July 9, 2015

Vantage Points

“Email is familiar. It’s comfortable. It’s easy to use. But it might just be the biggest killer of time and productivity in the office today.”Ryan Holmes, Internet entrepreneur

Way back in January, my colleague Eric Wittlake asked me and our fellow BNJ coworkers what our predictions for the year 2015 would be. My immediate response was that we would see B2B nurture communications expand beyond the realm of email and into social, display, mobile or traditional channels – like phone, mail and events. This was my prediction, but more accurately it was my HOPE for 2015. Many B2B marketers are relying too heavily on email as the only channel for nurturing their precious prospects and customers.

Without doubt, there is “email fatigue” – and it’s having an impact on our ability to connect with and engage buyers. And, recent conversations with top B2B marketers only validate what we’re all experiencing – our ability to engage with our audiences through emails is declining.

So, why aren’t we rapidly making a shift?

Is it lack of technology? Not likely.

Marketing Automation Platforms (MAPs) are purpose built to disseminate communications through dozens of channels (beyond emails).

It’s time to make our nurture communications work harder.

Three Actions to Boost Your Nurture Campaign Efficiency:

With a plethora of channels at our fingerprints, and the ability to up-level the relevancy of email, there are many options for communicating with prospects and customers in your database.

Consider this short list a great starting point for you to consider:

  1. Make Email Work Harder.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to implement better subject lines. An email is relevant only if it gives our prospects a reason to care about what the email will say. According to Salesforce.com, 33 percent of email recipients open email based on subject line alone.

There are dozens of other best practices for email marketing – the ones we know and trust (strong call to action, succinct and relevant communications, limited file size and graphics). There are also dozens of resources (although you’re welcome to ping me) to help you optimize your email success – including this fun Infographic from MarketingProfs website.

  1. Leverage Your Email Lists to Extend Into New Channels!

An email database can serve us well to connect with our buyers in channels beyond email. Not only does this mitigate the risk of being single threaded (by only using email), but it can give us a considerable lift in metrics around engagement and conversion.

A few (but not at all exhaustive) ideas include:

  • Banner display (matched to our email list). Leverage banners to promote content or other calls-to-action. There are many ad networks that enable this targeted marketing – including AdRoll. LinkedIn is also a very smart option for retargeting your audience, but operates a little differently in terms of exact “match” to your list.
  • Social (also matched to our email list) with networks like Facebook and twitter.
  • And, not to be forgotten, are traditional channels: think direct mail (a postcard, a letter or any physical format).
  1. Go Beyond Your Email!

Once we’ve taken steps to make email work harder and to leverage your email list to extend into new channels, there are many ways to increase engagement with our prospects and customers (through channels other than email). For instance, we can start building your audience through opt-ins to an RSS feed or through applications.

And, in the spirit of sharing – I’d love to hear how your expanding your reach BEYOND email (specifically to nurture your known prospects and customers).

No. Email as a primary channel for nurturing you’re prospects and customers is not dying anytime soon. However, we have a fantastic opportunity to improve its performance and reach our audience through a more diverse and effective set of channels.

5 Hot Topics for Top B2B Enterprise Marketers

June 23, 2015

Chutes & Ladders (1)

Remember this wonderful Milton Bradley Chutes and Ladders game board from your childhood? The illustrations on the board show good deeds and their rewards as well as bad deeds and their consequences. By spinning a wheel, you either advance up a ladder or descend down a chute. I used to love Chutes and Ladders but have always considered it simply a beloved childhood game, nothing more.

However, the game took on a whole new meaning for me when I participated in a round-table exercise with key B2B marketing executives from companies like Adobe, Microsoft, Tata Consultancy and Cisco (thanks to facilitator Julie Schwartz, SVP of Research & Thought Leadership at the ITSMA).

The game framework was a perfect analogy for discussing key organizational “ladders” that must be in place for B2B marketers to soar and “chutes” to demonstrate the pitfalls that must be avoided.

There are five “chutes” and “ladders” that I consider “big ones” – because of the reaction I witnessed during this round table from many of the best and brightest B2B marketers and from the prevalence I see of these topics through my client work with leading B2B organizations. Each of these topics can be either “ladders” or “chutes” depending on how well your organization has mastered them. Strengthening each of these aspects will help organizations climb the “ladder” of success, but neglecting any of them could result in falling down a “chute.”

  1. Organizational Change Management: This complex challenge is worthy of a post of it’s own. Two repeating themes here include:
    • Who Owns the Customer? Is it Sales? Marketing? Product Marketing? Someone else…? The reality is that EVERYONE owns the customer. However, in order for this to work, there needs to be a perfect alignment across the organization. Many of the points below are actually further proof that this is the #1 challenge for organizations looking to “win” and succeed with their customers! It’s not just alignment with Sales and Marketing – its organization-wide (although Sales and Marketing Alignment is a good starting point).
    • Changing Internal Perceptions: Historically, marketing has been viewed as a support function – but the tides are changing as data-driven CMO’s are using fact-based storytelling to show their value as strategic marketers.
  2. Defined and Aligned Success Metrics: One way to support the first point from above (organizational alignment) is to ensure that the entire organization is focused around success metrics. These metrics should include a 360-degree view ranging from revenue to customer satisfaction.
  3. Creating a Symphony of Systems: While cultural and structural change is critical to success, so are the systems that enable a true customer-centric experience. We’ve all had a glimpse of Scott Brinker’s Marketing Technology Landscape (if you haven’t, it’s a MUST). Successful organizations need a roadmap to weave these critical pieces together to create the experience and to understand the data/insights needed in order to optimize the experience.
  4. Culture of Thirst and Experimentation: On the contrary, those organizations that loath failure will fail. Modern marketing is about taking risks, measuring outcomes and optimizing opportunities. It’s about using data to give insights about a next move.
  5. Data is KING! Having an eye for data is incredibly important, but also having the scientists who can capture, analyze and optimize it completes the recipe for success.

Which of these topics are “chutes” for your organization and which ones are the “ladders” to your success?  Are there other key “chutes” and “ladders” that you’re experiencing?

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Ready to ROCK the Wave of Modern B2B Marketing

June 11, 2015


When I first saw this quote, immediately it made me think about how modern B2B marketing is no different. We use data analytics to closely evaluate and give lift to what we’ve created in order to move forward. You never know what’s around the corner, so B2B marketers have to do our best to look back on what we’ve done in the past in order to get insights for the future.

Now I’m not a surfer – but I can feel the fear and exhilaration in this BIG WAVE.

But what’s the connection between B2B marketing and big waves?

To answer that question, I am reminded of a key theme from last week’s ITSMA Marketing Leadership Forum in Napa, CA. That is: as marketers, we are all experiencing a BIG WAVE of change.

Out of the gate, we were welcomed by ITSMA CEO, David Munn, and put to the challenge, “Are you ready to ride the Big Wave?” (No fear, there were no real waves involved). B2B marketing is one of the fields that constantly changes, and our current way of thinking is not immune to this. Modern B2B marketing is undergoing a shift that caters every aspect to the customer. Increasingly, we can see that the customer is becoming more self-directed and that there are a greater number of channels to engage them in. There are far more systems to enable engagement, measurement, and personalization than ever before, as well as a wide variety of ways to measure and analyze our data.

This may seem overwhelming and a HUGE challenge – but exhilarating if you can ride the wave!

To successfully ROCK this wave, marketing organizations need to bring their A+ game to the table and above all else: not be afraid of this wave of change.

Immediately I thought to myself, “I’m IN!”

So what does this model surfer look like?

Key characteristics – as shared by Munn – include:

  1. Change MORE than just marketing.For marketing to thrive (and ride), there’s a wide influence of change required within an organization. Understanding the roles and alignment between sales, marketing, products, operations and other key groups is essential.
  2. Drive to growth.While I see this visible in many of the organizations we work this – I presume it’s not ubiquitous. Marketing must have accountability for revenue across the whole buyer lifecycle.
  3. Move from tracking activities to predicting behavior.As social media scientist and writer for Hubspot, Dan Zarella so wisely says: “Marketing without data and technology is like driving with your eyes closed.” With the holy grail of data and technology, we can truly predict outcomes by smartly leveraging today’s best-in-breed technology solutions with data scientists who translate that data into stories.
  4. Expand the sphere of engagement, not just discrete touch points.Instead of limited moments of engagement; focus on the total customer experience. This could not be more true as campaigns are all about moments in time. But the customer experience is about a lifetime of engagement. We need to consider breaking the habit of investing our most valuable time and resources on acquisition, and instead focus as heartily on nurturing relationships with prospects and customers.
  5. Nurture relationships – NOT JUST LEADS.We must not forget that we are marketing to human beings. They are looking for trusted advisors to help move their business (and their own careers) forward. We need to engage and develop the entire relationship with that point in mind.

Of course, these items are all easier said then done.

So what are some actionable steps you can take to rock the wave?

ITSMA’s SVP of Research and Thought Leadership, Julie Schwartz, shared her recommendations to meet the challenge:

  1. Foster a culture of accountability!This isn’t a three or six month transformation – this is a long-term investment. Don’t look for a quick hit since this can take up to three years or more for large enterprises.
  2. Build trust in marketing and data.Then build even further trust by showcasing a compelling story to inform the data. CEOs want to know about their customers, and they want data to back up this point of view.
  3. Create business value – BEYOND campaigns and leads. Marketers who think in increments of campaigns and leads will quickly “wipe out” when the wave hits. Rather, FIRST focus on building relationships with customers. This will foster brand value and ultimately support revenue.

What other recommendations do you have from your organization to ready us for this BIG WAVE?

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2015 Top 10 B2B Marketing Events to Attend

June 2, 2015


My best thinking happens on the road – running.

Major business problems get resolved, child-related drama is rationalized (like what made my 5 and 8-year old boys decide to flush two rolls of toilet paper down the toilet?), my mind is rejuvenated and ideas are born.

By the end of my run I feel refreshed, inspired and productive.

Whether you’re a runner or not – the good news is that there are other times to get into this frame of mind – at a great event!

During the upcoming months, there are several B2B Marketing events that have caught my interest, in part because of the inspiring line-up of speakers (and also because I’ve attended most of these in the past).  I’ve included events in both the US and the UK since BNJ has a presence that spans both continents and we are always looking for international opportunities!

If you’re looking for some inspiration this summer and fall – go for a great run and/or leave the office to visit one of these leading marketing conferences.  Here’s a list of my top 10 recommended events:

US Events

1. ITSMA’s 2015 Marketing Leadership Forum, June 2-3, Napa, CA

While it will be impossible to sign up now (as the event is currently underway), I suggest checking out the content that will be posted following the event from great thought leaders like Julie Schwartz, Senior Vice President, Research and Thought Leadership at the ITSMA.

The ITSMA is also a stellar resource for best practices on my favorite topic – ABM (Account Based Marketing).  You can expect to see an upcoming blog post from me on ABM following this event (sharing a combination of new insights from ITSMA along with real-world best practices from client work).

Or, if you find yourself intrigued, put their “main event” on the calendar, November 3-4 in Boston, MA.

2. DemandBase Virtual Marketing Innovation Summit for B2B, June 16, Webinar

I’ve heard firsthand that the DemandBase Innovation Summit held earlier this year was an A+ event. They’re now bringing it straight to your office with a 6-hour virtual event.  In particular, I’d make sure to watch:

  • Megan Heuer, VP & Group Director at SiriusDecisions on Account Based Marketing
  • Holly Bounds, Digital Strategy Lead for GE Energy Management on how to Stay Lean and Go Fast with digital
  • And the half dozen additional speakers – with great topics!

3. Content Marketing World 2015, September 8-11, Cleveland

This is THE place to be for content marketing brilliance (and content marketing geeks).  It’s no surprise that the lineup of speakers (and yes, content) is a 10.  It’s truly a gathering of the BEST content minds on the planet  (check out the speakers and attendees!).

4. Dreamforce 2015, September 15-18, San Francisco, CA

Inspiration. Imagination. Innovation. It’s all inside Dreamforce. Dreamforce brings together thought leaders, industry pioneers, and thousands of your peers for a week of idea-sharing.  I also love the access into the latest marketing technologies for B2B marketers – as they’re all there.

5. Corporate Visions Conference 2015, September 21-23, San Francisco, CA

While I’ve not attended this conference – I’ve seen this group in action – specifically to support storytelling and sales enablement.  This year’s conference is focused on the conversations your company has with your clients and how to “create a compelling story…and then equipping your salespeople to deliver that story and articulate your value to the market.”

6. DMA Conference 2015: &Then, October 4-6, Boston, MA

Truthfully, I’ve taken a decade “off” from this event.

The DMA is on a comeback – and this event has the potential to deliver a powerful, global and integrated view of what marketing can and should achieve.

7. ANA Masters of Marketing Conference, October 14-17, Orlando, FL

This event has been referred to me by a trusted source – and one that is high on my list to check out.  The ANA invites marketers to learn and engage with the leaders of the marketing community who have built brands, leveraged the expanding array of media, made marketing more accountable and improved the quality of their marketing organizations.  One such featured thought leader is Airbnb’s CMO, Jonathan Mildenhall.

8. Marketing Profs 2015 Marketing B2B Forum, October 21-23, Boston, MA

Marketing Profs caters beautifully to the marketing practitioner who wants to be inspired by ACTIONABLE ideas that can be put to use, immediately.  With speakers from Google, MIT and NPR, this year’s event promises to be a great opportunity to learn about the latest in B2B Marketing!

UK Events

9. B2B Marketing Summit 2015, June 17, London, UK

Brand new to my radar, but an incredible line-up of content and ideas. “The B2B Summit is B2B Marketing’s biggest best practice event of the year and the only event of its kind to give attendees access to over 40 B2B marketing experts and 500 of their peers under one roof in a single day. It was designed to help marketers meet their specific information needs as never before – with five streams of content on the hottest topics in the industry, all focused on practical, actionable insights attendees can customize the event agenda to meet their own personal requirements.”

10. Sirius Decisions Summit Europe, October 19-20, London, UK

Having just wrapped up their US event in the spring, Sirius Decisions will take their great content and insights to Europe in the fall. Sirius Decisions always brings fresh thinking and frameworks that enable marketers to soar. It’s also an incredible place to hob-nob with the savviest B2B marketers and connect with great agencies (yes, full disclosure, BNJ is a sponsor at this event).

***Not yet announced, but also not to be missed is the Marketo Roadshow Series!  This roadshow will take place during July and August and will hit about half a dozen cities around the US.  The series promises to deliver the same great content that was shared at their summit earlier this spring.  For those who missed the summit, this is a great chance to see what it had to offer in a local setting.  More to come on this!

And…I’m sure there are dozens of other events that aren’t on my radar and should be. Please add some recommendations that you have for 2015 (and beyond)!

Save the Date – 2014 Must-Attend B2B Marketing Events

February 11, 2014

Happy New Year! In the spirit of setting goals and mapping out the new year, I want to share with you my top five 2014 events I recommend attending this year and why.  I love attending conferences because it is a dedicated 2-3 days to refuel. In addition to learning and connecting with your peers, conferences can give you the boost you need to get reenergized and motivated.

LG Goal

Here’s my list of 2014 can’t-miss B2B marketing events:

Forrester’s Forum For Marketing Leaders (San Francisco: April 10-11: Join Forrester experts for smart discussions with smart people about what you and your organization need to keep you on top of upcoming digital developments.

BNJ’s partnership with Forrester has been invaluable. Their analysts have helped us stay informed and ahead of the curve so we are always bringing marketing best practices to our work with clients.

SiriusDecisions Summit (Orlando: May 21-May 23) SiriusDecisions’ annual Summit is another place for smart people to gather and share stories. This unique three-day conference with analysts and top sales and marketing leaders from Fortune 500 companies and major SMBs share how B2B organizations are solving critical issues that hinder predictable growth. Each year, the theme focuses on aspects of how sales and marketing can, and should, intersect. Bring your marketing and sales team to get the most out of this event.

ITSMA Marketing Leadership Forum (Napa: May 25-26) The Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA) has assembled some of the best minds in marketing to explore the “New Vision for Marketing.” Dave Munn, President & CEO of ITSMA, says this event is meant to be a small, highly interactive, content-rich, leadership roundtable for marketing leaders who want to remain ahead of the curve on marketing trends and breakout strategies.” Sometimes smaller is better, but no matter what, conferences of every size can be beneficial—it’s all about what YOU make of it.

BMA Blaze (Chicago: May 28-30) The Business Marketing Association’s (BMA) Global Annual Conference boasts the latest in B2B marketing thinking, trends, best practices, success stories, technology and tools and more. We never miss the BMA Blaze.

Mirren Live the 2014 New Business Conference (New York: May 13-14) The industry event focused on agency business models and agency new business innovation. This year, Mirren’s content is focused into several key tracks. They want you to bring your agency materials—in numerous sessions, you’ll be evaluating your own new business practices and your own business model. In others, you’ll be exploring innovative agencies as you take away new ideas for your own agency growth. I love the idea of how interactive and personalized this conference will be with utilizing your own agency materials. In other words, you get down to brass tacks right away.

There you have my top five conferences and benefits of attending. What conferences do you support and who from your team attends them? What’s your biggest motivator in 2014?

Back to Basics for Great B2B Content Marketing

August 23, 2013
Content marketing “euphoria” is when your content is relevant, engaging and shared widely across the social sphere. Today, B2B modern marketing is progressing at a gallop – and it is easy to overcomplicate content marketing practices. Often it’s important to get back to basics – and take a moment to reflect on the essence of stellar content marketing (then, let the dream state appear).

Image credit: Content Marketing Institute

Here are six core tips for ensuring that your content marketing is great:
1.) Know your target
Having a grasp on a prospective audience enables messages to be tailored for greater relevancy. Analytics are a keystone of all marketing; giving special effort toward finding what is most impactful can be an important place to start in content marketing. Personas are an absolute staple! Check out my previous post on a persona developed for CIOs. By using trending topics, content optimization, and other tools, content marketers can make an educated guess on which topics will have the most relevance to a base of customers. Ultimately, if you want to know what to share with prospects, quit playing games and ask them directly! This can be done through comments, feedback, or surveys.
2.)  Tell a Story
Without a story, content marketing would be fragments without cohesion. When crafting great content, take a cue from English class and create a momentous beginning, middle, and end. A compelling story is one of the most effective tools marketers could use since it excites an audience while simultaneously making important points for a brand. Corning Glass did a great job of using this principal in a recent B2B campaign. In their video a day is shown in entirety- from wake to rest — and showcases a variety of products in high tech and innovative ways. This video has pulled in over 22 million views on YouTube by crafting a beginning, middle, and end which all demonstrate the product’s functionality.
3.) Make it a conversation starter
While social media is the dominant force of sharing, good old-fashioned word of mouth can also play a large role in the dispersal of content. Compelling content marketing should be engrossing enough to end up in conversation. Remember that your business buyer is human. Connect with him or her in an emotionally relevant way. A Serena Software Ad from a few years ago was provocative, interesting, and made people talk– I received it in an office email. As a general rule, the more engaging and conversational a topic is, the more it will be shared.
4.) Make it look good
Simply adding images to a long write up can boost appeal in a tedious article. Infographics are visual, straightforward, and easy to consume. As a result, infographics have great potential in going viral. A great example of a nice-looking piece of content marketing is Marketo’s B2B coloring book. This download took the notion that B2B marketing is boring and created an entertaining coloring book experience to demonstrate expertise.
5.) Make it consumable
A 40-page download in size 12 Times New Roman can cause a set of sore eyes and a dulled mind. If you can’t read it, you won’t share it. To make material readable create bullet points, numbered lists, and bold/color important take-aways. According to a study by the Nielsen Norman group, the average web user consumes only 20% of content on a web page. This means that it is crucial to make 100% of content downright fascinating so that whichever nugget of information is consumed leaves a great and lasting impression on the viewer. Vertical Response made a rap video spoof to promote their services, making their material consumable AND entertaining.
6.) Urge a Call to Action
Without this step the whole point of content marketing is lost. Once you’ve established an audience’s attention (and have them engaged) make sure to leave a viewer with a step for future engagement. To prevent a prospective relationship from losing steam, it is essential to encourage a call to action while an idea is still fresh in the viewer’s mind. Examples could include linking video to a website, inviting people to subscribe to your newsletter, or encouraging sharing. For Jive software Babcock & Jenkins created an email campaign featuring a firefly with words that read “The Spark Starts Here.” This invitation lead to a personalized Jive Intranet site, a fresh twist on a standard campaign email. Once on the site, a viewer could follow several invitations to engage.

Bottom Line:   There needs to be a reason to click a link or make a call. Content can do that. If prospects are going to want to share content, it needs spice, entertainment, and genuine human interest. With all forms of content marketing, brevity is key! If you are sharing something, you are putting your name and reputation on the line. If a friend clicks on a shared link it needs to be worthwhile and prompt a laugh, smile, or emotional response. If the content isn’t to the point, appealing, or enriched with images, it is not going to be shared.

I’d love to hear your feedback! Am I missing any basics?

Top 5 Fall B2B Marketing 2013 Conferences

August 20, 2013

As Fall/Winter Conference season approaches, my attention turns to the dozens of great events that can ignite “next practice” thinking for B2B marketers. This year I’m taking a look at events in both the US and the UK (note: attending European conferences comes with the addition of a new office space in London!).


These conferences are guaranteed to catalyze learning

Below are my top 5 picks for events that truly stand out and deliver value in the US and in the UK.

If you’re only going to a few, chose wisely! Read on.

US Events

  1. CMWorld: This is THE place to be for content marketing brilliance (and content marketing geeks). No surprise that the line up of speakers (and yes, content) is a 10+. In 2012 I’m proud to say that BNJ (my firm) rocked it with our Orange Crush presentation. This year we will be back and I can’t wait! Takes place 09/09-09/11 in Cleveland.
  2. Eloqua Experience: This has historically been a fantastic hub of modern marketing rock stars, best practices and next practice thinking. It will be interesting to see what’s in store for EE since this will be the premiere event under the Oracle umbrella.  See you 10/23-10/25 in San Francisco!
  3. B2B MultiChannel Summit: This year will mark the first B2B MultiChannel Summit. This event made my list because of the fabulous speakers; Dell, Office Depot, and GE decision makers will all be sharing their knowledge. I am especially excited to hear from Merrick Rosner, VP of Business Development for Poppin’, an exciting new furniture venture based out of NY! Check it out 12/02-12/04 in Phoenix.

UK Events

  1. SiriusDecisions: The SiriusDecisions Summit is always a professional highlight for me. In May I had the opportunity to attend the San Diego event and LOVED it, so I am sure that the UK version will carry the same great content. This event brings in best-of-class B2B marketers from all across the globe, making it an excellent place to network. Takes place 11/05-11/06 in London.
  2. Marketo Jumpstart: As a Marketo partner, it is always interesting to see what is in store for marketing automation. In the past, I have attended Marketo events in the US and am always left impressed with the growth they have seen and the value they provide to companies they work with. Did I mention it’s in London? Tune in 9/10/13!

Honorable Mentions

Yes, that’s the best of the best – but there are truly dozens of other great events taking place in the second half of 2013. Here are some other important events/conferences to check out:

And…I’m sure there are dozens of other events that aren’t on my radar and should be. Please add some recommendations that you have for Fall or Winter, 2013.


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