Demand Gen (r)Evolution
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Melanie Erickson
Melanie Erickson
January 25, 2013 No Comments

With a dozen years in enterprise sales and a baker’s dozen building sales enablement organizations from the ground up, I’ve experienced the universal gap between marketing and sales through the eyes of sales. Now, as a sales enablement consultant in a demand generation agency, I view it through the lens of marketing. Yet my conclusion about why the gap exists and who can best close it remains unchanged.

From Silicon Valley start-ups to behemoths like IBM, whether in a sales role or managing sales enablement groups, it’s been my experience that marketing’s ability to satisfy the demands of sales has been universally poor and they own the problem. Thankfully. Because what sales wants is not what sales needs. Here’s how to leverage that premise to narrow the sales -marketing gap in your organization.

1) Define the Sales-Ready Lead

As a marketing exec, you know how many sales-ready leads (SRLs) you deliver to sales. You also know the rejection rate on those leads. But do you know why they are rejected? The most common response I get to this question is, “They weren’t qualified.” Yeah, but do you know why sales determinedthey weren’t qualified, or how it was determined? If you don’t know precisely why leads are rejected by sales you can’t manage outcomes. And that means you can’t forecast results.

To begin, gather your rejected leads, talk to the reps that rejected them and document their reasons for doing so. Take this information into a room with your sales management team and use it to hammer out what comprises a SRL, changing subjective information into metrics wherever possible.

Example: The rejection criteria “Not ready to buy” is redefined as “8 months or less for a decision.” Do this for every point, and then jointly present the new lead acceptance criteria to the entire sales organization. You will see an immediate drop in rejected leads, and corresponding uptick in SRLs moving into the sales pipeline.

2) Give Sales What They Need (But Not Necessarily What They Ask For)

Are you being hammered to deliver more leads? What your sales group needs is different from what they’re screaming for. If you’re running a good demand gen program, and you’ve clearly defined your SRL criteria, you’re already delivering leads. What’s needed instead is clarity on what you’re handing off.

In sales terminology, I think of this as “edusell.” Educate sales on the difference between “a lead” and a “sales -ready lead” and why swapping the former for the latter is a better deal. Commit to providing them every scrap of information you’ve gathered as the lead moves through the funnel and sell them on the value of using it to help them wring more sales out of the leads they have. 100% of the marketing organizations I’ve worked with had information immensely beneficial to sales that they didn’t share. Change that.

3) Get Involved at the Team Level

Get on the agenda for weekly sales team meetings and keep everyone current on your marketing campaigns. Don’t given them a pat-on-the-back overview; take a deep dive into information that will get them excited about what marketing is doing for sales. Tell them who are being targeted, what info is being gathered, and how they can use this information to engage their contact.

Review personas you’re targeting in key campaigns:

- Where do they fit in the organization?
- What business problems are they trying to solve?
- What are their challenges and where are their hot buttons?
- In what ways do your solutions uniquely correspond to each of these, and how can they connect the dots between them?

Give them the training and tools to take action with that information.

Share your events calendar and ask for rep involvement with upcoming programs. Sales teams are hungry for anything that will generate potential business in their territory and are often unaware of what marketing teams are doing. Don’t be afraid to solicit ideas or ask for help; joint work will drive better results. An obvious example is soliciting contacts and onsite assistance from sales reps for special events held in their territory. It’s an easy ask that will drive goodwill along with good results.

The gap between sales and marketing may be universal but its depth is determined by several factors over which you have immense control. Like Dorothy and her ruby slippers, you’ve always had the power to change things, you just didn’t know how to do it. Now, at least, you have a good start.

Chuck Swanson
Chuck Swanson
January 18, 2013 3 Comments

How important has analytics become for successful B2B marketing? The DemandGen’s latest report – Marketing Technology: The Road Ahead for 2013. Challenges, Opportunities and Key Priorities for B2B Marketers – tries to answer this and other technology related questions on the table for the year ahead. B2B marketing automation burst on the scene in the not too distant past, with companies acquiring platforms like Eloqua and Marketo with little thought of how they might actually employ them in their marketing efforts. While at the time this might have been seen as premature, those acquisitions might finally be paying off in spades – or at least the potential is there.

The accumulation of massive amounts of data, affectionately known today as Big Data, is defined by Wikipedia as:

A collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools or traditional data processing applications. The challenges include capture, curation, storage, search, sharing, analysis, and visualization. Examples include web logs, RFID, sensor networks, social networks, social data (due to the social data revolution), Internet text and documents, Internet search indexing, call detail records, etc.

For B2B companies, a smaller definition for the purposes of marketing might be any of the information and analytics that they accumulate on prospects and customers from any number of sources, including social media, prospect interaction, outside appended sources, and website analytics. While it may seem daunting, this data can yield a treasure trove of information that can take marketing to the next level.

In the DemandGen report, Malcolm Friedberg, head of LeftBrain DGA, a marketing partner of ours sums it up best:

The application of technology is rebirthing marketing and, quite literally, shaking our discipline to its core. New expertise. New agencies. New approaches. Sure, some of the same skills still apply, but there’s a complementary set that’s now essential. And while brand may not be dead, it certainly has a new, left brain-focused partner in crime: marketing analytics.

The marketing analytics revolution promises to help B2B marketers achieve new levels of professional excellence. Yet this endless horizon also has the potential to derail a whole generation of marketers.

The proliferation of technology is expanding so rapidly that it’s impossible to keep up with every niche product. The best marketers won’t necessarily be the ones with the best strategy or most skillful execution. Success will hinge on something much more pragmatic: understanding technology and how to apply it.

In the midst of this growing challenge, however, one thing is absolutely assured: The requirement for analytics-based decision making is here to stay. No matter which set of tools marketers use, we must continue to embrace this new standard. The renaissance of marketing is about measurement, accountability and ROI. And marketers that become skillful at extracting marketing intelligence from this watershed of integrated data will become tomorrow’s marketing leaders.

For all those companies sitting on marketing automation solutions, the time is ripe to start using them. Dive into the data and make sense of the analytics. It’ll point the way to B2B marketing (automation) success.

You can get a copy of the DemandGen report by emailing Mark Evertz at LeftBrain DGA.

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Chuck Swanson is Co-Founder of Digital C4 in Portland, Oregon. Chuck and his team help companies enhance their online brand and content visibility using proven SEO, Social Media Marketing, and Custom Content Creation and Blogging.

Mark Evertz
Mark Evertz
January 11, 2013 5 Comments

OK … so while the headline tries its darndest to secure the required Google Juice to get read, I’m sure it strikes hollow to many of you. I’ve read or seen promises just like this one each week for the last handful of years from a mix of well-intentioned compatriots and blatant opportunists. But before I divert on a rant, know this. I’m asking content creators and content curators to commit themselves to a mission of sorts as we move into 2013.

A Content Call to Action in 2013

Redefine “Good B2B Content” for 2013 and beyond as an altruistic endeavor geared to help rather than blatantly pimp products or services. There continues to be a tremendous amount of thrash among colleagues, content pros, clients and readers on just what constitutes “good content.” My personal struggles with this center on the fact that delivering information that people need when they need it is largely a subjective endeavor based on reader preferences and objectives, company goals, personal or professional biases, desired reader actions, deliverability concerns and where it fits in a buy cycle continuum akin to  Inform > Encourage > Influence > Validate > Deliver. 

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Jared Childs
Jared Childs
December 12, 2012 No Comments

Why are all the memorable campaigns developed for consumers? Think Superbowl commercials. Often, the commercials are talked about more than the actual game. So, what can we learn from B2C marketers?

We’ve culled through the best B2C social media marketing campaigns of 2012 from the Bees Awards, picked our favorites, and then translated these lessons into B2B strategies you can use for your next campaign. Be sure to check out all of the awards, in case there’s another one that maps better to what you do.

The Best Job Ever Campaign

“Tourism Queensland hosted a somewhat unorthodox contest, the winner of which would be put up in a posh hotel, their only responsibility being to tour the islands of the Great Barrier Reef and blog about it for six months. Oh, and also they would pay $150,000. You read that right. Billed as “The Best Job in the World”, the campaign generated massive amounts of attention and thousands of applicants. Eventually a Brit named Ben landed the coveted position. Going off the latest numbers, he now makes $149,998.00 more than the average blogger.”

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Paige Webster
Paige Webster
December 6, 2012 No Comments

I am 99% done with my holiday shopping, which is a first for me this early in December. But the single-most reason I want to brag about it is because it means I can delete every blasted retail email that’s been assaulting my inbox since before Thanksgiving.

If I were smarter, I would’ve set up a separate email address for these types of emails and followed the advice of my colleague to set up an information management system. But I’m not that smart.

So instead, like many of you, I’ve been bombarded by what feels like an hourly onslaught of emails that shout: Final Day; Buy Now; Don’t miss this deal, etc. You get the picture.

So I’m really excited now that 1) I can delete all these emails without fear that I’ll be missing out (since I’m nearly finished with my shopping) and 2) Unsubscribe from these lists with impunity (now that I have time since I’ve finished with my shopping).

What does this have to do with what YOU do? Well, a lot, in fact. Although these cautionary tales are not new insights, they are gentle reminders to stay the course and stick to best practices of a good content marketing strategy: providing truly valuable content.

#1: Sometimes, less is more.

I don’t know about you, but with this onslaught of emails, I’m more apt to delete ALL of them. I hear from Amazon more often than my own mother.

I probably don’t need to remind you that if everyone is clamoring to be heard, then it’s all just noise. Feel confident that it makes sense to stay the course on your production cycle rather than trying to send more content that will get lost in the cyber chatter. B2B customers aren’t going to forget you; they may be distracted momentarily but they won’t forget the content that makes them smarter, helps them perform their jobs better and gives them insight they can’t get anywhere else. Create content that illuminates a problem and offers solutions.

#2: Truth in advertising.

Give the buyer/customer what you said you were going to, and hopefully, what they want. In many cases, the retailers I hear from advertise a “great” deal that ain’t so great: new markdowns look a lot like last week’s markdowns; in order to qualify for free shipping, I have to hand over my firstborn, the super-cheap product advertised isn’t actually in stock, and so on. These are the retailers from whom I’m most likely to unsubscribe.

As a content marketer, don’t advertise a white paper if what you’re offering is, in reality, a thinly veiled product brief. Again, this isn’t a fresh, new insight so much as a reminder to adhere to basic best practices.

#3: Provide valuable content and people will read it.

Amidst the email onslaught I’ve been complaining about, I found a nugget, a white paper titled Social Analytics and Intelligence: Converting Contextual to Actionable Insights that I’ll elaborate on in a future post. For now, suffice it to say that I noticed it because it didn’t scream at me, because the topic is relevant and timely, and because the research just happens to dovetail nicely with a host of other things I’m working on. In short, because it’s valuable.

As a side note, did anyone else find it ironic that Black Friday started on Thursday and that Cyber Monday lasted a week? Just sayin’. Imagine what would happen if, as content marketers, we tried to get people to open a research brief about a product or service that doesn’t exist. Please. Just stop the madness.

Am I the only person tired of “over-marketing”? Let me know! I can’t wait to hear your marketing tales.

 

Jared Childs
Jared Childs
November 28, 2012 No Comments

This past week I sat down with the chair of the marketing department at UNC Charlotte’s Belk College of Business, Dr. Sunil Erevelles, to pick his brain about the marketing industry. Dr. Erevelles is a distinguished professor who has consulted and delivered seminars to executives and top government officials. As a result of these efforts, he has won more than 20 awards for his research and work.

Dr. Sunil Erevelles - The Chair of the marketing department at UNC Charlotte's Belk College of Business

I wanted to get the professor’s opinion about where he sees the marketing world headed. We discussed the changing face of marketing and how it impacts both businesses and college students, in the first part of my Q & A series with the doctor.

Q: How have you seen marketing change since you were in business school? 

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Mark Evertz
Mark Evertz
November 14, 2012 No Comments

We’re proud to announce that one of our marquee clients, personal computer giant Lenovo, won the 2012 Demand Generation Center of Excellence Markie Award at the 6th Annual Eloqua Experience Conference in Orlando, Florida.

“A truly great night that shined a spotlight on the hard work of many and the importance of collaboration with a committed team of demand gen experts to achieve truly remarkable results,” said Steve Barnard, senior demand generation manager at Lenovo. “B2B Marketing Automation just flat out works if you do it right. Left Brain and Lenovo’s collaborative go-to-market strategy, Lenovo’s exceptional products and services, extended ecosystem partners, commitment to persona-based content and focus on metrics to drive campaign decisions certainly played a key role in this win.”

Barnard continued by adding that his internal team of campaign managers, marketing operations team, and strong partnership with the Lenovo sales team deserved high praise for their efforts. He also credited the support they received from Eloqua while using its state-of-the-industry market automation platform.

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Mark Evertz
Mark Evertz
November 5, 2012 No Comments

By the time you read this, I’ll be flying Delta Air from water-logged Portland, Oregon, to the land of sun and mouse ears to be a booth babe at Eloqua Experience in Orlando from Nov. 6-8.

I look forward to crossing paths with you – my B2B marketing automation compatriots and B2B content marketing all-stars – to swap war stories and unapologetically steal your best ideas. Oh, and I’ll share some tips and tricks as well upon request.

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Jared Childs
Jared Childs
November 2, 2012 No Comments

Content Consumption Trends Are Changing. Are You?

As the hour hand reaches 11 my accounting teacher begins his lecture. Within five minutes, 40 percent of the students’ heads in front of me have dropped. No, they’re not sleeping; they’re on their smartphones. If they aren’t on a smartphone, then they’re on a laptop or tablet, and the only “notes” they are taking are via Facebook or Twitter. This isn’t just the scene of a lecture on accrual accounting; it’s the scene for everyday life.

How many times did you check your smartphone or other digital device today? Probably more than you’d care to admit.

My peers are good predictors for the trends of tomorrow and if their content consumption habits are any indicator of the future of marketing, you better be making your information viewable and sharable on mobile devices. I can say firsthand that college students rely on their smartphones for nearly all content consumption. I find myself updating Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn so often that I almost feel like I’m on auto-pilot.

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Mark Evertz
Mark Evertz
October 25, 2012 No Comments

Fellow B2B Content Marketing geeks, our coming year has been laid out for us – or at least become generously more informed – thanks to two of the best in our business, MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute.

Earlier this week these companies released a joint report “2013 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends.” In it they give us plenty of food pellets to consume on our way to greater understanding of the types of content and marketing tactics that are driving awareness, interest and the purchasing of products being sold by businesses to businesses.

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Let’s work together
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