The loss of B2B Marketing magazine

OK. I’ve given it some time. And, if anything, it’s gotten worse. B2B Magazine was subsumed by Ad Age a few months ago. The promise was that it would be part of a bigger entity – better coverage, leverage the commonalities between B2C and B2B marketing. I would call this an epic fail. Like #EpicFail.

My latest issue of Ad Age had zero content related to B2B marketing. Zero.

Now, I do believe there is a lot of in common between B2B and B2C marketing. Especially around what motivates people. But, they are two different animals. Completely. Maybe you’ve seen this recent article on Ad Age.

I Call B.S. on B-to-B and B-to-C: Distinction between business and consumer marketing is irrelevant

Seriously. They printed this piece of drivel. Maybe it was just to stir the pot. If so, it worked with me.

All you need to do is read the comments and you will see the rebuttals to such a dumb statement. Having done both B2C and B2B marketing, I KNOW the differences. Unlike the author. The biggest difference by far is the buyer process. For B2B purchasing, especially for bigger ticket items, the buyer process is a group decision. In most B2C, it is a single or two-person decision. Plus, B2B is “spending” company money – not their own.

And that’s just part of it.

So now, I’m trying to decide whether I want to keep my free Ad Age subscription. I find little value in it. I’d love to know what other marketers think.

 

 

2014 B2B Marketing budgets set to rise

Forrester Research has released it’s latest survey results on the state of B2B Marketing budgets. Good news is that the investment in marketing is expected to rise 6% this year. Bad news is that, after the recession, it still only gets budgets back up to 4% of company revenues. Pre-recession levels were often cited at 7% or higher. So still some ground to make up.

Forrester notes an increase in spending particularly on technology (read as marketing automation). In order to justify the higher budgets, marketeers are having to prove return on investment. I’m surprised it is taking this long to get there. I remember being pressed for numbers and ROI at least ten years ago. And that was when the marketing automation platforms weren’t as robust as they are today!

B2B 2014 Marketing budget investments

Source: Forrester Research

One other item from this report – how people expect to use their marketing budgets. Here’s a nice pie chart with a breakout of the responses. It is interesting to see how, with all the noise around digital, email and inbound, in-person events remains a very significant piece of the pie. Guess that shows that there is no substitute for face-to-face!

Here at Mercury Systems, our fiscal year runs June through July. I’ll be interested in taking our FY15 budget and seeing how we match up to the rest of the industry – in both size of budget and how we invest it.

Marketing and IT expertise

The latest issue of B2B Magazine has an interesting article entitled In-demand tech experts find new home in marketing. It’s interesting to see how some companies are combining traditional Marketing Operations and IT roles to better support the critical systems many marketing teams now rely on – usually very heavily. In my experience, I would NEVER implement a marketing automation solution without having a solid marketing ops person to support it. And at the companies I’ve worked at that used marketing automation, I also saw much better success when there was a dedicated IT resource(s) to support marketing needs. The third leg is a strong connection with the Sales Ops team as marketing automation and CRM systems have to be intimately intertwined.

For those of you not familiar with the Marketing Ops function, this article from a few years ago still does a good job of explaining the function. Plus, I like their graphic:

Marketing Ops, a comprehensive discipline that leverages technology, process and metrics.  Courtesy of Marketing Operations Partners.

One area where I’ve particularly found the need for Marketing Ops/IT teaming is in metrics. In many organizations, without IT help, you can not reach into key systems to get the reporting you may want. Systems such as financial, ERP, order management, customer service and more often reside with those groups. Unless you have an enterprise data warehouse, you need help querying those systems. And even with a warehouse, you still need expertise to query that. So a solid teaming of Marketing Ops, Sales Ops and IT works to make all teams more successful.

As and aside, as I’m writing this, the marketing ops person on my team is at Eloqua Experience 2012 – Eloqua’s annual user conference – staying plugged into the latest best practices. Even though we didn’t win the Markie award, I will still give them a plug.  : )

 

More on Content Marketing

You can’t look at any major marketing magazine, blog or website without seeing some talk about Content Marketing. Content creation takes up a good chunk of my time and I’m always interested in best practices and research findings.

Here’s a smattering of recent articles I found particularly interesting:

Here’s one of the charts I really liked from the Eloqua blog:

content marketing statistics

I’m sure we will continue to see content marketing as a discipline evolve and expand as we move into 2013 and beyond.

Marketing is Dead – or Not

Ya just gotta love headlines for a blog article like this one:

Marketing is Dead

From the Harvard Business Review, this blog by Bill Lee argues that “traditional” marketing is dead. Of course, I really think his headline is mostly for provocative purposes and to drive readership and stir passion. And you know what? It worked! Just look at the hundreds of comments already submitted. A very interesting read for a Marketing aficionado – although I did lose interest at about comment 50.

But, getting back to Bill’s article, I did find some of it valid – and much of it not so much. Here are my thoughts:

  • Point #1:

“Traditional marketing — including advertising, public relations, branding and corporate communications — is dead”

Obviously, this is just an opening statement and (hopefully) Bill really isn’t that dumb. These modes of communications are still valid and, depending on your audience (B2B or B2C) and industry (for B2B), still incredibly important. Also, in the B2B world, your audience isn’t just customers and prospects. It may also be investors, potential employees, etc. And for these audiences, these channels often work well. Not a valid statement – even a stupid one.

  • Point #2:

“…CEOs have lost all patience. In a devastating 2011 study of 600 CEOs and decision makers by the London-based Fournaise Marketing Group, 73% of them said that CMOs lack business credibility and the ability to generate sufficient business growth, 72% are tired of being asked for money without explaining how it will generate increased business, and 77% have had it with all the talk about brand equity that can’t be linked to actual firm equity or any other recognized financial metric.”

Now this (although I haven’t checked the numbers and validity of the study) does make a little sense to me. I have seen a lack of some CMOs understanding the business and using “branding” as a catch-all for wasteful and unmeasured activities. However, I don’t think it’s nearly as widespread or dire as this so-called study reports.

  • Point #3:

“Third, in today’s increasingly social media-infused environment, traditional marketing and sales not only doesn’t work so well, it doesn’t make sense. When you try to extend traditional marketing logic into the world of social media, it simply doesn’t work.”

Wrong. And wrong in SO many ways, I’m not even sure where to begin. I guess a good first start would be to point out any of the many companies (IBM, Cisco, Eloqua, HubSpot, etc.) who leverage both “traditional” and social media well. I think I could write my PhD dissertation on this. And this is where Bill goes over the line from “scandalous” headline to get readers to downright stupidity.

  • Point #4:

“In fact, this last is a bit of a red herring, because traditional marketing isn’t really working anywhere.”

OK, well Bill, it is working very well for me. Along with all the new arrows I have in my quiver including social media. Wrong again.

From this point on, the article actually gets better. And touches on many “traditional” marketing techniques to get there. Among them are:

  • Restore community marketing – remember all those user groups many of us already do?
  • Find your customer influencers – duh, all talented sales and marketing teams look for power and influence – and always have
  • Help them build social capital – what he means by this is “customer champion.” Again, see bullet above. Been doing this for decades.
  • Get your customer advocates involved in the solution you provide – again, same as the two bullets above. And been doing it for decades.

When it comes right down to it, this whole new “social media” and “inbound” marketing thing is nothing more than a new (sometimes better) way of doing what marketing has always done.

Comments are welcome, as always!

Email Marketing – basic metrics review

The recent (October 2012) issue of Target Marketing had a nice, short article reviewing the basic metrics used in email marketing. It’s a nice, concise review of stats many of us use to measure the effectiveness of our email campaigns. Worth the quick read.

Shareholder Value

As someone who went to business school in the height of the “shareholder value” craze, I do find some validity to this article. Especially after years of dealing with CEOs. I had one CEO I had an argument with about this very topic. My side (the correct one) was that you end up “choosing” your investors by the messages you send. If you tell them you are focused on a 5 year horizon with a set goal, and then you tell them that you won’t be focusing on the 90-day cycle – you will get to your destination but not in 90-day sprints – then you will get long-term investors. And this will result in less stock price volatility if you hit some intermediate goals.

But he was stuck in the 90-day cycle. And that hurts a lot of companies. You can’t invest for the future in that environment.

Anyway, here is the article that was excerpted in The Week, where I read it:

BEST COLUMNS

It’s foolish to focus on stock prices

The relentless pursuit of higher share prices has done investors no favors.

POSTED ON SEPTEMBER 6, 2012, AT 2:25 PM

Lynn Stout
Los Angeles Times

The relentless pursuit of higher share prices has done investors no favors, said Lynn Stout. Maximizing “shareholder value” has been corporate America’s religion for over three decades now. To crank up share prices, companies sell key assets, outsource jobs, shower CEOs with stock options, and drain cash reserves by paying out dividends. These tactics often produce short-term market bumps, but they also hurt a company’s “long-term ability to grow and prosper.” Investors have borne the brunt of this trade-off, suffering “more than a decade of the worst investor returns since the Great Depression.” So why does the charade continue? Because investors continue to believe that companies are legally required to maximize returns in the short term, even though that’s a “pure myth.” In reality, corporate directors have no such obligation. Only with the rise of the “Chicago School” of free-market economics in the 1980s did share price become the default gauge of corporate performance. It’s time to step back from misguided short-term thinking so that companies can finally “do a better job for shareholders—and the rest of us too.”

Trade show leads

Everywhere I’ve ever worked struggled a little with follow up on trade show leads. For marketing, the biggest problem was getting the leads processed, the data cleansed, notes entered and then passed over to sales. Hot leads often failed to get to sales quickly and then hot turns to warm. Or worse, to a competitor.

Besides that, I hate paying those lead scanner rental fees. The bastards rake you over the coals.

Mark talking to a prospect.

Typically at a show, you get your device and use it to scan bar codes of the booth visitors. Some vendors are good enough to let you access the leads on a daily basis. Most make you wait until the end of the show to get them. Then you have to travel home and may not be back in the office for a few days. And even then, you most likely need to manually do data cleansing. If you use a marketing automation system, you then have to upload them. More time delays.

If you have a really good conversation with a prospect, you don’t want to wait that long to get them to sales.

Some companies bypass the delay by directly notifying the sales rep w/ the info. But, unless you are REALLY diligent, you lose the tracking and hence, ROI measurement for the event.

So we worked on a better way. We now use an iPad or iPhone, take a picture of the prospect’s business card, use an inexpensive app to do character recognition and send it to our marketing automation system. There are steps to do data cleansing on the spot (in case there were errors in scan) plus add notes from the conversation. The prospect often gets entered into our system before they leave the booth. And they get the “thank you” email w/ links to relevant content – often while still talking to us. Additionally, the system feeds our CRM system so our sales team gets the leads w/in hours of the booth visit – not the days plus typical of the old system.

Sales is ecstatic with quicker access to leads and more complete (and accurate) information and notes. Marketing is happy with much quicker turnaround, higher quality data and increased ROI. And we are putting ourselves in for an Eloqua Markie award. Root for us!

Divided America

Full disclosure – I work for a firm that largely is a third-tier defense contractor. And none of my opinions here reflect at all with my employer’s thoughts. In fact, I know my CEO and I don’t agree on most of this. But then again, he’s rich and British. To me, he’s doing what many in this article are doing – looking out for his own interests (keep my capital gains taxes down) and those of our company (spend more on those programs we supply), but not those of America.

Here’s the article that sparked this: CEOs in Crossfire at Sequestration Hearing

I’m not rich but I am an American. And I think we all need to give some to get us back on our feet. Just like our grandparents did during WWII. Nowadays, there is no sense of community and shared sacrifice. In fact, through manipulation and Gerrymandering, we now have a country that is way more divided in elected officials than it is in reality. Electoral districts are re-drawn to favor one party over the other. The result is extremist on both sides getting elected. And they all just cater to their constituency, not the interests of America.

A very sad state of affairs.

 

What’s in a Lead Gen team

Catching up on some reading. From the May 2012 B2B Magazine, there was an interesting article by Debbie Qaqish from Pedowitz Group.

I heard her speak last year at Marketing Sherpa’s B2B Summit in Boston and was impressed. And, in general, I like what she spells out in this article. The only problem is, if you are a small or medium sized business, there is no way you are going to have this many people in lead gen – let alone the whole marketing department! So how do you prioritize the roles? Here’s my take.

Firstly, you need to get to where you use some sort of marketing automation (MA) system. Nowadays, you can get low-end SaaS versions for very reasonable investments (notice my use of that word – investment, not a cost). This must be treated as an investment and you need to get a good return on it. I have several previous blog posts on both marketing automation and metrics if you are looking for more info.

If you have a MA solution, one of the top roles you need is, as Debbie phrased it, a “power user/marketing technologist.” If you are leveraging one of the SaaS solutions that has a more intuitive user interface, you need someone who is more on the power user side and less a technologist. This helps you not need the Marketing Ops person – yet. You can leverage your vendor for tech support when needed.

Another position Debbie mentions that I would have high on my list of “must-have’s” is the content manager. And this doesn’t have to be a marketing position. In fact, I would say this position in many SMBs is held jointly by many people – at least on the content creation side. It is nice to have someone who manages the strategy of what is needed and helps drive the creation process. Without quality content, your marketing efforts through your automation system and social media will be anemic.

The other position that Debbie mentions that I find critical at many points in a company’s growth is the “telequalifying role.” Even with MA, you can’t short-change the human touch. An actual conversation with a prospect gets you the chance to get into a conversation, open the door and possibly find the pain the customer may be experiencing.

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