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Posts Tagged ‘B2B Marketing University’

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?

Source:  Left Brain MarketingI’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.

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On Friday I published a new post to the Silverpop Demand Generation (DG) blog — one that responded to the comment thread on Jep Castelein’s Lead Sloth post, “Will Marketing Automation Be Free?”  My DG post placed this dialogue in the context of what I believe really are the major challenges facing B2B demand generation today.  I also linked this back to the very-timely four-part series on the ‘real state’ of demand generation I published on this blog this past week.

The DG post argues that much of the discussion around ‘freemium models’ in the marketing automation space right now is potentially focusing on the wrong challenge:

What struck me about this ‘freemium model’ dialogue is that it is semantically interesting, but fundamentally focused in the wrong place.  As important as your choice of marketing automation technology provider is — and it is important — I’d argue that the stumbling block for most B2B marketers attempting to take their demand generation to the next level is not access to the technology, itself.  So giving it away for free doesn’t necessarily improve adoption rates.

The major obstacle today for the next generation of B2B demand generation is actually the ‘people and processes’ that must be in place to successfully leverage marketing automation technology.  And this is a point backed up by stacks of recent research reports and commentaries by some of the best and brightest in B2B marketing today.

The focus of my post then shifts to what we can do about this, and I argue (from the perspective of my role at Silverpop), that it is critical for marketing automation technology vendors to play a catalytic role in improving the state of ‘people and processes’ among B2B marketers.  “We have to pay it forward,” I noted.  We are still in single-digit-percentage adoption of marketing automation, and we’re past selling to early adopters.  The future growth of the marketing automation space, thus, is going to be closely linked to evolution of skills and approaches among mainstream B2B marketers.

The post highlights the B2B marketing programs and education Silverpop has contributed to the marketplace during my current tenure at Silverpop.  It provides updates on the Fall 2011 B2B Marketing University (B2BMU) series, as well as links to all of Silverpop’s blog content on demand generation since launching the B2BMU series.  So it’s a good combination of commentary, data and also resources for closing the gap.

Click here to read the full DG post.

And in case you missed any of my series, “The Unspoken ‘Real State’ of Modern B2B Demand Generation,” here are links to all four parts:

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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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I’ve been actively writing and presenting over the last few months on the changing B2B marketing landscape. And I’ll be talking more about this subject throughout the Fall at the B2B Marketing University series that I’m hosting together with my colleagues at Silverpop (please join us).

A great deal of the focus of my dialogue so far has been on the evolution of marketing technology, but it’s impossible to talk about a changing environment for marketing technology without talking about how the nature of the B2B buyer also is rapidly changing. The two are inextricably intertwined in a new reality that is both a cause and effect of the digital age we live in.

Source:  iStockphoto

Source: iStockphoto

But where is the hard data that this evolution is really occurring? We’re changing how we go to market — and there is plenty of data pointing to shifting spending by marketers — but how do we know that our shifted spending will better align with B2B buyers’ shifting needs and preferences?

There are quite a few data points that support this evolution; however, they’re often difficult to unearth. Often they are buried or confused within consumer-focused studies on buying trends, and sometimes the consumer data even contradicts the B2B reality. Marketing technology analyst and author David Raab hit on this in a recent round-up of many of these ‘mixed’ consumer/B2B surveys on his Customer Experience Matrix blog. And a major call-out from his piece was just this discrepancy: “Many [data points] are contradictory …,” commented Raab.

So how do we better articulate the unique and changing nature of the B2B buyer — separate from the broader consumer perspective? How do we nail down (real) evidence that the nature of the B2B buyer has changed?

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