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?

Top 3 Playground Rules for Sales and Marketing Teams

July 31, 2012

Sales and marketing teams are often at odds, blaming each other for a loss of revenue or lack of success. In the Playground Rules for Sales and Marketing Teams event presented by the Marketing Automation Institute (MAI), I was on a panel of industry leaders including Brian Hansford, Account Director—Marketing Automation, Heinz Marketing and Alex Shootman, Chief Revenue Officer, Eloqua that was moderated by Jay Hidalgo, President of The Annuitas Group. Together, we explored what it takes to get sales and marketing aligned to work (and play) well together—and what to expect along the way.

All of us on the panel agreed that in today’s market, the focus should be on buyers—what they need and how they want to buy. With 70% of the buyer’s journey now happening before sales is even engaged, sales and marketing alignment is not an option; it’s a requirement. It is not surprising that top performing organizations where sales and marketing effectively collaborate are seeing improved performance and increased revenue. How do they accomplish this? Following are the top three insights for businesses striving to align sales and marketing efforts:

1.  Employ these 5 practices that companies with great alignment share

  • Establish a common understanding of knowledge, vocabulary and goals.
  • Understand that buyers go through a journey and that sales and marketing both need to work with them through the journey.
  • Ensure that sales and marketing each know their role—as if in a partner dance; each should know who is leading and who is following at each stage in the buyer’s journey.
  • Commit to clean data.
  • Employ a common set of metrics and joint reporting.

That’s the big-picture overview. Following are a few of the finer points that can help you be successful as you put these practices into play.

2.  If you meet resistance, start small

When you are first aligning sales and marketing, you don’t have to bite off the whole organization at once. If you are meeting resistance, try piloting with a specific region. Once there’s proof that marketing’s efforts are advantageous to the sales process, the rest of your organization will get on board quickly.

3.   Softer metrics can help you gain traction

When you hear anecdotes about sales enablement tools that help close the deal, make sure to capture and share the enthusiastic feedback. (I gave an example of how my agency helped CenturyLink analyze target audience needs to inform a custom demand gen solution. When one prospect immediately agreed to a meeting and actually brought the tool we created to the meeting, it was evident that marketing helped sales gain both access and credibility. This went a long way toward speeding adoption.)

The good news is that alignment is within reach for your organization! The practices outlined here are very achievable when you start small and remain committed to the process. Our panel suggested that you keep in mind the Steven Covey quote “Light is the greatest disinfectant in nature and business” as you investigate opportunities to maximize the impact of sales and marketing collaboration.

Want the full download? You can listen to the entire Playground Rules for Sales and Marketing Teams conversation any time.

6 Tips & 10 Touch Points for Social B2B Demand Generation

July 19, 2012

Today, social media is as important as email and whitepapers in driving demand generation success—and this is widely recognized by high-performing businesses. In fact, according to a recent study by the Aberdeen Group, 41% of best-in-class companies have integrated social media with their lead management and lead scoring efforts. And 33% of those companies have integrated social profile data into their customer or prospect records.

If you’re considering using social media to generate leads, you’ll find dozens of guides and thousands of blog posts on this topic. I think Eloqua’s The Grande Guide to Social Demand Generation delivers a succinct and useful introduction that will help you dip your B2B demand gen toes in the social waters. Below is my distillation of the guide’s greatest hits.

Blueprint for Your Integrated Contact Strategy
I’d suggest that companies getting started in the social sphere check out “10 Touch Points for a Socially Savvy Contact Strategy” by Carmen Hill, Social Media Strategist at Babcock & Jenkins, on page 8 of the Grande Guide. (Yes, I’m biased because we work together, but we work together because Carmen is awesome!) I’m going to share my three favorite tips from Carmen here:

1.    Influence the influencers
Participate in influencer blogs and forums by providing relevant, data-rich content and commenting or responding when appropriate.

2.    Be social
Interact with others on social networks by joining or starting relevant conversations, sharing content and providing your insights.

3.    Nurture relationships
Stay in touch with responders via email and social channels until they indicate interest or intent to purchase.
I think Carmen offers a smart place to start, without biting off too much. I encourage you to read the rest of her tips about how to get your message in front of the right people at the right time.

Six Success Tips from Sage Software
Take a look at the case study “How Sage Went Social in Just One Year” on page 4 of the Grande Guide to learn how Sage Software established a social media presence for their human resources products that outpaced the competition in just one year by following these six steps:

1.    Outline clear goals
Reached influencers by developing a content creation process that feeds social engagement and joining prospects’ and customers’ conversation.

2.    Find the audience
Conducted a social media audit for their space, identifying the relevant posts, articles and targets to engage.

3.    Pick the platforms
Focused on creating a branded presence on the four most relevant channels for HR conversations: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.

4.    Identify the influencers
Developed a methodology for identifying and reaching out to the key influencers in the HR social space leveraging tools like Klout.

5.    Turn on the tools
Employed a socially savvy content management system and marketing automation platform.

6.    Measure meaningfully
Through a custom dashboard, measured number of leads generated and cost per lead.
What I most appreciated about this case study is how it demonstrates that taking basic (and repeatable) steps can make a significant impact.

Get even smarter about social
Want to dive a little deeper into the social B2B demand gen waters? Check out a few of my previous posts, plus other industry intelligence:
•    A Knockout Social Media Guide for the B2B Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)
•    How to Use Social Media Tools for B2B Demand Generation
•    Two Major Building Blocks for Social Media Success in B2B Demand Generation
•    Develop a Winning Combination for Social Media Integration: 9 tips from a recent MarketingSherpa webinar
•    Understand How B2B Social Media Connects to Your Audience

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

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

The Only Way to Get Sales on Your Side for B2B Demand Generation

March 21, 2011

Pink Elephant

Even the most tightly targeted and timely marketing content won’t inspire the sales team to employ it if you forget (or ignore) this one critical task.

A recent ITSMA sales enablement article rightly clarified the obligation of marketers to:

“…provide salespeople with the tools to connect customer needs with the company’s solutions. Marketers must create content that makes it easier for salespeople to uncover customer needs, outline capabilities that solve the need, and articulate the value.”

You know I stand by the truism that “content is king”—and its sister axiom “context is queen”.

But I don’t believe that providing the best content is the only, or even the primary, way to ensure that your sales team will consider it valuable in their conversations with customers.

(Isn’t that normally the big pink elephant in the room? You can lead sales to fantastic content, but you can’t make them use it?)

If you want sales to support and use marketing programs, there’s only one way to do it:

Get salespeople involved early and often.

Sounds…obvious, doesn’t it? But as you probably know, it’s harder than it is obvious.

What makes it a lot easier is planning your sales enablement strategy with this upfront, ongoing involvement in mind.

In my experience, these are the five points in a program where you should invite sales participation:

  1. Align marketing and sales on the ideal audience: attributes, insights, pain-points, title, etc.
  2. Engage the sales team’s help in building your lists.
  3. Discuss success metrics from the get-go and revisit the topic throughout the program. Let your salespeople  determine how and when leads will be passed to them.
  4. Expose your salespeople to the campaign elements-in-progress early. Get them comfortable with the messaging.
  5. Align on the sales team’s role in the touchpoints and follow-up.

Bonus: Per the recommendations in the ITSMA sales enablement post – make sure your salespeople have the proper tools for follow-up.

Have you had great success (or not so much) with this route? Tell us all about it in the comments.

B2B Demand Generation Best Practices: Five Tips for Bridging the Gap Between Sales and Marketing

February 7, 2011

Follow these five tips to create a snowball effect of mutual benefit (and goodwill) between sales and marketing.

If you’re in the same boat as the demand generation marketers referenced in findings below, I have some good news for you.

  • “53.4% of respondents said their company has no formal process for generating, clarifying and validating leads.”—CMO Counsel Survey
  • “Business acquisition experts estimate that 80% of leads are typically lost or ignored.“—GlobalSpec report

The good news is that this is not hard stuff to resolve, but it does take focus, discipline and conversation. The five tips outlined below can provide you with a good framework to begin this process.

Tip #1: Define “Lead”

Based on my experience with hundreds of B2B  marketers (and thousands of campaigns), I’ve come to realize that less than half have a definition of “lead” that is clear, written down and unanimously agreed on by sales and marketing.

It’s key to get both sales and marketing in the room to hash out that defintion—by no means an easy task. If attendance for your first lead definition summit is poor, show them you mean business. Cancel or dismiss that meeting, elevate the issue up the relevant food chains, and reschedule.

Once your key sales and marketing people are assembled, discuss “what is a lead” based on multiple variables from persona (or job role) to pain points and business drivers. This insight can also be useful to your content planning work.

Tip #2: Determine How You Will Close the Loop

Agree on the “system.” Most organizations have a CRM solution. is far and away the defacto standard in my experience. This step is a lengthy process, but I find most organizations have this in place today.

Tip #3: Handling “Inquiries”—Nurture and Re-qualification

A typical demand generation campaign yields about 5-15% of leads that should be considered SQLs (sales qualified leads), meaning they meet the sales definition of “a lead.” This percentage can vary greatly by tactic (with highly targeted campaigns yielding the best results, but at a greater cost).

Nurture campaigns will transition over 25% of marketing inquiries to SQLs. This is especially true with solutions that have a long sales cycle (6-18 months).

Tip #4: Educating and Rewarding Sales

Educate sales about the benefits of the marketing programs you’re about to employ BEFORE they go to market. Show them the program materials you’ve developed and remind them of the lead qualification process that all inquiries go through (and of course, remind them that they helped define what a lead is).

As simple as it sounds, this type of education can get a sales team excited about following up on leads.

Also, a small incentive to reward follow-up can drive huge returns. One client of mine offered a $20 Starbucks gift card to sales folks who followed up on leads.

Tip #5: Re-Evaluate “Lead” Criteria

There’s a good chance that the lead criteria (defined in Tip #1) will require some adjustment after your first campaign. Re-engage with your sales team for a formal discussion within two weeks of a campaign going to market and at the end of the campaign. Talk through their experiences with the leads they’ve been given to date.

Do you have any tips to add? Please share them in the comments.

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