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Posts Tagged ‘Demand Process Integration’

This week I’m publishing a two-part blog series.  This series takes a look at the challenge marketing leaders face in managing demand as an operational process.  The first post presented an introduction to the topic and examined the issue of tracking B2B buyer behavior.  The second post, today, looks at the fundamental issue of B2B marketing leaders’ ‘lack of an operations mindset.’ ~ABN

Problem Two:  Our Lack of an Operations Mindset

Given we have a rapidly expanding set of technological capabilities – through marketing automation and similar platforms – to ‘track the buyer,’ what is remaining for us to effectively manage demand as an end-to-end, optimize-able process?  I noted in the previous post in this series, “Clearly there is something else – something bigger – that is holding us back … .”

That bigger issue is B2B marketing leaders’ lack of an operations mindset.

This is the issue that B2B marketing leaders – especially CMOs – often can’t put their finger on, but that is at the core of much of our modern challenges.  They talk about not being able to demonstrate the revenue impact of marketing; they talk about not having ‘hard numbers’; or they speak to not having a dashboard to really visualize marketing results.  Obviously none of these ‘wants’ represent an operations mindset, per se, but they do represent the result of successfully managing demand as a process.

So how do B2B marketing leaders typically remedy this situation?  They invest in technology, but when it comes to their marketing programs, they continue to do ‘more of the same.’

Therein lies the disconnect, as I note in Balancing the Demand Equation:

The disconnect:  If as B2B marketers we are applying legacy mass-marketing, top-of-funnel techniques to the effort of customer acquisition and nurturing in an era of Buyer 2.0, there is a high likelihood that we will have a single, ineffective touchpoint with our buyer and then subsequently lose his/her engagement as (s)he goes through the buying process.  Most of our demand generation programs thus remain highly inefficient, largely focused on awareness, and so we consistently lose track of warm leads that literally ‘leak’ out of our sale funnel, as Forrester has noted in its research.  This is particularly problematic because Buyer 2.0 is moving forward in the buyer education process and will make a purchase, but if our B2B demand generation program loses touch with that buyer, the chance of him/her purchasing from us is greatly decreased.

Most B2B marketing organizations thus do not have a top-of-funnel problem.  What they really have is a ‘middle-of-the-funnel’ problem.

This is why our B2B demand generation efforts cannot be haphazard or intermittent; instead, they need to be consistent and continuous processes.  …

Yet it is exactly this type of a consistent and continuous B2B demand process – one that perpetually operates to move a buyer through multiple education and qualification stages (adjusting to the pace of the buying cycle), that combines both automated and live touch points and that only turns a lead over to sales after sufficient processing – that B2B marketing leaders are challenged to build.

We want a lead factory – a construct that requires understanding and enabling the multiple processing stages required to take in raw inputs and to churn out a finished product – but instead we deliver a series of ‘stage shows.’

What is at the core of this issue?  It has nothing to do with good intentions; rather, it is the product of biases that are deep-rooted and fundamentally engrained in B2B marketers.

  • First, right-brain/creative types are often drawn to marketing, not left-brainers.
  • Second, marketing training at the vocational and academic level is focused on channels and tactics and on building consumer brands, but rarely speaks to the orchestration and coordination of multiple channels and tactics in a sequence to drive buyer dialogue.
  • Third, on the off-chance a B2B marketer has some operations-analysis experience, it was probably garnered either in an MBA class or in an industrial setting, and it was probably applied to some sort of manufacturing process – meaning it never ‘clicked’ that this could also be applied to marketing.
  • Fourth, the opportunities and challenges around such a complex, iterative and information empowered Buyer 2.0 are relatively recent; meaning, it truly is a changed world of marketing today from five years ago or ten years ago, when more ‘one-and-done’ tactics in more limited channels might have actually been a successful route.

It’s time for our training, bias and ultimate mindset as B2B marketers to catch up with our operational reality.  So where do we need to focus our time and attention to drive change?

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This week I’m publishing a two-part blog series.  This series takes a look at the challenge marketing leaders face in managing demand as an operational process.  The first post, today, presents an introduction to the topic and examines the issue of tracking B2B buyer behavior. ~ABN

I open Balancing the Demand Equation by commenting, “Modern B2B demand generation is failing.  Seriously.”  What’s going on?  Amid an information power shift from sellers to buyers, an explosion of Web 2.0 communication channels and raised expectations from sales colleagues and executive management, B2B marketers are finding it tougher than ever to credibly and efficiently add value in the “lead-to-revenue” process, as Forrester terms it.  I hear this challenge regularly from senior marketers and CMOs, who often are hard-pressed to show the real impact of their efforts on their companies’ bottom lines.

Where’s the gap?

There are many challenges, but perhaps one of the greatest is our frequent inability as B2B marketing leaders to conceptualize and manage ‘demand’ – used here in the classical economics sense of the word – as an operational, repeatable and sustainable process.  Stated in another way, we do not treat B2B buyer demand as something that is built via a series of optimize-able steps, through which we turn initial buyer interest into a lifetime of customer revenue.

What goes into such an end-to-end demand process?  The core organizing thread is the logic around the dialogue we plan to drive with the buyer, based on his/her buying process.  This aligns with a virtual ‘layer’ of content marketing efforts that should extend across channels, addressing various stages of the buying process.  This dialogue also should be aligned with a layer of lead qualification activities, which extend throughout all phases of the buying process.  These parallel layers of content marketing and lead qualification should align with various marketing and sales roles, spanning both automated nurturing and also live interaction at various stages of the buying process.  And the entire process should be supported by data and systems that enable the end-to-end orchestration of marketing and sales efforts to move the buyer forward.

Active demand process management thus is critical to successful, modern B2B marketing and demand generation, and yet B2B marketing leaders are only beginning to scratch the surface of doing so.

In fact, this gap was driven home as I was reading a recent pair of research briefs, written by Lori Wizdo and Jeff Ernst (Twitter: @jeffernst), both analysts at Forrester.  The first brief, “Automating Lead-to-revenue Management” by Wizdo, notes that B2B technology marketing organizations’ contribution to lead pipelines, on average, hovers at a surprisingly-low 27%.  The second brief, “The State Of B2B Demand Generation: Disjointed” by Ernst, further notes that only one in four B2B marketing organizations “… have defined a lead-to-revenue management process that their marketing and sales teams follow” and that less than 5% of aggregate marketing and sales interaction with B2B buyers rises to the level of what Ernst would consider truly “orchestrated.”

Clearly modern B2B demand generation is failing.  And all of the great messaging and creative, smart tradeshow sponsorships and new technology investments that we throw at the problem cannot help if we are unable make a critical leap.  We must be able to manage demand as an operational process.

So why haven’t we done this yet?

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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’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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