Archive for the ‘Marketing’ Tag

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!

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!

Lead Scoring

Eloqua is one of the thought leaders in marketing automation. I subscribe to their “It’s all about revenue” blog and enjoy reading it. Their latest post on lead scoring is interesting, especially since I’ve been working on lead scoring at my company over the past few months.

Lead scoring

We have implemented lead scoring pretty much like the Eloqua blog suggests. We use A through D for implicit scoring – does the lead meet our criteria for “target” customer based on company and job role? And we use 1 through 4 for explicit scoring – what activity(ies) did the prospect do? And we have full alignment with sales on this scoring. In fact, we just tweaked it to reflect regional needs. We score differently for AsiaPac and Europe than we do for North America – highlighting the flexibility you can get from a marketing automation system.

The one thing that jumped out at me from the blog post is the role of an inside sales team (or telemarketing or whatever name you may call it). Even if a lead is scored a C3 or other relatively “low” score, the human touch is a great way to not only advance the lead but also get insight into the real lead score. A simple conversation can help you better understand the lead. Should they truly be put in a lead nurturing program or are they really a good lead for sales follow-up?

This stage of the process is critical and takes talented people. It’s also an investment by the organization. For us, we have very limited resources here and, during times of big lead influxes, can become a bottleneck. But, because we have metrics in place and a nice dashboard that all of sales management sees on a weekly basis, when the problem arises, everyone sees it. And there is discussion about expanding this team. One of the biggest pluses of intelligent metrics is being able to not only identify needs but also to justify investments.

So, as the blog post says, lead scoring is not the “be all, end all” of passing leads over to sales. It is a tool and one you need to understand. It definitely has it’s benefits but also it’s limitations. And you need to understand both.

Email Marketing in 2012

So I’ve had a couple of interviews with B2B Magazine lately. The first was on the topic of social media. And the latest was on email marketing. Because of that latter article, I have been approached by a reporter at MarketingSherpa, probably the hotbed of leading-edge marketing intelligence, for a deep dive case study. And I’m pretty impressed by that.

I’ve been on the cutting edge of B2B marketing for 20 years now and I think I’m pretty much an expert. Even when I was at the MarketingSherpa B2B summit conference last fall, I listened to many of the speakers and participants and felt like “been there, done that.” To the point where I was critiquing the advice from the “expert” speakers at the B2B events.

As someone who has lived his marketing life in the trenches having to deliver results to both sales and the company (meaning revenue), I feel pretty confident in my abilities and look forward to talking to this reporter from MarketingSherpa.

Metrics – Again

It seems to be all the rave to be talking metrics and marketing. In my opinion, if you are just starting to do this, you are 8 laps behind in a 6 lap race.

Thank God I have a really good Marketing Operations person who knows our marketing automation and CRM system inside and out. I can get my marketing BI questions answered almost all the time. The only issues I run into tend to be “not being able to generate that specific report” or not being able to automate the report. Right now, the latter is more of an issue.

I can get information in intimate detail but it takes my colleague easily a day to pull it all out and format it. But I love the info. I can look at what I call micro-metrics (not stuff I necessarily report to management but use for my benefit):

  • number of leads by account manager (our term for sales rep)
  • number of new contacts we’ve added for each persona – we’re trying to grow certain high-value targets so this is important
  • organic database growth
  • what each marketing campaign delivered – MQLs, SALs, revenue opportunities, etc.

And so much more. It’s great to see, especially since I may be getting a new boss soon! I know I’d want to see that I have a team that knows what works and what doesn’t.

 

Maximizing leads from events

I invest in several webcasts every year. For these, I leverage some of my media vendors who have my target audience as readers/subscribers. But these webcasts can be expensive. On the low end, I can do one for about $8k. This works for one of my target personas. On the high end, it can run as much as $20k. But this attracts prospects from the high end of my persona food chain.

webcast postcard eo/ir

Both have proven themselves as generating high quality (and a good quantity of) leads. Well worth the investment. Since I pay the same amount no matter how many people attend the webcast, this year I’m looking at innovative ways to increase the viewership. Here are a couple of things I’m doing (some of which I’ve been doing for a while but trying to expand the list):

  • Creating a landing page just for the webcast
  • Post webcast, continuing to promote the on-demand recording for six months or more – as long as the content is relevant
    • Statistics point out, and I’ve seen in my own experience, that live viewership of webcasts is declining. People just don’t have the time in the middle of their work day to join. But viewership of the archived webcast is increasing with people taking time to watch when it best fits their schedule.
  • Posting the event on relevant LinkedIn groups (and other social media outlets that makes sense)
  • When running print ads similar to the webcast topic, putting a call to action in the ad
  • Creating “post cards” that I can hand out at trade shows and conferences, give to the sales team to use on calls, leave in our lobby for visitors, and maybe even use as direct mail pieces.
  • Add a promo and link in signature files for company emails
  • Taking out banner ads on relevant sites and in their e-newsletters promoting the webcast and linking to the landing page.
  • Promoting it in our bi-monthly e-newsletter
  • Putting a QR code on everything we do in the list above to make it easy to get to the landing page

I’ve talked specifically about webcasts but I think many of these tactics can also work for other marketing activities. Anyone have some more ideas on how to creatively promote relatively high priced events to generate more leads? I’d love to hear some ideas!

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