Thursday, 12 November 2009

Aretha Franklin on Marketing: R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

How do you feel about the marketing profession? Are we the good guys or the baddies? 

Of course we all come into work every day intending to do the best possible job that we can, but are we actually in a profession that we can be proud of? Are we helping people or simply trying to flog stuff?

There are good marketing practices and there are terrible marketing practices. Unfortunately the bad practices tend to live in the memory longest. Few of us wish to be associated with the practices of the double-glazing salesman or the caller who interrupts you when your preparing dinner to ask "This is not a sales call, I wonder could you spare just 2 minutes to answer a few questions for our survey". (Two lies in one sentence - it IS a sales call, and it will take more than 2 minutes!)

I often speak about the requirement to align marketing better with sales. If our marketing activities are not aligned with what the sales organisation perceives they need then we are doomed. I still believe that, however we also need to be better aligned with the client, or more importantly with the individual human being that we are engaging with through our marketing activity. I think we need to build RESPECT

To this end I offer a first pass at a  Respectful Marketing Manifesto - a brainstorm of some of the attributes of marketing activity that we need to adhere to better. I'm sure the wise owls across the blogosphere have got plenty of suggestions to add to the list - I'd love to hear them:

  1. Humanise your responses. Responses are from people - they are not just digits on a spreadsheet. They responded for a reason - why was that?
  2. Every response counts. As Seth Godin once said, when someone engages with your campaign that is a privilege not a right. While its very tempting to skim off the responders from the largest companies or with the best job titles, you do so at your peril. You could easily miss key influencers, and more significantly not meet the expectations of the person who was taking the trouble to engage with your campaign.
  3. Deepen your client insight with every interaction. Even if your engagement is as naked as a telephone call asking "would you like to buy my product" (let's hope it's more sophisticated than that) - if the response is "No" (which shouldn't surprise you in this example!) you could ask what their key interest areas are.
  4. When a client honours you with insights - record it and act upon it. You'll be much more successful engaging in a dialogue that is aligned against their personal agenda. So capture it and use the insight.
  5. Invest in capturing interest areas. Interests can be explicit (ie the client tells me verbally or via web form) or implicit (he's responded to my activity on topic x, so the chances are it is of some interest to him). Knowing and acting upon these insights will not only increase your returns on marketing expense, but will also enhance your value in the perception of the client
  6. Revisit how you use Newsletters. Do you use newsletters to push the latest things that are important to you (who cares?), or to provide the latest news and insight that you know is relevant (because he told you or implied it through previous behaviour). A Newsletter strategy linked to a contact self-profiling tool so that dynamic newsletters can be created feels like the core of a respectful marketing system.
  7. Stop sending so much stuff! If someone has taken the trouble to provide you all this insight into their agenda, why on earth would you want to drown them in other stuff in the how that they might be interested? Most of it is a waste of your time and a waste of your recipient's time. Better to refocus your efforts on understanding your intended clients' own agendas and figuring out how you can best serve that.

At the core of all of this is a change in the way we capture and leverage client/prospect data in our activities. 
Traditional Marketing
  • Craft a message
  • Select a target audience
  • Blast off
Respectful Marketing
  • Determine your client/prospect's own agenda
  • Assess where they are on their journey
  • Develop offerings/activities to help them progress on their journey
Isn't that how you'd like to be marketed to? "All I'm asking for is a little respect"

Thanks Aretha - Sock it to me, Sock it to me, Sock it to me, Sock it to me!

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Organic Gardener's Guide to Lead Nurturing - 2009 Edition

It's taken me a couple of weeks, but I've finally posted my presentation from the B2B Marketing Magazine seminar on Demand Generation/Lead Nurturing onto Slideshare. I hope you find it useful. It contains 10 areas to focus on to improve the yield on your marketing campaigns.

You can also find the deck from Will Schnabel at Silverpop here

Monday, 5 October 2009

Visualising your responses

Something's bothering me. I keep on reading about response scoring, response-lead conversion ratios, click-thru rates, ROI. I've nothing against these discussion points but there's something missing - the human touch.

Think about the responses from your latest campaign. What's your mental picture of those responses? Are they digits on a spreadsheet - depersonalised, abstract, numerical. Or do you picture real people with a todo list as long as yours, struggling to find a way through some tricky issues. Imagine what might happen if you asked him "how might I help?" rather than "why haven't you bought something yet?".

So the next time you're looking at the reports from your campaign, stop for a  moment. Do you want to help him, or simply want to count him?

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

God Bless Steve Woods!

It's not often that I bestow blessings on colleagues but in this case I have to make an exception. I have to confess, I've been particularly rubbish at maintaining my blog over the past few months. I don't do this blog on behalf of my employer, and am not driven by publishing deadlines or other events that force me to write. I simply do it because I'm passionate about B2B marketing and am genuinely interested in making a contribution to improving the professionalism of B2B marketing.

My only excuse is that I've been busy - pathetic, I know, but there you go. I'm deploying a marketing automation system at the moment and that's keeping me busy. And when I have a few spare moments I have to confess I prefer to choose to spend them with my family rather than with my laptop. But I've recommitted myself to spending more time posting content.

Today I spoke at an event chaired by Joel Harrison and B2B Marketing Magazine. I'll link to the content in the next couple of days when Joel publishes it. I was covering 10 ways to improve your marketing campaigns. Item 10 was about keeping yourself fresh with new insight. RSS feeds are great but better still is clever people you respect doing the filtering for you. Hence my gratitude to Steve Woods. Steve is CTO at Eloqua - I had the good fortune to meet him at an event in London earlier in the year. His blog on "Digital Body Language" is always thought provoking and I've learned a great deal from him. Best of all, he's started providing a digest of good content that he's come across from various luminaries in this space. His latest Marketing Automation Weekly Wrap-Up contains links to new content from Laura Ramos at Forrester, Sirius Decisions and Brian Carroll - three individuals/organisations from whom I've learned a great deal. So thank you Steve - I'll continue to use your blog as a useful filter on what's new.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Biggest Mistakes in B2B Content Marketing

Over on ClickDocuments blog - Connect the Docs there's a good collection of insights from a number of B2B Marketing luminaries (Brian Carrroll, Mac McIntosh, to name two) on some of the most common B2B Content marketing mistakes to be avoided. The key ones listed are
  • Avoid the One-Off Send Syndrome
  • Avoid Me, Me, Me Marketing!
  • Not being relevant to your audience
  • Not cariing about your audience
  • Not finding multiple uses for your content
  • Missing the opportunity to create content specific to buyer personas
Some nice examples in here, but it all points to the same issue - nurturing a relationship with a potential client does NOT equate to sending them a brochure, or asking regularly if they're ready to buy yet. Simple.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Seth Godin Sermon at Westminster Abbey

Well almost...

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending a talk by Seth Godin in the beautiful surroundings of Church House by Westminster Abbey - in many ways an appropriate venue for an inspiring and slightly evangelical afternoon. The session drew on many of the themes from Seth's many best selling books (none of which I've actually read, in all honesty, but I've followed his blog for a couple of years!). The agenda consisted of a 60 minute presentation and then at least the same amount of time devoted to a very dynamic question and answer session. There were some great and very challenging questions and some of Seth's answers were brilliant. I particularly liked his answer to the question about how he gets so much done - "I don't work anything like as hard as you think", he said. But he doesn't go to meetings and he doesn't watch TV - that buys him around 6 hours a day, during which he can get a lot done.

About half the audience were in the B2B marketing space, but there were an astonishingly diverse set of participants - drawing from advertising and media types, the music industry (suits and talent), students and even a Vicar from the Church of England! For me the message that came through again and again was
  • Be authentic - if you fake it you'll be found out
  • Be remarkable - mediocre products (or people) cannot win any more
  • Focus on the possibilities that the web industrial revolution is producing, rather than clinging onto yesterday's model
  • Don't expect to win over everybody immediately (or even ever) - focus on the influencers and let the "nay-sayers" feel left out
  • Identify and lead tribes who will willingly spread your ideas for you
If you've read Seth's books these messages will be already familiar. If your bookshelves are littered with unread books (like mine), then go to Youtube and you'll find a multitude of video clips.

What impressed me more, however, was the authenticity that came across in his own brand. He clearly believes that it's more important what you do than what you say, is driven by a well-developed set of values and wants to help change the world for the better. Perhaps it was not so odd to find a vicar there....

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

2009's Top 50 Marketing Blogs

There's always a plethora of lists of "this years blogs to watch" around this time of the year. I just stumbled across one from Evan Carmichael (a new author to me - but creating lists is always a good way of promoting your profile in the blogosphere). Some old faithfuls in here (Seth Godin, Marketing Sherpa, Guy Kawasaki) plus several that I've not come across before. Helpfully they've divided them in to different sections.

What additional ones would make your list of must-read blogs - particularly in the B2B space?

Personally I would add Chris Brogan, Marketing Profs Daily Fix and Web Ink Now for starters.

Friday, 16 January 2009

David Meerman Scott's new ebook made me angry - please read it too!

If you don't know of David Meerman Scott, you should change that. He wrote "the New Rules of Marketing and PR" which is a great read, full of challenging thinking. As a pre-cursor to his new book "World Wide Rave" he's just published a free and easily digestible ebook called "Lose Control of your Marketing! Why marketing ROI measures lead to failure"

You should read the ebook - it's got some really great ideas. However reading it made me cross. His suggestion is simple:

Make your information on the Web totally free for people to access, with absolutely no virtual strings attached: no electronic gates, no registration requirements, and no email address checking necessary.

Meerman Scotts assertion is that marketing's role is to spread ideas, and that putting ANY barrier in the way of that simply reduces the number of people that experience your content. Amongst other things he asserts that you should not put web contact forms (name, email capture) onto websites.

While applying these forms of measurement might be appropriate offline, using them to track your success on the Web just isn’t relevant; they don’t capture the way ideas travel. Worse,the very act of tracking leads hampers the spread of ideas. People know from experience that if they supply their personal information to an organization, they’re likely to receive unwanted phone calls from salespeople or to find themselves on email marketing lists. Most won’t bother. In fact, I have evidence from several companies that have offered information both with and without a registration requirement that when you eliminate the requirement of supplying personal information, the number of downloads or views goes up by as much as a factor of fifty.

I hope he's wrong. Many of us have been schooled in the principles of "if you can't measure it, don't do it". We are increasing our efforts to capture names of people who engage with our content so that we can continue to engage with them. This approach flies in the face of that: if we give away something of genuine value with no barriers, people will share it with each other and ultimately connect with us.

What really makes me angry is that I think he may be right.

What's your thoughts?