Sunday, 1 March 2015

We have Moved!

After several years of publishing this Blog on the Blogger platform, I have now migrated it to my new Purple Salix website.

All these articles have been replicated there - but now they look better! And there will be lots of additional content appearing there soon.

I hope you will continue reading at our new site.

Please check it out

Friday, 16 January 2015

Deploying Marketing Automation - Beyond the Pilot

For most of my clients who are looking to integrate Automation into their marketing, at some point the question surfaces about what should be the best deployment strategy. Typical areas for discussion are

  • How do I make a noticeable difference to our performance without reaching full deployment?
  • Should I deploy using in-house resources or using partners?
  • How should I phase the deployment of functionality?
  • How should I phase the geographic deployment?
I've seen, lead and advised on a number of Marketing Automation projects I have a few observations to make: If you are involved in the deployment decisions around Marketing Automation, here are a few things to consider. 

This is not a pilot - it's Phase One

There's no going back on Marketing Transformation. That would imply that you could try being more responsive and relevant to your customers and prospects, but that you could go back to your old ways if it doesn't work out. That's clearly non-sensical. Even if you screw up the whole thing you'll have to keep transforming until you build something better!

So if we accept that, our objective is not to execute a pilot. Our ultimate goal is, of course, to get the whole marketing function using a redesigned approach (combining people, processes and tools) so that we deliver greater value to the marketplace. We need to keep focussing on that goal while we make our first baby steps.

Of course, it makes sense to initially focus on a relatively small number of people and to exercise only a small subset of the capabilities available. This is Phase One of the plan - and the learnings from this initial phase will help define how best to proceed in subsequent phases. 

Use Quick Wins to buy some time

In this initial phase there is typically lots of interest/inspection from across the organisation, and a desire to see early results. The challenge, however, is that we are unlikely to see significant results in terms of revenue performance for the following reasons
  • Given the length of B2B buying cycles, it will take time for any meaningful financial results to show up.
  • During the first phase you probably don't have enough scale to make an appreciable difference
  • Frequently in the early days we start with taking existing marketing approaches and simply migrating them to a new toolset. So it's unlikely to deliver any incremental value in the eyes of your customers
I would strongly recommend that while your busy architecting your approach to nurturing streams, content strategy and all the other areas of the transformation you keep a parallel focus on tweaking your existing operations using your new Marketing Automation platform. For instance, many companies use different platforms for different channels (e.g. Webinars and email campaigns). By simply leveraging the cross-channel integration capabilities of the MA platform you can almost certainly identify some short term opportunities enhance the customer experience and deliver some improved results - or at least some more integrated insight. 

The Phase Two Balancing Act

Sadly many organisations (particularly at the Executive level, if I'm honest) make the mistake of assuming that the next step after some early successes is simply to take what you've developed and deploy it everywhere. But this is naive.

When we get to the next phase there are two audiences that need to be considered. On the one hand 
the teams that worked with you in the first phase will most likely be impatient to explore increasing levels of sophistication - for example to expand into more sophisticated nurturing approaches. However at the same time as you deploy to new teams you will need to take them on an accelerated version of the steps that you used with your first cohort. There may also be some new requirements to be catered for that weren't part of the first phase.  

So therefor you need to think about how you are going to manage these two audiences at the same time. Even if you dedicate resources to onboarding new users and teams, your initial users are going to want to dive deeper so you will want to consider how much support that needs from you, whether you need to help them to become self sufficient, or to adopt some other approach. I don't thing there's a right or wrong answer here - but thinking about this ahead of time will save you additional grief.

Are we there yet?

Transforming your marketing approach is a never-ending process. It's not for everyone. But helping build the marketing function that you've always aspired to be a part of is an inspiring proposition. f you are leading a project such as this it will take time, energy, passion and agility. And one of your greatest challenges will be managing the expectations and impatience of your bosses. But, from personal experience, I can guarantee it could be the highlight of your career.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

2015 Resolutions - 7 tips to help them stick

Did you make any resolutions this year? You’re going to live a more healthy lifestyle - right? Drink less, exercise more, spend more time with the family? Or perhaps you’re going to be more focussed on your career, or even get a new job?

Well we’re now into the second week of the 2015 so it’s probably appropriate to ask how are you doing with those new resolutions?

But Pete - give me a break, I’ve only just made the resolution - I haven’t achieved it yet!

So I’m sorry to tell you - you probably won’t!

Does that matter? Maybe, or maybe not - depending on your point of view.

Studies show that 25% of us abandon our New Year Resolutions within one week. That’s pretty scary when you think that these resolutions were supposedly about things that really matter - our health, our wealth, our relationships. Furthermore 60% of us abandon our resolutions. And 60% of us have abandoned our resolutions within 6 months. Even more interestingly we “recommit” to the same annual resolutions an average of 10 times.

So how do we increase our chances of actually achieving our resolutions (or Goals to make it sound a little more business-like). Here are some of my thoughts on what works for me:
  1. Write them down. Sounds trivial, but this really is an essential starting point for clarifying what your goals actually are. Psychologically this act creates a degree of commitment to the goals. It also gives us something to refer to later in the year (see point 7).
  2. Get Specific. Lose Weight, get fit - these are far too loose to give yourself a chance of success. Define how much weight and by when. Indeed, is “losing weight” actually the goal or is just a step towards another goal. Applying the statement “so that…” to the goal in order to provide a stronger emotional connection to your Goal. For example, “Lose 2 stone by August 31st so that I can comfortably get into my suit for Fred’s wedding"
  3. Be Unrealistic. This may sound slightly controversial to those of us brought up with the corporate mantra of setting SMART objectives (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timescale), but I think goal-setting is different from objectives setting. My view is that the purpose of goals is to help motivate us to change our behaviours, so it’s as much about the journey as the destination. If we set ourselves easily achievable goals, then there is little motivation for us to do anything differently.
  4. What Next? This is an absolutely critical step. For each of your goals ask yourself “What can I do today to make progress towards this goal”. It doesn’t need a full project plan, but simply completing the next small step or two will give us a sense of forward momentum.
  5. Tell someone. Peer pressure can be a wonderful thing. Once you declare to your friends that you will exercise 3 times a week, then it becomes much more likely that you will. 
  6. Think about Habits as well as Goals. Goals are typically thought of as being outcome based. However perhaps there may also be new habits that you wish to develop - for me it’s things like drinking 2 pints of water first thing every morning, or meditating at the start of every day. Perhaps you may wish to keep a list of these things too - here the challenge is to sustain rather than achieve.
  7. Review your progress and celebrate success. You will increase your chances of success exponentially if you regularly review your list of goals, think about where you’ve made progress and plan your next step on the journey. 
How do you go about increasing the likelihood that you will achieve your goals or resolutions?

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Why I Love B2B Marketing

Why do I love B2B Marketing? That's the question that was recently posed by those nice people at the BMC. Here's my off the cuff response:

Our profession is maturing. It feels to me that we're starting to break through and be taken seriously. We're talking much more about revenue, customers, contribution, systems, gaps - and rather less about clicks and widgets. And we're talking to more people outside our own marketing team. That's got to be good news.

The future is unwritten. Our journey is not over - in fact it never will be. As long as customers continue to demand better service, better products, better experiences  then marketing will have to strive to match those heightened expectations in everything we do. Frankly we've only really made baby steps in anticipating customer needs so far - and what seems sophisticated best-practice today will seem hum-drum by next year. That keeps us all on our toes - and B2B marketing is a great place to be if that excites you. The next few years will be a blast!

It's accountable. Digital has empowered marketers to build measurements into the discipline more than ever before. When those measurements are aligned to what the business really cares about (e.g. revenue, profit, customers) then we can be part of conversations that shape business strategies. When we are able to operate as a peer to other functions then we get involved in areas further and further away from simply running events. That's highly  motivating.

Creative is coming back. While measurement has taken centre stage for the past few years - partly driven by the state of the economy, it's great that we're now starting to see creativity and ideas have a resurgence. Having chaired  the B2B Awards judging earlier in the year it is evident that increasing numbers of marketers are working on projects and campaigns that are really thoughtful and inspiring.

The Human Factor. Digital technologies are very seductive, but ultimately this business is about people - whether it's the clients we're trying to serve better, or the colleagues that we work with inside our companies and across our networks. B2B marketing is full of energised, inspiring and downright pleasant people - and I learn from them every day. That makes working hard so much more enjoyable, and makes this a wonderful profession to join. #ILOVEB2B

Friday, 22 November 2013

Gen Y - is Youth Wasted on the Young?

I was recently reading some research from Hays Recruitment on some research they conducted with 1000 GenY individuals on their attitudes to work, what they are looking for in their boss, technology expectations etc.

It's a good read with the main headlines being:
  • They want a career that allows them to do interesting work
  • Money is important, but so too is flexibility and bonus potential
  • When looking at a potential employer the opportunity to develop is the most crucial factor
  • They value a coaching style of leadership
  • They expect email to be the dominant style of communications for the foreseeable future
I'd recommend reading the full report because there are some interesting nuggets in here. 

However, as I was reading it I confess I kept saying to myself "yep, me too". I want interesting work that will help me grow, rewards beyond cash, and the opportunity to learn from inspirational coaches - however apparently I am 20 years too old to join this club!

While it makes good headlines I'm not a great fan of this approach of lumping any large group together based on an arbitrary segmentation (age, race, star-sign) and saying this is how they think. In fairness I don't think that was really the intention, but that is always the risk - and I would argue that if you removed the age factor from the research you would emerge with broadly similar results. I prefer to take the view that there are people of any age who are curious about the world they live and work in, and those for whom this is not a significant driver. So let's not create artificial differences between groups and generations.

Of course there are many people in senior positions in the workplace who don't think the same way - who believe the pursuit of money is the only measure of success, who only exhibit an autocratic style of leadership, who invest little in helping their staff grow, and who have no interest in considering alternative views to their own. If that describes your boss my advice is simple - find someone else to work for! 

Unfortunately, if you are one of those dinosaur bosses - you're highly unlikely to read this report let alone act upon it...

Friday, 15 November 2013

Remind me - What does marketing actually do?

I love it when you stumble across something you created a few years ago and, upon re-reading, decide that it still holds up.

A few years ago I was part of a small workshop at IBM that was challenged with the question of "What is our strategic vision for demand generation?". Grand terminology that can be translated to "What the **** do you do?". The sentence we came up with was a little dry, but I think it captures pretty well what marketing's role is around demand generation (clearly marketing has other responsibilities beyond DG, but this was the focus here).

This is what we came up with:

"Our purpose is to:

Engage in remarkable conversations...
With the right customer communities...
Through the most relevant method(s)...
Which builds relationships...
And creates value for both parties..."

Let me clarify just a little:

Marketing is about conversations rather than a monologue; those conversations need to be sufficiently interesting (remarkable) such that they make people think, engage, share; we know that the decision making units have grown and so it's essential to engage more broadly in the various communities of influence; What is the most relevant method? Actually it's not for you to say - the relevant method is the vehicle chosen by the client/prospect. Demand generation is not just about today's transaction - it's about a dialogue that builds a deepening relationship and that delivers value to both parties - you are looking for immediate and longer term revenue, and the client is looking to solve a business issue.

I keep coming back to this piece of work as a useful checklist to evaluate whether a set of Demand Generation activities is doing what it needs to do. 

Many thanks to Sarah Chatterton, Tony Whitelaw, Martyn Christian, and several others who made key contributions to this output.

Does this work for you? How would you improve upon it?

Friday, 8 November 2013

Well I guess you COULD automate your marketing....

... But would you really want to?

This was the question I tried to address in a 45 minute webinar for BrightTalk yesterday as part of their Campaign Automation online summit. The proposition was pretty straightforward: before you start to Automate your marketing, you better be pretty clear about what the purpose of your marketing actually is. There's no escape from this - no tool is going to do the thinking  for you (at least, not until IBM's Watson computer joins the marketing team), or make your content interesting and engaging.

Marketing Automation and Marketing Transformation are not the same thing - the first is a component of the second.

You can catch the full recording of the webinar below (you may need to register for BrightTalk first)