Successes and Shortfalls of Marketing Technology: As Shared with the Milwaukee BMA

Xerox Document Services - Example of Thought Leadership on Sustainability

From social media to sales enablement, I have found new marketing technologies are abundant, often replacing established tools in the marketing programs and operations toolbox.  In my relatively brief time here at Xerox Document Services, we’ve enjoyed the opportunity — and challenge — of adopting a variety of new technologies with a mix of successes and shortfalls.

On November 10, I had the honor of delivering the keynote presentation to the Milwaukee chapter of the BMA. (The BMA is an organization I shamelessly plug to all B2B marketers.) I shared a few lessons that we’ve learned rolling out social media, lead management automation, and guided selling tools in our professional services organization where sales coverage runs the gamut from geography to industry.

It was a frank recounting of the challenges and problems many marketers face with new technology adoption across a range of programs, campaigns, and operations. It was the “practical experience” view to the perspective  that Debbie Qaquish, Chief Revenue Officer of the Pedowitz Group, shared on how revenue marketers are changing the landscape of the industry through lead management automation. 

You can find the presentation on the Milwaukee BMA site, scroll to the bottom as the presentation is the last one featured on this page.  In it I talk about:

1) The state of B2B marketing and how the explosion of online tactics has made it harder for marketing to escape the execution treadmill and demonstrate its true value to the business.

2) How Xerox Document Services uses an online destination and social media to share thought leading perspectives from some of our key executives.  On this site, we talk about sustainability, change management, transforming enterprise marketing, innovation, and the future of documents.  Topics completely unrelated to copiers and printing.

3) Demand generation and lead management: how we use industry experts and clear, specific targeting to develop a perspective on key issues — like the future of the insurance industry — and share these with current clients and prospects. And how we keep the conversation going.

4) A cautionary note about guided selling and sales enablement and how the most exciting new technologies may be a bit much for your sales people to digest in one swallow.  Instead start with something they know (powerpoint slides) and give them a tool that enhances their effectiveness and professionalism when presenting in front of clients.

I also shared the following lessons with the 40 or so BMA members and guests who joined us for dinner and the evening presentation:

  • We are never finished.  Technology makes many new marketing approaches possible, but you have to keep feeding the machine.
  • Choose carefully, understand impact/risks of the new technology approaches you want to try.
  • Get inside your business financials to select metrics. If your programs and technology don’t show results in the language of business, you will fail to gain support.
  • Partner with sales, but gain senior management support. If the “big boss” doesn’t demonstrate both interest in and commitment to your implementations, then the road to success will be long and difficult.
  • Focus on audience and objectives first, the rest will follow. This is the POST principle.
  • People, process, and change management are more important than technology. Technology for technology’s sake is never a good thing.
  • Content generation is biggest success factor and hurdle. Figure out how to keep the content coming.
  • Use reporting to improve marketing, not just “prove” it.
  • Don’t be afraid to fail.

If you can relate to the contents in the presentation, let me know how.  Also, join your local chapter of the BMA. It’s a wonderful organization that I know helps to improve the business marketing profession.

Three Views on Marketing Automation – Focus Experts and MAI

Unquestionably there are many ideas and theories on marketing automation and the automation industry. Today the Marketing Automation Institute sponsored a Focus roundtable discussion that examined three views of marketing automation through the eyes of an analyst, a customer and a vendor.  And I got to be the customer instead of the analyst this time!

Carlos Hidalgo, CEO of the Annuitas Group and Executive Director of the Marketing Automation Institute, asked me to join some folks I haven’t spoken with in a while — Jeff Erramouspe, President of Manticore Technologies sand David Raab, long-time marketing automation technology and market analyst — for a conversation about the marketing automation industry, where it’s heading, how companies use lead management technology, and what to do to get more value from value from automation.

You can find the full recording and Twitter stream here.

Some of the questions we tackled — well, that I tackled – include:

1) Moving from analyst to practioner, what do I see at Xerox as some of the driving factors behind the push for automation?
(A growing profusion of marketing approaches and little consensus about what really works to drive demand. Therefore, the need to measure and automate marketing to better demonstrate its impact on the business.)

2) What are some of the ways an organization can use automation to reach buyers besides using it as an email engine
(I think it’s all about finding new ways to reach buyers outside of email — syndication of content to industry and association Web sites that link back to a landing page, publishing YouTube videos, starting a Facebook fan page, developing a community destination outside of your Web site are but a few examples.)

3) Of people, process and content, which one trumps the others — or all they all equally important — when it comes to successful automation? (Depends on where you are in the adoption lifecycle. Marketers starting out talk more about technology and skills their key needs. But more mature practioners point to content development as the gating item to success.)

Want to hear more?  Visit the site.  Listen to the recording. And share your views
UPDATE! — To hear the Sales’ view of marketing automation — sign up now for the November 10 Focus/MAI Roundtable.

Maturing Your Lead Generation and Marketing Automation

  Today I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with the Corporate Financial Group about maturing lead generation and lead management automation. This association of commercial banking marketing professionals offers the latest, industry-relevant insight into business-to-business marketing trends, practices and people in the financial industry.  I first met this group, spearheaded by the effervescent Pat Scanlon, over 4 years ago when I was a Forrester analyst and just starting out in the B2B marketing arena.

Pat connected with me, probably through LinkedIn, a few months ago and asked if I would be interested in speaking to the group, who was planning to meet in San Francisco this year.  When we last met in Chicago, I found CFG members to be at the cutting edge of both industry and marketing trends for large enterprise/business banking. That day we talked a lot about lead management, marketing automation, why both are important, and the four stages that B2B marketers progress through as they adopt lead management best practices. Their comments were both insightful and challenging.

So naturally I accepted Pat’s invitation to speak to this group again. We talked about the problem of lead generation in B2B marketing and the promise of automation in solving challenges like:

  • Getting alignment between marketing and sales around how you go to market
  • Market segmentation, understanding the buyer’s journey, and profiling buyer behavior.
  • How to deliver relevant, inspiring content — and how “thought leadership” helps marketers do that.
  • Integrating marketing tactics that attract and engage prospects.
  • Creating advocacy among customers — in particular through social media.
  • Enabling sales – and get credit for doing so.
  • Shifting the marketing discipline from creative to operational — from right brain to left brain.

If you would like to see a summary set of the slides I presented to this group, take a look at this link on Slideshare

Key takeaways for this group concerned where to focus their time, money and investment in lead management:

  1. Beg, borrow or buy talent in three key areas: journalist-quality writing talent, business/data analyst (who also has a segmentation specialty), and an operations techie with HTML experience.  Buying a tool is not enough – you need tech, content and analytics talent to make it work. On the content side, you can get some of this from your agency.  You need a partner in IT to help with the rest.
  2. Be prepared to build a marketing database and to perform regular data quality management. Also, you must plan to invest in a library of content that covers issues, roles and industries for the target buyers you approach.
  3. Start with a “Quick win” project that shows how marketing scales sales, but make sure your lead management efforts reward marketers and sales for using it and “doing the right thing” – these rewards provide the change management and cultural cues that signal the importance of this new way of going to market to all the players involved.

Take a look at the slides and let me know if you have any comments or questions.

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!

Tackling Content Management with BtoB Magazine

Last month, BtoB Magazine asked me to speak on a panel as part of its NetMarketing Breakfast Series at the Hotel Nikko in San Francisco on February 16. BtoB’s NetMarketing Breakfast events explore how b-to-b marketers use the Internet to communicate with customers and prospects. Together with Kevin Cox from SAP and Pam Didner from Intel, I shared a short presentation showing some examples of effective online marketing campaigns that we executed here at Xerox. 

My presentation examined two case studies: Xerox’s Real Business Live and Xerox Global Services’s Thought Leadership campaigns — both of which feature an integrated array of online, broadcast, and conventional marketing approaches and tactics.  You can download a copy of the presentation from BtoB Magazine’s site if you are interested in seeing more.

As a follow up to this panel, the writers at BtoB asked me to comment on the following question:

“How are you managing content for marketing?”

You can see from my response, that I answered the question quite literally while Pam and Mark Wilson, VP Corporate Marketing at Sybase — who I know from my analyst days and have admired his work on provocation marketing, provided more high-level advice.

Looking at the topic of content management best practices more broadly, I would echo Pam’s advice that “content is king, but creative is queen”. It’s not enough to have interesting content, but you have to present that content in a way that engages the audience and compels them to interact with you. I think good storytelling is key to making content compelling and relevant. As are proper grammar, clear writing, and the ability to write copy that reflects your customer’s concerns, not yours.

Central to any B2B marketer’s narrative should be your clients and the stories they tell about how you helped them to solve difficult problems or to make their business operate more effectively or efficiently.  So marketers, worry more about developing, presenting, and syndicating your content than “managing” it.  Because getting buyers and customers to talk about you is what gets others to notice.

Hire Jonathan Kranz and Stamp Out Passive Voice

Here is a bit of a grammar lesson and a bit of insight into my personality.  I hate passive voice. After writing research reports at Forrester for 9 years, I think I’ve become a bit fanatic about spotting passive writing and correcting it. For example, a notice posted on the door to my doctor’s office this week said, “Our office will be closed for Thanksgiving on Thursday and Friday of this week.” I crossed out “will be closed” and wrote “will close” above it. When I call my son’s cell phone, prior to connection I get a message that says, “Please enjoy the music while your party is reached.” I want to scream “while we reach your party.”  You get the picture?

I thought my colleagues at Forrester used passive voice a lot until I came to Xerox and read some of the documentation, collateral, and marketing communications written here. Passive language is unfortunate, but typical, in many high technology companies – firms that use a specialized vocabulary and lean on jargon to communicate. So I decided to get some help upgrading writing skills in the North American services marketing team. After scanning the Web, and talking with other marketers about their experiences with copy writing training, I came across Jonathan Kranz

Besides training marketers to be better copywriters, Jon is a freelance writer who develops advertising, direct marketing, and public relations materials for consumer and B2B clients in financial services, banking, insurance, high-tech, healthcare, and education. He is also the author of Writing Copy for Dummies. Talking with him on the phone, I liked his straightforward approach and passion for teaching others how to write to a specific, target audience and engage them with simple, clear prose. He also works with many high technology clients, so he understands the unique challenge marketers face when trying to convey the value in technically sophisticated products.

On November 16, we hired Jonathan to deliver a full day, onsite writing workshop.  Wow, am I glad we did. Using engaging lesson material and hands-on exercises, Jonathan helped our team boost its collective writing acumen and — my favorite — stamp out passive voice and jargon. Without giving away his entire syllabus, here are some highlights from the course Jon customized for our team:

1) Be a Mirror, not a Window: Write Copy to Reflect Your Customer’s Concerns — Much marketing writing focuses on the company and its products or services, not the customer. It’s inward-facing. Jonathan starts out with an exercise to help writers learn to how to acknowledge their target audience in writing and focus on them (not you) by demonstrating empathy with their priorities and by providing answers/solutions to their problems.

2) Use 3D Storytelling.  Next, Jonathan showed us how to use “3-Ds” to create an emotional connection to buyers using a memorable message and a logical flow to arguments. The “3-Ds” stand for Desire (what does your audience want?), Danger (what obstacle, challenge, or problem stands in the way?) and Drama (how can you help – what is it about your product/service/solution — that overcomes the obstacle and achieves the desired outcome?) You heighten drama when you provide proof to demonstrate that you can achieve what you promise.

3) Don’t “Let it Be” – Use Active Verbs: Review your copy (read it out loud to yourself or ask a colleague to read it for you) to find those places where you can transform passive into active construction. Don’t be afraid to use the word “you” in your writing and to think in terms of giving directions or advice, rather than indirect suggestions.

4) Search and Destroy: Jargon, Clichés, and Imprecise Language. Is your language exhausted, overused, and so broadly applied that it no longer has any tangible meaning to your audience?  Then change it by including specificity (numbers, measures, exact names, tangible details), statistics (data, facts, time periods, sources), direct quotes, news, and language that appeals to the senses.

The best part about Jonathan’s workshop was his energy, enthusiasm, and ability to think on his feet.  He kept a group of 30 marketers engaged throughout the day. If you would like to learn more, visit Jon’s Web site and let him know that you read about him on my blog.

Besides these few examples I shared today, what are some writing challenges you struggle with as a marketer?  Or that you would want your team to improve upon? I would be curious to know. Regardless, I think Jonathan could help you, so check him out on Twitter and Facebook.

ITSMA Marketing Conference: A “Must Do” for B2B Services Marketers

Last week I had the good fortune to attend the 17th annual marketing conference sponsored by ITSMA. I have blogged about this organization previously and continue to believe that events hosted by this association are a “must attend” for B2B services marketers. My highlights of the two-day conference included:

The Future of Work: How Marketers Will Need to Transform to Succeed” — Malcolm Frank, Senior Vice President of Strategy & Marketing, at Cognizant Technology delivered an interesting look at how global trends in the economy, workforce size/age by country, and social behavior will change how work gets done. Malcolm described how marketing to millennials– and hiring them in your organization — will bring about fundamental changes in how marketers engage clients and buyers. Having met Malcolm previously at Forrester, it was great to catch up with him at the conference.

Jeff Summers, Chief Innovation Officer at SAVO, talked about “Marketing as a Catalyst for Field Sales” and how to maximize the impact of sales conversations.  Jeff contends that sales enablement should focus more on how to help sales have meaningful conversations with prospects, and not simply on creating content. He also presented 5 common sales performance weaknesses and how marketing can help sales overcome them. Check out the Twitter stream at #ITSMA10 to find out more!

Jane Hiscock of Farland Group shared the stage with IBM and talked about their partnership in building online advisory groups and customer communities. Key lesson: ensure you will not “sell” to the community and never attribute community conversations/shared information to a specific member.

Julie Meyers, Vice President, Strategy, Marketing & Client Experience, Xerox Global Services NA (disclosure: my boss!) took the stage on the second day to present “It’s All About the Strategy—How to Elevate Marketing’s Role Through Alignment and Execution.”  Julie is a marketing and strategy wiz, and a primary reason why I’m here at Xerox.  Among best practices shared, Julie showed why marketers must understand sales’ motivations and metrics to truly partner with them and enable client acquisition, pipeline progression, customer retention, loyalty, and growth.

Taking Thought Leadership to the Next Level” was a fantastic presentation by Bret Barczak, Chief Marketing Officer, Services & Solutions, GE Healthcare Technologies. Bret shared some shocking statistics about the US healthcare system, including tht facts that — while healthcare accounts for over 16% of the US GDP — most hospitals run at 3-4% margins, 50% lose money, and 64% are underutilized. To lead a conversation about how to alter these trends (before government prescribes unwanted changes), GE Healthcare developed “Next Level”, its thought-leadership centerpiece, which you can see at . GE won a Marketing Excellence Award for their work on this site during the conference. 

Over two years ago, TELUS began a transformation to move their marketing from simple lead volume generation to demand prequalification, scoring, and handoff. A good part of the strategy, uses social media to build interest and educate buyers at . TELUS used a version of the Forrester Groundswell framework to set social strategy. To learn more about this framework, see my prior blog post at: .

This is just a small sample of the truly useful, practical agenda offered during the conference.  If you are a marketing professional in the services space (high tech or otherwise), I recommend you check out this event next year. To learn more read the Twitter stream by searching on #ITSMA10 or visiting the ITSMA site.

SocialTech 2010: Building A Social Media Marketing Discipline At A Major Brand

Earlier this week, I had the good fortune to attend and participate in the first social media conference geared to B2B marketers. MarketingProfs sponsored an excellent event. I believe the 200+ who attended in person, and the 400 or so who listened in virtually, would agree. For a round-up of conference activities, here is a list of the best posts and articles I found on the event:

1) Ann Handley’s coverage of the event:

2) Aaron Pearson from Weber Shandwick wrote a great post:

3) #mptech daily read:  (Search the #mptech tag on Twitter for more.)

For me, the price of admission was listening to Brian Ellefritz, Senior Director of Global Social Media Marketing, talk about his plans for creating a new social media marketing discipline at SAP. While “SAP” and “discipline” are synonymous to many, one might think that SAP’s top-down culture may struggle with the unruliness of social media a bit. To move SAP along, Brian adopted the “Social Engagement Journey” — a view of the stages large brands progress through when establishing social media marketing practices. Brian credits Sean O’Driscoll, and the team from Ant’s Eye View, with the concepts and framework he’s bringing to SAP.

According to Brian’s talk, the four stages along the Social Engagement Journey include:

Stage 1: Grass roots – characterized by lots of activity but little focus; lots of variation but little conformity. Individual teams pursue social media opportunities bottoms up. Charismatic personalities, who want to grab the spotlight as early adopters, tend to drive this stage where overarching strategy and leadership has yet to form.

To move along from Stage 1 to Stage 2, Brian offered the following observations and guidelines:

1) Find leadership – corporate entities like Legal and Marcom calm their social media concerns when adult supervision enters the room.

2) Don’t discourage the experimentation with too many rules or too much oversight.

3) Begin informal education – workshops – to form consensus around what needs to happen and how.

4) Increase and improve listening. In turn, better listening will improve content proficiency and efficiency.

5) Let standard tools and governance emerge. Grass roots teams find they need operational models, process, and a common tool platform to progress further.

Stage 2: Silos form – independent efforts start to coalesce around functional areas and some leadership, whether by design or accidental, starts to emerge. Co-opetition among silos can happen in this stage and can be disconcerting. Teams experiment with more tools, but a lack of focus on business objectives means processes have yet to align. Content generation continues to happen through enthusiasm and personal initiative more than strategy.

To mature Stage 2 activity, Brian suggested:

1) Don’t get caught up in inter-team competition. Those who stay true to good social principles – who walk the social talk – will rise to the top and others will adopt their ideas.

2) Progress tool strategies from ad hoc to formal vendor relationships and benefit from all the attendant training, support, etc.

3) Pay more attention to metrics. With tenures of 18 months or more, social media teams now need to answer tougher questions about investment returns and justification.

4) Focus on creating conversational content. Most marketers gear their writing around messages, lead generation, and holding prospects hostage to sales. Social marketing writers must get to know customers better and learn how to deliver content customers value.

5) Formalize roles. Social initiatives can no longer afford to run off of employee enthusiasm and activities executed during nights and weekends.

Stage 3: Operationalize – in this stage, the silos of activity merge, leaderships becomes clear, and the activity starts to feel more like marketing and less like chaos. Firms in this stage truly understand how their customers/prospects use social channels and engage with them in those channels. These firms also invest more in education and communication since practitioners now come from all areas of the business. Listening informs both tactics and strategy.

To evolve in this stage, companies should:

1) Focus training on roles and objectives, not just the tools. Instead of holding a “Twitter class”, sponsor “how to build a social conversation with <audience>” workshop.

2) Reset your listening strategy. Invest in tools like Visible or Radian 6 to learn more about where customer conversations happen, what your competitors are doing, and how strong your share of voice is. Use the data to determine where the market will take you next.

3) Advertise the heck out of successes, and invest in them further. Resist the temptation to focus on the laggards. Competition and public visibility will give them ample motivation to keep from being left behind.

4) Push silos of activity together. Create virtual teams of bloggers for example. Combine conventional email aliases and meetings with a community platform where practitioners can share successes, policies, and practices.

5) Don’t wait too long for governance to happen. Actively create discipline around strategy, ownership, priorities, and metrics.

Stage 4: Lifestyle – the ultimate stage is one where few firms reside today. Zappos may be the lone example of a company where social activity is part of it’s core structure and culture. Business units earn more autonomy to act socially based on business objectives, positive outcomes, and a common understanding of success examples. More rigor in metrics helps to keep employees engaged and competent in social discourse. In this stage, tools are optimized, systems are integrated, everyone buys in, and angels sing. (Well, the last won’t happen, but I wanted to see if you were still with me.)

A successful journey from social chaos to social engagement depends on many factors besides those outlined: your company culture, momentum, environment, funding, and the extent to which your audience is willing to engage with you socially. Yet, I think this model offers a good place for companies to assess their progress and to think about what they need to do strategically to move from one stage to the next.

Thanks for the enlightening talk, Brian, I really appreciated it!

Join Me at SocialTech 2010: Oct. 27 at the Doubletree in San Jose

As a former Forrester analyst, I’ve had a long-standing relationship with the wonderful folks at MarketingProfs.  I’ve come to value greatly the resources — both online and in-person — this organization provides to marketers who, frankly, can’t afford the big-ticket price of a marketing consultant or industry analyst firm. This Tuesday, MarketingProfs will host SocialTech 2010, their inaugural social media conference for B2B marketers in the high technology space.

After a rocky start caused by the slow economy, and postponement of the event from March until October, SocialTech 2010 promises to bring together the visionaries and experts who have used the power of social media to transform the way B2B technology companies market their products and services. At 3 pm on Tuesday afternoon, I will speak on a panel featuring:

In this session, Michael and René will present highlights from recent research — conducted by IDC and Palo Alto Networks separately and respectively — to benchmark the use of social media for B2B high-tech marketing. Michael will explain why traditional corporate culture remains the largest barrier to successful social media initiatives today. He’ll discuss the different operational challenges organizations face to effectively deploy and manage social media initiatives. René will then provide highlights on the adoption and usage of social media in his experience at Palo Alto Networks and (probably) Serena Software, where he worked previously. 

After Michael and René speak, Gurmeet and I will react to the research and share some things we are seeing and doing within our own organizations. Hopefully we can provide advice on how you can encourage social media use within your own organization while demonstrating its value to the business.

Prior to my panel, at 2 pm that same afternoon, my colleague Jeannine Rossignol will join Chris Koch from ITSMA to talk about “The Role of Social Media in the Buying Process”  and how Xerox has used social media to enable internal salespeople to have more informed discussions with customers. While I only touch on it in my panel presentation, Jeannine will talk more about “Competipedia”—a secure, interactive, wiki-based resource for the Xerox Global Services sales force to find the latest competitive information. Chris will share how CSC did also leveraged wiki technology when they launched the first B2B social networking site for the insurance industry, called WikonnecT. Wikis and service companies — anyone seeing a trend here?

The SocialTech agenda promises both forward-looking views from Jeremiah Owyang, Guy Kawasaki, and Robert Scoble – visionaries that no conference on social media should be without. I also hope you will find a lot of practical, real-world advice that you can put into action after you leave the conference.  Will I see you there?  I hope so!

ITSMA: 5 Ways Services Marketers Can Enable Sales

Selling high-involvement products through a direct sales force is hard.  Selling high-involvement services through a direct sales force is even harder. The job requires more focus on relationship creation, management, and maintenance in services than other industries — activities that good salespeople accomplish almost naturally and good marketers struggle to leverage across different audiences.  Those of us in high technology/IT services marketing are lucky, however, because we have ITSMA to help.

I love that there is an association exclusively for IT Services Marketing professionals – one that attracts true peers from other large, high technology companies who exchange experiences and learn from each other readily. ITSMA does a great job of providing thoughtful research and best practices focused specifically on those who must work with sales and delivery across a wide range of target markets, industries, geographies, and offerings.  The folks at ITMSA help to start — and keep — those conversations going.

For example, today I attended ITSMA’s Briefing on The Next Generation of Sales Enablement here in Santa Clara, CA. This is an important topic among services marketers because the culture in many professional services organizations revolves around sales and delivery. It can be common in this sector, when compared to others, to see executive sales management relegate marketing to the “Make me some pretty slides” department. This is a fate good sales enablement can help to avoid.

How Do Services Sales Spend Their Time?

ITSMA Study: How Do Services Sales Spend Their Time?

While I can’t share the entire presentation with you, I found one slide particularly informative. In an August survey of the membership, ITSMA found that almost 1/4 of salespeople’s time, on average, is spent on indirect selling activities like lead generation, lead tracking, account planning, account strategy, creating presentations, and customer research, among other things.

Wow, doesn’t that sound like many of the activities marketing should do — and could do more consistently and less expensively — to target prospects, educate them ahead of the sales process, and increase sales productivity? I think industry marketers must work harder to understand the typically long, extensive sales processes — that include assessments, proposal responses, oral presentations of the proposed contract terms, and negotiations — and determine “how can marketing help to find this business earlier, nurture it, and help move it through the pipeline?”  This requires more than a direct marketing approach because services firms must demonstrate a commitment to the client’s business that goes beyond messaging and presentations.

Using ITSMA’s framework, successful sales enablement in the services world requires close attention to 5 critical areas:

1) Marketing and sales alignment: do you share the same goals and objectives for 2011 as well as this quarter? Do you agree on what it is you have to sell, who you want to sell it to, and what’s needed to make that happen?

2) Sales processes: fundamentally how do you sell and what makes your best salespeople outdistance their peers? Even if marketing does not share this responsibility, they should know how the sales and negotiation process works to know how they can help accelerate deals in the pipeline.

3) Lead generation: to my mind this is most important for sales enablement.  If marketing can’t demonstrate a direct link between marketing activity and sales results, it’s time to get into another line of work.

4) Sales tools: knowing “how” salespeople sell helps determine which tools they need at each stage in the process. Where you have the most fall out from one step to the next is where marketing should focus the sales tool effort. Don’t fall in the trap of asking sales “what do you need?” Rather, find look at how they spend their time and ask, “how can we help you do that faster, better, more efficiently?”

5) Account/territory planning:  this one is huge in services firms because account assignment requires long term commitment, both at the account level and at the broader segment level.  Service marketers in particular want to chase “industry marketing” and proffer industry solutions.  That’s fine, but targeting fewer industries more deeply works better in the long run that spreading those precious, few field resources across a jumble of different segments.

To learn more, I invite you to check out the ITSMA website or to look into their annual conference in early November. I look forward to seeing you at an upcoming ITSMA event!


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