Jun 302011
 
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My friends over at Focus asked me if I wouldn’t mind sharing an infographic they recently published on marketing automation. The infographic has some interesting metrics and data points from leading research and analyst firms covering the MA and CRM space. For anyone wanting a quick intro or an updated “lay of the land” in this category, it’s a good read.

[Attention all Federal Trade Commission hallway monitors: no money was exchanged and no other quid pro quo took place here, ok? Sheesh….]

Now, since this is a blog, I feel obliged to add some perspective on this topic. So, on top of the ones in the infographic, here’s two more metrics for you to consider. The good news: assuming you have some basic tracking tools like Google Analytics and/or a CRM system  you can pretty easily apply these metrics to your business.

Metric #1: Your fresh leads who don’t buy. This is the basic “lead nurturing” scenario, and the subject of many marketing automation discussions. Let’s say you generate 100 leads per month and 8 of them end up buying your product. There’s up to 92 more leads that still need attention in some form. Sure they may have bought from your competitors. Or they may have shelved the project. Or they may have just been kicking tires in the first place. Marketing automation can help you stay connected to these 92 leads per month – that’s a run rate of 1104 leads per year for anyone who is counting —  in a way that is cost-effective, scalable, and branded.

Metric #2: Your web site visitors who don’t become fresh leads. A lot of people don’t realize how  marketing automation can help improve lead conversion. Here’s just one way: let’s assume those 100 leads per month above are derived from 15,000 unique visitors to your web site each month. Marketing automation can help you track and score those 15K “uniques” from the moment they reach your web site, which may occur well before the lucky 100 become known to your sales team. The benefits of this are two-fold:

a)      Sales-effectiveness. Your sales people can better understand the prospect’s motivations and interests, as shown by the keywords used, and the pages/content viewed by that person before contacting your sales rep. This allows your sales team to use precious “talk time” more efficiently, presenting the benefits of your product or business that matter most to the prospect. And with the help of lead scoring (a point system that reflects the expected commercial value of a web visitor or lead), your sales team can further optimize talk time by calling out first to the highest scoring (hottest) leads.

b)      Marketing effectiveness. Your marketing expert(s) can easily optimize landing pages, phone trees, email templates and other assets by analyzing the rich website and CRM data that are “married” to your leads and orders. And as powerful as Google Analytics is, most companies either don’t or can’t use it to answer important profit-related questions about your sales process. Questions like, “how do we attract, convert, and close more law firms with between 5 and 50 employees in major cities?” A smart implementation of a marketing automation process can answer questions like this.

Enjoy the infographic! (and click it to enlarge)

Marketing Automation Infographic

If you find the original post of this infographic on Focus.com, there’s some good banter in the comments section about marketing automation products being over-hyped and ultimately too hard to deploy (i.e., “shelfware.”). For the record, here’s my take:

Over-hyped = YES

Shelfware = NO, at least not with my clients.

Note: I’m hereby adopting a new policy on this blog. There will be a minimum of one self-promotional plug required in each post. There’s a limit to this all-you-need-is-love marketing, you know.  Just ask the evil geniuses at Coca-Cola, who with one brilliant TV ad released about 40 years ago, heralded both the death of 60’s idealism and the birth of Gen-X cynicism.

But I non-sequitorize, or, something….

Anyway, most of the deployment issues with marketing automation occur when companies realize (typically, and unfortunately, post-purchase) that they lack the commitment required to do it right. There are other issues too. The products still need to mature, and the talent pool of implementors still needs to grow. There will be a shakeout in the marketplace for sure, and perhaps soon. But the basic building blocks of marketing automation are here to stay.

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.

Nov 222010
 
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just because you can doesn't mean you should

“A man’s got to know his limitations.”

The famous Clint Eastwood line from “Dirty Harry” sums it up. I’m  a capable businessman and marketer, but don’t let me anywhere near the creative team when they’re trying to name a product. Oh I can define the product, describe the market for it, detail the buying process and funnel metrics for it, create a promotion or campaign to drive leads for it, etc…. But naming things is not really my forte.

One thing I do know about product names, however, is that the wrong name can be an expensive drain on your marketing budget. To illustrate this point, let’s consider a seasonal example: turducken. For those who – like me until a couple of years ago, or my wife until this morning – have no idea what turducken is, here is the Wikipedia definition:

“A turducken is a dish consisting of a de-boned chicken stuffed into a de-boned duck, which itself is stuffed into a de-boned turkey. The word turducken is a portmanteau of turkey, duck, and chicken or hen.”

I haven’t seen any research to back up this claim, but I’d be willing to bet that (far) less than 50% of the U.S. population would be able to accurately define turducken without first asking a friend or looking it up on the Web. And among those consumers curious enough to learn the meaning, a subset would first have to stop giggling at a word that seems to include the concepts of “turd” and “uck.”

None of this is a problem for the individual consumer confronted with this word. His life will resume momentarily, with or without the addition of turducken to his vocabulary, or his oven.

But let’s consider briefly the hypothetical case of a marketer tasked with creating demand for this product. She has a product that has the potential to serve a large and horizontal market (i.e., people who eat gourmet poultry dishes). The product is well-liked among the group of consumers who know what it is. And there are probably some historical trends and benchmarks that can help her direct marketing budget and resources.

That’s all well and good, but what if the hypothetical CEO of Turducken Incorporated — to whom our hypothetical marketer reports — throws down a gauntlet and says she wants to see turducken sales double this year, but only increases the marketing budget by, say, 25%. What should our marketer do? Clearly, small improvement on the organic growth rate will not get the job done. So trying to hit the sales goal by targeting the “turducken-aware” segment is likely to fail. This is a “Blue Ocean” marketing challenge — our marketer will have to find and/or create a whole new market of consumers who are willing to give turducken a try.

This brings us back to bad product names. Before we get excited about something, we usually have to know what the heck it is. Our marketer is quickly going to blow through her budget trying to explain her product to the uninitiated. A too-clever-by-half product name only confuses the prospect and delays the buying process. Two time-honored sales axioms apply here: (a) “a confused customer usually says no” and (b) “time kills deals.” A consumer who is uninterested in learning the definition of turducken is unlikely to buy it (even if he might otherwise enjoy the dish). And any excess time spent explaining a quirky word like turducken is time NOT spent selling it.

Since our marketer doesn’t have a large budget to fund missionary marketing of turducken, she should use simple, descriptive names — perhaps “three bird roast” or “turkey, duck, and chicken roast” — to help quickly define it for new buyers. Keeping the name simple will let her to direct those scarce dollars and resources to more targeted and measurable demand generation campaigns and programs.

Jul 282010
 
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[Post #1 in the “Other Voices” series, featuring Bruce Lee of Have Bruce Write It.]

This week I’ve been doing, with a little help from my friends, a mini-makeover on the TLOTL blog. A few of the changes:

  • Installed a new WordPress theme. Thank you to Sayontan Sinha for giving us the elegant and simple “Suffusion.” I gladly made a small PayPal donation in support of your excellent work on this theme.
  • Replaced the mugshot that was taken when I was 38 pounds heavier. Thank you to my wife Heather, to Concept2 Rowing (makers of my Concept2E Indoor Rower), and to my personal trainers at Conscious Body Pilates for supporting my renewed commitment to improved health.
  • Incorporated the “Tall Poppy” color element from the Scearce Market Development brand palette. Thank you to Penny Laine for your work on the original SMD palette and logo. And thanks to Chirag Mehta for publishing your helpful “Name That Color” lookup tool. The HEX# for that color, C04027, doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.

I’m throwing shout-outs to these people and companies, some of whom I’ve never met in person, to underscore how much the creative process — in marketing, selling, or anything — is a team game. Which brings me to the fourth change I made to the blog this week: a new tagline.

“Tips, tools, and inspiration from marketing and sales masters.”

I’ve always thought the “Lord of the Leads” concept was about mastery of a process; specifically the process of generating and managing “the leads.” But successful practictioners of the marketing and sales arts understand that real mastery depends on integrating an incredibly diverse range of expertise — strategy, financial, product, creative, technical, analytical, operational — into a compelling buying experience for customers. A marketing leader, in particular, must be highly skilled at eliciting and synthesizing high-value contributions from experts in all of these areas.

So, starting with today’s guest post, I’m turning up the volume (to eleven) on the voices of other experts in the marketing and sales workflow.

First up to bat: Bruce Lee. Bruce and I are members of a consultants’ roundtablegroup here in Seattle. Two other similarities: it turns out we live about 1/2 mile apart (98112 baby!), and we both previously worked for companies that were acquired by Best Buy. We are also both self-styled word warriors, though there the differences quickly begin to emerge. Because, quite honestly, I’m Don Quixote to Bruce’s Sun Tzu.

Bruce is contributing “10 simple techniques to improve your advertising and web site copy.”

1.Have someone outside your department read what you’ve written, and ask them if they understand it thoroughly. Chances are you’re using some term that makes sense to you, but not to your intended reader. Someone from outside your fishbowl will catch that.

2.Don’t use acronyms. If it’s important enough to mention, it’s important enough to spell it out.

3.Don’t get cute.Never use any derivation of the Got Milk campaign (for example, “Got Trash?” or “Got Pho?”). Never make any allusion that “size does matter.” Leave humor to the experts.

4. Don’t lie. Exaggeration and hyperbole are lies. Omitting important details, or burying them in the fine print, is a form of lying. Someday soon, credit card companies will pay for this transgression.

5. Proofread it out loud. Then have someone else proofread it out loud while you listen.

6. Say it correctly. “Happens only once a year” is better than “Only happens once a year.” (Only Jack kissed Mary. Jack only kissed Mary. Jack kissed only Mary.) Misuse “it’s/its” or “your/you’re” only if you want the reader to think you’re incompetent.

7. Resist the urge to use an exclamation point. Resist!

8. Unless you’re simply listing a commodity and a price (1 gal. 2% milk, $3) include at least one product benefit. (Chocolate Milk. Builds strong bones and kids love it. 1 gal. $3)

9. Try to find a way to work the word “you” into the headline.

10. Know when to bend the rules. You’re trying to communicate with people using only symbols. But when a person reads, they hear a voice talking in their head. It’s sometimes okay for that voice to start a sentence with a preposition.

Jan 272010
 
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More fun with the Funnelholic. Following on the heels of our decently-retweeted collaboration two weeks ago, 210 B2B Marketing Tips for 2010, Craig Rosenberg got the band (Craig, Chris Jablonski, and myself) back together for a new effort: The Marketing Hipster Dictionary: 53 Definitions Every Marketer Should Know.

Most of these defined terms are “dual-use.” That is, they provide a new slant on familiar concepts for the seasoned marketer, and give a modernized introduction to the relative newcomer. A small number of the definitions are of limited practical value but may provide some momentary entertainment value to the reader. An amuse bouche, perhaps… … or perhaps just the definitions we rescued from the cutting room floor just prior to press time in an effort to get us to the semi-arbitrary target of 52 terms. Hey, it’s the Internet, not the Gray Lady.

Part 1 was published yesterday (1/26). Part 2 — which includes definitions for funnel jockey, campaign sorcerer, and market whisperer — will be posted tomorrow (1/28).

Enjoy the read and please feel free to pile on with your own hipster definitions.

http://www.funnelholic.com/

Jan 202010
 
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Craig Rosenberg, aka the Funnelholic, has compiled — with a few additional contributions from myself, Michael Schmeir, and Chris Jablonski — a great list of 210 B2B marketing tips. The Funnelholic routinely publishes blunt, sometimes irreverent stories from the “trenches” of B2B demand generation. His posts always offer a healthy balance of cheeky/punchy copy and practical insights/wisdom.

Take a look at the tip list here.

BTW, we’re working on another list of 50 “marketing hipster” terms and concepts for imminent publication. Should also be an informative and entertaining read. Stay tuned!

Jan 202010
 
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The folks over at ClickDocuments have released a great eBook containing predictions and marketing tips from marketers in the content, B2B, email, and social media categories. Ambal Balakrishnan has put together this crowd-sourced eBook with contributions from thought leaders such as Doug Kessler, Jon Miller, Craig Rosenberg, Steven Woods, Ardath Albee, and 34 others.

Aside from being a valuable collection of marketing prognostications, tips, and resources, the eBook is itself an innovative content delivery vehicle. Take note of the retweet feature on each page which helps contributors maximize their “return on contribution.” Also, all of the links in the eBook open the target page with a StumbleUpon-style toolbar which gives readers the opportunity to learn more about the eBook sponsor, Marketo. I’m impressed with how the eBook was packaged and executed; balancing the needs of the audience, the contributors, and the sponsor.

Have a look at the eBook and please make ample use of that retweet feature!

Get the ClickPredictions eBook!

Dec 202009
 
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A quick shoutout to thank Metalworking Marketer for featuring my post on “Three metrics that are more useful than Cost per Lead” in their December 2009 newsletter. I saw a nice bump in traffic as a result of this (must be a lot of metalworkers out there working on their marketing), and so thanks are in order!

http://www.gardnerweb.com/marketer/issues/1209.html

Oct 062009
 
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Chris Jablonski, who works with me in Tippit Consulting, has scored his second guest post in less than a month on Craig Rosenberg’s famous Funnelholic blog.

That’s Jablonski 2, Scearce 0 for anyone (other than me) who might be keeping score. 😉

I can get over it though, because Chris writes great stuff. And the topic is important.

Remarkable content is key to successful marketing. It’s easy to gloss over it in the highly mechanized world of Marketing 2.0, where metrics seem to matter more than anything else. But the same rules apply now as did 5, 10, or 15 years ago. Any direct marketing guru will tell you that the three legs of the DM stool are:

1. List / audience
2. Offer
3. CREATIVE

In my opinion, List and Offer have become easier to optimize because metrics quickly allow us to see what works and what doesn’t. Content (creative) effectiveness can also be measured but not quite as easily or quickly. And the bigger issue is that content is often more difficult to swap in and out of a campaign than its siblings, List and Offer.

So Content matters! And Chris has written a nice checklist to help make your content remarkable on the first volley.

Take a look at Chris’ checklist and his guest post on Funnelholic.

Here’s the question to you: has he missed anything? What else makes content remarkable?