In the fourth of a series of Thought Leader interviews for MarketingSherpa's 6th Annual B2B Marketing Summit 2009
, we talk to Richard Fouts, research director at Gartner, Inc., an information technology research and advisory company. Fouts presented yesterday in Boston.
Mike: You're presenting on the use of social media in communications. (I'm assuming you are talking Marcom?) I've noticed lately that if you have the right media contacts connected with you on Twitter and Linkedin, you can almost get your word out through those channels as opposed to the standard techniques. Are traditional media outlets dying?
Richard: It's not just marcom, rather all communications ... corporate communications, employee communications, PR, and investor communications. But to answer your question: If I had a dollar for every time someone predicted the death of traditional media -- for example, print -- I'd be rich. Michael, do you know the invention of the bicycle actually predicted the death of the book industry? Yes indeed, one view is that we'd all be riding our bicycles instead of reading books. There's no question that as dollars move toward electronic media, they move away from traditional media at the same pace. But things go in cycles. Amazon still sells plenty of books, and BW, Harvard Business Review, and the Economist still sell lots of magazines and journals (especially when they do special editions on things like social computing). I tell clients all the time, "There's a lot less noise in print right now ... and the rates are lower. So you'll actually get higher ROI in print today than you did before -- due to less noise, and less competition for eyeballs, at lower cost." Besides, we all know from experience that the best campaigns engage prospects over time, with multiple media. And from what I can see, traditional media outlets aren't dying, but they are adapting. Every television commercial for IBM tells you to go to their web site. The web site shows their TV ads ... or tells you to watch for their ad campaign on television, or to watch for them at an upcoming trade show. PR is being aggressive in its use of social media in their traditional reputation management services. Many events in the physical world, like meetups and house parties, start with Twitter. It's old media meets new media - not a question of what's surviving and what's dying - rather how things are evolving, converging, and maturing.
Mike: Blogging seems to be the communications platform of the future. In fact, our new site's press section will basically be a blog. Our focus with blogging, though, is to spread prolific content about demand gen and appointment setting
. It brings value to our readers and credits for SEO. Are there other benefits?
Richard: Sure, there are a range of benefits to blogging that inform all phases of what we at Gartner call the marketing activity cycle. New media and Web 2.0 are changing everything, but the fundamentals of marketing haven't changed. You still need to study and research the market, develop products, plan, execute, communicate, and evaluate. Blogging, like many social and professional interaction platforms, informs all of these phases, not just the communication phase. For example, blogs help us solicit input about new products ... and they help marketers and salespeople have conversations, not just engage in one-way messaging. Press sections today don't have mechanisms for people to respond to a press release, to ask questions. By making your press room a blog, you open up robust and informational conversations, not just one way messaging that ends in a vacuum. You're able to make more informed decisions. You reduce the guesswork because you know more .. and you know it faster.
Mike: What should we look out for when combining social media and communications?
Richard: Look out for "herding cats syndrome" because as a communications professional, you'll never herd all the cats who are wandering around the great social media chessboard. You need to accept the fact that you're relinquishing control, at least the kind you've become accustomed to. This is the toughest thing for communications people to hear. Their entire discipline has been turned upside down because they no longer create and shoot one-way messages to stakeholders. And they aren't the only originators of the message. Dell for example, woke up one day to a crisis situation due to an angry blogger named Jeff Jarvis, who lambasted Dell for its lousy customer service. Within hours, boatloads of consumers sympathetic to Jarvis' arguments posted comments on his blog as well as their own, creating a firestorm of negativity through the blogosphere. It took awhile, but Dell executives finally joined the online conversation and began to slowly rebuild the company's tarnished image. Dell learned a valuable lesson from this experience. It launched its own blog and put it to good use when another potential crisis erupted - that it nipped in the bud -- over a battery recall. Dell's chief blogger, Lionel Menchaca, addressed the issue in a straightforward, no-nonsense manner and let customers freely comment. Later, Michael Dell launched IdeaStorm.com and begged customers to give his company advice (and he still gets plenty of it, which he welcomes with open arms). The proof is in the pudding: metrics show that Dell's customer service rating has risen significantly. So the message is, don't try to herd the cats -- become part of the movement. In some cases you may even feel like you're part of the chaos, part of the noise, but you need to just go with it. Let it play out. Transparency is everything these days, and if you fight it, you're done. PR people learned this long ago when they realized the words "no comment" would brew even more suspicion.
Mike: If you had just 5 minutes with someone and they asked you for the takeaways from your presentation, what would they be?
Richard: The chief takeaway is simple: Don't forget the fundamentals of marketing in your desire to understand social media and its game changing, revolutionary qualities. Sure, social media changes everything but there's no substitute for good marketing. You still need to respond to the gaps in the market and exploit your competitors' weaknesses. And social media can help. But you can't wait. You need to join the movement, make some mistakes, learn from them, and go on. This isn't one of those "wait and see" things where you think you can let other people make mistakes for you, then join in with the perfect plan. You need to experiment, you need to engage in the conversation, learn the beauty of crowdsourcing, tweeting, blogging, and listening to your Facebook fans, both the good and the bad. Customers don't want you to market to them, they want you to market with them.
Mike: OK, last question, the B2B Marketing Thought Leaders Curry Poll
. Do you prefer red, yellow or green curry?
Richard: That's easy: Green
Another of the speakers at MarketingSherpa's 6th Annual B2B Marketing Summit 2009
is Aaron Dun, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Ness Technologies
, a global IT services provider. This is the third in a series of Thought Leader Interviews for Marketing Sherpa.
Mike: Aaron, you're speaking at MarketingSherpa about "How to Build a Program -- When Every Dollar Counts Twice." It seems to not only be about the dollars, but about the resources. What would you share with those one-person marketing departments that are out there?
Aaron: Run, fast? Just kidding, of course. I think oftentimes the resource issue is wildly overlooked. You have to be realistic about what you can do with the team that you have available to you, whether it's 10 people or just one person. At a previous company, we expected to be able to knock out a regular set of campaigns in a given quarter, but instead it took all of our energy to roll out two. That was the effective maximum capability that we had and we need to acknowledge and plan for that.
As for specific advice, I would offer the following:
- Surround yourself with a great network of freelancers and partners. Have at least one go-to person for each discipline, cultivate them and bring them into your planning process as if they are on your team. If they have visibility into your strategy and can do consistent work for you, they will be that much more effective. The sad reality of the recent downturn is there are some fantastic resources working as freelancers or striking out on their own. (To be clear however, this isn't "good talent on sale!")
- Maximize everything you are doing. If you write a whitepaper, what are you going to do with it? Have a strategy to get the maximum value of that asset from posting it on your site, in your social communities, syndicating it out, etc.
- Be ruthless in your measurement. If you don't know if something is working or not, figure out how to measure it or stop doing it. (and yes, you CAN measure PR! )
Mike: Some companies are still acting as if they are in economic crisis mode. We're all doing more for less. What can a frugal marketer say or do for their management teams that can free up the much-needed budgets?
Aaron: Paralysis works both ways, unfortunately. But I think the answer lies in the maturity of the organization. If you have been running a strong program and have a good foundation, come to the table with a strong idea that takes advantage of either a market opportunity, a competitor's sudden weakness, or a unique opportunity that wasn't there before. Link the activity to a business outcome you have successfully driven before.
Conversely, if your marketing organization is less mature, you have to show how inaction is delaying opportunity. In this case, it takes a certain amount of time to ramp up the machine and turn marketing efforts into business opportunities. The longer you wait, the longer the payoff takes to kick in.
But the same rigor on metrics applies. Propose something as a Proof-of-Concept first. Rather than suggesting a three-webinar series for $100k, show how you negotiated a pilot for just $15k with an option for future campaigns and articulate the expected value and the steps you are going to take to achieve the goal. Most importantly though, pull the plug if it doesn't work. Willingness to walk away from an idea gone wrong will show that you will spend money wisely and can be trusted with the company's money.
Lastly, think like the CFO. The CFO has many choices for spending your budget. They can invest that money in marketing, or they can invest it in something else or the market. If you show that you can drive a business return with their investment in your budget, they will be more likely to invest more.
Mike: Social Media. It seems to be all the buzz. It also seems to be an inexpensive way to pull off some effective marketing. What are your thoughts here?
Aaron: Yes and no. If you have a consumer product, it's interesting of course. But on the B2B side the value prop is a bit less clear still. I wrote about this issue a bit on my blog. I was one of the early B2B brands advertising on LinkedIn when they launched their advertising platform. We were targeting senior marketing folks and their segmentation capability is pretty amazing. But you always have to ask yourself even if they are on the platform, are they there to engage with you? Or are they there for some other purpose?
You also need to consider your internal audience. It's not a stretch to say that many senior executives are not entirely clear on what social media can do for the organization. I have a hard enough time getting budget and bandwidth for the things I know are going to drive business, I am not sure that I want to hinge my program on the channel today.
But you clearly have to be in the game. Our strategy is to be fast followers. We are dabbling in our "20% innovation time" (to borrow Google's term) to build our presence and test. We are looking to use the channel to "get outside the four walls of our web site," so to speak. I personally went from 0 to 60 on Twitter in just 36 hours at a conference a few months ago; clearly others have as well. With that comes opportunity, but as a B2B service, we can afford to wait and see how things develop.
Mike: So, for a takeaway as it pertains to b2b demand gen, the ultimate goal is putting a prospect in the hands of a sales rep. What programs are you hot on right now? Inbound Marketing? Outbound Marketing? Qualified Lead Gen? Appointment Setting? Web Events? Social Media?
Aaron: This might sound a little strange but my answer is all of the above. While our campaigns tend to be led or focused on a particular tactic, we are trying to run truly "interactive campaigns" that encompass as many channels as possible around a particular theme. This year we set out to do just three themes. We have done single-threaded activities around meeting setting or email or web campaigns, but we prefer to mix together the right set of activities to achieve the desired result.
This has a couple of advantages. First it de-risks your efforts. If you run a meeting-setting campaign and you miss your target, you missed. But if you run an email campaign on a topic, back that up with a web event and layer in your meeting-setting effort against the respondents and previously warm contacts -- you then measure the campaign on the aggregate. If one area falters the others will pick it up. Surely, you need to measure the individual activities and understand any failures, but at least your whole campaign didn't tank.
Second, by committing a series of activities around a particular concept or theme, you can gain economies of scale around your efforts and tell a more complete story. Hosting a web event gives your telesales team another hook to the message, more punch to your web efforts, a boost for your syndication campaign, more assets to drive up SEO hits or run PPC campaigns against, etc. So while they take a bit more effort and at times, budget, when you have limited resources it's far better to multiply those any way you can.
Mike: Last question, it's the B2B Thought Leaders Curry Poll. Do you like Red, Green or Yellow Curry?
Aaron: Sorry to disappoint. As my daughter says, "Don't yuck my yum" so let's just say that Curry is not my favorite!
This past week was the first in a series of two great conferences, the MarketingSherpa's 6th Annual B2B Marketing Summit 2009 in San Francisco. Next week, Oct. 5 and 6, will be the Boston summit. Find me there and say hello.
We published the Top 20 tweets of each day of the conference here:
MarketingSherpa Marketing Summit, Top 20 Posts from Day 1
MarketingSherpa Marketing Summit, Top 20 Posts from Day 2
One of the speakers was Kim Albee, President of Genoo, a provider of online marketing tools. Her presentation about using LinkedIn successfully to generate leads was popular with the audience. Here is the second in a series of Thought Leader Interviews for MarketingSherpa.
Mike: Kim, I've been to four conferences since May and at all four the topic du jour was Social Media, so be ready for a great session! If you just had one slide to present, what would be on it?
Kim: I agree that social media has been the hot topic. We run a microsite, B2B Online Marketing Pros, for our B2B Online Marketing group on LinkedIn. We cover a different subject matter on the microsite every few months and social media garnered one of our best click-through rates for email sent to the group. If I had just one slide to present, it would talk about where social media fits in with all the marketing channels: Websites, blogs, and microsites, to podcasts, slideshare, video, email marketing, LinkedIn, Facebook, Public Relations, direct mail, and other efforts. They can all work together. The more you're out there and making friends in the social realm, the more you're able to get the word out to a broad audience. For example, we just launched Genoo into public release. We've been in beta for a little over a year, and we just announced it. We issued a press release, and we've gotten some great blog posts as well as Tweets - to both the blog posts, as well as the press release. When we looked at the statistics, we had 10 different people tweet about our launch to a total Twitter following of 40,013 people. Of those, about 10,471 are fairly well-targeted into our niche of B2B marketing. That's generated a good amount of traffic and leads.
Mike: I still wonder about b2b Facebook Fan Pages as a medium for generating leads, but I agree with you that twitter and LinkedIn are an incredible source.
As it pertains to a b2b company with big-ticket items and long sales cycles, what areas are you seeing some immediate value with from both an online community and a social media perspective?
Kim: When you've got a long sales cycle, you've got to keep building the relationship and trust with your leads by delivering them information they value - that means information that's relevant to them and explains the issues you can help them resolve. If you do good follow-up or lead nurturing, then studies show that you can keep and close more leads. No matter what technology you utilize -- Twitter, blogs, community participation, marketing automation tools, etc - if what you're saying is not relevant for your target audience, the technology won't make a difference. The technology is only an enabler - the content is the ticket. Having said that, I'm seeing a lot of value from using a combination of very targeted emails, including subscription-based emails, Twitter, and LinkedIn Answers and the blog community. If you have great content that people want to read, you can offer it via email and also use it on those other channels.
Mike: When it comes to demand generation, do you see social media at the top of the funnel, further down, or throughout?
Kim: I think social media can make a difference at the top of the funnel, but it can also be effective throughout. It can be used along with search engine optimization strategies to drive traffic to your site. If you already have leads and you're sending them relevant content, and they also see you actively out in the community they participate in, you can get a lot of traction in the trust-building department. And that can make a big difference - especially when there are buying committees. It just helps spread your reach and visibility.
Mike: Where does the human, outbound marketing effort come in? When do you switch from tweeting to appointment setting?
Kim: I don't think you ever stop social media when you start with the other. I'd recommend that for every new lead you get, you have a relevant follow-up sequence that provides valuable content that will help them. Pair that up with lead scoring and your definition of a "qualified" lead, and you will know when it's right to call them for an appointment. Tweeting, blogging, and other social media participation will continue, and if your leads are following you on any of them, it will only add to the value you provide to your leads. You'll approach it from a holistic viewpoint if you want to do it well. Social media is not a silver bullet for lead generation. In the world today, with all of the marketing avenues available, social is just part of the picture. Your competency to leverage the available options has got to be a lot more fluid. "Test" should be the mantra, so companies can figure out what works best for them. Whatever channels you choose, measure the response and test what your prospects are responding to.
Mike: People are bombarded with so many options. If you were to help someone in a small B2B business, what should they start with?
Kim: I would recommend that they start with their website and work outward from there. They need to have a website with great content that is a lead capture and follow-up machine. Then consider using a combination of some "warm" marketing like an email subscription with something to drive more leads, like either LinkedIn Answers, Groups, Twitter - or make friends with the bloggers that influence their target market. Then when they're comfortable with one of those, add another one.
Mike: Last question, the B2B Thought Leaders Curry Poll - do you prefer Red, Green or Yellow Curry?
Kim: For me it's Yellow for sure.
RoyHP: Collaborate with Data Analysts: 4 Strategies to Improve Relationships with IT http://ow.ly/qM0Q MarketingSherpa
mvolpe: "design your website first for search engines" use the free tool http://www.websitegrader.com/ to check how you are doing #sherpab2b09
NetSuite_Mei: Focus on providing valuable content on your website to drive traffic #sherpab2b09
mvolpe: I agree!! "you can make your website as pretty as you want, but if search engines don't list you, no one finds it" #sherpab2b09
ajdun: Jaren Green: "Not everyone searches like you do" Amen. There is no such thing as the average web surfer #sherpab2b09
MarketingSherpa: Audience poll #sherpab2b09: Majority of marketers using lead scoring can't quantify the value they're getting from it.
kimalbee: Look at the big pic 4 success - metrics: # visits > #leads - initial > #leads - more info > #sales-ready leads > Sales closed #sherpab2b09
viewstream: #sherpab2b09 Julie Wisdom, Babcock: content is KING, but expensive. SO leverage content, and find inexpensive ways to produce.
jill_rowley: Remember - even if you're doing B2B marketing, you are marketing to humans - per Julie from Babcock & Jenkins #sherpab2b09
BabcockJenkins: RT @viewstream: #sherpab2b09 @juliewisdom Top 4 Content Mediums For B2B: 1: video, 2: white papers, 3: ondemand webcasts, 4: case studies
MarketingSherpa: 97% of SMBs say email newsletters ‘important' or ‘very important...only 27% say same about Twitter. #sherpab2b09
kimalbee: SMB Newsletter Response: Look beyond the opening click to conversions when examining response and best day to deliver #sherpab2b09
viewstream: @KenricVanWyk landing page driven site fueled only by organic search. #sherpab2b09
LaBergeLLC: Acoustics By Design -Great example of using blogging to add SEO content for your web site. http://www.acousticsbydesign.com/ #sherpab2b09
Quality vs. Quantity:
damphoux: Quality v Quantity RT @MarketingSherpa Jaren Green: Work lead quality into every discussion to improve relationship w sales #sherpab2b09
For a chuckle (congrats @andrewspoeth for both of them):
andrewspoeth: Can anyone read the font size on this slide? #sherpab2b09
andrewspoeth: Picture of today's crazy, complex sales funnel according to Forrester. #sherpab2b09 http://twitpic.com/iywkj
TJMcCue: RT @MarketingSherpa The 5 levers for improving lead-gen performance: http://bit.ly/10TUGy #sherpab2b09
amberjwallace: RT @juliepower: Best viral marketing campaigns by b2b and b2c from Sherpa http://snipurl.com/s2h9i
ajdun: Great stat from Sirius Decisions via #sherpab2b09 80% of leads DQ by sales go on to buy in 24 mos
MktgExperiments: @brianjcarroll: study shows 28% of early-stage leads take 100+ days to become sales-ready. #sherpab2b09
mvolpe: Brian Carroll just quoted me when I quote @dmscott the originator: "Think like a publisher, not a marketer" #sherpab2b09
andrewspoeth: RT @damphoux: answer these questions on landing pages: where are you at? what can I do here? why should I do it? #sherpab2b09
mvolpe: Quick Landing Page Tips from #sherpab2b09 http://hub.tm/?QYdmH
alanorourke: Clarity trumps persuasion! Landing page conversion #sherpab2b09
ardath421: sell the download (content) NOT the company on your landing page (Flint) #sherpab2b09
jepc: Genoo chose not to blog, but to create microsite http://www.b2bonlinemarketingpros.com/ & promote it in their own LinkedIn Group #sherpab2b09
MarketingSherpa: Albee: Creating a LinkedIn group gives you a great list: Genoo's enewsletters to LinkedIn Group members avg. 19%-44% CTR. #sherpab2b09
mvolpe: I disagree!!! www.facebook.com/hubspot has 6,000+ fans & FB is a top 10 source of leads for HubSpot #sherpab2b09
InboundMarketer: Almost everyone at MarketingSherpa has a corporate Twitter account, though less than half of those people read Twitter daily #sherpab2b09
InboundMarketer: Less than half of those at MarketingSherpa have company Facebook pages, & less than 10 update those pages daily #sherpab2b09
And for the lighthearted chuckle...
damphoux: @repcor most interesting part of the conference is listening to the ambient conversations next to the camera during breaks ;) #sherpab2b09
repcor: Going to turn off the lifestream for a few. Back on in 15. #sherpab2b09 http://bit.ly/sherpa09
This week is MarketingSherpa's 6th Annual B2B Marketing Summit 2009 in San Francisco, to be repeated two weeks later in Boston. Both events are loaded with speakers and content, and I'm sure there will be tons of marketing goodness to share. I'll be at the Boston summit on Oct. 5 and 6, so if you are there, please introduce yourself. If not, you can follow the live tweets here.
As for other shows, Smashmouth Marketing enjoys delivering thought leader interviews with the speakers. Our first is with Emily Salus of CollabNet, a company that sells application lifecycle management software for distributed development teams. Emily is responsible for managing lead processing, lead scoring, nurture programs, and reporting metrics. She acts as the marketing operations liaison with the CollabNet sales team worldwide and contributes to messaging and content.
Mike: Emily, you're speaking at MarketingSherpa on the topic of Lead Scoring. Although there are lots of vendors out there that do automated lead scoring, what can you share with the folks that can't afford the enterprise-level solutions? What are some simple ways to do Lead Scoring?
Emily: If you don't have Lead Scoring but you've got a sales qualification team, you can implement a lot of the same ideas. First, regardless of what you're doing, you should make sure that Sales and Marketing agree on what a Sales Ready Lead is. If everyone agrees on this definition, you'll work together a lot better because you'll all be trying to get the same thing. Second, if you have a customer profile and certain activities you want them to do, your Sales qualification (or telemarketing or inside sales, depending on your organization) can still grade your leads based on profile (title, geography, industry, etc.) and activity before the leads ever go to a Sales Rep. You might have a matrix of high, medium, and low match-to-profile and high, medium, and low match-to-activity, so if someone's the right profile and the right activity level, your salespeople know they are hot leads.
Mike: As you know, Green Leads is in the business of outbound marketing. We find that our appointment setting results are far better in quality and quantity if we are doing lead scoring and lead nurturing. That said, should we be ignoring low lead scores or should we be working them at a different level?
Emily: Definitely, you need to nurture, regardless of score. If someone's at a low score now, maybe your solution isn't in their sights now. But in six months, it might be they have a new project or new role and if you're still in their minds, they could suddenly become your next opportunity. Imagine what would happen if you just let them go and your competitor didn't, and a short time later they needed a solution like yours. Do you want to be one of the companies they consider or not?
Mike: Some people believe a lead isn't a prospect until they score at a certain level. How do you measure prospects that have yet to be touched? In a pure outbound campaign we may just know their name, title, and company demographics?
Emily: As I mentioned earlier, there are both demographic and activity aspects to each lead's score. So if you have a list of leads with the perfect profile, they should be scored based on that. Then, if they respond to your emails and other offerings, they'll be scored for that. Together, those scores should give them high enough total scores to qualify to go to sales. Again, it's all about defining the Sales Ready Lead in cooperation with Sales. If you agree on a profile and you agree on the activities that a lead should participate in to qualify, then this combination should meet your "send to Sales" points threshold.
Mike: For people who won't be there to see your presentation, what will the top takeaways be?
Emily: Do what you have to do to make sure that Marketing and Sales are a single team with the same goals.
When you're going to implement lead scoring, make sure you test your proposed scoring values before you implement. You only get one chance to make a first impression with Sales when you implement.
Make sure you know how you're going to quantify and measure the value that Lead Scoring brings. Down the road this is going to be how you justify keeping the Lead Scoring service, your improvements of numbers and quality of leads sent to sales and the programs you implement to create demand. If you can show how an extra $10K investment in Q2 is going to mean the company exceeds its closed/won target in Q4 by an additional $50K, you've justified your budget and your position.
Mike: Last question, the B2B Marketing Thought Leaders Curry Poll -- do you like Red, Green or Yellow curry?
Emily: None of the above (allergies). Make mine a tandoori!