Archive for the ‘planning’ 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.

 

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.

 

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.

So called experts

While at a recent B2B marketing summit, I took advantage of having several of my company’s efforts (web site, email campaigns, landing pages) critiqued. For the most part, I was happy. But one review (by one of the vendors trying to sell their services) had me just shaking my head.

He was quick to be a critic but never asked about my market, customers or unique issues I had to deal with. Basically, he was not too smart. He had some good comments in general on our stuff but “in general” is not what I deal with. I have a specific audience. And specific needs for my niche. I don’t need some “best of practices” sermon. I like to keep up w/ best of practices but you need to tweak them to meet your specific needs.

I’ve been an independent consultant so I’ve been in his shoes. And he just doesn’t get it. He didn’t listen to me at all.

While I was consulting, I had a potential client (who really wanted to hire me) ask me about what I could do to increase her lead generation. Now, I’m an expert at lead gen. But I asked her to take a step back and think about her target market. I told her, I could generate 100’s of leads in a heartbeat. But I tried to tell her, that’s not what she wants or needs. She needed a limited number of quality leads. She just couldn’t focus down on a targeted segment where we could really get quality leads. 

At the end of the day, I gave her a lot of advice and I’m not really sure what she did or where she went. I feel really good about the engagement because I helped her better understand what she wanted and was trying to do. 

For me, the lesson was do your best and don’t sell out. I could have easily just taken her money and delivered “leads.” But it wouldn’t have helped her business. A more thorough strategic overview would have helped. Plus, a business plan.

B2B Mag survey finding 2

I did an earlier post on the recently published results of a survey done by B2B Magazine and Genius.com but didn’t get beyond finding #1. They have 6 findings. Here are my thoughts on Finding #2.

To re-cap, here’s their purpose statement:

“How do today’s marketers see themselves and their evolving role in the enterprise? The purpose of the joint Genius and BtoB Magazine Marketer Skills Survey is to bring these answers into focus so we can gain a better understanding of how these drivers are shaping today’s Connected Marketer.”

Finding #2 is:  “To meet revenue and ROI goals, marketers need to adopt new skills.”

This is based on the following question and answers: I really like these answers. Based on my experience, as marketers we would love to spend more time on both strategy and analysis but often get pulled into the everyday needs of the organization to make quarterly numbers. So we spend a lot of our time trying to be sales-driven.  Strategy and analysis often get pushed off as end of quarter or even annual events resulting in the “can’t see the forest for the trees” syndrome.  I’ve often felt that we were missing a big boat (or at least a nice, small yacht) because we never had the chance to do some strategic brainstorming.

As for being sales-driven, it is nice to see that as high as it is. I’ve always seen sales as my customer. My responsibility (at least when wearing the lead gen marketer hat) is to provide them with a quality product – highly qualified leads. The old days of marketing throwing leads over the wall to sales should be long gone by now. Silos don’t work.

The interesting thing for me is what impact this could have on the marketing organizational structure. Most of the firms I’ve worked for were mid-sized so marketers were called upon to handle strategy, tactics, budgets, lead generation, running events, just about all aspects of marketing. And so some of these tasks (often strategy and analysis) got short-changed. The time pressures made you focus on tactics and delivering results. I always thought it would be beneficial to have somebody in marketing dedicated to a longer time horizon (say 9 months to 2 years) and let the rest of the team focus on the one month to 9 month horizon.

Anyway, would love to hear from you about other ways organizations handle this need for balancing long-term and short-term needs – and what other needs your marketing team may have!

Planning – The necessary Evil

Faced with ongoing economic turbulence, successful companies understand that more than ever, the key to not only surviving but thriving is planning ahead. SiriusDecisions notes that best-in-class sales and marketing organizations were already focusing on strategic “resource planning” to determine their best moves for 2010.

–          SiriusDecisions press release

Around this time every year, if you work on the calendar year, you are facing the planning and budgeting cycle. Or, budgeting and “investment” cycle as I like to call it. Just hate it when organizations see marketing as a budget (meaning “cost”). Investment is a much more accurate word as what you put in should be delivering a return.

Anyway, planning is a critical component if you want to have any chance at success. For marketing, I like to have a series of plans:

  • 5-year plan – the big, vision thing; where you want to be when you grow up
  • 1-year plan – very tactical; where are you going to place your resources (money and people) and HOW in order to meet your goals/targets
  • Next-quarter plan – very detailed; includes items you probably don’t have in your one-year plan (like specific PR or analyst engagements), specific content creation (like a new whitepaper or webinar), and more

When it comes to planning, many organizations make a mistake in doing it alone and in a vacuum. Overall direction (BHAG goals) often comes from on high – the upper management folks. “We need to grow revenue by 17% next year.” Hopefully, they have come to this conclusion based on reality and input from the trenches, but regardless, it will now become your reality. Marketing still should do its planning in conjunction with the rest of the company, especially sales. This is a critical time when marketing/sales alignment can get totally messed up.

Sales is being given revenue goals and is trying to work those goals into individual sales quotas. They will be providing direction to sales reps on how to reach those quotas. But if marketing is seeing growth in different areas and planning on campaigns around products or services that sales is ignoring, you are setting a table of delicious meats for vegans (OK, maybe it’s the other way around – those sales people often are depicted as carnivores). Disaster (or a food fight at least) is sure to follow.

This is a great time for marketing and sales leaders to get together and spend the time needed to figure out the next year. Don’t short change this exercise as both dollar investment and significant human resources will start working on these plans in short order. This is one investment with a very high ROI.

For more on the marketing-to-sales funnel, check out this earlier blog entry.  Or visit my website.