Mar 072012
 
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social media failA few years ago I moderated a webinar for a San Francisco B2B media company called Tippit, now Ziff-Davis B2B Focus. The presenter was Tippit’s CEO Scott Albro. Scott said something on that webinar I’ve repeated (always with attribution!) many times since.

“In social media, the people are the media.”

To the casual observer, social media can look like a cluttered landscape of tweets and likes and follower counts and Klout scores. But behind all of that are people building relationships with other people, doing favors, earning trust, conversing, relating, connecting, etc….

Social media strategies that produce real-world results – e.g., product purchases, event attendance or sponsorships, favorable reviews or inbound links — require time and a real human touch.

Sure, you can buy an automated tool that employs lots of gimmicks to rapidly increase your follower count. But nobody who is influential in social media is going to help your business succeed if your Tweet-stream contains a bunch of pithy quotes or random links, and is completely devoid of conversations with other PEOPLE.

Think of it like a cocktail party or networking event. The guy getting in everyone’s face selling a multi-level-marketing product might, just by sheer force of will, get 1 out of 100 people to “join his downline” at the event. But the other 99 will write him off as tacky and self-serving.

Please, for the love of humanity: DON’T BE THAT GUY.

Instead, be the guy (or gal) who makes solid connections with the 10-15 connectors and mavens at the party, and then follows up to help them with THEIR goals so you can ultimately achieve YOUR goals.

Check out the #2daysinseattle Twitter conversation. The Seattle visitors and convention bureau hired an agency to line up 30 influential tweeps to curate content, converse with people online, and build awareness of Seattle tourism options. Here’s the list of curators.

My point in sharing this example is not that you must hire an agency to line up 30 tweeps. [Depending on your resources and level of urgency, that may be either be a master stroke or a catastrophic fail.]

But it does help to illustrate how the game works. It requires humans who can use machines to talk to other humans. And eventually, when trust and influence are in place, some of those humans will be inspired to take actions that create commercial value for other humans.

Building that influence and trust requires time and people. And yes, it also requires investment.

Tell me I’m wrong about all this in the space below.  Or tell me that I’m partly right but missed a key point or two. Or tell me that I need to call my mother.

Oct 182011
 
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Like Robert Scoble — and several other people I follow — I feel the gravitational pull of G+ as a publishing and engagement platform.

I spent some time today writing a commentary on a NY Times Deal Book story from yesterday on Groupon. What I wrote would be called a blog post, if I had published it on my blog. But instead I posted it to G+.

Here’s the link. I’d love your comments, here or there.

http://bit.ly/mSlnDQ

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!

Jul 282009
 
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This is the christening entry of a blog dedicated to the category of Business to Business Demand Management. B2B Demand Management encompasses or relates to a number of functional marketing and sales disciplines. Among these are Customer Relationship Management, Business Media, Social Media, Lead Generation, Direct Marketing, Web Marketing, Lead Management, Lead Nurturing, Cost of Acquisition, Marketing Automation, Funnel Optimization, Marketing Portfolio Management, the 4 (or 5) P’s framework, and Revenue Forecasting.

The author of this blog is me: Tom Scearce.  I was originally assigned the moniker “The Lord of The Leads” when I served as Vice President of Market Development at a business communications company called Speakeasy, which is owned by Best Buy. I never asked why I was given the “LOTL” handle. It would be nice to think that the title (“The Lord”) implies a certain level of mastery over my subject matter (“the Leads”). It would be just as correct, however, to apply a more humbling definition instead. For like the various ring-bearers in the epic Tolkein trilogy of a similar name, I became (and remain) subject to a certain unhealthy obsession with the Precious… …er, with the topic of B2B demand management.

Why the obsession? The reasons are many but I’ll choose just one for purposes of illustration. It has something to do with the chance to solve a business problem that was articulated so well by John Wanamaker, nearly a century and a half ago. Here is his oft-quoted pearl of wisdom, which every modern marketer knows by heart.

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

We have finally reached an age where the convergence of technology, capital investment, and skills available in the labor pool have combined to make the previously unknowable (e.g., what is really working in my marketing mix and what is not?) knowable.

Knowable enough, anyway. Knowable enough to drag the mysterious black box in a dark corner that has heretofore been called “the marketing department” out into the daylight where it can be opened, examined, and improved.

(By the way, I refer to the marketing department as a mysterious black box not because I have a disdain for marketing, but because a lack of transparency has been an unfortunate side-effect of Wanamaker’s quandary. Most marketers, this one included, would actually like not to live and work in a mysterious black box. It’s cold and uncomortable in there. And it’s hard to see what you’re doing.)

Every other function in the modern enterprise has, for decades, been subject to time-honored and refined measurement practices and optimization regimes. Finance, Operations, Human Resources, and Sales can all be measured and managed ten ways to Friday. Marketing, however, has largely seen evaluations of its performance simply rise and fall with the success of the Sales team.

Is it a bad thing that Marketing and Sales be evaluated as a unit? Not necessarily. To be sure, if Marketing is not adding value to the Sales function, and Sales is not meeting its objectives, then changes are probably due in at least one of those departments. But change without deeper inquiry into root causes still leaves John Wanamaker’s problem unsolved. And since most companies spend between 3% and 10% of revenues on marketing, ignorance is expensive. Said differently, the business case for demand management competency can be compelling.

Sam Shepard once said, “Right in the middle of a contradiction, that’s the place to be.”

So, here is the great contradiction that (partially) explains my obsession with the demand management category.

  1. Through a convergence of technology, venture capital, and human capital, we now have within our reach the solution to a generations-old business problem: marketing effectiveness.
  2. The stakes in this game are high – $161.4B will be spent on advertising in the U.S. this year. That means a lot of CFOs, COOs, and CEOs will be asking, especially this year, what that $161.4B paid for.
  3. Most companies have not yet invested in demand management competency.

Now your turn: Why does this contradiction exist? What explains it? And what will it take to change the status quo?