Wednesday, November 28, 2007

New Lead Solution Uncovered By Editorial Advisory Board

We had the first official gathering of our newly assembled Editorial Advisory Board about a week ago. Representing a variety of sales, marketing and strategy roles, as well as industries, the group presented a variety of pain pointes they were looking to address.
By the group's own admission, the level of expertise in marketing, and more specifically demand generation, also varied widely. However, one common issue members were tackling was building a successful search strategy. Again, the specific needs around search, whether it be Search Engine Optimization or pure Search Engine Marketing, were unique depending on budgets and expertise.
Another common code most marketers are still trying to crack: determining who visits their site and how they got there also was discussed by the group. Karen Heyward, Chief Marketing Officer for IT outsourcing service provider Centerbeam, mentioned an interesting solution provider she had recently started working with called LeadLander.
The San Francisco-based company provides a web-based application that gives your sales staff access to real-time customer intelligence reports which identify the customers hitting your site. The company offers add-on modules which make it easy to integrate the solution with CRM systems including Salesforce.
The product also helps in the lead qualification process by providing customer intelligence on what at a specific customer is looking for by analyzing their search terms. LeadLander also offers a mechanism to automatically deliver leads to your inside sales team.
Based on the active conversation that came out of our first get-together I'm confident other interesting new companies will be uncovered and I will be sure to pass them along.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

5 Questions To Consider Before Trying to Measure Marketing Performance

A recent survey revealed that only 40% of B2B technology marketers have a closed-loop process for tracking leads from inquiry to close. With all of the tools available, one would think that this would be a completely buttoned-up process for most technology marketers. Closing the loop is critical to ensuring that not only your company is following up with inquiries, but also helps you allocate your hard earned marketing budget on the best performing programs.

How do you get there? Here are 5 questions you must be able to answer before you start your quest to close the loop:
1. What are the sources for all of your inquiries? Sit down and think of all the possible sources for an inquiry. Make sure to consider all online and offline points of entry.
2. What happens to these inquires? How are they distributed? Added to an Excel file? Sent to a salesperson via an email? If you find yourself stuck here, you are not alone. This may be early in the process, but this is where I see most closed loop processes break down. There is an inconsistent flow of data, through various channels, without a central point of record.
3. What do you want to track/measure? You should consider defining some basic metrics for success, and using those as a standard measure across the enterprise. Here are a few examples for measuring ROI:
a. Cost per inquiry – What is the cost per raw inquiry?
b. Cost per lead – What is the cost per qualified lead?
c. Cost of marketing – What is the cost per opportunity created?
d. Acquisition cost – What is the cost per deal closed?
4. Based on what you want to track, are you capturing the right data? Furthermore, is that data standardized to make reporting easier? Standardize every point of data input. From web forms to manual data entry, make sure the data is input consistently and as completely as possible.
5. Do you have an in-house tool that can help you centralize and manage this process? Can you easily track lead flow from inception, to pipeline, to close? I’m not talking about Excel spreadsheets – you need something much more robust. Seriously consider implementing a CRM system that can help you manage the process.
About the Author:
Kirk Crenshaw is CEO of RevCatalyst, a marketing services company focused on helping growing B2B companies develop, plan, and implement a high quality lead generation operation that sets your sales organization up for success. For more information, visit or contact Kirk at or via phone at 415.887.7649.

Monday, October 8, 2007

DGR Interview: Avaya’s VP of Demand Generation Sheds Light On Innovative Strategies for Driving Demand

In late September, Demand Gen Report had the opportunity to chat with Yannick Claereboudt, Avaya’s VP of Demand Generation, about the company’s strategies around sales nurturing, lead management and sales enablement. In addition, Claereboudt offered insights into Avaya’s adoption of new media, including the early results into tests with mobile marketing.

The entire interview is very insightful and can serve as a barometer for other companies to benchmark their overall demand generation strategies. A few of the highlights from the discussion included:

On The Next Phase of Demand Generation: “The next critical area of focus – which we already started in FY07 - will be to integrate even further our web experience in order to engage our target audience in a two-way interactive dialogue. For example, we will be incorporating things like virtual briefings, video testimonials, podcasts and interactive assessment tools.”
On Sales Enablement: “We have adopted new media and techniques for sales to communicate with customers -- from interactive flash demos to cool video snapshots that tell our story in engaging and entertaining ways. On a quarterly basis, we receive feedback through a sales survey on the quality of these tools to enable further refinement.”
On New Media Adoption: “We do see opportunities and are testing several programs in order to evaluate and integrate mobile marketing into our plans. For example, to promote our Unified Communications platform, we recently launched in North America a mobile marketing pilot, pushing messages with a strong offer to PDAs, Smartphones and Blackberrys. In the first six days since the program's launch, more than 1,000 users registered via their mobile devices".

Monday, October 1, 2007

10 Best Practices Tips
To Optimize Landing Pages

By Kelly Abner, Director of Marketing, Marketo
If you can catch buyers early in their buying process, you have the opportunity to frame their decision and establish yourself as the company to beat. Since 93% of B2B buyers begin their buying process with a search engine, search marketing paired with landing pages is a great way to do this.
The landing page is critical. From the prospect's perspective, clicking on your link is easy and doesn't cost (them) anything. In contrast, converting and becoming a lead requires them to invest their time and energy to understand your offer and fill out your firm – not to mention risk unwanted marketing since you require they share their contact information.
That’s why getting your landing pages right is so critical. In our experience, optimized landing pages can increase your conversions by 200% improvements – or more. With that kind of ROI, here are ten practical tips you can use to improve and optimize your landing pages.

1. Layouts & Templates
Use simple designs. This isn’t your home page, so remove the navigation. It's worth taking the time to create a navigation-free HTML template.

2. Graphics
Graphics are the #1 thing that draws the eye. Include a hero shot – a mock up of the white paper cover or a photo of your webinar speaker. Two quick tips: Let people click the graphics to get more info (people often click on graphics) and be sure to have a caption (people read captions).

3. Content
Make it straight and to the point, but be sure to give enough info to sell them prospect:
Setup the problem.
Talk about the solution.
Deliver the offer (such as a white paper, demo or webinar).
Use bullets. People read them more than long copy (you're reading this, right).
Include a call to action.

4. Forms
Don’t ask for too much information. Collect as little as you need at this stage of your funnel. You can always collect more during your nurturing process.

5. White Papers
Don’t just serve up that white paper. Email it to the prospect. This is a great trick to ensure that you get a valid email address.

6. Confirmation Pages
Confirm the form submittal with a thank you. Do you have something else they might be interested in? Make another offer and collect more info.

7. Page URLs
The name of the page, along with the rest of the URL path, is weighed fairly heavily. Use CamelCase or dashes between words, not underscores – search engines like that better.

8. Meta Data
Good metadata can improve your keyword ranking by telling the search engine that your page is relevant. So be sure to write a keyword specific title and craft a good description with a call to action.

9. Test
Testing lets your customers vote with their actions, removing any debate about what works and what doesn’t. The best things to test are headline, caption, submit button, form length, and graphical elements.

10. But Don’t Over-test
Over-testing is a problem in the “high value, low volume” world of B2B marketing. A good rule of thumb is to take the number of conversions you get per day and divide it by 10. Then take your testing period in weeks and divide that by 2. Multiply the two results together to get the number of versions you can confidently test in your testing period.

About the Author
Kelly Abner is Director of Marketing for Marketo, a provider of marketing automation software that helps B2B marketing professionals drive revenue and improve marketing accountability. Download Marketo's new eBook, Building Effective Landing Pages by visting their blog, Modern B2B Marketing. For more information, contact Kelly at or via phone at 650-655.4830.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Social Networking and CRM:
Still Searching For A Fit

By Denis Pombriant, Managing Principal, Beagle Research Group

Social Networking (SN) is another one of those things I have been watching for a long time as the technology has slowly but steadily approached the front office. The idea of using SN technology to find a needle in a haystack was a kind of panacea. Imagine being able to find a mutual contact you never knew existed who might be able to introduce you to a sales prospect.
Interestingly, about a decade ago the same use was made of business intelligence software, it was supposed to be the stuff that could help you zero in on market segments.

In both cases early promoters of the technology were right but I wouldn’t say they were far sighted enough.
Social networking was supposed to be the next thing that would transform the way we sell but in the last couple of years, SN seems to have stalled in no small part because no body likes or wants to be the target of introductory emails from virtual strangers looking for a favor. That doesn’t mean SN has no place in CRM, instead, I suspect we haven’t figured out how to use it properly. The same kind of thing happened with business intelligence, it was supposed to help you segment your potential customer base into groups you could construct specialized target messages for.
Business intelligence worked out well enough for marketers but I think the technology found its voice when vendors and users turned its focus inward and began examining a business’s data to find trends and what worked best.
So far, it seems to me that with few exceptions, companies have looked at SN as if it was just another sales tool designed to help cram product into the market thus helping the sales team to once again make quota. Unfortunately, larger and longer lasting marketplace trends give that approach decreasing likelihood of success.
Customers are savvier about products today in part because the products on the market now are evolutions on original concepts. People are buying their second, third or umpteenth cell phone, mp3 player, computer, PDA or whatever and are not as likely to buy the first thing they see. Selling has risen to a new level of sophistication because customers have gone there first therefore technologies that simply aim to turbo-charge old selling habits will show diminishing results. Using SN for sales falls into this category.
Social networking has been used effectively for a long time by companies interested in engaging customers in a conversation aimed in part or in total at improving products and services. People have been using SN techniques much longer than they’ve been using computers. My favorite example comes from Eric von Hippel’s book
Democratizing Innovation in which he describes the rapid evolution of the steam engine from something that was barely useful at pumping water out of a coal mine to something that transformed mining.
According to von Hippel, mine operators, who should have been natural antagonists and averse to helping each other, traded information about steam powered water pumps thus helping each other and the steam engine manufacturers to build better products. These people used industry associations to transmit information, much as we use these associations today.
Where SN techniques can help best, I think, is in bringing together virtual communities of interest, people who will share their ideas about products and especially about their needs and attitudes. Using SN this way has several advantages over using it to get a deal. By using SN within a community you have the opportunity to test ideas with users and see how they react. The information you collect can then go into better product designs or whole new products. SN can also be used to test and validate marketing ideas, Web site design and the like. I call this “deep marketing” and it has an analog to older more labor intensive techniques such as the phone survey and the focus group.
This application of social networking comes in the nick of time if you ask me. Vendors need ways to better understand customers — not simply better ways to identify them — for the simple reason that customers often don’t know what they want or need until there is a solution. At that point customers wonder how they ever got a long without a product like a better steam engine.
The fact that technologies like social networking or business intelligence should morph a bit between the time that they are introduced and the time when they can be said to be mature should surprise no one. Early adopters frequently adjust a technology’s focus until it optimally suits some purpose and I suspect that’s happening in social networking even as I write this. You could say that I am a believer in the power of social networking and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Denis Pombriant founded Beagle Research Group, LLC in 2004 after a successful career in enterprise software sales and marketing. Pombriant is widely quoted throughout the industry and he is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board for CRM Magazine. Pombriant’s writings appear regularly in print and online journals such as CRM Magazine,, and .

Monday, July 30, 2007

Can A Loyalty Program
Help You Drive Demand?

B2B loyalty programs seem, on first consideration, to be a great idea. But they also come with their own pitfalls that don't occur in consumer-based loyalty programs. For example:

  • Is it ethical to reward a client's employees to make decisions based on personal gain?
  • Who should be rewarded: the business owner, management, employees, the business itself, or all?
  • Is the person who gets the benefits always the one who makes the actual purchase decisions?

The list of problems grows or shrinks depending on the industry sector
involved, and on how well the relationship between supplier and client is defined and controlled.

For example, there is little point in a CPG manufacturer rewarding the product buying clerks at a supermarket's head office when the decisions on product range, quantity, and shelf space allocation are taken by others (such as marketing and merchandising managers). This represents a tightly controlled buying environment in which direct rewards for employees are fruitless.

However, in a more flexible (and typically smaller) business environment, buyers often have authority over stock control, product range, quantities, and even merchandising arrangements. In these cases, a B2B loyalty program that rewards the buyer would probably work - even if it stands on unsteady ethical ground.

There is another situation where B2B loyalty schemes work very well: channel sales partner programs. These are where a manufacturer directly rewards the sales staff of companies that resell its products. This kind of selling incentive is very constructive because it benefits both businesses equally, in terms of greater sales and profit.

By generating strong engagement between channel partners' sales people and the products themselves, the resultant increase in product knowledge and familiarity means that a more authoritative line can be taken in the sales process when dealing with end users.
A fine example of this kind of program's success is networking specialist Nortel, which achieved 40% growth in channel sales after one year of running such a program, which is detailed in section 25.1.6 of the 2006-2008 edition of 'The Loyalty Guide' report.

The Loyalty Guide Volume II (The Wise Marketer's 950-page global report on customer loyalty) explains every aspect of B2B loyalty, consumer loyalty, best practices, concepts, models and innovations, including case studies, original research, illustrations, charts, graphs, tables, and detailed presentation material.

Find out how to build true customer loyalty, increase profitability, reduce defection levels (churn), and how to monitor and increase each type of customer's purchase frequency, spend level, and share of wallet. The world's key loyalty programs are detailed, studied, and summarized for you. See where others are succeeding, what works, what doesn't, and why. Full details and downloadable samples are available online

Monday, July 9, 2007

Sizing up Social Networks and
Their Potential to Build Value

By: Guy R. Powell, President of DemandROMI

OK, so we want to build a social network. Sounds great but is it really going to increase our brand engagement and drive revenue? And even if it does drive engagement, how do we translate that into conversions at the bottom line?

According to Nielsen/NetRatings MySpace had 57 million unique visitors in April 2007 representing 75% of the unique visitors between the top community websites (Myspace, Facebook, Bebo, and Friendster). But how are the marketers of these communities turning that into conversion? What we need is a framework to begin to measure the value of a social network.

There are five key components to measuring the level of engagement of a social networking community (to download a whitepaper on the community engagement funnel, go to

·External awareness – For anything to happen with a social networking community there needs to be awareness. Early on marketers must spend a significant portion of their time at this level in the engagement funnel if they are to organically drive membership.
·Subscription – The first level goal of building awareness is to drive and increase membership in the community. Whether it’s a paid or unpaid membership marketers want visitors to click on that infamous ‘Join Now’ button.
·Consumption – Once becoming a member, they can begin to consume the offerings provided by the community. They can read blogs and other content, respond to advertising and make purchases.
·Conversation – A higher level of engagement however takes place when the member begins to interact with the other members of the community. They participate in blogs or discussion groups. They post comments and they may even build their own blog or discussion topic within the community.
·Invitation – The highest level of engagement occurs when the member invites other non-members to subscribe to the community. They now have enough trust in and receive enough value from the community to invite their friends. They are convinced that their friends will also gain value from the community.

Marketers must pinpoint their marketing efforts across all levels in the community engagement funnel to drive increasing engagement for members and non-members:

·At the top level marketers drive awareness of the community to deliver visitors to the registration page. If it is a fee-based subscription, the marketer can now rack up dollars as awareness leads to increased membership.
·At the consumption level success occurs when the members consume the offerings found within the community. If there are opportunities to spend more money on the site through the purchase of products or the serving up of advertising, the marketer has a new way to convert engagement with the community into money.
·At the conversation level a marketer can gain through the content of the conversations. Many marketers have found that utilizing consumer generated verbiage in their traditional advertising is one of the best ways to improve the quality of that advertising.
·The last advantage for marketers is for the membership to invite other members to join in. This is when the viral component begins. If the marketer can find clever ways to motivate the membership to send out invitations, the marketer can gain through the multiplier effect from members inviting others to join the community.

Although there are other providers of social media solutions, ThePort Network, one of our software partners, has begun to provide its clients measurements based along this framework. Looking at, the online community for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the primary newspaper for the metro Atlanta area, we have seen marked increases in traffic and engagement at the primary site ( shown in blue in the diagram) once the community (, shown in red) was actively promoted in October 2006. (See attached chart.) Twenty seven percent 27%) of total engagement with the brand as measured by the total number of minutes spent by unique visitors with the brand was done on the community site. Since both sites provide advertising opportunities and this represents an important revenue source for newspapers, we can extrapolate that online advertising revenues increased by a similar proportion (we are not privy to the exact numbers).

As for our consumption metric we’ve found that on this site in the first 6 months, each of the users posted on average, just over three blog comments. For another site managed by ThePort, we’ve found that users invite on average four of their friends to join the community.

Measuring engagement with the community based on a clear framework allows marketers to understand the level of activity being engaged in by their members. Armed with this information marketers can begin to drive further value by pinpointing their campaigns to make certain that engagement increases in a way that is good for their members and drives value for the marketer.

About the Author:

Guy R. Powell is President of DemandROMI, a marketing consulting firm specializing in driving increased ROI from creative marketing tactics and strategies. Please visit our website at and our blog at

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

B2B Leaders Pulling The Trigger
On Automated Sales Alert Tools

Looking to improve sales acceleration and overall sales effectiveness metrics, many leading edge B2B organizations are adopting trigger-based selling solutions. These automated tools provide sales execs with leads and insights into news and events within their territory or existing account base, which may indicate a readiness to buy.

Depending on the solution a company offers, these triggering events can include management changes, new product announcements, mergers and acquisitions, new financing, new locations, etc. The leading trigger-based tools monitor and mine large bases of business information sources and filter the information based on pre-set profiles so that only information relevant to their account base is provided. The alerts are typically delivered via email or through a web portal right to the sales person’s desktop or mobile device, utilizing a pre-set profile.

Many companies are finding that trigger-based tools are accelerating the closing cycle and making their sales staff more efficient. Condensing the amount of time sales people spend researching their accounts (estimated to be as high as 15% to 30% of the average work week) these trigger-based sales tools have proven to be effective for sales execs managing a small base of large accounts, as well as someone with a large geographic territory.

“Knowledge is the price of admission for sales people today,” says Jill Konrath, a leading sales strategist and author of Selling To Big Companies ( “It is a huge competitive advantage to have timely information about your existing clients and prospects. It has really become a baseline item. You either have it or you don’t and if you don’t you can’t compete.”

Joe Chappell, CEO of TrueAdvantage, one of the leading suppliers of trigger-based subscription services, points out that another key benefit of these solutions is providing the ability to be in front of clients early in the buying cycle. “One of the biggest issues we keep hearing from our prospects is that they want to know more about the buying cycle,” Chappell says.

With more buyers making their early-stage decisions without the involvement of vendors, companies want to make sure they aren’t left out based on an analyst recommendation or another factor. “By knowing all of the key triggering events that are going on with an account, you are greatly reducing the risk of being left out of a deal,” he says.

Integrating With Sales Systems
Unlike some of the other complex sales automation tools, trigger-based solutions are relatively inexpensive and can be easily integrated into most of the major CRM systems. Frank Filippo, director of product management for Dow Jones' Factiva SalesWorks product line, points out that the company’s solution has been easily integrated with, Microsoft Dynamics, Siebel and many other sales management systems.

Factiva SalesWorks has north of 200 companies utilizing its solution, including major tech players such as Cisco Systems and Microsoft. Factiva SalesWorks sits on top of one of the largest news and content sources via Dow Jones brands such as The Wall Street Journal and Barron’s. Beyond the vast content, Fillipo says another key feature of the tool is the mapping and chart functions that allow sales professionals to monitor their territory in a single view or build a breakdown of a single company.

Thanks to the easy integration low cost of entry, proving the ROI of trigger-based solutions has been a relatively easy exercise for the early adopters. TrueAdvantage’s Chappell says most of the company’s clients have started out with 20-40 sales executives who test the solution over a two to three month period and then roll it out to the larger sales force based on the initial success. TrueAdvantage also has more than 200 accounts, ranging from large tech players (IBM and Tech Data) security services (ADT) and office furnishings (Herman Miller).

“We go as far as guaranteeing the results for our clients,” Chappell says. With TrueAdvantage’s solution selling for approximately $1,200 per sales person per year, he points out that most companies will see ROI from the margin on 1 incremental deal. “We’ve seen the solution work equally well for sales people that have a concentrated territory of 1 to 10 very large accounts, as well as account executives that have 300 to 400 accounts across a large geographic territory.”

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Sales Effectiveness Study Uncovers
Missed Opps With Existing Accounts
Marketbridge Survey Shows New Isn’t Always Better

When companies gather around the conference room table to formulate their growth strategy for the coming year, the conversation typically begins and ends with a focus on new customers and new products.

What is typically overlooked, however, is the fact that the biggest opportunities for most firms actually exist with their current clients. In its 2007 Sales Effectiveness survey, MarketBridge found a significant disconnect between the growth plan and the feedback these companies are actually receiving from the market.

For example, the survey of just under 200 marketing and sales executives showed that “new product/extensions” and “change focus on customer/segments” were the top two selections for growth strategies, at 76% and 62% respectively. However, when asked about their customers’ biggest demands, the same respondents ranked “better products” and “better service & support” as the top 2 priorities, ahead of “new products” or “better price/value.”

Scott Gillum, Senior Vice President of MarketBridge, points out that the disparity between what the market is asking for and the strategies most companies are adopting is driven by the fact that competitors are also knocking at the door of their clients and prospects. According to the survey, “greater competition” was cited as the top factor impacting performance, significantly ahead of organization or management changes or major product changes.

While expanding the product portfolio is a reasonable strategy for reacting to competitive pressures, the majority of survey respondents admitted their organizations were not well prepared to deal with the execution of new solutions.

For example, when asked about the biggest challenges to their sales strategy, 58% said “implementing strategy” was the largest obstacle. Compounding this issue, more than a third (34%) of respondents said they were only “somewhat prepared” to deliver on their customers biggest demands.

Gillum says an underlying problem with the rush to introduce “new” is that most sales forces are still not prepared for the solution selling approach required to penetrate deeper into an organization. The survey supported this theory, as more than half (51%) of the respondents cited “selling a solution” as one the greatest growth obstacles.

“Competitive pressures have forced a lot of companies to rush ahead with new solutions and new marketing messages,” Gillum says. “Unfortunately, they are not taking the first steps to educate their sales force and create alignment throughout the organization around their message. Based on what we have seen, the more successful companies are making sure they are doing the old really well before focusing on the new.”

Going Deep
Considering that most industries have seen their largest customers account for a larger slice of their business in recent years, Gillum argues that the 80/20 rule should be the top driver for growth. “If you are an established company that has been in business for 10 years or more, you can achieve your revenue and profit objectives solely based on doing a better job of capturing the opportunity in existing accounts.”

MarketBridge has worked with clients such as IBM, MasterCard, Merck, SAP and Siemens, on all stages of sales and marketing from strategy to execution. Consistently, across different size firms and various vertical markets, Gillum says the company’s work has shown that “new does not necessarily mean better.”

Since it is typically 7-times more expensive to acquire a new customer versus retaining one, Gillum points out that many companies are better served by focusing more time and resources on greater account penetration. “Building, selling and thinking new typically takes too long, costs too much and will have the lowest ROI. Most companies should focus first on getting more out of existing clients, and then investing in new.”

For the organizations that have shifted gears and are focusing more on building their business with top clients, Gillum says it has also required a change in their approach to marketing as well. “The first step is building a true single view of your customers so that you can look at penetration rates for different products and have better intelligence about other solutions they may need,” he says. “Once you have that, then marketing organizations are able to send targeted offers to specific segments of the client base.”

Many leading edge companies have established integrated marketing teams focused on creating sales enablement tools designed to help move prospects through to the next stage of the pipeline.

“We are now seeing a lot of people come into marketing with experience in either the product or sales side, so they have more familiarity with the sales process,” Gillum says. “These teams help them build tools that will provide more intelligence on a prospect. For example, a CRM system may tell you where a customer is in the pipeline, but it will not be able to tell you the reasons whey they aren’t moving from one stage to the next.”

Sure, it’s crucial to formulate and implement strategies to reel in new customers. But that’s not as critical, nor as cost effective, as mining your most valuable assets—your current customers. “Learn as much as you can about your customers and how they are using your current products,” says Gillum. “Find out where their sweet spots are in terms of other offers and solutions, and then target them specifically.”

Thursday, May 31, 2007

CPG Industry Needs New Engine
To Drive Demand & Awareness

By John Gaffney

It’s interesting to me just how “retro” the consumer packaged goods world has become. P&G has turned the clock back to focusing on product sampling for several personal care products. Pepsi has reverted to the old “Pepsi challenge” in its continuing bid to unseat Coke’s lead in the diet soda space.
Here’s the problem with these “new” directions. They’re old. Forget the fact that they ignore NextGen strategies that provide more specific targeting. They don’t consider a very simple understanding that there’s a world of difference between generating awareness and generating demand. And therein lies the challenge for consumer packaged goods companies. They’re still focused on generating awareness, when the situation calls for generating demand.
One of the more innovative campaigns I’ve seen over the past year came from Sprite, which used community-based engagement loyalty for its highly successful campaign in 2006 called The Refreshing Wall. According to its brief for the OMMA Awards, it aimed the five-month effort at recapturing a sliding share of the teenage market by engaging the demographic with a chance to create their own Sprite logos and their own online graffiti-style artwork. It became the most-trafficked area on MSN, with users engaging more time with The Refreshing Wall than any other MSN channel, including Hotmail. It’s 1 million plus community continues to use the site despite the end of the official media support of the program. Most interestingly, according to Sprite’s own terminology, The Refreshing Wall “established a new currency.” Instead of engagement, Sprite calls it “captivation metrics.”

Some of those metrics include:
· Average time spent in the application 6 minutes per user session;
· Each $1 in investment generated 4 minutes in user engagement;
· Lift in brand equity, as measured by Sprite: 14%.

Here’s what Sprite’s approach does. It reaches out to a new customer segment with a campaign that engages them. That engages leads to demand for new information, new access to experiences and then product demand. Media for CPG companies can, and must morph into a demand gen engine. And it doesn’t need to lose its tried and true awareness building tricks in the process.
For example, The California Milk Processor Board has taken “Got Milk?” into the points and information arena. It’s new 3D “Get The Glass” game allows users to attack “Fort Fridge” to get the earth’s last glass of milk. Along the way users are confronted with trivia questions about the benefits of milk and they suffer what the CMP Board believes to be the downside of milk deprivation (brittle bones etc.). Users earn points toward a chance at a $5,000 prize. More importantly the concept of demanding an experience goes along with demanding the product. “Millsberry” is another example of engaging kids in a brand experience. It is a virtual town created by General Mills in August 2004. It has shops, homes, special events, and a newspaper called the Millsberry Gazette, chat rooms and an arcade. Games and visits to nutritional information websites such as the National Institute of Health earn “Millsbucks.” They in turn can be used to purchase items from Millsberry’s downtown shops as well as allow members to purchase their own home in Millsberry.
Not a lot of customers are going to demand a home in Millsberry. But they might set up a new paradigm for demand of things that go beyond product. For CPG companies that might be a ticket out of commodity hell and a new ticket into a new worlds of marketing.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Demanding Views

Home Depot’s Rebuidling
Plan Missing The Mark

By John Gaffney

Seems like everyday you can add another company to the list of crisis managers. Someone gets rung up on customer complaints, bad service, SEC questions, data breaches and overpaying executives. Home Depot has been in something of a defensive posture since Bob Nardelli got his walking papers in January. It was rocked back on its heels a bit more by its shellacking on the MSN blogosphere in late March.
Time to play defense, right? Say you’re sorry? Wrong.
I would argue that the only thing Home Depot should be doing, in fact what any company that has faced a tough rack of problems lately, is use the crisis to be smarter about generating demand. You could say it’s “demand re-gen.” No matter what you call it, rebounding from a crisis doesn’t take away from the fact there’s one thing a business is about. And that’s creating demand through every fiber of its being.
For Home Depot, it’s no different. Here’s how I would put the pieces back together through a demand gen lens:

--Employee Programs: It’s my understanding that HD already has an aggressive employee reward program in place. Anyone who’s been there will tell you the results are spotty. Employees should be rewarded on return visits, incremental revenue and customer feedback. Everything they do when interacting with a customer needs to be based on two demand gen basics:
1) Customers talk to other customers.
2) Employees are the competitive differentiator in the race between HD and Lowe’s.
--Marketing: HD needs to generate demand among its core customers, and those are contractors. Contactors are going to make the big ticket purchases and they’ll tell the weekend warriors that HD is thumbs up or thumbs down. I would reach out through direct mail, email and strategically placed online campaigns to get the word out that HD wants you back if you’re a contractor. Apologizing to the newlyweds that want to buy a new light fixture isn’t going to generate demand.
--Operations: I would want to know how my contact center looks, sounds and feels. I would want to know how those CSRs are trained and compensated. If their current contact center is based on call time and resolution, I’d change it to proactive current customer contact and customer satisfaction. I’m also thinking that HD would generate more demand by making the checkout process more seamless and by making contractor billing systems more demand gen centered. When a contractor gets a bill from HD, it should invite him for workshops, free coffee for him and his crew, or product discounts.
--BtoB Relationships: Sure would help if one of HD’s major suppliers was visibly on its side right now. Maybe some product exclusives or very transparent end caps and signage would help get that done.
Any one of these factors would be a step in the right direction. I think demand gen needs to be a holistic process, not an event. Marketing, operations, employee engagements and BtoB relationships could all move toward the same goal. And maybe by focusing on demand gen a company like Home Depot could understand that the next quarter might be a wash. But the one after that doesn’t have to be.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Speeding Up Pipeline
A Growing Priority For B2B

Many organizations adopting demand optimization strategies

By Andrew Gaffney, Editor
If you have noticed a clog in your sales pipeline over the past few years, you are not alone. Identifying qualified buyers has become increasingly difficult for most companies, particularly in technology and other big ticket B2B and B2C sectors, and the problem has been compounded by the fact that deals are taking longer to close.
SiriusDecisions, a Wilton, CT-based research firm focused on sales & marketing benchmarks, has been collecting data from more than 300 B2B marketers, and has found a consistent challenge with demand generation efforts. “We look at everything including spend, budgets, response rates, conversion rates and overall performance,” says John Neeson, Managing Director and Co-Founder of SiriusDecisions.
According to research from SiriusDecisions, the average selling cycle for deals $100,000 and over is 22% longer on average than it was five years, and there are 3.5 more people involved in the decision-making process.

According to research from SiriusDecisions, the average selling cycle for deals $100,000 and over is 22% longer on average than it was five years, and there are 3.5 more people involved in the decision-making process. Based on this increased complexity, marketers are pushing to have more prospects in the pipeline. For example, the traditional metric for many marketers had been to have a ratio of 3 to 1 of prospects to sales quota. However, as the go-to-market model has begun to shift, Neeson says that average has been pushed up to 3.6 to 1.
One clear trend among the companies SiriusDecisions measures is a growing emphasis on feeding and managing the pipeline. “Demand generation is the only category where spending has consistently increased over the past five years. It now accounts for between 40% to 60% of most B2B marketing budgets,” he says. “And companies are clearly relying more on marketing to drive demand generation.”

The focus on lead and demand generation has been heating up steadily for the past five years, but the level of sophistication being applied to the issue has varied widely among different companies. Surprisingly, Neeson says he often finds small to mid-sized companies are often more advanced at managing the process than some of the larger, global organizations.
One common approach among B2B companies has been segmenting their marketing efforts to target prospective customers at different phases of the buying cycle. For example, some leading marketers have developed specific campaigns and follow-up business processes for different target audiences into the following segments:
· Awareness
· Consideration
· Preference
· Close
Each audience segment has its own creative and messaging attached to it, as well as sales collateral and follow-up process.
In addition to segmented marketing, the majority of B2B companies have developed a system for rating the sales leads in its pipelines. The oldest and most elementary method is the A, B, C, D method of prioritizing prospects, although many sales and marketing executives that employ this technique admit there are often no formal guidelines for how an A lead is handled versus a prospect rated a D.
As one VP with a large software supplier described their current system. “We just got back from a major trade show with what I would consider 27 urgent sales leads, but even I’m not clear on what metrics we are using to narrow down and prioritize which of those should have the most urgency and attention.”

Over the past two years, the process has been getting more structured and Neeson says many companies have evolved to what Sirius describes as a “lead architecture,” which often employs formal lead scoring systems, as well as lead nurturing and management systems.
One of the leading solution providers offering these types of products is Eloqua, headquartered in Toronto. Thor Johnson, Eloqua’s SVP Marketing, says the company’s marketing automation solutions have taken the mystery out of demand generation for more than 250 different customers.
“The problem with the pipeline is at the front of the funnel for most companies. Lead generation is a unique process in that it spans 2 very different departments, which can wind up at odds if the process isn’t optimized,” Johnson explains. “For the companies that have aligned their sales and marketing efforts, and have a common definition of what a lead is and where that lead is in the buying process, they usually see a significant improvement in the number of leads closed.”
Eloqua’s customer base runs the gamut of large, publicly-traded companies such as Sybase to smaller venture-backed firms in technology, financial services and business services. “Our clients are automating the process from initial lead generation all the way to revenue generation and are able to attach predictive models to the process. For example, our more advanced clients are able to know that for every $1 they put into demand generation they are going to get $5, $10 or $15 dollars out depending on their sophistication.”
One of the consistent findings from the research and customer feedback gathered by both Eloqua and Sirius is that the effectiveness of different marketing tools varies based on the stage of the lead. For example, Sirius data shows that tools such as white papers and web seminars have been more effective with early to mid-stage leads, while offers such as ROI calculations and free trial downloads have been more effective with late stage prospects.

As Eloqua’s Johnson points out, improving the pipeline for many organizations typically involves better aligning their sales and marketing efforts. Analysts agree that the role for both lines of business has clearly changed in recent years.
Alan Rigg, President of 80/20 Sales Performance, a consulting firm with clients in technology, healthcare and financial services, says a consistent problem across industries is that “there aren’t enough opportunities in the pipeline.” Rigg attributes that trend primarily to the fact that most salespeople either don’t have the time or the training to prospect effectively.
Rigg says that some of the best salespeople he encounters are typically too bogged down with administrative process and procedures to make time to breakthrough with new prospects. “A lot of the top salespeople I meet have a low tolerance for administrative activity and a limited ability to do it well,” he says, pointing to the intricate CRM and sales tracking systems that many companies have implemented in recent years.
Benchmark data from SiriusDecisions supports that opinion, with recent research showing B2B salespeople spend only 18% of their time face-to-face with prospects, while 10% is consumed with admin duties and 18% conducting research.
Rigg points out that many of his clients are supplementing the efforts of their salespeople with more inside or pre-sales staff, as well as increased administrative support in order to free the sales team up to be in front of key clients and prospects. “Most good salespeople tend to be pretty expensive so you don’t want them filling out paperwork and dialing for dollars. It only makes sense to push these tasks to a lower cost resource. The ideal scenario is for your salespeople to focus their time and energy on qualifying opportunities and moving them through the sales cycle at maximum speed.”
The realization that the sales pipeline needs more support has resulted in many companies building a specific team, under the header of field marketing or demand generation to drive and manage sales leads. “The marketing organization of the future will look very different,” says SiriusDecisions’ Neeson. “The CEO will have very distinct dials he or she can go to—including awareness and demand generation—and get an accurate read of how the company is performing in each area.”

Monday, March 19, 2007

Demanding Views

May Release From Harvard
Frames Demand-First
Innovation & Growth (DIG) Model

Challenges Companies To DIG Deeper For Customer Insights

Somewhere in the center of the white board, between the latest and greatest product introductions from R&D and the new competitive growth plan from sales and marketing, there sits a significant growth opportunity. Most companies will unfortunately miss it.
To help locate that key intersection of innovation, changing customer behaviors and competitive success, author Erich Joachimsthaler has built a new framework for customer advantage called Demand-First Innovation and Growth, or the DIG model. It is the cornerstone of a new book called Hidden In Plain Sight: How to Find and Execute Your Company’s Next Big Growth Strategy, scheduled for release in May from Harvard Business School Press.
Joachimsthaler, who has spent more than 25 years studying companies’ connections and disconnections with customers in his role as founder and CEO of consulting firm Vivaldi Partners, argues that companies need to understand the changing ecosystem of demand and identify the biggest opportunities for innovation and growth.
The book draws upon some great behind-the-curtain case studies illustrating the successful growth strategies from such consumer brands as Unilever’s Axe and Procter & Gamble’s Crest White Strips to such B2B leaders as GE Healthcare and State Street Bank. DemandGen Report discussed the DIG model as well as other insights in the book in a conversation with Mr. Joachimsthaler prior to the book’s official release. The following are some of the highlights of that conversation:

DGR: There was an article in a recent edition of Business Week that talked about the “Innovation Backlash.” Do you think all of the hype around innovation has come at the expense of focusing on the needs of the customer?
Joachimsthaler: Marketers who spend all of their time on understanding customer needs are not any better at innovation. Let’s not fall into the simplistic, it’s-all-about-the-customer trap. Those days of better understanding customers are over just like the Reagan Presidency. The problem is far more deeply rooted for American businesses. We have come from a product perspective that began during the industrial revolution. Today we also have many companies that have adopted a customer perspective to business, and there is nobody who should argue against it.
The real problem that stares in our face is that the tough challenges for companies in innovation and growth today is neither solved by following the customer needs perspective nor the product perspective. The key point is: none of these perspectives really help you to achieve dramatic growth through innovation because both perspectives are insufficient, obsolete and have run their course. They don’t really help companies to see the biggest opportunities for innovation and growth in plain sight, right under their nose. Even the so-called customer perspective has lost its usefulness in today’s business environment. The customer perspective is rooted in what we call the need-fulfillment paradigm. Find a need and fill it and they will come. This approach is practiced everywhere, it is generic and worse, it is geriatric, time to retire it and to send it to Florida.

"Even the so-called customer perspective has lost its usefulness in today’s business environment. The customer perspective is rooted in what we call the need-fulfillment paradigm. Find a need and fill it and they will come. This approach is practiced everywhere, it is generic and worse, it is geriatric, time to retire it and to send it to Florida."

DGR: Then if it isn’t about a product focus or a customer focus, where do companies get started to drive real innovation?
Joachimsthaler: My thesis is: if you really want to see the biggest opportunities for growth and identify and deliver breakthrough innovations, you have to start at an altogether different starting point. You have to start with the behaviors of people, not just customers or consumers on their stated psychological needs and preferences. You have to zoom in to a very different aspect of life – not consumer needs, although you may find new untapped or unarticulated consumer needs as you go on.
You have to understand the behaviors and actions of people in their everyday life or work life first and map what I call the ecosystem of consumer demand. Understanding the complexity of this ecosystem of consumer demand is the starting point for identifying opportunities for dramatic growth and breakthrough innovation. The basic unit of analysis of the ecosystem of demand is the behavior of people – how people learn about music, evaluate music, buy music, listen to music, store music and discard music, for example. From this basic analysis should follow a deepened understanding of the social-situational contexts in which these behaviors take place and this necessarily leads to understand the new and unarticulated needs, wants but more importantly, passions, desires, urges and fantasies that people have in their daily contexts.
In a way, Steve Jobs has envisioned this ecosystem of consumer demand, while Sony missed it – even though the opportunity in the MP3 business where right in front of Sony’ executives noses.

DGR: How does that study of behaviors and actions alter the traditional approach of building demand?
Joachimsthaler: We all know that today’s consumer is very different from the na├»ve consumer of yester-year that considered the 30-second commercial as informative. That still was a consumer in the sense that he or she looked for new products or services to buy and satisfy his or her needs. It is time that companies stop thinking of this consumer and adopt the necessary sophistication about the ephemeral and changing nature of their opportunities – and truly understand the ecosystem of consumer demand they are facing.

DGR: There are several examples mentioned in your book about the impact of online tools as a way to get closer to consumers, either through research or marketing. Do you see "new media" as a key enabler to collaborating with customers and successfully building a demand-first strategy?
Joachimsthaler: Absolutely. The power of the new media is that there are many existing communities that can be tapped into, thanks to what some call Web 2.0 and technologies that enable these communities. However, most companies today still don’t know how to mine these communities for insight, how to fit into these communities, how to connect with them. The new media opportunities are just now beginning to emerge. And we don’t necessarily have the right answers either. We work on various models very intensively right now.

DGR: One of the case studies you cite in the book is Allianz, a global insurance company that had success by marrying marketing and product development. Are the traditional silos that often exist in a big company a hurdle to new models like DIG?
Joachimsthaler: Yes, I believe the silos that naturally develop, as part of growing a business is a big part of the problem. It creates a blind spot for executives and as a result so many opportunities remain for them hidden in plain sight. As you look through the Allianz example, you can learn how to establish a systematic and repeatable process to overcome this blind spot and find opportunities for dramatic growth through innovation, again and again. It is not simply about creating an innovation culture. It is making sure that marketing and product development sit in the same car when taking it on the autobahn of innovation. That’s not easy especially in traditional industries like insurance, but it can be done.

DGR: Another interesting concept from the book challenges companies to find where they fit into customers’ 1,440 minutes each day. Do you see “Day In the Life Diaries” and other similar models being more applicable to consumer products or do they have a place for all businesses?
Joachimsthaler: Reframing the challenge of innovation and growth in terms of how to fit into the 1,440 minutes of people’s every day life is indeed a powerful exercise. It changes the objective function away from the better, faster, cheaper arms race that underpins much of the innovation mindset of today. It works well in the context of consumer products, where our company has worked with numerous clients.
However, in the book, I describe applications in B2B sectors such as financial services with State Street and medical technologies at GE Healthcare. The most prolific applications of the DIG model can be found in the industrial services and other application areas. At the end of the line, there are always people and whether they are people who buy a razor and a blade or apply sophisticated technologies in their jobs, is not really the issue.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Former Cisco Exec Spotlights
Power Of Evidence Marketing

Case Studies, Industry Proof Points New Tools

The transformation from product selling to solution selling has already had a significant impact on markets like information technology, where buyers are highly sophisticated and products quickly become commodities. One of the key results of that transformation has been the growth of “evidence marketing,” according to Amir Hartman, a former senior executive at Cisco Systems and author of Ruthless Execution.
Many other markets are still at the beginning of the change cycle in terms of evidence marketing, but Hartman suggested the trend is moving far beyond technology. He pointed out that the early adopters of evidence marketing and consultative selling have seen growth in incremental sales, as well as improved customer loyalty and higher average margins.
Referred to in some industries as “value engineering” or “consultative selling,” Hartman defined evidence marketing as a disciplined approach to assessing and enhancing the customer experience. In more basic terms, he referred to evidence marketing as “talking about how you can solve point points or problems.” In addition to case studies and customer testimonials, he suggested these strategies should utilize fact-based quantitative measures as well as industry-specific customer proof points.

“Some companies have been willing to take on some risk by adopting gain-sharing scenarios like value-based pricing, where they establish a baseline price and then agree upon a sliding scale based on achieving certain milestones.” -- Amir Hartman, Mainstay Partners

Hartman is currently the managing director of San Mateo, CA-based Mainstay Partners, which provides strategic services to such companies as Oracle, Honeywell and Motorola. During his career, Hartman was one of the chief architects of the successful consultative sales approach adopted by Cisco Systems. He is also on the faculty at both Columbia's Graduate School of Business and Berkeley's Haas School of Business, where he teaches in their Executive MBA programs.
Back in 1997, Cisco created its Internet Business Solutions Group to work closely with top accounts to build executive level relationships and develop business justification for technology investments. During its first five years of existence, the launch of IBSG was credited with helping Cisco achieve over $200 million in competitive wins and increase average customer deal size by over 20%. “Cisco is a great model of converting what could have been a black box company into a thought leader that talked to its customers about business solutions,” Hartman said.
Since building a large consultative sales organization like Cisco’s requires a significant investment, Hartman suggested that smaller companies have looked to hook up with customer peer groups or offer deep dive business assessments. “Some companies have been willing to take on some risk by adopting gain-sharing scenarios like value-based pricing, where they establish a baseline price and then agree upon a sliding scale based on achieving certain milestones,” he said.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Exploring The Impact of Declining Trust
On Brands In A Show Me Marketplace

Evidence Marketing, Word of Mouth Emerge As Alternatives

I recently had the chance to sit in on a dinner with about 20 heads of marketing at a gathering of the CMO Club. Framing some very interesting conversation was a presentation from Jarvis Cromwell titled “Managing Brand Reputation and Building Trust in a Show Me Marketplace.”
Cromwell, a 25-year marketing veteran who has served as CMO for several large global companies, kicked off the discussion by telling Club attendees that organizations are currently operating in the least-trusting world in more than a century. Citing a Roper study from 2002, Cromwell pointed out that only 13% of Americans found large corporations to be trustworthy. He also cited a Gallup survey, which showed that 62% of people do not trust large companies.
Cromwell provided DemandGen Report with a metric demonstrating that companies can equally lose as much as $2 billion equity valuation due to reputation and trust breakdowns:

1. A majority around the world - 62% - don't trust large companies to act in their interest -- a fact that is changing the game significantly for marketers
2. Your marketing message effectiveness? Forget-about-it. Only 3% trust the company itself as a credible source of information.
3. $2 billion is the average loss in equity valuation that a Fortune 1000 company experiences based on a major “trust event”. Which is especially scary when you consider that 10% of companies experienced that kind of trust event over the last decade. Several more than one. That’s why CEO rank reputational risk among their top 10 concerns
--Jarvis Cromwell, principal, J-2 Consultancy

The result of this declining trust among consumers, according to Cromwell, is a “show me marketplace where a company’s actions speak louder than words.” Because of this overall cynicism, he pointed out that customer loyalty is harder to achieve and many leading companies are turning to evidence marketing and word-of-mouth marketing as alternatives to traditional media.
In addition to the customer consequences companies are facing due to waning trust, Cromwell added that employee engagement is also getting harder to drive. He demonstrated the positive impact employee engagement and satisfaction has on overall performance by showing that the company’s featured in Fortune’s 100 Best Places To Work grew by 176% from 1998 through 2004, while the S&P 500 increased only 39% during the same period.
As principal of J-2 Consultancy, Cromwell works with several companies on mitigating the negative impacts of the low trust environment as well as building their ability to attract, retain and grow customers. He has been active member of the CMO Club since its inception.
For those folks unfamiliar with The CMO Club, it was founded last year by Pete Krainik, the head of marketing and sales with a tech start-up called QD Technology. Krainik, who in the past had served as CMO for Avaya and Doubleclick, learned through conversations that many heads of marketing had similar challenges and were looking for a venue to share ideas with peers.
After starting with an intimate dinner gathering of eight executives in New York, the group has quickly grown to over 100 members and has now had six meetings in NY, CT and San Francisco, CA, with plans to expand to Boston and Chicago in the coming months.