Maybe We Should Call It Something Else: Why Salespeople Think Marketing Automation is a Four-Letter Word

Written by Rockannand on November 3, 2011 – 10:58 am -

As part of our series of guest posts, this article was contributed by my colleague Rick Schwartz of Sales Addiction.
Henry

Ancient History

Going back to the mid 1900s we’ve been automating everything. Manufacturing began using machines to do what people used to do and in some cases, the people were put out of work.

My first personal experience with automation happened 1979-ish. I was a customer service rep for what used to be called “The Phone Company.” Part of our job was answering inquiries about customer bills. Once the customer asked a question, we’d put them on hold, go over to the file cabinets, look for and (sometimes) find the copy of their bill.

Then someone had the idea that we all get computer monitors on our desk which could access the company’s mainframe. We’d be able to view the bill more quickly and provide better, more accurate service.

This was fine except that no one in the office had really every seen a computer screen and keyboard before. Some of us thought it was a really cool thing and we adapted. Some folks who had been on the job for many years couldn’t or wouldn’t give it a chance. Eventually those folks left their jobs.

More Recently

n the late 90s it was Sales Force Automation. Sometimes it was called a Contact Management system or a Customer Relationship Management system. It didn’t matter. The upshot was that sales people had to learn a new way to do their jobs. They were told it would help them sell more stuff. They didn’t believe it. All they saw was learning to do a new thing for management – not to mention that it was mostly about making them more accountable for their daily work.

There are tons of other examples, but you get the point. Today, looking back at any of these new ideas, most workers can’t imagine doing their jobs without the aid of various types of automation.

So what’s up with Marketing Automation?

It’s presented as something that will help close more deals and make more money. The challenge is that it contains that four letter word – Auto(mation).

Adding a new process (automated or not) into the sales world is seen as something that is disruptive – and frankly it is. At the end of the day, recent metrics and case studies show that adopting MA can be a big boon to those chasing sales results. In most cases however, a sales department is nowhere near the end of the day when a new idea is presented.

For now, I’ll leave the solutions to smarter souls than me. If you have any ideas, please comment.


Posted in B2B Marketing, Marketing & Sales Alignment, Marketing Automation, Uncategorized | No Comments »

Beat Common Lead Nurturing Failures with “Live in 45”

Written by Rockannand on October 26, 2011 – 2:03 pm -

We keep hearing the stories of great results from lead nurturing, only to find that achieving them is much easier said than done. Why is that?

  • Incomplete strategy. Marketers don’t take into account all of the components needed for good execution of a lead nurturing campaign. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.
  • Poor execution. We are all pressed for time, juggling many projects so we cut corners, making mistakes that lead to disappointing results.
  • Analysis paralysis. We over-think each aspect of the campaign, the content, the audience, the steps, frequency.  Searching for the perfect campaign, but we only get wrapped around the axle and nothing gets done.

There are many more reasons why B2B marketers fail at lead nurturing, but these are the three biggies in my book. But first some context for what I have been doing of late.

How The Lead Gen Process is Like Fishing
Before I started my consulting practice in 2001, a colleague of mine and I experimented for over a  year  with an approach to demand generation that led me to marketing automation in 1999.  Our approach had these key attributes.

  • Strong content that demonstrated thought leadership not product expertise.
  • Automated, rules-based processes that generate new leads and manage existing ones.
  • List segmentation to be able to test campaign tactics across many audiences simultaneously.
  • Digitally-based, with web tracking to follow interest, behavior and determine sales readiness.
  • A heavy focus on outcomes realized in 6-8 weeks

What about the analogy to fishing? The secret to fishing and  catching the most is always to have your pole in the water casting out because you never know when the fish will pass by. The problem with fishing is that you can only have one rod working one spot at a time. If there’s nothing there, you move to the next spot. It takes time and effort to hit all the spots.

Traditional leadgen campaigns have also been like fishing in that each campaign has required execution one at a time – one campaign, one cast.  If no bites, we move on.  Batch and Blast. We really don’t know WHY the campaign failed because it could have been wrong day, wrong week/month, poor content, bad list. Just like fishing: Wrong bait, wrong tide, wrong weather conditions, wrong spot.

Live in 45: Fishing Many Virtual Ponds at Once
What if marketers, could execute the same campaigns to many target segments with different offers, subject lines and headlines? Marketing automation affords you the unique opportunity to hit all those “spots” (target segments) simultaneously and virtually using different types of bait (tactics and offers).Of course, the tools have had the ability to do these practices for a while now, but my experience is that the practices have lacked focus on outcomes and lots of testing.

This is where the Live in 45 system comes in to play.

The name of the game today is knowing exactly where to focus scarce sales and marketing resources and on the best opportunity and high return programs. For B2B marketers that means accelerating the learning process of what tactics work and what do not and what target segments are better audiences for your products and services. Unfortunately, this appears to be where the rubber meets the nails, potholes and the breakdown lane as marketers have focused their program objectives too much on activity and not on outcomes.  When you are focused on the wrong metrics and questionable goals, it takes much longer to learn where the fish are and where they are not, what bait to use, what time of day and tides, etc.

The Ultimate Live in 45 Lead Nurturing Program
The best fisherman test and measure All the time.  They learn from their mistakes faster than the rest. The secret is not magic, but simply “outfishing” the competition with a system that works and works well.

I call it the Live in 45 system. It is a focused lead nurturing strategy that overcomes the failures mentioned above.  Results you can expect in the first 90 days might consist of finding and closing over $100,000 of new business from “dead leads” that sales overlooked and doubling the number of marketing qualified opportunities passed to the sales team.

I have decided to offer the program as a 6-week guided implementation delivered in a group setting for a fraction of what my clients have paid in custom engagement. Its called the “Ultimate ‘Live in 45’ Lead Nurturing Program”.

Check it out here and let me know what you think. The inaugural program kicks off next Tuesday November 1. I am excited at the prospects and welcome your questions and feedback.


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Posted in Lead Nurturing, Marketing Automation | 1 Comment »

“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 »

B2B Marketing 3.0 – What’s Next for Marketers?

Written by Rockannand on July 20, 2011 – 12:50 pm -

I had the pleasure of participating in the Focus.com B2B Marketing Week last week, a collection of webinars and round table panels that brought together the top experts in their fields to discuss the state of B2B marketing. Nine sessions covering many important topics in B2B marketing with lots of talking heads – marketing consultants, vendors and industry pundits. This is the third Focus round table I have done this year and I must say they are great way to hear what others are experiencing in the market across the country.

Our round table entitled “B2B Marketing 3.0: What’s Next for Marketers?” centered on answering these questions:

  • Definition of B2B Marketing 2.0
  • Definition of B2B Marketing 3.0. What prompted the change?
  • How many marketers are ready for 3.0?
  • What is the biggest impediment to making the shift, skills or tools?
  • What is the one thing you would recommend every marketer focus on the rest of 2011?

Mac McConnell, partner/founder of BlueBird Strategies moderated and I was joined by colleagues Joe Zuccaro, President and CEO of Allinio, Greg Ott, CMO of Demandbase and Matt West, Sr Director Marketing of Genius.

You can listen to the full 45 minute round table here. But let me give you my quick take on these questions:

Definition of B2B Marketing 2.0

  • Marketers begin to realize that awareness does not drive buyer behavior anymore. PR campaigns and traditional advertising don’t work the same way anymore.
  • Moving from mostly outbound campaigns that “broadcast” the company’s primary go-to-market message to outreach that promotes having a conversation with target audiences.
  • Focusing on presenting market problems and recommended solutions rather than products and services.
  • Marketers turn to digital marketing as the preferred approach to connect directly with buyers and customers.

Definition of B2B Marketing 3.0: What’s Prompting the Change?

  • The rise of social networking and buyer reliance and focus on what the community thinks about various problems and how best to solve them.
  • The need to treat sales and marketing as a “service” to customers and buyers. Providing value-based information that helps buyers make more informed decisions.
  • The need for marketing to be revenue focused, not just developing leads at the top of the funnel. What’s marketing’s contribution to the pipeline?
  • Marketers trying to make sense of their target markets and the data that is sitting in all those data stores in the enterprise. What are the most profitable markets/customers? Which markets should be exploited more/less?

How Many Marketers are Ready for 3.0?
Not nearly enough. Here are some recent research findings that show just how far marketers have to go before they can make the transition:

  • In a 2011 Fournaise Marketing Group study, 73% of CEO’s stated that “marketers lack business credibility and are not the business growth generators they should be”.
  • At the Sirius Decisions 2011 Summit when asked if their marketing people had the right skill set to succeed only 1.1% responded with a yes.
  • A 2010 Bulldog Solutions – Frost & Sullivan Survey showed that 44% of marketing automation owners stated lack of people/skills as a limiting success factor

What is the Biggest Impediment to Making the Shift?
Clearly there is a significant skills gap. We don’t need yet ANOTHER CRM, Email Marketing or Marketing Automation tool set. The industry lacks a certification program for B2B marketers that addresses the core disciplines within marketing operations. This represents a big opportunity for what Paul Dunay predicted for the “rise of the marketing technologist”.

What is the One Thing Marketers Should Focus on Now?
It’s not too early to look ahead to 2012 plans and what marketers need to do to lay the foundation for success. It’s extremely important that marketers review existing programs and prioritize those that have the greatest chance of producing results that impact the sales pipeline and closed business. With less than 6 months left in 2011, CEOs and VPs of Sales are gearing up to close as much business as possible before year-end.

  • How much has marketing committed to those quarter and year-end numbers?
  • How much revenue contribution have you made thus far?
  • How much more contribution can you make in the next 5+ months?

Times ticking so let’s get focused and see how much better we can be in the months ahead. Listen to the entire round table here. What’s your take?


Posted in B2B Marketing, Marketing Automation, Predictions, Thought Leadership | 2 Comments »

5 Keys to Marketing Automation Implementation Success

Written by Rockannand on June 24, 2011 – 12:19 pm -

Last month, I participated in a FOCUS round table call hosted by Craig Rosenberg (the Funnelholic ) where the focus was on defining marketing automation success and how to get there. (Listen to the recorded round table here.)

In looking at how to define success, I highlighted 4 lessons learned and 5 keys to success.

Let’s start with the lessons learned from the past 3-4 years:

  1. That if sales and executive management does not see and experience tangible results that are fundamentally different from before the project started, then the program initiative support from top management and the sales team will sour.
  2. The skill sets required by the marketing team are different and more demanding than originally thought or anticipated. The concepts and processes are challenging for the current crop of B2B marketers. We need to think like our buyer – outside-in vs inside-out thinking. Focus on buyer needs and problems, not your products. Build relationships and conduct conversations vs “broadcasting” and promoting the product. Think like a publisher and develop relevant content for buyers. Develop analytical skills to identify and spot trends in target markets/customers
  3. Lead nurturing/management requires thought, planning, patience and constant testing to determine what works and what does not work.
  4. To quote Jeff Ernst of Forrester, “the full benefits are hidden behind old company habits.” ((4/26/11 research report, B2B Marketers Must Better Prepare for Marketing Automation. It takes 2 years or more for companies to move beyond simple lead scoring and drip campaigns to multi-touch lead nurturing that use the much more powerful and effective behavioral-based targeting capabilities.

The five (5) keys to successful MA project are:

  1. B2B marketers must figure out exactly HOW marketing automation will optimize and augment the current marketing plan. The project plan and business case must clearly articulate how the investment in automation ensures a client acquisition strategy and plan that delivers better results (over 12-24 months) than one without that investment.
  2. Marketing leadership must focus on developing a strong and supportive relationship with sales leadership and the top “A” reps. Remember that marketing automation is all about “sales enablement”, so make sure from the beginning that the top reps and sales team understands EXACTLY how automation will make them more money.
  3. Develop and execute a campaign in the 1st 90 days that delivers a significant WIN for the sales team. Sales and executives suffer from ADHD when it comes to results.
  4. Good users of Sales Force Automation realize the benefits of MA earlier and to a greater extent than bad SFA users. If Salesforce.com is broken, fix it before you try to put in MA or you will regret it.
  5. Marketing’s #1 goal is to serve sales – they are your #1 customer so make sure you meet often to gain agreement on lead definitions, prospect qualification rules, attributes of ideal client and business/market targets. Assume nothing and over communicate, especially in the first 90-120 days.

Lots to think about, but after doing these projects for over 12 years, the ability to succeed has gotten harder not easier. Under promise and over deliver to overcome the ADHD factor and your marketing automation project may live to see year 2 and beyond.

Listen to the entire audio of the roundtable here.

Henry Bruce
@hebruce


Posted in B2B Marketing, Lead Nurturing, Marketing Automation, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Lead Nurturing: Tips from Marketing Automation Monday in Boston on 1/31

Written by Rockannand on February 7, 2011 – 8:27 am -

Marketing Automation Monday snuck in between snow storms and came to Boston on January 31st on the campus of Wentworth Institute of Technology. A hardy group ignored the storm threats to share their ideas and best practices on the topic of lead nurturing. Below is a quick review of what was discussed.

Attendee Company Profile
Similar to the December 6th meet-up in NYC, we had a very diverse group, with each attendee representing a kaleidoscope of business and marketing expertise and experience. For example, our group had representatives from public relations, B2B strategy consulting, academia (continuing education) and applied market research among others. All had experience supporting clients and working for businesses with a primary focus on sales and marketing organizations and processes. Needless to say this was a VERY experienced group with impressive resumes.

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

  • What tactics work best to “connect” to your target audience?
  • 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 and build credibility with buyers?
  • What content/events “convert” our target audience when they are ready to buy?

Tactics That Work Best
Webinars continue to be a staple of most of the attendees. Though it was noted that webinars were a bit more effective in the 2000-2006 period, the key still seems to be having great guest speakers, such as a prominent analyst or recognized industry expert, as well as real customers. Those using that approach routinely see 100’s of registrants and listeners. The important point is that for lead qualification purposes, those that register and attend are considered far more qualified than those that simply download a white paper (even multiple white papers and/or articles).

For the public relations point of view, PR now is heavily involved in targeting the “influencers” – analysts, bloggers, publishers, etc – using social networking and direct email to pitch stories that have been personalized to the needs of each influencer. What is most interesting, though not surprising, is that marketers and PR specialists are using the 1-to-1 method via twitter, email and phone to pitch the story to increase the odds of breaking through the email clutter of these influencers to get their stories heard and published. This is especially effective with the blogosphere and twitter crowd.

I also noted the use of the tickler file follow up process (all manual) for those that are interested, but not sales-ready. The follow up employed is always a phone call and email to each contact as their numbers for follow up can easily be done via the personal touch.

The Need for Content
The questions above had the group talking about the challenge of having engaging content to serve up to prospects. In one particular and well-related story, we heard how an executive built a very successful consulting services business. The secret was creating a series of low-end/ low cost transactional events, such as white papers, workshops, seminars, national and international conferences. These events and deliverable were tightly integrated in pre-defined sequences that were pointing the way for the prospect (and existing clients) towards larger comprehensive consulting engagements.

There were several aspects of these low-end “events” that were most striking to me:

1.  All of the content and workshops/seminars were developed and delivered by their field consultants who ran the larger consulting engagements.
2.  These consultants and the inside sales reps who did phone follow up to all of the event attendees were comp’d on how many attendees were converted to buy more workshops and consulting engagements.
3.  Their marketing spend through these events and content were paid for by their prospects. Nothing was given away for free. Impressive.

Staying Engaged Over Time
Other aspects of the story related above warrant further treatment. The real key for this consulting firm was to keep their most valuable asset – their consultants – in front of prospects and clients considering more services. As prospective buyers attended the workshops, seminars and conferences, the consultants were able to deepen the relationship and the conversation often times with the same individual and others at the same company over time. This company had developed a number of “assessment” instruments that the consultants could provide buyers to sort of take their temperature and let the buyer evaluate how they compared to others in their industry.

This company clearly understood the stages of their audience’s buy cycle and buyer types and had turned everyone into a sales person, each one being held accountable for lead development, lead nurturing and deal closing. To coin a very old sales adage, “Focus on your ABC’s” … or “Always Be Closing”.

Note: I plan to blog more on this story as the full account of what they did bears repeating for all of us whether we market and sell services, software or industrial products.

What’s Next for MA Monday in Boston?
Our location sponsor, Wentworth Institute of Technology has agreed to host future meet-ups so we will be looking for the next one Monday February 28th, March 7th or March 14th. Hopefully the snow will have melted a little and more folks will join us then.

Requested topics for future meet-ups are (in no particular order):

  • Lead nurturing … continued (we only scratched the surface this week)
  • Leveraging social media in lead management
  • Analytics, metrics and reporting
  • Creating better marketing-to-sales alignment
  • Lead scoring and marketing-to-sales hand-offs and conversion processes
  • CRM integration and sales enablement

Other Resources:
For those who attended in Boston on 1/31 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.


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Posted in Lead Management, Lead Nurturing, Lead Quality, Marketing Automation | No 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 »

Marketing Automation Monday comes to NYC

Written by Rockannand on November 27, 2010 – 11:31 am -

Colleague and fellow lead management  expert Jep Castelein, founder of Leadsloth, started last month a “meetup” discussion group that focuses on Marketing Automation and Lead Management. Called Marketing Automation Monday, the goal of this periodic event is three-fold: learn more about Marketing Automation, get to know other Marketing Automation professionals, and have fun doing so.

Since Jep is based in the Bay area, I responded to see if we could bring his concept to the Northeast. So I volunteered to host one in New York City and possibly for Boston. Here is what we have scheduled thus far:

Our agenda for NYC is set with an informal panel discussion on drip marketing. We will kickoff at 6pm with networking, refreshments and snacks.  At 6:30pm we’ll start an informal panel discussion about drip marketing in which several people will present their campaigns. Questions from the audience are encouraged. And after that we’ll have some more time for networking. Any ideas are welcome.

The Event

The goal of this event is three-fold: learn more about Marketing Automation, get to know other Marketing Automation professionals, and have fun doing so. You can read more at Jep’s original blog post. We’ll cover topics around Marketing Automation, including:

  • Lead Management
  • Lead Nurturing
  • Revenue Performance Management
  • Demand Generation
  • B2B Email Marketing

The meetups will focus on best practices in Marketing Automation, not so much on implementation details. It is not specific to any Marketing Automation vendor, nor is this event sponsored by any vendors. However, vendors and consultants are welcome to attend, but no selling please.

Jep has lead two meetups thus far in SF and Palo Alto, with great success. Here is Jep’s recap.

Join the LinkedIn Group

There is a group that was started by Saad Hameed a while back, the Marketing Automation Association LinkedIn Group. All future events will be announced via this Group, so if you want to be kept up to date, please register for this group.

Your Ideas Please

Because this is the first time we have organized this event, we’ll need lots of input on the ideal format. We’re curious to hear your input. Feel free to leave a comment or email us (jep at leadsloth dot com).


Posted in B2B Marketing, Lead Nurturing, Marketing Automation | 1 Comment »

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