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Posts Tagged ‘marketing execution management’

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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I tackled this important topic last Wednesday in a new post on the Silverpop Demand Generation (DG) blog – a post that also was highlighted on the Savvy B2B Marketing blog in their weekly roundup.

Source: iStockphoto

I’ve noticed a resurgence of this question in recent months — or at least I personally find I’m getting asked this question more than ever by B2B marketers.  I think the trend is linked to a new generation of B2B marketers that are adopting marketing automation and that are trying to wrap their heads around the demand generation technology ecosystem.

“CRM and marketing automation have purposes and capabilities that are related and complementary but very different, and these differences are salient to what we’re trying to accomplish with B2B demand generation,” I note in the post.  “The two are integral.  You need both, but you need to understand what each one does for you, and what it doesn’t do.”

So clearly it’s great timing both to be talking about the two types of platforms and for a blog post that digs into the details, comparing them.

The DG post breaks down the two platforms at three levels:

  • A first take: What are some top level similarities and differences, and where do these platforms sit in the larger marketing technology ecosystem?  This section includes a great contributed chart from David Raab.
  • An analysis of the goals of each platform: What is the intended strategic purpose of each platform?
  • A deep dive into features and capabilities: What are the specific things each platform does and doesn’t do?  This section includes some great contributed charts from Malcolm Friedberg with Left Brain Marketing and Jep Castelein, a.k.a. “The Lead Sloth.”

I think the most interesting aspect of the dialogue in this post is around the strategic role of marketing automation – a topic I also covered in a past post on MarketingProfs Daily Fix blog.  I note in the DG post:

Marketing automation — at it’s most fundamental level — was developed to help marketers better target and execute one-to-one communication with key prospects within the context of demand generation efforts, simultaneously orchestrating and tracking marketing resources against this activity.  CRM consolidates a great deal of information about prospects and customers; however, it provides virtually no framework or tools for true nurturing of earlier-stage prospects, and it definitely is not a communication platform.  Marketing automation leverages CRM and addresses these gaps, but it then presents new capabilities for B2B marketers that enable them to take their demand generation programs to the next level.

I think of marketing automation as the technology infrastructure you need to power buyer-centric demand generation.  It is a critical element in scaling and managing a pattern of dynamic campaigning that is buyer led and that engages buyers on a ‘mass one-to-one’ basis.

Honestly, this is a worthwhile post to check out – with great insights from a number of industry luminaries – so I won’t steal any more of its thunder here.

Click here to read the full DG post.

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This week I’m publishing a four-part blog series — based on research I’m doing as part of the updated focus for my marketing book project.  This series takes a look at B2B demand generation today.  The first post provided an introduction to the series.  Parts two through four examine the three major challenges facing B2B demand generation.  The second post identified why technology, alone, is not enough to improve B2B demand generationThe third post explored our continuing struggle as maketers to link marketing tactics to revenue outcomes.  The final post today looks at the third challenge — highlighting our consistent failure when it comes to placing the B2B buyer at the center of our demand generation planning.  ~ABN

So what does that average B2B marketing organization look like today?  And what are the challenges that organizations must overcome to get to best-in-class?

 

Challenge #3:  We too often don’t start with our targeted buyer when it comes to developing B2B demand generation programs, nor do we rationalize the content and pacing of our nurturing against the buyer’s decision-making process.

This third point is perhaps at the core of the other two problems.  Our failures with technology and our inability to link activities to revenue outcomes are also linked to the fact that too often we don’t start our marketing thinking, building or planning in the most obvious place.  We don’t start with the buyer, and we certainly don’t take into account the major changes in the nature of the buyer over the last decade.

“It’s a no-brainer: You can’t make a connection with your audience unless you know who you’re trying to reach,” comments B2B marketing consultant Stephanie Tilton on the Savvy B2B Marketing Blog.  “This gets down to marketing basics – you need to develop buyer personas. Yet my unscientific polls show that a fair number of B2B marketers haven’t undertaken the exercise of developing buyer personas.”

So we don’t tend to define and understand buyer personas.  We also don’t leverage them to improve the relevance of messaging and content, and we don’t rationalize the timing and pacing of our marketing activities against them.

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This week I’m publishing a four-part blog series — based on research I’m doing as part of the updated focus for my marketing book project.  This series takes a look at B2B demand generation today.  The first post provided an introduction to the series.  Parts two through four examine the three major challenges facing B2B demand generation.  The second post identified why technology, alone, is not enough to improve B2B demand generation.  Today’s post looks at the second challenge — exploring our continuing struggle as maketers to link marketing tactics to revenue outcomes.  ~ABN

So what does that average B2B marketing organization look like today?  And what are the challenges that organizations must overcome to get to best-in-class?

 

Challenge #2:  We still struggle when it comes to linking our B2B marketing tactics to revenue outcomes; thus, we have a hard time proving (and better targeting) the specific impact of investments in content offers and demand generation programs.

The Web 2.0 world has substantially changed the dynamics between sellers and buyers – changing the information consumption patterns of B2B buyers and resulting in a new era of buyer power.  One dynamic is the emerging importance of content and the impetus to adopt new content marketing processes

But we need to be able see the linkages between content consumption and revenue outcomes – both elasticity and ‘critical path’ – within a given persona’s buying process if we are going to be able to develop sophisticated content-based nurturing.  Yet seeing this type of linkage is in fact the Achilles heel for many B2B marketing organizations.

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This week I’m publishing a four-part blog series — based on research I’m doing as part of the updated focus for my marketing book project.  This series takes a look at B2B demand generation today.  The first post provided an introduction to the series.  Parts two through four examine the three major challenges facing B2B demand generation.  Today’s post looks at the first challenge — identifying why technology, alone, is not enough to improve B2B demand generation.  ~ABN

So what does that average B2B marketing organization look like today?  And what are the challenges that organizations must overcome to get to best-in-class?

 

Challenge #1:  We implement technology to solve our B2B demand generation problems, but we fail to substantially update our underlying processes and roles; thus, we find technology by itself has not really solved our problems.

SiriusDecisions reported at their 2010 summit that the penetration rate for marketing automation platforms among B2B marketing organizations in the US currently is at roughly 7-10%, but they project this will rise to as much as 30% by 2015.  A recent CRM Magazine article further noted, “The percentage of firms that have implemented CRM [has] increased, according to industry research firm CSO Insights, from 53% in 2003 to 75% in 2010 … .”

Clearly the adoption of technology – particularly marketing automation and CRM – among B2B marketing organizations is on the rise.  Yet within organizations that have adopted the technology, we too often see a consistent pattern of doing what it takes to initially implement the technology – creating minimal definitions and scoring models to get going – but falling far short of a complete overhaul of our core processes and roles.  So we never fully leverage this technology.

“Today many B2B marketers are buying into [this] idea: If they acquire a marketing automation solution, then they will wind up with a lead management process,” comments Carlos Hidalgo of The Annuitas Group in a recent post on Silverpop’s Demand Generation blog.  “Nothing could be further from the truth.  Technology adoption must occur hand-in-hand with process evolution.”

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This week I’m publishing a four-part blog series — based on research I’m doing as part of the updated focus for my marketing book project.  This series takes a look at B2B demand generation today.  I’ll put up a new post each day, and then I’ll link all of the articles together once I’m done posting the series.  Today’s post is part one, which serves as the introduction for the series.  ~ABN 

There is no question we are in the midst of a seismic change in the B2B demand generation model.  This is a topic I’ve covered in my blogging over the last 12 months and some of the best and brightest in B2B marketing have detailed in their own research and writing.  

In fact, it’s more than just change; it is fundamental evolution of the B2B demand generation model.  But as with any theory of ‘evolution,’ there often is debate – both around origins and also the current state of being. 

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Some of you have been asking about the status of my book project, and so I wanted to provide a quick update.

I announced a little over a year ago that I had begun working on a book project – tentatively titled Connected Marketing – “… that covers the topic of marketing technology and that is meant to help marketers deploy and use technology in a substantially-different way than they do today,” per my last update.

What’s the status of this project today?

Source: iStockphoto

First, let me explain that this is a project that I’ve always been pursuing on my own time – i.e., writing early in the morning, late at night or on the weekends.  And that is something that’s been challenging to do, given my active role at Silverpop as director of field marketing and as the company’s ‘B2B Marketing Evangelist.’  Many of you know I’ve spent the greater part of the last 13+ months on the road throughout North America and Europe, speaking, meeting with customers, launching new events (such as B2B Marketing University) and educating the marketing community about how to strategically leverage marketing automation technology

Don’t get me wrong, it’s awesome work — it really is — and it’s a mission I’m passionate about, so no complaints here!  It’s just hard – as I’m sure you can appreciate – to both be a dedicated, on-the-road evangelist/marketer and also spend focused time on a personal book project at once.  As a result, the book project has had to take a back seat many weeks.

Second, this is a project that – as many projects do – has matured over time as I’ve continued to research and write about the topic.  Let me be clear that I’m absolutely continuing to work on this project, but its focus has shifted and has moved in what is at once both an adjacent and evolutionary new direction. 

How marketers can better leverage marketing technology to be a more ‘connected’ marketer remains a critical element of the book, but I increasingly recognize two fundamental realities that also are critical to cover in the book. 

  1. As many of you probably will concur, technology adoption alone will not help marketers be more connected, nor is it necessarily the right first step; strategy and process change is the first step. 
  2. Much of the need for new technology – and new strategy and process – is the result of a fundamentally-changing modern marketing environment. 

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You may have noticed less-frequent posting activity here on Propelling Brands over the last few months.  It’s not that I’ve been blogging less; rather, it’s the challenge of being asked to contribute blog posts to a growing number of channels.  These include the Demand Generation blog for Silverpop (where I’m Director, Field Marketing and B2B Marketing Evangelist), the Daily Fix Blog for MarketingProfs (where I’m a semi-regular contributor on marketing automation topics) and several of Silverpop’s partner blogs, including The Annuitas Group blog, for which I have done occasional postings.

Source: iStockphoto

The truth is, I’m blogging more than ever — just in lots of different places.  I’m also very active on Twitter (you can follow me on Twitter via my handle, @abneedles), which has truly become a microblog on what I’m seeing and hearing in the B2B marketing world.  Add to this quite a few live and virtual speaking engagements over the past year on a variety of B2B marketing topics … and you can see it’s been a busy last 12 months.

Given this, I wanted to accomplish two things with this post: 

First, I wanted to let you know I’m going to be shifting the role Propelling Brands plays in my writing and speaking over the coming months.  I plan to get back into the rhythm of doing original, ‘deeper-dives’ on key strategic marketing topics at least once a month, so these will continue.  I’m also going to begin posting summaries and links to my posts elsewhere, as well, so that I can consolidate all of my writing about B2B marketing to one location.

Second, I’m kicking off this shift by posting an index of all of my B2B marketing posts I’ve done over the last 12 months — both here on Propelling Brands and on other blogs …

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Today I am extending an open invitation for marketers that read this blog to help participate, both in my upcoming book – tentatively titled Connected Marketing – and in my current graduate research project, by taking part in a survey of US marketers that I am currently conducting.

As I noted in a previous post, the focus of my current research is on analyzing and synthesizing ways that marketers could better leverage technology for more connected and more strategic marketing, as well as identifying the cultural, organizational and technological barriers marketers face in trying to adopt strategic marketing technology (versus the myriad of tactical technologies they rely upon today).  By presenting insights both into the ‘state of the art’ and into what is keeping marketers from getting there, I hope to provide marketers with new leverage in how they attack the problem.

A key component of this research is an original benchmark survey of marketers focused on garnering insights into marketing technology priorities and experiences.  This is where I need your help.

    

Participate in the Survey

If you are a US-based marketer, please take a few minutes this week to participate in this survey.

This is the last week of the survey, and I need the help of the regular readers of Propelling Brands to hit my target research sample size.  So if you can take a few minutes today to fill this out, I’d appreciate it.  It shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes, and as a thank-you for your participation, you will receive a summary of the survey results and will be entered into a drawing for an Amazon gift card.

Deadline for completing the survey is Midnight PT on Sunday, April 19, 2009.

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No member of the C-suite has a riskier or more-short-lived term than the chief marketing officer (CMO).  The average tenure of a CMO at the ‘100 most advertised’ US brands is 28.4 months, according to recruiting firm Spencer Stuart in a recent Advertising Age column by John Quelch.  In fact, as a marketer, few things are as much of a sure-fire, eventual career killer as being named CMO.  Strange … you’d think that getting to the top of marketing hierarchy would be the pinnacle of one’s career.

The challenges faced by the CMO speak to many of the fundamental strategic problems underlying marketing organizations and marketing science today and that are linked to a permanent shift in power from brand-company to customer and to a proliferation of communication channels and information sources.

For CMOs to succeed they must sit at the top of a newly-agile marketing organization, built from the ground up with sophisticated, financially-savvy and technology-empowered closed-loop systems and processes in place that can scale, that can manage increasingly complex and customer-centric communication execution and that can provide necessary transparency into multi-channel program performance.  And this transparency must provide other C-suite colleagues with the real-time status of key performance indicators (KPIs) and on the return on investment (ROI) of marketing programs in net present value (NPV) terms.  “[F]inancial accountability of marketing is here to stay,” argues Quelch in the Advertising Age column.  “[I]mproved accountability requires CMOs to be financially literate, to understand the balance sheet as well as the income-statement effects of marketing initiatives.”

Source: iStockphoto

Source: iStockphoto

Too often, though, such an organization does not exist.  “Although the marketplace has changed beyond all recognition due to Web 2.0 and the explosion in digital – marketing technology and process have not kept up with the changes,” commented Bob Barker, VP of corporate marketing at Alterian, in a recent post on DM News.

The imperative for the CMO, thus, is to drive change. 

And that change must be focused on building just such an organization.  It is not sufficient to manage execution of the existing organization or to believe that your company is already ‘getting it right’ today.  There is no room for complacency or incremental efforts.  Marketing is a dynamic practice that keeps an organization in check with the dynamic needs of its customers and of the marketplace.  CMOs must drive change because their organizations must constantly change to remain competitive – a fact that was validated in a recent CMO Council report, which noted “… 61% of respondents believe that marketing operational transformation will be an essential area of focus for them in the months ahead.”

So how do CMOs do this?  And where should they focus their efforts to transform the marketing organization?

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This is the second in a three-part series of posts on integrated marketing management platforms.  The first post identified the strategic need for integrated marketing management, mapped this to key marketing ‘pain points’ that these systems address and provided an overview of the disparate technology camps that are vying to deliver robust integrated marketing management platforms to marketing organizations.  Click here to view the first post, “Marketer’s Needs + Technology Landscape.”

Today’s post will present high-level thoughts for marketers on approaches to analyzing their needs and to selecting a platform that is the right ‘fit’ for their organization.  The final post in this series will present snapshots of the top 20 vendors I’m watching and that I believe are representative, forward-thinking leaders in this segment.

    

What should guide your decision to purchase an integrated marketing management platform? 

Let’s start with the basics:  What are your fundamental business goals?  And what marketing programs have you deployed to achieve these goals?  Ideally you want to invest in technology infrastructure that can help you achieve your business goals, that mirror your marketing programs and that (when all is said and done) can help you measure the impact that you made in reaching this goal.  Seems straightforward … except (and let’s not sugar coat this) … marketing processes and communication flows are complex and borderline ‘ugly’ when it comes to the level of complex, integrated execution and monitoring involved.  This means that your technology infrastructure must be able to handle this ‘ugliness.’ 

Source: iStockphoto

Source: iStockphoto

That brings us to the more advanced issue in evaluating the purchase of an integrated marketing management platform:  “How do I bring method to the madness?” as Market2Lead CEO Geoff Rego framed in a phone interview.  Whereas focus should rule the day in marketing strategy and planning, robust capability and the ‘kitchen sink’ factor should, in part, guide your technology decisions.  You want a platform that can give you real leverage.  In fact, you probably need more than you think you need.  And you can’t ‘wimp out’ when it comes to digging into this decision; this is a system that will become your lifeline; nor can you simply go with the marketing technology equivalent of ‘Big Blue’ (because no one got fired for buying Big Blue, right?).

“One thing not to do is to look at a generic list of the ‘top three’ products or ‘industry leaders’ and refuse to consider any others,” comments industry analyst David Raab in a white paper, titled “Three Differences that Matter in Demand Generation Systems.”  Raab continues, “On the other hand, few marketers have the time or inclination to perform an in‐depth technical analysis of several dozen demand generation systems, or even to document their own needs in detail.”

So then what is the middle ground, and how should marketing organizations approach finding the right ‘fit’ for their organization … without having to build CIO-level expertise and while staying true to their current, successful (but not fully leveraged) marketing processes?

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