Archive for the ‘Technology thoughts’ Category

Marketing at the Big Table

Just yesterday, I talked about a marketing management paradigm I found interesting – and potentially very useful. And today, I finally got around to reading “How to Think Like a Modern CMO.” Another great article on the changing needs and responsibilities of leading a marketing team in today’s hyper-active marketplace. Change is coming quickly and much of it requires being savvy in both technology and leadership.

From the article, this quote rings especially true with me and my organization:

“CMOs have to be both analytical and adaptable, rolling and thriving with continuous change. It’s an interesting combination of left brain and right brain characteristics, where creativity is absolutely essential to see around corners, data analysis is required to make decisions, and execution is needed to deliver actual results.”

Personally, I love this. I have a background in engineering so I really get the technology and metrics angle. I’m not nearly as strong on the “traditional” marketing areas highlighted by Mad Men. But I usually can hold my own in that arena. So I love the challenge involved.

But what really interests me is the thought that the CMO (re: marketing) is becoming more important to the success of an organization. This is not so new to consumer brands. But it is in the B2B world, especially in the tech sector where engineering or sales has long ruled.

My company is very progressive in pulling marketing in early and often. And we have a seat at the table – the monthly executive board meeting that all companies have in some shape or form. Marketing in B2B on the rise. Get ready to get caught up in the tide.



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.  : )


Going Old School

Like many other marketing people, over the past month, I’ve been planning my next activities for the first half of 2012. I work in an industry of rapid technological change and, as much as I like to plan for at least a year, often many of my plans are three- to six-month campaigns. Branding and longer-term messaging I can plan for a year or more but lead generation is usually two quarters out at best. But that’s a topic for another blog post.

For my upcoming campaigns, among the mix is a revival of some marketing old school techniques. In particular, direct mail. Email has become less and less effective. Open rates are sliding lower and click thrus are even worse. Some of my more targeted emails are very effective. But I need to generate more interest than those tactics provide. I segment my audience based on personas. I try a couple of different subject lines and email content. But I am running into several issues. Primary among them are:

    • Just TOO much email – everyone’s inbox is overloaded. We all know the noise.
    • Email not getting delivered – particularly acute in my industry, aerospace & defense, where prime contractors’ servers are blocking a lot of mass generated email.
direct mail marketing

So our marketing group is working with our sales team to develop comprehensive campaign that will involve direct mail. We are targeting by job role and company and will be doing something high-end (dimensional) for our top persona.

Going old school. Despite the cheerleaders around inbound marketing, as someone with a need to create demand for my sales team and a limited budget, I don’t ignore any channel that can do this effectively. I’ll be doing inbound, social, email, content, video, events – almost any other tactic you can think of. But I’ll be throwing direct mail back into the mix this year.

Embrace Rogue IT

My technical background keeps me interested (though not always involved) in IT issues. Like most “consumers” of IT services, I always think about what I can do in the consumer market and compare it to the ancient technology most companies provide. I fully understand the pressures most, if not all, IT departments are under. They face daunting and often contradictory demands.

Working in the Defense industry, security is a paramount concern. That being said, I found this article in CIO magazine enlightening. It talks about how people will use new technology no matter what IT tries to do. And that can cause some serious organizational problems. But IT can’t stick there head in the sand – like they do at my company. You are missing the boat.

Unfortunately, you may need to register to get the full article.

iPad all the rage

OK, I will confess up front that I am not an Apple person. I grew up on PCs, DOS and Windows. I’m used to the snags, warts and all you encounter on a daily basis using these systems. That being said, I do see the allure of the iPad. They have made a big in-road in my company. They are light, handy, can go with you anywhere easily. Here’s an eWeek article about the adoption and impact on IT groups

For me, I had a MacBook Pro once. It was a loaner from a client and I needed it because I was putting presentations together and needed access to Keynote. I did like the interface but constantly found myself going back to my PC whenever I needed to do “real work.” My kids, however, thought it was cool. Anyway, the job ended and I returned it.

To this day, I still have issues with touch screens. I chalk it up to lack of use. But I did shy away from them with my latest phone – a Blackberry. I would be interested to hear how other 40 somethings like me who grew up with PCs are doing with the move to admittedly cooler (maybe even better?) technologies.

webcast guidelines

After reading several whitepapers, to-dos and watching webinars on best practices, I compiled the short list for those of you who have to do tactical marketing. This is an outline of what you should consider when you are planning webcasts. Please let me know any comments and/or edits. Much of this content I gathered from:


The Definitive Webinar Marketing eGuide, December 2009, Quantum Leap Marketing (Sponsored by GoToMeeting

ON24 2010 Webcasting Report: Webcast Benchmarks and Best Practices for Lead Generation, January 2011, ON24

9 Management Practices for Exceptional Webinars: Proven strategies to build a lead-generation engine, MarketingProfs

Webcast Planning Guide

Summary and Goals

Overview of webcast and define the goals.

Target audience

Define the target audience (TDMi/job role) and goal of the webcast.

Topic, abstract and email invitation

When naming the webcast and developing the abstract and email invite, remember WIFM – “what’s in it for me” from the prospect’s point of view. As with whitepapers, titles such as those below resonate well.

  • 7 secrets to winning more business
  • Top 5 common mistakes and how to avoid them
  • New breakthroughs in …
  • How to evaluate and choose a …

Use compelling language such as:

  • In this fast-paced 45-minute webinar, discover…
  • Are you frustrated with/by…

Because webcasts are the promise of future benefit, consider offering something tangible and immediate like access to a whitepaper.

Promotion plan

Look to promote using both Mercury and 3rd party resources. Third parties can include co-sponsors, partners, guest speakers, etc.

Type Your company 3rd Party (media group, partner, etc.)
email blast
banner ad on website
enewsletter sponsorship/article
ROS promotions
blog postings
LinkedIn Groups

Leverage webcast for new content tidbits

Look to use registration questions to provide content for webinar. For example, for storage, asking what challenges are you facing – would make a good slide for attendees.

Plus, look to use registration questions and webcast poll questions for content (article, podcast, etc.).

Post Promotion

Promote the recording as long as the content is fresh and relevant.

Interesting Industry Statistics

  • Webcasts are a low cost-per-lead method with high prospect engagement
  • Average registrant-to-attendee conversion rate is 58%
  • Months of December, June and October have the highest registrant-to-attendee conversion rates (79%, 68% and 63% respectively)
  • Significant number of attendees participate in polls and surveys
  • Integration with Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook can augment participation and stimulate conversations
  • Recruiting an outside speaker or co-sponsors significantly increases attendance
  • Many attendees tend to join about 5 minutes after the start time – start a minute or two late
  • Attendance increases with reminders sent the day before and an hour or two before the webcast
  • Surprisingly, Mondays may be a good day since Tuesday through Thursday is crowded

DARPA and the cloud

Another cloud computing article of interest – this time from Defense Systems magazine.  If DARPA and the military are looking to leverage the cloud for mission critical applications – where our soldiers’ lives are on the line – then I’d say the cloud has hit the big time. You can’t get more mission critical than that. Funding for this “Cloud to the Edge” program has not been secured yet (and may be very difficult in today’s fiscal environment) but just the fact that cloud technology is being considered for an application like this shows that it has matured.

Government Cloud Computing

With all the budget issues going on today and with the Obama administration seeking to reduce the number of federal data centers and move apps to the cloud, it looks like a good time for cloud-savvy firms to be selling to the government. What happens at the federal level will likely trickle down to the state and local level. Not a bad market.

Here’s a recent Government Computer News article on the topic.

One big concern I always encountered when marketing and selling the cloud is security. And government agencies are very concerned about this, too. So you need to make sure you have a strategy for dealing with the “security” issue.

I believe moving many of the government data centers and apps to a cloud environment would help save a lot of money – not a trivial thing in today’s economy. But the various levels of government will likely pick and choose those apps and data centers that are less critical for the first move.


Defense department as an example

There is no doubt about it. Our American economy has gone through hell. Most, if not all, has been brought on by our own bad habits. And now we need to return to our roots – a people who care about each other and don’t spend beyond our means.

Our political climate is nasty, at best. There seems to be little interest in caring for America. More important seems to be getting re-elected or, even worse, face time on Fox “news” or any of those other venues of pure crap. And all of this at a time when our country really could use some leaders and help.

We have a huge budget deficit. And the Defense Department, under Secretary Gates, is one (if not the only) group that is tackling finances in an intelligent way. They have stepped forward to take responsibility for their spending. And, they are fighting Congress when needed. Several Congressmen (Republicans) don’t want to cut the spending that the Pentagon sees as not needed. Go figure.

Anyway, I hope the rest of our government can replicate the example of the Defense Department.

Marketing and High Tech firms

I’ve worked for several high tech firms over the years and it took a conversation with my cousin to help me gather these thoughts. Most high tech firms just don’t understand marketing. They seem to see marketing as “that group that turns out datasheets.” Wow, the lack of understanding is amazing. I worked for a CEO (he came from sales so I guess that may be an excuse for him) that actually said that marketing was “that pink fuzzy bunny group.” Talk about a lack of leadership.

Most technology firms just don’t get marketing. They start as technology-driven and then move to sales-driven. But the most successful (can you say Apple?) are market (not marketing) driven. There are many facets to marketing and most tech firms don’t get beyond product marketing. And that’s why they lose in the long run.

I’m an engineer turned marketer. I’m driven by numbers. At every place I’ve worked, I’ve mandated creating metrics that show the return on marketing investment. I force the discussion. Marketing is a strategic advantage for organizations smart enough to realize it. If your company isn’t there yet, talk to me. I may have some advice to help you.