What is the Difference Between Thought Leadership and Content Marketing?

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What is the Difference Between Thought Leadership and Content Marketing?

I have come to believe that thought leadership and content marketing are not the same thing. Content marketing is the "marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action" (Content Marketing Institute). Some of the key ideas here include:

  • It's about creation AND distribution of the content
  • It needs to be about a clearly defined audience / persona
  • It needs to be valuable (or at least entertaining) to that audience
  • It needs to drive a business outcome that you care about, typically acquiring new customers and/or engaging the customers you have (and as a corollary to this, content can be measured in terms of its ability to  drive these outcomes)

On the other hand, a thought leader can be defined as "an individual or firm that is recognized as an authority in a specialized field and whose expertise is sought and often rewarded"; accordingly, thought leadership is the work product of those authorities. Thought leadership consists of ideas that require attention, that offer guidance or clarity and that can lead people in unexpected, sometimes contrarian directions (think of Seth Godin). Done well, thought leadership build trust in your brand, because buyers trust experts -- and that trust is an incredibly brand important for risk-adverse buyers

In the end, both thought leadership and content marketing can build your awareness and brand, but true thought leadership is much rarer. Also, if you want your firm to create thought leadership, then you must in fact hire thought leaders.

Read more on this topic in my original post, What is the Difference Between Thought Leadership and Content Marketing and Bloomgroup's post Content Marketing vs. Thought Leadership Marketing.

 

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How Do You Explain Marketing to a Six-Year Old?

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How Do You Explain Marketing to a Six-Year Old?

Sometimes you write a simple post that seems to capture your audience's attention more than you'd expect. That certainly happened to me in my post How Do You Explain Marketing to a Six-Year Old?

It all started one day when I was trying to explain to my (then) six-year old son what I do, and he asked “what is marketing?” I thought for a second, and came up with this: “Marketing is what you do in business when you want to help persuade people to want and to buy what you have to sell.”

After my basic explanation, I tried to use the example of a lemonade stand. I asked my son what he might do to sell as much lemonade as possible. I expected him to talk about signs (that’s where my head went first), but he actually started by talking about pricing. (Start high, he said, and then lower the price if we need to.) And then he talked about making sure we had a good location. And only then did we talk about advertisements. (We also talked about the product itself, making sure the lemonade was good in the first place.)

For me, it was a great reminder that marketing is much more than just promotions and marketing campaigns. The 4 Ps (product, place, price, promotion) still matter, and marketing has a strategic role to play in the success of the business.

So, how would you explain marketing to a six-year old?

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The Definitive Guide to Marketing Metrics and Marketing Analytics

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The Definitive Guide to Marketing Metrics and Marketing Analytics

The Definitive Guide to Marketing Metrics and Marketing Analytics is one of my best pieces of thought leadership.  Seventy pages long, it covers everything I've learned about:

  • How to build marketing respect and accountability
  • Which metrics to use (and which to avoid)
  • The best ways to measure marketing program ROI
  • How to forecast marketing's impact on revenue
  • How to design the best dashboards for your business
  • And much more.

Video Introduction

Here's a short video I created to introduce the book:

Can't see the video? Click here to watch on YouTube.

Top 10 Tweetable Tips from the Definitive Guide

  1. Marketing without proper ROI measurements is like running a marathon, in an earthquake, blindfolded. Analyst David Raab writes in his paper, Winning the Marketing Measurement Marathon, “Marketing has always been a grueling and competitive sport – not unlike running a marathon. With the changes in the buying process, in media and technology, and managing expectations, it’s like running a marathon as the ground shifts beneath your feet. What was already difficult is becoming increasingly difficult. If you’re going to do it without measurement, it’s like running a marathon, in an earthquake, blindfolded.” Tweet this!
  2. Marketing reporting is less important than making the marketing DECISIONS that improve ROI. Don’t measure just what you can – measure what you can ACT on.  Ultimately marketing ROI should not be about “who gets credit”, but instead about what decisions the measurements allow to improve overall profitability of the program – and the company. Tweet this!
  3. Measure to find not just what works, but what works better; focus on “improving ROI” not “proving ROI”. Measuring marketing programs should not be a pass / fail exercise. Instead, focus your efforts on learning what you can do that will improve ROI. This isn’t about dropping low-profit programs; it’s about a holistic view of what works and where profit comes from. The best ROI may come from improving targeting or optimizing sales conversion. Tweet this!
  4. It’s possible to measure just about anything in marketing, but impossible to measure everything in marketing. Just because you can measure something doesn’t mean you should. Marketing measurement costs time and money, so focus your time and energy on the metrics that will support the most profitable decision-making. Tweet this!
  5. Don’t be an “arts and crafts” cost-center; marketing should be a revenue driver worthy of investment. It’s easy to measure marketing activity (inputs such as budget and programs), but hard to measure marketing results. Contrast this to sales, where activity is hard to measure but results are easy to see. Given this dynamic, is it any wonder that Sales tends to get the credit for revenue but marketing is perceived as a cost center? To build credibility, focus your measurements on the metrics your CFO cares about – things like revenue, cash-flow and profit – and position your budget in terms of investment instead of cost. Tweet this!
  6. Avoid “vanity metrics” that sound good, but mean little if anything about real marketing ROI. Many common marketing metrics – such as names gathered at a tradeshow, Twitter followers, and press release impressions – sound good and impress people, but don’t really have any strong correlation to revenue. It’s OK to track these internally if they help you make better marketing decisions, but avoid sharing them with executives outside of the department unless you have previously established why they matter. Tweet this!
  7. Focus on effectiveness (doing the right things) more than efficiency (doing possibly the wrong things well). The best ROI gains come from focusing time and money on doing the right things (such as targeting the right segments) more than on how well or cost-effectively you do them.  Kathryn Roy of Precision Thinking points out that metrics that show a CFO that marketing is impacting revenue are more likely to protect the budget than metrics that show how well the marketing department is operating internally. Tweet this!
  8. Program planning includes ROI planning:  1) what to measure 2) when to measure and 3) how to measure.  It’s important to quantify the expected outcomes from any marketing investment being planned, and to know exactly how you will measure the program against those goals.  You can also take specific steps to make marketing programs more measurable, such as setting up control groups or varying spending levels by geography to measure relative impact.   Tweet this!
  9. True marketing ROI requires understanding all the costs involved, not just top-line impact. Sometimes a marketing program that appears profitable won’t be if sales expenses and COGS (cost of goods sold) are taken into account. Even better, incorporate the full lifetime value of a customer into your calculation. The more your metrics can correlate to the net-present value of lifetime profits from incremental closed revenue, including all marketing and sales costs, the better.  Tweet this!
  10. Fundamentally, marketing measurement is about sales effectiveness, not marketing. The two most important questions you can answer about marketing’s results are: (1) what effect is marketing investments having on sales effectiveness and productivity and (2) how are marketing activities lowering the combined expense to revenue ratio for sales and marketing combined? By focusing not just on marketing is isolation, but on how marketing impacts sales productivity, you will get a much more comprehensive view of the true ROI of your activities. Tweet this!

Download Marketo's Definitive Guide to Marketing Metrics and Marketing Analytics.

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Lessons on How to be a Leader

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Lessons on How to be a Leader

An executive's journey of learning and growth is never ending.  I certainly try to find new sources of insight and knowledge, from "book learning", hands-on experience, and lessons from mentors.

Here are some of the lessons I've learned from various sources, including CMG Partners CMO's Agenda™ and Paul Albright, Marketo's former Chief Revenue Officer.

Be a business leader first

Thinking and acting like a business leader is one integral to any executive's success.  There is a difference in mindset between a CMO and a VP of Marketing: the former is a business leader, the latter runs a marketing department. As business leaders, CMOs must earn their seat at the revenue table, fuse long-term vision with a bias for action, and balance creativity with hard financial data and marketing measurement. Executives who run other departments should do the same: put the overall business ahead of their department and balance planning, execution, and measurement. 

Customer intimacy

Every successful marketing strategy originates with a deep understanding of the target market: their wants and needs, the language they use, where they go to learn, how they buy, and more. This often is led by marketing; they aren’t called "market-ers" for nothing! Marketo’s research provides support here: high-growth companies are significantly more likely than low-growth companies to incorporate customer satisfaction into their marketing executive’s compensation. 

Innovation and the innovator’s dilemma

Innovation is about transformation and reinvention.  According to CMG Partners, the most “forward-thinking marketing leaders don’t take the perspective of incrementally improving a product or service offering. Rather, they search for the critical customer pain points and re-imagine their business model to increase value delivery and capture across all stakeholders.”

But this can be difficult, especially since it usually means moving away from the exact things that made you successful in the past. Even if we’re not faced with major disruptions, yesterday’s novel approach quickly becomes today’s industry standard.

The effective executive continually asks, “How can I transform our marketing and our business?” To paraphrase Andy Grove, “if my company replaced me with a new, young hotshot, what would he be doing?  And more importantly, why aren’t I doing it?” (Source: Only The Paranoid Survive.)

This is a mindset of 180-degree turns and 100% improvement. With the iPad, Steve Jobs perceived what the customer wanted before the customer even knew it, and now Apple is promoting the post-PC era. Netflix built its brand around delivering DVDs in the mail and now is doing everything it can to make that business obsolete. As leaders, we must have a vested interest in conceptualizing and embracing strategies and tactics that are alien to us.

Managing a high-performance team

Paul Albright shared some of his experience managing teams in a webinar called Demystifying the Strategies of High Momentum Marketing and Sales. Here are some of the main points — plus my own perspective:

  • Cultivate an execution-driven culture based on facts and results. When math and metrics are your common dialect, your company will be characterized by less drama and fewer emotional decisions.
  • Speaking of math and metrics: Preparation + Perspiration - Interference = Potential
  • Set goals and targets for everything you do, and measure results against those targets. Put them on a dashboard for everyone to see so there is always a succinct view of what Marketing is trying to achieve, and where you stand.
  • Be data-centric and customer focused. Support your claims with facts, and always work from the customer’s perspective in.
  • Initiate: Take the offense and lead. Don’t follow the competition, make sure they follow you.
  • Think, Feel, Do. This applies to how customers will interact with our messages, and inspires how our marketing should influence their behaviors.
  • Be direct; take feedback; be real. Hire slowly and fire quickly. Fail fast: if it’s not going to work, move on.
  • Don’t suffer fools. If you don’t have an A-team, get one.

Where do you go to learn?  What are your favorite lessons?

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Using Sales Development to Turn Marketing Leads into Qualified Sales Leads

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Using Sales Development to Turn Marketing Leads into Qualified Sales Leads

I've long argued that the effective use of a Sales Development team is an essential component to a truly high-performance revenue engine. This team is also sometimes called Lead Qualification or even Business Development, but regardless of what you call it, this team has one exclusive focus: to review, contact and qualify marketing-generated leads and deliver them to Sales Account Execs.

In March, 2011 I authored a Marketo ebook called The Definitive Guide to Sales Lead Qualification and Sales Development.  (It has since been updated, download the latest copy here.)

Here are a few highlights from the guide, starting with Seven Ways that Sales Development Reps Drive Revenue:

  1. More consistent and better quality follow-up on leads = better conversion of leads into opportunities. When you have a qualified lead, it's too valuable to call once and leave a voicemail.  You want someone whose sole job is to contact your leads, answer questions, make sure they are a fit, and get them connected to sales teams.
  2. Faster lead response times = better conversion rates. When a lead submits an inquiry on your website, the faster the response the better.  According to a Lead Response Management study, a five-minute lead response is 21X more likely to convert than after 30-minute wait.  SDRs can focus on this fast response time.
  3. Better economics. Salespeople are expensive and you want them focused on closing business, not qualifying raw leads, talking to people who don’t want to talk to them, or worse, wasting time with unqualified prospects. It makes sense to have lower-cost SDRs talking to leads and passing just the right ones onto sales. 
  4. The human touch enhances lead nurturing. Whether or not leads are sales-ready, SDRs can nurture relationships with each interaction. By talking with more leads, you can offer personalized thought leadership and value around a lead’s individual pain points, and cultivate future demand. 
  5. Superior data. It's easier to require SDRs to enter proper information about lead qualification and disposition, so marketing gets better data accuracy and information they can use to optimize future efforts.
  6. Improved revenue cycle analytics. By adding a stage between marketing and sales, you’ll be able to track conversion rates for each step. This means you can isolate problems and resolve them faster than if you lump together the responsibilities of qualifying and closing leads.
  7. Talent development for sales. Your Sales Development reps can play an important role in your sales talent pipeline, effectively serving as your “farm team” for future quota carrying reps. 

The guide goes on to cover these common questions about the sales development process:

  1. When Should Marketing Pass a Lead to the SDRs?
  2. When Should SDRs Pass a Sales Lead to an Account Executive?
  3. How Do You Determine Which Leads are Accepted by Sales?
  4. How Should I Allocate Leads to SDRs?
  5. What Kind Of Conversion Rates Can I Expect?
  6. Should Sales Development Report to Marketing or Sales?
  7. How Many SDRs Do I Need / How Big Should The Lead Qualification Team Be?
  8. How Can I Hire the Best SDRs?
  9. How Much Should I Pay My SDRs?
  10. How Should I Best Train my Lead Qualification Team?
  11. Can I Outsource My Lead Qualification Or Do SDRs Need To Be In-House?

Check out my Definitive Guide to to Sales Lead Qualification and Sales Development for my detailed answers to all these questions.

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The Expanding Role of Video in Online Marketing

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The Expanding Role of Video in Online Marketing

We have only just begun to realize the impact that video will have on online marketing. Remember how much of a game-changer television ads were to print and radio? Just imagine what happens when online video does the same thing to internet advertising.

From Lean Forward to Lean Back

Millennials today watch less live "traditional" TV than other groups (41% to 59%), and nearly 3X as much online video than non-Millennials (34% to 12%) (source).  They are watching on mobile devices and connected TVs, which allows for individually addressable advertisements. This is driving yet another revolution in online video: in recent history, watching online video meant sitting at our desks in a “lean forward” mode. Now, online video is now available to anyone, anywhere, at any time. Now, we can watch video in line at Starbucks, or surf through videos while leaning back on our couches at home.

Soon, it will be possible to watch a custom-curated channel of online videos tailored just for you.  Sometimes, you'll want to watch the latest episode of Game of Thrones; other times, your custom channel. Such personalization and accessibility are especially important to marketers who know that buyers are extremely adept at filtering out unwanted marketing messages.  A marketer may not be able to reach a prospect through e-mail or phone, but once a video gets into a customized feed that reflects the prospect’s exact personal interests, the video will stimulate action.

How to Optimize Your Marketing with Online Video

In February, 2011 I explored this topic in my blog post, How to Optimize Your B2B Marketing and Sales with Online Video. In it, I shared my top 10 recommendations to promote your online videos (which do you think are still true?):

  1. Search optimize your video with text summary.
  2. Replace static ads with viral pay-per-click (PPC) displays.
  3. Capture sales leads with longer form video.
  4. Bolster conversion with YouTube promotion and Call-To-Action overlays.
  5. Integrate video into your email marketing.
  6. Increase downloads of marketing collateral with a video-enabled landing page.
  7. Leverage social media.
  8. Feature videos on your website.
  9. It’s all about control… and a consistent brand.
  10. Create sales videos to engage and qualify buyers.

 

 

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Marketing Forecasting: Why Marketing Should Forecast Revenue

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Marketing Forecasting: Why Marketing Should Forecast Revenue

At executive staff and board meetings, the number one topic of discussion is never the upcoming marketing program or the new brand strategy – it’s almost always the revenue forecast. Everyone wants to know if the company will make the target for this quarter and what next quarter is going to look like.

Invariably, this discussion is led by the sales executives, with little or no input from marketing. This ability to make revenue forecasts – and to be held accountable for delivering against them – is the single biggest factor that gives sales more credibility (and power) than marketing at most companies.

But in a world where buyers are doing their own research and delaying engagement with sales, the sales team has less and less visibility into future revenue; a traditional forecast completely misses the opportunities that are being cultivated by marketing but have not yet entered the sales pipeline.

This is why marketing forecasting is so important. I am not talking about “traditional” marketing forecasts, which take the form of a top-down market size analysis. I am talking about bottoms-up predictions of future revenue and pipeline based on a quantitative understanding of how potential customers move through the revenue cycle. Done right, the marketing forecast gives the CMO the confidence to stake a portion of his or her compensation on meeting the goal, and the CSO relies on marketing’s input to make a valid forecast for the period.

For details on why marketing forecasts are so important in the age of information scarcity, and detailed step-by-step instructions on how to implement them at your company, check out my ebook: Marketing Forecasting: The Hidden Secret of Today’s Most Accountable CMOs.

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Full-Funnel Marketing - Nurturing Relationships Without Contact Information

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Full-Funnel Marketing - Nurturing Relationships Without Contact Information

I introduced the term "seed nurturing" in early 2010 to describe the practice of building relationships with qualified prospects before you have their contact information (e.g. personally identifiable information).

This concept has become known as "full-funnel" marketing, and it is increasingly important since prospects are educating themselves long before you actually identify them. They are on your site as anonymous visitors, and researching your products with third-party resources, word-of-mouth, and social media. Just because you can't identify these individuals doesn't mean they aren't qualified prospects — and because of this, you must nurture them just as you would the known contacts in your database.

In my blog post, Introducing Seed Nurturing, I introduced the following requirements for successful full-funnel marketing:

  • Personalize interactions with anonymous visitors
  • Make valuable content freely available on your site and over social media
  • Use social media to build a rock-solid reputation that builds credibility and trust with prospects

UPDATE: Since 2010, there are additional options for marketing to "anonymous" visitors and nurturing relationships outside of the inbox, including ad retargeting, sophisticated display targeting, and rich audiences on social media.

I'm excited to see how these concepts play out.  LinkedIn's July 2014 purchase of Bizo is a key validation of these concepts... stay tuned.

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Marketing during a Recession

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Marketing during a Recession

An economic downturn creates additional challenges for marketers across industries. Fewer consumers means less demand; less demand means that efforts to stimulate demand (i.e. marketing) are less effective overall. 

However, in a recession, direct and online marketing spending tends to rise even as broad brand advertising slows down.  The implication is that there are marketing strategies that work particularly well in a downturn.  These include:

  1. Use lead management to maximize the value of each lead. Each lead is more valuable than ever, so be sure to follow-up with each one most effectively.
  2. Focus on your house list. Spend less on acquiring new leads, and more marketing to (and building relationships with) the people you already know.
  3. Build and optimize landing pages. Maximize conversion on the valuable traffic you do get.
  4. Create content for later in the buying cycle. Make sure the prospects who are ready to buy can find you.
  5. Appeal to the nervous buyer. A recession can mean more risk-adverse buyers, so do more than ever to reassure and build trust.
  6. Align sales and marketing. A tougher selling environment means marketing and sales need to work seamlessly more than ever.
  7. Don’t be a cost center. In a recession, marketing needs more than ever to change the perception that marketing is a cost center, focusing on accountability, metrics, and ROI.

Read the entire original post, 7 Strategies for B2B Marketing during a Recession: The Definitive Guide.

 

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The Ultimate Guide To Online Testing Statistics

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The Ultimate Guide To Online Testing Statistics

I'm a bit of a math geek, and love a good analysis.  So one of my favorite posts was the mega-article I published on the Marketo blog: Landing Page Testing – The Ultimate Guide To Test Statistics.

In this article, I explain all the math behind statistical confidence for online tests, including standard deviation, binomial distributions, hypothesis testing, Z-values, Chi-Square distributions, two-sided tests, and more.

And for those who are "allergic" to math, I also share some simple "rules of thumb":

  • Between 25 to 50 conversions are required to be somewhat confident in a given landing page’s reported conversion rate.

  • Typically, you need 25 to 50 conversions per test version to be somewhat confident in your test results.

  • To get the number of versions you can confidently test, take the number of conversions you get per day and divide it by 20. Then take your testing period in weeks. Multiply the two results together, and you’ll estimate the number of versions you can confidently test.

For the mathematically inclined, it's a "fun" post to read.  Check it out: Landing Page Testing – The Ultimate Guide To Test Statistics.

 

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The Five Stages of Marketing Accountability

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The Five Stages of Marketing Accountability

The five stages of Marketing Accountability are:

  1. Denial“Marketing is an art, not a science. It can’t be measured. The results will come, trust me!”
  2. Fear“What if my marketing activities don’t impact the bottom line? Will I lose my job?”
  3. Confusion“I know I should measure marketing results, but I just don’t know how.”
  4. Self-Promotion“Hey, come look at all these charts and graphs!”
  5. True Accountability“Revenue starts in marketing.”

Read more in the original post on the Marketo blog: The Five Stages of Marketing Accountability.

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80% of Your New Customers Think They Found You

80% of decision makers who made a technology purchase believe that they found the vendor — as opposed to the vendor targeting them. (Source: MarketingSherpa’s Business Technology Marketing Benchmark Guide 2007-08.)

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I wouldn’t think of buying an airplane ticket or car without researching online, and these behaviors are true for purchases across all industries.

As a result, interruption-based techniques where the marketer searches for customers no longer work. What DOES work are inbound marketing strategies that smooth the process of customers finding you. Since the buyer controls their buying process, the marketer’s job is to synchronize the company’s marketing (and to some extent sales) activities to the buyer’s process.

This includes:

  • Search marketing so prospects find you when they search
  • Content marketing and PR – so your brand appears wherever prospects are reading
  • Brand awareness efforts so buyers are aware of you when they make their short lists
  • Client satisfaction to encourage referrals and word of mouth

Read my original post on this topic, 80% of Your New Customers Think They Found You.

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The Social Media Trap: Popularity not Quality

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The Social Media Trap: Popularity not Quality

Social media rewards popularity, not quality or accuracy, so there is an inherent push to write about trendy topics that will get links over rich, important topics that may not be as trendy. There’s no topic that social networkers like to write about and share more than social networking itself. And this creates the perverse incentive to write about social media more than other marketing topics.

What do you think? How do you balance writing about the important stuff versus content that you just know will "get links"?

For more, see my article What’s Wrong With Social Media For B2B Marketing.

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Defining the Modern CMO

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Defining the Modern CMO

The CMO Council report, Define & Align the CMO, says that the most successful CMOs bring a strategic long-term view, exceptional measurement and analytical capabilities, and financial management rigor to their role.

Other marketing executives may excel at marketing, with great experience building brands and executing programs. But without the skills to provide strategic and financial leadership to the organization, these executives do not deserve a C-level title. VP/SVP of Marketing describes their role just fine.

The modern CMO must play a role broader than just leading the marketing organization. The role must include driving revenue, leading innovation, and providing strategic vision. These growth champions must lead all four Ps – not just promotion but also product strategy, place (channel and distribution), and pricing.  And all this requires a greater focus on quantitative measurement and ROI.

Read more on this topic in my Marketo blog post, Are You a CMO or a VP of Marketing? 

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Snack-Sized Content

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Snack-Sized Content

Today's information-overloaded buyer does not have time to print out and read an entire whitepaper, watch a 60 minute webinar, or read more than a few bullet points on a website.

Instead, today’s buyers have become accustomed to consuming bite-sized chunks of information in small free periods, on their iPhones while in line at Starbucks. 

John Jantsch writes about this in this post, Are You Feeding the Snack Culture? And the  Foneshow blog says that snack-sized content needs to have a single idea, should be easy to share, and should require little or no commitment. If it can be viewed on a mobile device during an elevator ride, you are on the right track!

(I originally wrote about this in my post The YouTube Approach to Lead Nurturing.

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Basics of B2B Branding

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Basics of B2B Branding

Does branding even matter at B2B companies? Or is branding a waste of time and budget compared to “hard ROI” activities that can be proven to drive revenue?

My belief is that branding does matter to B2B marketers, and for one main reason: B2B buyers are still people, and people are emotional. And, as research increasingly indicates, emotions impact economic decision making.  Now, B2C marketers can capitalize on the anticipation of positive emotion by appealing to aspirational feelings such as desire. But in B2B, there is an asymmetry between the upside and downside of B2B purchases: the buyer does not experience the full benefit of the solution directly and may or not be rewarded for making a good purchase, but a bad purchase can destroy the buyer’s reputation and damage job security. So, in B2B brands capitalize on the avoidance of negative emotions.

B2B brands can tap into this by building trust in the buyer’s mind. The classic example is “nobody ever got fired for buying IBM”. Since being IBM is not an option for most companies (yet), the best way to build a brand of trust is to become a trusted advisor via thought leadership early in the buying cycle.

Read more of my thoughts on B2B branding on my Marketo post, B2B Branding – Why Branding Matters in B2B Marketing.

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8 Ways The Internet Changed Marketing

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8 Ways The Internet Changed Marketing

One of my favorite speeches is the one Tien Tzuo gave as part of Stanford University’s Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Series. As part of this talk, Tien shared how Salesforce.com transformed their sales and marketing processes by leveraging the internet.

Based on those insights, here are eight ways the internet changed enterprise software marketing.

  1. Awareness. Before the internet, access to information about new products and solutions was limited to a few sources. In the internet-era, customers are much better at seeking out information themselves — and blocking out unwanted marketing messages — meaning B2B marketers must practice inbound techniques to help customers find them.
  2. Segmentation and Targeting. Because anyone can find you online, you need a way to make sure that the right people find you, and possibly need different offerings for different types of visitors.
  3. Education. The only way the buyer could learn more was a meeting with a sales representative from the company. That’s why buyers were willing to engage with sales so early in the buying cycle. But today, easy access to information means that buyers educate themselves before engaging with sales.
  4. Trials. The number one thing prospects want to know is whether your solution meets their needs. The best way to get that information is simple: just use the product. And the internet makes it easier than ever to let potential customers try your solution before they buy.
  5. Product Design. Limited information led buyers to resort to complex RFPs to make purchases; this encouraged companies to create products with broad checklists of features. But the internet, and trials, encourages companies to create simple, clean, easy to learn products.
  6. Sales. The internet created the role of inside sales to qualify marketing-generated leads, and close "easy" transactions over the phone.
  7. Events. The internet reduces the amount of human contact with direct sales representatives, other channels of human interaction become more important -- making events such as webinars, road shows, and conferences even more important. (The Apple Store serves a similar purpose, giving customers who buy online a place to build the relationship and trust.)
  8. Post-Sales Customer Experience. The internet enables the software as a service model, which uses subscriptions and not one-time sales. If customers don’t like your service they can just stop using (and paying for) it, so companies are encouraged to invest in the ongoing customer experience.

Read my original post, 8 Ways The Internet Changed Software Marketing.

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10 Trends in B2B Marketing

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10 Trends in B2B Marketing

One of my favorite series of posts on the early Marketo blog was called Ten Practical Trends in B2B Marketing. In it, I compiled some of the key ideas on modern marketing that I'd had up until that date.  Here are links to the 10 final articles:

  1. Embrace online channels: The internet has transformed best-practices in B2B marketing. As a result, spending on online advertising at B2B companies is growing at 25% a year.
  2. Landing pages, landing pages, landing pages: Sending traffic to a landing page can improve conversions by 2X, and following best practices can raise them another 40%.
  3. Test everything – but don’t over test: Testing is the best way to discover what works, but don’t test too many variables or you won’t get significant results.
  4. Practice attention marketing – and make it measurable: Customers are adept at tuning out unwanted marketing. Leverage the internet and word of mouth to break through the attention barrier.
  5. Help buyers research early in the sales cycle: Buyers use the internet to research before they engage with sales. By helping to educate the customer, you can establish your company as a trusted advisor that understands their problems.
  6. Manage leads – don’t generate demand: Marketers who excel at managing leads (i.e. acquiring, scoring, nurturing, and routing leads) can more than double the number of marketing leads that turn into a sale.
  7. Lead nurturing 101: 95% of the prospects on your site are not ready to speak with sales. Leads that are nurtured before going to sales buy more, require less discounting, and have shorter sales cycles.
  8. Measure relationship depth: Track the number and quality of marketing interactions with each prospect company, so you know the next best marketing action to take.
  9. Stop being a cost center: Help the CEO and CFO think of marketing as asset that drives revenue, not a liability that needs to be reduced, by framing the issue of marketing spending in terms of revenue and growth.
  10. Invest in marketing automation: As marketing operations are become increasingly complex, marketers will need to find ways to automate key processes through technology.

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Earn a Seat at the Revenue Table

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Earn a Seat at the Revenue Table

One key thought that has driven much of my marketing thinking is this: marketing should be as accountable for revenue as sales.  This is especially true with modern buyers who use information abundance to seize control of the buying process and delay engagement with sales until much later in the buying process.

In late 2006, I wrote a series of articles about this process, which were then compiled into a single article for Revenue Performance How Marketers can Earn a Seat at the Revenue TableIn the article, I ask "What can marketers do in order to be seen as part of a machine that drives revenue and profits, not just the people who throw parties and buy swag?" The answer, I argue, is to recognize that at most companies, Sales is the function that owns the revenue pipeline. (Sales and revenue often go together, so much that some people use the words as synonyms.)  This means that marketing can earn their seat at the revenue table by acting MORE like sales with these key actions:

  1. Speak the financial “language of busiess”
  2. Forecast results, not just costs
  3. Make hard business cases for spending
  4. Align incentives
  5. Use standardized best-practice methodologies
  6. Do “more with less” using automation technology

Check out the entire article, How Marketers can Earn a Seat at the Revenue Table, for detailed explanations of each of these ideas.

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Marketing Budgets 101

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Marketing Budgets 101

One topic that seems to always fascinate marketing executives, and myself, is "how much should my company spend on marketing?"  This of course comes with the implied question, "how can I justify my marketing budget to fellow executives?"

I wrote about this exact topic on the Marketo blog on October 12, 2006, in a post named Benchmarking Marketing Budgets.  Check it out for some useful stats.  Then on January 21, 2007 I wrote a follow-up, How To Sell Your B2B Marketing Budget To Your CFO. Here, I make an important argument: the best way to justify your marketing budget is to think of it as an investment that incurs costs today but delivers benefits for many years.  When we think of the marketing budget as an investment, and not a cost, we not only help convince others that marketing is not a cost center, but we also let the marketing budget to be amortized over the entire “useful life” of the investment.  This in turns allows the company to make more strategic but still rational big bets on marketing.

Read the Marketo ebook Selling your Marketing Budget to your CFO for more on this topic.

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