Brand Marketing has Left the Building

Last week I attended Marketo’s User Conference and I had a great time being elbow-to-elbow with 600 other hard-core marketing folk (if you don’t know them, Marketo provides a marketing automation tool that helps marketers automate lead generation campaigns).  One of the themes of the conference was around the transformation of marketing from a cost center to a revenue driver.  Phil Fernandez, Marketo’s CEO had this to say in a recent blog post: In today’s “buyer’s in control” market, traditional marketing and sales approaches have become grossly inefficient and outdated. By relying on antiquated strategies and ineffective methods, organizations find that 80% of leads and 50% of the sales team time is wasted. This misalignment adds up quickly and creates significant revenue leaking points across the organization. The solution to this “revenue leakage” requires a shift in thinking about marketing’s fundamental role in the business.  This shift moves marketing further and further away from doing more traditional “branding” style activities, toward campaigns and tactics where there is a direct line of sight to revenue. Why is this shift from brand marketing to revenue marketing happening in the first place? Digital makes measurement possible – Digital marketing has made it possible for marketers to measure more of what we do. 10 years ago when I was spending my money on print advertising, traditional PR and events it was hard to track the amount of revenue I influenced.  Because it was hard to measure we often allocated marketing spend across tactics based on anecdotal information.  We took a guess at what worked based on how many people we got in front...

How to Establish a Solid Marketing Foundation

My Goodness! A Guest Post!  Today’s post is from Stephanie Tilton, a marketing consultant and one of the amazing bloggers behind the Savvy B2B Marketing blog, one of my favorite blogs for B2B marketing advice.  Enjoy! In their rush to churn out content in support of product launches, many start-ups fail to strategically address their content requirements. As a result, they struggle to nurture prospects throughout a buying process that can extend for many months. Let’s say you produce only a white paper or brochure. What are your prospects supposed to do next? It’s highly unlikely they’re going to call in their order after reading a single piece of information from your company – especially if your product costs thousands of dollars. Your potential customers need many questions answered along the path to purchase and your content needs to provide the right answers at the right time. By adopting best practices around content marketing, you’ll establish a solid foundation for marketing your offering and engaging prospects throughout the buying cycle. Step 1: Understand your prospects’ concerns and preferences. Before you develop any content, conduct research to understand what your ideal customers care about and how they go about making a buying decision. Hopefully you uncovered this while performing the market research that helped shape your offering. If so, you will have found that buyers don’t want to hear about your product at the beginning of the buying cycle. Instead, they want to understand industry trends, options for addressing the challenges they face, and recommended best practices and approaches. Later on they’ll want to know the ins and outs of...

Content Marketing and “Trusted Advisors”

In many larger organizations, professional services consultants and sales folks are trained to become “trusted advisors” to their accounts. To attain this status, account managers need to demonstrate a deep understanding of the customer’s environment and pains and offer valued advice and support.  It strikes me that this is exactly the goal of a great content marketing strategy. Why? Because Lead Development is Happening Without You Traditional lead development is a process where prospects are ushered along a path where they are fed increasingly detailed information about a company’s offering until they are ready to make a purchase, at which point they are handed over to sales. The problem with this process however is that people don’t like to be sold to and traditional lead development looks an awful lot like selling. So prospects avoid coming to vendors for information as much as they can, and today, getting the information they need (from forums, blogs, through online networks of their peers, independent review sites, etc.) is easier than it’s ever been.  In many cases, prospects are entering the lead flow process far more sales ready than they’ve ever been, which begs the question – how many opportunities for lead development are companies missing altogether? The Trusted Advisor Approach and Content Marketing How do you do hands-off or low-touch lead development?  The same way sales has been doing it through becoming trusted advisors.  Rather than selling to prospects, you help them. Prospects have problems to solve.  They are looking for information that helps them understand what their options are.  They need to learn the different approaches to solving the problem. ...

Product Marketing & Social Media Skills: Talk is Cheap

Question: I’m hiring a product marketer and I want great social media skills.  All the candidates tell me that they have those skills but most of them don’t have much of a presence online.  Does that matter?  Do you need to be a heavy social media user in order to really understand it? The Short Answer: Yes you do. The Longer Answer: You do because: A/  Marketing execution is much harder than theory. Social media isn’t much different from a lot of other classic product marketing skills – the theory isn’t all that tricky, it’s the execution that’s hard.  If you wanted to hire someone to launch a new product into market, you’d talk to people who have done it before.  Taking the course or reading the book doesn’t count for that much.  Practical experience in product marketing counts for a lot.  I read an awful lot of press releases before I started writing them and I was still lousy at it until I’d done it a few times.  My first couple of integrated marketing campaigns were, ah, shall we say, less than perfect. Social Media isn’t any different.  I thought blogging was pretty easy until after my first (largely failed) attempt at running a group blog for a previous employer.  I’m a better blogger now than I was even a year ago (I’m not saying I’m great, wise-apples, just better than last year).  I don’t think I would have wanted to follow me when I first started using Twitter.  I understood Facebook much better after my first attempt to do a company fan page and many of the...

Twitter: Is Marketing Doing it Wrong?

Marketers love Twitter these days for a list of reasons including using it converse with customers and influencers, sharing content and driving traffic to websites.  There has been so much talk about Twitter in Marketing circles, you would think that everyone would have it figured out by now.  I’m not claiming to be a Twitter expert but I have been a fairly heavy user for the past couple of years and here are a few things I see folks doing that I believe are just wrong: 1/ Focusing on followers instead of engagement – Social Media folks have been saying “it’s about the conversation” over and over for years now but this is still a stumbling block for a large number of marketers.  There are plenty of tools out there that for a fee, will follow people based on keywords, unfollow those that don’t return the favor and follow some more until you have thousands of followers.  That’s great, right?  It is if your only goal is to try to impress people (who know nothing about Twitter) with the number of followers you have.  If your goal however is to drive some awareness or action, 15,000 followers could well be the same as 100 if none of your 15,000 ever talks to you or shares your stuff.  There are some interesting tools coming to market to judge how “influential” a Twitter user actually is.  Klout seems to be the most sophisticated out there, creating a score that takes into account how often people respond to you or share things you’ve posted and how influential those people are.  Topsy (the...

Selling vs. Buying: A Marketing Wake-up Call

Last week I posted a New Marketing Framework which sparked a set of interesting conversations about how marketing is changing.  I believe that marketing needs to shift its focus from selling to helping customers buy and product marketing has a big role to play. The categories of marketing we’ve used traditionally have been very focused on “selling”.  The big 4 marketing groups-Branding, PR, Communications, and Product Marketing, reflect this inside-out, sales-oriented thinking.  Even at startups traditionally “marketing” has meant communications.  PR was outsourced to an agency and product marketing was assigned to product management where it was generally ignored.  Helping customers buy has not been a major focus for marketing. The world has changed a lot, particularly around how customers discover and evaluate products.  The result is a big shift in control of the sales process toward prospects and away from companies. For this reason marketing now has to shift from selling toward helping customers buy.  Here’s what’s changed: We don’t believe advertising (in fact we don’t believe much of anything companies tell us)- There was a time when if a company said they the best at something, we believed it.  But those claims weren’t always true so now we don’t believe what companies tell us anymore. Customers can broadcast to the world – They might be happy, they might be upset but they now have a way to broadcast their stories without going through any media gate-keepers. Prospects can easily communicate with each other – Before, during and after the sales cycle, potential customers can ask each other questions and learn about your offerings and your company in...
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