Marketing Together #29: 3 Ways to Market with Your Community Members with Sidney Waterfall

Sidney Waterfall, Senior Vice President of Growth at Refine Labs, joins the show to discuss The Vault—Refine Labs’s collection of marketing resources.

Sidney delves into the process of creating content that meets the highest standards. Drawing inspiration from the scientific journal peer review process, Refine Labs ensures that its content is objective, based on actual execution, and backed by tangible data. Sidney also sheds light on the power of personal branding efforts and how they benefit both the individual and the company.

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  • How to get members to share their data and insights. 5:49
  • Employee advocacy and evangelism programs. 15:19
  • Raising the bar for content quality. 23:16
  • The peer review process for content. 28:42


Logan Lyles 0:05
Welcome back to marketing together. I'm your host, Logan Lyles with I'm joined today by Sydney waterfall. She's the senior VP of growth at Refine Labs labs. Sydney. Welcome to the show.

Sidney Waterfall 0:16
Thank you. Thank you so much for having me excited to chat today.

Logan Lyles 0:19
Absolutely. I've seen you in my feed for a long time on LinkedIn. I know other folks on the refined labs team really well. But first time you and I are connecting. And I'm excited to talk about something that folks who are maybe familiar with refined labs have had their eye on what you guys are doing with the vault. But really were a near bound approach to marketing where marketing together is actually happening as you guys are starting to create a different sort of content within the vault than just kind of your your self created IP from working with your agency clients. And really were marketing with your team members and the community there is coming into play. For folks who aren't familiar, give us a little bit of context on refined labs and the vault as you guys now have two business models under one roof at the moment. And then we'll dig deeper into weird marketing togethers really playing out in the vault.

Sidney Waterfall 1:15
Sounds good. So we're fine Labs is a demand generation kind of ABM type of agency, we really focused, you know, a large website revenue agency, a really a focus on creating demand, capturing demand and optimizing demand conversion across all pipeline sources. And I'll go to market sources for companies and really accelerating that transition from you know, maybe a more lead gen or lead based model to an account based all bound model revenue team. That's really our sweet spot in our niche. We work with b2b SaaS, tech companies, usually in the medium size range. And, you know, we develop a lot of insights and learnings by working with 30 to 50 clients at one time. And that's kind of how the vault came to be was. Let's take all these learnings and things and document our philosophy, our approach all of our frameworks, all our templates that we actually use with a lot of our clients, and publish them so that other companies can use this, who probably may not ever be a customer of ours, or maybe one day, well, who knows, but really to drive that accessible market. If you follow refine labs, and you believe in our methodology and our vision on revenue and marketing, we wanted to create somewhere that we could have people adopt that philosophy and methodology themselves if they have the team and the resources to do it, as well.

Logan Lyles 3:00
Well, tell me a little bit about how you guys approach content for the vault, how that differs from kind of your general learnings from the agency side, you know, we've developed this framework or working with these clients, where did it start? And how do you kind of differentiate the content that you're sharing the way that you're marketing and developing this content for for the vault and with the people in that community? You were sharing with me before we hit record different types of reports different ways that you think about structuring the content from the vault and how that differs from kind of your general content marketing, from refined labs,

Sidney Waterfall 3:40
refined labs as a whole, we want to advance the science of marketing and demand. And that vision applies to both businesses. So in both units, so whether you work with us on the agency side or in the vault, and you remember, there, you when we look at content within the vault, we have different core pillars and core types of content, we are going to publish what we call fundamentals, our frameworks and our expert guidance. And those three pillars are really our philosophy documented and how to implement how to go from here's the fundamental concept. Here's what we're advising you to do. And here is how to do it. Those are what those three pillars kind of facilitate for our members. And that content is really driven from our learnings at scale across 30 to 50 b2b companies at a time so really driven from the market. However, we have lab reports and experiment reports. And we're starting to get into more data and insights reports as well. And those pillars are going to be driven from A lot of different avenues, which I think is really different and new for us at refined labs, and something I'm really excited about. So we have our experiment reports. And our lab reports, which are kind of smaller insights reports, think of like sample size, one to two versus a larger sample size. Hey, we did this on two companies. And we took this approach, here was the strategy, here's the hypothesis, here's exactly how it was executed. And here is the results. And here's the takeaways, if you were to try this on your own, and we source those from our internal team or working with clients, so that's one audience that we're getting content from the other audiences directly through our vault network. And everybody who's in that network, which would be anyone who's a vault member. So anybody in the in the vault community, and or in our product, can participate or submit their data and insights or experiments to then be published inside of the vault, as well. So that's another new work or marketing, audience, partner lover, whatever you want to call it, that we've been experimenting with.

Logan Lyles 6:22
Yeah, yeah, we've been experimenting and talking about marketing, with fill in the blank on this show for months and months. And so it's interesting how we keep continuing to add to that list of the folks that you can fill that blank in with, I want to come back to the employees in the ways that you guys are testing an incentive program there. But before we get to that, Sidney talked to me a little bit about how you guys are engaging the community of Vault members to contribute to the content to submit reports, the different types that you mentioned, the lab experiment, and the data and insight reports. How do you guys go about kind of positioning that of, hey, great, you're a member, you signed up so that you'll get these insights in this exclusive content. But we don't want to just push stuff at you. We want to bring you into this, we want to give you an opportunity to submit How are you encouraging that? How are you kind of positioning that with people that are coming in? And what's kind of the response been so far?

Sidney Waterfall 7:23
Yes. So this network, I would say of people is super interesting, because we have a vault event every week where it's weekly coaching. So anyone can show up at any time, people can kind of come and go. And so we have a really pretty good pulse on what a lot of our members are, like actively deploying or actively working on right now. And we're helping them through giving them advice on you know, maybe it's something we have a playbook written on, maybe it's something we don't have a playbook written on. But we're still, you know, connecting with them and helping collaborate with them, so that they get value just out of that, right. And when they get value around experimenting or implementing something, and then they see the impact of that, we then reach out and say, Hey, this was such a great experiment, would you want to document that and document your learnings and the data and publish it. And anything that is published, has to be submitted and reviewed by a third party, like peer reviewed team. So even if even employees, everything has to be peer reviewed, before it's published, just to make sure that the data is correct. There's no, you know, it's formatted in a very science driven data driven way. So that's one areas, we use the engagement from the network that we're already getting. The second way that we do is we might have something on the roadmap coming up, I'll give you an example. We are going to be publishing a lab report, which is a lab report is going to be a sample size of you know, plus four or five, like a little bit larger sample size, versus a lab insight is sample size of one or two. So as we kind of go up in that data quality in the sample sizes, we have different levels, so that people understand, hey, this is something that was done one time or hey, this has been done five times across these five different companies. And here's small nuances around each different one. But holistically this was deployed and this, these were the results around each company, so they can see that take that and tailor it to their own strategy. So we will also say hey, we're publishing In a lab report on thought leader ads, a lot of people are testing and experimenting with that right now, as a lot of our clients are a lot of members are. And so we like to throw out a topic and say, if anyone's doing this right now, would you like to participate? Here's what we're going for, here's what we're looking for. And they can participate that way. The third option is you, we've actually had a customer, take one of our existing experiment reports and say, Hey, this was great. I actually stood this up and launched it. We're like, awesome. That's the that's the goal is that you have inspiration and guidance to do new things. Would you like to add your data to this report to increase the sample size of this? Whatever the topic may be. And then they can say yes or no, or I'm not comfortable doing that, or I'd love to. But those are kind of three ways that we utilize the existing members for lab reports. And we are testing with two other people right now of even if you're not a member of the fault, or a refined labs customer, but you're still watching sought leadership ads, you could still submit your data to the report, if you want to do and it would be peer reviewed. And we either accept it or not, or give you feedback of we need these other three things before we can accept it.

Logan Lyles 11:33
I love that. So basically three options of how are you really marketing together with this community, you've got your monitoring the engagement in live sessions, or asynchronous stuff that you're seeing from the community, and leveraging that to you're sharing the content roadmap, what's coming up are the reports that you're working on with the community to see who wants to contribute. So you're kind of going both directions. And then I really love to third one, where, you know, if someone says, Hey, I tried this, Hey, let's add that to the existing report. Let's expand the data set on that one. And all three of those make a ton of sense. Let's circle back to what we alluded to earlier there for a second city, you guys actually rolled out an incentive program to your internal team to submit content for the vault? What is that, like? What has been what was the thinking behind it? What's been kind of the initial response reaction from the team, since it sounds like this is fairly new, right?

Sidney Waterfall 12:37
It is very new, hot off the press out here. We, so we have a very talented team, like, they blow me away all the time of stuff that they're doing with clients and things like that. But that is not their number one priority is, you know, launching are documenting things to publish inside of the vault. Right? They are server, I used to be on the client side as well, I know exactly what it feels like you are managing your clients, you have all these other competing priorities. And while we did have one to two people, we had staffed to be responsible to go into our client base or use, use our employees to then source out different content. And that worked, okay. But ultimately, it was a lot of time spent trying to source the content. And it wasn't super efficient. So we thought, let's figure out how to do this. Our employees are great, they are doing so much great work. But how do we get them to prioritize showing their effort and like documenting it a little bit and kind of like bubbling it up to the vault and the marketing content team, and then we can help them take it from there. So that's where the idea of the incentive program came. Because, you know, they are going to have to do a little bit of more effort outside of their regular role and responsibilities of their job. And if we want to accelerate that faster, and at a higher quantity, let's try an incentive program around that and see how employees respond. We obviously we did get some employees to submit content and create some content in collaboration with us previously, but it was a little sporadic, right is when they had time or when, you know, they were you know, off boarding a client and they had some extra time in the two week span or something like that. So we recently rolled this out literally like a week or two weeks ago to our team. And it's very new for us. A lot of this is very new, even the lab reports and sourcing things. A lot of this is still in the works and hasn't some of that hasn't even been published yet. But it will be published soon.

Logan Lyles 15:19
I like what you said there, though, just to go off of that, and it kind of reiterate something that Ryan muscleman on the show here. They do content as a service for b2b brands, and help them with often evangelism programs. And he says, If you're going to have an employee advocacy or evangelism program, you need to have an official opt in and you need to have official rewards because you can't just assume that people are going to be excited about it, or that they're going to have the time to squeeze that in it is additional on top of their roles and responsibilities. And I think for those of us who are in the marketing team, where we just see, hey, this is an opportunity to amplify what I'm already doing. It's just natural. And so if you have other team members, especially when in a it within an agency, when you have folks on the frontlines, individual contributors who are responsible for client work, they're thinking about hitting those deadlines, keeping those clients happy, all those sorts of things. So kudos to you for for doing that. I stopped you there, it sounds like you have a little bit more to add on the incentive program and working with employees to

Sidney Waterfall 16:22
Yeah, I mean, we're very early days. And, you know, we're very lucky in the fact that we attract people who want to come work for refine labs, who invest in their personal brand, or like to engage on dark social channels and communities. So from like an employee advocacy program, we are I feel like very lucky and not the norm. There, however, but we enable that to happen, and then we encourage it, our leadership, you know, leads the way by doing it. Yeah, but there's no monetary reward, there were this, we really wanted to provide a monetary award, because it's a different new thing we're asking employees to participate in. And we're very specific about the types of content and what is required of them and what the process is. And there's different payments based on different like depths of the content, basically, how long it would take you to produce a playbook versus an experiment report, right? And we've modeled it that way. So that, you know, the more time that they're spend there, that there's an incentive there. And plus, they also get, you know, recognized internally, but their name gets attached as the author in the vault. So when people are reading it, they know exactly who was the author, and then who are the collaborators as well. So it kind of builds their expertise, and you know, eventually brand within the vault, I think up as well, if you could get something published, and you have five or six pieces of publish material under you, that will just look really cool to a lot of the users and members in the network.

Logan Lyles 18:10
Yeah, and as we typically see, at least from my perspective, with any sort of personal brand effort, it has benefits for both the company and the individual, right? Because, one, they're doing some resume building, right? Because you're kind of forcing them in incenting them to document projects that they've worked on, and the results that they've had, which, you know, I've some of the great advice I had early in my career is always keep your resume up to date, and most resumes, they lack numbers, it's I was responsible for this. And this and this, I manage this many clients. What hiring managers want to know is what results did you drive? But then so the sidebar there. But then also, you know, within an agency, the question always is, especially if someone's sold, you know, by the founder, or they're intrigued to work with the agency because of the founders personal brand, which is obviously, you know, on steroids with you guys because of Chris's personal brand being kind of a shining example, in the space. It's Who am I going to be working with? What level of person are you going to assign to our account once we sign up with refined labs or any agency, and so it does come back I think to to the company as well both on the agency side and for the vault. So I think that's really interesting not to go off on a complete tangent there. But to bring us back on to track. Sydney, you talked a little bit about something else that's new in marketing together within the vault is publishing co authored reports with folks from outside the community. Tell us a little bit about how this first experiment for lack of a better term or maybe intentional pun here. How did this come to be? What were you thinking about it and what's transpired since then,

Sidney Waterfall 19:52
yes, so this is another hot off the press here. It is an experiment. We haven't even fully launched it yet. We're Are, our first one will go live next week. So we've definitely teased it out to some of our vault members in the network. But as we're thinking of honestly, just looking at what we do really well, where is our expertise? And what are we okay at, but not necessarily the experts in as internally refined labs. And so when I'm thinking holistically about people who come into the vault, purchase the vault, it's really to kind of catapult them into adopting this new way of marketing within the organization. So there are some categories or topics that we have a point of view on. Sure. But we are not necessarily the industry expert, nor are we trying to be right as our brand. So I think one is just recognizing that and two, is, what do our members need to be fully successful to re transform their marketing and revenue strategy and go to market strategy, right? Like, what do they need. And that's really, the why that came behind. It was like, maybe we could collaborate with a few key people who have been validated by their work through multiple companies and multiple examples. And just like an external contributor, they do have to submit work, it goes through us, we validate their previous results that led to this work, and hat and was that the actual framework? Or was that the actual advice that lead to those results in those examples that they have, and kind of validate that they have examples at scale and proof at scale, because that's one thing that's very important to us, when we publish content inside the inside of the vault, is it's not just a one off one time thing, it's proven on multiple instances, right. And so we're just testing with to, to start around two different topics. One is customer research, something we are very passionate about. And something that Chris does very well, we do a lot of research and feedback with our vault members, for example, since it's such a new, new product. So that one, we're bringing in an author, and we've worked on this for about a month and a half. And we are going to be launching it inside of the vault next week. And then we have another one coming out under another topic, which I'm not going to say at hull leave that for another surprise, nugget 75. And that should be coming out in October. And really these are two experiments for us to see how our members respond if it is valuable for them, while still meeting the criteria around vault content and vault publishing.

Logan Lyles 23:16
Yeah, I love that. I love what you said there Sydney in recognizing the areas that are necessary and valuable for your community to succeed in whatever they're trying to do. You guys are serving marketing professionals, if other marketers listening to this are serving other audiences, they know who they're trying to serve, and you solve something very specific for them. But that doesn't mean that you solve everything in their life, let alone even just their work life, right. There are other things where you're not the expert, but if you can provide value, it's going to help them be more successful, they're going to tie that value back to you. And that's where looking outside of the company, finding those right partners can fill that gap. And again, it's valuable for the company. But you were mentioning there, that you guys are going through a process right now to make sure that the content is still up to the right standards. And that actually, you know, carries even more weight than most marketing teams because of I think impart Chris's engineering background, the way that you guys are structuring the vault. We've got all this scientific terminology between lab reports and experiments, those sorts of things. So talk to me a little bit about how you guys are raising the bar. They're bringing some things about the scientific journal peer review process, into your content, what does that look like? What are some things that are really different there from the way that most b2b content is created, let alone vetted and then published?

Sidney Waterfall 24:47
Yeah, so most b2b content which I'm a b2b marketer, I read a lot of content I find a lot of this valuable. So this is not like a knock at anything. It's just the product and strategy that we We have decided to take is we validate all of our internal IP and internal frameworks through at least 15 to 30. Companies before, we will like publish an update to a framework or something new. And oftentimes, we do it on ourselves as well, to learn and then we have tangible exact, you know, screenshots of how we did everything that we can share, because it's our data versus someone else's Salesforce instance, for example. But we're, we're really trying to take a scientific approach so that all of the content that we publish and stand behind is objective, and it's based on actual execution. Because a lot of content can be based on limited execution, interviews, someone's thoughts, which are not like their bad thoughts. A lot of people have great thoughts, but we need it to be validated into the market. And so how we're doing that is, again, kind of that science based approach, we're trying to bring a science based framework to marketing to advance the science of revenue generation, specifically net new revenue generation, one day, I'm sure we'll get into the land and expand land as well. And we're not quite there yet.

Logan Lyles 26:32
One thing at a time, one thing at a time. Yeah,

Sidney Waterfall 26:35
yeah, it's like, if that's a whole nother beast, right? Like, let's just try to get this down and really good, and then go on to the next one. So a couple of things that we're going to be doing with our content now that we have a very robust library that we're kind of built. And now we're adding pieces to is implementing kind of a level of evidence, which is like a quality control that you typically see on scientific journals. And that's a low quality is like an expert opinion, right? versus high quality would be a study with adequate data and an adequate power behind it. And so when we publish content, we would have some of those ratings there. So it's very clear to people what the content history is, and how it came about, and what's the data behind it. Also, the recommendation strength, which is similar to like a grade practice, in scientific kind of journals, or reports, or even medical is basically a way to qualify the evidence. So you would have a grade of A, B, C, or D. And then you have a descriptor, and then the level of evidence on every single piece of content. So that way, is very clear. When we say, Hey, this is a very strong recommendation, this is very popular in like medical clinicians should follow this recommendation unless a clear or compelling reason, right? That's like the highest level, all the way down to, hey, this is you know, level X through this, it's a recommendation, this is a general recommendation. And then you have you know, your lower levels, which is there's little to no systematic evidence, or there's few to small systematic evidence there. So we're trying to take that approach and integrate that more into our content strategy, which is new for us as well.

Logan Lyles 28:42
I love that it's so interesting to me to hear, you know, as I've learned more about the vault that you guys even have a peer review process. I'm like that I remember that from like learning how to research in college and how I how to cite your sources and all the different citation styles and stuff like that, that's floating somewhere in the back of my brain. But you guys are bringing those ratings and recommendation strength to your content. And I think that's really interesting. It definitely fits in to the theme that you guys are talking about in making b2b marketing, more scientific and in the science of revenue generation. So, Sidney, this has been really good. I love your tips about how to engage both to kind of from the company to your community and get ideas from your community to the company and enhance the company, content from the community. Those three ways we were talking about earlier. You guys have developed a great structure for incentivizing employees and bringing in outside authors to the content. Anything else you want to share with folks that maybe I failed to ask that you think is interesting here to touch on in the way that you guys are marketing together with this immunity you guys are building in the vault?

Sidney Waterfall 30:02
Yeah, I think we covered a lot of it, I think the main thing that we set the expectation for anyone that's in network or interested in bout it is we are building this and advancing the science of, you know, marketing and revenue generation together, right. So it's with, like, we couldn't do it without the people in the network, we couldn't do it with the people in the services lab. We couldn't do it with other people who might want to participate and contribute. And I think that is the core message underneath, like the vision of advancing the science of demand, not one company can do this. It's a group of people, just like in scientific trials in the group of scientists advancing the science of medicine. And so it's a group of people. And that's what I think is really exciting. And that's one of the reasons I have loved working on the vault and kind of working a little bit more holistically underneath the Refine labs brand. So yeah, and I love love tips from anyone else who listens to this, feel free to DM me or reach out if you have any ideas or like, Hey, have you thought about this? Have you thought about that? And always looking to learn and, and elevate our strategy even more?

Logan Lyles 31:29
Yeah, absolutely. So Sidney, for anybody who's not connected with you, what's the best place for them to connect with you to reach out and find out more about the vault and see what you guys are doing that we've alluded to quite a bit here today?

Sidney Waterfall 31:43
Yeah, I'm on LinkedIn. That's my number one platform. I'm active on Sydney waterfall. And I'm the only waterfalls anyone fall on there. I found so far, unless there's a bot profile out there. So

Logan Lyles 31:57
only one in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, at least right?

Sidney Waterfall 32:00
Yes, yeah. I only live in Idaho, for sure. But yeah, most active on LinkedIn, I'm active in some marketing communities as well. And then, you know, you can always find me at Sydney at refined livestock calm. So there you go.

Logan Lyles 32:17
I love it. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for making it easy for listeners to connect today, Sydney. And I think, you know, as you said it there what you guys are doing and the mission that you're on at refined labs. It's not possible without the network. And again, drawing those analogies from the scientific community, bringing them into b2b marketing and tech. I think it's really interesting. And you've illustrated really, you know, the tagline of the show that we go further faster when we're marketing together. So thank you for sharing some of your journey and what you guys are experimenting with in the vault. As you guys go further. So Sydney, thank you so much for joining us today. Appreciate it. Thank you

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