Some of you have already read about my recent departure from marketing automation vendor Silverpop. This past Friday was my last day as B2B Marketing Evangelist and Director of Field Marketing there. On Monday I took on a new role. I am now Vice President of Demand Generation Strategy at Left Brain Marketing, a demand generation agency that is based in Silicon Valley (although I am remaining in Atlanta, in case you were wondering).
Why the change? What’s on the horizon?
I’m very excited about working with Malcolm Friedberg, Robert Moreau, Sandra Syrett and the rest of the team at Left Brain Marketing. I believe this move will put me in a better position than ever to help B2B marketers develop successful, buyer-centric demand generation programs and build their brands in a bottoms-up, grassroots fashion – what I believe are the keys to achieving sustainable revenues in the modern B2B marketing environment. I also believe that Left Brain Marketing represents the right type of agency at the right time in the B2B marketplace. Its focus is on demand generation; it blends strategy with execution, partnering with its clients to design and execute programs; it recognizes that process change does not occur over night, establishing long-term relationships with its clients; it leverages marketing automation technology but is vendor agnostic; it believes successful marketing programs emerge from focusing on buyers and working with smart people; and it blends big consultancy brains with small agency touch.
We are at a critical – and challenging – moment in the evolution both of modern demand generation practice and of the discipline of B2B marketing. More than ever it is critical for us to close the “Technology Innovation Vs. People/Process Stagnation Gap in Modern B2B Demand Generation,” which I noted in one of my final posts on Silverpop’s blog. There is tremendous potential to leverage modern marketing technology and pressing need to market differently to the modern B2B buyer. Yet technology alone is not sufficient to address this gap.
Joining the team at Left Brain Marketing gives me the opportunity to better help B2B marketers succeed in this environment and to focus on areas where I believe a demand generation agency can provide key value-add:
> ‘People and process’ remain the greatest barriers today to successful B2B demand generation: There is, indeed, tremendous potential for marketing automation technology today. A DemandGen Report article summarized Aberdeen research that found, “[N]urtured leads in Best-in-Class organizations delivered 47% higher average order values than non-nurtured leads.” Yet adoption rates remain low and even when the technology is adopted, it has high failure rates.
Some data to consider (which I covered in a past blog post):
- Only 7-10% of B2B marketing organizations in the US have adopted marketing automation technology, according to SiriusDecisions at their May 2010 summit.
- Only 24% of these adopters report they are “generating enough demand (sales leads) to satisfy [their] sales team,” according to a Bulldog Solutions/Frost & Sullivan study.
- When asked what their top reason is for not successfully leveraging marketing automation, “We don’t have the right or sufficient number of people” and “We don’t have the right processes” came in as the number one and two responses.
There are two points of synthesis from this and related data. One, there remains only limited examples of successful sophisticated use cases of marketing automation in B2B demand generation today. Combining some of the data above, it is possible that only about 2-3% of B2B marketers are using automation to power successful demand generation programs today. Two, the demarcation between sophisticated and unsophisticated use cases is not about the technology adoption, it’s about how these B2B marketing organizations approached their demand generation programs. It’s about knowledge, strategy, program design and campaign execution.
That’s why I’ve joined an agency that is focused on helping its clients build the right demand generation approach from day one – starting with people and process, and focused on the targeted buyer.
> Demand generation approach and strategy should not be driven by marketing automation vendors’ capabilities (or lack thereof): A corollary we can draw from the adoption data above is that it’s most important for B2B marketers to do what is right for their organization, in their specific business environment when it comes to their demand generation programs. We see constant feuding between vendors around features and functions – it seems to be the lifeblood of marketing automation salespeople today, but it’s really not where B2B marketers should be spending their time. You shouldn’t adopt a marketing automation platform because of its ability to transform your organization; rather, you should transform your organization, and then adopt the right technology that will help you amplify this transformation.
That’s why I’ve joined an agency that supports a wide range of marketing automation and CRM platforms but that is fundamentally vendor agnostic – preferring to match the right technology to the right client’s need.
> B2B marketers need the right type of partner when it comes to building their demand generation strategy and programs. The early history of B2B marketing automation is dotted with firms that focused merely on technology implementation or that merely operated B2B marketers’ demand generation programs for them. No one wins with this type of support; you don’t get better as a marketer. B2B marketers need the right counselor to take them through people and process change, but they also need a partner that is ready to roll up his/her sleeves and help affect change on the front line, in the trenches and over a long period of time. This stuff doesn’t happen overnight. This means the focus of demand generation must be on the marketing programs and the results, not merely on the successful adoption of marketing technology.
That’s why I’ve joined a firm that leads with the marketing, that partners with its clients and that looks to technology as a means to an end.
I enjoyed my time at Silverpop; in fact, I want to thank Bill Nussey and the rest of the team there for the opportunity to work with a world-class group of technologists, salespeople and marketers. (And let me be clear that I believe Silverpop has a world-class marketing platform – one that we are leveraging as part of current engagements with Left Brain Marketing clients.) We accomplished quite a lot during my tenure at Silverpop, especially building out the B2B Marketing University series, but I believed it was time to roll up my sleeves and get back into the demand generation trenches.
I joined Left Brain Marketing because it was the right time for me to join such an organization and because it’s the right agency for the current era of demand generation.