Kreators Series - Episode 3: Yaagneshwaran Ganesh's Author Journey
Our guest today is Yaagneshwaran Ganesh. When I was a kid, and watching english movies, I could not pronounce the surnames of a lot of big heroes. So, one of them especially we just call them Arnold or Arnie, you know who I'm talking about? So, let’s just call our guest, Yaag. Because Yaagneshwaran Ganesh is quite a mouthful. Yaag, welcome, welcome, welcome. But I would need to tell a bit more about you to our viewers and listeners. Yaag is an eternal optimist, a well-known speaker and a marketing enthusiast. He's a traveler as well, he coaches and mentors, marketing teams, from startups to much larger funded companies. Across the globe, he has presented his marketing ideas to be agile, to stay in sync while focusing on the basics, factoring in the ever-changing marketing conditions. He is the right man for today, as we prepare for 2021 growth. He is a multi-book author as well. So welcome, Yaag.
Yaag: Thank you so much, Pravin. It's always a pleasure connecting with you. And, you know, thank you so much for thinking of me. And having me on your show today.
Pravin: So, we are going to talk about one of your books, which is The Revenue Marketing Book, which is the recent book that you have come out. How did this book come about? You know, this is not your first book, therefore, I'm quite curious to know, why this topic and why this book, Yaag?
Yaag: So, this was actually my seventh book and actually, the third marketing book. The way it came up is, you know, we were thinking about different marketing aspects and this book actually was worked out of my frustration. You know, many things in my life, I've channeled my frustrations into either books or podcasts. And that's how some of the good products have come out. So the way it happened is, in majority of the companies that I either considered for or worked with, the way it happened is that, you know, people always focused on, you know, outputs or outcomes. So, you know, people spoke about NGOs, but never worried about what revenue it brought in. They were only looking at optimizing things for themselves and showing that they have worked. And that's how the KPIs are formed. But they were not looking at what it brought to the organization, or, you know, what was the collective output. And that's the reason why you also see a lot of organizations having the quite a bit of misalignment between marketing and sales, because they are not working towards a common goal. Like you go and ask your sales guy, what are the top five accounts that you want to close this quarter, they'll be immediately able to tell you. But on the contrary, when you go and ask the marketing guy, that how many accounts are to be closed this quarter, they will not be able to tell you the names of the accounts, or they won't be able to tell you about it. A sales guy does not even need to look at this, look at the CRM to give you this. So I thought okay, well, how can we go about this, can we unify the goal as revenue and start working towards that, can we optimize everything towards revenue? And that's how the idea of this book was in brought.
Pravin: Brilliant. Yaag. But that's a classic problem, isn't it? The fight between marketing and sales, the fight between, hey, I am going to cover my ass and throw so much marketing jargon that you will drown in it and we are more towards sales. But the question which you ask right up front, in your book, which I'm going to ask you around, can we predict the revenue outcome, especially in today's changing clients? Can we predict revenue outcome, Yaag?
Yaag: The best part is, you know, in marketing, and in anything right now, and COVID has proved that we cannot predict anything at all. But we can have a direction towards which we are going. Right? So for example, I know that if I do certain things, like say, for example, let's say events, I mean COVID has closed events all around the world, but just think a little bit before that, if somebody is going to an event, they are not going there primarily to go from one booth to another, right? So if you're spending on a 10 by 10 booth, and if you're spending about a million dollars or, you know, atleast 50k on that, it goes to waste because you do that, and you might probably get a few business cards, and then people just throwing it around to get the goodies. That's all it is. When you go back and connect with them. They're not going to take the compensation forward. But instead if you can invest on building relationships, and if you can invest in building trust, because I always believe marketing is the business of only doing two things, building trust and building relationships. If you can do these two, then you know it will translate into revenue, translate into value. And to answer your question straight, you cannot predict it. But you can take direction and walk on that direction and keep adjusting on the go.
Pravin: Beautiful, Yaag. One of the other speakers in this Kreators series is Sharat Sharma. And I asked him the same question. The book is all about mindset. And one of the examples he quotes is people are so motivated and do work so enthusiastically in the wrong direction. While if you check in, if you keep checking that comes through, but I am the parent of two kids, and I'm going to ask you a question. Does this book need a parental guidance? Because one of the chapters says “hips don't lie.” What are you implying there, Yaag?
Yaag: Though I love the song Hips don't lie by Shakira, the interesting thought process about that is, you know, just like your hip, like, what will you eat, it shows up on your hips, right? That's the way marketing is gonna be. Whatever you do, the results show up. And that's why I say, you know, you look at certain things, what you're gonna do, what you're gonna invest on. In fact, it also ties down to one of the oldest principles in the world of strategy in marketing, which is called the OODA loop, where it stands for observe, orient, decide and act. So you know, when you can connect the dots, it happens only when you can look back. So you start something, you go in a particular direction. And after you've invested some time on that you have a set of users of a product, you go back and see what has happened.
And that's where the cost reduction happens. So the OODAs, you know, observe and orient, and then decide and act, what it simply means is that you look at what has happened. Ask yourself, what happened? Then, so what? Now what? And what do I do out of it? So this is the sequence. And if you can implement this, then, you know, things are going to be relatively easier. At the end of the day, the beauty about marketing is, one of the reasons why I'm also into marketing is, it is not rocket science, it is not one of the most difficult subjects. If you can apply a little bit of common sense, that's all it is, right sir? Otherwise, that's the reason why I stayed away from engineering, stayed away from anything that requires a lot of effort, a lot of thought process, you know, marketing comes relatively natural.
Pravin: But where we come from, that's a right of passage, you have to become an engineer, then decide what you want.
Yaag: Yeah, my dad actually pushed me to become an engineer. And that's one area, I had to fight with him and say whatever happens I'm not becoming an engineer. I don't want to waste four years of my life, I know that.
Pravin: I didn't have that choice. I was the first grandson in the family, my grandmother decreed. So when the marriage talks came in, my father-in-law asked me, “Pravin, are you an engineer?” I said, “No, uncle, I've got an engineering degree.” But I'm going to digress here, there are a lot of cartoons here, Yaag. But you've drawn them yourself. So may I ask you why?
Yaag: So there are two answers that I can give you. The right answer is to say that, “Hey, I'm interested in doing that all.” But the realistic answer is, I'm a big fan of Tom Fishburne, the marketoonist. Okay. So I really wanted the marketoonist to do the toons for my book. And in fact, I approached Tom and we had a conversation. And, you know, I just wanted to use about five or six, and the kind of the bill I got, I was like, Okay, this is not gonna work for me. So the next immediate thing was, I could, you know, look at a few tools through which I can create toons, and I just signed up on one of them. It was just about $15 a month or something like that. And I had ideas, and then there were tools, and they were, you know, characters present, I just could drag and drop and put in the concept together. And that just happened. And the beauty of a cartoon is that whatever we want to say, you can put it down humorously in a very simple manner, and it communicates way more than probably, you know, 10 pages of text. So you've taken another one of your frustrations and converted them into cartoons. That's usually the theme I guess.
Pravin: Lovely, at the end, you speak about the revenue marketing framework out here. And for our viewers and listeners, I'd love if we could tell a little bit on that you don't have to reveal the whole thing. I'm going to encourage people to go pick up a copy of your book, but if you could give a teaser-trailer.
Yaag: Yeah, more than happy to do. So you know, even the book is actually available for free for people who want download it on Kindle. So feel free. So the revenue marketing framework was coined as GAME model. So gather, agree, map and execute. So this is what GAME stands for. And guess basically what it means is this also boils down to the alignment factor which we originally spoke about, right? So when you go back and gather a list of accounts to go after, like, you know, for example, a typical account base marketing kind of setup. One thing I want to digress and say here is that ABM is not for everyone, okay? People who have a $10 product, which pays, you know, $10 per month. And you cannot do ABM for that, because you're playing a volume game, unless you have a product that is at least $5000 or $10,000 per month, or that kind of a setup, then ABM makes sense, because you're going after a limited set of accounts in your industry. And your marketing is going to be focused on each of those accounts in that particular company or set of people like say, your influencers, your decision makers and the actual users of the product.
So gather is basically gathering the right set of outcomes to go after. And then agreeing aspect is where you sit down with the sales team, and agree that if these are the right accounts, we should go after. Because, you know, these are these frontline guys, who're talking to the companies, they are going to be the ones that are closing the deals. So unless you both are in sync with the kind of accounts to go after, it does not make sense at all. Otherwise, you know, I'll pass out, I'll pass on a set of leads to salespeople, and they're just gonna throw it to the garbage. And another big problem that happens here is, a lot of people just pass on an E-book download or consumption of content as a lead to sales guy, and the sales guy is not looking for it, you know, somebody who's continuing ebook versus somebody who has shown explicit interest for your product, who says that, you know, now I want to move from a free user to a paid user, I want a good deal, I want to talk to the salesperson, that conversation is totally different. So you have to have alignment between what you're going after and if the sales team also agrees with that. Then mapping comes in where you're gonna go about executing the right kind of programs. So, you have to map the right programs to the right accounts, it's like what you want to do for this account. For example, let's say you have a podcast, or you could use podcast as a tool. Podcast is one of those interesting tools where, you know, you don't have direct attribution as to how this contributes to revenue.
But the magical aspect is that if you can get some of those interesting people on your podcast and build a relationship with them. Because talking to them in a non-sales atmosphere, non-sales context with the open up, the conversation is beautifully built. And from there, you go on to the execution aspect. Execution is now you know, okay, what are the pain points? What are the key things that are happening inside those accounts? And how can you really go about helping them? You just say that, okay, let me deploy people specifically to this account, it is not just restricted to marketing, you know, it can also extend to your customer success, like the moment somebody is onboard, if they don't know what to do, or how to go about using the product, you're going to churn out probably within a month, or probably maximum three months. So that's where your CS team also comes into play. And you all four teams that you know, customer success, sales, marketing, and support, all these four teams have to work together to give that holistic experience. So that's what the models are about.
Pravin: Beautiful. So this is called Kreators. It's not just the book, but I know about the podcast that you're in, you're wearing that T-shirt as well right now ABM podcast, how do you focus on this creativity, you interview, you talk, you curate, you create content? Yeah, I would love to dive into your brain to look at your creativity process or creation process,
Yaag: Right? So as we already spoke 99% of all my creations comes from frustration. So what happened was, you know, back in the day Manish and I used to work for the same company, and the way we connected, you know, sometimes you connect with certain people, because you agree on a lot of factors. Or, you know, sometimes you connect with certain people because you commonly hate something. So, we didn't mean Manish and me hated the kind of marketing practices that were going around in the market. And we wanted to change that. And when we looked at what happened was, we started something called coffee composition, we just, you know, went about creating this five minute video format, putting it out on LinkedIn, it was because we use meet daily. And we used to talk about different topics. One day, we thought, let's put a camera to this. And that's how it started.
And one of the things that works best for our creativity is that we have an agreement that the day we feel bored about this, we will stop working on it. So we don't have the push of somebody measuring this daily and how this is going about. And then we did this for about like, you know, five, six months, one day, we felt really bored about this. We said, Okay, let's drop it for a month or so and see what happens. But the day we dropped, we got a lot of people DMing us and saying, Hey, Yaag you know what happened to the coffee compositions today is Monday. It didn't come up is it? That's what we did. Okay, people are actually listening to us. Really thought about it that way. And then it Okay, let's do just it is. Let's expand on the format. Let's get into specific topics and dive deep. So that's how the podcast format actually came about. So coffee conversations became ABM conversations, right? So the ABM conversations we thought, okay, it's not just about ABM. It's purely about all topics inside the realm of B2B marketing and sales.
So that's how it started. And the best part is, as long as it's a topic that Manish and I can directly talk about, we do that, like, say, for the first 13 or 14 episodes, we never had a guest. It's all about us, useful content and topics. But then when we started taking specific topics, like say, for example, gamification, so when we went into product management and gamification, we wanted to actually get into the mind of Yu-kai Chou, who is the world's number one when it comes to gamification, like, he has a framework called octalysis, eight different factors that affects the way you think and how you use a product. So regard this bring him on board. And similarly for each topic, like the moment we thought of Martech, we went to Scott Brinker. And interestingly, you know, because we were in the world of marketing be similar also nice enough to agree to be on the show and it started coming up very well. In fact, last week, we did a recording with the founder of Marketo, which was also an inbound lead. We were like, really surprised. And within a year right now, we see that our podcast is among the top 1% podcast in the world. And we did not really push it hard at all, we did not really advertise it anywhere. So it just happened in an organic way.
Pravin: Lovely, lovely, lovely. Any plans of converting the podcast into a book or content? I'm asking just out of my curiosity?
Yaag: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, we have discussed about it. You know, repurposing is one of the most important aspects of marketing. And because we have a lot of news guests, and we have a lot of these topics, I didn't think about translating some of these key topics as nuggets into one single book, something like the CMO conversations kind of a setup. But I would want to in detail, I think I will look for a common theme to tie the contributions of each of these speakers and stitch together as a book. Yeah, definitely. That's something that we have in mind.
Pravin: One question here regarding your writing process, Yaag. How do you go ahead and write, is there a specific time, a specific zone? Well, I can tell you mine, I'm an early morning writer, I get up in a write and get it out of the way. And then you always have these moments of inspiration, call me old fashioned, but I always have a notebook and pen with me to document it. What is your process?
Yaag: Beautiful Yin and Yang kind of a combination that Manish and I have. Like he's one of the most process oriented person and I'm not the most, least process oriented or indiscipline person. Like, even when we started the podcast what happened is I said, hey, Manish you know, why don't you come over? Let's record four topics. And he said like, what is the podcast about, where did the podcast idea come from? Like, what are you gonna forget about everything, just come lets record four topics. And then we recorded, he went back, I mean, I'm thankful that he trusted me. And then the next day, I found out like, what is the right tool for distribution, what how to use to record like your guests. So similarly, you know, our writing process is also like that. I just start. The Revenue Marketing Book, I completed this book in about two weeks.
So that's how it started, very randomly, you know, I really don't think there is a writer's block, or there's something special, it's just an idea that you have, and then you start expanding on it. And my writing style is very random. It's not that I don't write chapters one by one. Like, say, for example, when I look at this book, right now I can tell you, I wrote, say the GAME model first. And then I wrote the first chapter after that, then hips don't lie came and, and then suddenly, I thought, okay, something is missing. We need to talk about change management. And that's when change management aspect came in. And then ok suddenly I was like, okay, we're not talking about enquries at all. So like, when we talk about each of these things, at the end, you know, I look at, okay, what should be the right order? Because it sounds so random. Let's, you know, rearrange these things. So I write randomly, and then at the end, it's more like, you know, picking the right flowers to make it a garden.
Pravin: Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, lovely, Yaga. One final question, what next? What's coming up from your stable? What's your next book about, next creation about?
Yaag: So at this point, the idea is not yet there. But I think there is a lot of content that I have from my podcast. And, you know, from some of the things that I've been doing right now. I'm particularly, I'm right now very inspired about two things. One is how organizations go about building a narrative. And second is how to go about building a category. Because these two are extremely important. When I look back at my career. What though, you know, I have been spending about like 10 years of one word of Martech. I couldn't be a tech guy. I'm more of the, you know, communicator and narrative builder. And when I look back at the writing or the look at the incidents spoken that or the podcast and everything, what naturally comes in is the aspect where you come up with a narrative.
And the exclusive categories that we build, we will not play the where everybody is we wanted to do something exclusive, and then start building things around that, like, just way any companies like think about a product like Snickers, right? So Snickers virtually thought that they were competing with the likes of MilkyWay, but that was not the reality. When they spoke to their customers and they found that people were buying Snickers in the airports just to grab a snack quickly and rush in. So that they would not feel hungry for longer periods from there. That's where that's how they came up with this, you know, campaign of “if you're hungry you are not yourself.” So that's really think we go on, like, you know, finding what our sweet spot is, and what comes naturally to us, which is not so easy to others. And that's how we move on building our next.
Pravin: Lovely, lovely, Yaag, thank you very much for joining us in the Kreators, viewers and listeners, be sure to check out yaagneshwaran.com. And Yaag, it's time for yaag.com as well. So go check out yaagneshwaran.com for his books, for his bio, for the talks. And well as he mentioned, this book is available as a PDF on his website. Go show him some love, show ourselves some love. And let's focus on revenue marketing. Thank you. Yaag.
Thank you so much. You have a great day. You know, it was such a pleasure talking to you.
Yaag: Same here.