Content That Generates Meaningful Thought Leadership

Talk to anyone about marketing automation, demand management, or lead nurturing and the conversation inevitably turns to content. 

Copyright ITSMA 2011

Most marketing operations folks starting down the automation path talk more about their people, change management, and technology implementation woes. But after they get a couple of campaigns under their belt, the challenges of developing a steady stream of relevant, interesting content surface.

Here’s proof.  In the chart here, ITSMA shows that among services marketing teams surveyed in a 2011 study on lead management maturity, Leaders say content creation is the biggest concern they face.  So what does it take to create great content?  Great ideas.  Good marketers express great ideas through thought leadership. 

I think thought leadership is a fuzzy term. Many think thought leadership has to be truly unique and leading to be worthy of publication.  I like Forrester Research’s definition, from my former colleague Jeff Ernst, because it focuses on outcomes.  Jeff says that thought leadership is:

“The process of formulating big ideas and insightful points of view on the issues your buyers face capturing those ideas in multiple content vehicles and sharing the ideas with prospects and customers to enlighten them, engage them in a dialogue, and position your company as a trusted resource.”

At Xerox, I think we work hard to present insightful points of view on industry and the role of managed print, document, IT and business process services in those industries. I don’t think we are leading edge, but our experiences demonstrate that thought leadership is best crafted around three key ares:  your experts, your customers and your take on vertical industry problems (expressed as views shared with recognized industry experts.) 

If you are in the Denver Colorado area, and you want to find out more, please join me for the Colorado chapter of the BMA Keynote Luncheon on Wednesday, March 14, 2012.  I will post the slides from this presentation on my blog afterwards and share a few of the key comments, if you can’t make it.  I’m sure the folks at the BMA will share as well!

To preview a key lesson learned ahead of time, I want to point to Jeff’s research on thought leadership and say that his framework for upgrading your content to thought leading is very useful. He suggests 10 criteria for evaluating your content through a thought-leading lens, including:

  • Relevant – does your content deal with big issues your buyers face?
  • Provocative — does it challenge conventional thinking?
  • Forward-looking – does it anticipate what’s over the horizon?
  • Distinct – is it different than what your competitors, partners, or industry cohorts are saying?
  • Inspiring – does it energize people around this idea or way of thinking?
  • Actionable – does it provide advice on what to do now?
  • Results-driven – can using your ideas produce breakthrough outcomes or change?
  • Conversational – does your tone encourage dialogue and feedback?
  • Credible – how do you show your company can help others get there?
  • Independent – do you avoid making reference to your products and services?

(Source: Forrester Research, June 7, 2011, “Thought Leadership: The Next Wave Of Differentiation In B2B Marketing”)

Indirectly, many of the points Jeff makes are the same criteria we used in Xerox Document Outsourcing Services to determine which experts to feature, what type of content to develop, and which to feature in our campaigns. So it is a very useful and practical tool for assessing your content’s thought leadership acumen.

What challenges have you faced in developing great content?  I hope you will join in the conversation with the BMA and me next week.

5 B2B Marketing Predictions for 2012

Sourced from http://www.freedigitalphotos.net (see below)

Happy New Year! To kick off 2012, I thought I’d journey back to my industry analyst roots and make a few predictions about the issues most likely to impact B2B marketers during the next 12 months. I can’t say these predications are as well researched as my prior efforts, but – hey! – I don’t get paid to give advice any longer. (Doesn’t stop me from doing it, however.) I based this list of ruminations more on firsthand experience than third-party study and pseudo-science stuff:

1. Marketing automation (MA) interest, purchase, and use will accelerate. Despite claims from the vendors here, the MA market has been slow to develop. As the recession deepened, marketers turned to MA to cut costs and shift expenses from heads to tools. But the automation investment stakes will rise in 2012 as large enterprises move beyond initial trials to tap into the promise of building demand ahead of the sales effort. Sirius Decisions predicts 50% of enterprises will make the jump to MA by 2015 and Annuitas CEO Carlos Hidalgo expects MA purchase intent to double this year. I think the trend is positive, but that growth won’t accelerate dramatically. Experiencing this shift at a big company (Xerox) these past 18 months, I believe that the transition will be slower – and more painful – than these predictions as large enterprises in particular come to grips with the talent, process, and content issues (not the technology) that keep marketing automation on the B2B backburner.

2. Market program focus will shift from building brand and consideration to sales enablement. Marketing and sales cannot survive independently from each other, but only a minority of executives will address this dilemma in 2012. I don’t believe the solution is to make Marketing report to Sales and lose its position at the boardroom table. However, the core marketing conversation must demonstrate how marketing activity impacts sales pipeline and, ultimately, revenue. I see revenue performance management become more than just a buzzword as B2Bers start to demonstrate predictable, sustainable growth in sales, fueled by tighter marketing and sales alignment. Interestingly, notable successes will come from firms that grow sales with existing clients rather than bold moves into net-new markets.

3. The role of the customer advocate will emerge and take shape. B2B marketers have long known the value of the customer reference. Buyers want proof that you did what you say you do for someone else like them. And they want to learn from those experiences. While customer case studies and success stories were the physical and online record of this achievement, lower cost advances in technology will make it far easier for B2B marketers to capture customer testimonial in the form of video or interactive apps, particularly those suited for tablet presentation. I see companies like BrightTALK, ntara interactive, StoryQuest, and Velocity World Media experiencing a bumper year in 2012. Social networks – and plain, old, traditional industry associations and conferences — will let marketers turn clients into advocates by promoting mutual successes and shining the spotlight on customer achievement rather than product features.

4. To increase lead scoring effectiveness, marketers incorporate fit and interest criteria. Sales continues to complain that marketing delivers terrible leads. Lead scoring helps to bring discipline to the lead development and qualification process. But scoring backfires as marketers get too sophisticated too early when rating the value of prospect engagement with marketing activity. Because the threshold always changes, smart marketers will use scoring to prioritize leads, and let sales determine where to draw the line. As a best practice, they will use hard profile information – rightness of fit, account demographics, contact relevance, and audience rating – to augment softer behavioral information passed along with each “qualified” lead.

5. Content marketing will evolve as a separate function within the marketing organizational structure. The Internet has helped to make B2B buyers more sophisticated. Today, over half of the purchase decision is complete by the time buyers talk to sales. To get noticed during the early investigation phase – when the realization dawns to decision makers that the status quo is not working – marketers must produce interesting, educating, thought-provoking content. In 2012 they will quit relying on agencies to do this. The need to publish points of view in-line with thought-leading positions will cause firms (in particular: big ones) to hire or retain journalist-quality writers to pump out content for field and solution marketing programs (demand gen) to consume.

What do you see and how is that view different?  Post a comment here to share your thoughts.

PS: I sourced this image from http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=809

What Did B2B Marketers Learn in 2011? – A discussion on Focus.com

Craig Rosenberg, VP and leader for the Focus Expert Network (aka @funnelholic), invited me to participate in an online discussion about what B2B marketers learned in 2011. Now that I am into my “sophomore year” at Xerox, I can’t presume to speak for all B2B marketers like I did when I was an analyst. However, I thought I would share a few personal insights about what I’ve learned working from the marketing trenches at a very large, very tenured, highly-recognized brand in the tech space.  Here are my top 5 “hard won” lessons from this year:

1) B2B marketers must give Sales any excuse to talk to clients. There are a million things to do as a B2B marketer. If you prioritize those things that create an opportunity for your account managers to check in with a client — or your sales reps to reach out to a prospect — you will do more to align marketing activity with sales outcomes and increase marketing’s value to the business. As you put together marketing programs and campaigns, always ask “where does Sales engage the customer in this process?”

2) Time spent on segmentation and targeting is invaluable. B2B marketers are learning to understand buyers better, but the lesson isn’t complete. Knowing your buyer intimately — having the ability to define a buying persona precisely– lets B2B marketers develop the content that engages buyers and put it where buyers will find it. You also have to understand who Sales considers a target, because if you develop leads that aren’t in anyone’s territory or too small to sustain your average deal size, no one will pick them up and work on them.

3) The pressure to move from lead generation to demand management will continue to increase. Sales can’t pursue every “lead” that marketing uncovers because sales need to focus on those prospects that offer the best immediate opportunity.  B2B marketers who think beyond the current event, campaign, or quarter-end will better create programs that develop demand, qualify it over time, and deliver those “ripe” opportunities to sales — within the territory and opportunity criteria that sales wants to pursue. This is the best way to scale the pipeline and put the revenue generation engine of your firm into high gear.

4) The value of marketing content must be measured in the buyer’s eye, not yours. This is a tough one for B2B marketers to learn because they believe their products and services are so special — and require such obscure, tedious description — that they find it hard to talk about much else with authority.  This past year, top marketers learned that hiring people who know how to write, who can tell a compelling story, and who can make content interesting to watch is the best way to leave the meaningless blather and inside-out perspective behind.

5) Learn how to extend the life of your content assets and events. B2B marketers focus a lot of activity around events like tradeshows, sporting events, dinner meetings, or webinars. While these events help tell your story or make executive-to-executive connections, the activity also presents many opportunities to capture an asset and use it to engage those who could not be there live. Whether it is slides, photos, video recordings, interviews, tweets, or blog posts, every event creates artifacts that smart marketers can use to help sales keep client conversations going — or to engage new prospects — while demonstrating your unique point of view, expertise, and commitment to building deeper customer relationships.

What have been your key lessons from 2011? Check out the Focus.com discussion on this topic and join in!

“Between the Lines” – Xerox Shares a View on the Future of Documents

"Between the Lines" by John Kelly of Xerox

One of our top Xerox executives — and my boss’s former boss — recently published an ebook about documents in business and why documents will remain important. (Note, a document does NOT mean a printed page in this context — what a novel concept for Xerox, huh?)  I’d like to invite you to download and enjoy this ebook over the Thanksgiving holiday.  I would also like to plagiarize heavily from a great blog post that Karen McDermott, one of my colleagues, wrote last week. I think her perspective is clever and interesting — so I have basically replicated the post here:

A Businessweek article from 1975 entitled, “Office of the Future” predicted the paperless office. In this article, George E. Pake, the head of the (then) newly formed Palo Alto Research Center, predicted“… that in 1995 his office will be completely different; there will be a TV-display terminal with keyboard sitting on his desk. “I’ll be able to call up documents from my files on the screen, or by pressing a button,” he says. “I can get my mail or any messages. I don’t know how much hard copy [printed paper] I’ll want in this world.””

Fast forward 35+ years and that “TV-display terminal” (better know as a computer screen) that George envisioned sits on our desks – but we still have a lot of paper sitting there, too. What happened? Maybe the future of the lowly document is more resilient than we first thought.

John Kelly, Executive Vice President, Major Account Development at Xerox, published a book called “Between the Lines”, that looks at the future documents as we know them today. You can read the ebook on your Kindle or iPad, or print it as a PDF if you’re still a “paper person”. (We are “digital vs. physical” neutral on this one.) But do have a look, especially at the first chapter. While Xerox moves, together with our clients, into more and more digital media, we still recognize the role that the document — as the primary person-to-person and human-to-computer interface — plays in our lives and the value it delivers to business regardless of its physical form.

John’s book is full of real world examples about how companies use documents to reduce costs, improve investment returns, and achieve other business advantages you might not expect. It also talks about futuristic technology like erasable (reusable) paper. Here’s your chance to get a glimpse at other innovative technology that — like the computer screen — might become commonplace over the next decade and beyond.

I hope you will download it. It reads quickly and may get you to look at documents in a whole new light.

I’m “Honored” To Be A “Top 25 Digital Marketer”

Here's the award and plaque -- nice, huh?

Last week I had the pleasure to join 17 senior executive B2B marketers at the Julia Morgan Ballroom at the Merchants Exchange in San Francisco for the BtoB Magazine Top Digital Marketer awards luncheon. This event truly brought together a “who’s who” of business marketing professionals. I thought I would share a picture of the awards with you in this post. 

I was humbled to share the stage with Scott Anderson from Hewlett-Packard, Julia Atalla from Microsoft, Kevin Cox from SAP, Pam Didner from Intel, Paola Dovera from Sybase, Martyn Etherington from Tektronix Inc. — many of whom I’ve met through BtoB Magazine events or from my prior experiences with Forrester — along with others from Corning, Oppenheimer Funds, National Starch, Intuit, Motorola Solutions, AT&T, USG , Cisco, Makino and American Express OPEN. The stars were certainly out in the afternoon that day.

Congratulations go to Linda Boff, executive director-global digital marketing at GE, who was named BtoB’s Top Digital Marketer of the Year.

After lunch, Linda and the honorees assembled on stage for a panel discussion where BtoB’s Kate Maddox asked each of us to comment on the following two questions:

What is one important lesson you’ve learned about using social media for marketing?  Of course, no one could limit their advice to one lesson. I followed the crowd and said “know your audience — and understand whether they are socially active” and “relevant, rich content is the key to attracting those active, online audiences”.  If you don’t have something of value to share, it won’t get noticed in the social media world.

As you look to next year, where will you invest in online marketing?   I said, “Video.”  Used in two ways: for thought leadership (to demonstrate Xerox Document Services unique, executive points of view) and to tell our customer/success stories. I also said database and analytics because online allows you to be much more targeted, but you need to know HOW to be more targeted.  Data is the cornerstone to that success.

If you would like to learn more, check out the recorded video responses to these questions at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=msZxDnNaYG0  and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvKGfkTWm8E

During the award presentation, BtoB singled out Xerox Document Services digital marketing work in thought leadership, customer testimonial, and industry blogging as highlights of our digital achievement.

Join Me at the Marketing Technology Summit in Phoenix Next Week

Ah, Phoenix Arizona in the summer.   It’s hot.  Really hot.  The weather reports say it will be 107 degrees Fahrenheit when I’m there next Thursday.  Well, at least it’s a dry heat… So does that mean I’ll turn into a raisin rather than wilt like a flower?

Dry heat, or not, is no excuse to overlook the Marketing Technology Summit, co-sponsored by the Phoenix chapter of the BMA and the Arizona Technology Council, if you happen to be in the area.  If you follow my blog, you know that I’ve become a fan of the BMA.  The Phoenix chapter appears to be particularly active. Avnet’s world headquarters is located in Phoenix, making this location home to the national chairman for the BMA, Al Maag. This probably has something to do with the popularity of this event among the BMA crowd.

Good publicity also comes from the Phoenix Business Journal, which describes next week’s event by saying:

The goal of the 3-year-old program is to shed light on different technology aspects available for marketing. It is aimed at businesses throughout the Southwest. Next week’s conference will be a half-day format, featuring panel discussions on mobile and automated marketing as well as a small trade show with the event’s sponsors.”

Check out the agenda  to learn more; activities kick off around 12:30 pm.

I’m looking forward to speaking with Bob Rinderle (of GE Healthcare) and Christina “CK” Kerley (mobile marketing specialist) on the panel. Although I hope the discussion trends toward “all things digital” rather than “all things mobile” as the PBJ advertised. Outsourced services buyers make lengthy relationship decisions when deciding whether to turn document-based business processes over to Xerox. We’ve yet to find how sending these decision makers and influencers information in mobile format helps to advance the sale.  But I might be overlooking something, so I’m eager to learn along with the rest of the audience. I know I will also pick up great information from IBM’s Kevin Kennedy and the marketing automation panel with Eloqua CMO, Brian Kardon, and Infusionsoft CMO, Greg Head.

Will I see you there?  I hope so!  Send me some tips on keeping cool while in the dry Arizona desert before then.

Most CEOs Think Marketers Lack Credibility – Focus on Revenue to Change That

Do CMOs really understand the fundamental nature of their businesses?  Not as well as they should.

London-based Fournaise Marketing Group released a study recently where they interviewed more than 600 large corporation and SMB CEOs and decision-makers in the US, Europe, Asia and Australia. In this report, 73% of these CEOs said they felt that their marketing executives lack business credibility and that marketing is not the business growth generators it should be.  These CEOs think marketing fails to demonstrate how marketing strategies and campaigns grow revenue by generating more customer demand, more sales, more prospects, or more conversions.

Other — equally dismal — findings include how marketers:

1. Talk too much about brand, not enough about revenue.  77% of CEOs feel marketers talk about brand, brand values, brand equity but fail to link this back to results that top management cares about: revenue, sales, earnings, or market valuation.

2. Chase social media, but can’t demonstrate its impact. 74% think marketing focuses too much on the latest marketing trends such as social media, but can rarely demonstrate how this activity helps them generate more business for the company.

3. Fail to demonstrate marketing ROI. 72% see marketing ask for more money, but can’t explain how much incremental business this money will generate. What’s worse, when asked to increase their marketing ROI, 73% of CEOs see marketing respond with cost cutting ideas stemming from better economies of scale or tougher negotiations with their third-party partners, instead of top-line growth generation like more prospects and sales opportunities.

4. Focus on the wrong things.  67% of CEOs believe marketers don’t think enough like businesspeople: 67% see marketers focus too much on the creative, “fluffy” side of marketing and not enough on business science. These CEOs think marketing relies too heavily on agencies to come up with the next big idea.

Wow, that’s harsh. But not unwarranted.

Two marketers I respect deeply – Carlos Hidalgo, CEO at Annuitas Group, and Lisa Arthur, CMO at Aprimo (now part of Teradata) — highlighted this research in recent blog posts. Unfortunately, it’s the type of information that most marketers “know” intuitively. But it really smarts to see overwhelmingly high numbers demonstrate the depth of the problem.

So how do we marketers get out of this mess? I’ll paraphrase some of Carlos and Lisa’s good advice with 5 practices that you, as a top B2B marketer, should adopt to shift your focus from marketing metrics to business outcomes:

1. Plan and execute marketing programs based on business results. Go beyond metrics that simply show opens, clicks, and response rates by measuring opportunities generated, “influence on sales pipeline”, conversion rates and other metrics that relate to business outcomes. Focus on this outcome-oriented data to learn which marketing activities — and in which combination — produce the best results. Replicate those.

2. Develop lead management processes. Poor process leads to a lack of visibility and open-loop activity that leaves revenue on the table. Instead, put tooling and process in place to help both sales and marketing generate new business opportunities, manage volumes of business inquiries, and improve potential buyers’ propensity to purchase. This will let you increase alignment between marketing activity and sales results and lead to an improved impact on revenue.

3. Use business language to describe marketing results. As the Fournaise survey clearly demonstrates, C-level executives are not interested in the “art” behind marketing. Chief executives want marketing to send qualified leads to sales that generate revenue. Push your team to think about the business as a whole and to communicate marketing’s impact on the business as they see it, not as you see it.

4. Determine what your customers want, not what you are trying to sell them. Most marketing and selling bypasses the customer. Yet, not understanding your buyer makes it difficult to engage them and convince them to buy your product or service. Get to know your buyer by listening to them and learning why and how they buy. This is not easy and never ending; successful marketers make it an ongoing part of the planning, execution, and measurement process by asking “how will this change the nature of our relationship with customers and how will we know we achieved that?”

5. Use analytics to help distinguish signal from noise. While studying customer buying behavior is the micro side of the problem, understanding market and buyer trends is the macro side. Invest in tools and process to help gather and analyze data. And to better understand customer segments and purchase patterns. Then apply these insights to campaigns and show how marketing impacts revenue, earnings, and market share.

In Xerox Global Document Outsourcing Services, we have a marketing team dedicated to analytics, business intelligence, and predictive modeling for the services business. Their goal is to put “analytics into action” by starting with a top-down view of the market and analyzing where the best business opportunities exist for Xerox field sales to pursue — either within existing accounts (by cross selling or upselling new business) or by attracting new logos. Of the many things we do in marketing, this is one of the most vital and important areas and one where the alignment between sales management and marketing strategy is the highest.

What is your experience? Are there other things marketers must do to better align with business and become the revenue generation engine for your firm?

BtoB Online Names Its “Top 25″ Digital Marketers

I feel a bit sheepish writing this, but I’ve had so many friends and colleagues (including the Xerox CEO!) contact me about this award that I wanted to take the opportunity to offer my thanks and share the news. 

On June 13, in its inaugural Top Digital Marketers special report, BtoB magazine recognized 25 B2B marketers doing “exceptional” interactive work. If you look through the list at the bottom, you will see my name.  BtoB explains, “The winners were selected by BtoB staff, based on criteria including strong interactive vision and strategy as part of their overall marketing efforts; innovative use of digital technologies; and proven results.”  Wow, that’s quite an honor! And one I would like to share with my team and coworkers because I am never alone in these endeavors.

Here’s how I see it: Digital marketing is an essential part of any marketing program today – it should never stand alone. As buyers take more cues from online content, community, and experts, marketers can no longer depend on “interruption marketing” — tactics that try to get in front of prospective customers regardless of the prospect’s level of interest or qualification. B2B marketers must engage with potential buyers, determine their interests, and share useful, relevant information if they want to excel online. Here’s an example of how our industry marketing team approaches digital marketing to illustrate how we translate this perspective into practice.

Earlier this year, we decided to host a webinar featuring a well-recognized vertical industry expert. For those of you who know Ellen Carney, senior analyst at Forrester Research, she is one of the bright lights among the property, casualty, annuity, and life insurance industry luminaries. (And, yes, I adored working with her while at Forrester, so there’s my bias out in the open.) Our goal was to build Xerox Service’s reputation in the insurance industry, demonstrate a thought-leading point of view, and attract prospects to our story.

To do this, we wanted to produce fresh, interesting content that we could repurpose in different ways to drive traffic and interest. Now, to be honest, Forrester is not the cheapest resource with which to partner on this, so we wanted to make sure that the Webinar lived beyond its broadcast date. Here are a few highlights detailing where we focused our effort:

1) Relevance. We learned Ellen planned to publish a new report (not yet available on Forrester’s site) about the key trends shaping the future of the insurance industry. To associate ourselves subtly with what we expected to be ground-breaking research, we introduced Ellen to Gary Cole, who heads up our customer communications line of business for the insurance industry. Ellen liked Gary’s perspectives and decided to interview him to help provide background for her report.

2) Podcasts/audio files generate content — quickly.  We didn’t want to spend a lot of time writing, reviewing, and rewriting new content. Leading up to the webinar, we asked Ellen to talk to Gary about her findings. With Forrester’s consent (and — full disclosure — hired advice) we recorded and published three separate snippets of a Q&A conversation between the two of them, and featured each podcast in a separate blog post.  You can find them here:

Insurance 2020Insuring Against a Hole-In-One and Other Calamities, Going Green, Big Brother Evolves into a Risk Manager, and National Dog Bite Prevention Week: CA Tops National Liability List. We started promoting the Webinar in the fourth and fifth post in this series; we didn’t lead with it.  We tried to use catchy, off-beat topics to grab attention. We also tried to steer away from Xerox-centric language — this had to be about the industry, not us.

3) Highly targeted contact list.  This is probably the most important part. We market and sell managed print services contracts valued at multiple millions of dollars and spanning 5 years or more. There is a rather short list of companies that would be interested in this type of outsourced service. Knowing existing customer profiles, we crafted a list of specific accounts from which we generated a refined list of over 5000 contacts using internal databases and external sources.  To B2C folks, this may not sound like many, but for us, this was significant. While we welcome anyone interested in the future of the insurance industry to attend, we wanted to make sure that key folks at companies — like Allstate, the Hartford, New York Life, Prudential, State Farm, Travelers, USAA, and others — had the opportunity to hear from Xerox about Ellen’s new research.

4)  Industry-specific landing page. Nothing fancy, but we wanted one destination to focus our blog and outreach efforts toward that would also serve to tell interested parties a bit more about what we have to offer.  This way we could focus the Webinar content on what is interesting to clients and minimize the sales pitch from Xerox. It was also vital to record the event (again with Forrester’s paid permission) and make it available as a resource to those who couldn’t attend live.

5) A personal touch. We reached out to friends, fans and followers on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. We answered every email inquiry promptly. We sent personal emails to people we knew in the industry and promised to minimize the promotional content. We sent a reminder 30 minutes before the broadcast so that registrants didn’t have to dig through their email to find the links. We crafted separate thank-you notes for attendees and “sorry we missed you” messages for those who couldn’t make it. We made the replay available to everyone and encouraged them to share.

As a result, this Webinar enjoyed an 80% attendance rate against registrations. I don’t know about you, but — while at Forrester — I was thrilled to get 30% or more of the registrants to attend Webinars. 50% attendance is exceptional and 80% is out of this world! Also, this was the second highest attended industry-specific Webinar my team conducted so far. (So, for those cynics out there, 80% does not mean 4 out of only 5 individuals attended. We had many more than that participate.) We also generated three “leads” prior to the event — people interested in knowing more — as well as many requests wanting to see if the event would be recorded so they could access it on-demand.

What’s next? Measurement and tracking. We will enter attendee information into our database and track influence the influence of this Webinar and digital content against new opportunities and pipeline.  We will extract key questions, quotes, and other tidbits from the Webinar and use those content chunks to promote the replay. We will create customizable emails — featuring content elements and key talking points from Ellen’s research — for our sales people to use to follow up directly, and personally, with clients using our Business Builder tool. And we will do more – but I can’t give away all my secrets!

While the BtoB award is so appreciated, I hope in sharing this, you can get a glimpse into some of the activity that creates fundamental, straight-forward digital marketing. And I also hope to remain worthy of the recognition. Thank you again BtoB!

BMA Unleash 2011 – Wrap Up And Observations

Wow, the Business Marketing Association’s international conference for 2011 is over, and already I can’t wait until next year. At the risk of sounding like a compensated promoter (full disclosure: BMA did pay for my travel and accommodation to speak at this year’s event), I found this to be the premier conference for B2B executive marketers.  A strong link between BMA and BtoB Magazine is also evident:  BtoB Magazine “award” winners tend to have high-level relationships with BMA.  And magazine coverage appeared to be exclusive/preferred (see below). Which is a good thing, in my opinion, because catering to the senior B2B marketing audience can only enhance BMA”s stature as a networking association.

I’m sure you can find a lot of great feedback about the show online. Check out the Twitter hashtag #bmaunleash to see all the highlights. BtoB Magazine published two show-special editions that summarize the event effectively.  You can find them at:  June 2 and June 3.

(Notice yours truly on the panel on the front page of the June 2 summary. Yes, I am tooting my own horn.  But I have to say that many people at the show approached me later to thank me for sharing examples of Xerox’s content story.  Nice to have a positive impact.)

The main highlights for me, Days 2 and 3, include:

1) Seth Godin’s lunchtime keynote.  He is a highly entertaining nutcase.  And the master of the “all pictures, no words” presentation. His message was clear – establish your brand to be relevant in 2012 and beyond.  The days of the “company person” are over.  Very interesting: to emphasize his view of humanity’s progression from hunter/gatherer, to agriculture, to industrialism, to service-oriented society — he showed a picture of Xerox’s chairwoman, Ursula Burns, to make the last point.  Do you think our message about transforming to a service-oriented company is coming across?

2) Greg Stuart, Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) Global CEO, gave an eye-opening talk about mobile. He believes mobile could well be the marketing channel of the next decade – and has the stats to back it up.  While B2B marketers, in general, lag well behind B2C counterparts, Greg showed data from 100 mobile case studies and research against $1 billion in ad spending to argue this medium is here to stay. Time to set strategy, folks.

3) IBM talked about Watson (interesting) but it had little connection to the other topics Kevin Kennedy presented.  Siemen’s presentation was long, but a good study in how to build a US brand from a European heavyweight.  Lots of other track sessions worth a listen on the recordings.

4) The panel on work-life balance — featuring Motorola’s Eduardo Conrado, Rick Segal of gyro, Maggie Jackson from Boston Globe, Johanna Torsone of Pitney Bowes, and Dalton Conley from NYU — was depressing but very worthwhile.  There’s no escaping that work hours and life have become inextricably linked as the panel explored the dynamics of “weisure,” the convergence of working and home life, and its impact on B2B marketing. And it means we will all be on-the-clock more often.

Bottomline: experience BMA for yourself next year.  It’s worth it.

BMA “Unleash” 2011: Day 1

I am thrilled to attend my first Business Marketing Association (BMA) national conference, here in Chicago this week.  I’ve known about BMA for a long time. Josh Bernoff, who gave an outstanding keynote talk about how empowered buyers require you to empower your employees to address their needs and treat them like a channel, told me about this organization two years ago. His exact words were “this is a group you should get to know.  Go call Gary Slack.” 

I procrastinated.  I left Forrester and went to Xerox.  Gary emailed me.  I ignored him.  Bad me. 

Lucky for me, Gary reached out again and invited me to speak on a panel in the afternoon, moderated by Accenture’s Executive Director of Advertising and Brand Management, Teresa Poggenpohl, and joined by Andrew Bosman, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Navigant Consulting, Ben Edwards, VP of Digital Strategy and Development at IBM (who works for IBM VP of Corporate Marketing, John Kennedy), and Bob Pearson, Chief Technology and Media Officer at WCG and formerly with Dell.  We talked about “Unleash Your Content to Generate Meaningful Thought Leadership.”  I shared some examples of the content we produce at Xerox to demonstrate — and engage — though leaders, the best of which are our customers.

While our panel discussion was one of the highlights of the day, Roy Spence, Co-Founder and Chairman of GSD&M, and author, “It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For: Why Every Extraordinary Business Is Driven by Purpose” delivered a particularly inspiring set of observations and humorous quips.  You can find his key points at the hashtag #bmaunleash — or by following @BMANational – to see how purpose-inspired companies don’t build relationships based on selling,  but on helping their customers to be successful. I most liked his quip “Forget about all those other P’s you’ve heard about in marketing — Pricing, Promotion, Product — Purpose is the most important P that you need to have.”

So are you wondering what a race car has to do with a business-to-business marketing conference? Nothing more than an unabashed plug for Avnet, BMA and the No. 16 Ford at the Chicagoland Speedway NASCAR Race June 4, on the weekend.  Daytona 500 Winner Trevor Bayne will take the wheel.  I have to say, Al Maag, new national BMA chairman, and Chief Communications Officer for Avnet, did rock the racing suit he wore in his opening remarks rather well.

DM or follow me at @lauraramos on Twitter to see more about the show.

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