Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Poll: Demand Gen Experts Use Equal Mix of Inbound & Outbound Marketing

By Michael Damphousse, CEO/CMO of Green Leads, LLC

Recently we conducted a poll on LinkedIn where we asked: Inbound Marketing & Outbound Marketing -

What is your mix for lead gen?

• Mostly Inbound
• Mostly Outbound
• Both Equally
• Inbound Only
• Outbound Only

The target audience was Sales & Marketing job functions, from the industries of Computer Hardware & Software, Internet, IT and Tech Services, Marketing & Advertising. We used the LinkedIn Poll Application to conduct the study, as well as the free distribution of the poll to our network. It is not the results of either poll separately that are interesting, we expected the Outbound mix to lead, but the comparison of both the public (random marketing and sales execs) poll to our private network (heavily demand gen focused professionals) shows a clear trend that those of us that focus on demand gen have more of a balanced mix with “Both Equally” leading the pack at 43% in our network.


The experts balance Inbound Marketing with Outbound Marketing. So the random sales and marketing execs may want to pay attention to a few points:

• Most companies rely on a mix of Inbound and Outbound Marketing
• Outbound Marketing seems to have a larger portion of the marketing mix in general
• Demand Gen specialists balance their mix of Inbound and Outbound 30% more than generalists
• The mania of Inbound Marketing taking over the marketing mix is either just that, mania, or it is still in its infancy. Don't get caught up in the hype just yet.
• A balanced approach seems to be the mix of choice with a slight favor to Outbound activities

As a side note, a regular feature of my Smashmouth Marketing blog, which is focused on BtoB marketing and demand gen, are product reviews. So below is a mini product review of LinkedIn Polls:

The application is extremely easy to use, and the ability to promote it free to your network or paid through LinkedIn's systems provides incredible flexibility. We highly recommend using the paid LinkedIn poll feature for two reasons. First, it can be targeted to specific demographics. Second, it randomizes responses in a manner different than if you were to share the poll with your network. One feature missing though, is the ability to embed the poll on other pages (such as a blog, or corporate site). Having this widget capability would be huge.

Mike is the consummate sales and marketing executive, leading the growth of Green Leads while sharing BtoB demand generation knowledge with others. After serving as CMO at two software companies, Mike created Green Leads to leverage technology, the human asset, and today’s ever changing trends. Mike has developed a new brand of marketing that delivers ROI in this 2.0 world. Green Leads serves companies of all sizes, from 30 person startups to billion dollar software giants. Mike’s blog, Smashmouth Marketing is widely read amongst BtoB marketing

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Importance of Story Telling in Lead Nurturing

By Jeff Ogden, Author, How to Find New Customers

The first rule every marketer must embrace when they look at lead nurturing programs is this:

Companies don’t buy. People do.

Since we’re speaking to people rather than companies, one must engage on an emotional level. You need to build trust and confidence in your company and the very best way to connect in this manner is through the use of stories. People react to stories on an emotional level and trust the companies they connect with. Think of some companies you respect today: perhaps Apple, BMW, Southwest Airlines, Singapore Air. In each case, do you think of the technicalities of the products? Or do you think of innovative designs: A driver’s car, friendly service and pure elegance? Those are companies that built a brand by telling stories.

There are no hard and fast rules for story telling. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Be patient and gentle. Don’t overdo it. Think outside the box. Don’t be afraid.

I cannot tell you what to write in your story. In fact, maybe you need to recruit differently or outsource it. But think of how you can engage your prospective buyers with stories and you’ll prosper.

A podcast with Jim Dickie, Managing Partner of CSO Insights on the 2009 Lead Generation Optimization survey is available on demand here. Those interested can also subscribe to the free podcast series of demand generation.

In tough times, companies struggle to find new business. Find New Customers is designed to help develop repeatable processes to find and acquire new customers.

Jeff Ogden is the author of How to Find New Customers, a comprehensive white paper on BtoB Demand Generation. Jeff's presented Demand Generation at the CMO Thought Leadership Summit with the CMO of Level3 Communications and the EVP, Marketing of Acteva. His demand generation blog, Fearless Competitor, is syndicated by the CMO Club.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Take 5: Q&A With Jim Higgins, President, By Appointment Only

Few companies have been as close to the pipeline building strategies of leading BtoB organizations over the past decade as By Appointment Only (BAO). The company has provided demand generation services for more hundreds of high tech clients and has secured more than 150,000 executive level meetings since its start in 1997.

DemandGen Report recently caught up with BAO’s President Jim Higgins to learn how the company has broadened its services offering to help industry leaders deal with the realities of the economic downturn. In addition to putting more emphasis on the mid-market and new verticals, Higgins pointed out that sophisticated companies are spending more time and energy qualifying their inbound leads and segmenting their outbound lead generation programs to produce more targeted results. Here are the highlights of the conversation with Higgins:

DemandGen Report: How has this economic downturn changed the prospecting process for your clients? Has there been a shift in pipeline priorities for larger BtoB organizations?

Jim Higgins: The economy has certainly had an enormous effect on our clients and their strategic decisions related to marketing. With all of the shifting—large and small—we essentially saw the technology industry break into two groups: Those on offense, and those on defense.

Those on offense increased their focus on targeting the right prospects by identifying who had the greatest proclivity to purchase their solutions. Now, that may sound obvious, but it was actually a big game changer. Clients had to quickly shift from the traditional logic that the money was coming from the Fortune 1000. That well was dry. We’ve encouraged clients to place more emphasis on the mid-market, as well as heavily focus on industries such as Healthcare and Government if their solutions align there, and to be very specific in their messages. But even in that scenario, knowing the buying needs at Mass General Hospital compared to Mt. Sinai is critical. Clients on the offense have had great success—and increased closed business—from making those changes quickly.

DGR: Your website talks about Advanced Demand Generation, can you help define that next generation approach and what it takes for companies to reach that point?

Higgins: In a nutshell, ADG is about precision. It provides the visibility and access to all active buying cycles in your prospect audience. It is a three-step process:

* Identify: Qualify your audience (this can only be done effectively via live telephone interviews)
* Segment: Define “micromarkets” based on individual prospects’ needs (vs. demographic criteria)
* Attack: Execute the right marketing strategies into the defined segments (match dollars and resources to proclivity to buy)

The biggest chasm to cross to reach that point? Reaching a corporate sales & marketing philosophy that believes that prospect qualification is THE critical success factor that dictates the results of all other activities; understanding that this is not just part of demand generation, but that it is the nucleus of it.

DGR: BAO has been a big proponent of marketing segmentation and using marketing intelligence to identify likely buyers. Can you provide some real world examples on how that approach has paid dividends for your clients?

Higgins: As an example, a major Anti-Virus software company was able to pinpoint prospects who had competitors’ contracts expiring in the next year. They were able to segment that market by competitor, and the prospect’s satisfaction with that vendor. They then pushed more budget to the prospects with low satisfaction, and were able to displace key accounts from their competitors systematically.

One of the largest technology companies in the world was able to determine the upcoming IT initiatives of over 3,000 companies, and then target those companies with a customized message based on those upcoming initiatives. By using this approach, they increased the conversion rate of initial meetings turning into pipeline from 55% to 81%.

In both of these cases, and many more, it was about pinpointing the low-hanging fruit instead of hoping it would land on your lap when it fell.

DGR: Based on your name and experience in the space, a lot of people identify the BAO team only with appointment setting services. Can you talk a little bit about how your business and services have evolved in recent years?

Higgins: While performance-based appointment setting is still our biggest service line, we have responded to the needs of our clients in developing several other key services. In addition to outbound prospect qualification, used in the advanced demand generation product as well as stand-alone, we offer inbound lead qualification, to qualify and triage leads created by marketing quickly and efficiently. We also support strategic event registration, as well as contact validation and discovery. All of our services are performance-based in keeping with our philosophy.

DGR: BAO was also a pioneer in the field of establishing pay-for-performance demand generation programs. Has that model evolved over time or is that still a critical value proposition for your clients?

Higgins: It’s absolutely critical. In fact, we have adapted our newer services to be performance-based as well. We still believe that when choosing a vendor for high-value marketing services, having a vendor fundamentally invested in the success of the program is paramount.

DGR: BAO supports hundreds of companies’ demand generation efforts. Based on your purview of their collective strategies, what are you seeing as the most effective strategies as we head into are your top three recommendations for Demand Generation going into the second half of ‘09?

Higgins: We see three common traits/strategies among our most successful clients, we apply those to our own business and recommend them to our new clients:

1. Get on the offense- deals are happening every day, plain and simple—don’t miss them.
2. Break the mold that drives your territory map- Think about going full boar into different markets- instead of Financial Services, consider the Hospitals. Better yet, invest in visibility and build your territories based on who is going to buy this year.
3. Have some fun! It’s been a tough nine months, but its time to remember why we all do this: Sales is a rush and it will always be a people business. I built BAO because there is nothing better than being surrounded by 200 charismatic sales people every day!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Six Steps to Stop Marketing Waste

By Guy Powell, Author, “Marketing Calculator: Measuring and Managing Return on Marketing Investment”

Is half your marketing wasted and you just don’t know which half? Are you a follower of John Wanamaker and don’t know whether your marketing is working or not? In any organization, marketing is one of the most difficult functions. There’s always too much to do and too little time. And if you’re like most organizations after the campaign is done, you can’t answer the simple question, “How much revenue did it bring in?”

Here are six steps to help fix this problem:

Step 1) Get your costs accounted for. Determine how much you’re spending on each marketing activity. Put in place a cost tracking system that can relate all direct and indirect costs to specific campaigns. For BtoB marketers, this includes the costs that the sales team, support and the channel spends to promote your product/brand in the marketplace. For consumer marketers, capture the specifics of your marketing campaign plans into a single spreadsheet showing where each dollar is being spent for each week of the next quarter or year. Track creative development, production and insertion costs. Compare actual execution to planned purchases.

Step 2) Track your activities. Just as you need to track costs, you also need to keep track of what activities took place and when they took place. How were GRPs, impressions and clicks purchased and delivered? What media channel was used? What activities were done at resale or with your sales team? With a good tracking system in place, you can now start to look at ways to analyze this data to support your strategic and tactical marketing decisions.

Step 3) Understand your consumer. If you understand how your consumers process media, make purchase decisions and consume your product, you will be able to make certain you are measuring the right things not just the easy things. For BtoB marketers it’s very easy to measure the sales cycle, but it’s much more important to measure the purchase cycle. Consumer marketers must understand how brand awareness and consideration translate at some point in the future into purchase and consumption?

Step 4) Track results. Marketing results take place at two levels. Interim results, such as Web visits, engagement, leads developed, brand awareness and consideration as well as units and dollar value (or other currencies) sold at point of sale. Interim results should mirror how consumers act in the marketplace and should not be a reflection of your internal organization. If you track results with the consumer at the central focus of your metrics, you will be much more successful than if your metrics only reflect your own organization.

For point of sale data in many industries, this means purchasing syndicated data, such as Nielsen, IRI or others. Put these data into a time series, so that you can see how your activities drive incremental changes in the ‘results’ at some point in the future. Don’t forget to include your competitors’ actions, their pricing, channel, advertising and product activities (the 4Ps).

Step 5) Choose your analytical method. Your environment and the availability of data determine the kinds of analytical tools to use to start connecting the dots between marketing inputs and outputs. Statistical modeling is certainly one approach to develop a robust marketing mix model. Others can include split cell testing or agent-based modeling. Even tracking the direct response from your marketing activities can lead to some great insights.

Step 6) Question your results but then act on them. Make certain they truly represent how your consumers responded to your marketing controlling for consumer trends, exogenous factors, competitive actions and channel changes. If you’ve done your homework right, your results will be robust and you will be able to make significantly better decisions. If you’re still not comfortable, start with an in-market test or other research to revalidate your conclusions.

Bonus Step 7) Look for areas of improvement. Once you start to make better decisions you will realize the value of improved data sources. It will make sense to invest further into more detailed information in order to make better and better decisions. Your risk will be lowered and your forecasts will be more accurate. The rest of the company will finally understand the value of marketing.

How do you know you’re on the right path?
There are a couple of sure signs that you have begun to institute a culture of marketing effectiveness. Probably the first and easiest one is whether you have a specific line item in the budget called marketing measurement or marketing metrics. Without this it’s obvious you’re not serious about marketing effectiveness. You’re always going to be wishing you had money (and time) to measure results. You will always be the first to get your budget cut.

Can’t get management approval to fund measurement?
Here are two simple questions to ask the CEO/CFO:

  1. How much do you spend tracking cash? Are there personnel involved, software systems in place and procedures that need to be followed? If there are, then why can’t we spend the same level of effort tracking the effectiveness of marketing?
  2. Would you ever build a building and not know where 50% of the budget went? Would you be able to keep your job after that? If you can make any major investment and spend money managing the project, why wouldn’t you do the same for marketing?

Marketers need systems just as much as any other department in the company to manage the business of marketing. If you’re investing money in marketing it’s also worth the investment to track the results and make certain they are driving incremental revenue.

If you can execute these steps, you’ve been able to go a long way to measure your results, drive more revenue, profit and share and make better decisions. The time to stop wasting half your marketing budget is NOW.

Over the last 20 years Guy R. Powell, has trained and/or presented his findings and methods to thousands of marketers all across the globe. All of the concepts found in his recent book (www.Marketing-Calculator.com) have been honed and improved through his consulting and training activities to make sure they can be specifically applied to just about any company, regardless of size, industry, category, target customers or country. His company, DemandROMI (www.DemandROMI.com) has built a strong reputation helping marketers and business executives to take these critical concepts and implement them within his client organizations. He manages the Marketing ROI and Effectiveness group on www.LinkedIn.com.