Special Guest Liam Martin, Time Doctor

Season 1, Episode 12

Marketing an Event? Real-world Lessons

In this episode, Liam Martin of Time Doctor shares information about event marketing and how he and his team planned and executed the world’s largest conference focused on remote work…

Show NOTES

Ever wonder what it takes to plan and promote a big business event or conference?

Liam Martin, Co-founder and CMO of Time Doctor and Co-Organizer of the Running Remote Conference, knows what it’s all about, and he’s sharing what he’s learned about event marketing with us.

During our interview, Liam touches on some interesting facts about remote work, and he shares five marketing tactics that he and his team used to promote off this amazing event, which was the large remote work conference in 2018.

A quick note to listeners . . . we did discover during production that there are parts of the audio with a few crackly bits here and there. Annoying? Yes. Rampant? No. We hope you’ll overlook these few moments to hear what Liam has to share. He’s an interesting guy with real-world insights and data about what worked in his promotional efforts.

This episode is longer than our usual, but we think you’ll find the details interesting.

In this event marketing episode, we learn:

  1. The power of podcasts as part of the Running Remote Conference promotion strategy
  2. How community partnerships and sponsorships helped spread awareness
  3. The role of cold outreach for connecting with influencers and performing direct sales
  4. The importance of speaker selection
  5. How video played a role in the promotion of the 2018 event and how the team uses 2018 event video from the conference itself to generate awareness for 2019

If you’d like to read Liam’s post chronicling everything his team did to plan and promote The Running Remote Conference in 2018, check out this post on the Time Doctor website. It’s very detailed and incredibly informative.

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The B2B Mix Show with Alanna and Stacy is brought to you by Jackson Marketing. Need help with your B2B online presence? Let’s talk!

Podcast Reviews

  • Expert B2B marketing insights with some sisterly banter
    by meaghmL from United States

    I love listening to the B2B Mix Show and hearing tips and best practices from leaders in B2B marketing! Alanna and Stacy are great hosts and make me feel like I'm sitting in the same room with them and their guests. It's fun to hear them play off of one another during their interviews too. The sisterly love is real!

Read the Transcript for Season 1, Episode 12

Stacy Jackson:

Hey there, this is Stacy Jackson, and this is where Alanna Jackson would normally say, “This is Alanna Jackson.”

Alanna and I are co-founders of Jackson Marketing. We’re also sisters, and we’re bringing you episode 12 of The B2B Mix Show. This episode is about event marketing and how one team promoted 2018’s largest remote work conference.

Our guest today is Liam Martin. He is the co-founder and CMO of Time Doctor, a company that offers time tracking and productivity monitoring software for remote teams. Liam is also a co-organizer of the Running Remote conference. Now, this isn’t a gathering of digital nomads. This conference is for big brands that have embraced or are interested in embracing a remote-friendly or remote-only approach to work.

During our interview, Liam touched on some interesting facts about remote work, but he also gets down to brass tacks and shares those five tactics that he and his team used to pull off this amazing conference.

Now a quick note before we go to break; we did discover during production that there are a few parts of the audio that are a little bit crackly. Annoying? Yes. Rampant? No.

We hope you’ll overlook these few moments to hear what Liam has to share. He is an interesting guy with real-world insights and data about what worked in his promotional efforts.

I hope you’ll stay tuned and learn from what he’s got to say.

—BREAK—

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Read the Rest of the Interview

Read Full Transcript

Liam Martin: How are you guys doing?

Stacy Jackson: Great.

Alanna Jackson: Good, you?

Liam Martin: I'm good. Yeah. It's just they were very crazy promotional cue for Running Remote and it's been, I think I did 300 podcasts, like booked until May 27th from February. Somewhere around there, so it's a lot of podcasts to be able to pop in to and its been a very interesting exercise.

Alanna Jackson: For sure.

Liam Martin: Yeah. Like, we recognized last year that for every podcast that we do, we sell about half a ticket.

Alanna Jackson: Yeah. I saw that last year you did over 40, but you've gone over 300 already this year.

Liam Martin: Yeah. I've done about 300. We realized, well that's something I can do that when you look at the ROI, if putting me on a podcast for an hour or an hour and a half, I think in reality I kind of just earmark about two hours of labor time per podcast, it works out. It's actually cheaper than Facebook ads.

Alanna Jackson: Yeah. I'm sure.

Liam Martin: When you just run that and it just required human grinding to be able to make it work. So, doing that on top of obviously Facebook and all the other stuff that we do. Anyways, I'm ready to go whenever you guys are or are we recording right now, is this the podcast.

Alanna Jackson: I already started recording, but we haven't actually started. We wouldn't do that to you.

Liam Martin: I'm ready. I think that's a good introduction to be honest with you, but it's up to you guys.

Alanna Jackson: Yeah. That's good. But before we move on though, can you tell us a little bit more about Time Doctor and just the Running Remote conference itself.

Stacy Jackson: And yourself.

Alanna Jackson: Yeah.

Liam Martin: Yeah. Okay. So, human being, living in Canada, I have run two, I've been a co founder of two software companies. I'm the CMO, a co founder is the CEO, Rob, and we basically built these two tools because we had a real serious problem with trying to figure out how to properly quantify labor when it's remote. I was just actually doing a very interesting debate about time tracking versus results with the CMO of Automatic, which is another huge remote first company that they're responsible for the platform, the WordPress platform, and we came to a very interesting conclusion, which is, and they've used our tool before, Time Doctor is an early warning system for productivity. So, in essence, what it allows you to do is right now I'm on a task called "Podcast", I'm going to compare that with all the other and probably I have maybe 400-500 hours worth of podcast time that I've tracked over the last six months and then I can measure, well, where was I spending my time? Was I spending more time on Zoom? Was I spending it on Google Apps? Was I spending it on Skype? On some other type of webinar software?

Liam Martin: And if I had a team of 10 people that were doing this task I'd be able to quantify the measure, who's doing this more efficiently and who is doing this inefficiently. We find this a lot with our sales teams or just something that has a very quantifiable end goal that's applicable across a large scale team. We'll see one person that will spend maybe two hours to close a deal and it will take another person six hours to close that same deal. What we try to do is figure out what insights can we gain from the person that's way more efficient and then communicate that to the rest of the team and then the secondary part is this early warning system to be able to figure out, well, where is your time going and are you using your time as efficiently as you should and maybe over the last year, year and a half, you've seen a dip in your overall productivity, what are the sources of that? And we've actually been able to very clearly identify, well there are a lot of things that happen in work that are completely outside of your control and then we try to solve for those.

Liam Martin: So, did you just have a new kid, as an example. You're going to see a drop in overall productivity because you're just getting pulled in to two separate directions. How could we solve that? Well, maybe we can get you a nanny or maybe we can get you a baby sitter or something like that so that you're more focused when you're working and then when you're not working you can have that-

Stacy Jackson: And all of your people work from home, right?

Liam Martin: Correct. We have about 100 employees in 32 different countries all over the world right now and we believe that remote work is the future of work. I can kind of get into the data on that, but some people don't necessarily believe me because it's still early days, but we've seen, in 2017 about 2% of the US workforce worked full time remotely. This year it's about 3.9%.

Alanna Jackson: Really, that's all? I thought it'd be higher.

Liam Martin: Well, so people that work remotely to some degree is what's 56% in 2017 and it was 60% ish in 2018. So, you'll have remote work Fridays, but you won't have full on committed remote work agreements.

Alanna Jackson: Right.

Liam Martin: And so what we're seeing is the full time remote people, they're growing at almost an exponential scale to the point where there was a study, and I can't remember who referenced this study, I will be able to get it to you guys afterwards, this study projected 50% full time remote work for the United States by 2027.

Alanna Jackson: Wow.

Stacy Jackson: Wow.

Liam Martin: So, if you look at that, right, then we're looking at a shift in labor that's just completely unprecedented. I also think there's other great opportunities like your carbon footprint is going to go way down, you're not driving a car around. You'll be able to really stay inside of your communities in a deeper way. Coworking spaces, I mean you've seen, everyone's kind of seen the rise of coworking that's happened recently and I think that trend is only going to continue and actually evolve. A lot of people 10 years ago would say, "Oh, it's crazy to work on Amazon S3 Cloud Computer Services.", as an example. Right? Everyone had their own server racks. Today, no one has their own server rack and I see coworking as that same type of cloud, I actually think they need to get away from the term "Coworking" because it sounds like a whole bunch of people in one spot and it doesn't seem very [inaudible 00:06:22]. What it should be is a whole bunch of floating offices all over planet earth that you pay a subscription to and then you can just access that network wherever it exists.

Liam Martin: So, I see those types of businesses really exploding from remote work. I see a lot of negative aspects through remote work as well, but I think that the positive aspects definitely outweigh the negative ones.

Alanna Jackson: Yeah. It's funny because when we started our business we worked from home. We don't work in an office anymore and you really see how much more you get done working from home than in an office because somebody always comes by your desk and bugs you or someone just wants to talk or something and productivity just seems higher than it does when you work in an office.

Liam Martin: We've had a recent phenomenon, which is we do have some offices, we call them "Crash Pads", so if anyone wants to come to Canada that works in the company, they can come to Canada and they can work out of the office that I'm currently in. Now, we've only recently started this phenomenon and we've started to have people that have started to collect inside of these different offices and I've never not worked remotely. So, it's a very interesting situation for me where people will kind of just turn around the corner and say, "Hey, do you got a minute?" For me, I actually have been saying, "No, I don't."-

Alanna Jackson: "Go home."

Liam Martin: ... "I'm trying to get my work done.", you know, "Set up a meeting with me. Set up a formalized meeting with me.", because with remote work you always have these formalized meeting times that everyone sets up with. I mean, I shut down Skype and Slack and Twist and I, when I'm doing my job, I focus on accomplishing those main tasks outside of the day and when I go on to Slack or Twist or Skype then that means that I'm available to be able to converse with. So, that same phenomenon is just not available, unfortunately, inside of an office environment and I now feel quite bad for all of my office counterparts that exist in the world that just have to [inaudible 00:08:20] this constant interruption that kind of stops you from doing what you really want to do, which is actually getting your work done.

Alanna Jackson: I used to have a red "Do not disturb." Sign that I would put up outside of my cubicle area if I was really focusing on working on something.

Stacy Jackson: It didn't work.

Alanna Jackson: And it didn't work, no. They always still came in. So, having this platform of TimeDoctor.com gives you some leverage in being able to talk about remote workers and this conference. It gives you a good resource for people to invite to the conference and things like that, so can you talk to us a little bit more about the [crosstalk 00:09:05] you guys do each year?

Liam Martin: This is the thing that we recognize, is this has really been a passion project for me. It's not something that, we're going to make money this year, we're profitable, which was huge. We were not profitable last year, we lost. We basically cut a check for 100 grand and I think we lost about 1800 bucks on the conference, which was fine for me because we actually had made the decision, "Are we psychologically prepared to lose a hundred thousand dollars if it increases retention by 10% across the company?", as an example. The things that we learned, could it basically help us with keeping the talent that we currently have and helping our hiring procedures and it did and then we basically got it for free. So, yes, absolutely we can have customers, we do have customers that come from Time Doctor, but we very specifically didn't want to make it the Time Doctor conference and the reason being is we saw that there is a huge hole right now in this space. I mean we're talking very small numbers, right? We're talking 2% of the US labor force, 4% of the US labor force.

Liam Martin: So, 4% of the US labor force, not those many people. But, if by 2027 we're talking about 50% of the labor force, remote work will become the most important thing that's happened to labor in the last few decades. So, we realized no one was talking about this. There was a whole bunch of information on how to hire a virtual assistant or how to become a digital nomad, but no one had the, "Hey, there's a whole bunch of human beings that sit at home or in coworking spaces at their computers and they build businesses. How do you scale that process? What's the playbook to be able to build those businesses more efficiently?", and that's in essence the mission statement of the conferences trying to actually facilitate that. And we realized that if we made it the Time Doctor conference we might actually be cutting people off to those opportunities. So last year as an example, Toggle, which is one of our competitors, spoke at the conference.

Liam Martin: We really wanted to be able to say, "This is a broad tent. It's own thing and if you just want to learn about this subject and you're nerdy like me, that you just want to learn about how to do this kind of stuff, this is the place for you."

Alanna Jackson: So, is it more for companies that manage remote workers or is it also for the remote workers themselves?

Liam Martin: It's more for the managers of remote workers, however we are thinking about introducing some course confer, some talks for the employees as well. One of the things that we wanted to shy away from is, I don't know if you guys know the phenomenon of digital nomads.

Stacy Jackson: Yes.

Alanna Jackson: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Liam Martin: Okay. So, basically they are people that have no set address and they work from their laptops and they make money, that's how they make money, from their laptops, but they don't have a set address. So, they just travel constantly. I travel about six months out of the year. My co founder was a hardcore digital nomad, he probably did it for about five years, but there are plenty of conferences on that particular subject. Nomad Summit is a great one, DNX is another one, they have a cruise now which is very successful, I've never necessarily been on that one, but it seems like it's going very well. So, we wanted to very clearly divide ourselves from that community to be able to say, "You'll never hear a talk about how to travel hack.", as an example, those types of things, and then we also wanted to create a space for the employers to be able to discuss these particular issues.

Liam Martin: Now we're thinking about introducing the remote employees into the mix, but it's an interesting debate because once you get in to the right flow of people talking and interacting with each other, sometimes adding in a new aspect into that type of conference can be disruptive. Right now it's just for the employers, but we're seriously thinking about bringing in the employees. We also, not necessarily just the founders, but HR directors, people in recruitment, those types of things, those guys are more than likely to come because a lot of them are not actually hiring remotely, but they're really interested in doing it and for us we want to act as a springboard to be able to get in to that entire space. If you've never hired remotely before and let's say you work in a recruitment agency, you can come to the conference and by the end of that conference you'll know everything that you possibly need to do to be able to do that effectively.

Stacy Jackson: Now I'm sure what'd be really interesting to the HR people who are trained to add those perks and build a really interesting and cool employer brand, because a lot of people would want to work remote-

Liam Martin: And that's a more serious problem than you would think. It is the number one request for millennials as a job perk, which is remote working agreements. And what's the level below millennials? Generation Z?

Alanna Jackson: Yeah.

Stacy Jackson: Generation Z.

Liam Martin: Is it Zs? That's a bad name. They should really rename that. So, the Zs, I think they're below 24, something like this, three out of every five of them is working remotely right now that can. So, we're not talking about service based positions, we're talking about a position that you can have remotely, three out of five of them are working remotely, which is a huge phenomenon when you see that coming down the pipe, because you see that 24 year old, well the majority of them are working remotely, but the 50 year old, 1% of them are working remotely or below. It's a very interesting phenomenon that we're not talking about just a slow increase, we're talking about the majority of that workforce is working remotely. If you don't adapt to this very quickly, particularly in the Fortune 500 world, you're going to get very quickly left behind.

Stacy Jackson: You lose talent.

Liam Martin: We're already seeing companies that come and they'll say, "We have 20000 employees and the board has said we need a remote work agreement and we need 10% of our team, of our company to be remote by 2020. How do we do it?", and it's a huge logistical challenge to actually figure out how to do that, particularly with these large companies. That's another group that we'd loved to have at the conference.

Alanna Jackson: It's kind of surprising that companies just aren't willing to embrace remote workers at all. It just is baffling when you think about where we are right now and where we're going to and the expectations of those upcoming workers.

Liam Martin: I've had some chats with them. So, there are a couple things that immediately pop up. The number one question that we get from a large corporate is, "Well, how do I know what they're doing?", and we see ourselves as the Trojan horse of remote work because we can provide that type of-

Alanna Jackson: You can have that data.

Liam Martin: ... inner layer for them and then after they have that data layer then we can say, "Well, it looks like everything's going great. It looks like they're actually more productive and they're more efficient than they were when they were in the office. You should make everyone remote and you should allow everyone to be able to work from home.", because we have the proof, we have the data proof. But then on top of that, out of them just saying, "We don't really know what they're doing. How do we collect this data?", the second one that's really important is just making sure that they're able to build the same form of collaboration and community that they would've had when they were, what we call, an "On premise" company. Me, coming from the tech world, you have remote first companies and then you have on premise and on premise are basically those old, boring server racks that you used to have before you had Amazon. We now just call those types of companies "On premise" because we want to try to make them sound boring and old.

Alanna Jackson: Very dated.

Liam Martin: Yeah, exactly. Those types of on premise companies, they're looking for that type of communication and collaboration and unfortunately it's just something that there are definitely barriers to overcome, but once you actually do get over those barriers you're going to see a huge increase in not only productivity, there's on average about a 20% boost based off the studies that have been done, but the more important variable is a 30% increase in retention. So, the biggest reason why people quit, what do you think it is in a job?

Stacy Jackson: Not engage. Not happy.

Liam Martin: They're definitely unhappy. That's probably the big reason, but the more specific reason, you know, is it pay, is it equipment?

Alanna Jackson: Is it flexibility because they don't have the flexibility to do what they want to do?

Liam Martin: It's inter office politics.

Alanna Jackson: Well, I might've knew that.

Liam Martin: They don't like their coworker or they don't like their manager. That is the number one reason why someone quits.

Stacy Jackson: Really?

Liam Martin: Yes.

Stacy Jackson: I did not know that. I would never even have thought it was that.

Liam Martin: Yeah. Well-

Stacy Jackson: It makes sense.

Alanna Jackson: Yeah. It definitely fits. There's a lot of people I haven't liked over the years in the offices that I've worked.

Liam Martin: So, there's people that I don't, I mean I'm the co founder of the company, but I'll tell you, there are people I don't like inside of our own company. I have respect for them, but maybe I don't necessarily, they're not at the top of my list, people that I would want to hang out with. But here's the thing, when I'm working remotely I'm not encountering them every single day, right? So, I actually think there's a huge phenomenon of a buffering where you can just say, "I don't really like Susanne. I got an issue with Susanne, but you know what, I don't have to deal with Susanne on a regular basis because all I got to do is just spend less time with her or do less meetings with her. She kind of gets under my skin, but that's not that big of a deal. I still like everything else that I'm doing and I'm able to work from home and I'm able to take care of my kids and do what I want to do and I'm doing interesting work." That's my reasoning as to why there's such a huge retention push inside of remote positions, which is great and that's something that when you talk to an HR recruitment department, they're really excited to hear because that's how they're measured as an organization.

Stacy Jackson: Right. So, let's get in to some of the nitty gritty about event marketing.

Liam Martin: Let's do it. Okay.

Stacy Jackson: One of the first things that we wanted to talk about is promotion and how you incorporate podcast and the results that you saw from that and how you're changing this year, we've already heard that you've already done 300 podcasts, the last year you did 40. What are the benefits of promoting an event by being a guest on multiple podcasts?

Liam Martin: So, I recognized the lowest cost marketing tool you have is your phone. So, you can literally just start calling people and if you are aggressive enough you can call 400-500 people a day and it's not going to cost you anything and if you really wanted and you can convince people over the phone and you really do care about what you're trying to sell, you can sell anything. I see podcasts as a one to many type of phone, right? That's basically, if I was going to call all of your listeners right now it would probably take me a very long time to be able to sit down and say, "Hi, I would like to tell you about the Running Remote conference. It's fantastic. Here are the things.", you know, "Let me go through all the points.", and, "Do you have any questions?" That's basically what I'm trying to do here is communicate and particularly with remote work it's one of those things that sometimes, as you had mentioned, people just immediately discount it.

Liam Martin: So, if I put up a Facebook ad, as an example, which we do, about, "Hey, you should come to a conference about remote work.", "Nah. I'm not interested in that." However, if you could listen to me for 30-40 minutes and maybe I can discuss my personal journey with remote work and how it applies to the broader workspace, maybe you're a little bit more interested. We've realized that podcasts were a critical part of that. One of the things that we, and I mean, this year I could actually just give you some of the insights that we've gained this year we haven't really released yet, which is very interesting to me because it's brand new for us, right? Event marketing is, we've only done a few of these things. We realized, this year, sponsors, once you complete one conference that's good, that people like, sponsors come out of the woodwork instantly. I mean we're talking, I think we've sold 20000 dollars, 30000 dollars worth of sponsorships last year. We've almost 10Xed that number.

Alanna Jackson: Oh, wow.

Stacy Jackson: That's great.

Liam Martin: This year. Yeah. And they're like, "Oh yeah, you did one. Okay. You exist."

Stacy Jackson: You did one and survived. We're going to go into next year.

Liam Martin: Right. That's it. That's been a very interesting phenomenon. The other one has just been literally running all of our tracking and now that we've been very diligent in tracking all of our data we've kind of recognized that there's an interesting journey that a customer will take. They may start at a podcast and they may actually then go to our YouTube channel and maybe they consume eight or nine pieces of content over a three month period and then maybe they go to our podcast and they listen to one to two episodes and then they end up converting. That customer journey is actually almost impossible. We can measure the endpoint, but we can't basically, first click attribution in event marketing is very difficult. Whereas, in a SAAS business, it's actually very easy for first click and last click tracking, to be able to implement that, to say, "Yeah. They started on the blog. Yes, they ended with the Facebook ad, but we actually put the brand idea and the concept of what we were doing into them when they were consuming our blog six months ago."

Liam Martin: Much more difficult on event marketing because they just seem to float to different things. We've realized, "Hey, you know what? Let's hit everything and pretty much just let's focus on impressions.", so more clicks to the website. When we put clicks into the website, on average, and I mean we can probably buy clicks from somewhere that's completely not connected to what we're doing and it wouldn't work, but on average when we've been communicating to people, even to podcasts that don't really have anything to do with remote work whatsoever, that same click through rate will result in the same ratio of conversions. Basically just the magic is we know, and I can't remember the exact number right now, but let's say 50 clicks results in a ticket sale. Then let's just get packets of 50 clicks coming in. I know every 50 clicks I sell a ticket. How can I then channel those clicks basically back to the main website?

Alanna Jackson: And having [crosstalk 00:25:01] sorry.

Stacy Jackson: And I assume that these links help with link building in SEO too.

Alanna Jackson: That's what I was going to say.

Liam Martin: Yeah. That's our bread butter at time doctor. That's our first channel, is SEO. I've actually had a couple conversations with people right now about, well, "Are you doing SEO on running remote?", and the answer is yes, but SEO is such a long strategy. I mean, we're talking, I used to tell anybody, I used to tell people, "If someone says that they can get you results in under three months, they're trying to rip you off.", right?

Alanna Jackson: Don't hire.

Liam Martin: Yeah, don't hire them because it's just not true, you can't get results in three months with SEO. I might even double or triple that estimate at this point because it's been really fun getting a brand new URL, like no links to it whatsoever, we literally registered it ourselves and starting from zero. Because we're at about a DR50 right now and there's an exponential scale for domain ratings. Time Doctors at 75, 76 I believe and that company does, or that website does about 500000 dollars in traffic value per month and running remote does 500 dollars in traffic value per month, but you can see the logarithmic jumps that we're starting to have happen. Once we're past 50 and we're into the 60 range we'll actually start doing probably a lot of blogging because it's worth us to actually do those blog posts, but for us it was just get those core links locked in so we went to Tech Crunch and Forbes and Ink and all of those pages to be able to kind of get Google interested in us and then also very specific connected back links form remote first companies, basically websites that Google already sees as influencers in remote work.

Liam Martin: So Buffer.com is a huge remote work advocate and they participated last year and also gave us a back link. GitHub, GitLab, these are all DR80+ websites that you really would have to work a long time to be able to negotiate a link like that, but they've been huge because now when we, we just ran an experiment actually. I ran the experiment just to kind of test what would happen and we're very interested or we were very excited in GitLab's talk last year. The CTO came to discuss his handbook. So, he has all of his operational processes on a Git repository that are open source. If you want to learn anything that GitLab does, it's in that repository. We found out there were about three or four hundred people searching for GitLab handbook per month and we wrote a blog post about it and we ended up getting, I mean GitLab is first and second and then we're third and fourth. And that happened without any link building, so we're now kind of, Google is rewarding us for that subject matter and we also, I think we rank for remote conference as the first result as well.

Liam Martin: We're picking up those little keywords but I think by next year we'll probably go from 500 dollars a month in traffic value to probably 5000 dollars a month in traffic value and then hopefully make a jump again to 50000 dollars in traffic value.

Alanna Jackson: Nice.

Stacy Jackson: Great. So a moment ago you hit on the sponsorships you had. How did you get those sponsors? Who are the people that are sponsoring? And I know you had a community sponsor, level two.

Liam Martin: Yep. So, community sponsors are, that actually was an interesting debate that we had. It was a back and forth as to whether or not we should come up with this concept and the first year we did it, because we said to ourselves, "Let's just get the community involved. Maybe you can't afford something at this point, but let's just, we'll give you a link to our site, you post up on social about the event and we'll give you a link and we'll have you involved in the conference." And that was really great because actually a lot of those, I don't think any of those community sponsors turned in to paid sponsors, but they were really great introducing us to their reflective communities.

Stacy Jackson: Did they get some kind of badge or were they listed on your site as a community sponsor?

Liam Martin: They were listed on the site. Yeah. They were literally listed on the front of the site. If you just want to get co associated with it, that's basically the pitch. We have companies like Mural, WeRemote, ShieldGeo.

Liam Martin: Exactly. Those are the types of companies that are really kind of, they're the ones that are looking at these types of problems and seeing what is coming up. We have E-residency, which is a fantastic program out of Estonia. I don't know if you guys know what the E-residency program is, but in essence, allows you to be able to set up Estonian residency status, but digital Estonian residence status. You can set up a corporation, Estonia charges you 10% corporate tax, you setup your corp there and then you funnel all of your cash into that corporation. They take your 10%, you can operate inside of the EU because they're an EU member country and you can also just exist completely there. Your banking is digital. Their entire system, about three or four years ago, moved over to blockchain technology. Now every Estonian citizen has a little card and that card can hook into a USB port and that's how you tell anyone that you're you. It's an encrypted blockchain technology. From your education to your taxes to your banking, everything is digital. They don't even submit taxes. It's automatically calculated and then they just confirm it and it flies off.

Alanna Jackson: That would actually be kind of nice to not have to do taxes.

Liam Martin: I mean, it's [crosstalk 00:34:41] things that I've recognized in other parts of the world. I think the reason why Estonia has done it and why countries like Canada and the United States do not do it is because there are a whole bunch of lawyers and accountants that make exorbitant amounts of money off of that process.

Stacy Jackson: And what would they do? Exactly.

Liam Martin: Right. Exactly. E-residency I think is a real futuristic piece of technology and anyone on planet earth can become an E-resident and also own an E-corporation. So, again, those are the types of companies that we're getting, fantastic partners, people that we're really excited to be able to have.

Alanna Jackson: Very cool.

Stacy Jackson: And not only did you do those partnerships and podcasts, but you focused on some cold outreach, right?

Liam Martin: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Stacy Jackson: There was some reaching out to-

Liam Martin: LinkedIn is killing it right now. I would probably-

Stacy Jackson: Yeah. How did you identify those people that you wanted to connect with?

Liam Martin: We've been doing a bunch of cold outreach, but I would say just in the last year it's become so clear to me that LinkedIn is probably where I would put the next two years of your marketing energy. Actually, no, so I would divide it between LinkedIn and YouTube. People think that YouTube is kind of over. I disagree completely. I think that YouTube is probably the clearest definition of attention based marketing you could possible think of. Their entire algorithm is based off of watch time. We're doing a lot of YouTube videos and we're specifically targeting keywords that connect to remote work that not many people are really interested in, like maybe that gets 500 searches a month, but we can make the vide if it's professionally edited, maybe it costs us 100 dollars for me to sit down and shoot a video and have it professionally edited and posted up on the YouTube channel. Those 500 views are happening every month and maybe they're going to subscribe and they're going to watch 40 pieces of content over the next year, as an example. That's one side of it.

Liam Martin: LinkedIn, however, we've been able to scale to a significant margin. And the other reason why I like YouTube, by the way, is scalability, you can't kind of hack it. We have three to four people that, we have a research team that scraped everyone that's talking about remote work on LinkedIn and the database was maybe 20000 people. Then we filter out those people, we analyze them and then you figure out who we want to reach out to and we literally start reaching out to them. We add them on to one of our LinkedIn accounts, either me or Igor, who's the co organizer, and we say, "Hey, I know that you're associated with remote work. We're doing a conference on remote work and we'd love it if you can come.", and I'm telling you, probably one out of every 10 of those people ends up buying a ticket and you just have to come to it from a, so we'll have maybe a 20 or 30 message exchange before we end up actually telling them, "Hey, this is something that you should probably buy a ticket. Here's a discount code.", as an example, the 10% discount code for the conference, but that's been killer.

Liam Martin: But it is scalable, whereas YouTube is not and it's actually why I want to invest in YouTube early because it's not scalable, but what it does do is it really, like the other thing that's great about YouTube, is out of any other social media platform it's the only one that's directly monetizable back to the person that creates the content and this is also why I think Facebook will generally fail with their video project, same thing with Instagram, is because they don't pay the people that create that content, they don't give them a cut. I have a partner of mine over the last six years, she runs a mermaid school. So, she teaches women how to swim with a mermaid tail and she has about, I think 80000 subscribers on her YouTube channel over the last couple of years and she makes between 1-3 thousand dollars a month off of that YouTube channel, which completely pays for all of her video production. It's a really interesting feedback loop and she's not getting that 3000 bucks a month from Instagram, as an example.

Liam Martin: I think it really is, when you look at where I would put my long term gain, I would put it on YouTube. I actually think YouTube will outlive the majority of social media that currently exists, but for right now, in the next two years, LinkedIn is the place.

Alanna Jackson: And when you think about it, a lot of Gen Zers that are coming up, all they do is watch everything on YouTube and so that's a great platform to reach those younger audience that is going to be coming up and coming into the workforce.

Liam Martin: I was blown away. I have a 24 year old sales guy and he's actually in this office right now and he was telling me that he needs a place to watch Game of Thrones and I said, "You just download HBO.", he's like, "Well, I don't have a TV." I was like, "You don't have a TV?", he's like, "Yeah. I have an iPad, but I really want to watch Game of Thrones on a bigger screen.", and I was like, "Okay. That seems odd to me. You make really good money, why would you not buy a television set?", and it's just like for me it doesn't compute because I guess I'm from a different generation, but for him that is something that doesn't, you know, he doesn't-

Stacy Jackson: He doesn't need.

Liam Martin: Yeah. He doesn't see a 55 inch TV as something that he needs. That's an interesting time we're living in to.

Alanna Jackson: Yeah.

Stacy Jackson: So as far as your speakers, how did you come to identify your speakers? Because that's a huge draw, right? For the people that are coming to a conference, what are some of those key things that they needed to have?

Liam Martin: We surveyed all of our customers on Time Doctor and we asked them, "Who are the biggest influencers in remote work?", and we came up with a top five list and we said to ourselves, "If we don't get one of those people in the top five, then we probably won't succeed.", and we ended up getting one of them, which is Joel from Buffer, who runs Buffer.com.

Stacy Jackson: That's nice.

Liam Martin: Yeah. And he was very happy to be able to, or at least, it was very nice of him that he flew down to Bali to be able to do the talk, talking about how he basically runs Buffer and it was a sit down chat, but that was how we wedged ourself in. Long term, how we choose speakers, and there's a bunch of debates about this and I think that we've come up with at least what works for us very well, we look at search volume per month. We type your name into [inaudible 00:42:00] and then we find out how many people are searching for you. The more people that are searching for you, the more excited we are to have you as a speaker. It just is literally putting [inaudible 00:42:09]. We've done the same analysis with how many Instagram followers do they have, right? How many YouTube subscribers? How many Facebook friends do they have? All these variables, they all don't correlate back to what is our monthly search volume. It actually is probably, I think you shouldn't pay attention to any of those other variables, you should just look at what's their search volume, because that is the truest definition of engagement in my opinion.

Alanna Jackson: Right.

Stacy Jackson: Yeah. That makes sense because once somebody follows you, that could be the end of their engagement with you, but if you're looking at those active searches, that shows you.

Liam Martin: I could buy a hundred thousand Instagram followers tomorrow if I really wanted to. It'd probably cost me a thousand bucks, right? And then I'm Instagram famous, but should you have me speak at your conference? Maybe not.

Alanna Jackson: Probably not.

Stacy Jackson: Right. Just because you have those followers doesn't mean they're going to buy the brands that you're talking about.

Liam Martin: Exactly.

Stacy Jackson: And then, so video content was the last thing that we had to go over and we talked about YouTube a little bit, but how did you leverage video for last years conference and how do you plan on doing that this year?

Liam Martin: We did, unlike other conferences that charge for recordings, we just said, "Let's put all the content out there for free.", and we had our first thought process on this was, "We just really want to get this information out there because we want to share the message of remote work and we think it's a great business model to follow.", so what's the most efficient way to do that? Well, it's just to give away the content. So we did that. The videography was the second most expensive cost for us past the actual venue. A lot of us were just like, "This is stupid. We should charge for this stuff. We should pay ..."-

Stacy Jackson: It's hard to think about giving something like that away for free, right?

Liam Martin: Yeah, exactly. And I get reminded that if you feel that it's painful to give it away for free, you probably should, because it probably will just produce dividends for you later on. Our other thought process was, "Well, this may actually produce long term dividends that we can accrue later on in year two, year three and year four.", so if we end up putting up our content for free, people can get really well educated on it. We'll see someone that will pop in to the YouTube channel and they'll watch one of these videos and then they'll watch nine of them over the next two days. Well then at least they really know who we are, they know the type of content that we produce, you know exactly what you're getting if you buy a ticket and then the next part, which I think is even more important, is if you want to go in person and do the networking component of the conference, then you can, but if you can't afford that then you can absorb the content. That was our idea on that and to be able to make the talks for free.

Liam Martin: And then outside of that I've been running this experiment of just putting up videos about particular subjects connected to remote work and I would say it is a very, so it's difficult to pull someone out of YouTube and in to buying a ticket or in to buying a piece of software. Their mindset is in, "Well, I'm just watching YouTube videos.", but I do believe that it is probably one of the easiest ways to be able to rank for particular keywords. We had a keyword that we spent six months working on, which is "Online collaboration tools", and we're first for that. That one key word is probably 30-40 thousand dollars worth of traffic value per month. It's very expensive clicks on Google. The same keyword, I literally just threw together a video, there's no linking whatsoever and it's second or third for that same keyword on YouTube. When you look at it there is a huge opportunity on the second largest search engine in the world, which is YouTube, to be able to rank for all of these keywords that you wouldn't have otherwise, that you just couldn't rank for if you had, let's say, a DR30 site. You can do it on YouTube, you couldn't do it on your main website.

Alanna Jackson: Right.

Stacy Jackson: I think some people just haven't really embraced how much video can really perform, especially with YouTube. Like you said earlier, they discount it.

Liam Martin: And we've been looking at podcasts as well. We do a podcast and podcasts are great. It's a different way of consuming content, particularly while you're on the go, but unlike podcasts, YouTube, once you break into the algorithm YouTube literally sends you traffic all the time. I just did one on something that was a little bit off subject for me, but it was on mental health and entrepreneurship inside of the YouTube channel and I was monitoring this because it was a very new type of video and I thought to myself, "Maybe this isn't necessarily going to work out well and people may not like it.", and they ended up liking it. The metrics seemed correct and I saw YouTube start to experiment with giving it traffic. YouTube is a, the data is amazing that you get on the back of YouTube. You'll be able to know, second by second, how many people are watching, where they drop off, all that kind of stuff. So, I saw YouTube give it traffic, so it gave us like a thousand impressions and then it just stopped instantaneously within a maybe a two hours period.

Liam Martin: Basically what YouTube was doing at that point is it was testing, seeing, "Let's try to give this video some gas and then see what the click through rate and the watch time is for that video and the engagement level.", and then you'll see, and it's a beautiful graph, I see this thousand impressions and then I see a straight line the last two days, which is YouTube said, "Your video isn't worthy. It didn't have the watch time that it needed and therefore that's it. We're over." That video is, in essence, dead. And we have other videos that we put up on the site that are getting thousands of views pere week because YouTube is saying, "This video works.", and the magic number for us, it may be different for other people, but we've just found this and I found the same correlation with my partners website, AquaMermaid, her YouTube channel, if you have a 50% plus watch time and approximately an 8% click through rate on YouTube impressions, YouTube literally gives you as much traffic as you can take.

Liam Martin: We'll go to, some of her YouTube videos have 4-5 million views and they just are continuously dumping those videos into her YouTube channel and once you get in that algorithm, you know, and the beauty of it is it's just watch time, that's it. How long are you going to watch a video and then when you're finished with that video are you going to watch another one of their videos? If they can do those two things, if you can get your community to do those two things, you will get as much traffic as you possibly want from YouTube and it's really beautiful because you can't cheat that. That's the beauty of YouTube, is I can buy a whole bunch of Instagram followers and I can show you a whole bunch of likes and buy them.

Liam Martin: If you buy a whole bunch of views on YouTube, it's probably the fastest way to destroy not only that video, but your actual YouTube channel itself, because you'll only watch the first two seconds of it, these people that are just bots that just watch it, and YouTube will look at that and say, "Wow. A whole bunch of people came to your website or your YouTube channel and were super not interested in you. Let's get you out of here as quickly as possible." Yeah. YouTube literally says, "We need to get you off of our platform because you are actually destroying the experience for my watcher. I want my watcher to be on YouTube nine hours a day. You're getting them off of YouTube. I want to stop you." It's just such a, I love that concept of social media because unlike other platforms, you just can't cheat it in the way that you can with other social media.

Stacy Jackson: With video for the conference, did you ever actively do video to promote the conference or just talk about topics related to the conference?

Liam Martin: We do a couple trailers and we just do a standard trailer. We also do videos, about a one minute video from each speaker and this happened last year, because we ended up having a, we got a lot of people saying, "There's no way you have Joel from Buffer. There's no way you have the CTO of GitLab. You're bullshitting me.", and we're like, "No. We have them.", and supposedly this is a phenomenon where people will just add huge speakers to a conference and then say they couldn't come a month before, which is really nasty. We're just like, "Okay. Well how are we going to solve this problem? Let's just put up a video. Joel, can you make a one minute video from your smartphone saying, 'I am going. Here's what I'm talking about. Really excited about going.'", and then we deployed that for future years as well because it's a fun thing to get people into the right head space and then we also add that inside of a lot of our email outreach.

Liam Martin: If we're going to talk about a new speaker, we'll have a breakdown of what they're talk description is about, but then also their YouTube video, which then pulls them back into the YouTube channel. Maybe someone is subscribed, but they're not actually, they're one of our email subscribers, but they're not a YouTube subscriber. Intermingling all that stuff as much as possible I think is really important.

Alanna Jackson: As far as additional advice or tips that you would give somebody that is trying to do an event, is there anything that you would say, "You really got to do this.", or, "Don't do this."?

Liam Martin: Yes. There is a black hole between 300 and 1000 attendees. Do you want me to get super specific and technical or more theoretical?

Stacy Jackson: Whatever you feel is most important.

Liam Martin: The thing that I would have wanted to know is there is a black hole between 300 and 1000 attendees. Under 300 attendees you can run a really great, intimate event and you can charge a lot of money for it. You can charge $1000+ for an event like that and you can do it profitably. At over 1000 people SalesForce will probably give you 100 grand to be able to be a sponsor. What I didn't recognize at the beginning and as I've spoken to other people that have run very large conferences, 75% of a conferences revenue comes from sponsors, not from ticket sales. So, we thought it was the reverse. We thought the majority of income was supposed to come from ticket sales and not from sponsors. So, in essence, your job is to be able to get sponsors, get them to come into the conference, pay and then get the very best attendees you possibly can to make those sponsors happy. That's kind of the game, particularly at 1000+. There's this black hole, as I said, between 300 and 1000, what you need to do is say, "Are you going to be a sub 300 or are you going to be a 1000?"

Liam Martin: If you've decided to go to 1000, get out of the hole as quickly as possible. Get yourself to 1000 attendees. Does it mean lowering ticket prices? Does it mean, basically doing anything you possible can to get to that 1000 person point. Then once you're there sponsors will look at you in a different way and they'll say, "Yeah. You weren't worth it at 400 people, but you are worth it now at 1000 or 2000 or 3000." Basically the sponsors, all they kind of do is divide out attendees by cost and they say, "Well if we pay you 100000 dollars and there's 10000 people at the conference, then that works out to 10 dollars per person for us to be able to engage with your community and what is 10 dollars per impression in a two day event?" They kind of work it out that way, so that would probably be the most important thing that you can learn if you're going to go in to it.

Liam Martin: My personal feeling, if I were going to, so for us we are getting out of that thousand, we're going to more than 1000 people as a conference. If I were going to do it and I was just going to choose a conference on any particular subject, I would probably do the sub 300 and the reason being is I've spoken to a lot of conference organizers that are running small, intimate conferences that are actually incredibly profitable. The conferences that are making a million dollars profit, 1.5 million dollars profit every time they run one and they are really happy, the community is super engaged and it's just something that is, the level of communication that occurs in those types of small conferences is very rich. So, as opposed to a very large conference, like you go to South by Southwest, where you have 50000 people. It's not really the same type of thing at all.

Stacy Jackson: It's a completely different experience.

Liam Martin: It's also infinitely more difficult to be able to schedule all of that. To actually run a large conference of, let's say, 5000 people, is more than 10 times harder than 500 people, just from a team perspective. You've got to build in sales teams, you've got to build in customer support people, you've got to run an entire army of volunteers to be able to make it work. Whereas 300 people, you can run that on a team of two people and probably be very profitable and the other thing that's beautiful about this is it looks to me like those conferences last for 5-10 years. Whereas the big ones, they seem to go up, they get big and then they get acquired and then they kind of drop off. Yeah.

Alanna Jackson: So if people want to connect with you, find out more information, what's the best way that they should do that? LinkedIn, Twitter, what would you say?

Liam Martin: No, none of that. YouTube. Go check me out on YouTube. Yeah. YouTube.com/runningremote, if you write a comment on that I will get back to you as quickly as possible. I think I get back within six hours. There's a beautiful app on Android, YouTube Studio, and it literally pushes comments into my feed and I can respond to them in live. I've been having a lot of fun just responding to those comments and so there's there and then I would say outside of that, I mean, it's really, LinkedIn is okay but I really have to get into it in a deeper way. I'd probably say YouTube. That's probably where the place I'd be very happy to have a conversation on that platform.

Alanna Jackson: Okay. Awesome. We'll include that in the show notes as well as the link to Running conference and Time Doctor and it's kind of like a pillar page almost of what you guys did last year for the conference.

Stacy Jackson: That is insane. It's a really great resource.

Alanna Jackson: Yeah. Great resource for internet marketing on what you guys did, how you promoted it and everything. We'll include that in the show notes as well.

Liam Martin: Cool. Thank you very much. This was super relaxed. I liked it a lot.

Alanna Jackson: We're pretty laid back.

Liam Martin: I like that. I particularly like three people because I feel there's more communication that occurs around three people than with just two people, so it's nice.

About Our Guest: Liam Martin

Liam Martin is the Co-founder and CMO of Time Doctor, a time management and productivity platform, and a Co-Organizer of the Running Remote Conference. the world’s largest remote work conference in 2018.

event marketing episode - Liam Martin

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