“Among the Blind, the One-Eyed are King”, and other Musings from CRM Evolution 2011 Conference in NYC

Written by Rockannand on August 25, 2011 – 10:31 am -

The Rock Annand Group has hit the conference speaking circuit again after a (too long) hiatus. My 3 favorite cities to visit for conferences are San Francisco, New York and Boston and I hit all 3 in August and September, starting with New York two weeks ago for the CRM Evolution 2011 annual event, hosted by CRM guru Paul Greenberg.

While this conference is not one of the biggies when compared to Dreamforce 2011 (I’ll be there next week) or the Inbound Marketing Summit and Hubspot User Group-HUGS in Boston (I’ll be there too mid-September), I will say it is no less relevant and substantive. There were some great speakers and panel discussions about what’s working and what’s not in CRM and social CRM with some impressive companies telling their stories.

So what’s behind the provocative title?
Well it comes from something my old boss Dave Simbari,  currently CEO of SupplyPro, always says when talking about sales and marketing execution. “Henry, don’t get wrapped around the axle, or boil the ocean when you do this. Keep it simple and follow through and things will turn out fine.”

Translation: most of the pack is too busy trying to define the perfect strategy or building the perfect program and never get anything done and fail to execute. They are blind, so by focusing on the basics, what I call the fundamentals, you can develop and execute sales and marketing programs, supported by CRM, that deliver results even a CEO with ADHD will love.

A Social Business is Just GOOD Business
That simple message could be found in countless sessions the week of August 8th. Even though the conference organizers attempted to dress things up by putting the word “social” in front of the somewhat tired and old CRM acronym, the presenters stayed away from the hype and buzz of social media as something new to try and stuck with the reality of the social phenomenon.

This point was best brought home by R “Ray”  Wang, principle analyst and CEO at Constellation Research, when he said, “a social business is just GOOD business.” What Ray was saying is that being social has always been the key to building relationships and winning business. Businesses and buyers have always conducted conversations about their problems and how they plan to solve them. The difference now vs 5-10 years ago is that they are carrying on their conversations online with peers in a myriad of communities and discussion forums. The question is whether today’s businesses want to listen and participate in those conversations.

Listen and Observe More, Talk Less
The reality is the vast majority of businesses ARE blind (and deaf) to what’s being said about them and their competitors online. Tell me what sales rep would not want to know what their best customers and prospects have said about them or their competitors before their next sales call?

Today’s CRM solutions and the multitude of sales enablement plug-ins allow companies to know so much more about their target audience then ever before. Countless examples were shared (Volvo Trucks) showing how B2B marketers have opened the eyes and ears of sales and executives with more qualified deals.

Ray Wang’s 5 Rules to Adopt to Become More Social
My question is why companies continue to turn a blind eye to what’s happening in their buyers’ world? As Ray Wang  so correctly stated, “We are using disruptive technologies at home and we need to figure out how to bring them into the enterprise. How can IT become more social?” Ray went on to identify 5 rules that businesses need to adopt to become more social:

  • Trust is the new currency.
  • Social is a cultural shift for the enterprise.
  • Building community is the goal.
  • Person-to-person (P2P) is today’s reality – not B2B or B2C – frictionless commerce is where its at.
  • A social business is just GOOD business.

Amen Ray. And I don’t mean Ray Charles ;).

Listen to our 8/11/11 Webcast:

 Create a Winning Lead Strategy in 90 Days


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Posted in B2B Marketing, Lead Generation, Lead Management, Marketing Automation, Marketing Automation Monday | 2 Comments »

Marketing Automation Monday Comes to Boston January 31st

Written by Rockannand on January 23, 2011 – 1:57 pm -

I am pleased to announce that Marketing Automation Monday for Boston is no longer “TBA”. The date is set for January 31st from 6 to 8:30 pm and will take place in downtown Boston across the street from the Museum of Fine Arts. Here is the registration link to reserve your spot.

What is Marketing Automation Monday?
What is Marketing Automation Monday you say? You can get caught up by reading these prior posts last month on the one I led in NYC:

Marketing Automation Monday Comes to NYC
Lead Nurturing: Tips from Marketing Automation Monday in NYC

These meet-ups are the brain child of Jep Castelein and the LinkedIn Group, Marketing Automation Association, he co-founded last year with Saad Hameed. These face-to-face gatherings are addressing a big need for B2B marketers – providing a networking forum where practices, experiences and stories can be shared among the vast community of professionals striving to execute winning demand generation programs and processes.

Background for Boston Meet-up
What has me excited about this one is I found several other passionate marketers like me who have signed on for the Marketing Automation Monday cause. They come from very different backgrounds, representing constituents and followers that span numerous industries as well as the Boston-based academia. They are Ann Grackin of Chain Link Research and Dean Larry Carr of the College of Professional and Continuing Education at Wentworth Institute of Technology.

Ann is a longtime colleague I first met back in the mid-90’s when she worked for the industry research firm Benchmarking Partners, founded by another analyst veteran, Ted Rybeck. I was running marketing at the time for the Swedish Supply Chain software company Industri-Matematik Int’l (IMI) when we met. What I will always remember of our first encounter was that Ann was the only person I knew who had implemented SAP R-3 AND i2 and lived to talk about it!! The best part of that story was how she laughed with each anecdote she shared of the experience. At IMI, SAP was our #1 competitor and i2 was fast becoming another rival, so you can imagine what I did with those anecdotes in our active deals. ‘Nuff said.

On the academia side, WIT recently retooled their continuing education program with the hiring in 2010 of Dean Larry Carr. Dean Carr has collaborated with ChainLink Research and recently announced a new professional certificate program called 21st Century Demand and Supply Chain Management. I have just started to dig into the details of this program, but know from experience that anything involving Ann Grackin will be high quality and worth considering. In the interest of creating stronger connections with the business community and professionals in the greater Boston area, Dean Carr has agreed to host the Boston meet-ups to be a part of the networking and the learning process that is the driver for Marketing Automation Monday across the country

Focus on Lead Nurturing
Our topic next Monday is Lead Nurturing and with the enthusiasm of our hosts and many Beantown marketing colleagues, we expect a large turnout and lively conversation. You can register at this link now.  Our downtown location at 550 Huntington Avenue, in the Faculty Dining Room at WIT’s Beatty Hall, makes attending convenient via public transportation or by car (parking will be available I’m told).

Who should attend? We encourage all marketing professionals from executive level to those hands-on with program execution to attend. We also encourage sales professionals that want to learn more about how marketing automation drives better opportunities into their pipelines to attend as well. We can handle 40-50 people so bring a colleague on Monday the 31st starting at 6pm. We will have refreshments and snacks.

We hope to see you there.

Related posts:

Marketing Automation Monday Comes to NYC

Lead nurturing: Tips form Marketing Automation Monday in NYC

Marketing Automation Association LinkedIn Group


Posted in B2B Marketing, Lead Management, Lead Nurturing, Lead Quality, Marketing Automation, Marketing Automation Monday, Marketing Strategy | 1 Comment »

Lead Nurturing: Tips from Marketing Automation Monday in NYC

Written by Rockannand on December 8, 2010 – 1:13 pm -

Marketing Automation Monday came to NYC on December 6th (a date that will live in Patriots infamy in the demolition of the Jets !!). We had a great turnout with 15 opting in to share their ideas and best practices on the topic of lead nurturing and drip campaigns. Below is a quick review of what was discussed.

Attendee Company Profile
First off, I was struck by how many of the meetup attendees come from start-up companies. Two companies in fact have yet to launch while all are new to the use of marketing automation and lead nurturing.

With that in mind, I started the discussion by focusing on some questions that marketers need to ask themselves as they begin to develop their lead nurturing programs:

  • What tactics are the best for getting our messages to your target audience, both decision-makers and influencers?
  • How do we stay engaged with our audience as they move through their stages of the buy cycle?
  • How do we conduct the “conversation” to stay relevant to the buyer’s and build credibility and trust so they see our company as a thought leader?
  • What content and offers will result in a positive conversion when our target audience is ready to buy?

The Need for Content
These questions had the group talking about the challenge of having engaging content to serve up to prospects. Several companies use research papers from analysts firms such as Gartner to send out on issues that prospects have shown prior interest, while webinars is a frequent tactic for others. In the case of webinars, one company found their registrations had dropped significantly. In response they experimented with creating 4-5 part series, sometimes with a fee for registration. Registrations did in fact improve.

In most cases, companies are actually sitting on significant quantities of relevant content, usually in paper-form or buried in web sites. In many cases, the content is not readily consumable by your target audience. It is either too long (45 minute webinar, 5-10 page white paper) or only available in one format (lengthy PDFs). Re-purposing the content into shorter briefs (350-400 words) or using 2-3 minute video casts focused on one key idea at a time can be more effective in getting busy decision-makers to opt-in. One company send out individual email and phone follow ups to prospects using that technique.

Buyer Profiles and Personas
Several companies reported success in developing buyer profiles that they had mapped out for each of the buyer types that they target. None of the companies had actually mapped these buyer profiles to content for purposes of automated drip campaigns as of yet, but most are working towards that goal. The active development of profiles is an important part of successful nurturing programs.

One indicates that their inside business development group nurtures the old fashion way by calling (65% of the time) and emailing (35% of the time) to provide collected articles and research reports that they want their prospects to be aware of. Their approach is more of a service, then a promotional appeal, but very labor intensive. They had found that their group email practices were being received as SPAM and blocked, hence the use of individual email and calling.

Campaign Approaches: How to Get Started
Given the newness of the group to the actual practice of lead nurturing, especially with Marketing Automation tools, we reviewed an approach that helps B2B marketers get started and gain traction early on. The approach focuses on demonstrating thought leadership to your target audience; the key point being that, initially it does not require much more than 1 or 2 well written white papers, ideally from a known industry thought leader. The idea is that over a 90 day period, the nurture campaign takes the theme of the white paper and promotes the issue in month 1 as an available download, then in month 2 delivered as a webcast (ideally with the thought leader) and finally in month 3 promotes both in one outbound email.

What’s Next for MA Monday in NYC?
We discussed how often to meet and what topics for future sessions. For now we will look to have NYC meetups on a quarterly schedule – late February/early March.

Requested topics are (in no particular order):

You can see what was discussed at the two meetups in November (SF and Palo Alto) on the topic of lead nurturing in this blog post by Jep Castelein.

Other Resources:
For those who attended in NYC on 12/6 and others who are interested for future meetups, all are advised to join the Marketing Automation Association Group on LinkedIn. Here you will be able to keep up on happenings of the various meetups taking place across the country.

Please let us know what you liked about our 1st session and what can be done to make future meetings more valuable. Comments below are welcomed. I encourage all to spread the word about Marketing Automation Monday. Stay tuned for more.


Posted in B2B Marketing, Lead Management, Lead Nurturing, Marketing Automation, Marketing Automation Monday, Thought Leadership | No Comments »

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