Mar 302012
 
Mar 212012
 
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The team down at Austin-based Marketing Automation Software guide Falconry Group Marketing Automation Blog Postasked for my commentary on one of their blog posts. I’ve been meaning to write about this topic anyway. So I’m happy to oblige.

Before I start, bear with me on a couple of points:

1) I’m going to make one or two contextual jumps from marketing automation to the general (mis)use of automation in our culture.

2) I may get a little “aggro” about this stuff. Now, I rarely launch into angry screeds on this blog. I’m more of a blue-sky, happy-talk, it-will-all-work-out-in-the-end marketer. So if I offend anyone, please give me a get-out-of-jail-free pass this one time. Or give me hell in the comments section. :)

Ok. End of preamble.

Justin Gray, CEO of LeadMD, posted this gem last week: Marketing Automation ROI: Myths and Facts

Gray nicely summarizes the soaring hopes and earthbound realities companies experience when deploying marketing automation (MA) software. And he outlines several smart strategies marketers can adopt to increase their odds of success.

Gray’s straight talk is refreshing. Because much of the chatter in the MA space is influenced by MA software vendors. In the past, I have been critical of these vendors’ marketing and sales practices. I also believe that (some of) these vendors are (partly) responsible for the unrealistic expectations Gray notes in his piece.

But responsibility and blame are two different things. As Bono once sang, “If you need someone to blame // Throw a rock in the air you’ll hit someone guilty.”

The MA software vendors operate in a highly competitive, fast-growing space. In reality, they are only doing what they feel is required to grow revenues and create shareholder value. So I’m simultaneously aware (I’m a Gemini – it’s what I do) that these criticisms (a) are pointless, and (b) ignore a much larger reality in our culture.

Folks, we have got to put down the automation crack-pipe. It is killing us.

No, this is not yet another Quixotic lament about the quickening pace of technological change. I love everything that technology does to benefit humanity. But I H-A-T-E to see it used to de-humanize human relationships.

A poorly designed sales process is far from the worst offender. There are many others, like political robocalling, commercial robotexting, robo-foreclosures, and [insert your example here].

And now here’s THIS ridiculous news story, which befouled my laptop screen yesterday morning.

“Employers ask job seekers for Facebook passwords”

Yes, I realize the story isn’t about a failure of automation. But if “give us your login” becomes a mainstream hiring practice, you know there’d be an app for that!

The request to inspect an applicant’s Facebook account is a symptom of the same disease that we (wrongly) treat with marketing automation software. That disease is the belief that we can insulate our corporate and personal assets from the unpredictable nature of human relationships.

The truth is this: recruiting — like marketing, sales, management, or anything else in business — is like life itself. It involves uncertainty and risk. And, natural disasters aside, most of that randomness involves other people.

People – dang them! – don’t always do what we want them to do. So we build and operate systems to help us understand their behavior. But no machine can out-human a human in anticipating, and tending to, another human’s changing needs. That day may come. But even then, it won’t come cheap. This is why we attract, hire, and retain great recruiters, marketers, salespeople, and managers. And we outfit them, when necessary, with labor-saving software.

This topic relates closely to the name of our business: The Falconry Group.

The falcon and falconer in our logo are like any two people in the business world. We each have different talents (or talons) and abilities. We all have our own stuff going on. And we’d all like to believe that we don’t really need each other to survive.

On some days, in some ways, we’re right about that. And if a poorly designed business process pushes us together against our will, a broken wing or a clawed-out eye can be the result!

But sometimes, like the trend line in our logo, we choose to work together. And when we commit the time and resources to do it right, the results are, predictably, amazing.

Apr 162011
 
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Here’s the deal: marketing is hard.

If you think marketing is easy, you’re probably not a marketer. Or a human. Yes, you’re probably some kind of replicant who (that?) has been lucky enough to have the Google algorithm programmed into memory. Or you are, in fact, the Google algorithm, crawling this page right now. [In which case: hey, make yourself comfortable. Can I get you Fresca or something?]

But for those of us who ply the marketing trade, it’s a pretty tough job. Among our long list of responsibilities:

  • we’re supposed to spend $1 of the company’s money and get $25 (or more) back.
  • we have to keep the Sales team supplied with good leads, and be neither a father of Sales’ success nor an absentee dad when they fail.
  • we must stay focused and execute in a constantly changing landscape of internal (e.g., budget, people, products, processes, policies) and external (e.g., media, agencies, buyer behavior, competition, government regulations) variables.

In the marketer’s pursuit of success, this all just comes with the territory. But, in business, “success” is a weird thing. It’s not always a (linear) result of hard work. In fact, it’s sometimes awarded to those who seem, at least on the surface, unworthy. And a jealous rival can always spin an objectively kick-ass outcome into a “gap versus expectations.”  Business success is always worth pursuing, but it is rarely captured on our preferred timing or terms. But with the right tools and attitude, success in the form of personal fulfillment is always within reach.

One of my trusted mentors, Lenora Edwards, encourages her clients (consultants, entrepreneurs, and executives) to define a Ten Commandments list. These are ten (or however many are needed) experiences that are essential to making any project, job, or client relationship fulfilling. “Achieving great results” is a mainstay on my list. Even though it can be squishy and elusive, I have to be chasing a meaningful, measurable outcome. But for me the process is even higher on my Ten Commandments list than the outcome.

Oh gosh. I know that sounds trite. But the oft-maligned and misunderstood notion of getting there has always been vital to enjoyment of my work. The results will either happen or they won’t. Or, as noted above, they will happen AND they won’t. I can’t control the outcome but I can strongly influence it if I’m not too caught up in how it looks. Adopting an “enjoy the journey” approach isn’t just pie-eyed happy talk for me – it’s a survival skill.

So, here are my three keys to marketing happiness. Get ready to smile. Wait, wait… …ok, go!

1. Seek the truth.  Also known as “optimization.” I’m spending the company’s money, time, and energy. If I’m not getting a return, I shouldn’t be spending. So I hold myself and my clients accountable for how we execute our decisions. That might require an occasional uncomfortable conversation with IT, Finance, Sales, or a C-level Executive. But the pursuit of the truth is fun, and honorable. And as long as I remember to breathe, those uncomfortable conversations are learning opportunities. And the truth will set us free.

2. Take reasoned risks. Also known as: “managing a marketing program portfolio.” Marketing is about placing smart bets. The bets should be smart. But they also must be placed. This link contains a keyword search for “average tenure of a CMO.” Click it and check out the organic results. The average tenure is around two years, right? Personally, I prefer embracing this reality to wresting with it. Either way, I get my uniform dirty, but the former is more fun than the latter. I try to never be reckless, but also never afraid. And I always keep in mind that — no matter how high the stakes — it’s a game and that games should be enjoyed. Otherwise, why play?

3. Predict the future. Also known as: “forecasting profitable revenue growth.” This is the hardest part of the job but also — when I have the right mindset — the most fun. And if I am diligent about truth-seeking and reasoned-risk-taking, I learn enough to make future-predicting easier over time.

So, what do you think? Is my list missing any “bliss-enabling imperatives?”  Tell me yours in the comments.

Apr 142010
 
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In this post, I’ve decided to share my all-time top keywords for traffic that comes to this blog via keyword searches. I’m not including hard numbers (to perpetuate the fanciful notion that I have a massive readership), but the terms are ranked by number of visits.

Observations:

1) My personal brand “lord of the leads” tops the list. This is not ideal, in my opinion (though I’d love to hear from anyone who disagrees). It’s not ideal because those people probably already know me or at least know of me. It’s nice to have a modicum of brand recognition, but it would be even better to have people finding me because their searches map to the actual content of my blog.

2) Many of the other search strings on the list are quite specific and (thank you Google algorithm) are highly relevant to my subject matter. These “long-tail” strings seem to indicate that my content is attracting a well-targeted audience, at least through keyword search. If that audience includes you, I hope you find the content helpful, and I welcome your feedback!

Here’s the list:

lord of the leads
rotting leads
three metrics that are more useful than
lead nurturing effect
b.a.n.t. sales effectiveness
210marketing
what is the three metrics
pipeline generation
sausage production line for sale
acronym tlotls
“metalworking marketing”
right in the middle of a contradiction
lead score
cost per lead+convertion rate+sales+rela
cjablonski @tippit.com
sales efficiency metrics
tom scearce lord of the leads
kathleen malaspina
three metrics example
medical device resource
cost per lead and other metrics
“thoughtmatrix”
marketing cost per person metric
the best place to be is in the middle of
lead score range
e-book conversion companies in usa
contribution to pipeline by marketing
sales effectiveness solutions blog comme
how to analyze the leads into a funnel
sam shepard in the middle of a contradic
cold leads vs warm leads – measuring the
demand generation offer creative target
causes of not lead management metrics
lead scoring ebook
sales dollar per lead
leads prospect efficiency
metrics examples factory
promotion from the lord
axis bank lead generation activity
lead scoring and revenue
2010 year of the lord
bank acquisition funnel metrics
pipeline contribution for lead generatio
scored nurtured leads
“kathleen malaspina”
sales efficiency
examples of lead generation metrics repo
Mar 232010
 
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There’s a good conversation going on over at Focus.com about whether the sales concept of BANT — Budget Authority Need Timeframe — is no longer valid in light of how the modern B2B buying process works. The question has been asked: “Is BANT dead?”

I commented on the post, and as part of my continuous effort to drive my own personal “return on contribution” I’ve re-published my answer to the question in this space. But there are lots of great expert opinions from B2B marketing thought leaders in the original post, so hop on over and have a look!

— begin answer —

“BANT is not dead but it is definitely under the weather and needs better care from its primary care physicians (sales and marketing executives).

As a salesperson’s tool for measuring a prospect’s relative readiness to buy, BANT remains valid and useful to the sales process.

However, there are times (too many times, by my observation) that BANT is used as a rigidly applied internal service level agreement between sales and marketing (or between sales and pre-sales lead development). In some environments, BANT is set up such that the sales team literally can’t talk to buyers unless BANT is fully achieved, or until a certain score threshold has been satisfied. This is a good idea when every sales person’s time is fully utilized talking to BANT-qualified prospects. However, most of the time this is not the case. There is always some “excess capacity” in the revenue factory, which can actually be good thing. So to the extent that BANT is ever used to keep a less-than-maxed-out sales person from talking to a buyer who is less-than-fully-BANT-qualified, it’s not a useful metric.

I think BANT is most useful when applied at the level of the individual salesperson, who must prioritize his/her time as if it were money to spent (time is the salesperson’s most valuable currency). As an operational metric, BANT is not flexible enough for practical application, in my opinion.

BTW, marketers have their own version of BANT. It’s called Cost per Lead (CPL). It’s another metric that is useful in a narrow context, but can needlessly limit outcomes if applied too rigidly. For more on the perils of excessive adherence to CPL (and 3 metrics that are better to use), see this post:

http://www.focus.com/ugr/research/marketing/asdf/

— end answer —