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Articles by William Wickey originally posted on another domain.

Prospecting On The Playa: 19 Tips To Network At Burning Man

network at burning man

Once a year, tens of thousands of people gather in the Nevada Desert to create Black Rock City, a temporary metropolis dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance.

Over the past decade, Burning Man has become a must-attend event for the tech world attracting the top innovators and tech mavens such as Larry Page, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, and Elon Musk.

Called “the next frontier of marketing”, the lead generation potential of Burning Man cannot be overestimated or ignored.

Every company worth its sand has already been planning their Burn-based sales and marketing strategy for months, but nonetheless, here are a few last minute tips to maximize your lead generation effectiveness in Black Rock City.*

Update Your Status

Customizing your out-of-office reply with a Burning Man-themed message is just the first step. You’re also going to want to email all your prospects ahead of time and let them know where your booth will be set up.

Load Up on the SWAG

Branding giveaway items with your company logo and “Burning Man 2015” will be bar-none the best investment you make this year.

USB drives, coffee mugs, keychains, stress balls, and sunglass strap are always crowd favorites, no matter what the event. Glow sticks, frisbees, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, are also great.

Divide And Conquer

Theme camps and villages are the interactive core of Burning Man. Before you hop on your bus to BRC, hold a whiteboarding session and divide the camp into quadrants. Then, distribute your SDRs accordingly for effective outbound marketing. Print laminated maps of the camp layout for every rep so they don’t get lost and waste valuable time prospecting in the wrong sectors.

Stay Awake

Networking at Burning Man means late nights and early mornings. Even rockstars crash eventually. Stock up on Red Bull because most commercial coffee pots are not made to operate in dry, dusty environments. You’ll be far better off switching to canned energy beverages for the week (but also pack a Keurig for emergencies).

Encourage Competition

Competition is the ultimate motivator. Set up a team-based SPIFF pitting your Sales Development Reps against your more experienced Account Executives. The anything-goes atmosphere is the perfect environment for next year’s crop of young sales leaders on your team to set themselves apart from the rest of the pack.  

Tag Everyone

Always ask everyone their full name. Collect Twitter handles, send Facebook invites, and connect on LinkedIn with everyone you meet. Take pictures and tag everyone on social media. Ask everyone where they work so you can tag their brand pages as well.


Divert your entire AdWords budget to only target users within 10 miles of 40°45’13.83″N, 119°16’37.20″W. Paid search and display not targeted at the Nevada desert next week is money wasted.

Paperweights Are A Must

Your sales sheets and pitch decks are going to blow away if you don’t weigh them down. Wind will top 30 mph on the playa. Once your sales collateral blows away, it’s gone.


Bring your own router and set up a Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN). Email-gate access and set up a fun Burning Man themed landing page to generate positive brand awareness and drive loads of unique viewers to your domain. Don’t forget to use your company name in the network title.

Hashtag Everything

Schedule tweets ahead time using the high trafficked hashtags. Here is a suggested list of high traffic hash-tags:

#burningman, #playa, #blackrockcity, #rainbowserpent, #heavymachinery, #festivalseason, #decor, #tututuesday, #festival, #puppyeyes, #handmade, #danceparty, #headdress, #gypsykitties, #carniva, #tophat, #cardboard, #diy, #art, #musicfestival, #love, #friendship, #experience, #family, #desertbody, #grateful, #rockstar, #paperweights, #circus, #cirque, #chainbra, #carnivalofmirrors, #funkytown, #wanderlust, #freespirits, #nocturnalwonderland

For B2B networking, use the less traveled but more targeted hashtags: #burningman4business, #burningman4biz, and #B2Burningman.


TEDxBlackRockCity has become too commercial in recent years. Don’t burn yourself out jockeying for limited mindshare at this high-trafficked event.

Use this time to walk around and just meet people!

Make A Joyful Noise

Old musical instruments make a great conversation starter. Not only that, but instruments with a low register such as the tuba and bassoon can be heard for miles on the playa, even through dust storms. Draw in a crowd with “When The Saints Go Marching In” then deliver your company pitch.

Gate Your Content

Everyone knows that the key to inbound marketing is an exchange of value and trust. Burning man’s gift economy not only captures the true spirit of the modern marketing ethos, but also fosters the ideal climate for high quality lead generation.

Gate your cooler of cold water bottles with an email capture to build up your eNewsletter mailing list. Bring a backup clipboard in case your ipad overheats.

Tip Your Top Hat

Remember, anyone wearing a top hat is likely on the job. Be sure to exchange business cards with anyone donning a stovepipe. Even if they’re not in your industry they can potentially connect you with decision makers at businesses that fit your ideal customer profile.

Know Your C-Suite

Be cognizant of the conventions that govern clothing choices based on company status. Of course, these rules are not firm, but you’d be hard pressed to find business leaders deviating from desert norms.

Managing Directors traditionally wear butterfly wings, CPOs opt for body paint, and VPs of Sales make their own Mardi Gras beads. CTOs always show the most skin.

In 2014, most CEOs opted for ceremonial headdresses, but surprisingly enough, 2015 is projected up to be the year of the electric sombrero.

Steampunk Is Out

Healthgoth is in.

Leave The Politics At The Gate

Yes, the flood of capital to Burning Man inevitably attracts politicians like flies to honey, but fight the urge to talk policy on the playa. Patrons don’t want to be bombarded with pre-packaged political messaging. People are here to have a good time.

Be authentic and leave the politics in Washington.

Bring Chapstick

For your lips.


On the eve of Burning Man, Menlo Park will dissolve into a ghost town as Venture Capital firms officially close up shop for a week of hobnobbing, handshaking, and negotiating in the Nevada desert. The only traffic on Sand Hill road August 30 through September 7 will be the tumbleweeds. Like the gold rushes of the old West, the next decade’s billion dollar companies are just waiting to be discovered by the bold and enterprising.

If you’re among the army of business professionals heading to Burning Man this weekend remember to follow the rules, take nothing but contact information, and leave nothing but footprints.

But most of all, have fun and crush it! Good luck and godspeed.

*Poe’s Law.

Originally posted at LeadGenius.com

From A 37% to 86% Cold Email Open Rate In 5 Iterations

email iterations

The road to success is paved with iterations.

A/B tests are a good starting point for objective subject line evaluation. Every sales team should be using them. However, figuring out why various subject lines are effective is more of an art than a science. It takes educated guesswork and multiple rounds of iterations — more than just an A or a B — to get the results you want.

Testing is a science. Iteration is an art.

The following subject lines were used by a LeadGenius Sales Executive in successive rounds of targeted cold prospecting campaigns. By evaluating the positives and negatives of each subject line variation, our sales rep was able to increase his cold email open rate by 49% in 5 steps.

1. “Your sales process”

Performance: 37.5% opened

subject: your sales process

The Positive:

Putting the focus on your reader typically yields positive results. Starting off with “your” can be a good way to frame an email because it demonstrates relevance.

Targeting is obviously a primary factor in the open rate equation. Assuming your email is properly targeted, relevance alone is sometimes enough to draw the reader in.

A great deal of the B2B sales and marketing messaging out there is dreadfully uninspired. In a sea of generics (“Weekly Newsletter,” “Value Matters,” and “Don’t Miss Out”), just a shade of relevance can be a welcome sight in the inbox.

This email campaign was sent to a list of around 300 individuals targeted by industry, company, annual sales revenue, job title, and CRM type. If your cold prospecting email is going out to a list of more than 300 people, more likely than not, you could be doing a better job with your segmentation.

Notice the deliberate use of capitalization and punctuation. The tone of “Your sales process” is a bit more familiar than “Your Sales Process.” This might seem like a minor adjustment, but details matter.

Appearing professional is important. It goes without saying that you should avoid shouting capitals, wacky punctuation, and excessive exclamation points, however, many salespeople make the mistake of dehumanizing their emails in the name of professionalism.

In a world where sales and marketing emails are increasingly automated, it’s always good to remind the prospect that there is a human on the other end of the line.

The Negative:

The downside of this subject line is that it is too vague. The recipient has no idea what they are opening. This 3-word subject briefly grabs the attention of the reader, but ultimately offers no value or personalization. What’s in it for them?

Getting the reader’s attention is only the first step. This email stood out enough to pique a few readers’ interests, but ultimately fell short of enticing the majority to open it.

2. “Sample leads for {{company}}”

Performance: 50.6% opened

Subject: Sample Leads

The Positive:

Emails with personalized subject lines have 26% higher unique open rates than emails with generic subjects, yet 70% of marketers are still not sending personalized emails.

When possible, personalize.

The email client being used for these particular campaigns is QuickMail, a simple stand-alone tool built for automated email prospecting.

This subject line is also effective because it offers value. LeadGenius’ prospecting emails only got out to individuals who are specifically tasked with organizing teams tasked with lead generation, not just any old businessman — people whose job titles are Director of Sales, Sales Manager, VP of Sales for the Americas, Director of Demand Generation, and so on.

Admittedly, “sample” sounds a bit salesy, but it’s honest. This is a sales email. There is no use hiding it.

Being coy with your subject lines might get you a few extra opens in the short term, but if you grossly under-deliver with your content, you are daring the recipient to hit the SPAM button.

Most email clients take spam reports seriously. Getting a spam complaint is not only a lost lead, it also negatively impacts the deliverability of future email campaigns.

If you promise “75% Off Your Next Purchase” in the subject line, and the body of your email amounts to “just kidding,” you’re not starting your sales cycle off on the right foot. You doing the exact opposite of what an initial prospecting email should be doing: building trust.

The Negative:

There is always some grey area when it comes to delivering on your promise. The body of this email does not actually contain a signed and sealed list of targeted leads. It tells the reader how LeadGenius is willing to provide them with a small list of targeted sample leads for free. It’s difficult to craft a subject that does not walk the line.

Offer value without overpromising. If your prospects are all disappointed with the body of your email, you will be disappointed with your SQL conversion rate down the road.

3. “Potential leads for {{company}}”

Performance: 61.1% opened

Subject: Potential Leads

The Positive:

Here again, personalization leads to a very respectable open rate.

Compared to the previous email, this subject line is less likely to be read as unreasonable or dishonest. The subject offers value, yet seems realistic.

The most cliché spam subject lines inevitably contain some sort of ridiculous over-promise:

Your Online Doctorate In 6-Weeks

Be Irresistible To Women With This One Weird Trick

Survive the Recession, Earn $5000 a week from home

Register to Win Your FREE iPad!!

Extreme examples like these condition us all to be skeptical of over promises. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Having a realistic value proposition in your subject line will increase your open rate. You also set yourself up for success when you offer something you can deliver on quickly.

The inclusion of dynamic fields in your subject lines can also help decrease bounce rate. Email clients scan for large batches of incoming messages with the same subject line. By adding a personalized field, you cut down on the likelihood that a server will identify your message as overtly promotional. This is particularly relevant if you are sending to a large list.

The Negative:

This subject line is “personalized,” but not “individualized.”

Company Name can be a useful dynamic field to include with a subject line, but it does not connect on a 1:1 level. This subject line will not be effective when used on a company that has tens of thousands of employees like AT&T, Home Depot, Xerox, or FedEx.

Know your market. The effectiveness of this particular subject line is likely to be inversely proportional to the size of the companies you are targeting.

4. “Found you on LinkedIn”

Performance: 64.6% opened

Subject: Found You On LinkedIn

Professionals like and use LinkedIn.

35% of users access LinkedIn daily and 32% access the site a few times per week. LinkedIn is now responsible for a staggering 64 %of all visits from social media channels to corporate websites. In contrast, Facebook accounts for 17% of such visits, while Twitter is just 14%.

This subject line makes some recipients curious without screaming “click bait.” It demonstrates that the sender did at least some homework before barging into your work day.

The reference of a LinkedIn connection in the subject line makes a tacit promise to the reader that the shared connection will be revealed upon opening the email. Be sure to include the name of the connection in the message body.

Furthermore, 28 to 39 characters have been shown to have the highest open and click-through rates for B2B emails. This subject length falls right in the sweet spot. Never sacrifice clarity for characters, but if you can, aim for 4-6 words.

The Negative:

The broad success of this subject line across a variety of industries all but guarantees its overuse in the coming months. I’ve seen several variations of this subject line in my own inbox since the start of 2015.

Adding the name of the connection in the body of the email also requires some extra leg work. Executing at scale requires deliberate list building.

The high open rate of this campaign also suggests that LeadGenius’ emails were not getting filtered out of recipients’ primary inboxes. However, be aware that using a social network’s name in your subject line could potentially send you to the social tab of inboxes powered by Google.

Social Tab Gmail

5. “I found you through {{contact_first_name}} {{contact_last_name}}”

Performance: 86.6% opened

Subject: Found You Through [Name]

The Positive:

An 86% cold email open rate is outstanding by any measure.

This subject line works well because it lends automatic credibility to the sender by leveraging an existing connection by name. An unexpected but familiar name jumps off the page. It is attention-grabbing. It piques the reader’s curiosity. The sender obviously put in some extra effort to locate and document this connection.

Setting up this type of email is actually more than a subject line technique, it’s an entire prospecting strategy.

The Negative:

Constructing this campaign is complicated.

It requires searching through hundreds, if not thousands, of LinkedIn connections. That’s a lot of data entry.

This type of campaign can be very effective, but it is very difficult to scale – even for companies with lots of resources.

At LeadGenius, we are able to efficiently run these types of campaigns by using our own services. We combine customizable data, machine intelligence, and a remote human workforce to execute at scale.

If you are interested in running a similar prospecting and email outreach campaign at your company, schedule 15 minutes with one of our live representatives to discuss volume options and pricing.

According to Radicati, the typical business professional receives an average of 81 emails every day.

Email is still the preferred communication channel of professionals, but grabbing decision makers’ attention is an increasingly difficult task. That is, of course, assuming you have already identified who the decision makers are in your industry.

Though the focus of this post is on Open Rate, go back and review how Clicks and Replies increased with each iteration as well.

Increased efficiency at the top of the funnel smooths out every step to follow.

Originally posted at LeadGenius.com 

Who Really Wields Social Authority In The C-Suite?

Five years ago it was almost unthinkable, but times change.

High profile CEOs like Richard BransonRupert MurdochJeff WeinerMarc Benioff, and Marissa Mayerhave blazed a trail and raised the bar when it comes to corporate leadership maintaining a strong presence on social media, particularly on Twitter.

If you’re not asking yourself, “should my CEO be on Twitter?” you should. There’s not a right or wrong answer, but you ought to be weighing the matter.

Consider these findings from BRANDfog’s most recent annual “CEO Social Media Survey:”

  • 83% of US respondents believe that CEO participation in social media can build better connections with customers, employees, and investors.
  • 82% of US respondents believe that executive use of social media raises brand awareness.
  • 71% of US respondents agree that a company whose CEO uses social media is more trustworthy.

Harvard Business School professor and author of Authentic Leadership, Bill George, says, “people want CEOs who are real. They want to know what you think.” Speaking about Twitter, George adds, “can you think of a more cost-effective way of getting to your customers and employees?”

It’s not right for every company, but there is a strong case to be made in-favor of social engagement. For better or for worse, having the CEO assume an active role on social media is becoming an essential part of more and more brands’ business strategies. Fear, lack of social media training, and being too busy are no longer valid excuses.

But what about the rest of the C-Suite? How far do their voices carry? More importantly, who gets bragging rights at the next board meeting?

social authority in the c-suite

An analysis of over 100,000 Twitter profiles using Followerwonk reveals that, while there are a larger number of CEOs on Twitter than any other business leadership position, their average social authority does not necessarily trump the other positions in the C-Suite.

Chief Content Officer tops the charts followed by Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Technology Officer. The C-Suite is getting more active on social media, and the people are listening.

What is Social Authority?

Social Authority is a 1 to 100 point scale developed by Moz to identify users who create and surface truly effective content on Twitter. Social Authority correlates with other influence metrics such as Klout but weights engagement heavier than pure reach. In other words, Social Authority takes into account whether or not anyone is listening.

Social Authority is based on 3 components:

  1. The retweet rate of a few hundred of the measured user’s last non-@mention tweets
  2. A time decay to favor recent activity versus ancient history
  3. Other data for each user (such as follower count, friend count, and so on) that are optimized via a regression model trained to retweet rate

A more in-depth look at the metrics behind calculating Social Authority can be found on Moz’s blog.

Selling to The C-Suite

From a sales perspective, increased C-Suite activity on Twitter is a blessing and a curse.

If you’re selling to the C-suite, you now have access to a treasure trove of information about your ideal customers – not just your ideal customer profile, but an unprecedented window into the mind of your best potential buyers on an individual level.

Brand Strategist Valeria Maltoni maintains a list of over 350 top CEOs on Twitter. Plenty of lists of top CMOsCIOs, and CFOs are floating around out there as well. Scattered throughout this data are invaluable 140-character clues into these decision makers’ values, pain points, and priorities.

It’s easier than ever to identify decision makers in the C-Suite but increasingly difficult to locate accurate contact information and supply sales reps with actionable insights. There is simply too much data to comb through by hand. Even with a well-oiled inside sales team, generating data-rich leads through social media can be an unacceptable drain on on sales teams’ time.

Gathering subjective buyer insights from a data source like Twitter can be the fuel that powers your sales engine or the sand that grinds it to a halt.

If you know what you’re looking for, and have the right tools, it’s a good time to be selling.

Originally posted at LeadGenius.com