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The Analytics Gap

Last week I came across an interesting study from the IBM Institute for Business Value in conjunction with the MIT Sloan Management Review entitled Analytics: The New Path To Value. Based on a survey of nearly 3000 executive managers and analysts, there are some great insights in the report.

Top performing organisations use analytics five times more than lower performers. While the adoption seems to be most widespread in finance functions, in the marketing functions of top performing organisations the usage seems to be around three times higher than in lower performing peers. Perhaps as a consequence of this over half of those surveyed indicated that enhancements in analytics capabilities was a top priority for their organisations.

The greatest inhibitors that prevent people from adopting analytics more widely are not actually the availability of technology, nor even the integrity or accessibility of data. The barriers are actually much more to do with management and culture than data and technology. “The leading obstacle to widespread analytics adoption is lack of understanding of how to use analytics to improve the business, according to almost four of ten respondents.” 

I’m sure this is true. Deploying new systems to make your marketing processes more efficient is one thing; but that alone does not equate to transformation. The real change happens when we start asking ourselves questions about the effectiveness of our activities, look for insights in our data, apply those insights to other activities and measure the impact. That has only a little to do with our tools, and much much more to do with our own curiosity.

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

How do you feel about the marketing profession? Are we the good guys or the baddies? 
Of course we all come into work every day intending to do the best possible job that we can, but are we actually in a profession that we can be proud of? Are we helping people or simply trying to flog stuff?
There are good marketing practices and there are terrible marketing practices. Unfortunately the bad practices tend to live in the memory longest. Few of us wish to be associated with the practices of the double-glazing salesman or the caller who interrupts you when your preparing dinner to ask “This is not a sales call, I wonder could you spare just 2 minutes to answer a few questions for our survey”. (Two lies in one sentence – it IS a sales call, and it will take more than 2 minutes!)
I often speak about the requirement to align marketing better with sales. If our marketing activities are not aligned with what the sales organisation perceives they need then we are doomed. I still believe that, however we also need to be better aligned with the client, or more importantly with the individual human being that we are engaging with through our marketing activity. I think we need to build RESPECT
To this end I offer a first pass at a  Respectful Marketing Manifesto – a brainstorm of some of the attributes of marketing activity that we need to adhere to better. I’m sure the wise owls across the blogosphere have got plenty of suggestions to add to the list – I’d love to hear them:
  1. Humanise your responses. Responses are from people – they are not just digits on a spreadsheet. They responded for a reason – why was that?
  2. Every response counts. As Seth Godin once said, when someone engages with your campaign that is a privilege not a right. While its very tempting to skim off the responders from the largest companies or with the best job titles, you do so at your peril. You could easily miss key influencers, and more significantly not meet the expectations of the person who was taking the trouble to engage with your campaign.
  3. Deepen your client insight with every interaction. Even if your engagement is as naked as a telephone call asking “would you like to buy my product” (let’s hope it’s more sophisticated than that) – if the response is “No” (which shouldn’t surprise you in this example!) you could ask what their key interest areas are.
  4. When a client honours you with insights – record it and act upon it. You’ll be much more successful engaging in a dialogue that is aligned against their personal agenda. So capture it and use the insight.
  5. Invest in capturing interest areas. Interests can be explicit (ie the client tells me verbally or via web form) or implicit (he’s responded to my activity on topic x, so the chances are it is of some interest to him). Knowing and acting upon these insights will not only increase your returns on marketing expense, but will also enhance your value in the perception of the client
  6. Revisit how you use Newsletters. Do you use newsletters to push the latest things that are important to you (who cares?), or to provide the latest news and insight that you know is relevant (because he told you or implied it through previous behaviour). A Newsletter strategy linked to a contact self-profiling tool so that dynamic newsletters can be created feels like the core of a respectful marketing system.
  7. Stop sending so much stuff! If someone has taken the trouble to provide you all this insight into their agenda, why on earth would you want to drown them in other stuff in the how that they might be interested? Most of it is a waste of your time and a waste of your recipient’s time. Better to refocus your efforts on understanding your intended clients’ own agendas and figuring out how you can best serve that.
At the core of all of this is a change in the way we capture and leverage client/prospect data in our activities. 
Traditional Marketing
  • Craft a message
  • Select a target audience
  • Blast off
Respectful Marketing
  • Determine your client/prospect’s own agenda
  • Assess where they are on their journey
  • Develop offerings/activities to help them progress on their journey
Isn’t that how you’d like to be marketed to? “All I’m asking for is a little respect”
Thanks Aretha – Sock it to me, Sock it to me, Sock it to me, Sock it to me!

Visualising your responses

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

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

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

Biggest Mistakes in B2B Content Marketing

Over on ClickDocuments blog – Connect the Docs there’s a good collection of insights from a number of B2B Marketing luminaries (Brian Carrroll, Mac McIntosh, to name two) on some of the most common B2B Content marketing mistakes to be avoided. The key ones listed are

  • Avoid the One-Off Send Syndrome
  • Avoid Me, Me, Me Marketing!
  • Not being relevant to your audience
  • Not cariing about your audience
  • Not finding multiple uses for your content
  • Missing the opportunity to create content specific to buyer personas

Some nice examples in here, but it all points to the same issue – nurturing a relationship with a potential client does NOT equate to sending them a brochure, or asking regularly if they’re ready to buy yet. Simple.

Seth Godin Sermon at Westminster Abbey

Well almost…

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

About half the audience were in the B2B marketing space, but there were an astonishingly diverse set of participants – drawing from advertising and media types, the music industry (suits and talent), students and even a Vicar from the Church of England! For me the message that came through again and again was

  • Be authentic – if you fake it you’ll be found out
  • Be remarkable – mediocre products (or people) cannot win any more
  • Focus on the possibilities that the web industrial revolution is producing, rather than clinging onto yesterday’s model
  • Don’t expect to win over everybody immediately (or even ever) – focus on the influencers and let the “nay-sayers” feel left out
  • Identify and lead tribes who will willingly spread your ideas for you

If you’ve read Seth’s books these messages will be already familiar. If your bookshelves are littered with unread books (like mine), then go to Youtube and you’ll find a multitude of video clips.

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

David Meerman Scott’s new ebook made me angry – please read it too!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s your thoughts?

Demand Generation Summit – the Movie!

My last post referred to the Demand Generation Summit at the beginning of this month. As I was saying in my presentation on the day, it’s essential to plan for how you will build upon an activity to maximise the return.

In my opinion, the Demand Generation Summit itself provides a super case study example of post-event activities that many of us could leverage in our own campaigns. We all know that marketing events are expensive – venues, lunches, visiting speakers etc. There are 2 questions that frequently come up in event planning:

  1. How can we ensure that the event is the beginning of a conversation and not the end of it?
  2. How do we engage with people who weren’t able to make the event, or that we don’t engage with until after the event has happened?

Against Question 1, the organising team have created a Linked-In group. Great move – people who attended can join, people who are referred by colleagues can join, people who stumble across it on Linked-In can join. YOU could join – as the time of writing this there are 73 members. Next step is to really get a dialog going within that group – that is more difficult of course because it requires people to participate rather than just observe.

To answer the second question, BrightTALK was one of the sponsors and the presentations were professionally captured and edited on video and are now available from a separate Demand Generation Summit webinar site, along with the slides. Congratulations to all those involved – I think they’ve done a great production job. Check it out!

Demand Generation Summit – London November 4th

Yesterday I had the honour of speaking at the first Demand Generation Summit held at Altitude in the Millbank Tower in the heart of London. The event was organised and sponsored by Banner, Google, Eloqua, BrightTALK and MarketOne. Details of the event can be found here.

A few observations from the day…

I think the team did an outstanding job in the preparation and execution of the event – list cleansing, audience generation, pre-event materials, venue selection, catering , agenda were all very thought through and flawlessly executed – hats off to everyone involved.

Amongst the attendees there was a clear desire to exchange ideas and opinions. At one level I think that many of the attendees found it a positive cathartic experience to recognise that the challenges around aligning marketing with sales, creating appropriate content, nurturing conversations, and measuring ROI are shared amongst all of us in the B2B marketing community. We may all have distinct challenges within our own individual organisations but the fundamental issues are very similar.

There is a significant opportunity to continue the dialogue amongst the attendees, and indeed build a community to encourage further discussion and exchange. On the back of the summit a Linked-In group has been setup called the Demand Generation Network. I’d encourage you to join and participate – could be fun and develop into a truly valuable resource.

Several people asked for copies of my slides, and so I’ve posted them on slideshare. As I said yesterday, I’d hope that you can use some of the content to assess what your current state of health is around conversations with pre-customers (still not comfortable with that word!) and to help you identify those areas that are under your control and those areas where you need so influence other parts of the organisation.

I’d very much appreciate any feedback – either here or in the Linked-In Group.