Monday, April 7, 2014

New Business Value Proposition, Web Site & Blog

Dear Readers,

Helping Industrial Firms Grow with Knowledge Marketing
Please feel free to check out my new web site where I've started a blog.  I'm not sure if I'll keep the Blogger blog going, but let me know your preference.

I've decided to hang out a shingle and offer my expertise around content marketing and marketing automation on the open market.

I'm in the business of helping manufacturing and industrial companies grow their top line by creating and implementing a marketing strategy built around the Knowledge Marketing framework.  Knowledge Marketing is a type of content marketing that educates the people in your target audience about something that matters to them (usually a struggle, pain or challenge that your expertise and experts can help solve).  A Knowledge Marketing strategy develops top of mind awareness and credibility so that when the day comes around and they do want or need to buy the type of product or service you sell, your firm gets the call and already has position way above the competition.

Would love to hear comments, questions and challenges you face in your business.  Perhaps I could help.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Brand New Manufacturing Survey Results from CMI

 Content Marketing Institute (CMI) just release the results of their latest survey titled, 'B2B Manufacturing Content Marketing: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends - North America'.  You can view it and download it here.

I was even mentioned in the blog post as one who considers Manufacturing Marketers as laggards when it comes to modern marketing.  I stand by my assessment and I submit to you, my loyal readers, that the CMI survey data supports my opinion.  Keep in mind I'm not saying manufacturing marketers are bad, only that they are slow to embrace modern marketing ideas, strategies and tactics.  One of which is clearly content or knowledge marketing.  For example:
  • 21% of manufacturing marketers (MM) claim to have a documented content strategy as compared to 44% of B2B marketers overall.  I suspect if one were to ask this same group if they have a documented marketing plan, the number would be similar.
  • One glaring result on page 13 of the survey is that MM place thought leadership and lead management/nurturing at the bottom of the list of goals for content marketing.  This tells me that they do not understand the power of Knowledge Marketing and how these goals lead to more engagement and more revenue among both new and existing customers.
  • The fact that MM consider 'producing the kind of content that engages' as the number 2 challenge (only behind lack of time) indicates that MM do not really know what will engage with their audience.  62% of MM as compared to 47% of B2B marketers overall chose this challenge.
  • 'Inability to measure effectiveness' was the number 3 challenge at 48% for MM and 33% for B2B overall.

The information is very interesting and points to a HUGE opportunity for any manufacturer who can get up to speed fast with an effective Content or Knowledge Marketing strategy.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Sales people - Want to know how to engage better and make more sales? Read this.

I came upon this infographic created by Kapost and  It reinforces the concept I (and many other modern marketers) prescribe for marketing:
  • If  you want to sell more of your stuff, stop pitching products and start helping the people in your target audience solve their problems or to be better.
  • You Mr. or Ms. Salesperson are an expert in your field.  Use your expertise and that of your firm to help.
Enjoy and share this infographic. Content-marketing-for-sales-infographicBrought to you by Kapost

Monday, March 10, 2014

2 Down 10 to Go

Well here we are with 2 months down and nearly closing out the 1st quarter of the calendar year.  It was 76 degrees here in Denver today and Spring is knocking on the window.  How's it going?  Are you, my fellow professional modern marketers on track?  Are you confident in positively answering these questions should your CEO happen to ask?

  • Are you able to print out a current and complete Marketing Plan?
  • Could you confidently recite the positioning statement for your product, region or business unit?  How about everyone on your team?  How about everyone in the company?
  • How would your elevator pitch sound to a person classified as your ideal prospect?
  • Could you answer this question if posed by a prospective customer, "Why should I buy this product (or service) from your firm instead of your competitor?"
  • Would you be able to explain how each piece of content works to convert to revenue?
  • If you have a marketing automation platform in place, is it fully utilized or is it just an expensive spammer?
  • Are you marketing like a modern marketer or are you marketing like it's 1999?
  • Where are you on achieving your marketing goals and objectives?  Ahead, on track, behind?
Although not an exhaustive list, if you are confident in answering affirmatively for each of these questions, you should be in great shape!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Why oh Why Can't I Grow My Business? Here's One Reason...

Do you ever wonder why your company just can't seem to grow the top line?  Or, even worse, why you can't seem to stop the slow and steady decline in revenue.  Your bottom line might be OK since you've cut your HR, Procurement, Marketing and any other so called 'expense' functions to the bone.  Oh yeah, and you've beefed up your sales force and invested more in R&D, all to no avail.  You're beginning to think adding those sales people was a mistake and R&D can't seem to put out a product on time as you ponder the stagnation and subtle decrease in the bottom line.

Sound familiar?  To use a few old and tired cliche, maybe it's time to take a fresh look or think outside the box or take off the blinders.

I recently visited a manufacturing company here in Colorado struggling to stop a slow decline of revenue. I'll call them Acme to protect their anonymity.  Acme is a private company with annual revenue of about $300 million dollars.  Their management team desperately wants to grow the business but they just don't know how to engage in the modern buyers world of the Internet.

I spent a week with them but only needed a few hours to really see what was going on.  Their problem is similar to many (or even most) manufacturing companies.  They don't understand how to go to market in the 21st century.  Their marketing machine is working like crazy as if they were stuck in the 90's when trade shows were the main event, so to speak. They don't understand how to break through the noise and get the attention of their target audience.  They are a me-too product and perceived as a commodity by their customers and prospective customers and have no idea that this is the perception.

I was able to isolate the problem to two major problems; centralized control and archaic marketing.  The strange thing is that the industry Acme serves, pharmaceuticals, is growing rather well compared to other manufacturing sectors.

Their old style marketing looks like this:

  • A cost to the business
  • A group of people in the back cubicles who manage the brand, create brochures, set up trade shows, send some emails, and do what the product and sales people tell them to do.
  • No idea about effectiveness of generating revenue, leads or opportunities.  The CMO tells the CEO about clicks, views, likes, exposures, cost per this and cost per that.  All useless information for the executive team.
  • An old poorly maintained database kept as an Excel spreadsheet.
  • A one-way website hosting nothing more than digital brochures and an e-store that sucks up more revenue than it brings in.
  • Messaging is about product features without any real knowledge of the positioning, value proposition or perceptions of the marketplace.
  • They do whatever the sales or product people tell them to do without any thought, question, planned strategy or tactics.  We call this ‘seat-of-the-pants’ or ‘ad-hoc’ marketing.
My recommendation is to modernize their marketing function.  I promised them that if they follow this advice about restructuring the marketing function and bringing in a lead marketer who understands how people buy, how to engage with the target audience and how to scale marketing activities with technology they would be in double digit growth territory within 18 months.

They brought in a tech savvy, business savvy and 21st century marketing savvy CMO and put him on the leadership team as a senior adviser.  He brought in marketers who were able to fully operate modern marketing technology.  They aligned the sales and marketing people under one leader with uniform goals and an aligned reward system.  The new CMO immediately updated the fundamentals of positioning and messaging.  The hardest part of the culture change was convincing the leadership team to stop pitching products and start educating their audience.  Twelve months later their marketing department looked like a modern marketing function and their revenue was ticking up to an 11% annualized rate.  Here's an overview of their Modern Marketing 2.0 team:

  • They had a commitment from top leadership to consider Marketing as a revenue generator, a revenue engine for the business.
  • They had a written, dynamic and current marketing plan.
  • The CMO and the Marketing function was embraced as a strategic partner providing high value in aligning modern marketing strategy, tools and teams to the business goals.
  • They were metrics obsessed to ensure it is known what works great, what works OK, what does not work and what has failed in order to optimize and iterate for optimum spend and absolute growth.
  • They had a high value, clean and comprehensive database from which to market, cross sell, up sell and analyze via relevant and timely messaging.
  • The website is designed to have a conversation with visitors by delivering relevant dynamic content tailored to the visitor.
  • Conversations were commonly about strategic positioning, value propositions that resonate, and messaging about the customer’s needs not the company and its products.
  • They funnel large numbers of qualified leads who are ready, willing and able to buy to their friends assigned to the sales function.
  • They produced high value, useful, helpful marketing material, events and activities engaging early in the purchasing process.
  • Everyone (marketing and sales functions) understands the technology and are able to fully leverage technology for efficient and scalable teams and activities.
This could be your company, but the question is, "is it a description of you now or a description of you in the future?"

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The 2 Major Reasons for Marketing Automation Failure at your Manufacturing Company

You've heard all about it, Marketing Automation, that is.  The marketing teams at these software companies are some of the best of the best.  They know how to use content effectively to fill the top of the funnel, drive you (whip you) through the funnel and measure the crap out of everything.  Wow!  You may think to yourself, "If only I too could market like that, my manufacturing company might be able to regain those glory days of double digit growth."

Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge believer in the power or marketing automation.  I've been able to use the technology to grow a business as much as 30% year on year with a 22% 5 year CAGR (even after the 'Great Recession' hit the economy)!  The combination of great content and a fully deployed marketing automation platform (MAP) is powerful, but it ain't easy.  I guess if it were easy, we'd all be growing at 30%.

So why is the business landscape littered with underutilized or abandoned MAPs?

There are 2 major reasons that cause failure of MAP implementation and use:

  1. The marketing executive, business culture and marketing resources do not support full implementation.  In order for the MAP to be fully deployed, fully utilized and benefits fully realized, it must be integrated into the business at the strategic level and thoroughly aligned between sales and marketing functions.  
  2. Unwillingness or inability of each and every marketer to understand and utilize all aspects of the MAP tool will doom it to becoming just an expensive email blaster.  A MAP requires a certain culture of technology to permeate throughout the marketing and sales teams.  Each and every marketer should be ready, willing and able to embrace, understand and utilize the MAP tool.  Many organizations will set up what they deem a 'center of excellence' or central team responsible for using the tool.  This is a mistake because this team (sometimes called a digital marketing team) becomes a service center where the members become experts at the tool, but never really understand how it supports the overall strategic marketing plan.  A modern marketing team should be built on modern technology.  Every marketer should understand how the tool supports revenue and/or other business goals.
Without solving both of these problems your MAP will likely end up being relegated to a very expensive email blaster.  Address these two items up front to ensure MAP success.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

How Would You Like to Triple Your Organic Growth Rate?

Image from Pixabay
How would you like to triple your organic growth rate?  I’ve been successful at developing and implementing a strategic marketing framework that does exactly that, triples your organic growth rate.  This method works extremely well for global manufacturing companies.  I can make this happen at your company.  

Here's the secret:  “Stop pitching products and start educating”

At this point, you are probably thinking, is this guy for real?   The answer is yes.  You’re probably also asking yourselves three questions:
  1. How does it work?
  2. Will it work for my company?
  3. Could this guy really pull it off and move the needle on top line growth

How does it work? 
This is why product marketing fails where educational marketing sails. 
You choose your target audience because you believe that some day they will buy what you are selling, correct?  If we look at the entire population, on any one day when they see your product ad, they will take an action if they are at a very specific point; BANT budget, authority, need and time-frame.  This is a very small portion of the population (<1%).  But, let’s suppose 80% will be faced with a problem that you can help them solve.  On any given day, they are struggling with the problem.  If I promote something like a webinar or a how-to paper that helps them address that problem, I have a much greater chance of them engaging with my asset and my brand.  This engagement leads to a top of mind awareness and credibility as they get to know my company, brand, experts, etc.  Then, when the day comes along and they have BANT, who do they think of?  They think of your company.  This is a huge competitive edge.  That’s why this framework grows your business.  That’s the foundation.

Could I get the same great results for your company?  Yes, absolutely, it really doesn't matter what you’re selling. You have expertise and a good product.  All you need to do is help those in your target audience improve in some way as a result of your expertise.  They engage with you, remember you and trust you.  This leads to purchase in many more cases than if you promote a product as your main marketing focus.

If I were to hire this guy as my VP Marketing, could he pull it off? 
When I was a marketing manager at a $380 million dollar global electronics company,  annual growth rates in my divisions were between 6 and 8% with about 3 to 5% attributable to price increases.  They were pitching product features hard with the main tactic being print ads pushing the product features in more than 37 different magazine publications.  I applied this idea of knowledge marketing.  We stopped pitching products and we began educating the audience.  Year 1 of the education marketing strategy saw an 11% organic growth rate, year 2 saw 19% and year 3 saw 32%.

"Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” Albert Einstein

If you want to triple your growth rates, remember this "Educational Marketing Sails where Product Marketing Fails"