Podcast – New Approaches to Demand Generation

I recently joined a conversation with David Scott, CEO Marketfish (recent CMO at Entellium); Andrew Gaffney, CEO of the Demand Gen Report; and Pete Krainik from The CMO CLUB, to discuss new approaches for improved demand gen in B2B. We had an Interesting discussion around issues, leveraging channel partners, understanding your customer’s buying behaviors, influencing the influencers and recommendations on specific tools/solutions to make a difference.

New Approaches to Demand Gen

August 22, 2008 at 6:36 pm Leave a comment

Airports and Opportunistic Marketing

A little while back, I was standing in the airport security line at SFO. It’s an unfortunate fact of life for business travelers these days.

While I was waiting, I noticed a sign I had never seen before. And though I’m not a photo blogger, I whipped out my BlackBerry and snapped a picture. Here it is:

Glad Sign at SFO Airport

What a great idea. Not only is it a captive audience – and with DHS standing by to punish any transgression, it’s about as captive as you get in this country – but Glad is able to market its products and provide a convenience. A great example of opportunistic marketing.

Shortly after I took the picture, I moved forward in line, took off my shoes, reached for a bin to put them in, and saw this:

Zappos Sign at SFO

I pulled out my BlackBerry and quickly snapped another pic before my fellow travelers started scowling at me. Advertising shoes in the shoe bin. What a great idea, esp. for an online shoe vendor like Zappos (which is apparently doing quite well). I came to find out there there’s a company behind the ads in bins called Security Point Media. A whole company dedicated to using security lines to market products:

SecurityPoint Media’s innovation improves efficiency for Airports and creates a new medium for Marketers.

SecurityPoint Media works with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Airports to provide an end to end security checkpoint solution in return for the right to utilize the divesting tray for promotional campaigns.

Their marketing copy may be a bit klunky, but I can’t take the idea away from them. And while I can’t wait for more efficient airport lines, I have to give these guys credit for a really innovative marketing idea.

June 30, 2008 at 9:36 pm 1 comment

How Much Did You Spend? How Much Did You Earn?

Most good marketing VPs know how much they spend. But I did an informal poll at a recent gathering of CMOs, and I found very few really knew how much their marketing programs generated in revenue for the company.

Most took the easy approach and told me how much their company earned overall. Since marketing generated 100% the leads (sorry Sales…), then that was how much Marketing did. Two million marketing budget, ten million in sales, a tidy 5x ROI. Another round, barkeep.

Well, I hope your CEO doesn’t let you get away with that. Because if he does, then you really have no idea what’s working and what’s not. And when whatever it was that was working stops, you just won’t have any idea.

And when I say something like that to a VP Marketing, they usually launch into some variant of one of the following: “Our CRM system sucks,” “Sales doesn’t fill in the ‘lead source’ field in Salesforce.com,” “We can’t track it through the channel,” or all of the above.

All of these are real problems. Some of them are hard to fix, especially when you are moving fast. So, what to do?

Well, if you really can’t get the data, or if it’s going to take IT a year or more to fix all the systems, then I suggest making some estimates. Since you know your spend by program, and the number of conversions, and you can back out maintenance and renewals from the total revenue number, you can probably make a decent first cut. Discussing it with your team and with Sales, and piecing in the hard deal data you do have will help clarify the picture.

And if you can’t make it match up exactly because of missing or incomplete data, is that really so bad? Not really. It would be great to know exactly, but knowing approximately is helpful. You can spot areas where what you did seemed to have no impact (cut that sock puppet giveaway program), seemed strongly linked to sales (more of that, and maybe get IT to fix that data capture problem first), and areas that were a surprise (renewals were down – maybe time to work on a loyalty program or a customer conference).

So, ask yourself how much your programs made for the company. If you can’t, maybe your not earning your keep.

February 22, 2008 at 10:54 pm Leave a comment

Are Trade Shows Dead?

Yesterday, I was sitting with a few of my guys in San Diego, having a post-meeting recap beer, looking at the sun set over the bay, killing time before our return flight. The conversation moved on and we started talking about trade shows and whether they are worth the money anymore.

Funny, then, that Bloglines had Tom Teynor’s Are Trade Shows a Waste of Time and Resources? waiting for me to read this morning. I highly recommend reading it. If you’re like me, I constantly wrestle with how much money I should spend on trade shows and conferences, and how much on direct/online marketing.

My general opinion is that trade shows are not as important as they used to be; conferences are good if your people are speaking and you can leverage meetings; always make sure your salespeople have pre-set meetings; never rely on trade show floor traffic alone; smaller professional group meetings (of CFOs, CSOs, DBAs, etc.) are cheap and good for salespeople to meet actual buyers; and that there are certain industry events in your sector (e.g. the RSA Conference in security) that you just need to be at.

That said, if you want to do more shows or make sure you are spending wisely, I like Tom’s approach. Make it into a spreadsheet and show your VP of Sales how much shows really cost. Better yet, ask him or her to step up and agree to a revenue number from the show. Most won’t – you’ll make your point.

I’d love to hear what others have to say. At some point I’d like to dig into the Web 2.0 style pre-conference meeting setters that get like minded people together. I think that could really change the equation.

February 8, 2008 at 6:33 pm Leave a comment

Social Networking and Marketing

Seems like every CMO in Silicon Valley wants to know how they can leverage social networking in their marketing. Actually, what every CMO really wants to know is how they can start a social networking company and get so rich on paper they get interviewed on 60 Minutes. But let’s stick with the plausible, shall we?

For the sake of explanation, and at the risk of oversimplifying, let me make a few distinctions. First, you have public social networks. These are sites like Facebook, MySpace, Hi5, and Friendster. These sites are for “socializing” and are generally aimed at 18-25 year olds. Bracketing these are Club Penguin for pre-teens and Eons.com for those over 50.

Then you have what I like to call business networking sites, the best known of which is LinkedIn. These sites are really for finding people and making connections. They help salespeople find prospects, business development folks find partners, and job seekers get warm intros into companies seeking workers. Again, I’m grossly oversimplifying, but I’d say 80% of the people I know use LinkedIn this way.

Lastly you have private social sites/platforms. Companies like Ning and Leverage Software. These companies let you set up your own communities around your company or organization.

So, that’s basically the landscape. For the moment I’m excluding social bookmarking and submission sites like del.icio.us and Digg. That’s a whole other kettle of fish.

How can you use social networking sites for marketing? Here’s the crash course, broken down by type:

Public Social Networks – Buy advertising on the site that hits your demographic; create affinity for your (consumer) product; conduct guerrilla/stealth marketing (but be careful). What you are really doing here is taking advantage of their numbers.

Business Networks – Buy advertising; show your salespeople and business development team how to network to find leads. You are taking advantage of their connections, basically.

Private Social Networks – Create a new one because it doesn’t exist; replace your tired old developer or partner site with a cool Web 2.0 one to make your company look more with it and have better interactions. Some event organizers are using these to connect vendors with prospects at conferences, which I think is a much more enlightened way of connecting than “Can I scan your badge if I give you a pen?”

There’s a whole lot we didn’t cover, but there are some looming questions. Will 18-25 year olds use MySpace when they are 35, or will they graduate to LinkedIn? Are social networks durable, or will they be replaced by cooler/newer ones every five years? In ten years, will the whole Web be social, obviating the need for these sites over time?

So give it a whirl. Dip your toe in and experiment a bit with advertising on the public social sites.

Oh, and one last idea on how to use these sites in your marketing plans – hiring. We all went to college, but would you hire someone whose interests are “smokin’ blunts (cigars hollowed out and stuffed with marijuana), shooting people and obsessive sex.” Uh, references available on request?

January 15, 2008 at 12:02 am 1 comment

Viral Marketing and SEO: Marketing Truth Serum

I came across an interesting post in Jeremy Levine’s Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained blog. I don’t normally go to venture blogs to look for marketing advice – and in fact was looking for something else – but this entry gave me pause.

In what Levine calls his multiple choice test for consumer Internet startups:

Does your company attract users with any of these things?

  1. an inherently viral idea
  2. search engine optimized content that grows naturally with usage
  3. the ability to spend money to acquire users with a very fast payback
  4. none of the above

He rightly points out that if your answer is “None of the above,” then you have a big problem.

I found this interesting from a marketing standpoint. Even if you are not looking to start a consumer Internet company, how would your marketing efforts do on this test? How many times have you heard marketers talk about “viral marketing”? And do they practice it at all? Typically not. Most SEO work is done exactly once by marketing departments – when the site is built – and never touched again. Many, many ads are purchased with no heed to the cost of sale or the lifetime value of a customer.

So take a read of the post and think about your marketing programs. Imagine your company depended on their success (Sadly, most companies do depend on marketing programs for their success, but there is so much distance, lack of visibility/metrics, or finger pointing that people can’t figure out how effective the programs really are.). Could you set up something really viral in your offering? Could you set up a community that grew itself and rose to the top in Google? Could you nail your customer profile so you knew just how to advertise to them and make a profit?

What if it were just you and your product, looking for traction to self-fund or get funding? Would you make it? Hypothetical or not, if the answer is no, then I think you’ve got some work to do.

January 7, 2008 at 10:44 pm Leave a comment

Explanation Geometry: Straight Answers and the ‘CEO Triangle’

If you have worked in high tech for any number of years, you have probably witnessed at least one scene where a CEO blows his stack because he can’t get a straight answer to his simple question. This is not limited to high tech, but it is an industry where the meat of discussions centers around complex and fast-changing technologies.

A few years ago, after witnessing another CEO get frustrated, I had a very important insight. I have since passed on to all my technical folks who will be presenting to a CEO. I call it the ‘CEO Triangle.’ You can see it here.

The CEO Triangle

Having worked closely with mathematicians, researchers, scientists and developers, I noticed that they typically like bottom-up presentations that reach a conclusion after laying a solid technical foundation. So when they present themselves, they typically present in this fashion.

CEOs, on the other hand, prefer that you get to the point first, then allow them to drill down as they require. They want the option of getting into the details. So when you have an untrained technical type presenting to a CEO, it’s frustration waiting to happen.

So, try showing the CEO Triangle any of your technical folks who will be presenting to a CEO. It also works wonders in Board and exec staff meetings.

Of course, there are exceptions. Silicon Valley has any number of CEOs who were once esteemed engineers. But I still find that getting to the point first works with these types; they might just dig a little deeper into the details than most.

And if your Chief Architect still goes on and on, heedless of an exec’s growing frustration, try this other tried and true method I’ve applied successfully over the years: a size 10 1/2 Rockport to the shin.

December 17, 2007 at 11:57 pm Leave a comment

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