Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The IDC Marketing Operations Holiday Gift List

This month I was delighted to join the Advisory Board of MOCCA: The Marketing Operations Cross-Company Alliance. In this new role I am looking forward to working with a number of current IDC CMO Advisory clients and also many new colleagues as we help to expand the professional capabilities of the important Marketing Operations (MO) role.

At the initial Advisory Board meeting, the basic theme of the discussion centered around the complexity and expansion of the MO role. “Our typical member needs so much and the role is evolving so quickly” …we concurred… “That we have a world of opportunity to serve and support them. And so, where to start?”

And so, where do we start, to start 2010? First, let’s finish 2009 end enjoy the Holidays.

It has been a difficult 2009 for all of us in marketing. But especially so for our MO staff! Marketing’s selfless few who have ignored the hunger-pangs of process improvement so that demand generation might eat ! Our tireless servants-of-spreadsheets who have had to bear the ceaseless administration of budget reviews, even as their own chart of accounts were flayed to the bone by corporate finance!

Who more deserving than your favorite MO professional to be remembered at this important time of year?

To make things easier for all, I have prepared a simplified Marketing Operations Holiday Gift List, so that you may save time in shopping for your favorite MO professional. With this list completed, you may rest well over the holiday break, secure with IDC’s assurance that your MO staff will achieve professional success in 2010:

1) Her choice of a Shiny New MPM dashboard; an MRM system; or a Sales Enablement portal. Okay: you could argue that this is an extravagant gift to have to purchase during a recession. But IDC’s most recent survey of marketing automation investment trends and our on-going conversations with MO professionals would indicate that evaluation and investment in marketing automation is at its fastest pace of the past seven years. So, why should your MO staff not receive what all the others are?

2) A Brand-New Colleague (to help out with the increasing work-load).

Here is my observation: a few years ago, helpful or break-through contributions from the newly-hired MO staffer was viewed as an un-expected pleasant surprise for the CMO. Today, that same CMO sees the MO role as legitimate and necessary and established. As such, the CMO is now ratcheting-up the expectations that they have of MO-area output: better controls and budgets; crisper processes; and greater alignment with other functions. However, the percentage of total marketing staff in place to satisfy those rising expectations has leveled off in the range of 4-5%, over the past two years.

So: what to look for in our new colleague? Impeccable grooming, but willing to roll up sleeves and get hands dirty. The ability to data-cleanse an aging lead file with the best of them. Full of energy and capability. A respected background in sales and marketing. A holder of political equity, and a willingness to expend it .

3) How about giving your most important MO professional the gift of Six Months of Peace, Love and Understanding with Sales? Can’t seem to find that on Amazon or E-bay? How about a copy of the bestselling book “Difficult Conversations”?

4) A reasonable Marketing Budget Increase for 2010. This is also a difficult gift to ask for during a recession. But IDC is known for being conservative and objective in its outlook and forecasts, yes? And so our current sentiment that the average tech vendor should receive an increase of 3% to marketing budgets in 2010 should not break the bank. So, make sure that your marketing department gets its fair share (plus twenty percent).

5) An all expense paid, ten-day trip to Hawaii. This has absolutely, positively nothing to do with Marketing Operations but it sure sounds nice, doesn’t it?

From the IDC Executive Advisory Group – Happy Holidays and prosperous New Year!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

IDC's 7th Annual Tech Mktg. Benchmarks Study

Key CMO Priorities and Investment Strategies for 2010

2009 will be a year that all marketers would probably like to forget. As a community, tech marketers have had to withstand significant recession-led budget cuts, staff reductions, and organizational disruption. For the full year 2009, the average large ($1b+) IT vendor will have reduced overall marketing budgets by 8.3%. The average vendor has reduced the number of marketing staff by about 10% in 2009. In total, IDC estimates that over 6,000 marketing jobs will be lost in the IT vendor community (worldwide) during 2009.

It may seem simplistic to say that "times of great change bring times of great opportunity". But IDC's surveys, interviews, and personal interactions with the best and brightest of tech marketers, validate that many CMO's and marketing leaders are indeed creating opportunity out of the 2009 chaos in preparation for 2010. So how are the best-in-class marketing organizations reacting? First of all, they have spent the past couple of years improving their organizational structure, working on key marketing processes (e.g., strategy planning, performance measurement) and streamlining their demand generation activities in collaboration with sales - putting them in a better position than other companies. This year, they are finding new budget monies via re-direction and re-deployment of existing budgets. They are moving monies from product-line marketing to streamlined thematic campaigns. They are creating more shared services that remove redundancy in complex marketing organizations. And they are leading an evolution of sales enablement to reduce expenses while boosting marketing and sales productivity.

CMOs should follow these steps as essential guidance during 2009-2010 planning and budgeting:

  • CMO's and senior marketers need to withstand potential organization changes by making sure that they maintain reporting control and/or budget control over the entire marketing organization: the full scope of corporate marketing, product marketing, and field marketing.

  • Even as the recovery "emerges"...be prepared for further organizational changes in the marketing department. The most prevalent trend is change that will help in the unification of marketing and sales. There is opportunity in this change: marketer's can introduce and lead significant Sales Enablement practices, for example. have in place for the up-turn to come? Are you prepared to answer this question when your boss asks you?

  • Be prepared for an economic recovery. What marketing plans and initiatives do you have in place for the up-turn to come? Are you prepared to answer this question when the CEO or CFO asks you?

  • For marketing staff positions that need to be filled or that may be the first candidates to fill when hiring freezes are lifted: there is some great marketing talent "on the street" right now and the best ones will not be there forever.

  • Every new marketing initiative that you propose should be "bundled" within a cost-savings idea. Think about re-deploying and re-directing existing budgets, versus asking for new-new monies. The IDC CMO Advisory area has many case studies for budget re-directs and re-deploys. Clients should refer to IDC Best Practice Studies on Sales Enablement, Shared Services, and Campaign Management.

  • Expand your operational proficiency for Digital Marketing. This would include a look at the sophistication of processes, infrastructure, and people. (e.g., refer to IDC's recent telebriefing on key success factors for BtoB social media strategies)
For additional information and guidance, join the IDC Executive Telebriefing today(10-1-09), "Tech Marketing 2009-2010: Move from Budget Bust... to Budget Build!" at 12:00pm EDT.

IDC will be publishing the full results of its 7th annual Tech Marketing Benchmarks study in the next couple of weeks for clients of IDC's CMO Advisory Service (i.e., Marketing Investment Planner 2010: Benchmarks, Key Performance Indicators and CMO Priorities)

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Product Marketing Reporting Structure Dilemma

Where should product marketing report into within a technology organization? Marketing? Business Units? Product Management? The CEO? IDC's 2008 Tech Marketing Benchmarks study indicated that product marketing reports directly into marketing at approximately 45% of technology companies. This is by no means a clear trend to be replicated by every company. In fact, based upon years of research at IDC in this area as well as my own experience in the product marketing function, I continue to believe that the correct answer for product marketing's reporting structure is. . . . it depends. Yes, this may seem like a cop-out initially, but there really is some support for my opinion here.

The first question to consider is what is your definition of product marketing? IDC's official definition is as follows:
  • Marketing professionals accountable for developing and executing the strategy to increase market share for specific products. Activities include market sizing and opportunity assessment, proposing future product development, developing market requirements documents (MRDs), crafting key product messages, conducting competitive analyses, and determining pricing, packaging and program offerings. (this category does not include product management, industry marketing or solution marketing) - refer to IDC's Sales and Marketing Taxonomy

Regardless of your reporting structure, your first step needs to be the definition of this role within the organization including how this role will interact with other parts of the company. (i.e., roles, responsibilities, performance measurement strategy) Many companies have overlapping responsibilities between product management and product marketing depending upon the business unit or individuals' skill-sets. Combining these two roles is also quite common.

So back to the reporting structure dilemma. Not only have I seen product marketing report into different parts of an organization, but I've seen it oscillate within the same company between marketing and the business units every couple of years. Regardless of what has happened historically in your company, product marketing should report into the part of the organization where the greatest misalignment exists today as well as where the greatest opportunities for improvement exist. (assuming these areas of misalignment cannot be fixed more easily from a process or tactics perspective)

For example, Citrix, a company recently cited in the Leadership Quadrant of IDC's 2009 Marketing Performance Matrix, shifted product marketing's reporting structure from the CMO (Wes Wasson) to the business units in early 2009. Wes described it as follows: "we occasionally shift the hard line reporting of field and product groups, depending upon where we most need to optimize". Another factor to consider is who owns the budget. Wes and his team decided to keep the budget within his control. The result is a strong sense of balance between control of staff and related processes (by the business units) and control of the budget (by the CMO/marketing).

What is your product marketing reporting structure and who owns your product marketing budget? Please share your thoughts below or feel free to contact me directly at mgerard@idc.com.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

IDC's Sales Enablement Framework

Sales enablement continues to be an area of opportunity for marketers to improve their credibility in the organization and their impact on the bottom line. IDC defines Sales enablement (SE) as: "The delivery of the right information to the right person at the right time in the right format and in the right place. . . to assist in moving a specific sales opportunity forward."

I'd like to invite Rich Vancil, VP of IDC's Executive Advisory Group, to share with you the sales enablement framework that our team (Rich Vancil, Lee Levitt, Seth Fishbein and me) has developed:

"Thanks Michael.

Sales people are knowledge workers and their preparation time is all about building their knowledge so that they can have the most effective interactions with their customers. We like to refer to these interactions as 'conversations'. A sales-person's conversations can be actual or virtual; written or oral; one-way or interactive; one-dimensional or multi-media. IDC's definition of SE centers on making these sales conversations more intelligent and engaging.

For early-stage management initiatives and emerging job roles, frameworks are helpful. Here is the IDC Sales Enablement Framework:
Starting on the left side of this Framework: IDC suggests that managers think about SE as starting in the marketing area (including Marketing Operations); and then moving to the Sales Operations area; and then into the actual selling functions.

Within the sphere of marketing activities, IDC research has found that over 40% of all marketing assets are not in use today, with some sales organizations reporting that as much as 90% of the assets created by their marketing peers are never used by sales teams. This includes assets that have been developed for sales, channels, prospects, and current customers. The top reason that assets are not used or that they are under-used, is that end-users are unable to access or locate these assets. Based upon anecdotal feedback from recent survey participants, the key root causes include: "too much material," old content and assets, and poor processes and technologies. The lack of relevance of content and assets is also cited as a reason for lack of asset utilization.

Sales enablement - from marketing's perspective - is more than simply using a content management system to get collateral and PowerPoint presentations to sales. It is the complete life-cycle management of content and marketing assets, including: content development; leveraging that content across the organization in a one-to-many fashion; collaboration with Sales Operations and the selling entities for the subsequent distribution and delivery of that content to sales (internal and external sales/partners); and the feedback loop from sales as part of continuous improvement.

Moving to the center of the Framework: this is Sales Operations' involvement in SE. An effective sales operations team should be ensuring that process excellence for SE is institutionalized for the entire selling organization. Sales Operations should seek SE best practices from all selling entities and share those practices company-wide. The sales operations team should take the lead on defining goals and objectives for SE; create and manage the processes and systems to meet those goals; provide overall execution over-sight and process governance; and then provide the measurement systems and reporting to track how SE progress is being achieved. As mentioned earlier, a key success factor for sales enablement is for strong collaboration between sales operations and marketing.

The final part of the SE Framework (right side) is the consumption and deployment of the content assets by Sales. The sellers should receive the benefits of the process and infrastructure groundwork that been built by marketing and sales operations. The first part of this is probably the most critical process-area of the entire Framework: How easy is it for the sales person to find the right content (in the right format), at the time that they need it, to help with a given sales conversation? The answer to this is one of the key levers in the Sales Productivity equation. More time in searching and seeking means less time in actual selling. As part of the reporting and metrics that Sales Operations is tracking to understand SE improvement, monitoring of this "searching" time should be an active metric - to reduce!

Effective SE also means that the content that Sales now has in hand, exists in the format or media that is appropriate for the conversation they wish to have. Does a PowerPoint presentation have all the content that the sales-person seeks, but the task of converting that into a Word proposal falls on the shoulders of the sales rep? Again, the definition of SE excellence has to include: "right time, right place, and right format".

Finally, the last step in this Framework is the sharing of SE best practices among the peer sales-people. This is perhaps the key litmus test of SE success. Sales people are smart and resourceful and seek expediency. If the marketing and sales operations elements of this Framework have been successfully deployed, the sales people will likely grasp and exploit it very quickly. Usage will become "viral" as SE best practices become quickly shared across the ranks."

Thanks Rich. Please feel free to email Rich directly at rvancil@idc.com or provide your comments below.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Social Media Guidelines

I've posted a couple of blogs recently about the rise of the social media function and how BtoB companies can best leverage social media. A common theme has been the need for marketing to provide guidance, guidelines and infrastructure without stifling the power of this new channel to reach customers, prospects and influencers. To help with your journey, I've included below a list of social media guidelines that several companies have published:

Have any others to share?. . . Please comment below.

Friday, July 31, 2009

How Social Media Helps Enterprises During Hard Times and Layoffs

In my last blog, Rise of the Social Media Function, I focused on how companies need to best organize their marketing team(s) to leverage social media to connect with prospects, customers and their markets. I'd like to add another dimension to this discussion: social media within your own corporate community. I've invited Caroline Dangson, IDC's Social Media Research Analyst, to provide her insight and perspective on this important area.

"Thanks Michael.

Hardly a day goes by without a company announcing layoffs. The U.S. jobless rate in February marked a 25-year high of 8.1%. Organizations are scrambling to hold on to business under incredibly limited resources. The workloads of 651,000 jobs lost last month are now being picked up by the workers who remain. This means an incredible shifting of roles and responsibilities within American businesses. And with that, a shift that is disrupting information flow within the enterprise. Information is money, and the loss of information that occurs with the loss of employees is doubling the economic impact on businesses. IDC estimates that even before this recession businesses were losing an average of $3,300 per year per employee due to ineffective information searches, poor and inconsistent access to tools, recreation of content that already exists, reformatting/versioning and multipublishing/multiformatting (source: The Hidden Costs of Information Work, IDC #217936
). Furthermore, an IDC knowledge worker survey showed that employees typically spend the equivalent of one work day (6–10 hours) each week searching for information (source: IDC #212580). Businesses can hardly afford to lose more time, money and productivity these days, not to mention employee morale. IDC believes internal social networks to connect employees can help with all of the above.

Social networks make it easy for participants to share unstructured and ad hoc information that can decrease the time it takes to find information to solve problems. Social networks also encourage employees to help each other. This will foster improved morale among employees and help take the strain off of overwhelmed and understaffed IT departments. Member profiles containing a record of recent activities and publications on social networks aid in locating colleagues who can help with specific issues. Once members are connected via the social network, their conversations persist and are searchable. The digital trail of message exchanges will create a repository of useful information employees need. Because the conversation is persistent (as text), it is possible to read or query the log instead of soliciting information from each participating member. Quite often workers operate in their own silos trying to solve the same problem. A social network can help connect these people to the answer in its one-to-few and one-to-many function. Things learned from one conversation can be shared with everyone. You may also discover some unknown talents or expertise from the most unexpected people in your company that are now being leveraged.

A few MIT studies of workplace productivity link worker productivity to information flow. What they refer to as ‘digital networks’ enhance information flow among employees according to these studies. In the most recent study, MIT researchers discovered that workers who participate in a digital network were 7% more productive than workers who did not participate in a digital network (MIT study as quoted in Harvard Business Review, February 2009). While at first glance this may seem small, every percentage counts these days.

More importantly, perhaps, social networks connect people. There could not be a more important time than now to help reduce the doom and gloom of the work environment after layoffs. Feeling connected to
coworkers creates a more comfortable work environment where individuals support one another and become more vested in the company. Some companies are even extending internal social networks to employees that are laid off as a way to keep in touch and possibly rehire them when the market improves. According to Anne Berkowitch, CEO of SelectMinds, rehiring former employees through an alumni network has reduced the money and other resources her clients typically spend on recruiting, interviews, and training. In fact, Berkowitch says the money saved from five to 10 rehires can pay for the cost of licensing social networking software for one year. Of course, there are also free tools such as Ning, LinkedIn Groups and Yammer that employees can start using today."

Thanks Caroline. Please feel free to comment below, or you can contact Caroline directly at

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Rise of the Social Media Function

Many opportunities exist for B-to-B marketing organizations in the social media space. . . .and they're not all limited to what you can do with Twitter, Linked-In and YouTube. Just a few of these opportunities include:
  • Establish a direct, relevant connection with your customers as a source of voice of the customer for new product development (e.g., through an on-line community)
  • Improve customer satisfaction (e.g., enable customers to share experiences on-line by creating a self-running community where customers can interact with and learn from their peers)
  • Increase the speed for troubleshooting and R&D by reducing the distance between customers and engineering
  • Join the on-line technical conversations about your products that your customers are already having, by either leveraging your own community or listening to and participating in other companies' communities

Best-in-class organizations are adding a new social media role to their organization to capture these opportunities. The social media manager may report to the digital, interactive or web marketing team; integrated marketing communications; directly to the CMO if it's a new and/or especially important area; or even within product teams within more decentralized organizations. Potential responsibilities include:

  • Establish the social media strategy in collaboration with the digital marketing team, PR, events, product management as well as other parts of the organization. (Refer to a prior post: BtoB Marketing's Response to Social Media: Have we Lost all Control and Impact?)
  • Provide the training and infrastructure to empower your organization to interact with customers and prospects on-line (e.g., ambassador training program by Logitech, Intel's digital marketing training program)
  • Develop community sites within the company web site (e.g., Citrix's community site offers a clean, comprehensive community site design with many unique features)
  • Collaborate with product management, engineering and customer service to monitor and contribute to on-line communities. (internal and external) In some cases the social media team may act as direct contributors to on-line content or they'll provide the infrastructure and guidelines to facilitate contribution by other internal teams.

This role is only in the early stages across the technology industry; however, those companies that best leverage this new area to connect with prospects, customers and their markets will increase their differentiation in this increasingly mature technology industry.

Contact me at mgerard@idc.com for a copy of our recent telebriefing on "Key Success Factors for Your B-to-B Social Media Strategy". Do you have a social media role within your company?. . . please share your insight in the comments section below.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Preview of IDC's 2009 Tech Mktg. Benchmarks: A Focus on Marketing Automation

As discussed in my last blog entry, Are you Ready for Marketing's 2010 Annual Planning Process? , the IDC CMO Advisory Practice is “in the thick” of collecting surveys for our 2009 Tech Marketing Benchmarks study. We expect to collect detailed marketing investment data from nearly 100 hardware, software, and services vendors. With this is hand, we will be well prepared to provide our insight and guidance to tech marketers for their annual planning process.

I'd like to invite Seth Fishbein, a senior IDC analyst on our team, to provide a preview of some of this research, focusing on CMOs’ marketing automation priorities for the coming year. A more comprehensive analysis of this topic will be included in IDC’s 2010 Marketing Investment Planner, due out in late September/early October.

"Thanks Michael. Based upon interviews with leading tech marketing executives over the past month, the following three areas represent some “low-hanging fruit” in the marketing automation space for 2009/2010:

  • Development of a formal marketing automation roadmap: Tech marketers should take a fresh look at their marketing IT tools and applications to look for redundancies and cost savings. Not only has IDC observed that most marketing organizations under-invest in automation tools, but most have not developed a roadmap or formal taxonomy to align their systems to strategic goals and related processes. A couple of verbatim comments from our study:

    - “We are reviewing all of our marketing systems, from owners to costs to measurements, to see what is truly being used and what is needed…”
    - “We are hoping that an audit of our marketing automation systems will help us integrate our lead management system with SF.com in order to automate and measure the flow of marketing opportunities to sales…”

  • Simplification of marketing processes and systems: A common thread among tech marketers is the lack of data quality and consistency in their lead management/CRM systems. In particular, a frequent challenge is field marketing’s adherence to data-entry standards. IDC is observing that more marketing organizations appear to be moving in the direction of simplifying their marketing automation strategies and taxonomies in order to make processes easier for global users.

    - “More [investment in] automation is not a priority, [but] process improvement is…and we will then automate more where it makes it easier.”
    - “We are trying to streamline our campaign management systems so all users, from North America to Japan, can select from a list of 10 campaigns as opposed to 30-40.”

  • Improvement to sales enablement and marketing asset management technologies: IDC research shows that over 40% of all marketing assets handed over to sales are not in use today (IDC’s Best Practices in Sales Enablement – Content and Marketing (to be published end of July)). This includes assets that have been developed for sales, channels, prospects and current customers. IDC estimates that at least 30% of companies' marketing investment, including program and people spend, is dedicated to creating content and marketing assets. Clearly, marketers can leverage cost reduction opportunities if they take the time to improve their content management process and technologies.

    - “Our content is all over the place…a more formalized content portal is being created to get our sales team the most relevant materials when they need them.”
    - “…marketing is funding an improved marketing asset management system and we are hoping to achieve 3% - 5% reduction/reallocation of spend on annual asset development and improved production efficiencies.” (improvements in production efficiency, reduced program time-to-market, and reduced re-work).

    In the next several weeks, IDC will be publishing a sales enablement report highlighting best practices in marketing content management from a lifecycle management, technology, and measurement perspective. Detailed company case studies will be also be included.

Please keep in mind that we are currently in the process of collecting surveys for our 2009 Tech Marketing Benchmarks study. If you are interested in participating in this study and have not received a survey, please let us know as soon as possible. Thanks!"
Seth Fishbein, Senior Analyst, CMO Advisory Service (sfishbein@idc.com)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Are you Ready for Marketing's 2010 Annual Planning Process?

Have you started planning for your 2010 fiscal year yet? Our best practices study in planning – people, process and technology indicates that the average marketing planning cycle begins about 6 months before the fiscal year end. (for CMO Advisory Service clients, refer to "Marketing’s Planning – People, Process and Technology, IDC Doc. #216134) If you're one of the more mature organizations, planning will be part of the fabric of your weekly, monthly and quarterly team meetings.

Regardless, a significant part of this annual process is assessment of your current "operational" metrics and development of next year's projected investment strategy. I define "operational" metrics as those metrics that track your marketing investment strategy, including:

1. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) – such as Marketing Budget Ratio (marketing spend as a % of revenue), Program to People KPI, Revenue per Staff, Staff Throughput (program spend per marketing staff), Centralization KPI (% of marketing investment that is centralized vs. decentralized), Awareness-Demand KPI, etc.
2. Staff Mix (fixed spend) – such as advertising, product marketing, marketing operations, etc.
3. Program Mix (discretionary spend) – such as advertising (print, broadcast, corporate sponsorship), digital marketing, event marketing, etc.

IDC has published a complete taxonomy of these KPIs and staff and program mix areas to help marketing operations and marketing finance executives best manage their investment. (for CMO Advisory Service clients, refer to IDC’s Worldwide Sales and Marketing Taxonomy, 2008: A Blueprint for Cost Control, IDC Doc. #211900)

Tracking and evaluating these KPIs, program and staff mix levels across the organization, over time and versus other companies will best prepare you for your upcoming planning sessions; for management of your resources as well as for increasing marketing's credibility with other parts of the organization.
IDC's CMO Advisory Practice is in its 7th year of its Tech Marketing Benchmarks study. If you would like to participate in this research, including receiving a copy of the above Taxonomy, an overview of the results of the study and an invite to our annual marketing benchmarks telebriefing in August, please contact Seth Fishbein at sfishbein@idc.com. You will be joining the 100+ global companies that work with us year after year as part of this industry study.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sales Enablement and The Year of the Sales Rep

I've spoken about sales enablement quite a bit in this blog, and I'll continue to do so as marketers improve their ability to better enable the sales process from an internal as well as an external perspective. With this in mind, Clare Gillan, IDC's SVP of Executive and Go To Market Programs, will share some of her insights in the sales enablement area. . .

Thanks Michael. At IDC's recent annual Directions event, I gave a presentation titled "The Year of the Sales Rep." In response to The Year of the Sales Rep notion, an SVP of sales asked me, "Why does this year have to be my year?" "Precisely," I responded. Let me explain. . . . never have we more needed our sales reps to be successful and never have they needed us more — those of us in sales, marketing, and executive management.

The crisis in sales is driven not by the economy alone but by an evolution in how buyers buy. Sales organizations, in general, have not kept up. The economy heightens a need for change in how the IT industry "sells" — better mapping to how buyers buy.

For nearly 10 years, sales organizations have emphasized the desire to become "trusted partners" with their B2B customers. Nearly every sales organization has been through "solution selling" programs of one form or another. However, only one in five buyers will tell you that he/she is generally approached by sales reps prepared to discuss solutions. Too often, the sales engagement continues to be product led. Further, buyers will tell you that the pre-purchase experience is becoming a more important indicator of post purchase value. Buyers increasingly consider "relationship ROI" as well as product ROI. And, buyers will tell you that, in this economy, they no longer have tolerance for uninformed vendor representatives who come through their doors. The sales rep must come to a meeting prepared to discuss the buyer's specific business — yet 31% of sales reps are not prepared with even a basic level of Web available information before taking a buyer's valuable time. Only 16% are extremely prepared — these are the reps positioned to take share for the companies they represent.

The technology purchase decision is rapidly moving from a product decision to a relationship decision. Buyers can generally find a number of products that can do the job and within the same price range. They will select the vendor that will make them successful over time even if the vendor does not offer the very best up-front price. The shift from product-led selling to relationship-led selling calls for a significant transformation of sales — enabled by a transformation of marketing.

This transformation requires marketing to gather intelligence and create assets that better map to what buyers value and then make the intelligence and assets "accessible" at key points along the go-to-market chain for use by sales and partners. This requires researching buyers (and I stress--from the buyer's point of view), auditing program investments against what buyers value and other related investments your company is making, creating strong content assets (and then making these consumable in a variety of formats), and, finally contributing to a sales enablement process developed in partnership with your sales "partner".

Thanks Clare! Contact me at mgerard@idc.com for a free copy of a recently published report by Clare entitled "Sales Enablement 3.0: A Transformation of Sales Enabled by a Transformation of Marketing".

More to come from IDC's CMO Advisory Practice on the emerging practices in this area of Sales Enablement.

Monday, June 8, 2009

BtoB Marketing's Response to Social Media: Have we Lost all Control and Impact?

For decades marketing has been desperately trying to connect with their customers in a controlled, one-way fashion. We had control of the brand, all marketing content as well as the traditional channels that were used to communicate with the market. And even on occasion, we cautiously exposed our executives and engineers to our customers while all the time holding our breath that they didn't say the "wrong thing" that would hurt our image, costing us millions of dollars in marketing investment and countless hours including nights and weekends executing our marketing strategy.

It reminds me of a time when I was a product marketer in the semiconductor industry. I would visit customers quite frequently with our lead engineer. In one meeting this engineer exposed our greatest product flaw to one of our key customers. As I cringed in my seat, I expected the ROI from millions of dollars of investment into the brand value of this product to be instantly destroyed not to mention the lifetime value of this customer as they quickly switched to our competitors' products. To my surprise, the candor expressed by this sincere engineer did not doom our company's success at all. In fact, it was a key factor in gaining credibility with our customer, including serving as the basis for a joint discussion and future research to solve these problems in a collaborative fashion. This new problem-solving process served as a key differentiator for our products in a very commoditized market.

What's the connection? Imagine 100s or even 1,000s of your engineers, developers and/or product managers interacting directly with your customers through their own blogs, contribution to other blogs, interaction through Twitter or countless other social media applications. Sound familiar to anyone?. . . How do we stop this PR nightmare?. . . How do we control them?. . . How do we ensure that they stay on-message with our brand?. . . How can we review every bit of content that they put on the Internet? The simple answer is that we "don't" try to control them.

Not to say that we should hang up our marketing hat and make wine in Napa Valley. In this new social media model we need to devise new ways of helping our organization to best represent the company while keeping the needs of the customer at the forefront of our communications; and even better leveraging this new found connection to the customer. Some ideas include:

  • Increase your resources dedicated to internal communication. We've always said that everyone needs to be a salesperson. With the new social media model, we all have to be marketers as well, more than ever before. [CMO Advisory Service clients should refer to a recent publication entitled Intel Launches a Comprehensive Digital Marketing Training Program for its Global Marketing and Sales Staff, IDC doc. #218416]
  • Ensure that specific marketing staff are accountable for your company's social media strategy.
  • Don’t “control” the social media strategy, “guide” it (e.g., evangelize, train, share best practices)
  • Provide the infrastructure for your social media "ambassadors" to communicate and interact with your markets (e.g., social media applications/platforms, basic guidelines for communications)
  • Integrate social media across the organization’s existing efforts
    - Develop private communities for customers to provide a self-serving environment for peer-to-peer interaction, as well as providing a great source of voice of the customer for product improvement and new product development
    - Establish public communities on your web site to share insight into new solutions for customers' challenges; and contribute to other communities (no one will go to your party if you don't go to theirs)
    - Integrate on-line and in-person social networking strategies (e.g., facilitate collaboration for an in-person event amongst prospects and clients before (on-line), during (in-person) and after (on-line) the event
    - Include social media as part of the overall marketing mix [CMO Advisory Service clients should refer to a recent marketing mix study entitled 2009 CMO Tech Marketing Barometer, IDC Doc. #217640]
  • Ensure that your social media strategy aligns with your customers' needs. For example, relevant content from independent sources continues to be the greatest magnet for attracting our customers' attention. Ensure that your communities remain on target to your customers' needs.
  • Don't forget performance measurement. Sample metrics for measuring the impact of social media include: customer satisfaction and retention, marketing reach and engagement (e.g., click-thrus, time spent on-site, more qualitative insight such as types of conversations)

Taking a more strategic perspective to leverage the power of new social media channels without stifling their potential will enable marketing to significantly increase its impact on the organization.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Intel's Digital Marketing Training Program

In many marketing departments, the technical competency required for marketing execution is often consolidated in the hands of a few experts on the marketing staff. A marketer might be the direct mail guru, an "adman," a PR specialist, or the trade show expert. In general, the execution of these marketing mix elements, while technical and complex, has not changed too much over time. The fundamentals of public relations, copywriting, event management, and so forth, are tried and true. Digital marketing is transforming this in two important ways:
  • First, there is a crush of new marketing techniques and program elements that need to be mastered. The digital marketing mix has quickly added 10 or so (and counting) new elements of execution to the standard mix palette of about 12–15 classic program types. (e.g., email, webcasts, virtual events, SEO, display ads, social networking)
  • Second — and even more important — digital marketing by definition does not rest in the hands of just a few experts. The portability, interactivity, and cost effectiveness of digital marketing are placing the execution benefits and pitfalls into the hands of marketing and nonmarketing staff throughout your company.

Today, all marketers need to become digital marketers. Marketing management needs to make sure that all staff are trained and skilled.

The IDC CMO Advisory team is impressed with the Digital Marketing Training program rolled out over the past 10 months by Intel. The Intel Digital Marketing Training program has been rolled out to the entire global sales and marketing staff. Job functions required to take the training include end-user marketing, channel marketing, market development managers, field sales engineers, field application engineers, and retail marketing managers. In total, about 80% of Intel's thousands of global sales and marketing staff are engaged in the training. Intel has developed role-based training levels and digital IQ certifications. Additional details about Intel's program are available for clients of IDC's CMO Advisory Service. (IDC document #218416, http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=218416)

What steps are you taking in your organization to help your employees become "digital marketing certified"?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Few Gold Nuggets from BtoB's NetMarketing Breakfast(5/14) – Interactive Marketing

How do you get busy marketers in a room for 2 hours to discuss some of their interactive marketing practices? One way is to offer them breakfast, exposure to several leading marketing organizations and industry experts, and introduction to a couple of digital marketing vendors. BtoB did just that this morning in Waltham, MA. Panelists included John Smits, Global Dir. Dbse. Mktg. and Segmentation, EMC; Leigh Day, Sr. Dir. Corp. Comm, Red Hat; and Paul Gillin of Paul Gillin Communications. Vendors included Brightcove and ZoomInfo.

Here are a couple of key takeaways from the meeting:

How do you avoid "campaign collisions" [EMC insight]

  • Problem: multiple BUs and regions were sending communications to the same individuals (e.g., CIOs) about different EMC events on the same day
  • Solution: "Deliver the most appropriate information, to the most relevant audience via the user's medium of choice" [sounds easy, no?]
    - "Centralized Demand Center" created a couple of years ago --> a single global database
    - Segmentation strategy used to profile individuals and their needs, leveraging intrinsic and extrinsic information from disparate sources to best understand who should be targeted for which go-to-market(GTM) activities
    - "Plan, calendar and govern". . . only give folks access to prospects/customers that meet specific criteria, thereby improving the quality of interaction of EMC with specific individuals as part of GTM activities
  • Results: For a specific launch activity (email) for one of their platforms, they achieved a >20% open rate and <0.05%>
  • Ongoing challenges. . ."How do you "control" prospect interactions across all BUs and regions?": Less about control, more about leveraging common interests; Involve users in decision-marketing processes; Offer value for use of corporate database (e.g., access to valuable infrastructure, higher quality contact information) [leverage Mktg. Shared Services as another part of this execution strategy]

    Some key success factors for your digital marketing strategy

    • Red Hat
      - news blog with an RSS feed, headlines on Twitter
      - offer high quality content and value for customers: Red Hat KnowledgeBase to provide relevant and valuable info. to customers; "Carve Out Costs with Red Hat" campaign- an online resource site to help customers deal with the downturn
      - Leverage multiple types of technology to reach different audiences (e.g., video, podcast, whitepapers); yet content must be written differently for each medium ("don't just webify a white paper") [earlier Blog on video]
    • Paul Gillen
      - "must lead with your business objective, not the latest social media tool"
      - To optimize participation in a community you need to identify and leverage peoples' interests and passion for participation and collaboration
      - The real action now is branded and special interest communities. For example, "Opinion Panelists" by Hilton (private panel): direct feedback from their best (~300) customers. . . virtually replaced focus groups for Hilton. . .save $, immediate feedback, etc. . . get loyalty points for participation
    • EMC: Leverage social media to broaden the impact and value of other marketing activities: EMC World. . "we've started marketing this in-person event months before its start date– e.g., getting people online to engage and discuss key topics and then gather these folks together when in-person at the event

    Friday, May 8, 2009

    Leveraging Video for B2B Digital Marketing

    B2B marketers have not been well known for their advertising creativity and innovation in the past 10-15 years. Yes, there are a few great examples; especially from the multi-billion dollar companies that have large advertising budgets and can afford those large agencies. However, this is certainly one area that we lag behind our consumer marketing counterparts. After all, we're marketing to engineers, software developers, CIOs, CTOs and other "left brain" people. Think "logical", "sequential", "rational" and "analytical". They won't be fooled by our flashy marketing tactics and colorful images. Right?

    Well, maybe this is another area that we need to rethink as we shift into the age of digital marketing. What are some key drivers of this shift?

    • The cost to create video and more advanced graphics has dropped considerably.
    • We've learned that video and other graphical communication methods can be powerful in communicating complex products and solutions as well as their application to our customers' business needs. (sounds like a B2B tech environment to me)
    • New technologies enable us to increase the interactivity of video, such as allowing video to respond to users' specific needs.
    • In some cases use of a less professional look is actually deemed more valuable since it simplifies the messaging, increases your credibility and differentiates you from other companies.
    • We can better measure the performance of digital marketing, thereby enabling us to improve our activities and assets "on the fly" as well as tracking ROI.

    In fact anything that involves picture/video/animations vs. an avalanche of text is usually more valued as it’s easier to communicate. We can provide more bite-sized information enabling our cusotmers to absorb information “on the go”, it simplifies the message and it improves communication and comprehension. (e.g., doesn’t depend on pure text which quite often results in use of unfamiliar acronyms) But, don't forget all that you've learned in business school and in your years of marketing; and just as important, ensure that your digital marketing experts are privy to these learnings. (e.g., identify and understand your target segments, provide relevant and valuable content, identify key success factors, metrics and targets, etc.)

    Here are a few examples that you may find of interest.

    • Eloqua's interactive video: Some quick stats: “Starters”(those who answer the first question) spend an average of 3 min. 45 seconds interacting with the conversation; those who become leads reach up to 6 min.; 23% of “starters” reach the longest path. (Produced by Jellyvision)
    • American Airlines: Capture the FlagshipSM Experience. Yes, it's more of a B-to-C example, but a great example of leveraging graphics to communicate an experience. Check out the First Class section.
    • Google Docs in Plain English: A simple presentation of how to use Google Docs to create and share online documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Over 1.6 million views on YouTube.
    • CRM Online Workbook created by IDC's Go-to-Market Services team for SAP: Designed to help companies evaluate and improve effectiveness of customer life cycle processes across sales, marketing and services (demand generation) Use of independent parties, such as industry analysts and end user interviews helped build credibility.

    Have you seen some examples either by your company or others? Feel free to provide links in the comments area below.

    Thursday, April 30, 2009

    Marketing's Role in Sales Enablement

    The Sales Enablement (SE) role is fast taking root at many of our client companies. But it is interesting to see that its position on the organization chart is somewhat fluid. Does the role take root in sales? In marketing? Does it have to make an effective straddle across both functions , or is it bound to get hung up on the fence between the two?

    Our IDC marketing and sales research teams are surfacing many good techniques for improved sales enablement. Here are some practices specifically for marketing's side of the sales enablement challenge as presented by Rich Vancil, VP IDC Executive Advisory Group.

    "Thanks Michael. Depending on your resources and ambitions, these SE practices are noted as: easiest, harder, and hardest.

    1. Easiest: IDC defines Sales Enablement as "Delivering to the sales representative (direct or channel) the right material at the right place, at the right time, and in the right format, to move a specific opportunity forward." Yes, there are a lot of moving pieces in that equation. But the place to start is with all the material that is clearly and blatantly in the wrong place/time/format. Sales executives consistently tell us that only a fraction of marketing content and collateral is used by them. Marketing's first move in SE starts with marketing content audits and asset management strategies that clean out all the lowest underbrush of what is not used. The easy pickings might happen quickly. An incoming CMO at one of our client companies ordered an immediate marketing-asset inventory which identified 550 separate items of marketing assets that were in constant need of updates and re-touches and re-prints and all sorts of expensive maintenance procedures for materials that were found to be marginally distributed.
    2. Harder: "People, process and technology" is a guideline of places to look for operational change. But managers often jump to the technology first and this is often a mis-step in emerging automation areas (such as marketing and sales) because there are so many alluring new applications one might try and buy. Bear in mind the old adage "all software is merely someone's else's idea of how you should run your business" to be mindful that you need to examine and re-work your own processes first - with your own thinking - and then find or develop the technology to assist and automate. The critical Sales Enablement process between the marketing and sales functions is the lead hand-off and lead-nurturing activities. Executives really need to understand this process before buying and applying technology towards it . A marketing professor of mine wrote a famous case called "Staple yourself to an Order" which suggested a process audit approach that one could use to understand a customer's experience with one's company. Could we suggest that you "Staple yourself to a Lead" and observe the process path that you travel, in and around marketing and sales, at your company?
    3. Hardest: Even more challenging is advanced marketing re-engineering enabled by comprehensive sales forensics. More complex "upstream" engineering of marketing cannot de done without a great deal of "downstream" sales intelligence. This was hammered home in an excellent briefing that we took this week from Drew Clarke and Brendan Grady who are senior marketers in IBM's Cognos division . I have known Drew for years and he is one of the industry's most diligent practitioners of the science of marketing. At IBM/Cognos his team is making a deep examination of the sales processes and prospect-communications sequencing that leads to pipeline acceleration and productivity. All sales and marketing "touches" to active leads in the pipeline are monitored by and analyzed in laborious detail. With these data in hand, the team can make important decisions about changes to marketing programs. It turns out that event attendance for certain prospects can be achieved with fewer email touches versus previous practice. This and reduces expenses and annoying re-touches. It also turns out that the direct mailing of the highly produced and expensive glossy corporate brochure has less than desired lead-velocity impact. There will be other cost savings and process changes that the Cognos team will achieve through analysis of the sales data.

    The key point is that after the "easy" pickings are taken, the harder and hardest upstream decisions can only be made if you have excellent downstream intelligence. This is the crux of the B2B marketing paradigm: long sales cycles , multiple touch points and significant marketing-to-sales interplay makes the ultimate attainment of marketing ROI accessible only to those who can master the sales forensics. Please feel free to comment below or contact me at rvancil@idc.com."

    (Interested in a taking a 3 minute survey on sales enablement? Click here: tinyurl.com/ctc6gs)

    Tuesday, April 28, 2009

    Tracking Marketing Budgets - Use it or Lose It?

    There are many ways to track the success of marketing's planning process. One metric that is often mentioned by marketing operations teams is the percent variance of actual vs. budgeted marketing investment. One of a few good metrics to track if your processes and systems have matured to the point of being able to do this. . . even if you use Excel today. What variance is acceptable? I've seen targets range from 2 to 10% variance. 2-3% variance of actual expense vs. budget would be considered "very good" for a 1B+ revenue company.

    Assuming that marketing budget allocation is optimized throughout the year, it makes sense that managers should motivate their staff to spend all monies that they are allocated; including ensuring that certain percentages of budget are targeted to specific segments, campaigns, etc. This leads to a "use it or lose it" mentality if not an official guideline. The problem with this strategy (or culture) is that market shifts requiring budget changes may occur at a faster pace than the company's ability to react to these changes by reallocating budgets. The result is that market opportunities may be missed as a result of insufficient distribution of funds to where they're needed most.

    Today, few companies encourage different business units, countries or functions to reallocate budgets amongst each other based upon changes in demand, priorities, etc. In fact many companies penalize marketers for not being "on budget" regardless of the circumstances. Will we or should we ever encourage our marketing teams to increase the transparency of their budgets or to even share budgets amongst each other based upon the needs of the market? And who will provide the objective market insight to help these teams best optimize budgets from a more macro perspective? One thing is for sure -- the increased optimization of marketing planning processes coupled with greater adoption of marketing automation will improve marketers' ability to react appropriately to these challenges and reduce reaction times to changes in the company and/or the market.

    Monday, April 20, 2009

    The Fruits of our MRM Investment

    Five or six years ago I was frequently asked the question "What is the one key metric to track the impact of our marketing investment?" Without even breaching the open-ended topic of what is ROI, I typically responded with my own question of "Do you even know how much you're spending on marketing, let alone what the return is?" In most cases the response would be a simple "no". After working with 100s of companies on analyzing their investment as well as seeing the progress that marketing operations and marketing finance people have made, I can comfortably say that as an industry we have matured significantly in our ability to track marketing investment . . . at least at a high level. (e.g., Marketing Budget Ratio (mktg. spend/revenue), Program-to-People KPI, etc.) I consider these to be operational metrics as opposed to execution metrics. (refer to past posts for more details re: execution metrics)

    Greater sophistication in investment management, which is enabled by better processes and greater availability of MRM applications, may include tracking marketing investment along one or more of the following criteria: (to name a few)
    • Customer size (e.g., named accounts, enterprise, large, medium, small, consumer);
    • Product and/or solution;
    • Campaign;
    • Existing, more mature business areas or product lines vs. newer, higher growth business areas or product lines; and/or
    • Low growth vs. high growth regions and/or countries.

    About 60% to 70% of technology companies manage their marketing investment along one or more of these areas. [IDC CMO Advisory Practice Tech Mktg. Benchmarks Database] For example:

    • tech companies invest on average 60% of their marketing budget on existing, more mature business areas or product lines with the remaining budget allocated to newer, higher growth business areas or product lines; and
    • tech companies invest on average 52% of their marketing budget to low growth regions and/or countries with the remainder to high growth areas.

    Yes, we've made some progress in tracking our marketing investment. This has certainly put us in a better position to manage our investment and improve our credibility with the CEO, CFO and sales peers. But we still have quite a distance to go; especially in making the connection between this investment and the subsequent return. (e.g., increased awareness, greater engagement, increased number of leads, high velocity through the pipeline)

    Monday, April 13, 2009

    Insight from IDC's Annual Sales & Mktg. Effectiveness Summit

    We recently finished our 6th annual IDC Sales & Marketing Effectiveness Summit. You would think after years of us working towards greater alignment between marketing & sales that we would have figured it out by now! However, as recent IDC research indicates, both marketers and sales still remain unsatisfied to say the least with their current working relationship. (Marketing and sales give marketing a score of 64 and 45 respectively for marketing's effectiveness at supporting sales) That said, we spent 8 hours with over 80 of the industry's top marketing and sales folks during this summit discussing marketing and sales alignment; moving beyond the traditional platitudes that you'd expect at your typical conference to actually discuss solutions to our challenges. Here are just a couple of the key insights that I took away from the event:
    • One of the root causes of marketing and sales misalignment?. . we need to better collaborate on shared metrics, including agreeing on which metrics to track and what objectives to set. A few metrics examples?. . . . . Lead aging (e.g., average time that it takes marketing to qualify [or reject] a lead; average time for sales to follow up a marketing-qualified lead in aggregate or by each salesperson); % of marketing qualified leads accepted by sales; % of sales' pipeline that should be marketing-generated vs. marketing-enhanced; new customer revenue; sales enablement metrics such as time to onboard a new salesperson or an indicator of value of marketing assets to sales.
    • "10% to 20% of sales teams are the 'A' players that can close deals no matter how bad the economic environment is. The real challenge is to get the other 80% to 90% of the sales teams to the same level as these 'A' players; or at least close to that level. Sales enablement provides the opportunity to leverage this knowledge across the company. Yes we need to improve the formal content, however, the more difficult resources to tap into include the subject matter experts and the best practices of the 'A' players."[Jeff Summers, COO, SAVO]
    • "We found key sound bites, elevator pitches, value propositions and customers' stories to be extremely valuable to help enable sales; not just lengthy marketing assets and PowerPoint presentations. We established managed business objectives for our marketers that require them to get X number of customer stories and/or key success factors from our 'A' player sales folks to share with the rest of the sales team. (e.g., in the form of a 1/2 page write-up or a video tape of a top performer giving their pitch)" [Tom Miller, VP Marketing, ADP]
    • "90% of the time the conversation about your company, its products or solutions or services, is happening without you being present. Marketing and sales need to collaborate on how to best influence this conversation; and that includes increasing the relevancy and overall value of your interactions with the market. To do this we need to permanently change how we view our jobs, having more of a two-way, information sharing exchange with the market versus a one-way spouting of our product features." [Jocelyne Attal, President JAgency (former CMO, Avaya)]
    • "At a cost of $800 to $1,500 per marketing-qualified lead, we need to apply more rigor to our lead management process, from marketing through to sales; and we won't be able to accomplish this goal at a systematic level until we better align our marketing AND sales lead management processes and systems." [Jocelyne Attal, President JAgency (former CMO, Avaya)]
    • Sun has developed an in-house application that provides the applications and an online, interactive repository to personally create sales enablement videos (e.g., product launch training, market intelligence, solution information). Examples of unique features: anyone in Sun can create this content, either for internal and/or public use; all content can be scored and receive public comments, thereby encouraging marketers to improve value of their content; and videos and other media can be downloaded to iTunes. (http://slx.sun.com/)
    • Carol Carpenter, VP Trend Micro, did a nice job reminding us that we need to improve our alignment between corporate, business unit and field marketing versus simply focusing on aligning marketing and sales. You could say that we need to "get our own house in order" as a first step in improving sales and marketing alignment; including strategic planning, budget management and campaign execution. (further strategic insight on field marketing is available for CMO Advisory Service clients)

    Based upon the highly interactive, problem-solving nature of the discussion throughout the day, it is evident that we are progressing as an industry in solving the marketing and sales alignment dilemma; but is improvement rapid enough? Please do feel free to comment below or send an email directly to me at mgerard@idc.com.

    Thursday, April 2, 2009

    Marketing Shared Services - An Alternative to Centralization

    While the notion of shared services is prevalent across many management functions including IT, HR, and finance, it is for many marketing organizations a business technique that is in its infancy. A marketing shared services (MSS) model offers the opportunity for improved service delivery, greater economies of scale, greater concentration and leverage of expertise, and more rapid and effective program/campaign execution. IDC defines marketing shared services as:

    • Organizing two or more areas of repetitive and redundant marketing activities into a fewer number of activity areas that are offered to internal customers at a cost, quality and/or timeliness that is competitive with internal or external alternatives. Marketing shared services result in cost reductions and an overall increase in efficiency and effectiveness of operations.

    Given the difficult economic environment that we are all navigating through in 2009, tech marketers' who are developing shared services strategy should be prepared to respond to the following challenges:

    • Company-wide mandates to reduce marketing costs: IDC is forecasting a 10% decrease in marketing investment for FY09 (with a 15% decrease for the first half of the calendar year). Tech marketers are and will be forced to permanently eliminate entrenches silos of program costs as well as target duplicative marketing costs.
    • Rigid marketing budgets in the product/lines and field: Given the current nature of marketing investment, comprised of tight marketing budgets and slimmed-down marketing staff levels, the overall flexibility of spend across corporate, BU (business unit), and field marketing is quite limited. With stringent cuts in BUs and field likely, it will be challenging to solicit these groups' buy-in for a MSS strategy. Moreover, asking the regions and product lines to "give up" some control of their marketing spend will be challenging, and a very thorough business case will need to be developed to even begin the process of obtaining buy-in.
    • Developing an effective worldwide structure for the MSS organization: "Where to start ?" becomes quite relevant here as marketers will be challenged to not only identify the prime functions for MSS but also how to structure their MSS strategy. Which countries and regions will most benefit from a MSS strategy? Where can you best leverage low cost countries? What functions can these countries provide? How can you best leverage your current marketing staff? What will be the impact of language/cultural barriers?

    Based on a recent study conducted by IDC's CMO Advisory Practice as well as findings from IDC's recent Marketing Operations Board meeting, I'd like to provide some brief guidance and insight around shared services:

    1. Successful MSS strategies start with a “pilot test". Marketing shared services still remains an emerging area across tech marketing, particularly for vendors <$10B in revenue, so the importance of "testing the waters" before moving forward is a critical successful factor. Marketers must first gain executive buy-in, lock down the process, demonstrate overall success and usability, and then roll-out to other areas.
    2. MSS organizations should target marketing's most repetitive operations and also better leverage marketing automation and related infrastructure.
    3. MSS organizations must be run like a business (not an overhead corporate function) to be successful. A company's MSS center should outperform the competition (internal and external vendors in areas such as pricing and customer service), build internal success stories, so that the "brand equity" of MSS starts to carry weight and impact within the organization.

    The IDC CMO Advisory team is currently in the process of publishing a detailed study that analyzes best practices in marketing shared services with case studies from Microsoft, SAS, and IDG. Look for it in the coming weeks. However, please do feel free to comment below or email us directly.

    Seth Fishbein, Senior Analyst, CMO Advisory Practice, sfishbein@idc.com

    Tuesday, March 24, 2009

    Digital Marketing and Marketing Automation Hit Critical Mass in 2009

    Well, our 2009 IDC Tech Marketing Barometer results are in; and if you missed the Telebriefing two weeks ago, here are some of the highlights:

    Marketing Investment:
    • 0.5% Growth for Global IT Spending in 2009, while Average Tech Marketing Investment Drops 10%.
    • Larger companies (>$1B in revenue) will take the greatest hit in marketing budget as they wrestle with significant revenue drops in key parts of their portfolios and continue to improve efficiency.
    • Growth areas still exist within: enterprise social media, security management, mobile data, SaaS, Internet advertising, business analytics and IT outsourcing & BPO to name a few. (source: John Gantz's presentation at IDC's recent Directions event)

    Marketing Mix:

    • The pendulum of investment swings to demand generation, with sales enablement closely coupled to this priority. (awareness building takes a "back seat", yet remains a key part of healthier companies' portfolios)
    • We've been all talk as an industry with regards to full-scale shifts of our investment to digital marketing over the past couple of years. The economic downturn will catalyze this shift in 2009 with almost 70% of marketers indicating an increase in investment in digital marketing while 60% and 72% of marketers will decrease advertising and events spend respectively. (refer to the past couple of posts in this blog for additional details about digital marketing shifts)
    • Sales enablement will become a high priority for getting internal and external sales teams (and partners) the most relevant content at the right time and in the right place to assist in moving specific opportunities forward. Endless pages of collateral and white papers will be replaced by more relevant content that is better leveraged across the organization. (check out the previous blog post, "Content Squared")

    Organizational Structures:

    • Here we go again as marketers shift their organizational structures. Some organizations will entirely abandon their relatively cohesive marketing structure to shift to an entirely decentralized organization in an effort to simply survive; while the better positioned organizations will "weather the storm" with a more centralized marketing function and/or leveraging marketing shared services to improve efficiency and effectiveness in execution.
    • Marketing operations and sales operations teams will continue to work together, increasing focus on the lead management process and associated nurturing and lead qualification strategies.

    Marketing Automation:

    • Marketing automation will experience a turning-point in 2009 as adoption significantly increases in the technology sector. Drivers include the significant improvements in the transactional CRM system vendors as well as the increased availability and cost effectiveness of SaaS offerings from planning to event-triggered marketing to performance measurement.
    • A few questions to ask yourself: Do I have a marketing operations team in place to deploy and govern marketing automation?; Are we ensuring that process drives the technology versus the other way around? How do we ensure consistent adoption and use of these applications across functions, business units and regions on a regular basis?; Have we partnered with finance, sales and other teams as part of this strategy?; and Do we have a marketing automation road map?

    These are just a few highlights of the recent study as well as food for thought as you progress through your 2009 plan. As technology marketers, I continue to believe that we are better prepared than ever to respond to the challenges posed in this difficult environment. This will not only facilitate our survival in 2009, but will enable us to rebound quicker than from prior downturns.

    Monday, March 16, 2009

    Does Your Go-To-Market Strategy Align with Your Customer Needs? – Insight from IDG's Recent Marketing Summit and CIO Panel

    IDG and IDC recently held its 4th annual Marketing Summit in San Francisco, with over 50 marketing executives in attendance. This annual, senior level event offers the opportunity to not only network with some of the technology industry's best and brightest marketing executives, but also offers the chance to hear from a panel of CIOs about "the good, the bad and the ugly" of our marketing and sales effectiveness. This year proved to be as valuable as prior years in helping to confirm some of our existing knowledge as well as offering contradictions to our preconceived notions of what works and what doesn't work.

    The CIO panel, moderated by Rich Vancil of IDC's Executive Advisory Group, included executives from Chevron, Levi Strauss and Byer California (a mid-market company that manufacturers womens' clothing). Here are a couple of "gold nuggets" that I took away from this event including the actual quotes from the panelists: [my comments in brackets]
    • "In a recent RFP process, I had discussions with five companies' sales teams. Only one out of the five companies was able to understand our needs and reiterate our challenges and communicate a solution without making it a one-way sales pitch." [How can we as marketers improve our sales enablement strategy to better equip our sales teams for these engagements?]
    • "I prefer to print out white papers and read them at home, while my staff prefer web casts and other online material." [That's right, the CIO uses printed material to absorb information while more junior staff have adopted newer consumption methods. Always segment your customers. A role-based marketing strategy may highlight significant differences in how individuals consume information; including the continued need for an integrated, multi-media go-to-market approach.]
    • "As a mid-market company, spend more time telling me about how you've deployed your solutions at companies similar to mine. Yes, you may have a Fortune 50 company as a client, but those companies will buy one of everything and put them on a shelf! I'll be investing my entire budget into one solution." [Segmentation and understanding of your customer, an often neglected area, continues to be a key success factor for marketing and sales engagements with customers.]
    • "As a CIO, I may not use webcasts since every minute that I'm in the office someone is coming into my office; however, I may pass on the opportunity to my staff who I greatly depend upon to influence my decisions." [Once again speaking to the importance of a role-based marketing strategy. As B-to-B marketers, we need to not only understand the importance of selling to different members of an extended buying team, but embed this knowledge into our go-to-market and sales enablement strategies.]

    As if we ever need reminding, the importance of maintaining our connection to our customers should never be underestimated. In fact, I find that the best marketers serve as a "beacon of light" for customer and market information for the entire organization. Don't let your marketing cuts inhibit your drive to serve this role in your company. Now more than ever your customers' needs are changing, if not due to rapid adoption of the Internet then most certainly due to the economic downturn.

    Friday, March 6, 2009

    The Changing Marketing Mix

    The press is filled with stories about the demise of traditional advertising and the in-person, public trade show. Sounds quite similar in fact to the predicted disappearance of the "brick-and-mortar" storefront, and the emergence of a new on-line world where we can do all of our shopping in our slippers from the comfort of our home. Well, IDC CMO Advisory's recent 2009 Barometer study does continue to indicate that our traditional marketing mix is in the process of permanently changing. In fact, almost 70% of technology marketers indicate that they'll be increasing their program investment in digital marketing in 2009, while 72% of companies will be decreasing their in-person events spend and 60% decreasing their advertising spend (print, broadcast and corporate sponsorships). What are the top digital marketing initiatives for technology companies in 2009?

    • Corporate web site: No longer simply a marketing billboard, the corporate web site has become the window to the customer. The most effective corporate sites offer visitors the opportunity to not only learn about your products and solutions, but to also learn about the latest technologies and business challenges as well as offering the opportunity to interact with their peers and your technology experts. (e.g., through a community portal) The best sites also track the details of visitors to enable more of a 1-to-1 experience as well as tracking detailed customer data to improve marketing's lead management and nurturing process.
    • Email: An often over-used vehicle for sending marketing collateral to the masses in a one size fits all mentality, this channel is being used more effectively for engaging with customers through an event-triggered marketing process. For example, providing respondents with additional, customized, relevant information based upon their responses to earlier communications.
    • Search engine marketing: Although display ads will continue to be part of a strong portfolio, search ads and search engine optimization(SEO) will increase in importance. Search ads offer the opportunity to more surgically target your prospects as they reach out for information, while SEO continues to yield a strong return in increasing your companies' prominence in organic search.

    However, before you hand the "key to the city" over to your digital marketing team, there are some important things to consider:

    1. First and foremost, the rest of the marketing mix will continue to be an important part of a strong portfolio of marketing's strategy; and the balance of this mix will only get harder. For example, the CIO may prefer to continue reading their magazines and printing out pdf whitepapers; their direct report(s) will attend webcasts and read interactive white papers; and third level staffers will attend virtual events and online communities as part of their everyday job. Your mix will need to address the information consumption patterns of each of these roles – hence the need for role-based marketing.
    2. As you continue to rush into digital marketing, ensure that your team does not leave their Marketing 101 learnings behind. For example, continue to leverage market intelligence as part of a market segmentation strategy; to identify your target customers, to understand what information is most relevant to your customers along different stages of the buying cycle, and to understand how and where your customers' consume their information.
    3. Look for opportunities to differentiate yourself in the marketplace. While everyone is shifting to email and webcasts, a portion of your investment may be best spent on direct mail or in-person proprietary events.
    4. Yes, continue experimenting with digital marketing, however, now is the time to begin including digital marketing as part of the fabric of your go-to-market strategy. Best practitioners are establishing campaign management teams to maintain an integrated marketing strategy focused on the customer, as well as developing centers of excellence in the digital marketing space as part of a shared services strategy.

    Thursday, February 19, 2009

    Content Squared - Leveraging Content Across Digital Marketing

    Working with technology marketers on a daily basis, I hear much about the need to develop more relevant content based upon a solid knowledge of your target customer segments and their needs at different stages of the buying cycle. In fact, in our 2009 Tech Marketing Barometer study (results to be announced in the next week or two) marketers identified "content development" as one of the highest priority areas for improving sales enablement. However, are we as marketers getting the "biggest bang" from our content development investment?. . . . leveraging this content across multiple delivery vehicles and channels? With this in mind, I thought it would be valuable to hear a bit more about how to best leverage content from IDC's VP of Go-to-Market services, Laura Nurzynski. Take it away Laura. . . .

    My colleagues from IDC’s CMO Advisory Practice expect digital marketing investment to rapidly outpace investment in much of the more traditional marketing vehicles. (IDC includes the following in digital marketing: display ads, search ads, your company website, SEO, digital events (including virtual events, Webcasts, online forums, etc), email marketing/electronic outreach, and social networks.

    How can you optimize your investment in this area and reduce your learning curve? Are there lessons you can learn from you peers about leveraging digital marketing to your advantage –especially in these challenging economic times, when you need to carefully place your marketing investments and efforts for optimal results?

    A majority of the programs that I work on with my clients, involve digital marketing. Our clients use written content such as white papers, briefs, Q&A style articles, and newsletters—delivered online as PDF or web content—as offers for direct email campaigns, banner ad placements, and other PR or advertising outreach. They also utilize the same content in more than one communication channel, not only using written content as offers, but giving it to their sales force, posting it in a resource library, and handing out content at events their prospects are attending (very often in a digital format such as a link to a website or on flash drive.) Over the past 2-3 years, I have also been observing more and more use of audio, video, and interactive content on my clients’ websites and as offers for email campaigns. Alternate formats are not only attractive because they are a “flashier” and innovative communications approach, but also because they provide a choice to your audience in how they engage with you. Keep in mind, that individuals consume and comprehend information in different ways: some people are very visual; others need to hear information; and still others need to read lots of details, absorb the information, and then make sense out of it after they’ve had some time to digest and assimilate all the info they’ve gathered. This approach gives you the opportunity to package your message in varied formats to reach and appeal to a wider audience.

    Here are a few best practices and innovative approaches I’ve seen in the last few months:

    A smaller emerging vendor, launching new products into the marketplace, licensed content from IDC (as market and technology validation from an independent party) then distributed and leveraged this content in multiple formats online:
    • They referenced an IDC analyst Q&A article in their blog
    • They incorporated an independent analyst speaker into a Webcast program, promoted the Webcast via Facebook, on their website, and via media reach programs.
    • They used a multi-touch approach to offer varying levels of detail in the content assets they incorporated into the program, including Q&A style articles with an industry expert, a view of where they fit into the marketplace, as well as a workbook their sales staff could use to engage in a conversation with their prospects, and a Webcast that allowed their prospects to hear from and interact with both their subject matter experts as well as an independent analyst.
    • At last report, they generated 800 leads and 250 attendees to their live webast from these activities over a 3-4 month period.
    • Follow these links to see the use of third-party content in action:
      · Marketo Vendor Spotlight
      · Marketo Blog

    A well-know telecommunications company leveraged an analyst video podcast and a white paper based on primary research to generate media awareness and buzz in the marketplace. They broadcast the IDC video podcast live during their launch event and in 7 days generated $500K+ in equivalent media placement from the video, white paper and PR activities.

    Several companies are expanding the reach of their face-to-face events by wrapping additional outreach around pre-and post-event promotion activities:

    • A large software company is utilizing an online audio Webcast to generate buzz for new product announcements while also building awareness for an upcoming events series. The online webcasts will expand their potential reach to prospects, given restrictions on travel but will also start to build a pipeline of prospects. During the series of events, audience members will be polled regarding their adoption plans in the technology area. The poll results will be fodder for a follow-up Webcast post event, where the company can share peer information with targets who attended the event, attend a pre-event Webcast or are hearing about the solutions announcements for the first time.

    I’m sure you’re incorporating a plethora of digital marketing activities into your current campaigns. As you do so, consider how various content elements can be leveraged in multiple ways and don’t forget to consider your target audience and ensure that you have various messages in different media for consumption by myriad target audiences who learn and consume information in different ways. [Laura Nurzynski, Group VP, IDC's Go-to-Market Services,