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Choosing proper marketing metrics March 27, 2014

Posted by Mike Gospe in Marketing Operations, metrics.
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A common question from marketers: what metrics should we track? There’s a lot of confusion and time wasted spent on measuring (the wrong) metrics. Here’s a model to help simplify the process. (more…)

The temptations of new marketing technologies May 10, 2011

Posted by Mike Gospe in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Operations.
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Technological advancements will continue to offer new and innovative ways for people to communicate with each other and for marketers to streamline the business of marketing. However, if we aren’t careful, these innovations can become a distraction, causing us to take our eyes off of the customer. (more…)

Content & the Buying Process November 5, 2009

Posted by Mike Gospe in Integrated Marketing.
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Last week I attended the  TechTarget Online ROI Summit ’09 West.  For me, the highlights included a wonderful panel of CIOs providing insight and perspectives on a) how they search for information, and b) how their purchase decisions are made.  Also of interest was a Google/TechTarget Behavioral Research Project that mapped search terms to content types at each stage of the buying process.  I’ve paraphrased here three of the key take-aways, but you can find more detailed information on the TechTarget presentations here.

Mapping Content to the Buying Cycle

This graphic shows what content types are most valued at each phase in the buying process.

 
1) Marketers should review their campaigns and leverage title/topic, media type, and search by buying cycle results

 In other words, success with marketing campaigns is all about matching the right content to the right stage of the buying process.  The graphic illustrates the point.  The Google/TechTarget Research study confirmed that certain types of content are more valuable in certain stages of the buying cycle.   Makes sense.  However, I was a bit surprised to learn that CIOs and other decision makers are keenly interested in “Comparison Review” data — data provided by vendors or other sources that provide side-by-side solution comparisons.  I’ve always been a bit leery of this — after all, why should a vendor promote a competitor’s product?  However, the CIOs told us that they would like to see some honest comparisons by key vendors.  As was described to me by a CIO, “the IT team will ultimately discover the good/bad/ugly, so vendors can do themselves a favor by being straightforward and honest.”  Another CIO told me that if a vendor slams the competition or their assessment appears too heavily one-sided, they will discount the value/honesty of that assessment as well as the sponsoring vendor.  On the flip side, vendors who show integrity by showing a few blemishes gain credibility in his book.

 
2) “Top” placement doesn’t equal clicks — but page 1 of SERPS is key for campaigns

 

Bottom line here is that the #1 organic search link (and even the #1 paid search link) do not necessarily yield the highest traffic.  It appears that most searchers will peruse a few pages of search results.  However, the determination of what they click on is directly tied to the title/description of the searched item.  As an example, CIOs told us that they were more likely to click on a whitepaper with a solutions orientation (e.g. “CIO Strategies: How a Hosted Platform for Unified Communciations Could Save you Millions”) versus a branded whitepaper with a vague description (e.g. “Vendor X Strategies”).

 
3) Content targeted to the Consideration Phase gets most use across all buying cycle phases

 

Simply put, if your marketing resources are in short supply and you can only produce a few pieces of relevant content, aim for the considersation phase — as opposed to general awareness or final decision.  Assets targeting the consideration phase seem to get passed around the most during the buying process.

Want more info?  Check out these additional resources on content marketing:

Demystifying the Marcom Mix October 16, 2009

Posted by Mike Gospe in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Operations, Social Media.
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Marcom teams are moving so fast that we sometimes overlook how all of the  pieces fit together.  I’ve used variations of this graphic throughout my career to help align marketing teams as we explore, debate, and decide upon the optimum marcom mix.

How to read and use the graphic

As leads are generated and prospects are nurtured from "awareness" to "decision", this graphic maps the high-level marcom objectives to a few marcom activities and tactics.

As leads are generated and prospects are nurtured from "awareness" to "decision", this graphic maps the high-level marcom objectives to a few marcom activities and tactics.

The central marcom objectives are noted at the top.  Prospects will never buy anything from us if they don’t know who we are.  So, we must invest in building “awareness.”  Once they are aware of who we are and the value we provide, we can begin to encourage “preference” in our solutions.  As we nurture prospects and learn more about them and the problems they are interested in solving, we can then present alternatives and showcase our points of differentiation.  When prospects have collected information and are evaluating alternatives, that’s when we enter the “decision” stage and go for the close.  This is when most marketing teams drop the ball.  The process isn’t over; we want to encourage “repeat business”.  To do so, continuing the dialog and staying in touch is critical.

Programmatically, there are two types of  “master programs”, underneath which there will likely be many variations.  However, at the “master” level, we are either driving/developing new leads, or we are nurturing a prospect database or our own internal customer base.  It’s important to recognize that different tactics, messaging, and timing will apply.

The dark gray boxes represent a sampling of a number of marcom tactics that are being used today.  In general, these tactics work best when mapped to the appropriate marcom objective.  For example, using a PPC tactic to try to close a complex sale will likely not work very well.  But, as a way to garner some initial awareness and interest, that’s a helpful tactic.   The point here is to carefully select which tactics to use, and when, in order to achieve the maximum ROI for your marketing investment.

I share this graphic not as a defined concrete model, but as a flexible framework that can help you and your team explore marcom mix elements and discover/debate which ones you think will work best.  Understanding how all the pieces fit together is critical in being able to design a truly integrated marketing campaign.

For more information, check out these additional blog posts:
 

Adding video to the marcom mix September 22, 2009

Posted by Mike Gospe in Integrated Marketing, Social Media.
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Amanda Ferrante of the Demand Gen Report has a great article today entitled: Marketers Tapping Personalized Videos to Generate, Engage Leads. 

YouTube has been the video bulletin board for all kinds of random content.  Now, however, savvy marketers are figuring out how to add video into their marcom mix.  This fits perfectly into the marketing blueprint I shared in an earlier blog post.

Quoting directly from Amanda’s article:

“With the use of video, a solid connection can be made between the presenter and end-user and personalizes the communication while creating interaction,” says Ben Chodor, President of media software provider Stream57. “With video exposure, you are giving clients the opportunity to associate a name and a face with your company and creating a personal relationship.”

Video by itself is not “the magic bullet” that will ensure a successful marketing campaign.  However, this is another example of a piece of the integrated marketing mix.

Characteristics of Effective Campaign Managers September 21, 2009

Posted by Mike Gospe in Integrated Marketing, Just for Campaign Managers, Marketing Operations.
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“I’m looking to hire a campaign manager to oversee our integrated marketing programs. What are the characteristics of the best campaign managers?”

I get asked this question a lot. Earlier in my career, I worked as a campaign manager at HP, Sun, and Ariba , so I’ve seen the good, bad, and the ugly. I’ll be up front with you and say that I’ve made my share of mistakes along the way. That experience opened my eyes to the marraige of marketing expertise with an appreciation for internal politics.

The biggest challenge campaign managers have is that they have a purview over an integrated marketing campaign (aka the “big picture”) but no direct authority over the team players who will execute the campaign. They walk a tightrope between meeting the campaign goals while aligning and carefully guiding a team of folks who have other masters. With that in mind, the most effective campaign managers have these traits in common:

  • A recognized, well-rounded marketing leader familiar with the target market
  • Proven leadership experience in “managing by objective” Attentive to detail, but smart enough not to micro-manage
  • Diplomatic and politically savvy
  • Patient
  • A good facilitator, seasoned in active listening techniques
  • Excellent written and oral communicator (with the team, to upper management, and in front of the steering committee)
  • Knows when and how to provide constructive feedback in real time during team meetings; knows when and how to provide direct feedback in one-on-one settings
  • Is prepared to make hard decisions and trade-offs for the greater good of the campaign
  • Most of all, doesn’t let their ego get in the way of sound recommendations

There’s art and science in this role. The science comes from understanding sound marketing best practices. More important than understanding the specific products being sold, the best campaign managers bring an awareness and appreciation for the customer and their business problems and opportunities. While they usually won’t know all the answers, their expertise comes in knowing the right questions to ask the team in order to define, architect, and execute the best, most effective integrated marketing campaigns. That’s the art.

Looking for more information on integrated marketing campaigns? Please see Chapter 7 in Marketing Campaign Development.

Social Media & the Marcom Mix September 8, 2009

Posted by Mike Gospe in Integrated Marketing, Social Media.
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I have a hard cold truth for marketers: we are no longer in complete control of driving the lead funnel! 

As recently as a couple of years ago, marketers were.  The lead funnel was driven by our pushing messages out to our target audiences.  We controlled the message, the media, and the timing.  Social media has changed the dynamics.  People are finding out about our companies and products before they even get on our radar screen.  Some sources even estimate that 90% of the customer’s buying process takes place without the aid of a sales rep!  This has huge implications for our marcom mix.

The upshot: we must help our companies become “findable” in a marketing landscape we no longer control.

Being “findable” is not just about having a decent website.  It’s about having relevant, meaningful content available that addresses the topics buyers are interested in.  And, it’s about having this content posted in places where buyers look.  In fact, we shouldn’t be talking about social media as if it were another marketing silo.  Instead, we should focus on “content marketing” — providing information and experiences that buyers are looking for.  More than that, we can better establish and nurture a dialog with a prospect if we think about how to provide meaningful content that can be:

  • Captured = easy-to-read content posted in a friendly format that can be cut-n-pasted and downloaded, and . . .
  • Stored = easy to tag, sort, and file in electronic or printed format
  • Forwarded = easy to pass-along and share with others, both formally (i.e. cut-n-pasted into a presentation) and informally (i.e. sharing a link via Twitter)
  • Repurposed = content that can be annotated and adapted by the reader to fit their unique decision-making process

Including Social Media in a Marketing Blueprint

Integrating social media in the marcom mix

Integrating social media in the marcom mix

Today’s lead gen programs can produce higher ROI if they combine elements of both traditional “push” marketing (where you control the message) and “pull” marketing (where we offer information on non-corporate sites and we  listen to and monitor the discussion around us).  The example shown in the above illustration is based on a real marketing blueprint being executed today by a local hi-tech company.

There’s more to the story, of course.  But this gives you a flavor on how and where social media is being used to complement traditional outbound marketing activities.   How will all this play out?  I’ll let you know when the campaign concludes in November!

How are you using social media?  I’d love to hear your stories.

How well is your marketing team performing? July 7, 2009

Posted by Mike Gospe in Integrated Marketing, Marketing Operations.
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As businesses gear up for the fall quarter, it is timely to take a few moments to revisit past marketing communications programs and evaluate their success.    But, the last thing you want in an audit is a “marketing free-for-all blame game.”  Instead, use this simple 2×2 matrix to help you capture and align the issues.

Audit TemplateDepending on your need, you may want to hire an outside expert to work with you to perform an unbiased audit.  Or, you might be interested in holding your own half-day team offsite.  Either way, here is a structure that I have found works great to capture, categorize, and then prioritize actions.

An effective 360 degree audit will look at the following:

  • Plans: The current plans and programs (with scrutiny and focus on the marketing objectives and program blueprints).
  • Processes: The internal processes for capturing and distributing leads (with a review of any CRM and marketing automation tools you are using).
  • People: A review of the marketing skills your team possesses and those they lack, as well as what skills you are outsourcing.

As you review these 3 dimensions, categorize your findings in one of 4 groupings:

  1. Turn-around
  2. Re-alignment
  3. Start-up
  4. Sustain

An example audit is shown in the attached graphic.  During a half-day offsite, the marketing leadership team performed a frank assessment and prioritized the insights which are captured in the graphic.  Action items were then identified and assigned to owners.  The team will be reconvening next month to update each other on the progress and confirm the metrics and measurement for a successfull Q3 and Q4.

Consider performing your own 360 degree audit and let me know how this technique works for you.  For questions or tips on how to structure the most effective “working session” offsite, feel free to email me at mikeg@kickstartall.com or post your comments on this blog.

Mechanics of a Lead Gen Blueprint June 16, 2009

Posted by Mike Gospe in Integrated Marketing.
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Lead gen blueprints come in all shapes and sizes.  However, there are common best practices that continually and consistently work well together.  In my latest article, “Mechanics of a Lead Generation Blueprint” (as posted in the June KickStart Alliance enewsletter) I’ve highlighted aspects of both “push” and “pull” marketing activities and how they work well together to nurture prospects through the lead funnel.

This particular blueprint is centered around an upcoming webinar.  Quite often, marketers focus on a single event (like a webinar) without considering all the valuable pre- and post-webinar marketing activities and offers required to maximize the number of qualified leads surrounding this event.  Marketing is not about a singular event or activity.  Marketing is a process that must be nurtured to drive the best results.

Have a look at the blueprint and feel free to shoot me questions and comments.  I’ll continue to post various examples of other lead generation blueprints in the future.

Mapping the marcom mix to the lead funnel June 2, 2009

Posted by Mike Gospe in Integrated Marketing.
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This “best practice” comes from Carol Hague.  Carol is an experienced integrated marketing campaign manager and offers a helpful approach to mapping marcom activities and content appropriately to the lead funnel. 

Mapping the Marketing Mix to the Lead Funnel

She and I collaborated on this graphic and share it as a powerful reference tool for B2B marketers everywhere.  This is by no means a comprehensive list of available activities and content types, but it is enough to help guide teams as they draft their marketing blueprints.

I offer this graphic as a companion tool to the marketing blueprint examples you can find elsewhere on this blog and in my book, Marketing Campaign Development.

What suggestions do you have to make this tool/graphic even stronger?