Friday, December 21, 2012

Oracle Buys Eloqua: Expanding Marketing Footprint

Eloqua's Fit in the Oracle Application Portolio

Eloqua is being brought in as the 'centerpiece of the marketing cloud' solution within the broader Customer Experience Cloud offering.  The Customer Experience Cloud is Oracle's comprehensive go-to-market strategy for its CRM offerings that it introduced in mid-2012.  Additionally, Eloqua will be leveraged with integrations to Fusion CRM and ultimately extended into vertical offerings.  There is overlap with the previously acquired Market2Lead product in terms of campaign capabilities but Oracle spokesmen stated that Eloqua would be the primary product and Market2Lead would be integrated to it.

Market Reaction

First and foremost, Oracle is serious about its CRM business.   According to IDC market numbers, Oracle has led the worldwide CRM applications market since its purchase of Siebel, holding 11% of the market in the 2011 shares data.  However, both SAP and are within two percentage points of that share fueling Oracle's motivation to maintain and increase the distance.  The current battle ground of competition within the CRM applications market is being fought in the marketing automation segment where, as this IDC Data Map shows, the traditional transactional vendors hold much smaller footprints.  

This acquisition immediately brings to mind the question, 'what will do now?'  Not only was and is Eloqua a key partner of Salesforce's, the company relied on it and similar partners to provide this capability to its customer base.'s acquisitions in the marketing arena to date have been focused on social marketing capabilities.  While Oracle was explicit in stating that the product, like the other components of its various applications offerings, is capable of being used in a heterogeneous environment, won't be happy long sharing its customer base  Eloqua today, has a significant number of customers in its base as well as Microsoft Dynamics CRM.  Marketo may become far more attractive to as the new year begins.

Overall, the latest acquisition by Oracle signals a commitment to building a fully comprehensive product offering for its CRM business that covers all the major elements of the CRM applications market.  For Oracle the coming year will be one of bringing integrations and proof points to market.  For the other marketing automation vendors with broad marketing capabilities, specifically Adobe, IBM and SAS, there will be more of a trade-off for customer evaluating products between a CRM suite solution and best-of-breed. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

#CMOFact: IDC 2013 Marketing Investment Planner

With 2012 coming to an end, for many businesses planning for 2013 will bleed into the New Year. Marketers are no exception; in anticipation of the planning cycle each year, the CMO Advisory Service publishes our annual Marketing Planner in August/September, developing the B2B tech industry's leading marketing (and sales) benchmarking study. To anyone familiar with the industry, you are probably used to hearing that Marketing is transforming. What is so exciting about our Marketing Planner is we are able to provide specific guidance on changes, challenges, and successes within the industry through incredibly accurate industry data and qualitative information provided by you, the senior marketers. Marketers in turn are able to use this information to successfully plan for the upcoming year.

I’ve taken the liberty of pulling out some key facts below from our report that are particularly interesting or useful. Feel free to share them and remember to follow me on twitter or check out the CMOFact hashtag - we will continue to share some marketing goodness there.

#CMOFact Number 1:  In 2012 the average large B2B Marketing organization is in receipt of a 1.7% budget increase. This is 50% LESS than the 2011 rate.

#CMOFact Number 2:  The Marketing Budget Ratio for B2B tech companies has declined each year from 2009 through 2012. Marketing Investment is not keeping up with revenue growth.

#CMOFact Number 3: B2B Tech CMOs are spending approximately 30% of their budget on digital marketing programs. This is up from 12% in 2009. 

#CMOFact Number 4: For Large Tech Companies, only those in Software (vs Services & Hardware) are receiving increased budgets!

#CMOFact Number 5: The marketing automation train is picking up speed, and fast. Jump on now or prepare to be left behind. This is a new category in our survey and is already at 3.1% of programs budget and 1.6% of staff allocations.

These are just 5 nuggets from the 2013 Marketing Planner. The full version includes a complete overview of the current state of the B2B Tech Marketing it includes; program spend, staffing breakdowns, up and coming technology, and forward looking advice. For your own copy, reach out to Wendy Pemberton at or find it here

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Brand Strategy Reminders, Regardless of the Size of Your Company

There was something for everyone at MassTLC's recent marketing seminar - "On Brand: What Does it Take?"; if you're building a brand at a $1B+ company like PTC, or fighting your way up the ladder at a smaller company like Actifio or Verivo Software. Here are some of my keys take-aways:

1.  Something for everyone to learn (or to be reminded of)
  • You need buy-in from executives:  The CEO and his/her team need to admit that there's a problem with your brand strategy, and they're on-board to fix it.
  • Be realistic about the costs involved in branding:
    • "The rule of thumb that we used was 2.5X the cost of our marketing investment over a 5 year period."[Jill St. George, PTC]
    • Brand investment is even more critical today with the more mature Buyer 2.0. IDC recommends 50% of all marketing investment be spend on awareness building.
    • Launch activities will touch many aspects of your customer creation process (e.g., collateral, web site, presentations, videos, training)
  • Set targets for your branding effort
    • "Prior to our rebranding effort, only 40% of our company understood our brand.  Our target penetration is 75%."[PTC]
    • "# analyst briefings, web site activity metrics, social metrics"[Parna Sarkar-Basu, Verivo]
    • "increase in revenue per sales rep, time to rep. productivity, # and quality of inbound leads"[Michael Troiano, Acitifio]
  • Don't forget about the importance of keeping sales in the equation!
    • "Stay close to sales!  They can make or break you." [Actifio]
    • Include sales executives and sales operations on your team
  • Tell it with stories:  Nothing speaks louder or sticks with influencers and buyers more than a good, relevant story.  Drop the MBA speak and industry terminology that all of your competitors have, and capture the essence of your company and value it provides in a story.  And most importantly, get your entire organization to communicate these stories. 
2.  Large companies
  • Strive to be a "branded house" and not a "house of brands":  As Jill St. George from PTC pointed out, managing a company with many disparate brands can be significantly more costly than having a single, corporate brand.  And certainly let's not forget the confusion that a house of brands brings to your sales teams and customers as you're attempting to expand your market share and share of wallet at specific customers.
  • Leverage your resources: PTC outsourced much of their brand strategy and design work (e.g., customer and employee interviews, surveys, design work) to Lippincott.  A smart move for any large company in order to rapidly leverage resources versus trying to support this type of significant effort internally, not to mention the expertise that can be attained by working with this type of firm.
  • Align your branding strategy with your sales enablement strategy: Particularly in large organizations, your key to success will be rolling out a 1 to many strategy, and your sales enablement team(s) in marketing and sales can help here.
3.  Small companies
  • Time is of the essence!  The good news is that you don't have as much to do as a larger company in rebranding your organization.  The bad news is that you don't have as much time or resources to accomplish your goals.  Think "months", not "years".
  • Stay connected at the hip with your sales team:  Go on sales calls with the reps, if they like it or not. Test out your ideas, messages and stories with different folks on the sales team.
  • Align your metrics with the company's and sales' targets. There's little time, resources or patience for brand studies, brand awareness metrics or market share analyses at a small company.  Hard line your team's metrics into sales productivity, sales pipeline and revenue targets.
Please share your thoughts below, or email me at Michael Gerard.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

FutureM: For Marketers, Times They are a Changin’

I attended FutureM in Boston a few weeks ago and the main take away was: Marketing is changing quickly and organizations must grow and adapt, otherwise they will fall behind.

IDC’s CMO Advisory Service has been advising this for some time, but as I read more blogs and attend more marketing based events like FutureM, the reality of overarching change is becoming obvious. IDC’s data points to this as well; investment in Digital Marketing within the Enterprise Tech industry has increased from 12.6% of budgets in 2009 to 29.2% by the end of 2012* - we expect this trend to continue.

Below I have outlined 3 sessions that did a great job of highlighting the change that is taking place. I then took particularly interesting or relevant quotes and expanded on them.

“Social has to be collaborative between agencies and the brand – It has to be done for consumer insight and you cannot do it for the sake of just doing it.
                   - Anthony van Dijk, Brand Manager, Global Gillette Venus Base Business, Gillette

This quote hit home with me – as social, and digital in general, continue to mature, marketers must engage with their agency around these topics. However, don’t just check off a box by giving them the set of keys to your online presence and communities. Hold your team and agency accountable; have a specific plan and goals. Almost as importantly, don’t just give your agency a mandate to improve social, work with them and guide them as your brand and goals change. Social is often instantaneous, you cannot expect the undertaking to be a straight line trajectory – be ready to adjust and if you’re expecting deliverables from your agency give them the best chance to help you succeed!

Understand IDC’s guidance for B2B Social Marketing by downloading our report: “Despite the Hype, B2B Social Marketing Is Still in Its Infancy: 2012 Guidance for New Investment Dollars and Staff

“The buyer is on a journey and the vendor is not invited.”
-                    -  Joe Chernov - VP of Marketing, Kinvey

This was one of my favorite quotes of the entire conference - it was provocative and goes against much of what we have been taught as marketers. If you take a broader view, Joe is right, this isn't your father’s “buyer” the tools and knowledge available today have changed everything. Rather than Sales or Marketing holding all the information, social networks, forums, and the rest of the internet can provide the Buyer with a large majority of answers. As IDC has reported in our recent publication, The 2012 IT Buyer Experience Survey: Accelerating the New Buyer's Journey, marketers and sales must be aware of this new reality and adjust their strategies and tactics. Additionally, my colleague Kathleen Schaub wrote a great blog post on Operationalizing Your Buyer's Journey. The report and post both are great places to start on this topic!

“Good professionals let the data speak, if you don’t have good data – don’t make a decision!”
-                     - Chuck Hollis, VP -- Global Marketing CTO, EMC Corporation

Discussion around Analytics and Big Data resonate strongly with me - they are hot topics in the marketing world and can provide immense value. Our group always urges marketers to utilize data any chance they can. However, it is easy to get caught up in the excitement of trying to quickly move projects forward while using data as a guide. Chuck’s quote reminds us to be honest with yourself and be honest in your decision making process, don’t make a decision based on data unless it is telling a clear objective story.

For more information on data driven marketing download IDC’s study “Data-Driven Marketing: A Survey of Marketing Automation Maturity in Global High-Tech Companies


While these quotes give a quick glimpse into a few sessions at FutureM, the entire conference is a reminder that there is a lot of change in Marketing and many technologies and companies can be a huge asset in this transformation. Don’t ignore this change, take time to educate yourself even if it is just a few hours a week to demo a new product or service or view an interesting webinar. Ultimately, as a marketer if you don't start swimming, you risk sinking like a stone. 

You can follow Sam Melnick on twitter: @SamMelnick or contact him at smelnick (at) IDC (dot) com

*Source:  IDC's 2012 Tech Marketing Benchmark Study (full results to be published this quarter)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Data Analytics wins 2012 US Presidential Election

Data analytics was the big winner in the 2012 US Presidential race. In fact, 11:17 PM (US ET) November 6th was the moment data analytics went mainstream. This was when Ohio was officially projected to go to Obama. It was the ultimate validation for Nate Silver and his data analytics approach to election forecasting. To much fanfare he accurately predicted the results of the election in all 50 states without doing any of his own polling. He used sophisticated analytic models based on data from as many third party polls he could find. To this he added the secret sauce of data analytics - a keen understanding of how different types of data from different sources relate to one another in context.

His FiveThirtyEight blog drove as much as 20% of the web traffic to the New York Times website - the 6th most visited US news site on the net - leading up to the election. As a result, data analytics is officially mainstream. Any business leader at any level that does not immediately embrace its power is putting his or her career and company in jeopardy.

Data analytics works. It does not produce miracles, but it does produce results that far outperform human judgment on its own. The Obama campaign employed an army of retail data analytics wonks to beat the Romney campaign in every battleground state. They did it by applying analytic techniques proven in the supermarket industry:
  • Standardizing records: Unifying the customer (voter) database
  • Widening perspective: Combining diverse data types: demographics; buying/voting history; response by media; donation/activity by trigger (celebrity dinner), model (contest) and method (mobile); group/church  membership, social networking activity (Reddit), etc.
  • Judicious targeting: Carefully identifying the potential for influencing voters that could influence the election. Not worth targeting easily influenced voters if they don't live in a county that can help swing a state. Not worth targeting difficult to influence voters even if they live in a critical county. This is essential for achieving impact and ROI.
  • Media mix modeling: which media channels have the greatest impact on which kinds of voters?
  • Action oriented outreach: Understanding the specifics of why and how certain people act and designing multiple outreach experiments (progressive offers, channel mix, social references, etc.) based on that.
  • Openness to innovation: data driven models may point to approaches that are counter intuitive for some decision makers. They can seem risky and mysterious. They will not be right all the time. Controlled risk is part of the evolutionary process to effectiveness. Without a tolerance for experimentation however, you will not develop a data driven culture, you will in fact kill it.

Marketers in the world's largest high tech companies are finally acquiring the enterprise data services needed to apply data analytics to long cycle B2B customer creation processes. We are already seeing signs of how significant the impact of these new approaches to marketing and sales can be:

  • $200M EU lift based on a sophisticated solutions recommendation engine
  • 45% more subscription revenue with no increase in a multi-million dollar marketing budget
  • Tens of millions of dollars in revenue uplift from simple web behavioral changes

Embracing data driven decision making is now a matter of survival. You simply cannot win against competitors that have faster, deeper market insight. They will beat you in every stage of the customer creation process. Your marketing will be months behind, your inside sales reps will be calling customers already committed to alternatives, your field sales reps will miss opportunity after opportunity to get more revenue from existing customers. Your funnel will collapse, your pipeline will dry up, your renewable revenue will shrink, and at that point it will be hard to recover. Hyperbole, you say? In the great A/B test of who uses data analytics and who does not, stay in the B group at your peril.

IDC EAG group has done extensive research on the key ingredients needed to create the enterprise data services that are a prerequisite for data driven customer creation and has ongoing research into how to create a data driven culture. To find out more please contact Gerry Murray - gmurray(at)idc(dot)com. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Start Operationalizing Your Buyer's Journey

I was surprised to hear so much talk about the 'buyer's journey' at a recent Sales 2.0 conference. More talk than I often hear at marketing conferences! Having said this, it was clear that many people who talked about buyer's journeys did not know what the term meant.

A hesitant raise of hands at one sales enablement panel showed that a little more than half the room thought that their company used a buyer's journey framework. The panelists didn't buy that answer. Sniffed one, "Most companies lift the sales stages right out of their CRM system and call that a buyer's journey."

What isn't a buyer's journey? It isn't a sales methodology. It isn't build rapport, uncover needs, identify options, propose solutions, and close the deal. It isn't a product life-cycle. It isn't development, launch, grow, mature, decline. It isn't marketing stages. It isn't build awareness, create interest, engage, and persuade. All of these processes can be useful to guide an important function. However, they all describe vendor's journeys – not buyer's journeys.

So, what is a buyer's journey? A buyer's journey is a framework that describes the cognitive process each buyer must personally traverse leading from Apathy (Do I care?) to Commitment (How can I buy this?).  IDC's Customer Creation Framework highlights three simple stages of this journey: Exploration, Evaluation, and Purchase. You can break these stages into sub-steps if you like.

In the simplest terms, a buyer's journey is really nothing more than a list of questions.  Buyers have different questions at different steps of their journey.  If buyers get their questions answered clearly, positively, credibly, and with relevance, they will take another step. If they do not, they stall or abandon their quest.

Let's take the example of some questions on a buyer's journey towards a new car:
  • Exploration: Is my current car headed for a problem – how do I know? Are there new cars that I would like better? What cars are new this year? What do I really need?
  • Evaluation: Which cars offer the best value? Which do I find most attractive? Is this supplier trust-worthy? What do the experts say? What do my friends think? How can I test drive?
  • Purchase: How much can I afford? Should I buy this now? Do I find terms acceptable?
Operationalizing a buyer's journey
1) Collect a list of questions.
Start small. Select just one of your products and its most typical buyer. What questions does this buyer have about the problem? About alternative solutions? About acquiring, adopting, and using products like the one you offer? Finally, what questions might a buyer have specifically about your product?  Most companies will need multiple question lists for multiple situations. But don't boil the ocean at the beginning.

Where do you get these questions? Ask your buyers! Ask the people in your company who talk to buyers – sales people, customer support, systems engineers, etc. Listen to social media chatter.  My experience has been that you can collect 95% of the questions you need after you have talked to about 30 people who have a broad range of roles and backgrounds.

 2) Answer the questions.
If your company has EVER sold a product, then somewhere, someone has the answers to the buyer's questions. It probably isn't the marketing team – but that's okay. Go back the same people and places from which you gathered the questions.  Some questions can be answered easily. Others will be thorny.  Some questions will have happy answers. Other questions will be evil.

Do not avoid the thorny and evil questions!  I like this quote from Robert Frost, "The best way out is always through."  Every unanswered question is a place where prospects can get frustrated and where leads will stall or fall out of your pipeline.

You can collect both the questions and the answers in a spreadsheet or an FAQ document.

 3) Put the answers on your website and give them to your sales team.
Keep your initial content super simple. Make sure the answers to all the important questions are easily found on your website. Make sure that your sales team has easy access to all of the answers.
 4) Improve
Later, you can explore the best way to deliver your answers to buyers – how should the message be voiced? What content types and media work best at different steps and with different buyer personas? How do I best map the buyer’s journey steps to the sales process?
 But these are secondary issues. If you don’t first have the answers that your buyer needs, all these secondary questions are a total waste of time.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Hey, Sales & Marketing. . .You're not Meeting Prospects' #1 and #2 Needs!

What do your buyers value most during the pre-purchase phase for their IT products or solutions? Spending quality time with your sales reps? Doing a feature by feature comparison versus your competitors?  Hardly.  The top 2 most valued activities by buyers are:
  1. Interacting with your company's technical teams. (e.g., CTO, presales engineers)
  2. Consumption of vendor content à Financial justification/ROI is #1 here
Sure, buyers put "interacting with sales reps" as next in line; and reps are the ones that will be the key facilitators and match-makers to make these activities happen as part of customer enablement.  But what's most surprising, are the results that just came out of IDC's 2012 Sales Investment and Productivity Benchmarks study. (click here for full study for Sales Advisory clients) We asked many of the largest BtoB vendors in the world how long it takes for their sales rep to find different types of information within their organization in response to buyers' needs.  Can you guess which two types of information took the longest to find to meet buyers' needs? (refer to Figure below)

  1. 45% of companies indicated that it takes their sales reps 1 to 5 days or longer to find ROI-related sales assets from across their organization.
  2. 39% of companies indicated that it takes their sales reps 1 to 5 days to find the best fit presales person for their prospects.
Yup, that's right, as technology sales organizations, we're having the greatest difficulty fulfilling the top two most valued activities in the buying process for our prospects. 

A couple of questions to consider as you look within your own organization to resolve these challenges:
  • Do you know what your buyers' expectations are along the buying cycle, and how you are doing at meeting them? (e.g., Are you leveraging customer satisfaction insight as part of your account planning process?  Do you do a win-loss analysis? What does your own buyer experience research indicate?)
  • Are you providing your best clients and prospects with access to your technical teams when needed and justified? Is your ratio of presales engineers to sales reps high enough? (check out IDC sales staff allocation benchmarks)  Are your presales folks productive? (e.g., using teleconferencing to best leverage their time, connecting with sales reps through social media (Social Collaboration for Sales study for IDC clients)) 
  • Is your sales operations team collaborating with your marketing team as part of the content and marketing asset development life cycle to ensure that ROI-related assets are being developed to meet your buyers' needs?. . . And how are you ensuring that your reps can get access to this intelligence ASAP when needed? (yes . . . . sales enablement)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Facebook Announces 1 Billion Users – It’s Time for All Marketers to Give it a Go

A few days ago Facebook announced that their active users surpassed 1 Billion. This is a huge number and like it or not, as a Marketer, you cannot ignore a community of this size. At this point, it is irresponsible to write Facebook off as a fad. Its user base covers all demographics and geographies – chances are, as a business, whoever you are selling to is on Facebook. While I certainly do not advocate for suddenly changing your advertising mix to a 25% Facebook Ad spend or hiring a brand new agency to build a Facebook Page that rivals Coke or Jet Blue, I do believe there are plenty of good ways to start dipping your toes into the giant ocean that is Facebook.

I readily admit that the standard thinking is Facebook is a B2C tool - Facebook is great to reach consumers, however I believe there is something for everyone. B2B marketers need to think creatively, manage expectations and take learning’s from similar communities (think LinkedIn). And if you’re worried that you might be behind the curve or not sure the amount of time and energy to spend on social, through IDC's 2012 Tech Marketing Benchmark Study (full results to be published this quarter), we learned that only 0.9% of tech marketing program budgets are spent on social media. So, while there is a lot of hype around social, we are still in the early days of truly leveraging social as a powerful marketing tool.

Below I've listed three ways you can start utilizing Facebook to make sure you aren't missing an opportunity:

  • Skunk Works Project

While it’s great to have an agency who can own Social and Digital, having staff internally that are just as skilled is important. Facebook advertising is relatively easy to get started with, so it lends a perfect opportunity to give a key staff member a skunk works type side project and see if they can get value out of Facebook. Let them be creative, see what you can get out of Facebook, a worst case scenario is results are unsuccessful but you have a staff member who learns new skills – this can’t be overlooked in a world that continues to rapidly move towards digital. 

  • Don't Forget Mobile

It’s easy to think of Facebook as a website where people go to when they want to take a quick break from work or inconspicuously “catch up” with old friends, but the future of Facebook is Mobile. In fact Mark Zuckerberg recently stated that 600 Million are Mobile users. With that many users on Mobile already, you can be sure that any major updates to the platform will have mobile users top of mind. Combine that with Facebook’s need to continue to monetize, it’s probably safe to predict there will continue to be new and creative ways to reach your target audience through Facebook’s Mobile platform. Be sure to keep your ear to ground when it comes to Facebook and Mobile, test out new products, you never know when one might be just what you need to reach key targets!

Quick heads up! 
For more research on Social Marketing please view our report: Despite the Hype, B2B Social Marketing Is Still in Its Infancy: 2012 Guidance for New Investment Dollars and Staff

  • Ask For Help

No one is expecting you to be a Facebook expert - it is still a very new platform and it is ever changing. Thankfully, there a ton of innovative companies that work with the platform or leverage Facebook to help large brands reach their goals. Start with your agency, see if they have resources, partners, or experience with building out the type of campaigns you are looking for, if they don’t have the answers, find out what vendors are leaders and schedule a call with them to see what they can offer. You don’t have to go at it alone. 

Regardless of what you do remember to measure measure measure. We never advocate aimlessly trying new strategies without a solid plan and a way to track and compare.

Have you had any experiences with leveraging Facebook? Let me know how it went and how you think it can be best used to reach your audience (if at all!).

Sam is a Research Analyst within IDC’s CMO Advisory Service you can follow him on twitter: @SamMelnick

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Back of the Envelope Marketing Budgets

Here is a simple and I think helpful budgeting rule-of-thumb that a CMO at a $5b software vendor shared with me yesterday:

1) 75% of your budget should be in support of revenue-generation for your current operating year.

2) 15% of your budget should be placed towards efforts that have a 2-3 year time horizon.

3) 10% of your budget should be for activity or initiatives with no time horizon,

-- Rich Vancil

Monday, October 1, 2012

How bright is the silver lining of's Marketing Cloud?

At their annual Dreamforce shindig last week announced the formalization of their marketing capabilities as the Marketing Cloud. Essentially it is a coupling of four key pillars of's front end:
  1. Customer intelligence: enriches contact and account information with fresh feeds from sources such as LinkedIn and many others. Enables both sales and marketing to create detailed contact profiles for segmentation, targeting and campaign management.
  2. Social advertising and content management: The recent Buddy Media acquisition provides support for a wide range of social channels (social, web, mobile) and formats including contests, videos, and photos. Users can coordinate their publishing and advertising activity and measure impact throughout the social sphere.
  3. Social listening and analytical tools: Radian 6 monitors popular social services such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, as well as blogs, forums, communities and more. Supports 17 languages and mobile access.
  4. Core CRM functionality: consolidates resources to provide sales reps with a single source that can connect them with other applications, contacts, colleagues and workflows. Pulls data together into account/opportunity context. Delivers reporting data to sales and sales managers and can provide opportunity and pipeline performance data into other systems such as marketing and order management. is taking its "Social Business" mantra to heart by building its marketing functionality with a "social first" philosophy. The question is: will this be enough to satisfy customers (and the company itself)? The answer is probably not. The functionality you won't find in Marketing Cloud is significant - the core campaign management tools, workflows, analytics and more offered by marketing automation vendors (e.g. Eloqua, Marketo, Neolane, Pardot, etc.) Even though there are fewer seats to be sold to marketers as opposed to sales, these two worlds are rapidly converging. The systems needed to automate them will need to do likewise, as evidenced by the tight integration of most marketing automation systems with and the recent announcement of Chatter for Eloqua.

But Marketing Cloud is undoubtedly only the first step, in fact it's well beyond the first step for and the only issue going forward is how do they continue to expand functionality in this area?  The build or buy equation for currently favors the build approach as valuations for marketing automation vendors are sky high, at least in terms of an acquisition. has plenty of time to creep into the marketing automation arena, establish itself as a more serious threat and then re-evaluate its strategic decision around marketing functionality.

In the meantime, marketing automation vendors have their work cut out for them. They must stay well ahead of where's Marketing Cloud may go. They must continue to grow rapidly, prove their staying power and market value. Customers, however, should have no illusions that Marketing Cloud is an enterprise marketing automation platform in its current state. There is much more to marketing than social engagement especially for B2B models. Waiting for Marketing Cloud to evolve or for social to mature is simply not a choice, there is way too high a price to be paid in terms of market share, growth, and profitability. So if you're considering marketing automation don't delay or change course because of Marketing Cloud. Charge ahead full steam and should the social engagement of Marketing Cloud pop your ROI, by all means add it to your arsenal. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

2012 Tech Marketing Budgets, Trends

We are now publishing the results of our major annual Tech Marketing Benchmarks survey. Our tenth year of doing so!

My thoughts today:

1) Most importantly: The Marketing Transformation effort is accelerating. Many vendors have been at this for a few years but as we now do some accounting for  results,  we see as many false-starts as we do successes. And so there are renewed and bigger efforts underway to Transform.  The best evidence of this is in recent, aggressive marketing budget overhauls and  larger, more sweeping re-organizations of the marketing function. 

The good news is that top marketing  execs and C-Level execs DO understand that "future" Marketing can and should be the game-changer function, and so they are going to keep at the Transformation efforts until they see results. 

Here are three major outcomes to watch for and benchmark, on your own Transformation journey: Shorter purchase cycles; reduced overall cost of (combined) Marketing + Sales; and vastly improved customer analytics as a result of integrated marketing plus sales automation efforts.

2) Budgets remain under pressure: we see the average large Tech Vendor getting a 1.7% budget increase this year. That is 1/2 the increase of last year...and we were even "closer" to the 2008-2009 recession at that point.  The main culprit is the economy: management teams not willing to spend until better signs of demand pick up. The second factor is media shift: going-to-market with digital ve traditional media.

3) Tech vendors still spend 3-5 times as much on selling as they do on marketing. Heavy salesmanship has deep deep roots in IT vending. My belief is that the future holds a more even application of monies and activities between selling and marketing.

Rich Vancil

Monday, September 24, 2012

IDC Tech Marketing Benchmark: Behind the Scenes

This week the IDC CMO Advisory Service will start revealing results from the 2012 Tech Marketing Benchmark. In this 10th annual study we found some surprises – as you might expect in this era of marketing transformation. In anticipation of the results, I thought I would share a bit of what goes on behind the scenes in the benchmark.

First – what is a benchmark? The term was first used by early land surveyors to describe the fixed point against which all others were compared. Today, benchmarking means the systematic practice of comparing your business processes to what others are doing in order to achieve superior performance. Companies benchmark against peers to learn how they compare with similar companies and best-in-class to compare with those that achieve optimal results.

Why do companies benchmark? A benchmark provides context for decision-making. You spend a million dollars a year on social marketing. So what? If your CEO asks you this question, what will you say? Tech marketers tell us that they like to benchmark for the following reasons:

  • Improve the quality of annual planning: Last year’s program budget and gut feelings are no longer sufficient input
  • Gain insight into critical trends: Learn what industry leaders and competitors are doing – and how you stack up
  • Reallocate costs: Identify areas of overspending and opportunities for better value
  • Transform with confidence: Answer questions such as how much to invest in new areas like social marketing or how should I re-organize my department?
  • Drive with data: C-level executives increasingly expect marketing leaders to manage their business with the same level of operational excellence as other corporate functions.
  • Get an independent view: Benchmark data provides IDC analysts with a wealth of information that make guidance to clients personalized and accurate guidance

How does benchmarking work? At IDC, we use a six-step method.
  1. Participants are given a standard taxonomy. This is SUPER important.  IDC requires that participants bucket responses in accordance with rigorous activity-based costing methods and a marketing taxonomy based on 10 years of experience so that we're truly comparing apples to apples. We start agonizing over the taxonomy early in the year. It must evolve with changing times but maintain enough consistency for trending.  This year, we carved out marketing automation as a new category and adjusted definitions to accommodate new media and practices.
  2. Participants bucket their marketing investments into categories.  We start participant recruitment in the spring. Fortunately, IDC has a large constituency of companies that participate annually, but we always conduct outreach to get new blood. 
  3. IDC collects the data. For IDC's benchmark, the tech company participants are primarily mid-sized and large companies and we have a 95% B2B focus.
  4. IDC creates a database of normalized data. This is our secret sauce and takes a ton of work.  Every survey gets scrutiny. Anomalies get investigated. We use statistical methods, sophisticated tools, and marketing experience to work the data so that it really means something.
  5. IDC analyzes the database for benchmarks and trends. We conduct analysis of various kinds – comparing years, industry sectors, and program and people data. We also conduct interviews with CMO's to lend color to what we are seeing (although we are constantly out talking to practitioners and marketing leaders during the year).
  6. IDC reports.  All participants are invited to a webcast and get a free report that includes a large amount of data and IDC insights.  Over 100 tech companies each year contribute to the database and get this free report.  For participants who desire a more personalized view, IDC offers a custom service that compares their data with a "market basket" of appropriate peers. IDC conducts an analysis of this custom benchmark and then works with companies to provide guidance decision-making and for instigating change.

Watch this space as well as the press for this year's findings!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Lead Management Report: IDC Finds Leaders are Smart, Agile, Automated, and Aligned

IDC CMO Advisory Service's latest best practice report, Realizing the Vision of 21st Century Lead Management, presents a newer, smarter way to conduct lead management that is better adapted to the reality of how customers buy today.  Combining proven management science methods with best practices from leading technology companies, the new model is more scientific, more data driven, more agile, more automated, more aligned between sales and marketing, and more customer service oriented, than the 100+ year-old funnel.
It's becoming common knowledge that the Internet has revolutionized B2B buyer's behavior, knowledge, and expectations. B2B marketers and sellers have outgrown the traditional funnel approach and are scrambling to adjust to the impact of the new buyer dialog.  The new B2B buyer dialog presents the following challenges for lead management:
  • Complexity: Lead management used to consist only of qualifying leads and passing the best ones to the sales team. Now marketers must juggle this task while simultaneously conducting a perpetual digital dialog that informs and influences the prospect. Wrestling this complexity requires a more sophisticated and formalized lead management process.
  • Orchestration of digital and human communication: The traditional funnel dictated a one-way "hand off" from marketing to sales. However, because buyers are always online, the concept of a binary "hand off" is obsolete. Marketing can never truly disengage. Rather than make a true marketing exit, a team orientation is maintained.
  • Marketing accountability: B2B marketing departments are under considerable pressure to be accountable. Financial pressure from economic uncertainty and slipping sales productivity has brought the lead management process into harsh scrutiny. Expectations have risen because of the availability of spreadsheets, dashboards, and analytics tools to slice and dice any facet of marketing. The C-suite is becoming aware of how much more of their destiny now rides in the hands of the CMO.
Although each company must operate lead management with an eye for their own unique set of environmental requirements and logistical challenges, there are basic tasks that remain the same in every case. The tasks are: strategic planning, capture, assess, advance, develop, close and monitor/measure/analyze.

The building blocks of lead management success

One common misconception is that the tasks assessment (qualification), advancement (routing), and development (nurturing), occur only once in a lead life-cycle.  This may have been true in the simple, old, days. However, most companies today have a requirement for a more sophisticated multi-channel approach.  The IDC model treats the assess/advance/develop tasks as a modular block or cell. A simple workflow starts with a single cell that can do a little work. By using multiples of this same simple block - and applying best practices to the tasks in each block - marketers can build a measurable, optimized, multi-celled organism that can do amazing things - including blending with the sales methodology.

IDC found 16 important success factors including:
  • Define consistent global standards, including a common language. More companies attribute their lead management success to this practice than to any other. By eliminating unnecessary complexity and redundancy, companies gain better control and achieve more predictable performance. Calibrating data to standards also opens the door for predictive analytics and trusted insight.
  • Establish long-term, cross-functional councils. Best practice companies realize that lead management, while led by marketing, is part of an enterprise process. One firm teams up a 30-person council each year for three months to prioritize projects, determine standards and processes, and resolve issues.
  • Treat leads like valuable but limited assets. Companies experienced in 21st century lead management operate in ways that express respect for buyers. Leads are carefully vetted, nurtured in a personalized way, and sometimes recycled rather than merely captured, qualified, and thrown over to sales. Best practice marketers use automation extensively. To remove hurdles and assist a buyer, this automation is integrated with the human factor — telefunctions and blended media, such as chat and social, as well as high-touch sales.

Clients of the IDC CMO Advisory Service can access the full report here.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Data-Driven Marketing: A Survey of Marketing Automation Maturity in Global High-Tech Companies

Marketing has become technology, process, and data driven. On average, marketing operations teams at the large high-tech companies in this survey manage over a dozen major systems in an ecosystem that is rapidly evolving. The purpose of this survey was to assess the technology load on marketing organizations in terms of number, scope, and scale of systems as well as adoption, effectiveness, resources, and overall satisfaction levels. There are many interesting results from the data:
  • Companies that take an enterprise approach to managing the customer creation process make the most effective use of their marketing infrastructures.
  • Data-driven marketing requires many types of systems working together. They must be managed, matured, and optimized together to be most effective.
  • Business intelligence (BI) competency is critical — it's one thing to have the data, it's another to use it.
  • Penetration into the intended user base for each marketing system is the key:
    • Leaders have achieved 90% or higher user adoption for the four pillars of any digital marketing infrastructure: campaign management, Web content management, CRM/SFA, and customer database. By comparison, laggards average only one over 90%.
    • Leaders have achieved 75% or higher user adoption for 9 out of the 13 key digital marketing technologies categories we included in our survey. Laggards average only five systems at or above 75% adoption.
  • Most respondents (even leaders) believe they have not realized much of the potential they see in their marketing systems.
  • Organizational, process, content, and data readiness are seen as the major impediments to reaching the full potential of digital marketing infrastructures.

Clients of IDC's CMO Advisory can access the full document here

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Lead Distribution Scoring - a key differentiator for B2B marketers

Lead scoring is a well established technique for marketers to translate digital responses into levels of qualification for next stage outreach. For companies with no direct sales or sales cycles of 30 days or less lead scoring methodologies can be rapidly optimized around purchase behavior. For long cycle B2B sales processes, the optimization process goes only as fast as opportunity development which for many high tech companies can be 18 months or more. This is a crucial time for B2B marketers and they need to be just as exacting in how they manage the post-lead qualification journey as they are in getting prospects to the starting line.

B2B marketers need to segment, message, time, and target their communications with their direct sales reps just like they do with external prospects and customers. In my previous blog post Six Key Table Stakes for B2B Sales and Marketing Alignment marketers were tasked with three things:

  1. Treat the sales force like a market segment
  2. Market collateral (and leads) like solutions
  3. Take an account-centric approach to lead generation 

Lead distribution scoring touches on all three. Lead distribution scoring is a second stage scoring process for marketing qualified leads that enables marketers to "get the right information to the right sales rep in the right format at the right time to move an opportunity forward." This is IDC's definition of Sales Enablement and is a fundamental concept that should govern how marketing markets all of its output to direct sales (leads, campaigns, collateral, etc.) The days of posting to a portal or flowing and forgetting MQLs into the CRM are over. Lead distribution scoring incorporates dimensions such as:

  • What type of rep is this contact going to? 
    • By segment 
    • By tenure
    • By region
    • By product line, etc.
  • Does the rep need many leads or a very limited number of leads? 
  • What account is the lead associated with?
  • Is the sales rep meeting with this account in the next four weeks, next two weeks?
  • How is this contact connected to others in the account? 
  • Is this contact interested in the same solution as other contacts in the account?

Using a lead distribution scoring methodology will bring sales and marketing into much more direct alignment on a one to one basis. It can be applied not only to leads but to collateral, campaign training, and more. Marketing output can be "made to order" for sales reps so that it is not only highly qualified, it is also has high immediacy and relevancy to the reps' call sheets. If the relationship between marketing and sales so bad that accessing call sheets is a non-starter, then look for friendly reps who might be willing to give a little more to get a little more from marketing.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Most Important Lead Management Practice: Align on Standards

Of all the lead management best practices a company can invest in, the one that stands out as most important is defining standards.  Recently, IDC interviewed technology marketing executives to learn what's working and what's not in 21st Century lead management. When asked for a description of their greatest success, many more companies stated consistent global standards (including a common language) than gave any other answer. 
Why is standardization so important?  Variation is a main culprit in erratic and unreliable processes. No two leads are the same. No two geographies are the same. No two campaign tactics perform the same. Nothing in lead management is really the same. Though companies can’t hope to eliminate all variation in their lead management, the best practice companies get rid of much of as much unnecessary complexity and redundancy as possible. By reducing variation, companies gain better control and achieve more predictable performance.
Important areas of lead management standardization include:
  • Definitions: “All marketing groups and geographies use the same stages, taxonomies, and definitions of what it means to be sourced, what it means to touch a lead.”
  • Data: “We strive for a single version of the truth.” “Instead of a 60-minute meeting on why my data is better than your data, we now talk about results – why is Hong Kong doing better?”
  • Procedures: “We consolidated 40 lead queues into six. We standardized BANT criteria, implemented standard SLA’s, standardized everything.” “Even though we are a decentralized company, we run a single process.”
  • Systems:  “Everyone uses the same common business intelligence system so we pull data from the same source.” “Using the same marketing automation system enforces our processes. It has accelerated best practice sharing.”
How to Increase Standardization
Marketing leaders acknowledge the difficulty in getting alignment on standards and offer tips from their experiences:
  • Cross-functional groups: “Bring together a core cross-functional group (regions, field marketing sales), people who are passionate and have a direct stake in the outcome.”
  • High-level sponsorship: “The sponsor was responsible for both sales and marketing. She publically gave me power.”
  • Appropriate specificity: “At first we standardized at too high a level – defining one stage as an “opportunity” for example, and things were too confusing. By getting more granular, putting in more stages, making routing rules more specific, we’ve gotten better results.”
  • Persistence: “The secret is to keep revisiting the model and the results. We’ve needed to revise it multiple times to accommodate changes in sales and marketing capability.”
  • Transparency: “Collect the data and let everyone see how bad it is. Then pick your battle.”
  • Training: "We conducted initial roll-out training as well as ongoing training to maintain momentum."
Recognize the Limits of Standards and Allow for Some Flexibility
 Although aligning around standards is the most important best practice, it's important to recognize that exceptions are occasionally needed. Companies should start with a goal of full standardization but then be alert for where variation is reasonably required.  For example, an emerging region with fast growth, such as China, may have genuinely different requirements than a more developed North America for what percentage of leads gets handed to sales.  However, demand a strong business case for any variation, especially in early days when people aren’t used to standards. Then be sure and treat the variation as an exception.
IDC's report, IDC CMO Advisory Service Best Practice Series: Realizing the Vision of 21st Century Lead Management, will be available soon. IDC also offers taxonomy to assist companies to standardization. (See IDC's Worldwide Sales and Marketing Taxonomy 2012 #231252)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Update on Tech Market Intelligence: The Role; Budgets; and Trends

As with almost all functions within a large and complex marketing organization, the Market Intelligence (MI) organization is under pressure to transform. In our recent discussions with top MI executives, three transformational trends stand out as "guidance" for this profession.

1. Transform the MI organizational model and team to be more proactive. MI staffs tend to be spread thin and rarely have the bandwidth to move out of "response" mode. IDC believes that the MI function needs to increase the self-service capability for the majority of its internal clients. Better information portals, and the tools and training to access these resources are key to this effort. In doing so, MI should then be able to place more active attention to the second guidance area which is:

2. Increase executive support. This implies higher level insights and better "packaging" of externally-sourced MI content, so that it looks and feels palatable to an executive audience.

3. Be more efficient and visible in the delivery of measurable value. Establishing the ROI of MI is not a hard science; but MI execs should not give up the pursuit of tying their contribution to revenue.

What about the total resource committed to MI? We do know from our latest budget research that thirteen percent of ICT vendors will decrease MI spend in 2012; twenty-five percent will increase spend, and the rest will keep spending flat. But more importantly, revenue growth will likely outpace MI budget growth and this would mean a declining "MI Budget Ratio": the percentage of revenue spent on MI. This could be a caution light that indicates that the organization's need for MI outstrips its resources. Viewed another way, the percentage of the marketing programs budget that is spent on market intelligence programs ranges from an average of 5.8% (companies with a strong proportion of direct sales) to an average of 3.7% (companies with a strong proportion of indirect sales). These data point are for ICT vendors billion-dollar plus revenue ranges.

MI staff accounts for 3.8% of marketing positions and this allocation tends to be fairly stable. Regarding organizational changes: IDC sees that the majority of MI teams continue to sit within marketing, while others are being moved into corporate strategy or sales … or from these organizations back into marketing! Some organizations maintain independent market intelligence, competitive intelligence, and analyst relationship teams, while others blend either CI or AR with MI.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Technology Buyers Tell Us How to Speed Up the Buying Cycle

IT leaders making enterprise-level technology purchases report that their buying cycle has increased by more than 20% in the last three years, according to IDC's 2012 Buyer Experience study. They are not happy about this fact and were not shy about telling IDC about how vendors can speed things up.

IDC's 2012 Buyer Experience Study reveals that CIO's making enterprise-level technology purchases report that their buying cycle is now longer than five months when multiple vendors are competing for their business.

I find several things interesting about this fact.

1. The length of the B2B tech buying cycle continues to increase.  In 2009, the buying cycle was about 4.5 months and is now 5.4 months. It has increased more than 20% in three years.

2. IT executives have consistently told IDC that they would like their buying cycle to be shorter. Three months seems to feel about right to them – which is 40% less than what they currently experience. The CIO's readily admit that their own companies are to blame for most of the delays – 60.8% of the delay they attribute to their own buying process complexity.  More people are now involved in each decision, for example. However, 35.6% of the delay, IT leaders say is caused by poor marketing and sales processes on the part of the vendors.

Clare Gillan, IDC Senior Vice President of Executive and Go-to-Market Programs, told the audience at the recent IDC CMO Advisory client meeting that survey participants were very clear on how vendors could help them speed up the buying cycle. Here is advice from the IT leaders along with just a few quotes:
  • Listen: "Listen to what we are asking and what we want before presenting a cookie-cutter one-size-fits-all solution."
  • Justify: "Help us write the business case."
  • Honesty: "Put everything about your product on the table, including the short-comings."
  • Pricing: "Provide all available options with associated pricing up-front."
 Respect, service, and transparency – these are the communication attributes I perceive when I read the survey results. Are these attributes in your persona descriptions?

3. One more thing I find interesting about the reported length of the buying cycle:  Does five-plus months seem short to you? In contrast, marketing and sales leaders reported that 19 months is their average sales cycle for enterprise-type deals according to IDC's 2011 Tech Marketing and Sales Productivity Benchmark studies.  I don't think I have ever heard a B2B tech marketer or sales leader report a sales cycle of just a couple months - except for small ticket items, repeat purchases (which would not be included in this survey question's category) or the occasional purveyor of some super-hot-can't-wait solution.

My guess is that buyers have a different definition of when the buying cycle starts than do marketers and sales people.  What does this mean to marketers who are engaged with buyers in very early stage conversations? Something to think about.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Six Key Table Stakes for B2B Sales and Marketing Alignment

The IDC CMO and Sales advisory services held their most recent client leadership meeting in Santa Clara on June 5th. One of the key topics of the day was sales enablement. The ensuing dialog between the sales and marketing execs in the room was as impassioned as it was ineffective. Many of the usual themes were expressed (in the nicest possible way): "marketing leads are crap", "sales doesn't follow up", etc. etc.

Whenever I hear this conversation it always sounds like the two sides are talking past one another. Neither really understands how to express their frustration in a way that has any meaning to the other. What's missing are some basic table stakes:


1. Train marketing on sales process. It is impossible to effectively contribute to, much less consistently improve, an unknown process. No marketing team should be expected to deliver effective collateral or leads to a sales organization until they have been fully trained on sales process and methodology. In a large organization with multiple business units and product lines there will be many sales processes and the marketing teams charged with supported them must receive the same depth and cadence of training that the sales reps get.


2. Treat the sales force like a market segment. There are great variations in the needs of different kinds of reps in your organization and you must understand them on a rep by rep basis no less urgently than you do for your external marketing targets. The needs of an enterprise rep with two accounts are radically different than an SMB rep with 400 accounts or a territory where they may not know all the potential customers. Don't throw 10,000 leads a month at both of them. You get the idea. Nurture your sales reps like any other targets and tune the metrics accordingly.

3. Market sales collateral like solutions. Marketing tends to market its wares to the sales force like products whose benefits are self evident. Assets are often "published" or "distributed" generically with tags to help reps "find" them. Imagine what would happen to the funnel if that was the extent of external marketing efforts! Sales support assets should be marketed through targeted nurture campaigns. Once you get going on #2 above, you can start to address the needs of each rep and market your leads, collateral and other assets as solutions to the right sales problem at the right time!

4. Take an account centric approach to lead generation. Marketing is generally great at understanding the world in terms of segments and contacts. These are fundamental concepts for planning, budgeting, and executing marketing activity. However, sales reps think of the world in terms of accounts. Marketing needs to make leads more relevant to reps by delivering them in an account context.

Sales and Marketing

5. Define customer creation as an enterprise process. This is the most effective way to change the corporate culture and gain executive support for addressing the many alignment issues across all customer facing functions in the enterprise. The analogy here is supply chain. Before it was defined as an enterprise process the people, processes, technology, data, and budgets within it were managed on a purely departmental basis. Defining it as an enterprise process made it possible to optimize and continually improve the supply chain based on overall business performance. The customer creation process - from prospecting to closing to upselling - needs to be owned and measured in the same way.

6. Implement customer data as an enterprise service. Once customer creation is established as an enterprise process, it requires an enterprise approach to customer data management in order for the optimization and continuous improvement to take place based on core business metrics and not on a collection of disassociated departmental KPIs.

These six table stakes should be treated as urgent action items for all high tech Sales Operations and Marketing Operations personnel. Some organizations are doing some of these things, but no one has implemented all of them as organizational norms.

Monday, June 18, 2012

CMO Turnover at Nokia, and in General...

Nokia's CMO Jerri DeVard is out of a job today, hitting the screen at 18 months.


We have seen this many, many times in this role. Why is CMO job tenure often so short?

CMO's come in three basic flavors. There is the Mar-Comm CMO, who has skills in branding and messaging and corporate communications. There is the Product CMO, who has come up through the product line or LOB ranks, with a successful background in Product Management and Product Marketing. Finally there is the Selling CMO, who has come up through sales and has run revenue centers for major geographical units.

So if you are the CEO and you need a new CMO, which flavor do you choose? You are not likely to find this three-fold capability in one person. The best you can do is to optimize your hiring spec for the strengths that are most currently needed. And then make sure that the CMO surrounds herself with strong colleagues who bring complementary skills.

Back to Nokia. If there was ever a company that needed (and still needs) a Product CMO, it is Nokia. I do not know Ms. DeVard personally, but a quick review of her biography would show that she is -- not suprisingly -- a classic Mar-Comm CMO. And she is probably a great Mar-Comm CMO! But just the wrong flavor for this struggling company, at this time.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

IBM starts the CMO + CIO Dialog

IBM's new CEO Ginni Rometty is targetting the CMO role in her first major client event. On June 6-7, Over 300 important IBM customers were invited to thie "CMO + CIO Leadership Exchange". They attended in executive pairings - the company CMO plus CIO – to explore their business relationships and objectives related to Marketing Automation.

As an opening comment, Rometty stated that "IBM wants to set the agenda on the topic", and she exhorted her customers to move fast, to capture the benefits. Over the two day session, the dialog and content was heavy on assessment of the current reality and challenges of customer data analysis.

IDC expects that IBM will drive the following (approximately) five messages / themes in to market, to reinforce the Marketing Automation imperative:

1. Technology is moving out of back office functions such as finance or operations, and into front office functions of marketing and selling.

2. Marketers and Sellers begin this journey into Marketing Automation with the problematic reality of attaining the current "Single version of the truth" regarding customer data and the customer record. They are hampered by IT legacy, management systems and processes, and company culture.

3. Capture and analysis of Big Data in Marketing is the quest. And 85% of marketing data is unstructured: the hardest form of data to analyze.

4. The future of marketing excellence will be owned by those who master predictive analytics that are extracted from customer data. With proper instrumentation and monitoring, it is easy enough to know where your customers have been or where they are at present. But where are they going, and what is their next move?

5. And, overall, this whole Marketing Automation mission is a race against time. There is a 12-36 month window to become a "Big Data Marketer". Those who do not enter and win the race will risk not just the absence of marketing excellence, but might put their whole business at risk.

The Leadership Exchange agenda did not include a deeper dive in to IBM's current or future solutions against that reality, but IDC expects that, logically, the solution-set portrayal will be IBM's follow-up move.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

As the Channel Churns: The Battle for Routes to Market

High tech channels are restructuring due to the emergence and convergence of social, mobile, big data, and cloud based solutions. These forces are expected to cause a substantial churn in the channel. IDC predicts turnover of 25,000 to 50,000 infrastructure partners in North America by the end of 2013. This is a major wake up call for high tech channel marketers. Three years from now your channel community, the solutions they sell, and the most profitable routes to market will be very different than they are today. Vendors that see a net gain in channel capacity over this time frame will be the ones who diligently accomplish the following three objectives:

1. Redefine relationships: Vendors will need to be both more strategic and more tactical in support of their channel. The business planning process must incorporate strategic issues such as helping partners acquire new skills, building partner networks, funding acquisitions, and driving multi-vendor alliances into the channel.

At the tactical level, vendors need to help partners clearly understand how to best invest in their business. This requires compelling evidence of return on investment. For some partners the highest ROI will come from hiring more technical staff or achieving certifications. For others it may be hiring sales reps or doing more marketing. Partner engagement hangs in the balance and it is up to vendors to make the case for each and every partner.

2. Reposition programs: Channel marketers need to think of their marketing programs as solutions to partner business problems. Typically channel programs are marketed like products with the benefits presumed to be self-evident. Not so. Even the most elegantly packaged program offerings are not relevant to a partner until they understand what business objectives it is designed to achieve for them – Building awareness? Lead generation? Appointment setting? Customer loyalty/upsell? Vendors must reposition programs as solutions that are:
  • Tied directly to partners' business goals 
  • Designed as sustainable campaigns – not short term marketing hits 
  • Easily linked to funding programs such as MDF, JDF, co-marketing, etc. 
  • Provide execution support through portal capabilities, concierge services, and references to approved marketing services firms

3. Reskill for analytics: Data analytics will be the differentiating factor for the winners and losers in the battle for channel capacity. This will require staffing up on business analysts and capturing better marketing and sales data from partners. Vendors whose products or business models provide end customer touch points such as SaaS or hardware provisioning have a big advantage in this regard. Competitors need to seriously think about how they can incorporate end customer touch points into their offerings. The importance of this cannot be overstated - it closes the loop on the lead qualification, distribution, nurturing and sales cycles enabling continuous improvement to be applied to all of those critical functions.

Not all go to market models in high tech support end customer touch points for vendors. With this in mind, some of the new ways vendors are attempting to get closer to the data include:
  • App level connectors between vendor partner relationship management (PRM) portals and partner CRM systems
  • Requiring campaign and lead performance reporting as part of funding approval processes
  • Enticing customer contact through SaaS, communities, incentive programs, etc.

Customers want their applications, infrastructure, platforms, and communications to work seamlessly with legacy solutions as well as with customers' multi-screen environments. They expect rapid deployment, mobile readiness, low cost, high availability, flexibility, and return on investment. These requirements can only be met if vendors restructure their offerings and their channels to bring a widening set of specialized technology and expertise together into standardized offerings customers can trust. For more on the future of high tech channel marketing, see: Best Practices in Channel Marketing, IDC #234367, April 2012. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Keep the Language of Marketing a Secret?

Tech marketing leaders constantly search for better ways to align with sales and IT as well as gain greater influence at the executive table. To improve this capability, Marketo's newest board member, Sue Bostrom, offers an intriguing suggestion – keep the language of marketing a secret.

Sue Bostrom is one of the Silicon Valley's most accomplished marketers. A former executive vice president and CMO at Cisco, she serves on the boards of Marketo, Varian Medical Systems, Cadence Design Systems, Stanford Hospital & Clinics, and Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.; and advises several prestigious organizations.  At the recent Marketo User Summit, Sue shared with the enthusiastic fan-base practices that contributed to her success.

One piece of advice - consider the language of marketing a "secret language", one that we use when only when we talk to other practitioners.  When we talk to others, use ordinary language.

Since I speak the language of marketing every day, it had not occurred to me that what seems like normal conversation to us may seem like gibberish to colleagues.  Then I thought about the terms we throw around so easily. How about brand DNA, fan ratios, A/B testing, creating customer value, psychographics, listening platforms, CPM, leave behinds, personas, net promoter scores, positioning, referral premiums, authenticity, or network analysis? Maybe the language of marketing has become too technical, too insider.

As the audience left the packed ballroom following the keynote, I heard a few attendees complaining. They interpreted Sue's suggestion as a directive to make marketing a second-class profession in the corporate world. I disagree with this interpretation. All sophisticated professions develop specific terminology. Spoken inside the community, it achieves precision and clarity. But to those outside the profession, it sounds confusing, irritating, and possibly elitist. Think how annoyed people get when attorneys use legal jargon. Here's an example I pulled from a website appropriately called the Plain English Campaign:
"Any reference to a specific statute include any statutory extension or modification amendment or re-enactment of such statute and any regulations or orders made under such statute and any general reference to "statute" or "statutes" include any regulations or orders made under such statute or statutes"

Using plain language when we speak to non-marketers is not "dumbing things down".  It does not diminish our worth to use ordinary language.  It increases the chances that we will be understood. It shows respect for our colleagues' experience in other areas.

What are some ways we can communicate more clearly with colleagues in other business functions?
  • Substitute ordinary language and analogies for buzzwords: when eCommerce was just beginning, Sue told her fellow executives that the website would "sell while they slept"
  • Explain with data: for many business concepts, numbers can be more objective and clear than wordy explanations (but avoid mind-numbing, execution-level detail!)
  • Use visuals: the old maxim that "a picture is worth a thousand words" is true because pictures allow someone to grasp many aspects of a situation simultaneously -  especially good for communicating complex concepts

Sue Bostrom is a marketer who earned a seat at the highest leadership table. And let's face it, not many technology marketers have. I think we should heed her advice.

(P.S. Congratulations to Marketo on the launch of their new social marketing release and to CEO Phil Fernandez on the publication of his new book, Revenue Disruption).