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Archive for the ‘Demand Generation’ Category

A few weeks ago, I published a series of blog posts that ask the question, “Why don’t marketing leaders manage ‘demand’ as an operational process.”  I noted the core challenge for many B2B marketing leaders is we simply do not build, manage or optimize demand “… as an operational, repeatable and sustainable process.”  Sure we have marketing processes, but mostly they are periodic, ‘activity-based’ (and over-complicated) processes, focused on the planning and production of things such as content and events.

What we fail to conceptualize is the more holistic, perpetual process of continuously moving buyers from their earliest lead state to a revenue close – i.e., a true, central ‘outcome-based’ process.  Moreover, we never really take a step back and consider that all of our other marketing and sales processes should be rationalized, optimized and simplified against this central process.  In fact, when we take this point of view, it explains much of the disconnect that exists between marketing and sales.  For decades, B2B marketers have produced campaigns, and B2B sales team members have produced revenue.  The two could not be more diametrically opposed.

The perspective fortunately is changing.  With 72% of marketing automation ‘top performers’ reporting their number-one goal today is to increase revenue, according to Gleanster, the r-word increasingly is top of the agenda for B2B marketers.  And an increasing number of B2B companies large and small are measuring marketing performance via – or at least asking initial questions that drive toward – a revenue basis.  Marketing campaigns and content increasingly are being built with the buyer’s content needs during the buying process in mind.  And as I mentioned in my previous blog post, thanks to marketing automation technology, we are no longer challenged when it comes to the technology to track our buyer’s interactions with our content and programs.

So you would think we would have all the right ingredients to succeed with perpetual B2B demand generation – to build, manage and optimize literal lead-to-revenue factories.  But no.

Our drive towards a managed demand process continues to fall apart at execution.

As it turns out, getting our stream of inbound and outbound buyer education working in tandem with our lead qualification efforts, automating everything and getting everyone on the marketing and sales team partnering and operating on a continuous basis around this process … well that’s where we still struggle.

Fortunately, there is a better way.

The key to a managed demand process and to operating perpetual B2B demand generation is adopting a new approach – a new mindset, if you will.  It is one that I call “demand process stewardship.”

(more…)

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My latest column on DemandGen Report, “Why Demand Generation Shouldn’t Be Focused on Marketing Qualified Leads,” appeared today.

It opens:

We’re at a crossroads in modern B2B demand generation.

Fifty-eight percent of marketing automation adopters cite “generate more leads” as a key motivator, according to Gleanster.  Similarly, 78% of B2B marketers report “generating high quality leads” as their greatest B2B marketing challenge in MarketingSherpa’s “2011 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report.”

Yet a 2011 joint study by Vorsight and The Bridge Group noted, “On average, Sales Reps report that only 31% of all leads generated fit their Ideal Customer Profile.  Said another way, Sales Reps believe roughly 70% of the leads they receive have a low probability to purchase.”  And data from a recent IDC Technology Marketing Barometer Study indicates that year-over-year, between 2011 and 2012, our marketing and sales alignment around demand generation has actually gotten worse.

What’s going on?

The column looks at our challenge as B2B marketers aligning with sales and maintaining a strategic focus on revenue, and it examines how this relates to our frequent over-focus on marketing qualified leads (or MQLs, a term coined by SiriusDecisions) in our demand generation programs.

Click here to read the entire column.

As always, I appreciate your feedback on the piece.

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On September 19, my first book, Balancing the Demand Equation:  The Elements of a Successful, Modern B2B Demand Generation Model, was released on Amazon.

I can honestly say it was a very cool moment in my own personal and professional life, and I am thankful for so many who have helped make this project a reality over the past two-plus years.

So nearly 30 days later, how’s it going?

As background, I wrote the book to help fellow B2B marketers understand and succeed in a challenging modern demand generation environment – a topic I’m obviously passionate about and have been speaking and writing about now for several years. It covers how and why B2B marketing has changed in a Web 2.0 environment, and it provides a framework for building and operationalizing a ‘successful, modern B2B demand generation model.’  (BTW, to download a more-detailed summary of the book and its table of contents, click here.)

Literally, I wrote the book on B2B demand generation that I believed wasn’t out there — but needed to be!

I’m thus happy to report that the book has been well-received by the very B2B marketing community it was written for, with strong early sales and some fantastic initial reviews.

But no book release is without its ups and downs.  I’ve had my fair share of supply-chain issues and I’m sure I have frustrated a few people who have tried to order the book.  (And for that I apologize.)  Yet I can’t complain; that’s what happens when your book becomes a top-five bestseller on Amazon!  (Read:  Selling out can be a good problem to have.)

So given all that’s happened in the last 30 days, I thought I’d do a quick round-up and share some highlights, as well as providing an update on availability of the book.

Initial Reviews

Initial reviews have been fantastic.  In fact, I’m humbled by what a number of colleagues in the B2B marketing / marketing technology / demand generation world have written about my book, and I wanted to share their comments with you below:

Ardath Albee (Twitter: @ardath421), Author, eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale, wrote on her Marketing Interactions blog:

The simplicity of his approach is admirable. … It’s both strategic enough to help you think through the issues and tactical enough to help you actually do something meaningful to address them.

David Raab (Twitter: @draab), industry analyst and Author, The Marketing Performance Measurement Toolkit, wrote on his Customer Experience Matrix blog:

Adam Needles’ new book Balancing the Demand Equation closes the gap. … Consider this a guidebook for how to play the game and win.

Anand Thaker (Twitter: @AnandThaker), a marketing operations strategist and former colleague of mine at Silverpop, wrote on his Marketing Technology blog:

Balancing the Demand Equation is about the changing B2B environment where relevancy and efficiency matter most, but marketers are currently unable to deliver.

Scott Brinker (Twitter: @chiefmartec), President and CTO of ion interactive, wrote on his Chief Marketing Technologist blog:

I’ve been a fan of Adam’s for many years … he’s a master mechanic of modern marketing engines. … For the mere price of a book, it’s a bargain to tap into Adam’s experienced and inspiring thinking on these topics.

And these write-ups come on the heels of some already strong reviews, highlighted on the back cover of the book, which I shared a few weeks ago.

Again, I’m humbled, and my sincerest thanks to Ardath, David, Anand and Scott for taking the time to read and review my book.

Availability Update

While I’ve had great luck with such fantastic reviews, I can’t say the same about the supply chain side of things.

What can I say — and without getting into the details — is that within a very short time of my book being released, it was sold out and unavailable, and it took about two weeks to get back to a point where the book was consistently available via Amazon. The good news is that we’ve finally got things dialed with the printer, and we’ve been able to consistently keep the book available for the last week or two.

I obviously want to apologize to anyone who had a bad experience getting early copies; hopefully, that will not happen again.

So where can you get a copy of Balancing the Demand Equation at this point?

  • Hardcopy:  It is available in hardcopy format on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
  • Electronic version:  It is available in electronic format on Nook.  (And stay tuned as I hope to announce Kindle and iBook versions very soon.)

Amazon Bestseller!!!

Perhaps the most exciting development over the first thirty days is that my book hit Amazon top-five bestseller status in more than one marketing category.

Below is a snapshot of its ranking on October 11 … just a few days ago and probably the best day of sales yet:

So that’s the scoop!

All-in-all, a great first thirty days as an author.

I’m really excited by how the book has been received so far, and I look forward to sharing it with more B2B marketers over the coming weeks and months.  I also look forward to additional feedback as others read the book.  Let me know what you think!

Finally, thanks to so many people for supporting me in this endeavor.  Writing a book is not a solo activity.  I’ve acknowledged a number of people in the front of my book, but I want to once again say thanks to that group and to the broader network that has helped make this a reality.

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I’m excited to share that my new book, Balancing the Demand Equation, is being released on Amazon a week from this Monday on September 19.  (BTW:  You can pre-order your copy on Amazon by clicking here.)

The inspiration for the book is literally the years spent as a B2B marketer saying to myself, “There’s got to be a better way.”  And so I wrote the book as a modern handbook for B2B marketers to navigate the complex, new world of Buyer 2.0, sales/marketing alignment and marketing automation.

The book provides a framework to help B2B marketers transform their demand generation approach – moving from a legacy of batch-and-blast mass marketing and of reactive ‘sales support’ to a new state of building perpetual, buyer-centric programs that contribute to predictable and sustainable revenues for their organizations.

Click here to download a PDF overview of the book and its table of contents.

I’m also excited to share some early reviews of the book by some pretty well-respected names in the marketing and sales arena.

Jim Lenskold (Twitter: @JimLenskold), President of Lenskold Group and Author, Marketing ROI: The Path to Campaign, Customer and Corporate Profitability, wrote:

A must-read book for B2B marketers ready to drive bottom-line results and truly deliver marketing ROI through better management of the complete purchase funnel. Balancing the Demand Equation provides guidance on marketing’s increased role in educating, engaging and nurturing sales-ready leads in today’s world of marketing operations, automation and outcome-based metrics.

Robert L. Jolles (Twitter: @Jolles), President of Jolles Associates, Inc. and Author, Customer Centered Selling, wrote:

Finally! A roadmap to help B2B marketers understand the modern buyer and pioneer successful, customer-centered demand generation programs.

Thomas C. O’Guinn, Ph.D., with the Center for Brand and Product Management at the University of Wisconsin–Madison wrote:

This is a very smart book on a very important topic. Anyone who knows much about B2B marketing knows that almost everything written on it is just a round-peg-square-hole ‘fit’ of B2C knowledge, or a worked-over sales management PowerPoint deck. They also are real slogs to read. Not this. Needles’ book is a new paradigm, and one that fits perfectly with the new realities of commerce. This is sophisticated analytics, content creation and REAL customer relationship management. If a company were to seriously adopt this model, they would make a lot more money. No kidding.

Ann Handley (Twitter: @marketingprofs), Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs and Co-author, Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business, wrote:

Dear B2B Marketer: Your world is changing, and here’s the field guide that shows you precisely how to adapt.

Steven Woods (Twitter: @stevewoods), CTO of Eloqua and Author, Revenue Engine, wrote:

In Balancing the Demand Equation, Needles weaves together a well-crafted B2B demand generation framework, at both the strategic and tactical level, that shows executives a clear path to more-predictable and more-sustainable revenue outcomes. Grounded in case studies and detailed research, the book provides specific guidance and critical insights for getting the most out of marketing automation investments, while never losing sight of the strategic change towards buyer-centricity.

Sincerest thanks to these folks for taking the time to review — and in some cases even contribute to — the book.

And I look forward to your own feedback to the book over the coming weeks!

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I’ve written a number of blog posts over the last two years referencing my B2B demand generation strategy book project, and — as a number of you have noted — I’ve been much-to-quiet over the past five months.

With good reason (as I’ve been hard at work finishing this project up), but no more.  I’m pleased to announce that …

Balancing the Demand Equation:  The Elements of a Successful Modern B2B Demand Generation Model is now set to be released via New Year Publishing in hardcover on Amazon on September 19.  (Click here to pre-order your copy.)

It also will be available on iBook, Kindle and Nook shortly thereafter.

I’m particularly excited to announce the book’s release to the community of B2B marketers I’ve worked so closely with over the years.  I think this is a book you’ll find very useful in helping to take your B2B demand generation programs to the next level.  And I look forward to your feedback on it.

As I note in the book’s description:

The goal of the book is to help B2B marketers fundamentally transform their demand generation approach – building perpetual, buyer-centric programs that contribute to predictable and sustainable revenues for their organizations.  The book also helps B2B marketers re-position their role, from tactical execution manager to that of strategic demand-chain manager – a critical shift.

B2B marketers need more than a minor course correction.  They need a massive overhaul in their approach to B2B demand generation.  Balancing the Demand Equation delivers both the rationale and approach to help B2B marketers succeed in this re-alignment and to emerge as leaders in the new B2B demand chain.

Click here to download a PDF overview of the book and its table of contents.

There’s more to come on the book and its release, and I’ll keep Propelling Brands updated with the details over the coming weeks.

Also, I’ve picked back up my blogging again.  This past week I published a new post on the Left Brain DGA blog site, titled “The Real Cost of Retaining a Legacy Approach to B2B Demand Generation … And What You Can Do About It.”  And I’ll be doing more posts in the near future around many of the topics in the book.

More to come …

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For those of you that have been following my B2B demand generation book project over time, I wanted to check in with a quick update … and a request.

The update: After working and re-working the focus and scope of the book over the last six months, I’m happy to announce I’m on what I believe is a strong path to completion.  I’m more confident than ever in the evolutionary direction and focus of the book, and I strongly expect to complete this book over the next few months.  (I’m about 2/3 done today and could see being done with major writing by May or sooner.  In fact, if you’ve noticed me blogging and Tweeting less lately, it’s because I’m spending a lot of time on the book … that is, when I’m not working with Left Brain clients, which are always my priority.)

Balancing the Demand Equation, as I’m currently titling the book, will be an in-depth look at the keys to succeeding with modern B2B demand generation.  It will help B2B marketers truly understand how to balance educating the buyer with achieving repeatable, sustainable delivery of leads and revenue.  And I believe it consequently will help B2B marketers take their game to the next level.

Moreover, as you would expect from me, it’s backed by 18-plus months of serious research and thought about the model.  So it’s comprehensive and thorough, but I also think the core model and principles are quite simple.  So it’s highly digestible, as well.

The request: I’m featuring in the book a select group of B2B marketing organizations that ‘really get it.’  More than case studies, I want these examples to really prove that it’s possible to take your B2B demand generation game (and science) to the next level.

This is where I need your help.

I am putting out an open invitation to nominate best-in-class demand generators — i.e., B2B marketing organizations that are truly proving the potential today of 2.0 demand generation techniques — through evolution in their content marketing, their lead management processes, their nurturing logic and their use of marketing automation technology.

How can you nominate a best-in-class B2B demand generator?

Three options:

  • One, drop a comment below nominating the specific organization and/or specific marketer.  When you do so, I’ll also get your contact information (which won’t be public), and then I can follow up with you directly via email.
  • Two, use the contact form on my blog to send me a note, and then I can also follow up with you directly via email.
  • Three, DM me over Twitter, and I’ll share my email address so you can send me a nomination directly.

I need nominations to be in by end of March, so that there’s time to include everyone.

As always, thanks for your support and encouragement on this project.  It’s been a long time in the making, but I think it’s a better book today than it would have been six or twelve months ago.  I’m going to be proud to share the final product with you.

And I look forward to your nominations!

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A little over a week ago I published my latest post on the DemandGen (r)Evolution blog – “Dreamforce 2010: Demand Generation Insights ‘from the Cloud’” – a round-up of my takeaways from this year’s Salesforce.com Dreamforce event in San Francisco.

For those of you who are not familiar with Dreamforce, you might be asking, ‘Why a write-up on what is (at a surface level) merely a technology user conference?  What’s the takeaway for marketers?’

Source: Salesforce.com

An obvious initial response is that Salesforce.com has emerged as one of the dominant – and one of the fastest-growing – CRM platforms in the marketplace.  That alone earns it some attention.

But beyond this, as I note in my post, “Dreamforce increasingly has grown into the annual host of two critical, interdependent and growing ecosystems – and consequently was an event filled with great demand generation insights.  …  On one hand, Salesforce.com serves as the cornerstone for a growing software ecosystem around buyer-centric, demand management software.  …  On the other hand, Salesforce.com has become the leader in cloud-based application infrastructure.  …  [And] it is this cloud-based approach that also is critical to enabling [this] demand management software ecosystem … .”

Dreamforce also is a unique annual event as there doesn’t seem to be any “… other technology-based event that draws such a large group of sales and marketing executives – and the technology vendors that serve them – in one place, at one time for nearly a full week,” as I comment in the blog post.  In fact, “Some of my best conversations each year occur at Dreamforce, and this year was no different.”

So what were my major takeaways?  The blog post focuses on two major demand generation insights:

  • “B2B buyer insight is more-pervasive, more real-time and more-accessible via ‘the cloud,’ and marketers must learn to leverage this dynamic asset.
  • “Our role as marketers must focus more than ever on delivering leadership and visibility to help our organizations tune their demand generation machines and to ensure tight coupling with revenue outcomes.”

I also have embedded in this post a link to my Dreamforce interview w/ the DreamSimplicity video crew in which I talk more about the new impetus for ‘marketing in the cloud.’

Click here to read the full LBM DemandGen (r)Evolution post.

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