Integrated Marketing vs “Marketing Popcorn” October 20, 2014Posted by Mike Gospe in Integrated Marketing, Just for Campaign Managers, Leadership, Marketing Persona.
Tags: B2B persona, bluepirnts, Integrated Marketing, Marketing Persona, marketing popcorn, marketing strategy, personas, strategic marketing, strategy
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I have a pet peeve, and it’s marketing popcorn. No, not the marketing of popcorn. “Marketing popcorn.” This is the exact opposite of truly effective integrated marketing. (more…)
The confusion surrounding the word “campaign” July 20, 2010Posted by Mike Gospe in Integrated Marketing, Just for Campaign Managers, Lead Gen, Marketing Operations.
Tags: campaign managers, Integrated Marketing, lead funnel, marketing strategy, strategy
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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:
- Create a marketing glossary, defining key words like Campaigns, Programs, Activities, and Offers.
- 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.)
- 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.
My favorite guerilla lead gen program aimed at CEOs July 15, 2010Posted by Mike Gospe in Integrated Marketing, Lead Gen.
Tags: activities & offers, direct marketing, Lead Generation, marketing blueprints, marketing strategy, strategy, thought leadership
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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!
Tags: go-to-market, Integrated Marketing, marketing best practices, marketing plan, planning, strategy
Lately, I’ve been asked for recommendations for a streamlined go-to-market plan template. This is a great request because I continue to see a lot of marketing teams get wrapped around the axle of a “10-step marketing plan” or some other beastly exercise. Now, please don’t mis-understand me: marketing planning is a serious, critical, and worthwhile exercise. Comprehensive planning exercises can be of great value. Yet, sometimes, a short-cut is needed.
Here’s the punch line:
Table of Contents for a Streamlined Integrated Marketing Plan
- Marketing strategy overview
- Marketing objectives (With focus on the next 6 months)
- Target market prioritization (Prioritizing where the pro-active marketing investment will be)
- Personas (Creating an illustration of target buyers that we can empathize with)
- Positioning statement (Articulating our value and why we’re better than competing alternatives)
- Core messaging via “The Message Box” (Crafting our story/elevator pitch)
- Identifying key content (Listing & prioritizing resources and deliverables that prospects will value)
- Marketing blueprint(s) (A flow chart of lead-gen activities and offers to engage prospects)
- Campaign calendar (A roadmap to guide execution)
- Budget estimate (For execution of identified blueprints)
Looking for more info? Readers of the book can now download a ** new! ** PDF of a streamlined marketing plan (visit the Marketing Campaign Development download page), complete with additional examples of personas, positioning statements, message box, and blueprints. I share this for illustration purposes only. Your mileage will differ, as the saying goes.
A CAB agenda to engage customers April 21, 2010Posted by Mike Gospe in Customer Advisory Boards.
Tags: CAB, CABs, Customer Advisory Board, Customer Advisory Boards, Customer Council, marketing best practices, strategy
Lately, I’ve received many calls from executives looking to start up a customer advisory board program for their company. Inaugural CAB meetings are especially important because it marks the first opportunity to not only introduce your CAB program, but to also put your best foot forward and make a good impression.
I’ve been running CAB programs for clients for 10 years, and I have played with a variety of agenda models. For running a first CAB meeting, I’ve found the following type of agenda to be the most effective. (Other agenda models are used for successive CAB meetings.) This article concludes with 3 rules for your CAB agenda.
- Afternoon arrival
- Informal event (golf, tour of customer facility, etc) — optional
- Informal dinner
(Use this time to make introductions so you don’t have to spend agenda time on this on the following day)
- 7:30 am – breakfast
- 8:30 – Welcome and CAB overview
- 8:45 – Discussion topic #1 (i.e. how customers see their world)
- 10:15 – Break
- 10:30 – Host company overview (a la a “fireside chat” works best, not a corporate pitch)
- 11:00 – Discussion topic #2 (i.e. an investigation of possible investment opportunities)
- 12:00 – Lunch
- 1:00 – Discussion topic #3 (i.e. a timely “hot topic” as defined by customers)
- 2:15 – Break
- 2:30 – Customer prioritization (i.e. a ranking of the most important issues and opportunities raised today; how would customers like the host company to spend their money?)
- 2:45 – Closing comments
- 3:00 – Adjourn
WHY THIS AGENDA WORKS . . .
Rule 1: the agenda is all about the customer, not the host company!
Customers attend CAB meetings because they are eager to network with their peers and to discuss key drivers, trends, and issues that shape their business. Executives have few opportunities to do this, and vendors who take the time to build an agenda around customer-facing issues will be rewarded with high attendance. With that said, customers want to talk. They don’t want to be lectured.
Discussion topic #1 should be focused squarely on the customer. What are the trends shaping their business? What do they care about? What keeps them up at night? Share a slide summarizing recent trends or analyst predictions. Ask the customers to respond to them. Do they see the world as analysts and press describe? Or, do they see something different?
Company overview: Since this is the first CAB meeting, it is safe to assume that the attending customers may not share a common appreciation to the value offered by the host company. Customers also appreciate having some one-on-one time with the CEO. Have the CEO provide a 20 minute “fireside chat” company overview. This is a presentation with only a few slides (3-4!) where the CEO talks about how he/she sees the industry growing/changing and how the company relates.
Topics #2 and #3 will be specific to each company. However, they usually encompass an exploration of potential new investment/service/product offerings. While it is NOT appropriate to focus on specific tactical features, it is appropriate to ask customers how they view and prioritize various problem statements that the host company might choose to address with new product/service options.
Customer prioritization: Imagine a meeting room surrounded by annotated flip chart sheets taped to the walls. A lot of information and ideas have been covered. If we leave the meeting now, the host company may have trouble separating out the most important opportunities. Conclude the meeting with a prioritization and ranking discussion with the customers. Of all the ideas covered, how would they like the host company to spend their money?
Rule 2: allowing time for “aha!” moments
As good as our agenda is (and it is very good!), often times the most interesting “aha” moments come during the breaks and over lunch. That’s why lunch is never a working meeting.
Rule 3: An agenda that respects the customers’ time
Why does the agenda end at 3 pm? Shouldn’t we go until 6 pm or even extend another day? Good questions. Answer: no. The higher the seniority of the attending customers, they less time they have in their schedules to offer you. There is nothing worse than having one or two customers leave in the middle of a discussion to catch a plane. It’s disruptive and awkward for the remaining customers who will then start looking at their watches.
For the first showing, have the meeting end at 3 pm so their is ample time for them to catch a flight back home. The best feedback I’ve received in many of my CAB evaluation forms is, “I wish we had more time!” Always leave them wanting more. This is a testament to an engaging agenda that customers want to participate in. This is also an open invitation for marketing and sales folks to follow-up with CAB members to continue the dialog long after the CAB meeting has adjourned.
These are just a few tips for setting up a world-class inaugural CAB agenda. For more information, or to ask a question, please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more on CABs, check out my CAB Resources blog post.
Features versus Benefits December 10, 2009Posted by Mike Gospe in Integrated Marketing, Positioning.
Tags: Integrated Marketing, Marketing Persona, positioning statement, strategy
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A common mistake made by many marketers is the confusion between features and benefits. When developing a positioning statement, one of the key ingredients is in identifying the most compelling benefit relevant to the target audience or persona. Features are related to product attributes: it comes in blue; it’s round; it prints 3 pages per minute. Benefits answer the “so what?” question. Benefit statement may be about saving time, improving productivity, achieving higher levels of measureable success.
Here are five criteria that can help you articulate a good, meaningful benefit. Failure to meet any of these criteria should challenge you to rethink your options.
1) Is the benefit singular and specific?
Many marketers try to “be all things to all people” and in doing so, they confuse the marketplace. It’s better to be focused.
2) Is it relevant?
Just because a benefit is true to you (the manufacturer), it may not be relevant to the target audience. Challenge your assumptions.
3) Is it sustainable?
Is this something you can claim for very long? A benefit related to speed and productivity is only valid until the competition does it faster.
4) Is it believable?
Will the target audience believe your company’s ability to deliver the benefit? How does this compare against current perceptions about your company?
5) Is it substantiable?
Avoid producing marketing hype. Make sure you have data and evidence to support any claims you make.
Content & the Buying Process November 5, 2009Posted by Mike Gospe in Integrated Marketing.
Tags: Content, content marketing, Integrated Marketing, Lead Generation, marcom mix, marketing best practices, marketing blueprints, Marketing Campaigns, marketing strategy, strategy
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.
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.
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”).
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:
Your “Customer Advisory Board” (CAB) Resource Center October 26, 2009Posted by Mike Gospe in Customer Advisory Boards.
Tags: CAB, CABs, Customer Advisory Board, Customer Advisory Boards, Customer Council, Integrated Marketing, marketing programs, marketing strategy, strategy, thought leadership
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The Dow is flirting around 14,000 and many expect signs of recovery to continue to blossom in 2013. Kicking off or rejuvinating your company’s CAB (or Customer Advisory Council – CAC) program is an excellent way to strengthen customer loyalty and ensure you are on the right (roadmap) track for 2013 and beyond.
I’ve been facilitating CABs and other executive summits and offsites for more than 10 years. Here is a collection of articles that offer insights, tips, and best practices that will help optimize your program and build stronger executive relationships.
- Are you getting strategic insight from your best customers?
Customer Advisory Boards help you validate and refine your product direction
- What Came First, the CAB or the Executive Relationship?
- CAB or no CAB? That is the question
- A CAB Agenda to Engage Customers
- A Tale of 2 CABs: Feedback from the Front Lines
- How Three Collaboration Trends are Reshaping Marketing
- Customer Advisory Boards: Frequently Asked Questions
- Expect More Out of Meetings: Professional facilitators can keep your meetings focused and productive
- Anatomy of a Successful CAB