Top 5 Takeaways from SiriusDecisions Summit 2012

June 27, 2012

The SiriusDecisions Summit is always a professional highlight for me. This year’s event in Scottsdale, Arizona from May 22-24, 2012 brought together 1,500 best-in-class B2B marketers and confirmed that accountable marketing is a key business priority today, even in the C-Suite. I was delighted to hear “Out with the big, in with the boutique!” suggesting that the big agency has fallen out of favor and the B2B boutique agency is now in the sweet spot for targeted marketing collaboration. I couldn’t agree more. Following were my top five takeaways from the new research and insights presented:

1.   Today’s CMO is serious about demand creation.

Results and measurement are soundly at the top of the priority list for the CMO today. 2/1 CMOs surveyed said they would spend an additional 10% of their marketing budget on demand creation. Other options selected, in descending order, were: brand, content, marketing operations, enablement, social, and channel.

2.   Marketers need to prioritize mobile. 

We need to approach all marketing challenges with a mobile-first mindset – today and in the future. According to MarketingSherpa, 64% of business executives are accessing emails by mobile device today.* And Morgan Stanley predicts that by 2015, the mobile web will be bigger than desktop Internet use.** Now that mobile is the fastest-growing access and delivery method for content delivery, it’s time for a mobile-first point of view. I’ve written about maximizing the impact of mobile here, and in a future blog post I may revisit my recommendations in light of these insights.

* The Horrible Truth About Mobile Email
** New Study Shows the Mobile Web Will Rule by 2015 [STATS]

3.   Social media is the #1 skill every marketer should have. 

As buyer journeys and sales needs change, so do the roles of marketers. It’s time to get smart(er) about social media. Other necessary skills identified for today’s market, in descending order, include: customer marketing, marketing technology, content marketing and digital marketing.

4.   There is an alchemy that happens in person with colleagues and       clients!

Mark Emond & Lauren Goldstein

I was up at 5:30 a.m. one morning hiking Camelback with the BNJ team and our client from Autodesk. At the summit, another hiker looked at me and asked, “Are you LaurenOnDemand?” Turns out, Mark Emond from IBM has been reading my blog and was looking forward to connecting at the conference; and he found me at the top of a mountain! This was a good reminder to make yourself findable where your readers are most likely to be—and an affirmation that my blog is making this connection.

5.   The SiriusDecisions Demand Waterfall has been rearchitected.

BNJ was one of the early adopters of the demand waterfall architected by SiriusDecisions—the standard for measuring and optimizing demand creation efforts since 2002—and we have found it to be an essential tool in creating common ground among marketers. To reflect today’s increasingly complex demand creation environment, SiriusDecisions has rearchitected the waterfall to include the flows and conversions of all demand that a B2B organization creates, not just the demand that has been sourced by marketing. The new waterfall also singles out inbound marketing, automation and teleprospecting as mission critical, rather than evolutionary components of a demand creation engine. This redesign to reflect a more complete view of the journey demand takes from cold to close, and the different points at which it originates.*The new Demand Waterfall was unveiled at the summit.

The Rearchitected Demand Waterfall

* SiriusDecisions Research Brief: The Demand Waterfall, Rearchitected

The most important and gratifying change, in my opinion, is the distinction made between inbound and outbound marketing—separated to reflect the complexity of today’s reality in which inbound marketing is proving to deliver better leads and faster conversions. 

Thank you, SiriusDecisions, for another inspiring and invigorating dose of B2B marketing intelligence. If we connected at the SiriusDecisions Summit this year, I am grateful—and I look forward to keeping in touch. If we didn’t, I hope to see you at the 2013 SiriusDecisions Summit: my #1-rated conference for keeping your finger on the pulse and your name in the game.

I’d love to hear feedback from others who attended – what were the key highlights for you?

The BNJ Team with Autodesk Client

Jay Baer Interview, Part 3: The Realistic Social Media Cost and Commitment for B2B Demand Generation

April 22, 2011

Jay Baer Interview, Part 3 from LaurenOnDemand on Vimeo.

Jay Baer sums up the true cost of social media—and the commitment it takes to get results.

In the last part of our interview, Jay Baer spelled out the true cost (and worth) of social media for B2B companies. The short story is: nothing is really “free” and results take time—but it’s worth it.

Watch Part Three of our interview now or skim the highlights below.

LOD: All of this social media we’ve talked about…it’s fast and easy right? [Laughs.] What’s the best advice we can give to our B2B clients to help them embark on social media with a realistic context?

JB: It’s not inexpensive; it’s just different expensive. You’re trading production dollars or media dollars for labor dollars.

Social take a long time. You’re winning hearts and minds one at a time. It takes a long time for the benefits to show themselves. You don’t just do social media for a quarter or a year; you’re going to be doing some form of social forever.

LOD: It’s persistent, it’s not a campaign.

JB: There’s no expiration date on social media.

LOD: Any final tips for B2B marketers?

JB: At its core, social media is more important for B2B than it is for B2C. You have fewer customers, so the opinions of each of them are magnified in their importance.

Also, B2B is typically highly researched, so the opinions of existing customers matter a lot; and the B2B purchase cycles are influenced at a very high level by search. And search and social are like the Lone Ranger and Tonto!

Many thanks to Jay for his time and his insights!

Related Links:

The Now Revolution

Convince & Convert—Jay Baer’s blog

Jay Baer Interview, Part One: Three Social Media Must-Do’s for B2B Demand Generation

Jay Baer Interview, Part Two: “Let’s Video the Making of a White Paper” for B2B Demand Generation

Two Ways to Build Loyalty Through Demand Generation

March 22, 2011

Here’s a brief guide to building two highly targeted mechanisms to help you earn (and fuel) customer loyalty.

What does customer loyalty mean in the digital age?

In a recent MarketingProfs article, Laura Patterson defines a loyal customer as one who:

  • Stays with the brand despite competitive offers, changes in price, negative word-of-mouth, and product failures
  • Increases business/engagement in some way
  • Actively promotes the brand to others

That last element really grabbed my attention. Surely we always hoped loyal customers would promote our brands, but now we can facilitate and measure WOM online.

Social media platforms (esp. Twitter) are the most obvious outlets we can monitor and influence to increase WOM.

But we can also create high-value mechanisms that give customers more targeted, substantial material for consideration and promotion.

The two loyalty builders I’ve had the most success with are welcome programs and customer communities.

Welcome: Help them get with the program.

Welcome programs launch as soon as a customer enters the onboarding process, and continues throughout their full usage of your solution.

Typically we set up customized content and resource microsites, with key triggers at milestones in the onboarding and usage process. These key triggers (associated with emails/content) allow us to connect the customer with useful content and resources at the right time.

For instance, early on, we send an email that provides the customer with names, pictures and contact info for all the people you they need to access.

During the solution implementation process, a customer may receive an email that introduces them to a customer community site.

And once a customer is up and running with the solution, we use this now-trusted (or at least familiar and allowed) communication channel to introduce them to relevant products or services with up-sell/cross-sell messaging.

You could say the welcome program eases the door open ever wider until customers effectively welcome us.

Community: Inspire customers to do the talking.

In my experience, establishing customer communities is one of the best means to engage, promote and excite! Ideally, not only do customers become more engaged with the brand, but they value that connection more because a) they have a voice in it and b) it’s shared among and partly fueled by their peers.

As always in B2B, the journey from first presentation to pipeline is measured in months, not days, so it’s key to set expectations and goals properly upfront. Here are some typical objectives to set for customer communities:

Click for a larger view

Developing a customer community draws on a multitude of creative and technical resources beyond the scope of this post, but here are five strategic must-haves:

  • Personalized content based on user profiles
  • A rich variety of relevant content
  • Continual adjustment of selected content based on passive profiling of the content your users consume
  • Interactive elements like polls, content ratings and forums that allow users to collaborate with their peers while your company gains insight to your audience
  • Ample opportunities to share the site (“refer a friend,” LinkedIn and Twitter icons, etc) and access it conveniently (RSS feed, mobile-optimized version)

Not surprisingly, the top three key elements revolve around generating and delivering the right content. If this resonates with you, see my quick guide to Overcoming the #1 Challenge in B2B Demand Generation Content Marketing.

And for a very interesting and methodical way to gauge customer loyalty, see Laura Patterson’s seven steps to construct your loyalty vulnerability index.

Do you have more ideas on earning and keeping B2B customer loyalty? Please share your thoughts in the comments, I’d love to hear them.

The Single LinkedIn Tip Busy B2B Demand Generation Marketers Need

March 18, 2011


Here’s the one thing you need to do to get more out of LinkedIn.

Whether you have a free or premium LinkedIn account, there’s plenty you can do to promote yourself and your business. A wealth of third-party applications for sharing your other online content and the advent of open groups have made LinkedIn even more of a one-stop shop for online business networking. Now, consider:

LinkedIn features 90m+ professionals around the world, and counts executives from all 2010 Fortune 500 companies as members (Details correct as of January 2011).

And that’s the problem. There’s so much to do, and so many influential people to tap and respond to (or not). Like most demand generation marketers, I’m incredibly busy. I don’t have much time to focus on things that don’t make a direct impact I can quantify.

But: I count LinkedIn participation as my most worthwhile social media endeavor. (It was also my first venture into social media of any kind.) My top tip may not be everyone’s, but it’s paid off for me in:

  • Shaping my targeted accounts lists
  • Recruitment of great candidates for my agency
  • Keeping me in the know about what my target audience really cares about

Here it is: In all of your LinkedIn activities, be very selective.

Did you just deflate a little bit? Let me explain why this selectivity is so key and how it plays out.

The big temptations of LinkedIn are to connect with as many influential people as possible, and fatten up your profile with as much evidence of your superior experience as you can. But when you feel that itch to overconnect, ask yourself these three questions:

  • Wouldn’t you rather build up a highly targeted base of contacts that you know will be of value to you?
  • Do you want prospective connections to read several fantastic recommendations from key leaders and colleagues who really know you, or balk at wading through tens of testimonials from everyone you could get to exchange recs with you?
  • Reality check: can you truly contribute valuable input to (and take it in from) more than 10 groups?

The specific tasks that drive valuable connections will vary with your background and experience, but here are two mini-case studies to draw inspiration from.

Naturally, I’d love to know your own simple Linkedin tips for busy demand generation marketers. Please share your gems in the comments.

90m+ professionals around the world as of January 2011

What Makes a Company a Thought Leader in B2B Demand Generation Marketing?

February 18, 2011

Rodin: The Thinker

Here’s a litmus test to help you judge your company’s thought leadership potential.

Recently, Chris Koch explored the eight attributes of individual thought leadership. In summary, according to his research and experience, a thought leader combines earned respect with a highly engaging persona.

Now, for B2B marketing companies, employing charismatic people with sterling professional credentials is certainly a step in the thought leadership direction.

But if the company itself is not set up to support thought leadership, or take advantage of its benefits, even Seth Godin won’t be able to help (much).

Ask yourself these three questions with respect to your company:

1. Do you think you deserve to be a thought leader?

Okay, that’s kind of a trick question. Every company has to be able to envision their potential before they can fulfill it.

However, if your company leadership assumes that just because they have some good ideas the company should automatically be recognized as a thought leader in their field, they’re on the wrong track. Selling thought leadership is not the same as selling strategy and programs.

If “thought leadership” is proposed as a marketing objective for a campaign, move on to #2.

2. Do you have a proven track record of success?

To be recognized as a thought leader, your company needs to show it’s a true subject matter expert by its results as well as its ideas. If a neat description of an interesting twist on a marketing concept made one a thought leader, every good copywriter in our industry would be hailed as such.

True thought leadership reflects experience over time. No thought leader, company or individual, reaps results right away. Which leads us to #3…

3. How long do you think it takes to get results from your thought leadership: a few months or a few years?

I’m afraid engaging in thought leadership is like receiving a puppy at Christmas: it’s a commitment for life! (Or at least the life of your company/pup).

Thought leadership isn’t owned by one campaign; it has to become ingrained in the way your designated thought leaders work.

Which isn’t to say it’s hard. It’s a matter of being mindful—in your content planning, program planning, resource allocation—so that thought leadership needs are fed by and inform all of your efforts.

For more musings on the subject, see Chris Koch’s Eight Attributes of a Thought Leader.

Evolve or Revolve? B2B Demand Generation Marketers and the Client-Agency Relationship

February 17, 2011


Client-agency relationships revolve fast today, but here are some good reasons to evolve them as well.

By all reports, agencies have to work harder, be smarter and prove a payout faster to be valued (and retained) today. Fair enough; these are only the same pressures marketers of all stripes are facing.

But the pace of change, and the reasons for it, are fundamentally changing the quality of client-agency relationships as well. Fragmentation of accounts and campaigns plus the short tenure of key employees on both sides make it hard to get to know each other.

There’s a constant readjustment to the three P’s:

  • Processes – How we work together
  • Personalities – Who we work with
  • Perspectives – Why we champion one idea or method over another

Getting those basics right—again—eats up valuable time better spent strategizing and concepting. We have to accept that the tenure of a client-agency relationship is much shorter than it used to be. But I think there are a few speed bumps we should respect along the way.

Clients should value:

  • Agencies with strong and growing digital capabilities. If you work with an agency that is constantly innovating and introducing you to new ways to influence customers in the digital realm (web, mobile, apps), they’re worth keeping close.
  • Agencies that consistently prove results. Of course, for this to be a meaningful criterion, both client and agency have to agree on what the measures of success are. Any agency that initiates this conversation with you and follows up with a solid reporting program (or eagerly gets to grips with your own reporting scheme) is not to be discarded lightly.

Agencies should:

  • Maintain relationships at multiple tiers within an client organization. Even if the agency world were more stable, this is a good practice that helps agencies understand the vision of the client’s business as a whole. In a time when the average tenure of a CMO is  less than three years, engaging with more of the people running the marketing programs ensures you can keep getting work done in a smart, efficient manner even when key people leave.
  • Ensure their own top executives engage with the top management of client organizations. This demonstrates a level of  stewardship that is less common today and can favorably differentiate an agency from the competition.

Gone are the days of the “agency of record,” but remember that the agency or client you take leave of today may re-emerge as a perfect partner later on.

For a more detailed look at how we arrived at this state of affairs, see Why the Client-Agency Bond Isn’t What It Used to Be.

Battle of the Brands in the B2B Demand Generation Arena: Personal vs Corporate

February 11, 2011

The Web Wants YOU

Let’s explore how you can  get the support you need from your company to cultivate your personal brand through social media—and reassure them that your personal brand buildup will be beneficial to them.

In his article “Personal Brands vs. Corporate Brands,” Chris Koch asserts,

“This is the year that the personal brand begins to do battle with the corporate brand…We need to let the personal brand win—especially in B2B.” Allowing your subject matter experts to become superstars in their own right, typically via a non-company blog or other social media, “creates a virtuous cycle that links these personal brands to the corporate brand.”

This virtuous cycle includes at least two big benefits to the company:

  • Positioning company leaders as subject matter experts in their own right adds credibility to the organization and increases trust in the company brand.
  • The personal brand blog ultimately drives traffic to the company website—it serves as another channel for leads.

But, your own company might say, what if our superstar leaves the company and takes all their good traffic with them? That’s what happened to Forrester Research: Popular analyst Jeremiah Owyang joined them after his own blog had gained a large following. The brand benefits were mutual, as Chris notes:

“In the early days, Owyang’s personal blog was driven by his personal brand and enhanced by the Forrester corporate brand. First you found Owyang, and then you found that Forrester was behind him.

Meanwhile, the Forrester corporate blog that he contributed to was driven by the Forrester brand and enhanced by Owyang’s personal brand. First you found Forrester, and then you found Owyang.”

As you may already know, Owyang ultimately left Forrester for a startup, Altimeter. But from Chris’ point of view, Forrester still wins:

“Owyang’s blog is still packed full of references to Forrester and his work there…There’s a very positive association there that underscores Forrester’s ability to nurture talent.”

However, today Forrester analysts may only write personal blogs “behind the Forrester firewall” and contribute to group blogs targeting specific business lines. Effectively, Forrester co-brands their analysts. And if a star analyst leaves, it’s easier to fill the gap—right?

“From a traditional corporate branding perspective, your immediate reaction would be to expunge the analyst from your audience’s memory and start pushing the new content instead…From a customer’s perspective, I think Forrester looks better being a legacy on a star’s personal blog than having a star that leaves a void in content upon leaving.”

Companies can’t afford to default to knee-jerk traditional brand-think when dealing with all of the issues brought on by the rise of the personal brand. Your audience’s memory might be short, but the Internet remembers everything. And that’s a big reason why, as Chris says, “like it or not, the brand game has changed forever.”

I highly recommend reading Chris’ full story on “Personal Brands vs. Corporate Brands” as soon as you get the chance!

Have you faced resistance to establishing your personal brand as a marketer outside of your organization? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments.

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