Experiential Marketing and Network Effects: Shortcuts to Great B2B Lead Gen [An Interview]

Bijgewerkt: 3 okt 2018

Yolan Post is a freelance marketing strategist who uses social media marketing, digital marketing, and influencer marketing as his main toolkits.

He’s worked with well-known brands such as MTV, Domino’s Pizza, Budweiser, and ID&T.

As a speaker he shares his knowledge on effective B2C and B2B marketing strategy.

As of late, he’s been branching out into different categories, namely mobility, communications, energy, and smart consumer products.

Lars de Rooy of Wulfpack Video Marketing interviewed Yolan to share his best practices with B2B marketers.

What is the biggest misconception made by marketers?

Watch Yolan's answer in the video below >

Yolan: I think what most marketers typically do well is the more conservative or traditional type of marketing.

This is usually termed interruption marketing.

Basically, what this means is that if a member of your target audience consumes a piece of your branding content and likes it, they’ll post it on their own feeds and pretty much promote it for you.

It works, and we’re really good at it.

But over the last decade, even though we’ve been getting better at this, I think where we could really improve is in more of an inbound marketing approach.

This is more about how you can create a better, smoother customer experience.

As an inbound marketer, you become more focused on considering what the client wants to know and you do more of a soft sell, instead of interrupting them to get their attention (which sometimes doesn’t create a pleasant customer experience).

Instead of just pushing your product or your solution in front of their faces, you solve a pressing problem for them – or at the very least, add value in helping them solve their problems by helping them pinpoint what the root of it actually is.

That’s the key.

“It’s about becoming customer-focused, not sales-focused in your way of thinking. “

I believe that adding value to their lives is more important than just bragging about how great your brand is.

The biggest misconception of marketing is the “we build it and they’ll come” approach.

I don’t think that’s the right approach.

It’s not just about putting a lot of time and effort into coming up with the concept or thinking about ways to get traffic and reach your audience.

“It’s about becoming customer-focused, not sales-focused in your way of thinking.“

This is counterintuitive to most people: we’ve largely been taught that you have to focus on your goal to achieve the ROIs you’d like.

But actually, when you focus on the people, the results will naturally come.

I think I’m really lucky in that sense.


I didn’t grow up in a conventional marketing world, and I certainly didn’t study the same classes they did, which I think is what gave me a completely different perspective and spared me from what marketing has been for the last 23 years.

From the get-go, I wasn’t concerned with keeping the status quo.

I think that really helped, because I have a broader perspective than most of my colleagues.

I do a lot of research, and when I get a really good feeling about something, I can explain it and we have lots of good debates about why we should do it.

Then, even if it’s not really “textbook marketing” per se, my colleagues and I are keen to try it out.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

But I think it’s important to try, because if you don’t, you get stuck, and you’ll rarely find real success.

So you need to get out of your comfort zone.

You need to try new things out, evaluate if there’s progress, and then from there you’ll learn what your customers really want – rather than just assuming that you know what they want and then pushing your agenda.

I think that’s the main difference: I experiment, and I try new things out.

That’s different from most of my marketing colleagues, I think.

Basically, this is about letting other people sell your brand and generate traffic for your website.

Could you share a few marketing tactics that you know work well, and how B2B companies could use them?

Watch Yolan's answer in the video below >

Yolan: One of the most important things I’ve discovered as a marketer is the power of the network effect.

Basically, this is about letting other people sell your brand and generate traffic for your website.

A couple of good examples I can think of are, for instance, what we’ve been doing for Budweiser at the FIFA World Cup, and how Tesla has started setting up “experiential” stores in high-traffic shopping malls or commercial streets.

Customers can walk in, ask loads of questions, sit in the Tesla, take pictures – and then they post the pictures online and usually tag the company, which is free publicity.

Other good examples are Uber, Airbnb, and Deliveroo.

They give you a discount if you share your personal referral link with your network and get them to try out their products or services just once.

That’s a really strong marketing tactic that I like, and was really an “aha!” moment for me.

Essentially, the network effect provides people with a good customer experience or adds value to their lives – and when they really feel that from your brand, they spread the love throughout their networks.

I mentioned earlier about the FIFA World Cup campaign we’ve been doing with Budweiser: I’ve been working with an experiential marketing agency named WINK.

They were in charge of the experiential marketing strategy for Budweiser during the FIFA World Cup in Russia last year, so they’re pretty high-level.

What they did last year was to create four brand activations: the Bud Hotel, the Bud Boat, the Bud Club, and Bud Studios.

I was mostly involved with Bud Studios, which is a content creator and influencers hub.

We hit earned impressions of 1,800% above the benchmark, which underwrote our hypothesis.

The premise was that Budweiser asked us: “How can we make sure that all of the press, the celebrities, the content creators, and the influencers talk about Budweiser in a genuine way without us having to pay them any fees?”

So what we came up with was that we should create unique experiences that are only possible in Moscow at our Bud Studios, and then have them interact with it.

The experiences weren’t overly branded – they were just fun, and they were something that both these influencers and their audiences would like.

That worked phenomenally.

We hit earned impressions of 1,800% above the benchmark, which underwrote our hypothesis.

It was incredible.

The theory behind the approach was that when you look at the psychographics of people, the opinions they trust the most are always those of the people closest to them.

That’s typically your friends or your close colleagues.

When they advise you about something, you’re more likely to trust them, and you’re more inclined to buy the product or service recommended and use it.

I think that’s a really great example of how it could work in the B2B industry as well.

There’s a really nice book about it – a psychology book by Robert Cialdini – called Influence.

I found it intriguing because in the book, he explains that as individuals, we generally have so much information we have to process that we tend to create shortcuts in our minds.

One of those shortcuts is relying on people we know and trust, which helps us to pick the right things from wrong things.

That was another “aha!” moment for my clients: they now know (or at least I hope they know) the sales funnel.

It starts with their marketing strategies all the way at the top of the funnel, in which they use inspiring content or different tactics to generate mass awareness – then as they go down the funnel, they try to convert these people into leads and then customers.

Here’s one thing most people don’t know with inbound marketing: don’t work your way from top to bottom, but work your way from the bottom to the top.

When you look at the psychographics of people, the opinions they trust the most are always those of the people closest to them.

All of your customers or potential customers are in different positions in the buyer’s journey.

There are people who are ready and willing to convert, and you need to find them first because they’ll generate sales and revenue for you.

This is where search engines work really well: YouTube, Google, and Pinterest all work well in helping to convert these people to paying customers.

But don’t stop there: work your way up the funnel, inspiring people and getting those who aren’t yet ready to buy to become aware of your product or service, and then help them through their customer journey until they convert.

How would you explain to people why their B2B content isn’t working and how to add value to the buyer’s journey?

Watch Yolan's answer in the video below >

Yolan: What I’d recommend for B2B lead generation is to put the customer first.

Think about your potential client first, and your brand second.

Look for where you can add value, and I believe they’ll come.

I think a lot of companies try to wing it.

They hear a bit about inbound marketing and then they think, “yeah, we need to start a blog.”

That’s a really great idea and I applaud them for doing it, but where most content marketing strategies fall short is when they fail to make a plan.

For instance, they won’t look into how they’re going to generate traffic through that blog.

Is there a decent search volume for that topic? How many people are interested?

What keywords should you hit if you’re talking about search engine optimization?

Most companies would double-check their hypotheses to see if there’s any interest surrounding the topic at all.

Before I approach digital marketing, I always take a step back even before I write a single word – or have others do so.

The first thing I look for is the search volume. Is there any interest? I also check on what my main competitors are doing and what works well for them.

This gives me a hint as to what my target audience is looking for.

There are several digital marketing tools to look up the best-performing content or keywords.

Once I’ve done that, I make a plan.

I think about what the customer wants, analyze the data I have in front of me, and then I experiment.

From there, I evaluate and refine my approach.

The goal is that when they interact with the content or the brand, they feel good about themselves – either they have a laugh, or they learn something new.

In that way, you get better and better about adding value and helping them through the buyer’s journey.

What are a few marketing tools that work and help you find the right audience?

Watch Yolan's answer in the video below >

Yolan: On the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Advertising (SEA) front, I’m inclined to use SEMrush the most.

I use MozBar for a complete analysis of how competitors do their Search Appearance Optimization (SAO).

Google AdWords is still really important for me.

And when I look into content marketing, I use BuzzSumo, which is a fantastic tool.

This helps me first look into search volumes to see the demographics that search for a particular term or category and check out their age ranges and related interests.

“People generally want a single solution for all of their problems. The main idea is to make a plan, try it out, evaluate, and learn from the results.”

Secondly, I always look into Facebook Audience Insights.

This is an underrated tool that helps me identify what my target demographics are interested in, what pages they like, the influencers they follow, and the other interests they might have.

All of these combined already give me a pretty good picture, but I also look into the research other departments or firms have done.

I look at competitors and other media publishers – what they’ve tried and what’s worked for them – essentially using all the information I have at my disposal to define these ideal buyer personas.

What’s the golden egg in marketing?

Watch Yolan's answer in the video below >

Yolan: I actually don’t believe there’s one golden egg, “which is difficult to explain to people because generally they want a single solution for all of their problems.

The main idea is to make a plan, try it out, evaluate, and learn from the results.”

This will define the sales channels and marketing efforts that work best for your business, and then from there you can figure out how to build on those and optimize them further.

Those are the basics of marketing.

Unfortunately, people tend to forget these basics – or perhaps they don’t know them.

How do you experiment on the channels and tools that work?

Yolan: I categorize my channels, so generally I always have one that’s performing really well, then one that’s performing moderately well and another that’s doing poorly.

With the ones that are performing poorly, I usually just write them off if I don’t see any hope of success. I don’t do anything with them.

And then I come up with a different version of the one that’s performing moderately and the one that’s performing well so I can better analyze the factors that contribute to their success.

That’s how you get better constantly and incrementally over time.

Can you give an example of one of your experiments?

Yolan: Last year, I was working with LINDA, which is part of the Sanoma Media Group.

They’re a publisher that’s been performing consistently well throughout the years.

LINDA now has a new category: they’re focusing more on long-form articles and video content.

They were producing some incredible content that would get people instantly hooked.

But what I discovered while working with them was that although they were driving a lot more traffic through their email newsletters and social media channels, people were missing the click signals and cues that communicated that there was a video to watch.

So we added a play button to their visuals, which worked really well.

I don’t remember the exact percentage of increase, but it helped a lot.

So those are small things you can try.

There are also shorter and clearer captions that can be really helpful, like “Watch now” at the end of a sentence or “You won’t want to miss this.” Those really help. It could even be small iterations on what you’ve already been doing.

What do you think is the future of B2B marketing?

Yolan: For B2B, I think it’s more important than ever – arguably even more important than B2C – to do solution-selling.

You’ve got to really think about your customer and the challenges they face, then consider what you can help them resolve through your products or services.

Build your content around that so you can illustrate that you really understand your clients’ needs.

You can do that by writing white papers, hosting webinars, or doing conferences and TEDtalks.

Film it and distribute it to everybody.

But first of all, really think about the kind of problems you’re solving for your customer, instead of just going, “We are this brand, we’re rock stars, and we know what we can do for you, so you should just buy from us,” all while skipping the part where you genuinely add value to their lives.

That, I think, is the key.

Click here to read more about how you can do solution selling with B2B video marketing to generate leads.