Archive for the ‘Rants & Raves’ Category

Is too much reliance on Marketing Automation a danger?

I recently read this article by Omar Akhtar on “The case against too much marketing automation” and it got me thinking. Although I am a firm believer in marketing automation, here are several points here where I agree. I am inundated daily from vendors trying to sell me the next best thing in identifying web visitors, automated what content people see based on digital footprint, augmenting my database; the list goes on and on. And some of these do intrigue me. But I do question their actual effectiveness.

I’ve been using marketing automation for over a decade now and I’m a believer. My very small team executes more programs and campaigns than I could ever dream of twenty years ago when I first started in marketing. But nothing replaces actually spending time with your prospects and customers. You need to know what drives them. What are their challenges, fears, hopes and dreams. And then how can you fit into their reality. You will never get this from any type of marketing automation.

You need to spend time with your customers. You need to talk to them. Do this whenever you can – at tradeshows and conferences, customer visits, industry events. Whenever you get a chance. How else will you learn about them – what truly drives them? And how else will you see if your value props and messaging resonates?

face to face

So I’m a firm believer in marketing automation but I also don’t see it as a panacea that solves all your marketing needs. And thank God for that or I’d be out of a job! You need to get face-to-face and talk. There is no automation or replacement for that.

Would love to hear your thoughts!

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.

 

 

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.”

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.

 

Berkshires

Gorgeous day here in the Northeast. Drove from southern NH to western MA and had to stop several times. Winter has shed her cloak and spring has infiltrated. I completely enjoyed the ride. It is amazing to see the green filling in. I live in a part of the world that is truly lovely.

How Dumb are Americans?

My first post from an airplane! Southwest now has WiFi and I’m on my way to San Jose.  But not quite the mile high club I was hoping for…

Anyway, I was reading the latest issue of Newsweek and was intrigued and saddened by their article on the lack of knowledge Americans have for their own country. You can read the story and take part of the quiz here:

http://www.newsweek.com/2011/03/20/how-dumb-are-we.html

It is a sad reflection on our priorities – or lack thereof. I felt good after the quiz – got one wrong and I knew the answer if I had thought about it a bit more. Anyway, try for yourself. Some of these really tax the brain that’s left from high school.

 

4G Broadband – a hoax

OK – I am a marketing person. But I really have a problem with this. It’s just a marketing gimmick. There are NO cell phone carriers in the US who have 4G technology implemented. Yet every major cell carrier will claim so. Just watch any ad.  But here are a couple of articles to de-bunk that claim:

http://bit.ly/ghJBvN – Government Computer News article

http://bit.ly/fQ43Qr – ARS Technica article

And a press release from Mercury Computer on real 4G in Korea:

http://bit.ly/hdJjyB

I’m just not sure why the truth hurts cell phone providers so much. Ah well, back to shoveling out after the latest snowfall…

Social Media – Why do IT people still fear it?

I think it all has to do with control. And I think many businesses suffer for it.

The November/December 2010 issue of Baseline Magazine had a few articles on social media in the business environment. I passed them along to my firm’s IT department. I’m sure they are intelligent and all, but they really lack any sense of reality. They block Twitter (I use TweetDeck which they don’t block since it’s not a website but rather a desktop app) and Facebook. The irony is, I’m in marketing and not only do we have a Twitter account and Facebook page, but I’m partially responsible for posting to both. And I can’t see them from work. I have to wait until I get home to do my work.

I’d like to think they have a real business reason for blocking so much (it’s not only social media) but I really can’t fathom one. All I know is my perception of the IT department in my own company is that of a group of out-of-touch people living in the 1990s. I’m sure it’s not correct, but it is my perception. I especially love the irony when I see someone using a company-issued cell phone to access FB because they can’t get to it on their laptop.

For more on the Baseline issue, check out the story below:

http://www.baselinemag.com/c/a/Business-Intelligence/New-York-Life-Learns-to-Love-Social-Networking-719406/

CFO flouts own rules

Writing under the pseudonym John McGreavy, a CIO at a billion dollar plus manufacturing firm publishes articles in InformationWeek. His latest struck a nerve. We’ve all worked in organizations where someone who can set rules chooses not to follow them him/herself. “John’s” article talks about one he is facing. And he’s looking for thoughts. Please read the article and send him your help! You can find the article here:

http://www.informationweek.com/news/global-cio/interviews/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=227300399