Archive for the ‘b2b’ Tag

Top 5 2015 Content Marketing Trends from Alinean

I’m catching up on the end-of-year/beginning-of-year blogs and posts. There are some good ones out there including this one from Tom Pisello. Tom spells out 5 content marketing trends to keep in mind. Some of these aren’t new but all worth reviewing. Here are my thoughts on two of them:

Trend 2 – Marketing Overload

As a marketing executive, I get a LOT of email offers on anything related to marketing. I’m still amazed at email overloadhow many emails I get from so-called “marketing experts” trying to get me to look at some of their content. I’m not sure where Tom got this from – “with the average executive receiving over 50 offers each business day” – but I believe it. I delete about 200 emails a day from my work inbox. A very large portion are unsolicited offers. A sampling from this morning include whitepapers/ebooks on creating the perfect persona, database management, personalization, A/B email testing. The list goes on. And I get them every day.

As a marketer, I make a conscious effort NOT to email offers. I tend to roll up our “offers” into a bi-monthly enewsletter. But I make sure the newsletter is not just about my company and how great we are. I put in links to key industry articles and trends from the trade media. I invite partners to contribute articles. Anything I can think of that may add value to the reader. By doing this, I’ve just about done away with single email offers. And I’ve seen our newsletter readership both increase in database size and also in open rates and click-thrus.

Trend 3 – Buying by Committee

This has been happening for a long time. And marketers need to advance their techniques if they really want to address the challenges here and help sales win deals. I don’t think I can say it any better than Tom so I’m just going to paste two of his sentences which are keys to success:

“One size-fits-all content doesn’t cut it when there are so many different perspectives involved in the decision making process.

You have to develop, or better yet personalize content for each stakeholder in an environment where each buyer expects and requires personalization.”

So if you get a chance, glance through the rest of Tom’s trends. And keep them in mind as you plan and execute your marketing campaigns in 2015.

 

B2B marketing more fun than B2C?

complexity-signSo I came across this article in Advertising Age recently and I was instantly drawn to it. Entitled “Why B-to-B Marketing is more fun than B-to-C,” I just had to read it. Having spent most of my career in B2B, I’ve sometimes been envious of the B2C world. Usually, they get to use all the new stuff first. Social media. Mobile. I’m sure there are dozens more examples I can’t think of yet. It just always takes time for these things to migrate into the B2B world, especially if you are in a conservative industry like I am. In the defense industry, it’s a struggle to do much in social media since most sites are blocked at my customers sites.

Anyway, I did agree with many of the points Ruth Stevens makes in the article. Longer buyer cycles, many people involved in the purchase decision, just the overall complexity adds a challenge. And one that is fun to tackle. So if you get a chance, read the article. It’s short but rings true.

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 Management – Enable both Innovation and Optimization

I recently read the article “The 4 quadrants of marketing management, a 2×2 model” by Scott Brinker. I found it a very interesting read.

Overall, I like this model. It’s simple yet flexible. You can customize the “marketing subdisciplines” to fit your organization or experience. And the 2×2 axis appeals to the engineer in me. 🙂4 Quadrants of Marketing Management

Perhaps my favorite quote from Scott is:

“Both are important to a healthy and sustainable business. Optimization without innovation is myopia. Innovation without optimization is the organizational equivalent of ADHD.” 

I can see uses for the model from both an organizational management perspective:

  • Where are we strong/weak?
  • Where do we need to hire?

To a personal growth perspective:

  • What are my strengths/weaknesses?
  • What do I need to learn/improve to move to another level?

You may even be able to use it to compare your team to a competitor – if you can get their information somehow. I’ll have to put more thought into that one.

At the end of this article, Scott mentions that he is still working on this model – and would love feedback/input. I’m putting some thought into my feedback (other than my quick thoughts above). And I may provide the feedback in person. He may have talked me into attending the upcoming MarTech conference he is chairing this summer!

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.

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.

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.