Thursday, May 20, 2010

Marketing Automation & Lead Management – Taking it Further

By Carlos Hidalgo, President, The Annuitas Group

I read last week’s Demanding Views column – Marketing Automation is not Synonymous with Lead Generation, and while I agree with some of the assertions stated in the article, I believe the article fell short in describing marketing automation and what is needed for it to be successful.

The premise of the article is fundamentally true — organizations will not purchase marketing automation and therefore get lead generation.  However, the article misses by stopping at and mis-defining lead generation.  The article also goes onto make the corporate web site the fulcrum around which marketing automation pivots.  Organizations looking to adopt automation or improve the investment already made in such a solution need to think beyond lead generation and their internal web site and focus on lead management and the buyer.

We are square in the middle of the Buyer 2.0 world with the buyers control increasing and the traditional buying journey dwindling.  This was evidenced most recently in a DemandGen Report study that found that more than 83% of organizations surveyed stated their buying process did not follow a traditional buying path.  Buyers are now involving sales much later in the buying cycle and instead are turning to their peers as sources of information in the early and middle stages of the buying cycle.  The collaboration of buyers with their peers has been further enabled through the prevalence of social media making it very possible that organizations will have developed some kind of short list before engaging 1-1 with a vendor’s sales representative.  This being the case companies that are focused on lead generation i.e. filling the top of the funnel and not lead management i.e. managing the entire buyers journey will not get the full value of their marketing automation investment.

People, Process & Technology (PP&T)
Organizations looking to develop a Lead Management FrameworkTM need to look at people, process then to technology to ensure success. Unfortunately, too many organizations are jumping right to technology and are unable to realize the promises of what automation can deliver if approached in the right manner.

The right skill set within an organization is vital to ensure the adherence to process, the execution and delivery of campaigns, and campaign measurement.  Finding the right people can be a challenge as many BtoB marketers have been brought up at the foot of the marketing branding tree. However, organizations that ensure the proper skill and mind-set among their people will excel.  These people have a deep understanding of the new buyers and the importance of a process-based approach to sales and marketing.

The operational approach to Buyer 2.0 is the development of a lead management process in the form of a Lead Management FrameworkTM For this approach to succeed, the involvement of marketing & sales is a must, but other groups like IT, Ops., Finance, Web should be considered.   Any other resource or group that has a part in the demand generation process (inquiry to close) should ideally be part of the lead management journey. 
Beginning with an audit to get a clear assessment of the current gaps, then moving to a development and implementation stage is the way to approach organizational lead management.

Having the right people managing the proper process is the perfect time to bring in an enabling marketing automation technology.   This ensures there will be business rules that will govern the use of the technology and the right people with the professional skill-set managing the solution.

The article last week was right in that there is still a lot of confusion about marketing automation in BtoB organization’s.  However, focusing solely lead generation and the state of your website as indicators as to when to buy automation focused on the corporation, not the buyer. Focusing on people, lead management process, then enabling marketing automation technology will greatly improve your return on all your marketing and sales activities and your return on your automation investment.

Carlos Hidalgo is President of The Annuitas Group, a leader in marketing and sales process development, implementation and automation. With over 25 years experience, The Annuitas Group has developed marketing and sales processes and lead management programs for companies of all sizes helping their clients vastly improve the return on their marketing and sales investment.

Friday, May 7, 2010

6 Key Questions to Map Out an Effective Marketing Blueprint

By Mike Gospe, Principal & Co-Founder, KickStart Alliance

Editor’s Note: The following article is from a recent post in the Marketing Campaign Development blog.

There is an art to crafting marketing blueprints. Although the concept is simple and intuitive, it takes practice and patience to work the model.  More than that, it takes time to show colleagues in marketing and sales that the model really does work.
Proof will be found in producing better results (i.e. more, better quality leads) while reducing internal frustration and the need to rewrite copy over and over and over again.
What’s needed is a quick win!
A blueprint quick win is an opportunity to apply the blueprint best-practice model to an event, with focus on a limited span of time.  Here’s an example:
Not long ago I worked with a company who had scheduled a webinar that would take place in three weeks; yet because the marketing staff (five people) was so stretched, no pre-marketing for the event had been considered.  Their answer was to outsource the entire production to Ziff Davis, a webinar turnkey solution with a guarantee of 250 registrants.  After interviewing the team, I sketched their initial blueprint, shown below.
Two other facts are important to this story:
  • The sales and marketing teams each had a slightly different definition regarding “raw inquiries”, “qualified inquiries”, and “leads.”
  • Because of trust issues, sales requested that all 250 registrants be immediately turned over to sales.

I suggested that if this plan were executed as outlined above, the only thing I could guarantee would be that each team would be unhappy with the results.
The first thing we did was to sit down with the marketing and sales leadership and hammer out a confirmed understanding of inquiry and lead definitions.  Then, we conducted a 30-minute blueprint exercise designed to answer the following 6 questions:
  1. Who is the target audience (persona)? (Here’s an example.)
  2. How do they want to be communicated with?
  3. What offers do they want/expect from us?
  4. After they respond to the first activity and offer, what happens next? And what happens after that?
  5. What happens if they don’t respond?
  6. How will these activities and offers help qualify these prospects?
As a result we crafted the final blueprint.
The upshot: A focused blueprint with a purpose
Instead of relying solely on Ziff Davis to promote the event, we discovered additional pre-event marketing tactics that could be easily coordinated.
This was a thought-leadership webinar.  The next logical step in our dialog with prospects was to direct them to a product that best addressed the issues raised during the webinar.  We wondered if any attendees were interested in taking the next step with us immediately.  So, we included an immediate call-to-action to stay on the line to see a product demo. Most folks dropped off the line, but more than a few stayed on!

In the days that followed, two separate conversations would unfold: one for prospects who registered and attended; the other for prospects who registered but did not attend.

Our blueprinted program was designed to last 4 weeks.  At which time we would regroup with sales to review the number and status of the inquiries and leads.

The results
Instead of 250 registrants, we generated 1,050. 497 touched our company at least twice during the 4 weeks that followed the webinar.  These were the leads that were passed immediately to sales.  The others remained in an ongoing marketing nurturing program.
How much did it cost to rework the blueprint?  Absolutely nothing except 30 minutes of time to plan.  Literally.
Qualitatively, the marketing and inside sales teams were doing high-fives down the hall.  A whiteboard kept a running tally of our leads for all to see.  The marketing had secured it’s first quick win.  With a renewed sense of partnership, the team moved on to tackle more comprehensive blueprints.
Mike Gospe leads KickStart Alliance’s marketing operations practice where he conducts team-based “practical application working sessions” to improve the effectiveness of lead generation campaigns and product launches. His fun, practical approach and roll-up-his-sleeves attitude energizes teams, helping them to get “real work done” while guiding them to the next level of excellence. Mike is the author of the book, Marketing Campaign Development, and his methodology is being used by San Francisco State University’s College of Extended Learning course: “Essentials of Integrated Marketing.”