When an Event Becomes a Fountain of Content with Planful's Rowan Tonkin and Vicky Houser
Thatcher Rouse: Hello, and welcome to the new season of the Casted Podcast, where you'll see some new faces and hear some new voices. Over the last two seasons, we've been exclusively talking to our customers about how they use audio and video to fuel their content marketing and grow their business. And for this season, we're doubling down on the voice of the customer and focusing solely on our partners using the Casted platform to deliver content to all of their audiences. Content marketing is still one of the hardest jobs out there and we love sharing our customers' unique experiences. This, in turn, helps our audience find ways to succeed by digging deeper into the challenges they face and the solutions they're discovering. I'm Thatcher Rouse, customer success manager here at Casted, the first and only amplified marketing platform for B2B marketers. Today, I'll be your guide on this episode of the Casted Podcast. My guests today are all about capturing the voice of the customer and the powerful stories that they tell. Planful's CMO Rowan Tonkin, and the corporate marketing specialist, Vicky Houser, are working together to build a streamlined process that delivers content to their audience of financing and accounting professionals. Recently, they faced a challenge that many brands have faced over the past year and a half, pivoting from an in- person to a virtual event. As we'll hear in the episode, Rowan and Vicky leaned into technology to make this transition happen. But, they also discovered that this virtual event could then become a rich source of content that they could use to repackage and amplify the different sessions events across numerous channels going forward. By amplify, I mean they took those live event session videos, they added key takeaways, created clips from the transcripts and turned those videos into the Planful Perform Podcast, a brilliant way to get more mileage out of the outstanding content from their event. As Rowan and Vicky will share with us, Planful is saving time, reducing costs and amping up their ability to promote content across social, email and many more channels. So, without further ado, let's get into it. All right, so I'd love to start with just some quick intros, just to talk about you, your title, background, that sort of thing. And then, we'll get into the weeds a little bit more. But, Vicky, do you want to kick us off?
Vicky Houser: Yeah, for sure. Hi everybody, I'm Vicky Houser. I'm the corporate marketing specialist at Planful. I live in Toronto, Canada, one of a handful of Canadians we've got on the Planful team here. Two of my major responsibilities at Planful are I help Rowan manage our podcast, Being Planful, and I manage our organic social media as well.
Thatcher Rouse: That's great. Thank you, Vicky. Rowan, you're up next.
Rowan Tonkin: Sure. Hi everyone, my name is Rowan Tonkin. I'm the chief marketing officer here at Planful. I am Australian, so you'll detect a different accent. Vicky says the Canadians with an eh and we say oi. I've been living in the Bay Area for five years, I spent 10 years in London before that and grew up just near Sydney. At Planful, we help finance and accounting professionals manage, really, a lot of the aspects of their day- to- day work. So closing the books for accounting, accounting can then provide that information to finance. And then, finance spend a lot of time doing the analysis and helping us, as business partners to the business, understand where we are fiscally, how our budgets are doing, what forecasts are looking like. And really, provide all of that insight and analysis to the business, to help us all perform better. Planful is an application that streamlines all of that for the office of the CFO.
Thatcher Rouse: Yeah, that's great. Let's jump right into it. I heard you say perform in that last sentence, which leads us really well into my first question. Rowan, I'd love for you to start by telling us a little bit about this event that you have called Planful Perform, that happened just a week or two ago. I'd love to hear a little bit of the background on that event. I know things in the world these days are having to pivot to virtual quite often, so I'm excited to hear a little bit about your story of how you were able to do that.
Rowan Tonkin: Yeah. I think everyone's seen the Friends GIF of pivot, where Ross is yelling at everyone while they move the couch around the stairs. That's been a very common GIF used in our marketing Slack channels at the company. Planful Perform is our annual user conference. It's where we get thousands of finance and accounting professionals together, where they share their stories about how they're using Planful, but also all the challenges that they're facing and how they overcome those. We've hosted the event in- person, historically, and over the last two years... Last year, it was called the Planful Tour, we were planning to go on the road and do multiple events, and then we called it the Virtual Tour because obviously, it became virtual. And then, this year again we were planning to host the conference in Las Vegas. And, about six weeks before the event, with the Delta variant coming through, we decided to pivot to a virtual event. Which was really fantastic, we had over two and a half thousand attendees there, it was a really big event for us, some amazing content. And really, it's about gathering that audience together and helping them share their challenges, and again as I said, share how they overcome those.
Thatcher Rouse: Yeah. That makes sense, for sure. I have been excited to help along the way and see what great things you've done. The event was certainly well attended and really successful, so that's encouraging. When thinking about how to take an event from in- person to virtual, one of the things that I've seen a lot of our clients here at Casted do is continue to use that content and pull it actually into Casted, to make it easier to share with teams, to have it in one central place, to help with leads, all sorts of use cases. I know that was a decision that you all chose to make as well, was to take this event that happened, this virtual, live event and put it into Casted right after. Can you tell us a little bit about your motivations, Rowan, for choosing to add Planful Perform to the Casted platform?
Rowan Tonkin: Sure. Well, I'm inspired by television. So when we pivoted to the virtual event, actually a lot of what we did during the actual live event was make it feel like television. So myself and my colleague hosted the event, backstage, as if we were the American Idol co- hosts, if you will. So introducing people, trying to have fun, keep things engaging. It was a two day event and it's really hard to keep people engaged virtually. When you think about that, you also then say, " Okay, well if people aren't going to be engaged all day, how do we deliver all this tremendous value?" There's a lot of effort that goes into putting 37 different sessions on over two days. How do we deliver that value to the customers and to potential customers, as quickly as possible? Once we saw the Casted platform, we realized that that was a really great platform to share all of that content quickly, easily, in ways that they want to consume that information. We chose to do that, but we didn't just put the pressure on in terms of, "Oh, well let's just use the platform." I challenged the team to have it done the day after the even finished. Vicky didn't like it when I said that because she was responsible for the whole event post production. That was a big challenge for the team. My primary goal for that was, for those people that did attend live and couldn't attend multiple sessions, typically the experience is, " I want to get my hands on that information really, really quickly." So by doing that, it allowed the customers to get their hands on that information really quickly, but also our sales teams, our customer success teams, our marketing teams to use that content really rapidly and really, use that moment to really amplify all of that content that we shared.
Thatcher Rouse: Yeah, I love that idea. Just while things are top of mind, making sure that people have access to it so that's huge. Vicky, I know we talked back and forth quite a lot that week.
Vicky Houser: Oh, yeah.
Thatcher Rouse: Leading up to this and preparing for all the logistics that come along with adding an event to Casted and being able to share it. I'd love for you to talk to us a little bit, just from the perspective of someone that's really actively involved in the Casted platform, what was your experience like? Tell us a little bit about some of the logistics that go on in that process.
Vicky Houser: Yeah, absolutely. It was definitely a lot of pre- planning. As Rowan said, he set a very ambitious goal to have all of the content uploaded, with transcripts, key takeaway clips and related resources, ready to distribute by the end of the day, the day after the event so that we could immediately follow- up with attendees and prospects, or anyone who couldn't make it to the actual event but still wanted that content. Yeah. I was the one managing this process, since I'd already been working with Casted, the Casted team and yourself, on migrating the Planful Podcast into the platform. I very foolishly said, " Yes, absolutely we will make this happen," and immediately started planning how the heck I was going to do it. One of the features that we were definitely most excited about in the Casted platform when we first brought it on was the ability to quickly and efficiently create those key takeaway video clips. But, the thought of doing that for 34 different sessions in a day, without a plan, that didn't seem possible. I actually wound up partnering really closely with our product marketing team. They were working closely with our speakers on their presentation decks and talk tracks. And essentially, together, we went through each speaker's slide deck and we mapped out all of those key takeaways in advance, pre planning those moments that we thought would bring the most value to our audience, in advance, before they were even spoken. Which sounds kind of nuts, but it worked. Yeah. One the actual day, we did have some customers in the office and some were presenting live from home. The second their sessions ended, we had our design team ready to edit the final videos. That was an unbelievable turnaround from our in- house design team, editing 34 videos in less than a day. They would let me know as soon as one was ready to upload and as soon as I could, I'd get it in Casted. And, after a lot of hard work and a little bit of a miracle, by the end of that last day of the event, all of the content was uploaded in Casted, including all the related resources which we had also pre planned, guest descriptions, et cetera. And then, when I woke up the next morning, all of those videos were transcribed, thanks to Casted, which was utterly mind blowing. I'm so incredibly grateful to the Casted team for making that happen. Yeah, then all we really had to do was go through the transcripts to find those sections that we had pre planned, and find where they corresponded in the talk track, and we'd highlight those sections and we'd have clips ready to share in seconds. It was amazing.
Thatcher Rouse: I love it. Yeah, that's one of the big reasons that you all came right to the top of my mind when we were looking for someone to interview on this webinar today. Not only the quality of the work that you did with the planning, the quality of the videos, the production, but also the speed at which you accomplished everything. Even, while in the moment, maybe Rowan became the villain of the team.
Vicky Houser: No, no.
Thatcher Rouse: Looking back after a lot of hard work, it's really cool to see how you all were able to execute on that vision and put together some content that's ready to be digested by so many different people. I'd love to hear, Vicky, about that next step. Once you have all this content, we have it transcribed by Casted, we have the takeaways created and ready to go, how do you use this content moving forward? What do you do with all this great stuff now that you have it?
Vicky Houser: Yeah. Well, from a social media perspective, this is huge. I essentially have enough key takeaway videos to fill my calendar with nothing but content from this event for the next few months if I wanted, but I can't do that. But, those key takeaway videos are just a game changer for me, for how I can share our customer stories on social media. And they're instrumental for our sales team, to share a little snippet of an episode for a prospect versus having to ask them to watch an entire 30 minute session to learn how we can help them. I've already seen a huge impact on other members of the marketing team who are using these clips for email blasts, or to pull quotes for press releases, or for many of our partner initiatives or voice of the customer efforts, et cetera.
Thatcher Rouse: That's great. Rowan, do you have thoughts too, on just how you want to split up some of that content and additional ideas there too, in addition to what Vicky was able to share?
Rowan Tonkin: Yeah. It's been amazing for our customer success teams. A lot of what gets shared at a user conference like that is tips and tricks sessions, how to sessions, what to do in certain situations. The fact that we have those key takeaway clips has been really, really fantastic for our customer success teams to be able to just send a three minute clip and say, " Hey, here's three minutes of a 40 minute session. This is the thing that you need to activate that capability within the application." As well as, obviously, working with customers that don't have all parts of our solution. Our account management team are working with folks to show off value add capabilities that they may want to include in their platform. That's been really valuable. Our SDR teams. When they're out there talking to prospective customers and helping them understand the value that we can deliver, again, as Vicky said, voice of customer, nothing better than someone hearing a peer talk about how their life has been transformed in a very specific solution, whether that's preparing a board deck, or whether that's month end close processes, whether that's consolidating multiple entities across a group of companies, being able to hear that in voice of customer has been really powerful for our SDR team in sharing that insight. And ultimately, I think it's a better experience for the end recipient of that content because they've got the whole context there, but they've got that genuine moment that they want to hear about straight away. That's probably the most important part about what we tried to do with this, is give everyone their own guided journey but we can help start them on their way.
Thatcher Rouse: Yeah. As a former SDR and current member of a customer success team, I can definitely see firsthand how valuable the assets would be. To be able to specifically target something and share it with somebody in a moment of need, it's really cool. I would have loved to have that when I was an SDR, a few years back. It's exciting. I know that your team appreciates that work that you've put in. That's great. This whole Planful Perform event is so exciting and I'm really glad that, not only just it gets to happen live in that event, but now we'll get to see the results of it and the fruit from that experience in that conference, all throughout the next handful of months. That's really exciting. I want to pivot a little bit to just why you decided on Casted, as a whole. Maybe we'll start here with Vicky. But, did you exclusively purchase Casted for the live events or did you have other ideas in mind as well?
Vicky Houser: Yeah. We actually initially brought on Casted for our podcast, Being Planful. It's the podcast for finance and accounting, and planning experts. Or, we also like to say it's the show for the next generation of CFOs. But, we'd actually only been using it for the podcast for a short while before we realized, " Okay, we need this for Perform," and then that took precedence. We've only used Casted for a couple of Being Planful episodes at this point, our newer episodes. But, even just those few episodes, it's saved me so much time. It used to just be this endless back- and- forth between myself and the design team, between getting the episode edited, attaching the captions, creating promo clips, et cetera. And now, that's just super streamlined into a super efficient process. Which means the quality of what we're putting out there and how we're able to promote our episodes has definitely improved.
Thatcher Rouse: Yeah, that's great to hear. And then, Rowan, I'd love to hear some of your thoughts, too, and motivating factors on how you came about the choosing of Casted. And, how that relates to your show, to the podcast as well.
Rowan Tonkin: Yeah. It probably actually comes to why have a podcast in the first place? For the strategy that we have here at Planful of why we have a podcast, it's an opportunity for us to talk to like minded, again, voice of customer. It's not just for our customers, it's for any audience. And really, bring on experts to help facilitate conversations. That makes us, in turn, better marketers, it helps us understand the challenges that our customers are facing, and it helps us use the CFOs words to help our team work better with them and help demonstrate what our platform can do. Now, as you think about that strategy, it's okay, well we want to use the words that people are speaking to really understand the value of our platform and share the value of our platform. So then, it becomes a distribution challenge. How do we get all of that content into their hands as quickly, as easily, in ways that they want to consume? And ultimately, that's what led us to Casted, in the ways that we can provide show notes, we can see the transcripts really quickly. Obviously, it simplifies processes internally, but it's more about the overall end customer experience and how they're engaging with that content. And then, how we can facilitate and distribute that to them as efficiently as possible. And now, with the platform, Vicky's spending a lot less time on internal matters and more time thinking about how she distributes that to our prospects and to people that just, frankly, want to listen to the CFOs that we host.
Thatcher Rouse: Yeah. That's great. We're thrilled to be part of that process and to help make life easier, save time, free Vicky up for some cool things, some things she didn't have as much of an opportunity to focus on before. We are so glad that you chose us and I am really thankful to be the one that was chosen to work you. One more question, before we pivot to a Q& A. I want to have everybody thinking about their questions ahead of time and we'll do that right after this last question. But, in closing, I'd love to hear what thoughts, tips, suggestions would you have for fellow marketers who have also decided to pivot from an event that was going to be in- person to virtual? Vicky, maybe let's start with you, and hear your thoughts and tips, and then Rowan, we'll have you close us out there.
Vicky Houser: Yeah, for sure. We have a saying on the corporate side of our marketing team and it's, " Prep to prep to prep to prep." My advice is, if you think there's even a possibility that you might be pivoting, just have that backup plan as part of the plan right from the beginning, have as much done as you can so that when you have to make that decision it's not so jarring. And also, of course have Casted in your corner, and also don't panic.
Thatcher Rouse: Love it. Yeah, that's great. It sounds like we're going to make pivot one of our sponsored parts of Casted and we need to get that in our branding somehow. But yeah, I love it. Rowan, what would you have as thoughts and tips for people that are wanting to make this switch from in- person to virtual?
Rowan Tonkin: Yeah. I think it depends on a few things. So firstly, if you're a company that's planning no hybrid part of your event and that's a much bigger pivot. When we were planning our Perform conference in- person, we had always planned to have a remote or virtual element to that. I think that is just, frankly, the future of events now, especially large user conference style events. You're always going to have people that have now realized that they can stay home and watch the content, or they'll be passive and wait for the content to get serviced to them later. So depending on that process, it's a little bit of what Vicky said. Have a backup plan, know what your capabilities and your skillsets are and bring in the appropriate team. We're really lucky in that we've got some amazing teammates that are used to managing video production, staging, lighting, all of that. In the current world where no one's going to the office, you can use your office as your staging environment. We saved on a lot of costs there. We brought, actually, all the crew and everything into the office, built purpose built stages for the whole event. And then, the third thing is you're using a different medium. So no longer is that live engagement, inside a big hall or a big expo room going to be the way that you can keep people engaged. You've got to think about it differently and that's why we used the modality of thinking like TV. Have hosts, to guide you from session to session. Keep things engaging during the sessions. Polls, Q& A, give out gifts. You lose a lot by being in- person, so what advantages do you now have and try to take advantage of those. And, realize that you've switched mediums and that the recipient or the customer is going to struggle to engage with you, especially where we've all got Zoom fatigue. You've got to try and break that up somehow. Realize that you're not longer live and in- person, and figure how you switch that up, and take inspiration from other places that do that well. Whether that's TV, or whatever that may be.
Thatcher Rouse: Yeah, I think that's great. I love that idea of focusing on the positives there. And thinking, now that we've switched mediums, now what are the strengths of this medium and how do we capitalize on that.
Rowan Tonkin: Yeah. You can't have that pity party for too long.
Thatcher Rouse: Yeah.
Rowan Tonkin: You've just got to switch and get excited about the virtual event. Otherwise, it shows to your audience.
Thatcher Rouse: The final section here will be Q& A. So those of you out there watching, at home, having this on in your car if you're at a red light, don't text and drive please, but let's hear your questions. We would love to see what you're thinking. I think this is a really great group of people here, to be able to answer some questions on live events that are happening that need to be pivoted to virtual events, or marketing in general. Let us know what you're thinking and we'll have the team take a look here, and answer some questions. Okay, first from Chris Ortega. " What separates Casted from competitors? Why should another company choose Casted in the end?" That's great. This is the kind of stuff that we love to hear. So Rowan, Vicky, do you want to tell us a little bit about what separates Casted and what stood out to you in the buying process?
Rowan Tonkin: I'll let Vicky answer.
Vicky Houser: Yeah. I think, again, for me it was definitely those key takeaways, just seeing the efficiencies that it would bring to my social media calendar, my social media promotions of our podcast and our event content. Yeah, I think that was the biggest selling point for me.
Rowan Tonkin: Yeah. From my perspective, it's the vision. Obviously, you started as a company from the world of podcasts, but inclusive of video. To me, that's the power of podcasting now, with video. I think all podcasts are mostly going to go video first. When you think about that, you've got many different mediums. You've got the video, you've got the audio, plus then you've got all the derivative content like transcripts, like quotes, like clips. That's the vision that Casted has for this method. Even taking something like recordings from a live conference, easily translates into the Casted platform, whereas with other platforms that may not be the case because they may be so focused on just the podcasting process and things like that.
Thatcher Rouse: Yeah. That makes sense, for sure.
Vicky Houser: Yeah, totally.
Thatcher Rouse: We're happy that you chose us. All right, let me take another question here. This one comes in from Abby. " If you didn't have Casted, what would the alternative be to cutting, distributing 34 different pieces of content and content types?" Vicky, this one sounds like it's for you.
Vicky Houser: Oh, I don't know. I guess it would just doing what we had already been doing. I wasn't working at Planful for the last virtual event, but I think that it just all got uploaded into Wistia, if I'm not mistaken. And then, sprinkled throughout our website on different landing pages and hosted on a landing page on planful. com, for sure. I don't know, I wasn't here, but there was definitely not the same ability to promote those episodes after the fact and to distribute it to prospects, and customers and attendees the same way. Rowan, maybe you have a bit of insight there, too.
Rowan Tonkin: Sure. The alternative is just more work.
Vicky Houser: Yeah, there you go.
Rowan Tonkin: From my perspective, I'm not going to say you don't have to do all this stuff, I'm just going to say you have to still do all of this stuff. It's just more work for people so potentially means more cost, more contractors and in an ongoing world with the podcast, it's more load on our design team or we're outsourcing that to someone else, which means more time and you lose a little bit of speed. By having everything in- house meant we were able to do something as ridiculous as having 37 different sessions, live, 18 hours after they all finished.
Thatcher Rouse: Yeah. It's incredible. To me, what that sounds like is Casted is paying for itself by the reduction of labor so we love to hear that. All right, we have time for one maybe two more questions, so let's take one here. All right, this one comes in from Mark. " What are your future plans for the Planful podcasts?" Maybe Rowan, we start with you on this one and talk a little bit about the vision of what's to come.
Rowan Tonkin: Yeah. It's still in its infancy. I think we may have done 50 odd episodes, maybe. We have that in different modalities, so there's one modality which is just where I have conversations with folks that work inside the office of the CFO. And then, we have another modality which we call FP& A Fridays, where we've got regular guests on the show, Chris Ortega and Glenn Snyder, and we generally have some fun topics where we debate and give different points of view. The future of the Planful Podcast might actually be more podcasts, breaking it up into different things for different purposes. You see other companies out there, like we're a Drift customer, and they have a podcast for every aspect of marketing, from leadership through to ops professionals, through to product marketing professionals. We could do something like that here at Planful, for different inaudible inside the office of finance or different use cases. Ultimately, podcasting is a big part of our strategy so we will continue to run the Planful Podcast and may add more components in future.
Thatcher Rouse: Yeah. That's sounds great. I think we can take one final question, if we want to select one more. Let's see what we're thinking, we'll end with that one. This one comes in from Catherine. " What do you foresee for the future of content marketing across the industry?" Either of you can chime in on this one with thoughts. But, just general thoughts on the future of content marketing, in general.
Vicky Houser: Rowan and I love this idea that we've been seeing recently, about this idea of content distribution and having an assigned role within a marketing team who does that. Who decides and plans the who's, what's, how's a piece of content is distributed, how to repurpose it as many times as possible, so that's where I think it's headed.
Rowan Tonkin: Yeah. I'll take a different tack. I think the creation of content and the understanding of what content to create is something that we're going to see AI take a much bigger part in. You're already seeing tools out there that help us with synopses, and writing subject lines, and whilst they're not perfect, they're actually pretty good. If you remember, well I'm old enough to remember back when I was in school, you used to put on your headset and try and use that Dragon Naturally Speaking to do homework and that was terrible. But, it was still 93% accurate. Well now, when you've got Google or Siri, it becomes 99% accurate and the utility value of that is just increasing and increasing. As these types of AI capabilities start to come through, they're going to start helping us repurpose content, they're going to help us get insights into what content is performing across the industry. We're seeing different tools out there exist, like Sparktoro, helps us understand what does our audience want and where are they. And now, it's up to us to go and produce the content for that. We may already have the content, we've just got to go repurpose it. So there will be, in future, in my opinion, and this is five, 10 years out maybe, but where AI will really help automate a lot of that. So again, the efficiency of the marketing team can become efficient and everyone's happy because we can do all of that hard work efficiently.
Thatcher Rouse: Yeah. Yeah, that's great. I'm excited to see what the future looks like. I know Casted has some things in the works right now even, to work on that building the brain, and being able to prompt themes and content, too, based on what already exists. So really excited to see what the future of that looks like. Thank you both for jumping in. I want to close by, while we're on that topic of virtual events, letting everybody know about Amplify, which is Casted's new virtual event, coming up really soon. There will be all sorts of really great people there. PayPal, IBM, a lot of people from the Casted team. But, that's coming up on November 3rd. They're going to talk about all sorts of great ideas in content marketing and what it means to be part of this new era of content marketing. You can register for the virtual event right now, go do it today, immediately, whenever you can. You can register at theamplifyexperience. com. Thank you all for taking the time to listen in and connect with us. Rowan, Vicky, thank you so much for lending your expertise and sharing all the wonderful things you've done over the past couple months. I can't wait to see where we head together in the future.
Rowan Tonkin: Us, too. Thanks for all the questions, folks, really appreciate it.
Vicky Houser: Yeah. I had fun, thanks so much.
Thatcher Rouse: That's great. Thank you, everybody. Have a great day. All right, that's our show. Thank you so much for tuning in and listening today. To learn more about Planful, and how Rowan and Vicky are using omnichannel audio and video, make sure to visit planful. com and check out the Being Planful Podcast, a show for financial planners and analysts. To learn more about how Casted can help you, visit casted. us and be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest on all things amplified marketing, B2B podcasting and so much more. Thanks again for joining us today.
Welcome back to Season 7 of The Casted Podcast. In this episode, Casted's Customer Success Manager, Thatcher Rouse is joined by Planful's Chief Marketing Officer, Rowan Tonkin and Corporate Marketing Specialist, Vicky Houser. Hear how Rowan and Vicky virtualized an in-person event and created a huge source of content in the process. Be sure to stick around until the end of the episode to hear questions answered by Rowan and Vicky from fellow TCP listeners.