Get ideas for growing your business, managing your career, and innovating your campaigns by listening to episode #28 of the How I Made It In Marketing podcast. I had a smart, creative conversation with Maya Perry, Marketing Director, cnvrg.io (an Intel company).
Perry discussed how to build content when no one understands your field, rolling with the punches, and a reminder that B2B buyers are people, too.
This article was published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.
“Structure an engagement continuum that attracts people with varying degrees of motivation,” Flint McGlaughlin taught in Above-the-Fold Psychology: How to optimize the top 4 inches of your webpage.
In our latest episode, our guest shared the engagement continuum she has crafted for her company’s very complex product – a full-stack machine learning operation system. I hope you get ideas for creating an engagement continuum for your own offering from this discussion, no matter how complex or straightforward it is.
That guest is Maya Perry, Marketing Director, cnvrg.io (an Intel company).
Listen to our conversation using the embedded player below or click through to your preferred audio streaming service. Unfortunately, there is a few minutes of static-y audio here and there in this episode, but stick with it. It doesn't last long. "Lo Nora" (you'll understand that reference when you listen to the episode).
Some lessons from Perry that emerged in our discussion:
Exactly four years ago Perry started at cnvrg.io as the marketing manager of a four-person company. She was the first non-R&D hire of a highly technical AI software. She had to learn how to build a marketing program from scratch, learn a highly technical industry, and succeed with very minimal resources. Three years of hard work and growth later, the company was acquired by Intel Corporation, and she is now the marketing director.
Perry considers herself a strong writer, but to provide valuable content for your target audience you need more than just writing skills, you need to understand the subject matter. Creating content for data scientists has always been a huge challenge for the company. She can imagine many technical B2B marketers encounter a similar challenge. Eventually, she cracked the code on how to milk as much as she could from each piece of content.
The team launched a very successful webinar series that invited experts as guests. The webinars not only attracted leads, but also allowed her to transcribe and leverage that content in various ways. It was a huge success and has had a ripple effect to this day.
They have grown their audience and now host one of the largest virtual conferences in the AI (artificial intelligence) space – MLCon – with almost 10,000 registrants at the most recent conference. Perry said that connecting with an external consulant that understood virtual events in the technology industry – Lisa Gregory, Owner, Gregory Event Services – was key to pulling off the company's virtual conference.
Marketers are often less drawn to B2B marketing. Understandably so. It is way less appealing to create marketing campaigns for businesses compared to creating sexy campaigns for a consumer like you. But, one lesson Perry has learned is that B2B marketing is more like B2C than marketers think. Buyers are people, too. They have hobbies, challenges, and feelings just like everyone else. They are just a specific segment of people that do a particular job.
She has had the opportunity to learn everything she needs to know about the data science profession. When building campaigns, she does everything she can to be empathetic and understand what might trigger emotion out of her B2B audience. The bottom line is that marketers need to understand what the person reading your ad or content (or whatever medium they are receiving your message on) will feel when they see your message, so they act.
The best message Perry ever wrote was essentially a quote she received from a customer – they wanted to do more data science in their job, but most of their time was spent dealing with technical complexities. The message was “cnvrg.io released this tool to help you spend more time on data science and less time on technical complexity.” Perry guesses this message resonated with multiple people, because she received a few responses that said, “this corresponds to my personal needs.”
Confronting the “personal needs” – not business needs – of your audience is the best way to cause a reaction, in Perry’s opinion.
Perry also shared lessons she learned from the people she collaborated with:
via Yochay Ettun, CEO, cnvrg.io
Ettun encouraged Perry to be bold. Starting out, she was way more calculated, wanting to make sure everything was planned perfectly, and she understood every step before she started anything. She was planning the company’s first webinar which was set to happen in a month, when the CEO told her, ‘Let’s just do it next week.’ She panicked. She knew nothing about how to pull it off at the time. Within a week, she worked hard and somehow managed to get a workstream going.
The webinar was not perfect, but the next one was better, and the next one even better, and eventually they had a large audience. Sometimes it's better to just jump in unprepared.
via Gil Weitzman, VP Marketing; Yaniv Goldenberg, Head of Growth; Naama Greenzweig, Community Manager; all at cnvrg.io
Her team has tackled many brand-new projects, and the philosophy that Weitzman has always stood by is that the team should be willing to try anything and everything…if you learn from each try and adjust quickly. When COVID hit, they had to think outside the box to reach their audience and create a community around the product entirely through digital channels. While no one had experience putting on a virtual conference, they learned as they went.
In three months, they were able to put their resources together to produce a hugely successful virtual conference with nearly 5,000 registrants that has become their legacy. Their most recent conference reached almost 10,000 registrants. They are now the virtual event experts, and the hosts of one of the leading machine learning conferences in the industry. The lesson is that the only way to learn is by doing, and the only way to become an expert is to learn as you go and adjust quickly.
via Leah Kolben, CTO, and Yochay Ettun, CEO, both at cnvrg.io
Perry says that in a growing startup, there is a ton of change. Priorities can shift every second of every day. One day you might be seeking funding, the next you're focused on investors, the next day it's scoring customers. Some changes can be disappointing, like the product announcement you planned for a month is postponed two months, or the five-page e-book you wrote doesn't see the light of day, or the speaker you had scheduled for tomorrow's webinar drops out at the last minute (all these stories are things that Perry experienced).
The best thing one can do for themselves is not to let these last-minute changes make you tumble. That means finding a solution for anything even when it's not ideal. The best lesson to learn is that life goes on even when it doesn’t go exactly your way and making mistakes or having hiccups is part of the journey. To every hiccup in the road, founders Kolben and Ettun have always said a phrase in Hebrew, “Lo Nora.” This means “no big deal,” essentially.
And that is a good way to make it through the rigorous startup journey.
This podcast is not about marketing – it is about the marketer. It draws its inspiration from the Flint McGlaughlin quote, “The key to transformative marketing is a transformed marketer” from the Become a Marketer-Philosopher: Create and optimize high-converting webpages free digital marketing course.
Not ready for a listen yet? Interested in searching the conversation? No problem. Below is a tough transcript of our discussion.
Daniel Burstein: Early in my career, when I switched from B2C marketing to B2B marketing, I have to admit I was a bit intimidated. B2C marketing even if I wasn't in the customer set, I could understand the appeal and motivation. B2B marketing was so complex to me. My mentor at the time, Gerry Doobie, told me, Daniel, IT managers don't read white papers, people do.
In other words, you have to connect with your audience, and underneath it all, that audience is just as human as you are, even in B2B. That lesson came rushing back to me when I read the podcast guest application from my next guest who said B2B buyers are people too! This lesson is all the more important coming from her because her company’s focus. Her company's product uses artificial intelligence and machine learning.
So I was heartened to see that her focus was on very real ooey gooey humans and not just enterprises or algorithms. She'll teach us the story behind how she learned that lesson, along with many other lesson filled stories. Joining me now is Maya Perry, the Marketing Director at Converge IO, an Intel company. Thanks for joining us, Maya.
Maya Perry: Thank you so, so much for having me. I'm really happy to be here.
Daniel Burstein: This is going to be a fun conversation. So let's quickly look at your background so the audience knows who I'm talking to. You are the Marketing Director for Converge IO for the past four years. The first two years was Converge IO was an independent company and the past two years Converge IO has been a part of Intel. You manage a direct report as well as three agencies. And can you give us a sense what is your day like as a Marketing Director?
Maya Perry: Oh, what is my day like? Well, even though we've been acquired for two years by Intel, we still run very much like a startup. We're a pretty small marketing team of just five people, so most of the time I'm hopping around from, you know, anything that has to do with Marcom. So on one day I could be reviewing or writing a PR and working with our PR agency. Another day I could be working with Intel or partners to try and, you know, accelerate some of the work that we're doing with them. On other days I'm just writing marketing copy for landing pages, for ads, working with our creative agencies to try and create PPC ads. Really, really everything that you can think of in marketing, I put my hand in. So that's a little bit of our day to day and of course, you know, learning more about the AI space and the market in general.
Daniel Burstein: Wearing many hats. And that small team has pulled off some impressive things, including a huge conference, which we're going to get to. But let's start with how Converge IO got to be part of Intel and your role in that, and what marketers can learn from that. So your lesson you said was how to build a marketing program from zero to acquisition it's this, strategize, prioritize and put in the hard work. So tell us, Maya, how did you do it?
Maya Perry: Well, it's actually really funny because four years ago, exactly you know, beginning of August, four years ago, I started at Converge IO and I had a little bit of experience doing PR. I'd worked at a PR agency, I did copywriting for a big gaming company, and I had some other startup experience. And when I was first hired, I was hired as the Marketing Manager, first non RND hire and it was kind of funny. You know, there were only five people, including most of them being very, very technical. And my interview, the test that they gave me for the Marketing Manager position was to do a blog post. And you know, in the grand scheme of things, I don't even know if they realized and I'm not even sure that I realized that my role would be way more than a silly blog post. You know, I had to figure out how to build a marketing machine. I also kind of had to help with sales a little bit because we didn't even have salespeople at the time, and all we had was this highly technical software.
So I had to learn a little bit about what AI was, what Converge IO did. It's a by the way, it's an AI software, it helps data scientists. Eventually, you know, we started with webinars, blog posts, we tried to work on the website and all of that was really learning as we went. As we started to collect leads, you know, I say we, but I really mean me in the beginning and the CEO who sometimes, he had a data science background, but I think pretty good intuition to get things going, especially from a marketing standpoint.
So we kind of built this little program, how to get leads. That was like our number one goal and eventually kind of grew and grew and started to have a subscription base and started to incorporate emails and slowly built to what we are today. And then two years later, you know, we got acquired by Intel, which is every startup marketer's dream or startup, anybody who's joining a startup, that's really the dream I would say.
Daniel Burstein: Yes, yes, absolutely. So. Well, let me ask I'm very curious about that acquisition time specifically. So an acquisition doesn't happen all at once, right? It takes time. So what if anything, did you change once you first heard about the possibility of an acquisition by Intel until the acquisition was complete?
So I've written before about momentum marketing. I think it's an area where we sometimes overlook, keeping the deal moving right? Not just acquisitions, obviously, any B2B deal. You know, we focus on the beginning sometimes that lead acquisition, focus on the end, the final sale, but it's all too easy to overlook the middle what it takes to keep that momentum going. So when I've been part of an acquisition in my career with much bigger companies and it was all in the press and all sorts of these things, you know, it wasn't all at once. It kind of took a while. And in the middle I was working on sales enablement at the time, I remember. And in the middle, you know, some of the sales groups were just they were a little bit shell shocked and didn't know what to do because they were getting bought by a bigger competitor, it was Oracle, actually.
And I remember one of the sales leads came in some of the sales leads of the different geos I don't think they were handling as well. But one of the sales leads came in I think a guy from New York, that finance guy came in and said, hey, there's only one reason Oracle's buying us because we've got the best darn software out there and they know it. And I noticed, you know, it's such a simple insight, but that changed how the sales team dealt with the acquisition.
So I just wonder, you know, obviously it's a smaller company, maybe not in the press as much, but you knew, right? You knew. So did you change anything or what did you do differently in that kind of middle part once you knew that the possible acquisition could take place until it finally closed?
Maya Perry: That's a great question. So actually, the acquisition came as a pretty big shock to me and the entire company. I knew that we were, by the time we were already in the acquisition phase, we were about 35 people, so a bit bigger than the five people that we were when I started. And we thought that, I knew that we were just looking for funding. It was in COVID times and funding was not an easy thing to find. And, you know, for many years I had been kind of poking at our founders, kind of joking with them, Oh, I see. We're having conversations with, you know, X, Y, Z Company and we're having conversations with them. Do you think they're going to acquire us?
And it was kind of like this ongoing joke that I had with the CEO. And he said hopefully, hopefully. But he also knew, you know, that's not really in our trajectory. And he didn't know if anything was going to happen. And we had already started conversations with some actually competitors. And we've been working with competitors of Intel for a while. And that's actually part of what makes Converge interesting is because in a world where everything is kind of vendor locked, we're a very open platform for AI. So I think that, you know, through our work with the other competitive partners, Intel kind of saw an opportunity to grab us. And when I found out that we would be acquired by Intel, you know, I realized, wow, all the work, all the work that we had put in to work with, even the competitive partners, that's actually what ended up helping us get acquired by Intel.
And I was super excited to be acquired by Intel because, you know, Intel is really starting to become more of a software leader. You know, they've always been into hardware and it's really nice to be part of realizing that dream and also the AI software specifically. So it's a really nice opportunity and I've loved working for Intel ever since. And to be a startup, you know, after three years working at a startup, it was a dream come true to see some corporate structure. And that was what was magical about it.
Daniel Burstein: Well, what advice would you give to other marketers who are in your shoes where you're kind of a small startup, you get acquired by a big company? I think you might be a bit of a unique situation and that you're still independent, you're not totally gobbled up. But as you said, small startup, very different atmosphere, just very different way things move. You were only five people when you started, but also you're moving into that big organization. On the upside, there's more resources. On the flip side, I would think, you know, other things are harder brand use. So do you have any specific advice it's the dream, right? Like you said, either, you know IPO or you know capital funding or getting bought. But then once the dream becomes reality, once the dog catches the FedEx truck or something, what do you do then?
Maya Perry: Now, that's a really great question, and I actually have a very good answer. I think that something that big corporations are missing most of the time is that startup mentality. You'll notice, I mean, it was a big adjustment for me going into Intel and realizing things move very slowly and I had some experience with that before because we've worked with very big partners like Dell Technologies and Red Hat and some other big technology organizations, and they also, you know, move slowly.
And then once Converge came into Intel, you know, with that startup mentality, they look to us to get things done because we still have that drive and that quick, you know, hands on mentality. And I think that for you to be successful or for anybody who's going through an acquisition to be successful, you really need to keep that mentality and don't fall into the corporate trap.
You know, remember that you were always interested in working in the fast paced environment and it's way more exciting. So and you have a lot to bring to a big corporation if you keep that mentality and you'll probably go really far.
Daniel Burstein: Okay, great. Let's, let's get into your next lesson. So now we're talking about some actual marketing you did while at Converge IO. You said how to build content when no one understands your field, expert guests. And especially seems like I've worked in you know, software and tech too. And, and, you know, as a marketer, as a creative, you mentioned you start as a writer. I started as a writer. I mean, I understood it well enough to communicate it, but it's a bit of gobbledygook. Your stuff seems especially complex. So how did you use expert guests to create that content in that marketing?
Maya Perry: Yeah. So as a really small team in a very highly technical field, I'm sure that, you know, most B2B marketers are also thinking, okay, I have this challenge or a highly technical to find somebody who can actually write on data science or AI or whatever technical field you're in. It's really hard to find writers in that field. So but you know, content is king. In order to do marketing, you really need knowledgeable and very valuable content that is understandable by your audience.
And so trying to find content was one of our biggest challenges and still remains one of our biggest challenges today. And what we did or how we started was to start a webinar. It also probably could be could have been done with a podcast, but at the time we just knew how to use Zoom. So we used a webinar and we involved all the technical people in our team and invited them on to our webinar. We also invited partners and other technical people that could speak on the topics that were interesting to us that we would have wanted to write a blog on.
And so what we did is we leveraged that. I found, you know, new places where I could leverage that content, whether it be shorter videos. And, you know, the webinar has always been really useful and we still get downloads on our webinars. And I also transcribed it for pretty cheap, edited it real quick and was able to create social posts from that, and blog posts and ebooks all from that piece of content. And that was the best way for us to actually scale without having to hire, you know, technical people to write or even saved us time. Because if you do, especially in a technical field like this, you know, I don't think data scientists want to be writers. They'll probably make way more money being a data scientist these days. So it's understandable why it's so difficult to find somebody who can write. And that was the best way we could do it. And we've since, you know, grown our webinar audience.
Really, really. It's been incredible. You know, we started off getting maybe 50 people to a webinar and now it's not a surprise if we get 300 people to a webinar. And that community has even led us to open up into a whole conference with 10,000 registrants, which is pretty incredible. We have you know, we can talk a little bit about that more, but yeah, and now we also use all of our conference content for other content as well.
Daniel Burstein: Well, I mean, that's awesome. I'm going to from 50 people on a webinar to a conference with 10,000 attendees. That's phenomenal. So let's talk through you're talking about content webinar. Can you guide us through the customer journey you've set up? Right, because for example, we have a free digital marketing course in session 14 Flint McGlaughlin teaches structure and engagement continuum that attracts people with varying degrees of motivation.
Now I'd imagine you have that probably same thing engagement continue with varying degrees of motivation. There's people who are very interested in getting your, you know, tool right now. There's people who are unsure, there's people who are just trying to learn about machine learning and data science. And there's probably many different roles within the organization, too, from technical side to business side. So, you know, what is the customer journey? What is the engagement continuum for Converge IO? It sounds like some version of webinar to event to customer and you know, probably missing some pieces in there.
Maya Perry: Absolutely. You know, our funnel is very complex and a lot of it has to do with timing. Timing is everything when it comes to our funnel. And the best thing, there's a lot of different platforms out there that are doing something similar to what we do. And I think that the biggest thing you can do is build a community around the topic. And I'm not sure how many people in the audience are trying to market towards developers or technical people, data scientists. But, you know, they don't like to be sold to they want to talk, you know, geeky and they want to talk with other professionals and make themselves a better professional, very similar to what we would like as marketers.
And I would say that, you know, trying to engage with them and having a good brand experience where you give them value, eventually we've found, you know, somebody who came to our webinar maybe two years ago, converted maybe you know, two years later. But they've been through a long nurturing process. And eventually we were there when they realized, oh, we actually need a tool like this, or especially when we started three years ago, four years ago AI was not so common in general businesses. But now we're finding that like a lot of smaller companies are trying to get started with AI and those people are really ready and they've been going to our webinars for years now. Now they know who Converge is, or they joined our conference or they even spoke at our conference and they're kind of hitting us up later.
Daniel Burstein: I mean, I love what you say about helping people, especially the technical audience, but just helping people in general> I interviewed the CMO of Dashlane, and he was telling a story how he started his career before he got into Sales and Marketing he was an engineer, he was actually a hardware engineer. And then he went into a sales role and he didn't know how to do sales. So he just approached it like an engineer, which was like, all right, let's find the problem let's solve the problem. And it was pretty successful. They didn't realize, you know, oh, wow, this is not how I guess, you know, an outsider would think you're supposed to do sales, but when it comes to marketing, when it comes to content marketing for a technical audience, for anyone, really one, that long tail where you're helping them. And like you said, in some cases it helped them for two years before they become a customer. And two, just really focused on it sounds like what you're doing as an organization in general of working with a lot of different companies to actually grow your space.
So you want to tell us a bit about that conference you mentioned you grew to 10,000 people, I think. I mean, if you start as an in-person event, I know we all went through COVID and that just wreaked havoc on conferences. So how did you go from 50 on a webinar to 10,000 at a conference? And was that also part of what you talked about of working with others in your space to just kind of grow your entire space of AI machine learning?
Maya Perry: Absolutely. And it's funny you mention COVID. We actually did ou,r it was a virtual conference. Our conference is called ML Con, Machine Learning Conference. And we started off virtual before COVID. So we were already equipped during COVID to really grow that conference, which was great. So our first conference, it kind of also ties into the first lesson of be bold because we really had no idea how to do a conference.
And as a startup, you know, I'm sure a lot of other companies may have gone externally to try and find somebody who really knew what they were doing. But instead we kind of bootstrapped it and we connected with other companies that were also doing virtual conferences. We eventually got connected with this awesome external consultant and her name is Lisa Gregory. She's an events agency now, but she's incredible. She's done millions and millions of tech events and especially virtual events, which is one of the hardest to do, I would say. And we kind of bootstrapped it and we only had three months to put on a conference.
Originally, you know, the CEO as he does, he likes to just say, let's do it in three months. Why not? We'll just do it like we do our webinars. We'll just have, you know, a Zoom link that people can join in. But, you know, we wanted to be better than that and we strive to be better than that. And I give a lot of props to our VP of Marketing, who had just started at the time, Gil Weitzman, and he said, You know, we don't want to just do zoom if we're going to do this conference, let's do it big. And it was a lot of pressure, that's for sure. We reached out to, you know, I think the main thing to being successful is trying to find good content. And that was one of our biggest challenges. But we actually found that just we used our sales team and we just ask them to work on LinkedIn for prospects, but also to try and find people who could speak on data science and AI who were leaders in AI.
And for our sales team it was really awesome because they got to have a, you know, first conversation not trying to sell, but just a first interaction with leading data scientists that eventually maybe they would, you know, interact with on a sales level. But this was just to ask them to come speak at our conference. And we were actually super impressed. We got 40 speakers and we were not expecting to get 40 speakers. We were thinking, okay, we're going to have maybe ten speakers. It will be a day. Then we had to expand. We could no longer equip a conference to have 40 speakers just on Zoom. So we had to scale. We found a conference platform. We ended up having a whole two day conference with like four tracks, just trying to get all of this content in there. And it was really incredible experience. And, you know, other marketers or other data, scientists, just like other marketers want to hear from other data scientists.
So they want to hear, you know, the applications. It's very similar to what this podcast does, just trying to find real world applications of AI. They were very excited. And you know, if you build it, the people will come. And we had, you know, our first few speakers, we had to bootstrap a little and say, you know, approach Snapchat and say, oh, yeah, we already got confirmation from Facebook and, you know, Dell Technologies and all these other big, you know, Bumble. So you'll be in good hands. And we kind of said the same thing to the other people. You know, Snapchat is really interested and wants a spot and then they all came. We were really lucky and, you know, created an awesome event for 5000 registrants. And to be honest, the budget was not so bad the first go around. You know, also the second go around, you know, 100K maximum to get a really good group together. And those are people that we will nurture forever and also have in our community, which we're really lucky to have.
Daniel Burstein: You know, I've been told before by teams that have heavily invested in content marketing is that allowed them to punch above their weight. Right. So we had a great case study with a company in the construction software industry, worked with much bigger competitors but they built is really a community for the construction industry to recruit workers called I Build America and they were doing that specifically to help their industry with a key pain point or a key challenge, which is to recruit workers.
But it brought them into all these sales conversations against much bigger competitors, which they wouldn't normally have had. So I wonder for you for Converge IO did this help you get on the radar with Intel for the acquisition? Did this help you get on the radar with customers or in conversations that you think maybe you wouldn't have had if you hadn't essentially brought your industry together? Because it sounds like also when you're reaching out, I'm guessing there were competitors speaking on that stage as well, that virtual stage.
Maya Perry: That's right. There were actually competitors speaking on our stage, Intel competitors as well. But we had just been acquired actually by Intel when we started this conference. So we already were part of Intel. But still, you know, the integration hadn't quite happened. But what's interesting is that since we put on that conference, our presence in Intel has become way, way higher. Because another thing is you don't think about once you are acquired, you also then have to work on trying to get your brand. A lot of these acquisitions kind of fail and they drop into nothing and you still have to work really hard to keep yourself relevant and for us ML Con was a huge, huge part of that.
The success that they saw we ended up this year helping Intel with their events and helping them kind of create this developer community because they were really interested in reaching the developer community. And we were kind of consultants in that. And we were speaking to executives at Intel about how to really build a community, and how to build a useful conference. So that was really awesome. And shows that, you know, we can also be the experts. The best thing is just trying and seeing how it works out.
Daniel Burstein: Well, that is awesome. And I think it kind of ties into our next lesson. We talk about building that community. You say, and I mentioned this in the opening because I love it so much. I've learned it too, B2B buyers or people too. So how did you learn that lesson? How did that tie in to all your marketing and the community and everything you’ve built?
Maya Perry: Well, that's a great question. I mean, I think that a lot of marketers are not interested in B2B marketing. It's way less sexy. I know that when I was in school and university, I wasn't quite interested in I didn't think I would be, you know, marketing a software. I thought, Oh, I'm going to market something cool that I, you know, a consumer product that is interesting or an app that I would use. But the thing is, it's not so different to market in B2B. The thing is that data scientists or whatever technical field you are in are also people. And I've had the opportunity to get to learn about what it is that they like and what they're interested in. And typically they're interested in a lot of the same things that we are. And ultimately, you know, I've gotten the chance to test a lot of different messaging and you want to spark an emotion with a person.
And luckily, we know a little bit about what the struggles of a data scientist are. And for marketing, you know, we certainly know what is frustrating. It could be, you know, the CRM that we're working with or it could, you know, there's so many struggles there, like how to reach your audience, the high cost of ads. We have our own struggles that definitely prompt a response from us if we were to talk about it one on one. And so finding the message of what is going to actually trigger a response from them, what is going to make their life easier, their work easier.
And I remember a specific situation where I finally found, you know, a message that resonated. I had sent it in an email newsletter, email type thing, inviting them to try our platform. And something I had said, you know, Converge was released in order to help you spend more time on data science and less on technical complexity. And what happened is I actually got responses from that message, even though is was clearly a marketing email. I actually got responses to my email that said this actually corresponds to my personal needs that is what somebody said. You know, the technical complexity really resonated with me. I want more time to do what I was hired to do, which is, you know, do data science to build algorithms. And I, you know, I use that message to this day because I know I got multiple responses and I knew that this was some you know, that's when I realized, okay, we don't have to talk about ROI all the time. That's not what's going to trigger somebody to have an emotional response. What's really going to trigger somebody to have an emotional response is how are we going to make your day better?
Daniel Burstein: Yeah, and that is a beautiful moment. I mean, I love that, that’s the best, you know, explanation I've ever heard of advertising is the truth well told. And I think we as marketers, you know, as advertisers, we're kind of diggers, we're kind of Sherlock Holmes. And we're digging to try to understand these people we're trying to reach as human beings. Right. Not just you mentioned, CRM, not just people in a CRM or database or whatever. These are real human beings, 3D, complex, emotional, who live lives just like us and really try to understand them and how we can better serve them with our marketing and our products. And when you actually tap into that, that's finding some gold. And it's a beautiful thing to actually hear back from a customer. Nott just to look at the numbers and see, oh, what click through rate do we get in this email or how many leads or sales? But to actually hear back from other human beings and say, Hey, wow, this reached me. And that's one reason too. I'll just get on a soapbox a bit because sounds like you don't do this.
The companies that send no reply emails, it drives me nuts to send an email and to say, Hey, we want to get this message to you. We really could care less if you have any reply what you think about it, right? Email’s a two way medium and if you make it a two way medium, something beautiful could happen. Like what happened to Maya is people will actually talk back to you. I mean, sometimes it's complaints, which is good, you learn from that, but sometimes it's beautiful feedback like that. And I think so. I love that. I think that's a beautiful story. That's, you know, honestly, some of my favorite moments in my career is not just, oh, you got this many clicks or this many sales. I mean, that's important you have to keep the company in business, but it's to hear from other human beings of how something affected them and so I love that story.
Maya Perry: Yeah, that's true. Even the negative. So no, I was just going to say that even you know, negative responses are really awesome. Because you actually get a chance to interact with some of the people that you're trying to reach. And if they're having a negative reaction to some of the content that you're putting out there, you get to learn a lot about what they like and what they don't like. So it's super valuable and definitely do not put a no reply.
Daniel Burstein: Oh my gosh. I mean, I got to thank now everyone in the Marketing Sherpa audience, obviously we're communicating to marketers about marketing it's a high bar. And there have been so many times that we've gotten, you know, there is this kind of perception that because we write about marketing, that everything we do would be flawless, right? But we are an organization like any other with limitations on time and priority and resources and we fall and make mistakes. So, you know, sometimes we get responses that, you know, are just blown away how we could, you know, mess something up, which I believe I do all the time. But a lot of times it's, you know, it just helps make us better. So I'm always so thankful for the negative response. Because I realize for every negative email you probably get, there's ten or 20 or 100 or a thousand people who just looked and are like, what morons or what's what's this garbage or whatever.
So that one person who will actually write it and give you honest feedback and now I'll probably get tons of negative emails about how bad this podcast is. But the people who actually write in and give you negative feedback, I mean, I've always thought that's a treasure, that's a gift. That's something to be so thankful for. So I've always appreciated that and that's a great thing.
So I started in my career probably a bit before you did Maya, when I was writing print ads and some of these things, and they didn't have these feedback mechanisms like they do today. So that's why I just always encourage any time you're working in something digital that naturally has a feedback mechanism, my gosh, do not turn that off. That is an opportunity to learn a grade.
So in the first half of the podcast, we talked about lessons you learn from some of the things you made. In the second half of the podcast we talk about lessons from some of the people you collaborated with and you hinted at this lesson before when you were talking about launching the virtual event, I think it applies to how you originally launched the webinars as well. Be bold, bold in all caps. Bold. That's how bold you have to be. And you learned this lesson via Yochay Ettun, the CEO of Converge IO. So how did you learn this lesson from Yochay?
Maya Perry: Yeah. So when we started at Converge, I was very calculated. I wanted every single thing that I did to be, you know, make sure everything was planned perfectly, that I understood everything, all the steps that needed to go into anything that I was doing, whether I was doing the best possible CTA for a landing page. I was, you know, creating the best possible website copy. Before I started the webinar, I had planned a month in advance thinking, okay, a month it's kind of a short amount of but I'll figure out how to send the emails and I'll figure out how to set up all the automation to register everybody and I need to figure out how to, you know, get what video platform to use. And we need to create the slides and the whole presentation.
And I was working on that and then the CEO kind of came up to me, Yochay. So shout out to him. He said, Maya, come on, we can't wait a month. We need to get this in now. We need to start now. Other companies are already starting to make webinars. We need to get on there. What's taking so long? It shouldn't be that hard. And you know, I was a little shaken up, but he said, Let's schedule for next week or, you know, in two weeks. And I said, Oh my God, I panicked. That was my first reaction. And then, you know, I got to work.
We put up the landing page, figured it out. It wasn't that pretty, but it was fine. I got people to register. It was not a lot of people, you know, our first webinar was probably ten people, which is a little bit embarrassing. But you know, the main thing was that we just got it up and running. We learned a ton in that webinar and we already were on our second webinar two weeks later, so we already started building that program. Otherwise, if we hadn't just started, we probably would have come in to the same issues, even if I had calculated and done everything I needed to do for a whole month, probably it would have just delayed us. And so that was like one example of being bold.
Of course, you know, the same thing happened with our conference. You know, I thought, Oh, we need way more people to be able to put this on. Normally it's groups of 40 people who put on virtual events, but we did it with just a few people and it came out even better than some of the ones where you're working with a lot of people to try and produce something. And so the real thing is, is you just have to sometimes be as bold as you can be, try the things that are going to make you uncomfortable and it doesn't always have to be perfect.
Daniel Burstein: Yeah this is something I've wrestled with in my career, because one thing I've noticed is a shift from, like I said, working in more print and traditional media. They have naturally longer deadlines and build ups just because they're, you know, more complex, bigger budget, some of those things. Then moving into the digital space where you know, I mean, anyone can throw up a digital article, you know at the snap of a finger. Or just put up a webinar invite or some of these things.
And so I think the thing I've wrestled with is, on the one hand, perfectionism. On the other hand, you know, sometimes you only get one bite at the apple, you know what I mean, you only get when you're in front of people, that's your chance. They don't know your brand and they have an experience and if it's too negative, you lose them. So I totally agree with you, but also kind of balance and I wonder what your thoughts on that's the thing I've always struggled with what is the minimum awesome product right? The minimum awesome product.
So minimum in that as you said, like, I mean, I know I'm a writer, a great quote I love there's a book is never done it's only do right, so obviously you need those due dates, print forced due dates and you don't have those as much. So on the one hand, it's got to be minimum. So you can meet those dates with, you know, whatever minimum resources you have or like you said, push them up and, push and actually get that out. But there's got to be some level too of, you know, if it's too weak, you've probably lost those people you've got in front. I think I mean you really get a second chance. So, how do you how do you balance that in your career Maya?
Maya Perry: Maya I think I'm constantly struggling with it because on the one hand, I work with a lot of people who want it to just be out and you know. Everything has a cost and a benefit. So even if you're putting something out there that's not perfect, yeah, you might get some negative reactions, but you'll also get some positive reactions.
And if that's the case that, you know, it's worth it because otherwise, if you're not doing it at all, you know, you miss every you don't take. That is literally, you know, how it works in marketing as well. And even if you have some bad experiences, I've found that even when we've put out let's say we did a demo with a few hundred people of a product that wasn't quite ready. We thought it would be it had a few bugs and people had to see that in the demo live. But the thing is, people were still interested in what it had to offer. And I think, you know, customers are still understanding of technology and digital environments that there might be issues. It's, you know, as great as your wife, I can be as great as your platform can be, there's always going to be some issues. And I think people don't expect perfection. And if they still see value, you will end up with a positive reaction. But I think it's still better to do rather than to just wait until it's perfect.
Daniel Burstein: Speaking of which, Maya was very kind to work through the audio issues we had at the beginning of the Podcast. So yeah.
Maya Perry: I could relate.
Daniel Burstein: Yeah, maybe that's why I stopping mine. And I think the other thing that I found that relates to what we were saying earlier is, you know, I think there's this idea I try to talk about of customer intimacy, like being close to your customers and understanding. And so when you are, you know, even when you put out something that's not perfect, one, if you have that relationship where you're listening to them, you can learn pretty quick and hopefully pivot pretty quick about what is and isn't working out.
But the other thing too is, you know, sometimes I've gotten some of the nastiest emails through, you know, just the Marketing Sherpa has. And then when I respond, it's amazing how that person does a 180 and you know, I remember this years ago, I was from someone in the UK. It's like, Oh no, sorry chap, I hadn't had my spot of tea today or whatever. Because I think we have this idea because we've been abused by many big brands. Like I said, the no reply emails that there's no human on the other end, right? B2B buyers are human, B2B marketers are human too. There's no human on the other end and just big monolith that's just shoving whatever down our throats. You know, we had an issue with our hotel that morning or afternoon, our credit card. And then, you know, in the evening we get this email from this marketer, it's enough darnit. And, you know, but when you respond, when you actually respond with humanity, I think, you know, people understand more and more for giving and want to interact with your brand more. So I know that's what I've seen.
Maya Perry: Yeah, I would say that I've also seen the same thing. And also, you know, when we started off our product had so, so many bugs and our CTO was working, you know, shout out to Leah Kolben. She's an awesome CTO and co-founder of Converge. And every single customer had a personal relationship with her. And to this day they still mention that she was one of the main reasons why they chose Converge, because they felt she made them feel like a partner in the product. And even though, yeah, they couldn't, you know, finish their job for that day, they felt heard and they felt like we could deliver, you know, whatever it is that they needed. And the main thing was that they felt heard and they didn't even care if there were bugs in our products and hiccups in the beginning because overall they were listened to and some of the bigger companies that we were competing with, they don't have that interface and that was something that helped us get started.
Daniel Burstein: And I think it ties very well into the next lesson you want to talk about, which is learn as you go. As we mentioned, you said you learned this from Gil Weitzman, VP Marketing; Yaniv Goldenberg, Head of Growth; Naama Greenzweig, Community Manager;, all of them at Converge IO. And we've touched on this a bit, but how else did you learn this lesson, learn as you go? It seems vital to startups.
Maya Perry: Yes, very vital. We have had a lot of new brand new projects that we've never done before. You know, we're not a very established company. And so every single project that we're doing is new, even if it's a new partnership or if it's a new product release. We've never done it before or a new conference, for that matter. And so we've always you know, I give a lot of props to Gil, our VP of Marketing. His philosophy has always been that as long as we're really willing to try anything. And he always wants to try everything. And as long as we learn from what we've tried, he's happy to try it. And, you know, we try to adjust quickly and we're open to surprises. And normally we get the success. We just push ourselves to try new things and adjust quickly. And that is how it goes.
And the thing is, with marketing and I think any, you know, any possible job out there, maybe the secret is that no one has done everything and things are evolving so quickly that it's really hard to keep up with every single best SEO practice or best digital marketing practice. And you always have to, especially in marketing, adjust and try new things and stand out. So, no one is an expert, because I think that for marketers, an evolving marketer, somebody who's always trying new things and testing new things out and willing to learn new things is a better marketer. Those are the ones that are going to succeed.
But if you're kind of stuck in your ways, you may end up just you know, doing one thing and being only good at that one thing. But you may not move on beyond that. And if you're willing to learn new things and try new things, those will be the successful marketers.
Daniel Burstein: You mean you talk about learn as you go. Can you think of a specific example of something you learned that made you have to pivot in the middle of a project? Right. You're going one way you learn something and you are like oh no, we got to totally do something different. So, for example, we teach a lot about AB testing, right? And when you're engaged in testing, you can see very clearly that sometimes the thing you think will win will actually lose in the end. Right? I like to call this negative lifts. We did a webinar on that because negative because the results are down, of course, but lift because if you conduct the test in a scientific manner, you should learn something from that negative result. Right. That could help you in your future efforts. So can you think of anything, Maya, where you know, you're in the middle of a project, you learn as you go learn this thing and you have to pivot in some other direction that you didn't originally foresee.
Maya Perry: Well, I think it almost happens every day for us. Yeah, there will be projects that we're working on, let's say whether it's trying to put together a white paper, which is something that we have, you know, I've done multiple times where I'm actually finding writers and taking excerpts and working really hard on a white paper that really just never comes into fruition. And it happens pretty often. And you know, you kind of just have to pivot and find whatever it is that is going to be the next thing. You know, I'll mention our conference again. We only had, you know, a few months to put on a conference. And when we first started, we had zero plans we had we didn't even have actual KPIs we didn't have any benchmarks to go by. So we were just kind of winging it.
And we thought, okay, maybe we'll just have ten speakers. And the moment we got 40 speakers, we had to accommodate those 40 speakers. So we quickly had to pivot, find, you know, scale our conference within one month and figure out how to make this run. You know, I give a lot of credit to, again, Lisa Gregory events she was super hands on and helped us actually make it happen. Super stressful. But ultimately it made our conference so, so much better. And if we had said in the beginning before we even started planning this conference, okay, let's aim for 40 speakers. Let's aim for 5000 registrants. I would have been like, are you kidding me? It's there's not a chance that that's going to happen because we have no benchmarks. We have no idea how this is going to go.
But what happened was that the next time we had a conference, we were able to have those really lofty goals. We said, let's have 60 speakers next time and let's get, you know, 9000 registrants. And I was like, okay, that's crazy, but maybe doable. And we actually exceeded 9000 registrants. We got to 10,000 registrants and we had 60 speakers and it was super, super successful. So I'm curious to see, you know, I think our next conference, we're trying to get 30,000 registrants.
Daniel Burstein: Wow. Well congratulations.
Maya Perry: So we'll need your entire audience to join.
Daniel Burstein: There you go. If you want to learn about A.I. and machine learning and data science, check it out. Last lesson you mentioned, roll with the punches. You learned it from Leah Kolben, CTO, and Yochay Ettun, CEO, both at Converge IO. And how did you learn this lesson Maya?
Maya Perry: Yeah, so as you can imagine, in a startup, there's a ton of change constantly. Priorities are really shifting all the time. Every second of the day, you know, one day you could be trying to create pitch decks for your investors and all of the focus of the company is on that. And then the next day we're really focused on this new release, let's say the launch of a new product and then the day before the release, they say, actually, let's postpone this for four months and then you have to figure out what's next or actually last minute, you know, this is happening or that is happening. Maybe in one of our webinars, somebody didn't come to the webinar and that's like the main speaker. And we have to figure it out because there's 100 people registered to come, which by the way, all of these things have happened.
So the main thing is you kind of just have to roll with it and don't get personally upset if something isn't happening or isn't going as expected. Because I think the main thing is that part of your job as a marketer is to be a problem solver, and to expect things to go wrong or expect things to change. And what your job is, is really to find a solution. And one thing that Leah and Yochay have always said, and I give them a ton of credit as our leaders, is that there's this saying in Hebrew, we an Israeli company I didn't mention it before, but there is a saying in Hebrew that is Lo Nora which means like kind of like it's not a big deal, you know, don't worry about. It's not it's not a problem. And even when we have had so many like issues or, you know, let's say we don't get a PR approved or something, they just say, Lo Nora, like we'll move on. And that's incredible because I mean, having those leaders that don't get upset over all these changes because all these problems can happen, that's literally business. So it's really nice to have leaders that are just already ready to move on, say Lo Nora, brush it off and move on.
Daniel Burstein: I like that Lo Nora I'm going to use that from now on. Yeah, we talked about so many different factors and being a marketer, working a startup, being a business person. So I wonder, what are the key personal characteristics and qualities of an effective marketer in your opinion Maya? I interviewed Mary Rogers, the Head of Marketing Communications at Cuisinart, in an earlier episode of the How I Made It Marketing Podcast, and she had this great story speaking of rolling with the punches.
It made me think of her story as well, where she just started in her career at Dansk, right out of college. She got to this booth at some giant McCormick Convention Center in Chicago. Nothing showed up, and she had to figure out how to roll the punches. And she learned her lesson this way a never give up attitude, resourcefulness and tenacity are some of the personal characteristics that serve you well no matter what field you are practicing in. So I wonder in your opinion, Maya, what do you think those key qualities are of an effective marketer?
Maya Perry: So I cannot agree more with that. You know, I've also been in that situation where you show up to a conference and there is nothing is going as planned. You just have to assume the worst. So I would say that, yes, tenacity and resourcefulness are super key, especially when you're working through a startup. You need to be resourceful, you might not have a budget or you probably won't. And if you do, it's not going towards marketing let's just say. It's going towards anything else. So being resourceful is going to get you a long way.
And the other thing is be an evolving marketer. You know, anybody who's willing to learn on the way and not get stuck in, okay this is how I've done it before, will end up being successful. So if you're willing to learn and willing to teach yourself and kind of bootstrap things together, I think those two qualities, the resourcefulness and, you know, the ability to learn are going to be your biggest assets in any job. And you can pretty much tackle anything. You can go from startup Marketing Manager to, you know, Director of Marketing in an Intel company. You know, that's a huge jump in three years, and I think it's all due to those two factors.
Daniel Burstein: Well, very nice. Maya, thank you so much for this discussion. I've learned so much from your journey.
Maya Perry: Thank you so, so much for having me. It's been really a pleasure and I'm really happy to get to talk to your audience and to talk to you. So thank you for having me.
Daniel Burstein: Absolutely. And thanks, everyone, for listening. Hopefully, we play a small part in your evolving career as a marketer.
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