Project Description

Episode Number: S02E05
Published: June 2, 2020
Guest: Melissa Zeloof, VP Marketing
Company: ironSource

Marketing Multiple B2B Brands (Well): Melissa Zeloof, VP Marketing at ironSource

Every B2B marketer I know get incredibly jealous of slim, streamlined B2C products that offer one service to one type of buyer. Throw in stacks of products for multiple buyers, a few acquisitions, massive B2B scaling…and the brand life for marketers gets rough.

In this episode, we dive deep with Melissa Zeloof, the VP Marketing at ironSource, to understand just how she navigates the brand terrain. In just under ten minutes we cover:

  1. The approach that helped ironSource Lowest Common Denimonator-ing themselves to death
  2. How a brand land and expand model works
  3. Two marketing strategies she recommends start early on in a brand’s life
  4. How ironSource took thought leadership to the next level with LevelUp+, a sprawling educational brand play that combines contributed content with podcasts, blogs, and even events.

You can see two excellent examples of content here:

  1. The Game Product Managers column, covering  game product management and supported by GPM Forum, a quarterly forum for game PMs  and a podcast miniseries
  2. The Gamer Motivation column, which has research from Quantic Foundry, a company that combines data and psychology to map gamer motivations

And how does she stay on top of her game?

  1. Choosing the right people for the job. Melissa gave a big old shoutout to Kahena, a SEO and PPC agency based out in Israel
  2. Harvard Business Review. Specifically because sometimes the most refreshing learnings for marketers don’t need to come from marketers.
  3. G-CMO, the Israeli network of leading tech marketing professionals
  4. Google Keep, for jotting down ideas when they strike. Elegant.
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Season 2 Episode 5 Transcript

Note: These are transcribed using a combination of humans and AI. Neither are infallible. Both sometimes make funny mistakes.

Eytan Buchman: Big picture company missions and elevator pitches have basically become a parody of themselves. There’s all these generic missions  – “  we changed the world by reducing latency in data transfers”. But in the B2B space, it really can be a huge challenge to quickly communicate the essence of a brand, especially  when that brand does three to four radically different things for different audiences.

[00:00:25] In many cases, brands like this just don’t have the clarity to quickly say, Hey, we’re an Uber for picking up dog poop or we’re an eBay for your kids crappy kindergarten art. So, as Facebook says –  it’s complicated.

[00:00:36]And  that’s exactly what we’re going to discuss today. My name is Eytan Buchman. You’re listening to Marketers in Capes with GCMO, Israel’s leading tech marketing community. And today we’re going to talk how a marketing hero came out of brand complexity communicating very, very clear message, the clarity it created from microcopy, we’re going to highlight two channels, she uses to build a B2B marketing plan, and we’re going to showcase [00:01:00] one amazing example of thought leadership.

[00:01:02]But first let’s meet her.

[00:01:04] Melissa: [00:01:04] Hey, my name is Melissa Zeloof. I’m VP marketing at ironSource. Um, as you can probably tell from my accent, I am a, UK native. although my

[00:01:13] parents don’t speak with accents like this, I just thought Mary Poppins was super cool.  My background is, is kind of mainly in, in comms and kind of storytelling.

[00:01:23] I have, a BA and some of an MA in each structure, which everyone told me would be, super useless and perhaps has been, but allowed me to kind of get into using words for marketing purposes, which has kind of been awesome.

[00:01:36] We help game developers turn their games into successful businesses, either by helping them  make money with monetization tech or grow their user base with marketing tech.

[00:01:45]Eytan Buchman: [00:01:45] As I started off by saying at B2B companies, it’s complicated.

[00:01:49] ironSource is no different. They’ve had multiple funding rounds, including a PE round of over $400 million in 2019. They’ve been integrated on 120 million phones. They have done a number of acquisitions. It gets [00:02:00] really hard. So how do you tell a story that fits it all ?First, you need to make sure that you really get the industry.

[00:02:05] Melissa: [00:02:05] What we’ve learned over time is that the key to unlocking real kind of. Impact or business impact from marketing initiatives is focus, right? Is deeply understanding an industry.

[00:02:15]Eytan Buchman: [00:02:15] But you can’t talk to an entire industry, right?

[00:02:18]Melissa: [00:02:18] and the beginning of my time at ironSource we spent a lot of time, probably kind of the first year and a half, two years trying hard to put,.kind of find the common denominator or the common thread between the different business units that we had, and build them into a common story. And I think from a kind of intellectual standpoint, it was a lot of fun to try and put the puzzle pieces together  and we came up with a couple of different stories that we thought sort of worked quite well, but in the end ended up resonating with precisely no one.

[00:02:47]Eytan Buchman: [00:02:47] If there’s one thing I’ve learned at these large B2B organizations, it’s that when communicating, using the lowest common denominator is certain death.

[00:02:54] Imagine the difference between somebody yelling, Hey, you at a ball game or somebody yelling your last name. Now [00:03:00] imagine the difference between them  yelling and your last name and yelling your childhood nickname. Every single time you go down one level, there’s fewer people it applies to, but the targeting becomes so much more effective.

[00:03:09] It’s marketing 101, but a lot of companies tend to forget this.

[00:03:12] Melissa: [00:03:12] if you try to be all things to all people, you end up being made from fish nothing.  We sort of took an active decision to associate the ironSource brand with the sort of mobile game activity. Um, and kind of the minute that we did that, we unlocked a lot of kind of branding value because we were able to kind of go all in.

[00:03:32]

[00:03:32]Eytan Buchman: [00:03:32] But of course that’s just the starting point.

[00:03:35] Melissa: [00:03:35] if you conquer one niche, then becomes much easier to jump off and conquer another.

[00:03:40]Eytan Buchman: [00:03:40] What’s more important is how that clarity of targeting starts to shape everything. One of my favorite parts of ironSource’s website is a big fat call to action, right on the homepage that says, get the SDK. It’s not sign up. It’s not get started. It’s not something super generic. It’s very focused. And it’s based on combining that industry knowledge with mission, [00:04:00] focus and strong targeting.

[00:04:01] Melissa: [00:04:01] Game developers are not typically a segment or an audience that really loves kind of, overtly marketing messaging. they want to know what it is that they, they sort of want to get straight to the point.

[00:04:14]I think they’re also distrustful of people that are overly sort of marketing-y. So “Get the SDK” was basically like, we know that this is, this is the basic thing that we’re offering you in its technical form. We’re not going to dress it up. We’re not going to pretend that it’s something else, first of all, because we don’t want to risk confusing you. And second of all, because we know that you want to get straight to the thing that’s most relevant. So it kind of goes back to deciding on a niche and then committing to it.

[00:04:40]

[00:04:40]Eytan Buchman: [00:04:40] But let’s back up a second. When you’re first planning out your visibility and your brand strategy, Melissa recommends starting with two separate marathons, both take a lot of time, but have a lot of ROI down the line.

[00:04:52] Melissa: [00:04:52] I’ve kind of split up very, very low funnel and very, very high funnel activities as places most deserving of [00:05:00] attention .   So low funnel, I would say like SEO,  if inbound is important to you, if you know that there are kind of leads that are likely to come in, coming to the website from inbound strategies, tackle SEO. It’s worthwhile. It’s also a momentum game. You have to get started. and, and just keep going in order to reap the rewards down the line.

[00:05:20] Eytan Buchman: [00:05:20] You take the seo and you combine it with something really really big picture

[00:05:25] Melissa: [00:05:25] High funnel initiatives, like for example, launching something like  LevelUp or a partner thought leadership initiative for a brand, I think can be super impactful, even if not measurable. it strengthens also your kind of, your connection with clients  and your overall brand, which also pays dividends down the line with relatively little or not a huge amount of investment

[00:05:47]

[00:05:47]Eytan Buchman: [00:05:47] And this is where the real meat of ironSource’s corporate marketing comes in. It’s not a blog post, it’s not a white paper. It’s an entire brand of thought leadership that has led as much by the industry as it is by ironSource.  [00:06:00] Meet LevelUp .

[00:06:02] Melissa: [00:06:02] It started. As, um, a kind of idea I had a few years ago. It wasn’t an, it was more of a realization that no content we could create would be as interesting or relevant, valuable or powerful than content created by our partners or people from the industry.

[00:06:20]and so I sort of set a goal to, to make at least sort of 50%, ideally more like 70% of our content. Partner authored. And then it, and then the sort of question became, okay, how, what format does this content take? and where does it live? And what eventually ended up happening was  a  multimedia initiave, called LevelUp, which is both a podcast,. it’s a medium publication, it’s a, resource hub on our site for game developers.

[00:06:48]Eytan Buchman: [00:06:48] Like a lot of very exceptional B2B marketing today, the thought leadership extends beyond the screen and into physical events, at least in a pre-Covid era

[00:06:58]Melissa: [00:06:58] And essentially the [00:07:00] goal is really just to highlight, thought leadership. Or, kind of interesting, unique, useful, valuable perspectives from game industry leaders.

[00:07:10]it also ties into our annual summit, which is called Game Fest, which we hold here in, in Tel Aviv, where we sort of. We have around a hundred. We were trying to keep it to a hundred of the game. Industry is kind of best and brightest, top level decision makers come together. and there’s two sort of days of content and, obviously a couple of days of fun .

[00:07:31]Eytan Buchman: [00:07:31] What’s beautiful about creating a thought leadership movement is that the content creators become the amplifiers too it’s not just one brand that’s out there shouting

[00:07:38] Melissa: [00:07:38] So the content is good. The distribution is built in  because the people who are writing for us and sharing that content with their network  are  necessarily people from the industry and the network of people that we want to reach, there’s an added kind of brand association value because  these people are thought leaders.   We sort of benefit by [00:08:00] association from being able to feature their content. so it adds credibility to our brand.  and we sort of just seen it take off.

[00:08:06]Eytan Buchman: [00:08:06] Now  I don’t want to paint this with rosy glasses. Thought leadership especially at this B2B level comes at a certain price that weighs a little bit heavy on every ROI-centric marketer .

[00:08:17] Melissa: [00:08:17] t’s kind of one of those things that, um, I know is probably one of the biggest, most impactful pillars of our marketing, but becomes very hard to quantify in kind of very, uh, clear metrics.

[00:08:28] Eytan Buchman: [00:08:28] Now ironSource is a data company. Melissa is nothing if not metric focused. One of the reasons they’re thinking about leaving Medium as a host for LevelUp is specifically because of the lack of analytics. . But when B2B marketers successfully combine what Melissa combined  – targeting ,user understanding and great content, it works. It’s hard to measure, but honestly, every single person I’ve spoken to who’s engaged in this type of activity, believes in it and says that they’ve seen enough anecdotal evidence to success.

[00:08:52]Whether that works for you is up to you. You can head over to ironsource.com to learn more, both about iron Source and LevelUp. You [00:09:00] can click get the SDK if you know what the heck that means. And then you can head over to buchman.co.il where I just posted a massive summary of my lessons launching and scaling this podcast.

[00:09:09] Until next time. My name is Eytan Buchman, you’ve been listening to Marketers in Capes with GCMO, and I need to go play some more games on my cell phone. I mean, Do some research for this episode?

[00:09:18] .