Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Marketing Automation: Keys to Success

Of the 235 respondents in a November IDC survey, nearly 40% had not implemented a marketing automation solution (yet). Not implementing a marketing automation solution may be the ultimate career limiting move for today's marketers. Digital marketing has exploded in scope and complexity making it practically impossible to efficiently and effectively reach your target audience without a fully realized marketing automation infrastructure. If you haven't gotten started you are already way behind the ball.

40% have not yet implemented marketing automation
marketing automation state of deployment
Source: Marketing Automation: the Rise of Revenue, IDC #255860, Dec 2010. n = 234

Marketing automation is a must have for today's marketing and sales organizations. There is a wide array of online sources readily available to buyers that can significantly influence purchasing behavior. As a result, marketers must maintain a pervasive and continuously refreshing digital presence. Frequency is emerging as the most critical capability for sales and marketing organizations – frequency of outreach, analysis, and reporting. The cycle time for everything in marketing is under enormous pressure and companies that deliver more often, respond faster, and sustain their digital presence more successfully will be the winners.

Keys to success:
  • Standardize your customer data
  • Deploy marketing automation
  • Review KPIs for marketing and sales to ensure alignment, visibility, and data integrity
  • Integrate data, workflows, and governance across the whole "response to revenue" cycle
Top 3 places small companies (less than $1B) start:
  • Lead management
  • Campaign management
  • Content management
Top 3 places large enterprise ($1B or more) start:
  • Campaign management
  • Lead management
  • Financial reporting
Marketers must solve a stack of process, operational, and technical issues. It is a very complex and large scale problem spanning not only marketing and sales, but every other piece of the "response to revenue cycle, including: configuration, pricing, order processing, accounting, as well as service and support functions as well. The full scope of the customer relationship must be visible and measurable. Point solutions focused on particular marketing processes are great catalysts, but, IDC recommends companies take a holistic approach that ensures consistent data, workflows, and governance throughout the customer lifecycle.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Dreamforce '10 - the don't Miss Event of the Year … for CIOs held its annual user conference December 6th to 9th in San Francisco. It was unusual in that very little of the messaging from itself was aimed at sales people. The company has clearly and emphatically hammered its stake in the ground as the cloud platform provider for the enterprise. Marc Benioff and other top SFDC execs spent all of the general session keynotes on four key ideas:

  • Platform
  • Cloud
  • Social
  • Mobile
If that were a word cloud of the transcripts of the keynotes "platform" would be the biggest and boldest of the four. The company made several significant announcements about how it is enhancing and building out the enterprise cloud computing platform of the future – much of it aimed at CIOs and developers. First however, there were a couple of items that will be of interest to sales and marketing people:

Full integration of Jigsaw. Jigsaw, the "crowdsourced" contact database will now provide dynamic updates to records, greatly reducing blank or incomplete record status and making it easier for sales and marketing people to contact the right individuals within their target accounts – to the extent that Jigsaw can provide clean data.

Chatter Free. Announced earlier this year, Chatter is the SFDC collaboration app. SFDC cited user numbers in the 10,000s at NBC, Qualcomm, and Nikon, and 100,000s at Dell. With Chatter Free, limited Chatter functionality will now be available to people that don't have SFDC licenses. Users can add SFDC features for $15/user/month w/o the need for a SFDC license. clearly expects Chatter to make SFDC adoption a viral phenomenon. What Chatter adds to the picture beyond being "Facebook for the enterprise" is the ability to follow not only people, but groups, accounts, and contacts – potentially any record in the database. Chatter will help companies share tribal knowledge as well as better coordinate the outreach multiple business units may have with key contacts and accounts – both very good things that go way beyond being Facebook Friends with all of your customers and employees. Regardless of whether it drives more licenses, it sets the stage for the platform sell that's coming next.

Platform as a Service (the CIO part) Significantly, SFDC claims is open to any environment, any programming language, and any device. It provides relational data services, full text search, user management, row level security, triggered and stored procedures, authentication, support for APIs (db to db calls), as well as a myriad of other features such as the ability for each record to have a profile that supports followers and feeds (see for more info.) Touting the power of the cloud, SFDC presented statistics showing that in the last year the number of transactions grew 50%, the number of records doubled from 10 billion to 20 billion, and average response time decreased.

Open Apex. has launched an open programming language for the cloud that supports multi-tenancy. Now developers can work in the cloud to customize and enhance apps as well as develop a host of other independent enterprise applications for any function - marketing, accounting, services, provisioning, HR, etc. This should fundamentally change the perspective of the IT department about cloud computing – it's open, has its own IDE and database, supports web and mobile development. You no longer have to have code on premises to manage and customize your enterprise functionality.

Ruby on Rails. Web development is native to the cloud platform. Java support is provided by vmForce and acquisition of Heroku provides both a hosting platform and an IDE for native Ruby on Rails development in the cloud. This greatly eases the process of making enterprise apps web and mobile ready.

"Now we're finally a real platform company"

SFDC now comprises: salesforce, serviceforce, chatter, jigsaw,, appforce, siteforce, vmforce, Ruby, Apex, Eclipse IDE, ISV force, and more. The mantra heard repeatedly from senior SFDC execs was that is now a real platfom company.

The big picture for is to provide all the layers of the IT computing environment as a shared service that is managed, tuned, updated, and upgraded automatically. This greatly reduces the administrative overhead for IT while providing all the application and data control they need to rapidly respond to business requirements (and not having hundreds of rogue DIY projects all over the place.) All good things, but the risk is whether the platform can be trusted to provide all that without failure or outage or providing a conveniently centralized target for cyber attack.

While SFDC sets its sights on becoming all things to all people in the cloud, it is not intending to be the single source for automating the response to revenue process. Recent IDC research shows that 75% of SFDC customers also use up to five other sales and marketing automation solutions (see Marketing Automation: The Rise of Revenue, IDC #225860, Dec 2010.) The Expo floor featured representatives from the entire sales and marketing ecosystem – marketing automation, customer intelligence, list and database management, sales enablement, forecasting tools, proposal tools, and many others. As a result, customers will continue to be in the position of cobbling together "best of breed" solutions, and having to integrate the data, systems, and workflows required to manage and measure the performance of the customer creation process.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Complexity of Multi-Path Marketing

In our most recent survey of CMO's, we asked: "What is your primary Voice by which you go to market? Is your Voice that of: product line; industry; solution; campaign (or theme); customer segment; or job role?" The responses were evenly spread across these six voices. Which basically translates to: "As an industry, we go to market with all those voices at once".

I see so many executives struggling with this complex messaging ambition. Mar-Comm executives like to refer to this ambition as their "messaging architecture" but frankly I don't see many of these architectures that would pass the building inspection: it's just too complex.

Now, add to this a second dimension: the media in which your voice is carried into the market. Today's marketer has dozens of choices of media to choose from: from traditional advertising to social media tools. Obviously.

Finally, add a third dimension of time. New IDC research shows that the average cycle time of creating a new tech B2B customer -- from initial marketing all the way through to a closed deal -- is over 17 months.

And so now you have six voices, perhaps 35 different mediums of choice; and 17 months of engagement time. What do you get? In the first place - you get overwhelmed with choice! In the second place, what you do get is about one closed deal for every 2000 contacts that you started with at the very beginning of your campaign.

I once had a job as an assistant product marketer and my boss gave me a direct task: "Fax those new product fact sheets to our top 100 clients, today". One medium, one voice, and one dimension of time. No decisions on my part. I was a skilled faxer, and quite poorly paid.

But now you are the boss and "they're paying you the big bucks"… So, how are you going to figure this out?

This is the challenge of multi-path marketing and I believe that it is a bellwether issue for senior marketers. Over the past several weeks I have been interviewing some of our industry's top marketers about this issue, seeking their approaches. Here is what I am hearing, and some guidance on process approach:

1) The objective of all of this is greater "Personalization". Get the right message and content to the right person in the right time, place, sequence, format and voice. Now, to accomplish this, you might think to install the marketing content and execution tools in the part of your marketing apparatus that is closest to the customer: the channel partner or field seller. Counter intuitively, the opposite is happening.

2) Personalization begins with centralization. To make personalization happen, the best marketers are moving content production, tools, and process "Upstream" -- that is, away from the field and deeper inside the central machinery of the marketing operations areas. Content and asset management tools and sales enablement portals are helping this process.

3) Yes, there still needs to be local execution decisions: translation and choice of media are the two primary areas. But the field marketers who are most successful in these decisions are supported by those robust content management tools way up-stream at headquarters.

4) An additional element that adds to the complexity of multi-path (and multi-geography) marketing execution is the contribution of agency partners. Agencies will add their own flavor of voice and media choices - which may cause a global campaign to become very "un-unified" quite quickly. Several large tech vendors are moving towards agency consolidation to help alleviate this.

In a recent head-to-head with a CMO I asked: "From a marketing perspective, what is your single biggest challenge for your $20b company?" His reply: "We need to ensure that the marketing messaging that we create here at the top is effectively threaded into our execution all across and down through the organization".

In a nutshell, that is the challenge of multi-path marketing.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

An Ice Cold Bucket of Reality - The Challenge of Selling to Today's Harried Buyer

Savo held their annual user group meeting in Chicago on October 26th and 27th. Two hundred people working on Sales Enablement (SE) attended and a number of very interesting keynotes and customer presentations were given.

Jill Konrath provided a very entertaining and sobering take on the challenge of marketing and selling to today's harried (understatement of the year) buyers. The centerpiece of her talk was an improvised role playing exercise in which Jill played a sales executive that was a key target for a fictitious company. The point was to show what everyday life is like for our prospects before we ever try to contact them. It was the start of her day and she had to get a presentation ready for the quarterly board meeting that afternoon.

The CMO is the first to walk into her office to complain about sales not following up on marketing leads and they have the "marketing leads are crap" argument. "You were in our lead scoring meeting you have no excuse." "You didn't listen or take any of my ideas so the leads are still crap." "Sounds like we need to go over the lead scoring again, do you have time today or tomorrow?" "No, I'm totally booked - wait a minute. OK, let's do something late tomorrow." "Fine, I'll send an invite."

Thirty seconds to restart on the board presentation.

In comes the CEO. "Hi Jill, do you have a few minutes?" "What? Sure." "Congratulations it looks like the eastern region is doing well and the west is coming back nicely, great job." "Thanks." "But what's going on in the Midwest, we're really underperforming there." "Yes, I know, we have some weak reps out there and I have a plan for addressing that." "Oh great, let's discuss it after the board meeting." "Umm…" "Once you get the board presentation done, just write up your plan for the Midwest and we'll get that situation fixed." "OK, when is this?" "Right after the board meeting, in my office."

Twenty seconds to restart on the board presentation.

The HR person comes in. "We have to get the first round interviews done this week if we want your new reps in the field for next quarter." "I don't have any time on my calendar for this." "Well, you won't be fully staffed next quarter if we don't get these positions filled." "OK, OK, I'll see if I can juggle some stuff around." "Great! Oh, did you see what the new girl in accounting was wearing today?" "Come on, I don't have time for that." "It's a funny story…" "Honestly, here let me walk you out."

Ten seconds to restart on the board presentation.

A phone call from her sister. "Hi Jill, I'm at the supermarket and I'm looking at turkeys for Thanksgiving. Do you remember if Mom likes the free range ones or was it something else last year?"

Harried. Distracted. Under-resourced. Over-pressured. Completely frazzled. And she hasn't even checked email or voice mail. Work and life are constantly bombarding our key prospects, and we're part of that bombardment. The chilling fact of the matter is that we have absolutely no chance of getting this person's attention unless we have intimate and immediate insight into what's going on around her. Is she going to respond to a generic email or phone pitch? No, never.

This is a crucial point for today's marketing and sales professionals. IDC has seen this message come through in our surveys of CIOs. And we heard a less dramatic but equally poignant version from the CIO panel at our CMO and Sales Advisory board meetings a few weeks ago. The gist of which is summarized in the following figure.

Marketing and Sales Models Not Aligned
with Buyer's Purchasing Models

Source: IDC, 2010

The message IDC is hearing from customers is loud and clear: Solve the business problem that's killing me right now even if it doesn't involve your solution and you'll transform the nature of my relationship with you from sales rep to trusted adviser and your company from a seller to a strategic partner. If I have that relationship with you, I just might call you for help with my problem in the Midwest. But if your competitor is in that position, you are a snowball in a very hot place.

The Buyer's world has changed dramatically with the economy. Approaches that proved themselves when times were good cannot be relied upon when such a radical shift has taken place. It takes managerial courage and organizational fortitude not only to admit we have a problem but to do something radically different to address the new set of challenges. As a result, IDC strongly recommends you consider the following fundamental questions as you embark on enabling your sales force.
  • How are you going to get your Sales People to become "Trusted Advisors" when they are being trained and compensated to sell?
  • Is that the difference between your top performers and rest that struggle to make quota?
  • Have you properly defined the act of "selling"?
  • Do you understand the full scope of the "buying" process?
How you answer these questions will profoundly affect your customer relationships and your approach to sales enablement. Customers are calling for radical change and your Sales Enablement implementation may be just the catalyst you need to get started down a new path.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Planning Season for 2011: Trickier than Usual

This is my 8th year of analyzing and guiding on tech marketing budgets and allocations and it will be the most dynamic that I have witnessed.

Here are the facts and factors, and some guidance thoughts.

First, the Macro-Economics of revenues and marketing budgets:

Based on IDC's annual Tech Marketing Benchmarks Survey (completed 9/10), marketing budgets for the very largest tech vendors will increase by 3.7% in 2010. (I estimated that it would be 3.5% back in 3/10; and so our forecast was very good.)

For the first half of 2010, revenues for tech vendors grew faster than IDC had expected when we began the year. Today, our current forecast is for 5.8% WW IT revenue growth. My sense is that this better-than-expected sales volume in the first half of 2010 took the marketing-planners and budgeters a bit by surprise; and so the marketing investment level for the year will be somewhat behind the revenue growth. Unless of course revenue growth slows in the last quarter. These types of changes are what keeps us analysts in business :--)

Bear in mind that this "snap-back" in budgets for 2010 follows on the 8.3% decline in budgets during 2009. This means that the average large tech vendor is operating with a budget that is still below the 2008 level.

Guidance thoughts on these macro numbers: I don't see that marketers are investing fast enough into this recovery. Marketing leaders tend to keep investment at or higher than revenue growth and so many are behind the curve. Yes, I am seeing some big new campaigns and launches but where is the pent-up spend from 2008 and 2009?

Second, the Micro-Economics of marketing budgets and mix allocations:

What's happening within the whole cost envelope of Marketing in 2010? This envelope that has increased in size by a whopping 3.7%?? Here, we are looking at all discretionary spend (programs) and all fixed spend (marketing staff + overhead).

Advertising spending for traditional (print and broadcast) media has declined by 43% in 2010.
Digital program execution has grown by 53% in 2010.
Can we pause for just a moment and think about those numbers? These are very large changes. The 2008-2010 recession just threw huge quantities of fuel on the fire of the on-going marketing media shift.

On the "People" side of the ledger: not much change in 2010 with one exception. Marketing Operations staff grew by 35% from its 2009 basis. This is great news in our opinion: the "M.O." function that we have called for since 2004 continues to gather great momentum and it is now the fourth largest job-role category in tech marketing.

Guidance thoughts on these Micro-numbers. Are the "within-mix" shifts that we are observing finally impacting the macro view? Or in other words, is the "less expensive" digital and social media finally putting a dent in the top line marketing budget number? I think the answer is YES and this is a big shift in trend.

We have seen it coming... but the 2010 numbers have, in my opinion, made a permanent dent in the shape of the marketing mix.

What's the plan now for tech marketers? How do you execute within this accelerating transformation ? More on that in my next post.

Rich Vancil

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Channel Marketing Automation – When CRM is not Enough

Whether you pursue a lead through direct sales or a partner it doesn't really matter how you get the lead. But what happens next? With your direct sales, you track the nurturing process as the lead develops into an opportunity. You measure your sales reps by the number of meetings they get, the deals they close. You may even have a closed loop reporting process that shows the efficiency of your marketing and sales funnel.

With your partners, your lead gets passed off and … then what? Does the partner accept the lead? Do they follow up? Do their marketing outreach programs conform to your policies and expectations? How much time and how many touches does it take them to close? How do you decide which partner is qualified for which leads? How do you efficiently identify the productive partners, those that need encouragement and those that should be dropped?

Multi-Billion Dollar Channel Management Questions
These are critical questions that have a tremendous impact on businesses with significant indirect revenue. A recent IDC study of large IT companies found that on average channel revenue was $2.4B. It was generated by 34 channel marketing staff managing 8,500 active partners. That equates to $45 million of revenue per channel marketing staff member but only $1.2 million per partner. The dirty little secret – there are also on average approximately 19,000 inactive partners!

Source: IDC’s 2010 Best Practices Study in Channel Marketing (n=13)

A Better Way

Your CRM and SFA are not going to answer any of the critical channel management questions – although many companies think their CRM system is where they should be "managing partners". In fact, a partner management system fulfills a role more like an SFA – it tracks all the activity that occurs after the lead is generated. It should also facilitate the process of lead distribution – managing all the partner credentials and accreditations need to qualify for a particular lead. Then there's deal registration where the partners accept the lead so that it is not poached by another partner or … ahem … the direct sales force. And when you consider some of the other requirements of partner management, the CRM fallacy becomes clear:
  • Recruitment and on-boarding
  • Training and development
  • Business Planning and Reporting
  • Compensation and Incentive program management
  • Marketing and Sales support
Are these capabilities that your CRM can provide? Your SFA? Would you even want them to? The answers should be no, no, and no. Don't be thrown off by that last bullet – the marketing and sales outreach your partners require is very different than the corporate outreach that marketing operations is doing. They rebrand, reschedule, embed, and otherwise repurpose marketing content, making a direct translation from corporate marketing to partner marketing wholly inappropriate.

If you have (or want to have) a significant amount of revenue going through the channel, you need a dedicated partner relationship management (PRM) system to automate more than just marketing and sales activities. Don't look to your CRM, SFA, or even the newer marketing automation vendors to provide you with the full set of capabilities necessary to effectively manage channels. Those solutions are focused on a very different set of requirements. They may have slideware and inch deep functionality, but that's typically it. Do ask about integrating a PRM with these systems as reporting should roll up easily across direct and indirect sales.

A number of key capabilities to consider when implementing a platform channel marketing automation:

  • Manage partner profiles and contacts
  • Deliver and track training, certifications, etc.
  • Set business rules for lead distribution
  • Handle deal registration
  • Provide a single system of record for partner and channel management
  • Provide detailed performance reporting (12-month rolling review)
  • Track partner outreach campaigns
  • Manage market development funds (MDF) and co-op spend
With these issues on the table, it should be clear that automating channel marketing requires a dedicated, purpose-built solution. It will be costly and painful and meet substantially lower expectations otherwise.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The IDC Sales and Marketing Automation Framework

Sales and marketing organizations are seeing a rapid evolution of solutions for automating their core business processes. While we are years away from anything like an integrated ERP-class solution that can manage the full range of sales and marketing activities, the building blocks are available today. CRM vendors have established that a single system of record is within reach for the sales team, and an emerging group of companies are is starting to prove that this goal is attainable for the marketing side of the house as well.

However, automating these two organizations will be a major undertaking for large companies. There will be significant process, cultural, and technical challenges. But the benefits are self-evident: lower cost, higher efficiency and productivity, greater accountability, better performance, improved customer experience, and potentially shorter sales cycles.

The Need for Alignment
The 80/20 Rule and the 50/50 Rule: IDC research shows that up to 80% of the content marketing generates is not used by Sales, even though a lot of it is specifically created for Sales and Channel enablement. Additionally, customers say that Sales reps are insufficiently prepared for their initial meeting 50% of the time. Clearly a massive disconnect is at work.
IDC's Framework for Sales and Marketing automation is, therefore, focused on the tight alignment of key Sales and Marketing processes. This framework represents only those processes that must be coordinated (potentially integrated) between the two organizations. It is not meant to be a comprehensive map of all the processes in which each organization must engage to be successful – there are many activities on each side of the dynamic that do not have a corollary on the other.
Each high level process in Sales that has a counterpart in Marketing must share:
  • A common set of definitions for inputs and outputs
  • Proportional allocation of budget and resources based on overall business objectives
  • Phase-appropriate performance metrics
  • An integrated IT ecosystem

Source: IDC, 2010

IDC recommends that sales and marketing automation efforts be tightly coordinated across both organizations so that the customer experience and lead management processes are handled seamlessly by all parts of the infrastructure. Even if a marketing implementation will have no sales users and vice versa, the data definitions and flow will be critical for both organizations. IDC recommends that:
  • Senior marketing and sales leaders meet regularly to plan, review, and asses automation projects
  • Marketing operations and sales enablement teams are especially critical, they should have representatives from both organizations with senior level sponsorship.
  • Marketing needs to be very cognizant of how leads and lead details will flow into the SFA/CRM environment.
  • Sales needs to be diligent in making sure marketing is capturing the high priority prospects and the high priority details so that lead acceptance criteria is routinely fulfilled.

Next Steps
One of the key issues for automating sales and marketing is establishing a shared automation road map. Upcoming research from IDC will help you: prioritize your plans based on business impact and implement best practices to be most successful.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Many Ways to be Agile

We all greatly enjoyed our time together at the CMO Advisory meeting in Santa Clara last month. The level of participation and feedback was all very positive and we would like to thank everyone who attended for bringing their "A" game with them.

One of the topics we talked about was Agile marketing. We keep coming back the Agile project management concept as we triangulate the issues of career path development, sales and marketing integration, and automating sales and marketing processes. Agile has something to offer on all three fronts, and may prove to be an essential catalyst for success.

First, a Word About Agile

Very briefly, Agile is a method for managing projects that is based on small teams delivering discretely defined outputs in very short time frames. It is characterized by frequent fifteen-minute status meetings (called "scrums") in which 3 to 7 team members answer three questions: What did I do yesterday? What am I doing today? What is in my way? The project manager (called a "scrum master") is in charge of managing all the obstacles so the rest of the team can proceed on schedule. The schedule is based on 2 to 4 week workloads (called "sprints"). Progress is tracked in a "burn down chart" that shows how many hours the team has put in and how many it has left to do.

Agile is ideal for managing high frequency activities such as digital marketing, as well as portions of larger projects such as a trade show that can be broken into smaller steps. Elements of the Agile method can also be borrowed and combined with more traditional waterfall approaches to manage the fire drills that inevitably happen in just about every other kind of marketing activity.
  • We recommend that managers of organizations new to Agile use careful judgment when introducing it. Activities that are good candidates include: email campaigns, collateral development, building microsites, and creating social media assets. You can then move on to more complex issues like product launch planning, events, field marketing, etc. The extent to which Agile is adopted should be determined by marketing staff themselves, if the culture does not embrace it, don't force it.
Career Development
Agile can be an effective way to offer new skills and leadership opportunities to marketing staff. With its quick cycle times, small teams, and discrete deliverables, Agile offers marketing staff the ability to play different roles on different teams, including leadership, at almost no incremental cost.
  • We recommend that the career dev aspect of Agile be emphasized only after your organization is successful with Agile, it should not be an explicit objective when getting started.
Sales and Marketing Integration
Agile offers a very interesting way to get marketing and sales personnel together to quickly address issues of common interest such as: defining lead qualification criteria, setting up processes for lead transfers and clawbacks, coordinating last touch in marketing and first touch in sales, facilitating sales enablement, etc.
  • We recommend that marketing and sales managers work together to get their teams to cycle in and out of Agile based projects so that each side can better understand the other - particularly In terms of providing a seamless customer experience at the point of lead transfer.
Process Automation
Automating large scale marketing departments Is going to be an enormous undertaking, and for many companies one of the key issues will be cultural. Marketing is notoriously not process oriented, nor are marketing personnel typically comfortable with the billable resource model. But this is the world they are going to be thrust into post-automation. Processes will be formalized, optimized and measured. Individuals will be expected to track their time against specific activities – and/or it will be automatically tracked within the system.
  • Managers should not underestimate the magnitude of this transition and the fact that it will impact everyone in marketing personally. Some, hopefully most, high potential employees will embrace the change, others will find it threatening and disruptive.
  • Agile marketing is an effective way to get marketing teams comfortable with – and to see the benefit of – working in structured, measured work conditions. Agile requires everyone to not only estimate the time they expect to spend completing specific activities, but to track and measure the actual time in "burn down" charts. This is a safe and democratic way to get your marketing staff prepared for the world of the "marketing ERP" that is just around the corner – and this cultural priming may be the best way to ensure the adoption and sustainable success of future automation efforts.
So we feel that Agile marketing is worthy of careful consideration. We hope you give it a try and let us know what your experience was like.
Gerry Murray

Thursday, May 6, 2010

My Next Marketing Career

The future belongs to marketing specialists, not generalists.

If I were starting my B2B marketing career today I would think about becoming a specialist in one of two areas. These are areas of marketing execution and measurement that may seem narrow, but will be deep enough to be the foundation for a specialized career. Narrow and deep is the key to success. Be the one person at your company that really knows how to provide:

1) "Forensics". Be the specialist in how to data-mine the activity inside a B2B sales force automation system. Become your company's expert in turning those data into analysis, and then turn the analysis into actions on how to change the marketing activity that impacts all phases of that sales pipleine.

OR (not AND !)

2) "Measurement Agility". The traditional execution of a marketing program or campaign follows a long arc of time from concept to content to production to media execution to response and to results. Digital and social media are dramatically shortening that arc and this brings a world of opportunity for more agile measurement and response. Become your company's specialist on rapid-time, real-time measurement and adaptation.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Watch that Org Chart in 2010

Twenty percent of tech vendors $1b or greater in revenue are now reporting that they have experienced some form of organizational "mash-up" between marketing and sales over the last 12 months. This is the C-level effort to adddress the long-standing mis-alignments and costly points-of-friction between sales and marketing.

Lots of thoughts on this...but the most important is a "heads-up" to expect more organizational pressure and change in 2010. IDC forecasts marketing expenses (investment) to rise by 3.5% this year. We expect sales expenses (investment) to rise by 4.7%. Finally, we expect average revenue to to rise by 3.2 %. So, the math is not hard: operating margins will be under continued pressure. My sense is that the C-Level will respond with more brute force re-drawing of organization charts.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Social Media is Not Marketing...Yet

I have just returned from the Bay Area where last week I moderated a panel of senior marketers on the topic of Social Media within the complex B2B marketing mix.

The more I think through the potential for this area, the more excited I become about the contributions that Social Media will eventually make to marketing.

What is most promising is that "Social” will help to transform marketing communications into what it should be: a two-way interaction between buyer and seller. Presently, much of our marketing communications is just the opposite: a one-way push of the vendor’s voice.

But Social Media is not Marketing…Yet. Mostly, it’s a jumbled mass of dialogue with a lot of static to sort through.

Social Media will become marketing when two things happen. First it needs to contribute to the "inbound" side of marketing. Web 2.0 conversations about your company’s product and services need to be mined and gleaned so that they become valuable components of your product management decisions. The litmus test here is that your product managers start to depend on those contributions.

The second thing that needs to happen is on the "Outbound" side of marketing. The litmus test here is that Social Media needs to become a primary preference for how buyers inform their decisions. IDC research shows that buyers almost always prefer to receive information from independent third parties and from their peers. So, Social Media should really shine in this application.

There is important work ahead to make it this happen. It’s all about how to operationalize your marketing organization to reap the benefits of Social Media. "Operationalize” doesn’t make it through your spell-checker… but it is on the lips of the best marketers in tech, today. Only with operational depth will Social earn its way into the marketing mix. In our latest survey of CMO’s less than one-half said that they were making "significant" progress on this task - and that’s from an audience who tend to self-rank pretty high.

Here are three operational Best Practices that I see marketing leaders taking, right now. These leaders, by the way, are moving quickly on these. My sense is that they know that these basic operational tasks need to be completed well before the inbound and outbound marketing benefits can be realized.

1. Centralize. If you have followed the IDC CMO area research, you know that we are not great fans of heavy-handed corporate marketing. But in this case we are pressing hard for this. The issue is that (Congratulations, by the way) everyone in your company is now in marketing! Well-meaning engineers are merrily blogging about a new technical advance. Your sales reps are tweeting about a local seminar that they are setting up. The problem is that we are creating the perfect environment for a major breach of data. A privacy issue will be violated; an important confidentiality will be disclosed. When this happens, the blame I think is going to wind its way back to the marketing department, regardless of marketing’s role in the breach. So, corporate marketing needs to have the basics of governance and policy in place.

The second opportunity for centralization is for shared service creation. One of my clients has five major development groups and the lead developer in each group took a separate initiative to construct a community site for the development community and their most engaged customers. Couldn’t the deployment of a master community site with five sub-divisions have saved money? Yes. And wouldn’t it be easier to then deploy a single mining tool across those sub-divisions? Yes.

2. Train. I don’t think that there is a lot of good external "courseware" for how to conduct Social Media Marketing. But wait! Remember that everyone in your company is now in marketing?? I would bet that for every 100 people who are involved in Social conversations, that you have two or three real sharp-shooters. Find those two or three, and have them train the rest.

3. Measure. Poor metrics can give good marketing activities a bad name. One of the basic faults in metrics development is measuring activities and not results. Measuring the number of Tweets or enumerating the cast of your Followers are stark examples of these errors. Measure how many buying decisions you influenced. Measure how many customer service issues you identified and passed on to the right area for resolution. It seems basic but I am surprised at how many marketers still measure just the volume, the activities. Why? Because it’s easy. You have to be willing and able to do the harder work.

"Operationalize" for Social Media. An important initiative for 2010.