iQ by Intel Takes the Food Cart Viral: A B2B Demand Gen Case Study

August 28, 2012

I was checking out one of my favorite foodie blogs, Eater 38, when I came across the iQ by Intel series on Mobile Food. These videos investigate how popular food carts in New York and Portland are using technology to succeed. The first, “Starting the Food Cart,” shows mobile restaurant owners discussing how technology shapes the industry. Next, “Powering the Food Cart” looks at how these businesses use the latest payment technologies. And the third, “Promoting the Food Cart,” will show how they use social media to connect with customers. I think these are great examples of how smart content becomes discoverable—by revealing something people want to know and are excited to share.

A colleague of mine knows Bryan Rhoads, iQ Editor-in-Chief, and he gave her the inside scoop about this project. “iQ is designed to feed a content-hungry 24/7 cycle. It may sound cliché, but content is the currency of the modern web…and social shares are the transactions in this market place for eyeballs and exposure.”

How has iQ been effective in grabbing eyeballs? “As consumers of information, we still Google or search for information, but content discovery has changed. I’m much more likely to discover interesting items, news and product offerings in my social news feeds like Facebook, Twitter and Google+. An additional and very pleasant surprise for us is how often we’re seeing our content in news aggregation sites, magazines and apps like FlipBoard or Zite. That’s effective modern marketing. That’s how the game is now played: getting one’s content to appear organically in these new tools and apps. Seeing an iQ story, including the Foodcart series in FlipBoard and Zite, is what it’s all about.”

How can businesses increase exposure? “It’s a 24/7 on-demand market place. Brands need to think more like publishers, i.e. cater to what the audience needs, wants or wants to share. iQ’s content strategy is ‘demand-side’ economics, not the ‘supply-side’ where brands have traditionally focused. Brands historically want to supply content and messages that they want to push out. However, in this on-demand world, messages and content will fall helplessly flat if there is no demand.”

The Mobile Food series is a great reminder that we can increase awareness and credibility without being salesy. One of my social gurus, Carmen Hill, agrees that these guys have knocked it out of the park. “I love what Intel is doing with the iQ site. Bryan and his team have truly blazed a trail with their social and content marketing practice. It’s so easy to fall back on the bad habit of always talking about ourselves. What Intel is doing—and what we should all aspire to do—is to create content about things our audience cares about. Talking about our products is boring. Talking about how our products help get your lunch paid for and ready to eat faster is much more interesting.”

The takeaway? When B2B demand gen efforts are aligned just right with what’s hot, content can become not just relevant but magnetic.

How are you delivering the content your audiences are hungry for in ways that reveal your true value—and get you the eyeballs you want?

Ignite the Pipeline: Personalized, Integrated Communications Drive Revenue for B2B Enterprise Organization

February 8, 2012

Ready to be a marketing rockstar?

There’s buzz in the air at this year’s Online Marketing Summit in San Diego (#oms12) and everyone is striving toward the same end game: Igniting their marketing!

The annual congregation of digital marketers in San Diego to evolve their practice shares the same casual, friendly community I’ve enjoyed in the past, but the event’s explosive growth from 500 attendees in 2010 to nearly 1500 this year represents an industry that is growing up fast. As a digital native focused on B2B demand creation, I am delighted that OMS attendees understand the value of  leveraging buyer insights across channels to produce relevant, measurable experiences!  As evident in keynote address and draw for my session “Ignite the Pipeline: Personalized, Integrated Communications Drives Revenue for Nuance Software” the thirst for advanced strategies that push the bounds of marketing technology to design multi-channel, measurable experiences is alive and well at OMS.

The wide array of conference tracks and sessions makes one thing clear: there’s no silver bullet. Search, social, conversion,  content, email, A/B testing, and marketing automation are all important pieces of the mix. But to truly connect with prospects and customers and move them through the sales funnel you need insights and integration. PERIOD.

In my OMS presentation, I shared a truly integrated account-based marketing model that allowed Nuance Software to:

  • Engage 46% of their most important customers and prospects
  • Drive over $6M to their pipeline
  • Deliver a 19-to-1 ROI on their marketing investment
  • Enable sales with personalized tools to support prospects and customers engagement

Please check out the attached slideshare presentation.

Related Post:

Three Reasons Why Account-Based Marketing Should Be a Priority in B2B…And 5 Steps for Getting Started

How B2B Companies are Achieving MAJOR Growth

February 2, 2012

The humble but truly effective growth principle we tend to overlook—and 4 ways to make it work for you.

Many of the technology organizations I consult with have one primary marketing priority: GET NEW LOGOS!

It happens at my organization too—everyone gets excited when we secure a major new customer. We open champagne, toast the great accomplishment and sing the praises of the key contributors who led to the win.

But what happens when, say, your largest customer renews for an additional 2-year commitment (without requiring procurement, RFPs and competitive bids)? These retention wins may represent a larger opportunity and/or higher margins, but do we invest our marketing dollars as heavily toward these wins?

I think intuitively we know that customer retention and growth contribute more profitably to the bottom line than acquiring a new customer. But if we need more nudging, here’s a powerful reminder from Sean Geehan, author, speaker and leading expert in B2B executive strategies.

The Business Case for a Retention Focus

I had the pleasure of hearing from Geehan at ITSMA 2011, where he reminded us of the Marketing 101 principle: It costs 3-5 times more to acquire a new account than it does to retain an existing customer.

His useful chart, shared below, clearly demonstrates a best practice model for ensuring the greatest ROI from marketing spend AND has been the baseline model for helping many organizations catapult growth.

Geehan also shared an eye-opening business case from his client, HCL Technologies, a multi-billion dollar global IT Services firm that has grown by more than 20% annually for the last 5 years.

When HCL realized that 70% of their revenue came from just 70 customers, they formed a Customer Advisory Council (CAC) as the centerpiece of their highly focused marketing efforts. Essentially, C-level executive and thought leaders from 80 HCL customer companies met regularly to exchange ideas, experiences and best practices.

In the process, the CAC shared the honest requirements of their businesses with HCL, and ultimately steered a lot of product direction. Meanwhile, HCL helped customers address more of their problems, nurturing trust and senior relationships.

As a result, Geehan notes in his B2B Executive Playbook, establishing a Customer Advisory Council can:

  •  Improve strategic relationships with key decision makers
  • Enhance companies’ ability to sustain, cross-sell and grow large strategic accounts
  • Validate that the company was launching the right solutions at the right time
  • Create a customer reference program
  • Elevate the company’s positioning in the customer’s mind: true partner vs. vendor

4 Ways You Can Drive Retention Efforts Worth Celebrating.

  • Showcase your expertise via thought-leadership content! Being a thought leader is AS important with customers as it is with prospects. Customers are looking for partners to support growth and innovation, so keep them informed and in tune with your organization’s best practices. You never know when they’ll have a need for them.
  • Marketing can drive increased account penetration by developing targeted Account Based Marketing campaigns for customers. Here’s how it works and 5 ways to get started.
  • Consider whether a Customer Advisory Board makes sense for your business. Geehan shares some very compelling evidence for the importance of this function within large tech organizations. Regardless of how you execute, access to customer insights, challenges and opportunities is essential.
  • Remember the math: It’s far more profitable to retain/grow customers than acquire new ones. Treat your customers as your organization’s #1 asset. Customer appreciation efforts go a long way!

Related Links:

The B2B Executive Playbook: The Ultimate Weapon for Achieving Sustainable, Predictable and Growth—by Shawn Geehan

Three Reasons Why Account-Based Marketing Should Be a Priority in B2B…And 5 Steps for Getting Started

Take 4 Steps Back for 1 Giant Leap Forward: The Buyer-Centric Marketing Model

June 3, 2011

One Lady Leaping

Take these four (often overlooked) steps to attract savvy B2B buyers and increase pipeline efficiency.

Moving toward a buyer-centric marketing model is an essential strategic requirement in B2B marketing today.

As marketers, we have a tendency to indulge in marketing strategies that focus on OUR priorities, our key messages and our current content assets first. A buyer-centric model naturally prioritizes the buyer’s business challenges and the questions they need answered to make a purchase.

And there’s good evidence that the buyer-centric model is working. At the 2011 SiriusDecisions Summit, Athena Varmazis—American Express Director of Corporate Payment Solutions—provided a great case study that proved the success of adopting a buyer-centric marketing approach and technology solutions to support nurturing communications.

Before adopting this approach:

  • Precious resources were being utilized to call on cold leads and provided limited visibility into lead quality
  • Marketing qualified leads were converting to sales at a rate well below average

After adopting the buyer-centric approach:

  • They increased the quality of leads
  • They closed a significantly higher percentage of leads

So instead of kicking off strategic marketing discussions with defining messages, tactics, marketing channels and assets you want to promote, take four steps back and start with the buyer!

Step 1: Identify and segment the audience: Who are the buyers (and influencers) of your solution?

If you’re connecting with your customer base—or trying to convert a known prospect base—you likely have the critical information in your marketing database (e.g., the decision-making and/or job roles). Plus you can always consult your sales team for information that can be analyzed to determine “who” this audience really is.

In B2B tech marketing, it’s typically important to consider variances in your business-oriented buyer vs. the IT buyer. It’s also important to identify any key influencer types, or researchers.

If you’re just getting started with segmentation, consider limiting yourself to 2-3 key target segments for a particular initiative. You can always expand once you’ve mastered these!

Beyond identifying your core audiences, sub-segmentation within these audiences will enable you to target your content and messaging to be as relevant as possible.

Sub-segmentation will vary greatly depending on your top-level of segmentation, but may include variables like vertical, organization size or geography.

Step 2: Develop personas

Now that you’ve identified your key audiences, you need to find out what they care about and how to speak with them for best results.

Ideally, we’d always have the time and budget to commission formal persona research, complete with focus groups and well-targeted online surveys. But you can also collect information to inform personas by:

  • Reading the blogs and other media your audience reads
  • Joining the LinkedIn groups they are active in
  • Talking to your salespeople (they are the closest point of contact with your audience, after all)

Step 3: Define the buyer’s journey

The key purpose of the buyer’s journey is to reveal the questions that the buyer (or influencer, or researcher) needs answered in order to make or influence a buying decision. Typically the buyer’s journey can be broken into four quadrants, and should address the key questions your buyer will have.

  1. Discover: “What issues am I dealing with?”
  2. Consider: “What options do I have to solve this (these) problem(s)?”
  3. Evaluate: “Which of these solutions is best? What are the core benefits and disadvantages of each?”
  4. Advocate: “What will my TCO or ROI look like? What are the best practices for this type of solution?”

Step 4: Map content to the buyer’s journey

Almost there! Next you need to do a thorough review of all content assets to determine which quadrant (discover, consider, evaluate or advocate) they best serve.

Although this can seem daunting at first, you’ll find it’s much easier to “know” what kind content will be relevant to your audience after completing persona development and defining the buyer’s journey.

Additionally, it will become clearer which specific content assets will match each of the personas within the audiences you’re targeting.

Note: Following the content mapping process, you’ll often see glaring “gaps”: quadrants without relevant content. Consider these gaps your roadmap for new content development.

Now, go full steam ahead with your campaign work—and you’ll find you’re already a GIANT STEP ahead!

Related links:

The Buyer’s Journey Diagram for B2B Demand Generation (and More)

How Busy B2B Demand Generation Marketers Can (Still) Use Personas

5 Steps to Building a Rock-Solid Content Roadmap for B2B Demand Generation

Dos and Don’ts for Balancing Your B2B Demand Generation Portfolio

March 31, 2011

Don't put all your eggs in one basket

Here’s how it pays to apply risk/reward and asset allocation strategies to B2B marketing.

Recently, I met with a long-time client to review demand generation campaign results. We were in the thick of the campaign and were conducting a lot of testing (and leveraging some tried and true channels/tactics, too).

Nothing unusual there…until he shared a heightened appetite for risk.

Naturally, I was delighted! It was a wonderful and potentially highly rewarding opportunity.

And then I steered us toward the asset allocation conversation.

Asset allocation for marketers

I believe an effective integrated marketing campaign is like a good investment portfolio: it benefits from a balanced approach, with a variability of risk.

If demand generation tactics are the assets, then our strategy for deploying them requires balanced allocation to maintain a consistent yet superior rate of return.

Regardless of your organization’s propensity for risk, here are a few marketing allocation “do’s and “don’ts” to consider:

  • Do: Understand who your audience is, and the various channels they engage with regularly (e.g. websites, communities, email, direct mail, search engines). Spread your marketing dollars across these various channels. This approach gives you multiple lines of access to your audience and will quickly expose the channels that provide the highest returns at the lowest costs.
  • Don’t: Put all your assets against one channel and hope it will work. This approach is unecessarily high-risk , and doesn’t provide insight for long-term effectiveness.
  • Do: Consider a mix of high-volume/broader-based efforts (e.g. publisher guarantee programs) along with lower-volume/laser targeted efforts such as direct mail. This will allow you to manage for long-term effectiveness while creating opportunities for short term gain.
  • Don’t: Forget to track EVERY aspect of your campaign so that you can optimize on your learning later.
  • Do (MOST important): Remember it’s FAR more cost-effective to cultivate prospects than it is to acquire new prospects. Make sure you build out a nurture plan that enables you to keep prospects warm and move them through the sales cycle.

And remember…it’s always okay to revisit your appetite for risk!

I didn’t put the brakes on my client’s refreshingly risky ideas, but I didn’t let him swerve the whole campaign wideload into the fast lane, either.

We consulted the campaign GPS and “recalculated.”

Do you have allocation do’s and don’ts to share—or maybe a completely different take on demand generation risk? Let’s chat in the comments.

The Right Direct Marketing Balance for B2B Demand Generation

February 18, 2011

Pas de deux du Corsaire / Ballet national de Cuba (Grand Palais)

For successful direct marketing campaigns, balancing priorities and building the business case together are key. Here’s a brief guide to both.

One interesting shortcut to direct marketing success is to study what SMB marketers are doing right with it.

Why SMB marketers? Because they never forget Direct Marketing 101—they simply can’t afford to. Without the support of larger budgets and staff, successful SMB marketers tend to prioritize their time and resources this way:

  • Getting the list right (40%)
  • Crafting relevant, show-not-tell offers (40%)
  • Fine-tuning creative for impact (20%)

Even at relatively stable, large companies, B2B demand generation marketers are feeling pressure to do more with less. Direct marketing campaigns are often facing tougher criteria for greenlighting.

More than ever, a solid, step-by-step business case approach can mean the difference between yes and no.

I was on a call with a client recently who wanted to know a “reasonable spend” for a marketing campaign. “Reasonable” is all too often code for “the least,” a sure sign of budget pressure and a cry for help in building a business case!
So I replied, “Let’s start with the numbers, and the business case will come. Let’s say you need to generate $10M in revenue. What we need to know is:
  • How many deals does that represent?
  • How many opportunities do you need in the pipeline to result in that number of deals?
  • How many sales accepted leads (SALs) do you need to support that pipeline number?
  • How many marketing qualified leads (MALs) do you need to support the number of SALs?
You get the idea. By walking through the process,  together we were able to determine an allowable cost/lead rather than trading on assumptions.

(Note: It’s prudent to gently emphasize that if you’re doing a pilot, it may take a little more time for the ROI to kick into high gear. But once that successful pilot is optimized and rolled back out, the ROI can double very quickly.)
Don’t stop now; see more details and tips on what SMB marketers are doing right—and by association what all B2B demand generation marketers can learn from them.

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