And we look forward to speaking with you again, down the road. Yeah. Thanks for having me again.

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