Archive for the ‘Marketing Strategy’ Tag

Why this Blog isn’t Like Others

Since the focus on my blog is marketing strategy, most of my followers will be surprised to find me writing on tactical blogging. However, I have gotten a good number of requestsregarding how am I getting such traction with my blog, even more so than most websites. So, this is a deconstruction of my approach for those who aren’t familiar with how to build a blogging strategy.

First, let me outline why this blog is different than most of your traditional blogs: 

  1. More like a corp blog than a traditional individual blog– I am running this as I would if I were the CMO of a company and I needed dynamic content for my website and for direct messaging to the market.
  2. I am playing a specific role as a content manufacturer versus a content distributor – I have written about how I see the the development of tiered content distribution on the web (Search Engines versus Social Media for Marketing Awareness)
  3. Focused on establishing my thought leadership in the social marketing space – hence the original, higher quality content.
  4. My audience is the “C” level executive decision-makers that doesn’t have time to read blogs -Kind of tough to reach people via a blog who don’t read blogs, but my strategy is to leverage indirect channels of establishing relationships prior to engaging. I am getting read, but I am reaching them through other channels and then bringing them to my blog one at a time. 
  5. My blog is obviously integrated with my offline and other online marketing activities -The decision makers don’t care whether the information is offline or online, they just want quality from validated sources. My marketing strategy does both prior to engagement.
  6. My blog isn’t as targeted – I would like to be more targeted, but I am having to balance my desire my long term goal to find a permanent role with my short term social marketing consulting. Hence, it is a bit schizophrenic in switching between broader CMO topics (Web 2.0 product management, product marketing, and lead generation) and more targeted social marketing.
  7. You will notice that I don’t have links – It is not that I do not want to be helpful to assist you in finding additional strategic marketing resources, but they are time consuming to build and, in truth, they distract from the narrative that I am building between posts.
  8. Very little third party content for the same reason – I am showcasing my expertise, building a narrative around social marketing, and focused on building a library of original content. I will occasionally comment on really cool information, but I try to be a destination for original content.
  9. I have turned off the commenting (too much SPAM) – I receive feedback through my social networks, twitter, email, and back links. Please reach me through these vehicles (contact info in the sidebar) as I appreciate people the feedback.
  10. I have a micro targeting strategy versus a macro blogging recognition one – In part, I am more focused on creating a thought leadership center for people to leverage for understanding social marketing, validating my expertise, and providing a call to action around my resume. Hence why I am on a hosted wordpress with poor Seach Engine Optimization. I am not looking to establish myself as a blogger, but rather I am validating my knowledge as a Marketing Executive with some very cool, cutting edge expertise.

My Recommendations for Starting a Corporate Blog

1. Start with the Strategy first. Are you blogging for brand recognition, validation, sales support?

2. Understand the mechanics of blogging – what rules will you follow, which ones will you not. I break some rules because it supports my strategy to do so.

3. Build an editorial calendar – map out the narrative that you want to deliver and manage to that

4. Pace yourself – fewer posts of higher quality is better. On the other hand, make sure that you are at least once or twice a week, preferrably more.

5. Don’t “Build it and They Will Come” – doesn’t work. You need to promote it, get it added to online catalogs, cross promote with other marketing communications channels, and get the word out. It takes a while to build visability and even longer to build a regular following.

Hope this helps.

Social Marketing Changes Everything Part 1 – Introduction

If I asked the question “Who wants better leads, increased revenues?” I would see every hand up in the room.

” Through social media?”  I would still see pretty much every hand in the room raised. 

If I told them that they would have to changes their approach to marketing, lead generation, customer satisfaction, and their view of their market, how many hands would stay up? If I told them that they would have to take some risks, expose themselves (metaphorically), do something unconventionally, challenge their team, etc. would you find any takers? a few…

Now, if I told them that every one of their competitors is planning on doing this and that they could choose to do it early to get “competitive advantaged” or they could wait and be a “me-too”. I would find the room in two camps, split between the optomists in the face of a economy poised to recover and the business convervatives who are trying to maintain what the have in the face of a recessed economy.

I read a lot online from social media “experts”, but other than they advocate the use of  social networks like Linkedin, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Youtube, etc. for business (Screaming ad-like tweets “You too can make money”…) I struggle to break through the noise to connect with the real innovators who have a strategic approach to integrating social media into their full marketing programs.

Here is my two cents worth – Social Media is fundamentally changing Marketing. In my mind, it is not about how you add the social networks to your marketing channels of communication (they should be thought of as channels), but rather how you rethink marketing and brand management. The initial wave of website in the mid-90’s started to a fundamental shift in marketing. I talk to a lot of companies about social media, Web 2.0, social CRM, social networking, etc. Some think it is a FAD, most think it is fun and interesting, some are trying to use it for business, but some are taking advantage of the rest to drive growth. This shift in marketing is happening again.

I am not talking about occasionally sending something out to the 132 people on Linkedin, 675 college buddies on Facebook, and the 3750 followers that you have built on twitter (these aren’t my numbers). I am not talking about building online forums into your website. Not talking about use meebo to chat occasionally with an ex-colleague. I can go on, but the point is that social-optimized, Web 2.0 interactions  are creeping into the way that we all do business. You can use them or you can rethink your approach to leverage them to “change the rules”.

If you are a “changes the rules” type, you will need to subscribe to the RSS feed and have to come back to read the rest of the series on Social Marketing Changes Everything Part 2 – 5. I can’t fit all of the explanation into the a single post. This multi-part series will provide information on social marketing and answer the following questions:

  • What is Social Marketing? (I can already hear, not another buzz word…. but think about my Web Marketing reference above)
  • Why is a new definition required beyond Social Media, Social Networking, Social CRM, or Web 2.0 Marketing? (gotcha there)
  • So what? Why should I  worry about this? Hint: Revenue Generation and Customer Referrals (I assumed this would be important to you)
  • What does a Social Marketing strategy look like?
  • What does a Social Marketing Roadmap look like for this?
  • How do I leverage what I am already doing?
  • How do I build a Social Marketing Business Case?
  • How do I measure Social Marketing?

Now that I got the major questions out of the way, let move next into the definitions;

Social Marketing – The re-orientation of traditional marketing to reflect the new post-digital,  network relationship oriented, and influencer-driven social interactions. Social Marketing leverages a multi-channel, multi-directional approach towards building relationships with a transition away from the structured marketing roles like; product management, marketing communications, PR, Channel Mktg, & sales support. Instead, marketing is reoriented around enabling the key interactions that support the awareness, influence, interest, buying, and referral processes. ( it is a mouthful, but I am working on getting it down to one simple sentence. Give me your thoughts and I will incorporate in my next post)

Social Media – Basically, you have the social networks that you participate and the online communities that you own which are built into your corporate website. See my post on Social Media is Like Fishing for more details.

Online Communities – communities of interest built upon a foundation of Web 2.0 social networking tools; profile, blog, wiki, social bookmarking, calendaring, media sharing, etc that enable the user to interact with other users and content through the website. See my post on Online Community Blueprint for more details.

Post-Digital – If everything is becoming digital, why does digital matter? The buyer doesn’t really care if the interaction is on the web, they just want to get what they need. A lot of marketing still segments online and offline which creates an artificial barrier to developing a seamless customer experience. Social Media is changing buyer behavior, coming more fluid, and marketing must adjust the model to to support the reflected changes. See my post on the Changing Role of the CMO for further explanation.

The next part of the series will explore a new model for thinking about reorienting marketing towards interactions.

Part 2 – Theory

Part 3 – Business Case

Is Your Marketing Like Teaching a Dog to Read? Part 1

I had an accounting professor who told us a story about a colleague of his who decided to teach his dog to read. This professor crafter a full lesson plan and spent 12 weeks delivering a daily lecture to his dog. At the end of the semester, he certified that he had taught his dog to read. This obviously doesn’t actually mean the dog could read, but he delivered a beautifully, executed lesson plan.

This is a common occurance in Marketing, as well. It manifests itself in several ways:

Smaller, Emerging Growth Companies – Marketing Collateral Which Doesn’t Say Anything

A common challenge for smaller companies is the mistake that Marketing Communications equates to Marketing Strategy. The first thing early stage companies do is engage with a marcom firm and focus on building the prettiest branded website they can afford. Then they throw in the logo, marketing slicks, and a powerpoint. All of these are important, but they skip some important steps; like defining the product target audience, defining the value proposition, and mapping the features/functionality to the product benefits, validating the pricing and packaging, and then testing the messaging to make sure the priorities of the market are accounted for in their planning. This results in a marketing program that “teaches the dog to read”, but doesn’t actually communicate a clear call to action or even explain what the company does for whom…. the end result is that the actual communication and education about the product’s value has to actually occur during a sales call which isn’t very scalable. Part 2

Mid-Market Companies – Siloed Marketing Communications Channels

More established mid-market companies have a different problem in that they have mostly grown organically so they have done a good job of communicating the concept & value of their offerings. The common approach to marketing tends towards mimicking what larger, enterprise companies have done with a “pasta method” approach to marketing… throwing everything up against the wall to see what sticks… Without the coordination or the brand recognition of larger established brands, the market really doesn’t see the “get” the value of the offerings because there isn’t a cohesive multi-channel story. The lesson plan is a fully fleshed out lesson with multi-media slides, but you only get to hear half of it….

Established, Enterprise BrandsFighting Economies of Scale

Large enterprise brands have the resources and the history to communicate brand strategy. The challenge for large enterprises is the challenges of coordinating the vast organization to deliver a consistent message. A friend of mine told me about working with one major brand that had a different agency of record for each communication channel. And the different agencies didn’t play very nicely. Now, add in multiple products, divisions, and new communications channels. Large enterprises have the access to talent and the resources to deliver the “whole lesson plan”, but without the ability to coordinate, it is like having the lecture delivered by multiple professors on different campuses.

The rest of the series will focus on strategies to enable companies of different sizes to build sustainable foundations for communicating the value of the product offerings. At the end of the day, if you cannot get your message across in a way that is compelling & differentiated, translated into actionable prospect leads, and resulting in closed sales; it is like “teaching your dog to read.”

Part 2 – Emerging Growth Companies

If I Only Had $1 for Marketing, Where Should I Spend It?

A question that I have been working on for a number of weeks… Where would I focus my marketing budget at different budget levels? What activities provide the biggerst return on your marketing dollars? What would I recommend for a marketing budget?

These are common questions that I get when I build a marketing organization directly or I provide marketing consulting. It is especially relavent with so many companies slashing marketing budgets, at the same time looking for something to change the rules and build a foundation for growth.

My short list of critical marketing activities are below… budget is harder because you have to take a lot more factors into account; such as  industry, sale cycle, channels, pricing, packaging, type of product, type of services, size of company, growth expectations, etc…

1. Branding – the ability to tell your story, make it compelling, and differentiate yourself is critical.

2. Website – making sure that the website tells the right story, is search optimized, and credentials your organization. Some websites sell, but most are really sales support or customer support. The best sites manage the customer relationship. Depending on the industy, maturity, etc. I would recommend building an online community (social media components embedded into the website) to manage the pre-sales activities (community) and the one-to-one customer account activities (private groups).

3. Demo, Video, Sample, Picture, Flash, etc. – something that is a tangible representation of your offering that communicates the value of the offering which can be syndicated out through social media sites, Youtube, etc.

4. References, Case Studies, and Testimonials – Communicating value in a tangible way, credentialling your ability to deliver the solution

5. Collateral, PowerPoint, Flash, Webinars, Seminars, etc. – Depending upon your industry, there are accepted norms for delivering the pitch… some industries it can be done your website, via webinar, others require a PowerPoint, others still use PDFs. Irregardless of the medim, you have to tell the “visual story”; solution, pictures/imagery, value proposition, differentiation, package, pricing, functions, features….

6. Online Marketing – Search Engine Pay-Per-Click, Search Optimized Press Releases, Linkedin, Facebook, other industry specific social media sites/groups, maybe a banner ad on critical industry sites, etc.

7. Media, Blogger, & Analyst Outreach / Industry-specific Online CommunitySocial & Forum participation – The lines between traditional media, bloggers, analysts, and communities are blurring. You have to have  a strong presence and recognize the contribution those who follow the industry have on buyers.

8. Multi-channel Marketing – Email, direct mail, personal landing pages, drip marketing, campaigns, analytics, etc. You need a good outbound marketing engine as most companies cannot rely on networking & inbound referrals alone. You also should tie it into a good CRM system so that you can make the information actionable.

9.Events, Conferences, Tradeshows – With the economy tight, a lot of the travel dollars have been slashed, but participation is still a good way to get out of your own network. Selection of which to attend is more art than science, but a good rule of thumb is “go where the customers are”…

10. Partnerships – getting a partnership is really only the first step in actually getting business from partners. Nurturing relationships, training and supporting, building solution value, providing sales support, and providing channel marketing are the real challenge in getting sustainable business. “Build it & they will come” doesn’t usually work for partnerships, either.

Bottom line, is this is a generic list of activities, but the secret sauce is prioritizing where you spend your limited dollars. I write about social media a great deal as I believe that done correctly that it can be a game changer, but the real value is focusing on doing the marketing basics really well. You can always build upon a great foundation, but you have to crawl before you walk before you run.

The Changing Role of the CMO in a Post-Digital World

The role of CMO is evolving from the traditional, functional manager who oversaw marketing communications, product marketing, PR, and online.

1. The new role of the CMO in a Post-Digital World doesn’t differentiate between online and offline, as a matter of fact, the emphasis is completely flipped from the old paradigm.

2. The idea of marketing as a silo function, independent of accountability for sales, customer experience, product or service satisfaction is also fading.

Evidence: Look at the number of marketing people on the street looking for jobs who were “staff” positions. My dad, an old-style chemical sales manager used to refer to those who weren’t in sales as “staff”, sales being “line”. Of course, this was borrowed from the military. The reality is that this model is coming back, but the twist is that in the best companies, everyone in an organization is now on the front-line with the customer. (Discussion of online communities, Web 2.0, & collaboration platforms to follow in subsequent posts)

Marketing functions disconnected from the customer relationship are a luxury that many companies in a down economy are making redundant. Whether these roles were important or not in reality doesn’t matter, the perception is that the company could live without them. I think the real question is whether these roles will come back with the economy or will shift…

The internet has continued evolve and the role of marketing is evolving with it. The divide between online and traditional is disapearing. Most customers and prospective buyers today don’t differentiate between online and offline. Even more so, when a majority of potential buyers do research on search engines prior to engaging with a vendor, you cannot afford to have siloed activities. As a matter of fact, because of cost and speed issues, more and more investment in marketing is going “online” and then repurposed offline.

Imagine that you run a webinar in combination with a partner organization that you promoted through an email marketing campaign, your partner, sales people, website, etc. ;which is really an inexpensive dry-run of your speaking engagement next month at a conference; which you will tout in a press release that is submitted online and will be picked up by all types of media, bloggers, and search engines; which you blog and twitter; which is also driven to get visability in an organic search to drive traffic to your website; all of which is to get traction so you can sell them.

At the end of the day, where does online and offline come in? Offline would be your branding and your interactive firm would be your execution of an online campaign or your website. This was disconnected from your CRM efforts which was somewhat disconnected from the way your sales people managed their sales efforts. I could throw in your business intelligence, enterprise content management, product management, etc. and you get the picture. I haven’t even gotten to what people do at your website, I will save the online community conversation for another post.

CMO’s really no longer do “Marketing”… they no longer differentiate between traditional and interactive; sales, marketing, and customer support… there are too many connected, moving pieces. The leading CMO’s today play 3 dimensional chess, ensuring that the:

  • Customer is the center of the customer lifecycle
  • Value of the offering is tangible and solves something important to the customer
  • Everyone involved in the customer lifecycle shares the perception of value
  • Company is viewed as a credible provider of the solution
  • Sales organization is positioned for the sale
  • Customer is satisfied
  • Customer will not only buy again, but will also refer others
  • Then they do it again, again, and again in a scalable way

None of the above is a traditional, functional view of marketing; advertising, PR, online product marketing, customer service, product management, channel marketing, etc. Instead, Marketing is aligned with the customer lifecycle. The Post-Digital CMO is focused and measured on bringing value throughout the life of the customer relationship; irregarless of the the medium. 

Now, take that a step further, the execution becomes more aligned to the desired value each step of the way. I don’t have a webinar, website, email marketing, channel marketing program, etc. I have a consistent value proposition, coordinated messaging, defined set of interactions through multiple touchpoints, and a measurable outcome that isn’t necessarily just about getting eyeballs or “butts in virtual seats”.

If  the integration sounds familiar, it is. Very much like sales has evolved, so has marketing. In the ’80’s the hot topic was “integrated marketing communications”, then it was “integrated marketing”, and now… just “integrated”.

Marketer’s Dilemma

I have been following a good number of different bloggers on marketing. One of the challenges I find is that one are that I can’t seem to find really good information published out there is how to really break through the “marketing noise” on the internet. Let’s face it, there is a real problem out there for traditional marketing vehicles:

Changing Landscape of Online Lead Generation

Changing Landscape of Online Lead Generation

So, when I talk to other marketing professionals and a good number of CEOs, I get acknowledgment that there is a problem with SEO, email marketing, telemarketing, direct mail, tradeshows, webinars, etc. but I get a lot of different solutions:

A. Do more of the same

B. Cut budgets and focus on just the “free stuff”

C. Use social media “stuff” like twitter, blogs, and linkedin

D. Hire more sales people who have rolodexes

So, bottom line is that I have been asking a lot of hard questions and not getting a lot of good responses. On the other hand, there are some really good people who do get it that I will acknowledge in the next few posts.

The short answer, if you are wondering, is that the only real way to break through the “noise” is to concentrate your fire and use a multi-channel approach on the outbound that is coordinated, segmented, and integrated with your sales efforts. I will talk more about a multi-channel approach in subsequent posts.

On the in-bound side, you need to make sure that you build an online community that enables you to get your thought leadership and make sure your prospective audience can identify your differentiation. The new buyer paradigm “Google before Engagement” means that the potential buyers are doing research prior to engaging with your sales organization. If you are not found in their organic search results, the odds of hitting their buying window is small. Additionally, the likelyhood of catching their attention with outbound marketing messaging is also limited.

Online communities allow you to:

  • Galvenize your evangelism efforts
  • Coordinate your partner, employees, customers, etc to assist you in evangelizing
  • Provide a thought-leadership showcase for your differentiation and value proposition
  • Enable partners to assist in presenting a holistic solution
  • Provides a more engaging web experience for visitors to your website
  • Provides more behavioral information to identify “buyers” from “browsers”
  • Provides specific calls-to-action and credentialling for your outbound marketing vehicles
  • Provides an incredible amount of user generated content to feed/flood the search engines
  • Provide a centralized place to drive referrals and recommendations

Ok, so “I get it, but…”

There are plenty of objections, challenges, etc that I will review in the next couple of posts to assist you in understanding the role community should play in your new marketing playbook…

Bottom line is that the internet is evolving, the internet is changing marketing, changing sales, changing everything. Marketing’s role and focus within an organization must evolve to be relavent.

If done correctly, you should not only be able to keep pace in a down economy, but grow. You can’t score on defense….

zprhf3tmv6