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5 Marketing Best Practices Used by Marketo August 28, 2014

Posted by Mike Gospe in Integrated Marketing, Lead Gen.
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In early 2013, Mary Gospe, KickStart Alliance’s lead generation and integrated marketing strategist, ran a blog post about 5 best practices used by Marketo to promote themselves. Because this topic continues to be relevant, I wanted to replay that blog post here.  Good stuff to consider in any marketing campaign. (more…)

Communications Objectives and the Buying and Sales Processes September 14, 2010

Posted by Mike Gospe in Integrated Marketing, Just for Campaign Managers, Lead Gen, Marketing Operations.
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How does our marketing communications objectives fit against the customer’s buying process or our selling process?  This is a weighty question that can be tough to decipher.  Here’s a handy overview with respect the selling into the B2B technology market.

An overlay of communications objectives to the corresponding stages of the customer's buying process and a company's sales process. Although generic, this graphic provides some relevant context for marketers selling to B2B.

I titled this graphic “Mapping Customer Perception” because that is our goal, ultimately.  Marketers strive to influence how prospective customers think.  To do that, we need to understand how and when to guide them.  First, they must be aware of who we are and the solutions we offer.  Then we want to hook them and engage them as they become interested.  Next, we need to build understanding and become a credible source of information.  And, finally, we want to entice them to take action and purchase our products and services.

In an ideal world those communications objectives would map directly to the B2B Technology Customer Buying Process.  For example, the best time to hit the prospect is early in their buying process, when they are doing an operational analysis or building their budget during the investment planning phase.  Once we’ve got their attention, we want to provide relevant content throughout the purchasing cycle.  If we can guide the outline of the RFP we stand a better chance of winning the deal.

Next, let’s overlay both those processes with the ideal  B2B selling process.  It’s no coincidence that the sales process is a reciprocal of the buying process: the sales rep wants to identify and qualify opportunities as early as possible.  They want to work with the prospect as they are establishing their needs in order to determine if there is a potential fit.  Reaching the “go, no-go” decision point prior to generating a proposal is preferred so that time isn’t wasted.   Sales will negotiate with prospects as they are selecting and making a final purchase decision.  The sales process doesn’t end there.  While the solution is being implemented, the able-minded sales rep will be following-up and conducting account management duties, all the while looking for opportunities to engage the next sales cycle.

If life were simple, these three processes would overlay nicely.  But life is like a Rubik’s Cube.  Each of these processes are not static, and they don’t always start at the same point in time.  That is why marketing is an ongoing processes, constantly creating awareness and offering opportunities for the prospect to raise their hand and engage us on their terms.  When they are ready.

Have ideas on how to make this graphic better? Let me know.  I welcome your input and feedback.

The confusion surrounding the word “campaign” July 20, 2010

Posted by Mike Gospe in Integrated Marketing, Just for Campaign Managers, Lead Gen, Marketing Operations.
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I often ask marketers to tell me about the integrated marketing campaigns they are running.  Here are a few common responses:

  • We’ve been running a Google Adwords campaign for the past 2 years.
  • We’ve got a new PR campaign kicking off next week.
  • Our print advertising campaign has been reduced to 3 insertions due to budge cuts.

These answers highlight a common misunderstanding of the word “campaign.”  Is the “campaign” a singular tactic?  Or, is it something more?   Are there lots of campaigns, or only a few?  When it comes to integrated marketing, there are strategic as well as tactical connotations concerning this key word.  When the context of the word “campaign” is misunderstood, it can lead to some heartburn.

The strategic “Campaign”

If I were to use a military analogy, the general would direct his troops in a Campaign (with a big “C”).  “Troops!” he’d say, “I want you to take that hill.  Figure out how we can do it.”  In this context, the strategic implication is regarding a central objective — a major initiative; a big deal with a lot at stake.  To achieve the objective a variety of tools and actions need to be coordinated and executed.  All of the activities and actions ultimately add up to accomplishing this central objective. Overlaying our marketing framework to this analogy, our integrated marketing “Campaigns” are driven by key sales and marketing objectives, such as capturing market share, squashing a competitor, establishing a foothold in a new market. The marketing activities and offers are then coordinated and timed so they reflect a common/consistent set of messaging that engages prospects in the desired dialog as they move through our sales process.

The tactical “campaign”

Unfortunately, to complicate matters, marketing automation tools like Eloqua and Marketo use a more tactical definition for the word “campaign” (small “c”).  So does Salesforce.com. In fact, Google Adwords can be mapped as a “campaign” into these, and other tools.  This is unfortunate because it may suggest to some that isolated, random tactics can be effective without understanding their role in the larger marcom mix (i.e. the strategic “Campaign”).  When marketers fall into the trap of silo’d thinking, we lose sight of the larger Campaign.  Tools like Eloqua and Salesforce.com are incredibly important to our marketing efforts — but they are tools to help us execute the tactics, not for driving strategy.

To avoid unnecessary confusion, here are a few tips:

  1. Create a marketing glossary, defining key words like Campaigns, Programs, Activities, and Offers.
  2. In practical terms, the use of the word “campaign” (small “c”) will continue to be used in Eloqua, Salesforce.com, etc.  We can’t change that.  So, when speaking with executive management regarding  the big picture, use the word “Campaign” in the strategic sense.  Don’t confuse it by including the word “campaign” as a tactical element.  (In other words, if you tell your CEO you’re running a Google Adwords “campaign”, you’ll likely confuse her.  She thought the “Campaign” as about squashing competitor X.)
  3. The reverse is true when communicating to the rank and file.  In the context of Eloqua or Salesforce.com, it is appropriate to use the “campaign” (small “c”) word in a tactical sense.  However, make sure to acknowledge how each “campaign” adds up to reach the “Campaign” (big “C”) objective.

It can be a bit tricky, but it’s nothing marketers can’t handle.  After all, we’re messaging experts.

Aligning Sales & Marketing With the Lead Flow Process July 19, 2010

Posted by Mike Gospe in Integrated Marketing, Lead Gen, Marketing Operations.
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Ever been in the middle of the following heated dialog between the VPs of sales and marketing?

“Marketing sends us lousy leads!”
“The leads are fine!  The problem is that Sales can’t close!”

These statements are symptomatic of one or more areas of dysfunction between sales and marketing.  The three most common alignment problems are ambiguity, finger pointing and ignoring reality.  Janet Gregory, a veteran sales leader, wrote a wonderful article on how to identify the warning signs and what can be done to foster tighter alignment.

How have you been successful in aligning marketing and sales?  I invite you to share your stories.

My favorite guerilla lead gen program aimed at CEOs July 15, 2010

Posted by Mike Gospe in Integrated Marketing, Lead Gen.
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One of my most favorite lead gen programs I worked on was about 10 years ago when I was VP of marketing for a knowledge management start-up.  This was during the early days of online search.  Using today’s terms, we offered a software-as-a-service (SaaS) product/service that allowed users to get immediate answers to their questions. What was unique at the time was that our engine was very advanced and would offer up correct and relevant answers as opposed to a laundry list of links.

Since we were a start-up, our marketing budget was non-existent.  Our objective was to seed our sales pipeline quickly with a dozen well-qualified, brand name customers that we could eventually use as public references. Our only choice was to approach this project as a guerilla (see Jay Levinson’s many books on Guerilla Marketing).  So, we got creative.

  • We built our own list of target companies. We carefully matched our product strategy with a prioritized set of target segments.  Rather than blanketing all potential audiences, we produced a list 500 target companies. We needed wins quickly, and we felt we had a good story to tell.  So, with a laser-focused ambition, we set our sites and did not waiver from them.

  • We researched each company to confirm the name of their CEO and to obtain his/her email address and an issue they were facing that was relevant to our product. How did we do this?  We were blessed to have one of the most savvy executive admins around.  She called into each company and navigated to her counterpart – the CEO’s executive admin.  Calling on behalf of our CEO, she explained that we wanted to share some information that her CEO would find interesting, based on an issue his/her company was wresting with, as noted in the news, their website, etc.  She asked for his direct email address so she could send our information on behalf of our CEO.  (This approached worked exceptionally well for several reasons: this was not a telemarketing call — it was exec admin to exec admin; we were not selling anything; we were honest, forthright, and polite.  To our delight, we captured and verified 80% of the CEO email addresses this way.)
  • We created a standard email for this program, then tailored it for each CEO. Our email (ghost written for our CEO) was one paragraph in length and included a mocked-up screen shot of how our product would look on the target’s website, under their brand.  So, while the data in the screen shot was bogus, their company logo, homepage design was obvious.  Several energetic souls in our support team built these screen shots for us.
  • The call to action was personalized by our CEO. It may seem ironic, but our goal was not to sell our product.  At least not at first.  Instead, the text of the email illustrated our idea/value proposition.  We showed the mocked-up screenshot to show how our product/service might look on their home page.  Using regular language (not jargon or energized marketing-speak), we asked them if they thought this was a crazy idea.  In closing, we asked them to contact our CEO to provide us with some feedback.  The telephone number we provided was to a new line that that marketing team would answer as if we were the CEO’s office.
  • We created a separate email mailbox for our CEO and distributed these emails from that account. Twenty emails were developed and dropped each week.  (Remember, we had no budget to outsource any of this work.)  It took time to tailor each email, but we didn’t want to wait for all 500 to be ready.  Also, by staggering the drop, we could learn how effective we were being by watching our response rates.

We successfully ran the program for 6 weeks before we claimed victory.  We received a 12% response rate and won audiences with a number of brand-name customers.  My personal favorite was an email response we received from Michael Eisner (then the head of Disney) who directed us to follow-up with his VPs of marketing and support.  Everyone was copied on his response; the skids had been greased; we were in business!

Have a creative lead gen story to share?  I’d love to hear it!