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"

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

How a Manufacturing CEO can Profit in a Down Economy

It seems one day manufacturing is up and the next day manufacturing is down.  It's already mid February and your numbers just aren't coming in like you expected.  You miss the old days when double digit growth was a given based on introducing a few new products and whipping your sales team just a little.

You've beefed up R&D spending and added feet on the street in the sales channel.  You just can't break through that single digit growth barrier.   Looking at global manufacturing output stats showing meager 2% or less increases, it's no wonder.  No single industry is growing at double digit rates.  Many industries are in negative growth rates.  But, there are some companies growing at 10%, 20% or even 30% rates in this very same economic environment.

If your company is one of those growing at double digit rates, you don't have to read on because you've probably already figured this one out.  If you're not in this high growth rate group, read on and learn how you too can achieve a high rate of growth.  (I'm talking about organic growth!)

It doesn't take a huge investment in people or other resources.  It's just a different way of thinking about how your business generates revenue.  More specifically, it's about who or which function you leverage for generating revenue.

Surprise!  It's not the sales team and it's not the product team.  It's the marketing team.

That's right, a modern marketing function can drive 10%, 20% or even 30% growth rates and it's not complex or expensive.  Your biggest obstacle is likely to be your ancient go to market culture.

These are the 6 essential components required to convert your marketing team from a cost center to a high performance revenue engine:

  1. A tech-savvy, content savvy modern professional marketer as a leader.
  2. A business culture where the Marketing function is integrated strategically and tactically.
  3. Modern technology and tools (choosing the right tools requires a tech savvy leader)
  4. A content based marketing strategy.
  5. Executive leadership sponsorship.
  6. A formal, written, dynamic marketing plan.
But hold on a minute, you and your company may not be ready for these changes and that's ok.  Just understand that these ideas are percolating all over the place.  It's not easy to get here, but it's not rocket science either.

Be warned, the first company in your competitive space to embrace these changes and make them work will be the company that wins market share in that space.  Don't delay, do it today!

For a more in-depth discussion, check out this Slideshare presentation.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

What do Kevin Spacey and Content Marketing Have in Common?

If you're a House of Cards fan then you are well aware that season 2 opens on Netflix tomorrow (February 14th).  If you're a Content Marketing Institute fan, they you are well aware of the fact that Mr. Kevin Spacey is the featured keynote speaker at Content Marketing World in Cleveland coming in September.

CMI was kind enough to put together this cool Slideshare telling you exactly what Kevin Spacey and Content Marketing have in common.  Enjoy!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Go Back to the Future and Write Your Marketing Plan

This blog post was originally published on Content Marketing Institute Blog January 14, 2014.

In the olden days of marketing, we talked about positioning statements, the 4 Ps, marketing plans, branding, etc.  Some pundits and bloggers might claim that these old style concepts and practices are obsolete and have been replaced with content marketing, social media, marketing automation, SEO, SEM and so on.  I suggest these so-called old style, obsolete concepts, strategies and tactics are more important than ever.  As professional marketers, I suggest we go back to the future and embrace the fundamentals before we begin to use the modern tools like content marketing.

[picture credit www.livingdesignhome.com]
Embarking upon a plan to ‘do content marketing’ or ‘do social media’ without first preparing a proper marketing plan is like building a house with no blueprint.  Adding rooms (marketing tactics) on a whim without an understanding of how each room supports the overall structure (business goals), the purpose of each room (objectives) and how you will decide if the room is successful (measurement) is a recipe for disaster at worst and poor performance at best.

We as professional marketers are all excited about content marketing.  We are itching to get started creating great content we know will launch our business onto the next great growth trajectory.  The momentum and the enthusiasm are great.   However, I suggest holding on to our horses for just a moment before jumping in while we consider the broader marketing plan.  Before you get started with creating content or launching any type of marketing activity it is critically important to have completed your marketing plan.  Why, you may ask, must I take precious time and utilize my already stretched resources to write down a plan.  Isn’t that a bit old fashioned?  Yes, it is old fashioned and at the same time, more important than ever in this modern marketing age.  The marketing plan, 4 Ps, positioning, et al have likely been around for 1000s of years in one form or another.  We must travel back to the future.  The reason these concepts have endured is because they fundamentally support the exchange of goods.  In spite of our modern marketing technology, the basics of business have not changed since the dawn of the first civilization in Mesopotamia.  We are still exchanging products or services for some type of consideration.  Whether we were a merchant pedaling our wares in the Middle Ages or we are selling access to a SaaS service today, there is fundamentally no difference.  It is an exchange.  Success of either the Middle Ages merchant or the modern SaaS vendor depends on awareness of the offering and establishment of value in the minds of the prospective buyer. In other words, it depends on marketing (assuming the sales function is a subset of a broad definition of marketing).

Consider the 4 major parts of a good marketing plan as discussed below.  This discussion is not meant to be comprehensive education about how to create a marketing plan,  It is a starter discussion to show how important it is to have a proper, written marketing plan.  It is a simple framework of the components of a good marketing plan.

Definition of a Marketing Plan
A marketing plan is a comprehensive document that summarizes marketplace knowledge and the strategies and steps to be taken in achieving the objectives set marketing managers for a particular period.[1]

What a Marketing Plan is Not
A marketing plan is not a spreadsheet of activities.  It’s not an editorial calendar.  It’s not a list of campaigns.  It’s not a budget or set of goals. It’s not something you think you have in your head.

These are the 4 essential topics that must be covered in your marketing plan before proceeding with any marketing activities such as content marketing, social media, direct mail, email promotion, nurturing, web sites, landing pages, PPC, et al:
1.      Assess the Current Situation
·         What resources are available?
·         Analyze and summarize your market space(s).
·         Analyze internal strengths and weaknesses.
·         Analyze external opportunities and threats.
·         Assess the competition and competitive environment.
·         Assess the macro environment; social, economic, political, technological
·         Identify critical issues
2.      Describe the Marketing Strategy
·         Mission and vision
·         Business objectives
·         Marketing objectives
·         Target market description
·         Positioning statement
·         Value proposition
3.      Marketing Program
·         Product
·         Pricing strategy
·         Channels
·         Promotion
4.      Controls and measurement
·         Financials
·         Critical success factors
·         Key performance indicators
·         Technology and platforms

It is interesting to note that ‘content marketing’ could come under number 3, as a means of promotion.  It could also (and probably should) fall under number 2 as the foundation to the overall marketing strategy. 

Many marketers and firms will claim they have the marketing plan in their head or within the tribal knowledge of the organization.  Not good enough.  Many firms will have several disparate pieces of a marketing plan spread throughout the organization with the sales department, product managers, marketing department, executive leadership team, strategic business planners or other such places.  In order for Marketing to do its job, Marketing must create and own a proper marketing plan first and foremost. One of the real tangible benefits of writing a proper plan is in the forced collaboration between the stakeholders.  This collaboration helps to align the various functions.  The process of writing the plan also positions the marketing department and personnel as valid business participants as opposed to being perceived as a service center reacting to one request after another.

It may be the case where a firm requires multiple marketing plans for multiple units such as business units, geographic regions, product groups or other classifications depending on your firm’s business plan.

One last point, creating the Marketing Plan is not just an exercise to be done once and then put on the virtual shelf.  It is a living, dynamic document which should be referred to on a regular basis and updated as conditions or situations change.

I leave you with a challenge.  See if you can find a written marketing plan at your organization.  If you find one that is current, dynamic and being used as a daily reference upon which to base marketing decisions, bravo!  If you can’t find it or if you hear people tell you it is all in their head, step back and begin to craft a proper plan today before you do anything else.

For more information about creating a proper marketing plan, I recommend ‘The Marketing Plan Handbook (4th Edition) by Marian Burk Wood.

[1] The Marketing Plan Handbook, Marian Burk Wood