Thursday, October 31, 2013

Scary Times for Modern Marketers

There's a revolution happening.  Technology is disrupting our world of buying and selling.  We'll never buy something in the same way we bought 10 years ago.  As a Modern Marketer, this is a scary thought. I suspect CEOs and CFOs are just as scared about the future of their firms.  The playing field is flatter and more level than ever.
  • Barriers to entry are falling like dominoes.
  • Commoditization of products and services is accelerating.
  • International shipping rates are normalizing.
  • We can buy anything at anytime from anyplace in the world from our phone.
  • Technology is accelerating at an exponential rate.
We're all buyers and we're all participating in the revolution.  As Modern Marketers, we can embrace the revolution or we can hope it goes away.  Newsflash!  The revolution will happen with us or without us.  Changes won't slow down, but will continue to accelerate. Control of the message and perceptions of our target audience is non-existent unless we adapt and adapt quickly.

What's a Modern Marketer to do?

The good news, no, the great news is that there has never been a more exciting time to be a marketer!  We're on the cutting edge of the buying revolution.  There has never been a time in the history of marketing when we had such a fantastic opportunity to listen to and communicate with our target audience.

If you're scared of the changes and not sure how to embrace the revolution, you're not alone.  Here are a few suggestions I have found will turn fear into excitement:
  1. Learn, learn, learn and learn more.  Set aside at least one hour every day dedicated to educating yourself about technology, business disruptions, new ideas, and more.  There has also never been a time in the history of humanity where information is so easy and abundant.
  2. Participate in the discussion.  Talk to thought leaders in the marketing space and in your particular industry.  Debate.  Put your critical thinking hat on for the discussion.  Use your social media tools (blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, et al) to comment, share and be active.
  3. Test, test and test.  It's OK to be a critical thinker.  Not only is there a ton of information out there, but there is a ton of bad information out there (and a ton of great information).  If something looks interesting, test it in your own lab.  Consider your business as a laboratory for testing marketing strategy and tactics.  This mindset leads to innovation and creativity.  Some things will work and some will not. What better way to participate in the conversation than sharing success and failure of your tests.
  4. Get out of the office.  Attend conferences, panel discussions, trade shows, seminars, etc.  Talk to your colleagues within your industry and other circles.
  5. Collaborate with your vendors and suppliers.  Vendors and suppliers are an excellent source of information.  Attend their webinars.  Download their content.  You could even (cringe) talk to their sales people.
Bottom line advice, don't sit on the beach and watch the tidal wave come to you.  Embrace the revolution.  Set a goal to learn something new each and every day.  Use your business as a modern marketing laboratory.  It's not scary.  It's exciting!

Good luck and please, feel free to call me or comment.  There is no time like the present to begin!

"Revolution" by the Beatles
You say you want a revolution
Well you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it's evolution
Well you know
We all want to change the world

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Top 10 Takeaways from Eloqua Experience 2013

I was fortunate to be able to attend Eloqua Experience in San Francisco last week.  This was my 3rd EE in the past 5 years.  I have to say there was definitely a different feel to the event.  It could be the difference between Eloqua being a small, privately held almost family type organization compared to being owned by the behemoth, Oracle.  I'm not saying it was a bad thing, just that it felt different.  After spending a few days with the Oracle - Eloqua folks, I feel optimistic about seeing many benefits as a result of the Oracle acquisition.

There's nothing more exhilarating for a marketing nerd or geek like myself than spending 3 days with other marketing professionals (nerds and geeks) who get the new marketing era we are experiencing.  Three days of talking about optimization, automation, KPIs, analytics, etc. was some fun!

These are my top 10 takeaways from EE13:

  1. The speed of marketing technology change is accelerating. Many, many tools are available for a very reasonable price.   As modern marketers, we are challenged to keep up with the speed of change.  However, the tools do not automatically lead to success.  Successful marketing still depends on the fundamentals like the 4 Ps, positioning, value propositions, engaging messaging and knowing your customer.  I've always said the first step to successful marketing is in writing down a proper marketing plan.  The tools simply enable the plan and the team to be more efficient and more effective.
  2. The Manufacturing sector continues to lag in adoption and full utilization of MA and content marketing.  Engineers (broad generalization here) don't seem to get the fact that marketing is not the same as it was in 1995.   It's not about the wonderful and cool products designed and manufactured.  It's about sharing expertise to gain engagement.  That's right, I said give away your expertise to your customers and prospective customers in order to help them solve their problems.  In return you will gain more business and loyal customers.
  3. Lead scoring requires top level sponsorship and strong collaboration with the sales folks. The best way to gain alignment is with a unified team.  Merge sales and marketing into one commercial team with one leader.  Everything else flows from there.  Lead scoring is not so much about the algorithm, it's more about the socialization and proving how it helps the team be more efficient and generate more revenue. Step 1 to successful lead scoring is building a clean and complete database.
  4. Predictive analytics seems to be the same thing as 'big data'.  I have to say I like the term predictive analytics much better than 'big data'.  The practice of incorporating predictive analytics to the marketing strategy is the most exciting new development in modern marketing since the introduction of marketing automation.  Lattice Engines claims they can obtain and automatically deliver any data you want or need to better target and identify high interest buyers.  Predictive analytics is on the top of my 'next big thing' list.
  5. Tradeshow lead capture is finally available.  No more spreadsheets and manual uploads.  This technology enables direct capture at the booth delivering the lead straight to MA.  Imagine automatically delivering a compelling follow up to a booth visitor on the same day automatically.  At Event presented a good, versatile solution at the EE13 Showcase.
  6. New technology from a company called Bizo enables delivering ads to anonymous website visitors.  What a concept?   Seems caution is advised to avoid branding your company as annoying.  Ads must be relevant and not too often or too many.  The potential is huge!
  7. Data presented by David Frigstadt of Frost and Sullivan, shows the highest return on capital is not coming from product development, but from innovative business models. This seems to go together with number 2 above.  Companies continue to invest heavily in product development and little in business model development and analysis.   Opportunity knocks!  One of the most effective business models in the Marketing 2.0 world is high value content marketing driven by marketing automation positioning the Marketing function as the revenue engine.
  8. Modern Marketers know what to do to drive revenue.  It's the executive leaders who won't let go of the past world of sales feet on the street, product development and trade shows.  Hey CEOs, COOs and SFOs,  marketing isn't just the people in the back who set up shows, design brochures and place ads.  Modern Marketers drive revenue!!  Companies who embrace Marketing 2.0 will have a huge advantage over those that do not.
  9. Scaling MA globally takes strong socialization, coordination, sponsorship, with strong leadership support.
  10. "Be patient and accept indirect value"  Baratunde Thurston

Friday, October 18, 2013

The 10 Best Marketing KPIs

John Wanamaker
Perhaps the best we can do with measuring the performance or ROMI (return on marketing investment) is to employ the age old statement made by John Wanamaker more than 90 years ago, "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half".  We like to think we can do better with modern tools like marketing automation integrated to CRM, the ubiquitous spreadsheet with pivot tables, etc.  Sure, we can attribute a closed opportunity to a marketing campaign or to a type of marketing activity, but it's only as good as a person's interpretation.  At some point, someone has to decide how to attribute a closed opportunity.  If the last touch before a closed opportunity was a trade show, does that mean the revenue should be associated with the trade show?  In this modern age of buying behavior, we can never really know, nor should we try, to attribute revenue to one particular source.  Thus, are we back to a modern version of Wanamaker's interpretation?

This is not to say we should not bother to measure.  Rather than basing decisions on a hard core revenue attribution model, I suggest marketers rely on trends and benchmarks.  These are my top 10 KPIs for evaluating the performance of marketing strategy and tactics.  Note the first 5 are meant to be the metrics you use when presenting results to the external (external to the marketing team) stakeholders.  The second 5 are meant to be used internal to the marketing team in evaluating activities, promotions, events, campaigns, etc.

  1. Net Contribution.  This is the best measure of effectiveness.  Do not mistake net contribution for an absolute ROMI.  It is a perfect measure of efficiency and the trend tells the CMO how the overall strategy and tactics are driving revenue.    Net Contribution (%) = [(sales revenue - COGS) - (cost of sales+marketing)] / [sales revenue]
  2. Marketing Contribution to New Opportunities.  Again, not an absolute measure, but useful as a month-to-month benchmark.  Also good for talking points with the Executive Team.
  3. Marketing Contribution to Closed-Won Opportunities.  A great benchmark.  Look for trends. Could also be correlated with other specific marketing metrics like impressions, emails sent, etc. to indicate general effectiveness of the marketing activities.
  4. Revenue per Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL).  Always couch your stakeholder facing metrics as revenue as compared to cost. Think about how your CEO or CFO perceives the Marketing function based on reporting revenue per lead or cost per lead.
  5. Number of MQLs.  The net number of leads passed to Sales is, of course, an important measure of success for the marketing strategy and tactics.
  6. Cost per Click (CPC).  This is the best measure to compare any of the myriad marketing digital activities to each other.  After a while, you'll be able to reject activities that don't meet your benchmark and do more of those that exceed your benchmark.
  7. Cost per Thousand Exposures (CPM).  This is a good measure to determine reach.  Cost per click and cost per thousand exposures should be considered together when evaluating the results of activities.
  8. Click through Rate (CTR).  Another good benchmark for comparing the effectiveness of materials and venues.  The CPC, CPM and CRT together help the marketer make decisions about effectiveness.
  9. Funnel conversion metrics.  MQL to SAL to SQO to Closed/Won and other relevant conversions.
  10. Revenue/Cost per attendee.  These are good specifics for evaluating the effectiveness of events like trade shows, conferences or seminars.  Be cautious of making binding decisions based only on these metrics. There are likely to be intangibles that should be considered such as the sales person's opportunity to see multiple customers and prospects in a short span of time.
Naturally, your particular business or organization may require different metrics depending on what you are selling.  For example, those firms that are selling subscription services may track annual contract value and churn rate.

Let me know what you think about my top 10 KPIs.  I'd love to hear your feedback via comments or feel free to send me an email.

Monday, October 14, 2013

B2B Content Marketing Institute 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends - North America

Thank you Content Marketing Institute for publishing the results of your B2B Content Marketing Trends Survey!  I was glad to see a wider sample this year.  A few observations on the results:
  • The top goal of content marketing is "Brand Awareness".  It perplexes me that this is the top goal because it is so hard to measure.  I wonder how the marketers who place this goal at the top of the list decide if they have achieved the goal.  The second most popular goal, lead generation, makes more sense and it can be measured.
  • Web traffic is the top measure of success.  Really?!  How does web traffic tell you if your content marketing is successful?  Are we, B2B marketers still not sophisticated enough to tie our content to at least opportunities created in the CRM?  We have the technology.
  • 86% of those B2B companies deemed 'most effective' have assigned a person to own the content marketing process.  Bravo!
Content marketing done well, when coupled with effective infrastructure of marketing automation integrated to CRM, drives revenue.  If you're in an industry like manufacturing where adoption seems to be lagging, be the leader and take the market share while the taking is good.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Effectual Marketing Planning

(Call me at 303-505-8009, leave a comment or send me an email  I'd love to chat about this concept, share ideas or swap experiences)

I have to say, I'm intrigued and maybe even fascinated by this concept of effectual marketing planning.  With a bit of research, one discovers that effectual marketing planning is based on the verb, effectuate.  Effectuate means to cause to happen or accomplish.  Effectuation is the noun; the act of implementing, providing a practical means for accomplishing something or carrying into effect.

I was exposed to the concept via an HBR Blog post written by Peter Whalen and Samuel Holloway.  They published a paper about the subject titled, Effectual Marketing Planning (EMP) for New Ventures, in September 2011.  Their premise states that traditional marketing planning (TMP) is not effective for new ventures suggesting a framework for EMP. I suggest the concept could and should be adopted by all firms regardless of size or number of years in business.