Sunday, April 29, 2012

KSF Number 3; High Level of Knowledge about the Offering

KSF Number 3: Excellent and complete knowledge of the firm offering.  The consummate marketer must be highly knowledgeable about their firm offering whether it’s products, services or a combination of both. The marketing strategy and tactics must position the offering and the brand in the market place aligned with core competencies and the target customer's buying criteria. It's impossible to devise and execute a strategy without a thorough and comprehensive understanding of the offering in order to realize how it will or will not be accepted by the target market. How can a marketer begin to devise and execute a strategy without having this critical information? Another reason the senior marketer must possess this knowledge is so they establish credibility.  Credibility is required to establish and maintain the critical relationships between marketing and the sales team, R&D team and the customer. A good CMO is an advisor and a key contributor to the success of the business and, in order to be taken seriously, credibility is necessary.  Credibility is not possible without complete knowledge of the offering.

You should already start to see how these KSFs fit together like timbers forming a strong foundation for success in the market place.  The interlocking of KSF 1, Knowledge of Customer, KSF 2, Knowledge of the Firm's Capabilities and KSF 3, Knowledge of the Offering, are a powerful combination for driving the marketing strategy and for realizing success in the market place.

Stay tuned for KSF 4, Alignment Between Marketing and Sales

Saturday, April 28, 2012

KSF Number 2; Understand the Real Capabilities of your Firm

Number 2: Understand the Real Capabilities of your Firm.  The Marketer needs to understand what his firm is capable and willing to produce for the customer. It probably seems obvious, but I'll say it anyways; it could be a disaster if the marketing message promises one thing and the infrastructure is not willing to produce or deliver. Credibility in the market deteriorates quickly when this situation exists. It is incumbent upon the senior marketer to ensure that the marketing message is aligned with the real capabilities of the firm and the only way it can be assured is through complete understanding of the firm’s capabilities. There’s nothing a salesman hates more than a marketing message that offers something he can’t deliver. It’s damaging all around. When I say ‘real capabilities’, I’m not talking about hearsay. You need to go beyond what the sales person says, or what the VP Operations states, or even what the CEO says. The marketer needs to get into the trenches and see what’s shipping, see what’s being manufactured on the floor, and, most importantly, how it’s being received, used and perceived by the customers. Armed with this knowledge, the Marketer is in a position not only to align the message, but also to advise senior management.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Key Success Factors for a Modern Marketing Team - (1 of 5)

This is a 5 part series about key success factors for a modern marketing team and/or the head marketer.  The modern marketing team is under duress.  We are inundated with information about marketing automation, content marketing, SEO, SEM, cloud connectors, digital body language, sales and marketing alignment, revenue performance management, ad nauseum.  The only way the modern marketer (at any level) can survive is to understand the fundamentals as the foundation for all else.

One way to view the fundamentals is to apply key success factors (KSF) to your marketing department as a way to measure your effectiveness.  I offer a series of 5 KSFs in a series of blog posts:

Number 1:    The CMO or Head Marketer must understand the needs, wants and desires of the target market or target customer.  The CMO must know the market and understand how his offering satisfies the requirements of the people in the market.  For, without the knowledge of your market, how is it possible to even begin to strategize and execute to drive demand?  Many a marketer suspects they know the market because of their vast industry experience or because of what their sales team tells them about the customers.  If you're in a company operating on conjecture, challenge those assumptions.  They may be correct or they may be incorrect, but tacit market knowledge needs to be challenged from time-to-time with a true market survey based on random probability sample.  Many firms conduct a customer satisfaction survey and consider this as representative of the market.  I disagree because customers are inherently biased.  They have, after all, already chosen your firm therefore, they are naturally satisfied in most cases.  Do the research, this is the only way you will truly understand the market and where your offering fits.  CMO must to be the 'voice of the customer' to the CEO, R&D, service, operations, and sales.  If not the CMO, then who?

Stay tuned for KSF Number 2; The Head Marketer must Understand the Capabilities of their Firm.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Does Your Firm Stake out a Market Position?

Does your firm own a market position?  Does your CMO talk about a positioning statement?  If yes, are you able to articulate it to a colleague?  I believe that positioning is becoming a lost concept in the hectic life of the Modern Marketer.  Successful companies have taken the time to align their position with their core competencies and the key success factors in their respective industries.  Too many companies are afraid to claim a market position and, instead, try to sell everything they have to anybody who will buy.  This, my fellow Modern Marketers, is a limiting proposition and will ultimately hinder growth.

I offer 10 pieces of advice for proper positioning:
  1. Rather than focusing on revenue growth, focus on being the best at what you do and stake it out as your position.
  2. Growth is not a strategy nor a position.
  3. Align your core competencies to select key success factors in your industry and line up your resources behind them; this is your position
  4. Know what your prospective customers use as buying criteria and how much weight they place behind each criteria.  Use statistical survey data, not conjecture from within your company.
  5. Look for unsatisfied needs in a market.  If you can satisfy these needs, there is good potential for higher profit margins.
  6. Know your unique selling position, value proposition, differentiated features and benefits and be able to articulate it.
  7. Make sure every single person in your firm understands the market position and why the firm has chosen that market position.
  8. Know the definition of your ideal prospect as aligned with your position.
  9. Don't imitate your competitors.  If one of the competitors holds a strong market position, it's not wise to attack them directly; try to outflank them in a sneak attack.
  10. Your position should clearly show what your firm does and, maybe more importantly, what your firm does not do.

A strong market position will be highly differentiated, highly relevant to your target market and defensible.  Don't try to offer every possible product, service or feature to a very broad market. Instead, stake out a specific position based on what you're good at. A quick test is to ask yourself or your colleagues, "What business are we in?"  If you can't answer, you don't know your market position.

Have I piqued your interest?  For more about positioning, read this book

Saturday, April 14, 2012

New model - 'Revenue Team' or Old model - 'Sales Dinosaur'

There is a lot of talk in the blogosphere about this topic and I’ll add my comments based on my past 18 years of B2B sales and marketing experience with products and services.

My title is ‘Global Marketing Manager’ and for all intents and purposes, I act as CMO of this global organization.  One of my responsibilities is to create a thought leadership position for the business and one activity we execute is to teach a series of seminars.  We also attempt to learn more about our customers by polling the audience.  One of the questions I always ask is "How do you decide what [item] to purchase?".   Think about how you make a purchase in this modern age.  Clearly and by far, the top choice is always 'web research' followed by 'vendor website'.   I remember a presentation by David Meerman Scott during the Eloqua Experience conference in 2010 where he showed a series of videos in several different countries around the world, asking the question ‘how many people use the Internet to make a purchase’.  Every audience around the globe had the same response with about 90% raising their hands.  By the way, if you haven’t read his blog, check it out, it’s informative and entertaining.  Take away from this story - people buy using these 4 basic steps; gather information on the web, make a buying decision, engage with a few companies to confirm the decision, then purchase.

It’s way past the time to acknowledge the fact that the sales and marketing game has changed forever and will continue to change at a rapid pace.  People (including people who comprise the so called B2B world) don’t need the ubiquitous field salesman as a source of information.  It’s not that the salesman is not needed at all yet, but, a day will come in the not-to-distant future where the expensive, bag carrying salesman will be a thing of past economies and cultures.

Clearly, the game has changed.  I fondly remember my younger days when I was a bag toting salesman traveling all over the country peddling my wares.  Like many young and new salesmen, my company sent me to a sales training class put on by a franchise called Sandler Sales Institute.  Dave Sandler founded the business and the selling method or philosophy which was based around the idea that I, the smart salesman, have information that you, the buyer, need or want.   In days past, buyers needed the salesman's knowledge about the industry, new technology, what other companies are doing, and pricing.  Sandler taught us to use this leverage to gain commitments from the buyer and to forge a bond with the buyer to facilitate a perception of trust and reliability.  This model is obsolete.

In the current age of the Modern Marketer, the Internet is now the primary source of information for individuals and companies to gain this valuable information during the early phases of the buying cycle.   For example, we’re able to scan a bar code with our iPhone and immediately know pricing and availability around the globe.  We are able to go to Yelp and instantly see reviews about a certain restaurant we are considering.  We can search with Google, MSN, Yahoo et al and find a white paper about any and all technical topics.  We can immediately post satisfaction or dissatisfaction with a product or service on Facebook where we have potential access to more than 850 million people around the world!  Information is free and available, who needs a (potentially annoying) salesman anymore?

What does it mean to you, the modern CMO, VP Marketing, Marketing Manager, VP Sales or CEO?  If you don’t know what it means, you had better get up to speed fast!

Feet-on-the-street sales is expensive and ROI is rapidly shrinking.  If you want your firm to gain market share or even just survive you have to change from a field sales oriented culture to a holistic revenue generation team culture where content marketing, expert inside sales (consultants), and voice-of-customer drive the business.

Old model - marketing girls (not meant to be sexist, just realistic from my past experience) down the hall make brochures, set up tradeshows, and generate leads are dictated to by the field sales guys based on their latest whim, thought or impulse.

New model -  a “revenue team” drives the business by understanding voice-of-customer in the clearly defined target market;  creates relevant content (papers, seminars, webinars, micro-sites, etc) that help the people in the target market improve their daily lives; maintains top-of-mind awareness with ideal prospects; generates engagement with relevant people; responds with intelligent solutions, services and products to support a clear value proposition.

If you're not aware of and following this evolution, you are already falling behind.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Value Proposition, Message Hierarchy and The Elevator


Does your firm have a value proposition? Is it developed into a messaging hierarchy that every single person in the company can articulate? If you were in an elevator with your absolutely best prospective customer, could you succinctly state how you offer value to that person and their firm? Could everyone and anyone in your company deliver the value proposition in, say, an elevator?

What's that you say, you don't know the definition of your ideal prospective customer? Don't worry, we'll cover that in a separate blog post.

Here's a quick 4 step process to get you started with a messaging hierarchy based on the value proposition:

·       Step 1 - Answer the question 'What does [insert company name] do?"

o    If you say, we manufacture widgets with feature, feature, feature and benefit, benefit, benefit then you might as well shut up and go home right then and there. If you haven't realized it by now, features and benefits do not foster engagement unless there is a distinct and immediate need at the very moment you state your F's & B's. Statistically speaking, chances are slim that you’ll be lucky enough to hit that sweet spot.

o    Instead, try starting with your (or your company) unique and interesting value. You might say, "we [state your value proposition]”,  then you have a good shot at gaining your elevator companion's interest. For example, you might say “we're in the business of reducing risk of FDA violations for food manufacturing companies". Hmmm, thinks the VP Quality of Kraft.  Since your prospect is the VP Quality for a major global food manufacturing company, maybe he's interested in a bit more information.

·       Step 2 - Answer the question "Just how do you do that?"

o    Here is where you can introduce your offering and how the features and benefits support the value proposition

o    "By providing environmental monitoring systems with feature and benefit that is unique to the market, our customers see a 40% reduction in FDA violations."

·       Step 3 - Prove it.

o    Here is where you could tell a success story or talk about a major customer and how they use your company’s offering to achieve the value proposition you opened with.

o    Tell how you are unique or different. "We've just launched a patented product that does this and that" or "we're the only company with this technology that ……" We've been in business for 80 years and here's how that may benefit you and your firm…."  State that you are providing this service for a major competitor (must be authentic here).

·       Step 4 - Leave the elevator. If you did well and your elevator mate is indeed one of your ideal prospects, she will not let you go without getting your business card.

Naturally, good and proper message development takes thought and should align with corporate strategy.  In any event, if you can't make a 30 second speech like this one, you should take a hard look at your value proposition.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Modern Marketer Must Add Value Each and Every Week


One of the most famous statements to come out of a presidential election came from the Clinton campaign in 1992 when the economy was floundering and Clinton needed to focus the electorate on his promise of a better economy.  The statement was, "It's the economy, Stupid".   In Marketing, we could say, "It's execution, Stupid".  As a Global Marketing Manager, I deal with execution and planning on a daily basis.  It is perfectly clear to me that 80% of the planning that goes on adds little or no value to the organization while 90% of execution does add value.  Let's look at this concept of adding value from the CMO perspective.  When the CMO looks back on the week, is she able to honestly state that she added value?  What might 'value' look like for the Chief Marketing Office of a firm?  As a senior level marketing manager allow me to propose a few ideas or questions the CMO may ask themselves at the end of each week to help determine if he added value for his firm and his team:


  • Did I roll up my sleeves and help or guide my team to execute this week?

  • Did I nurture a positive and innovative culture in my team through my actions?

  • Did I analyze the results, draw conclusions, make adjustments if needed and report meaningful KPIs to the executive team?

  • Did I strive to participate in meetings where I offered value to the group and decline to participate just to feel important?

  • Did I offer insightful and positive feedback and knowledge that helped my team and my colleagues do their own jobs better?

  • Did I learn something new this week?

If the CMO can answer 'yes' to these questions, then he may conclude that he added value.  These questions may not be your specific questions, but the point is that each person should be able to identify how they are adding value to their organization at  the end of each week.  We all have weeks where some are more productive than others, but it's important to maintain a perspective with an honest evaluation at the end of the week.

The good news for marketers is that 'value' is directly related to execution and can be directly measured with modern marketing automation tools like Eloqua, Marketo, salesforce.com and others. Naturally, it helps to have some S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely)  goals to guide your measurement and keep you aligned with your organizational strategy.

So, did you add value to your organization this past week?