1. Another Case for Marketing and Sales Collaboration

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    We have to be careful not to take words too literally. Consider the idea that marketing delivers sales ready leads to sales. By doing this, marketing has moved the buyer X% (30% -70%?) of the way through the sales process, right? Well, maybe, but maybe not. Let’s look at what has to happen with that “lead” on the sales side. (Reminder, we’re talking complex not transaction oriented sales here.) In most B2B sales processes 4-15 stakeholders are engaged. (A top technology company selling a multimillion dollar solution has 30-50 people on their People Map). When we say marketing has delivered a sales ready lead, do we mean the 4-15 stakeholders to a specific opportunity, or a single individual? Obviously, waiting for marketing to get an entire buying team to sales ready status introduces serious risk factors of being late to apply the critical sales professional resource. After all, people progress individually...
  2. Content Marketing Principles and Practices

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    Subtitle: Lip Service or Disciplined, Consistent Execution? A research briefing on Focus Marketing website called Best Practices in Content Marketing presents summary recommendations, a set of principles really, for conducting content marketing. Executive Summary “A content marketing strategy involves the creation of content for the purpose of engaging and establishing relationships with current and prospective customers, and subscribes to the belief that delivering high-quality information to prospects at the right stage of the buying cycle drives profitable action. There are several stages of a content marketing strategy each with many elements to consider before moving to the next. In this guide, Focus Experts Ardath Albee, Joe Chernov, Barbra Gago, Doug Kessler, and Stephanie Tilton have suggested their top tips and best practices for each stage of the content marketing cycle.” I highly recommend the briefing, the full roundtable discussion transcript, or the on demand recording of the full program. (I especially like that Focus offers MP3 and transcript versions,...
  3. New B2B Marketing and Selling Truisms

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    This is my list of new marketing and selling truisms for B2B selling organizations. They provide context for most of our services and writing. I post them prominently here so as to not have to repeat them in any conversation or material I create. If you agree with these truisms, please join the conversation. If you have additional, please help me grow a comprehensive list. Thanks to those who have provided suggestions, some of which I’ve added. Buyers are more in control of the B2B buying process than ever before. For buyers, all sellers look and sound alike. Products and services appear undifferentiated. Therefore, the way we sell is a critical area of differentiation and value add. The Internet changes everything, by providing instant access to virtually unlimited information. This requires new ways of thinking about marketing and sales, as well as new processes, skills, resources and investments. “It’s not...
  4. Sharing a customer’s story

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    I’m just back from a client review meeting. We assist our customer with lead management and content. This week they started a campaign, here is their story. As a result of our customer’s ability to track and score buyer consumption of content, initially delivered through an outbound campaign, and supported by a content microsite, our customer identified several people whose content consumption behavior indicated heightened interest. This triggered a move of this “lead” in their (Marketo) lead management system from the initial “inquiry” status to “marketing qualified lead” (MQL). The lead scoring algorithm also triggered their inside sales person to conduct an immediate phone follow up. All of this was communicated automatically within their Salesforce.com system, virtually in real time. The “buyer” turned out not to be the actual buyer at all, but the administrative assistant for the President of the company. She indicated they found the content so valuable they...
  5. Twitter — What do you read at breakfast?

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      I’m often asked, “how do you use Twitter for your selling activities?” Twitter is a primary resource for me to listen, learn and conduct research. I find great ideas, articles and people through Twitter. I curate important and long-life content as an essential, almost daily practice. My rule is, if it’s a good article and worth sharing, it’s worth sharing many times over time. I curate to Microsoft OneNote to support this practice. Listening “It’s not information overload. It’s filter failure.”— Clay Shirky Using Twitter to listen to topic specific conversations is a skill we really need to develop. I don’t have time to listen to everything. By selecting and cultivating people who share my interests, I leverage their research, insights, ideas and conversations. I pick up themes, topics and keywords that help me further my listening, but in an efficient way. I acquire articles, quotations, research and facts I...
  6. Content Strategy for the Web

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    If you’re accountable for creating content for marketing and sales I encourage you to immediately get copies of Kristina Halvorson’s Content Strategy for the Web for everyone on your team. There are many parallels and insights that apply to building non-website content. The core premise, that organizations must take a strategic approach to building content and think of content as important business assets, applies to content created for lead generation and nurturing programs, sales enablement and customer communications. The following are a few key excerpts from the book: “Only when we embrace our identities as publishers will we be able to commit to the necessary infrastructure to care for our content as a strategic business asset. For years, we’ve been spending millions of dollars on strategy and research, user experience design, visual design, and technical platforms. In other words, we’ve invested in everything we need to build the online vehicles...
  7. Focus On Your Sales Conversations

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    Scott Santucci of Forrester’s Technology Sales Enablement Group has an important blog post regarding your sales conversations. (The Key To Sales Enablement Success Is To Focus On The Conversation) “A B2B sale is really the synthesis of many discrete conversations, and value is best communicated when they are focused on a common goal: solving the client’s problem. What most organizations fail to address is how complex a task it is to corral many discrete conversations into a consistent value communications strategy. To make matters even more complex, most companies have solutions that can address multiple different problems, so this set of questions must be answered for each opportunity. We all know that good conversations are dynamic, reciprocal and most effective where there is trust between the people involved in the dialog. To accomplish this, the salesperson must communicate information that is: Relevant: to the specific circumstances and realities of a given company In...
  8. Repurpose Content, Important, Not a Panacea

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    The tactic to repurpose content is a hot topic right now among marketers as they look to reduce content development time, effort and costs. Our company has repurposed content for customers for over fifteen years, and developed several techniques. But first, a warning. Repurposing content is not a panacea to creating the right content the right way the first time. We suggest, if you can repurpose content, it wasn’t designed and created to be targeted and relevant in the first place.  This is why a content strategy that develops a content engine to continuously create content like publishers is so important. If content is not relevant, remarkable or compelling, repurposing won’t necessarily make it so. If content is all about the vendor and their products, it can be difficult to repurpose into effective customer educational content that is high demand today. Think of house renovations. This works well when it’s...
  9. Keeping PowerPoint in Perspective

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    A recent New York Times article — We Have Met the Enemy and He is PowerPoint — is the latest in a (seemingly) never-ending series of articles deriding the tool. This is a good opportunity to move from the “cool” perspective of bashing PowerPoint, to consider it’s significant possibilities — even for content professionals. For over twelve years we have recommended a different perspective. Rather than view PowerPoint as a bullet-oriented presentation tool — it’s initial purpose — we suggest viewing it as a business graphic development, and even general communication tool. Training organizations have long embraced PowerPoint as a foundation for e-learning. Where would marketing webinars be without PowerPoint? As a production tool for general business people, nothing beats it and that’s why it’s so pervasive. But what of more “professional” users? A Tool for the Content Marketing Professional Consider the following marketing and sales content requirements facing most...
  10. For a Stronger Content Strategy — Begin With Purpose

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    I remember reading about Norman Cousins. He developed a serious illness in the seventies and received a poor recovery prognosis. Convinced of the power of positive emotions, he used humor and laughing to support his recovery. He rented funny TV shows and movies. This experience was the basis for his popular book, Anatomy of An Illness. TEDTalks are part of my therapy today. Mostly because of their incredible inspirational value. Right at the top of the most popular TEDTalks is Simon Sinek. Sales and marketing must go beyond delivering information to customers. We’re about inspiring action. In this vein, all marketing and sales professionals should be familiar with this landmark talk, Start with Why — How Great Leaders Inspire Action. When organizations develop their content strategy, and begin with purpose – theirs and their audience’s purpose – the work is less daunting and results are more effective. This is not a...
  11. Second Voice Vignettes for Telesales and Prospecting

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    As a sales professional, telephone selling is a key element of my sales job, especially in the critical, initial stages of prospecting and engaging new customers. For many sales people this is a frustrating, time consuming, low probability of success activity. Here’s an approach that significantly improves your odds, provides value to your prospects, gives you important feedback and, for now, will clearly differentiate you from other sales people. I’ve been thinking about the binary nature of sales prospecting and cultivating initial customer relationships. Consider, with most sales calls: We either connect, or don’t Leave a voicemail, or not Send an email, or not The prospect answers, or doesn’t Is willing to talk, or not Is interested, or not Is willing to meet, or not Is the right person or not, etc. Of course, the odds of a favorable outcome for each option don’t favor us. But what if there...
  12. A Content Engine Drives Lead Management

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    I was walking my dog past the school playground recently and watched a dad with a young child playing on the monkey bars. The boy could barely jump up and reach the rungs, but seemed paralyzed at the distance between the rungs to begin his navigation. Then I heard him command his father: “swing me, Dad, swing me.” The father gave the boy a gentle push and, using the momentum created by the swinging, the boy navigated his way across the remaining bars. However, whenever he ceased his momentum and stopped on a rung, he was unable to restart. He dropped to the ground to return to his father for a lift and a swing. This got me thinking about lead management. We know that initial inquiries begin to go cold within hours. But too often our follow up connections are “one and done:” a phone call, landing page, white...
  13. How long is your sales process?

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    One of the early questions I ask prospective customers with a complex, B2B sale is, “how long is your sales process?” The answer is almost always, “it depends, it can be three to eighteen months depending …” In the past few years we’ve all gained a stronger appreciation for the idea of the customer’s buying process.  Sharon Drew Morgan’s contribution with Buying Facilitation(R) helps us. Ardath Albee’s buyer journey gives us a clear understanding. Automated lead nurturing has forced us to think through the buyer’s journey and how to support it with relevant, compelling content. Sales professionals know the sales process applies to qualified and interested opportunities. Sales participates in the active consideration phase of the customer’s buying journey. Two primary factors determine the sellers sales process: How long it takes to assess an active buyer’s needs, engage all buyer stakeholders, influence buying criteria, configure a solution, deliver a successful proposal and complete...
  14. On Sales Enablement

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    As I listen to the sales enablement conversation, it sounds like sales enablement is a euphemism for training, skill development and knowledge sharing. The conversation is heavily influenced by system vendors. These systems improve access to content that delivers selling knowledge and customer collateral. Reminds me of the old expression, “when all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” Clearly improving skill and knowledge are part of what drives sales productivity. But I’m hearing two critical elements that have been missing from the conversation starting to emerge. Leads Are Part of Sales Enablement As a sales professional, I think one of the most important elements that enable sales to be more productive is a steady supply of qualified opportunities. Good leads vs. access to content? Give me leads every day. It is now clear that an automated lead management program is a “must have” for B2B...
  15. Avitage POV on Marketing and Sales Communication

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    My company, Avitage, has recently updated our point-of-view. Over fifteen years the core vision has not changed: to enable front line business communicators to assemble and deliver buyer relevant and useful content, tailored to each audience — even an audience of one. We even learned how to do this with video! But the delivery methods have certainly evolved, expanding the need for, and value of, our approach. Enabling sales to meet revenue, growth and profitability targets is the responsibility of marketing and sales working in a collaborative effort. How you sell is a primary differentiator and opportunity to create value for customers. These efforts should also be aligned around the common process of the customer’s buying journey, and the objective of facilitating a faster buying process. A Communication Requirement Seeing these objectives through a communications lens is an important distinction. Communication is a function of: Messages — knowing what to...
  16. Risk of User-Generated Video Content

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    I’m really interested in John Jantsch’s new book The Referral Engine. But I’m not sure I’ll be reading it. I have a full reading list and limited time. I primarily read material referred to me from a trusted source. It’s a new book, so I’m waiting for reviews to emerge. That’s why today I jumped on the Twitter link to this “review” by Jim Kukral. Warning: there is some negativity in this blog, delivered in the spirit of feedback and insight, born of disappointment and frustration. A Review IS a Referral Think about it. A “review” is a referral. I would hope that a book about referrals would teach someone how to provide a referral. This glaring omission in this particular review has me questioning whether it’s missing from the book as well. I’m making these criticism because we’re dealing with professionals here. Not some geek … oops, after writing...
  17. How I Blew a Sales Layup

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    A layup is the easiest shot in basketball, if you’re not able to dunk. But it’s not unusual for a player to miss a layup. Why is that? Most likely because they overlook fundamentals and fail to concentrate. We recently had a sale not close — neither lost nor won, just won’t close. The customer has a significant and recognized need, high interest in our service, and our sales person has known and worked with the company previously. There was significant and acknowledged potential value from the service. The deal was a “no brainer.” So what happened? We followed most, but not all elements of our sales process. As we performed our opportunity review post mortem I remembered something we had overlooked. We had neglected to perform an Opportunity Flight Check prior to submitting our proposal. Our colleague, Rob Scanlon (www.privatesalescoach.com) has developed a unique and insightful program that assesses sales opportunity risk and...
  18. Sales VPs CEOs and the New Revenue Engine

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    Our business partner, Marketo, has been articulate promoting a shift in thinking in B2B selling organizations from a sales engine to a new revenue engine. This is an important read. The key impacts of this shift include: Lower Customer Acquisition Costs Reduce Wasteful Spending –(reducing cold calls, direct and email blasts –IDC estimates 25% of sales time is spent on unproductive prospecting) More Predictable Sales Forecasts Greater Pipeline Stability After many years of listening to the diatribe about the “marketing and sales disconnect,” it’s refreshing to hear solid discussion of a collaborative marketing and selling process that is focused on the common goal of revenue growth, aligned around the customer buying process, and addressing the questions customers must answer in order to solve their business problems and make a buying decision. In the past I was among those from the sales side of the equation who thought “marketing didn’t get...
  19. (Inside) Sales Needs Visual Support for Key Conversations

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    In the B2B complex sale, more selling is occurring over the telephone than ever before. This ups the ante for effective visual support that makes it easier and faster to communicate important points. But visual support also helps customers convey those points to colleagues, usually without sales rep assistance. Whether part of a formal inside selling function, or as direct sales people working in the early stages of the customer engagement process, phone meetings and conference calls are the norm, not the exception. Phone-based sellers can dramatically impact their customers and their sales effectiveness by delivering visual support to voice conversations either just before the call through email, or with live web meeting technology. For a decade we’ve heard from companies like Webex and Citrix that web meetings can give sales people a better way to conduct sales meetings without travelling to meet with customers. Well, maybe, but I find myself...
  20. What does your company do?

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    “It’s Not about the Bike” — the title of Lance Armstrong’s excellent autobiography. Becoming a world class cyclist requires far more than the bike. Strategy, practice sessions, workouts, diet, and mental aspects impact performance far beyond the equipment. The implications of his statement occurs to me every day. For example, too often people think a software system will solve their business problem. Another is the way sales people answer the typical customer question: “what does your company do?” There are two perspectives that can direct the response: the vendor perspective and the customer perspective. Sales people often fixate on their products or services. They think customers are as interested in key features as are they. Customers are actually asking one of two questions. They may be asking the product or service question so they can attempt to self-diagnose. Have you ever heard a customer respond to a product oriented introduction,...
  21. Creating Relevant Content

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    The shift from building content about a company and it’s products and services, to building content that speaks to specific interests of target audiences, raises the issue of content relevance. What makes content relevant? How would we gauge the degree of relevance of a content item? This shift is being driven by new customer buying processes enabled largely by internet availability of information traditionally provided by vendors. As buyers begin their buying process with online research, content becomes more critical than ever before. Content is what helps companies get discovered during this research process. Used properly, content can help companies discover potential buyers before they decide to contact vendors. Search engine optimization (SEO), internet syndicated articles, and marketing automation technology (among others) have changed the marketing game. Buyers are not interested in vendor products and services until quite late in their buying process. At the start, they are primarily interested...
  22. How to Think Like a Publisher

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    In 1982 I joined Ziff Davis publishing company in a special group that Bill Ziff set up to figure out how to migrate his print publishing empire into electronic publishing. This experience fundamentally changed my thinking and my life path. It taught me how to think like a publisher. Content marketing thought leaders today are regularly instructing us to think like a publisher. When I ask people to explain what this really means and, more importantly, how they would create content like publishers, they typically respond with blank stares. Those familiar with the way many websites are supported by content management systems have some familiarity with this concept. But this doesn’t inform the creation process. How does the CMS analogy help our understanding of creating like publishers? Publishers separate the major tasks involved in producing finished work products. The database is key to this approach. A content management system is...
  23. e-Marketing Strategies for the Complex Sale

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    When we look back at the past decade, I believe we will see a significant inflection point in the transformation of B2B marketing and selling. The rhetoric of the internet has become the reality of the internet. The web, along with digital media, web 2.0 technologies, and the proliferation of wireless and mobile computing have resulted in the long-awaited convergence. Even user adoption rates, traditionally the regulator on the velocity of technology impact, are accelerating noticeably. Of course, not all is perfect. We tend to implement new technologies using old processes and methodologies. True breakthrough occurs when we re-engineer these processes based upon the new technologies. To paraphrase an old line, to ask, “given my business, how should I use these new technologies?” is fundamentally the wrong question. A more helpful question is, “given the capabilities provided by new technologies, how should I design and run my business?” Ardath Albee...
  24. Improve Your Connect Rates

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    I continue to hear from sales people who still try to use email as a prospecting tool. I contend email is no longer a communication tool — especially when unsolicited — it’s primarily a delivery vehicle. Those who use marketing automation to track email open rates know it’s probably on the low end of 1% to 5%. Even if it’s “opened,” unsolicited emails might not be read, let alone have the message internalized. And this is what I mean by communication. In the email solicitations I receive I continually see “selling” in email messages. The objective of a prospecting communication must be to gain attention and to get a referral, meeting or conversation. Period. To accomplish this, the message must be compelling and relevant with a focus on the customer’s problems or opportunities. I know most people read emails on Blackberry and other portable devices. Therefore I have to write differently with...
  25. Sales Enablement — Revisited

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    I was on vacation when Gerhard’s blog came out on July 29 “Is Sales Enablement just Lipstick on a Knowledge Management Pig?” I just saw it this past weekend and feel compelled to comment now. Having read the post numerous times I’m not sure what the primary point really is: to denigrate the label sales enablement (why?), to criticize the “hype” of systems vendors, or to question the integrity of the analysts? (“Do you trust what analysts are saying about this concept?”) And what’s with the non sequitur about the “delay economy” and Twitter and the “real-time economy”? I like the concept, but how does that fit with a rant about sales enablement? I think the blog comments were more useful than the blog points. The premise of the post perpetuates the problem of an over pre-occupation with technology. Let me explain. Gerhard’s comments exhibit a tool obsession. Isn’t that what “Sales...
  26. Think Like a Publisher

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    Marketing automation for lead nurturing raises the stakes and the complexity of the content creation process. To feast this voracious beast, we recommend you think like a publisher. Why? Buyers want to view relevant content based upon their: role, specific needs or issues, stage of the buying process, industry, alternatives, and information purpose (attention, general education, customer stories, vendor point-of-view, vendor capabilities, proof points, technical explanation and more.) To create physical documents to respond to this requirement would require hundreds, perhaps a thousand documents (4 variables for 5 factors is 4 to the 5th power). Daunting, if even possible. Business publishers need content to be available immediately when buyers, or their sales staff, require it. But budgets are tight and quality standards must be preserved. Volume and the ability to tailor content — perhaps even personalize it — really ups the ante. Business publishers need to shift their thinking from...
  27. Don Hewitt and the New Producers

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    This summer Don Hewitt, creator and producer of 60 minutes died. For those of us in the communications business — most of us — there is a lot to learn from this man. Despite working with text from our youth, most of us don’t write very well. When it comes to graphics, animation, audio and video we truly have a long way to go. But these are the new tools for communication in our age, and we are the “new producers”. As business communicators, we must learn from “publishers” how to create quality content, quickly and affordably. Digital media and the web have raised the bar making us not just publishers, but broadcasters. Don Hewitt was the master of the broadcast world. I’d like to call your attention to this interview, and to several statements in particular that relate to web-based communication. A shorter segment is below.   Conversations at KCTS 9:...
  28. Sales Conversations — Set Up the Listening

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      I spent the day yesterday with my executive coaches from GAP International. This group works with executives and their organizations to create “breakthrough organizations”. A breakthrough is an extraordinary and important outcome for which the way of achieving it is not known. It is not predictable from a projection of the current state of the business. The GAP concept is, extraordinary results are produced by extraordinary actions. Extraordinary actions are produced by extraordinary thinking. Most people, most of the time, take ordinary and predictable actions based upon “business-as-usual” thinking. Therefore, to create breakthrough outcomes, and especially to create an organization that consistently produces extraordinary outcomes, requires a transformation in people’s thinking. The “access” to this thinking is people’s language. By listening carefully to the conversations people conduct, and specifically the language they use in conversations, we can identify people’s thinking. This will indicate the kinds of actions they will take,...
  29. Create Content Like a Publisher when Creating Webinars – Two Customer Examples

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    Over a year ago in this space we outlined “7 ways to take your webinars to the next level,” which was so well received it led to an interview for Blog Talk Radio and multiple guest blog posts. Over the past several years we have been applying this create like a publisher approach to webinars, and the impact for our customers has been significant. The two customer examples show how changing the way you execute webinars can have a substantial impact on the results you get from lead generation webinars as well as fuel content creation for multiple purposes including lead generation, lead nurturing, sales enablement and thought leadership. Anthelio: “A Physician Portal Approach to Patient Information Access” How Anthelio created content like a publisher: Anthelio’s audience is difficult to get to committ the 45 to 60 minutes during the work day for a live webinar, so an on-demand microsite with short video segments is a more effective...
  30. The Top 7 Signs That You’d Better Fix Your Marketing Automation Setup – and What To Do About It – Signs 4 to 7

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    Last week I published signs 1-3 of the “The Top 7 Signs That You’d Better Fix Your Marketing Automation Setup – and What To Do About It”. This week I continue with signs 4-7. Sign #4: You’re cloning landing pages to create others It’s tempting to clone an existing page to create another landing page.  I don’t recommend it. Why not? You’re going to forget to update information. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve seen Marketo web pages with the wrong Page Name (top left corner of the browser), because the page was copied and the person forgot to update the page meta-data. That easy to forget because the meta-data is a bit “buried” and not top of mind to update unless you as using a checklist. What to do about it: Rather create a set of typical web page layouts in Marketo, from which you will clone. You can put...
  31. The Top 7 Signs That You’d Better Fix Your Marketing Automation Setup – and What To Do About It

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    Thor Johnson, ex-CMO of Eloqua, told me that he saw oh-too-many customers operating their marketing automation system as a “high priced email system.” And eventually their executive team wakes up and says “What is going on here?” In being in and around many different Marketo implementations the past several years (Yep, I needed to setup a different email address for each login – no duplicate email addresses allowed!), I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly. So I’m here to share the top signs that you’d better fix your marketing automation setup – and what to do about it. It’s based on Marketo although the lessons are applicable to many other tools including Eloqua, Pardot, Act-on, Manticore and others.  You will see some common themes including using a modular and single source asset approach with program scalability and ease-of-maintenance in mind. As the title implies, for each of the 7 areas,...
  32. Marketing Automation – 10 Points on What to Do First

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    I was recently asked – “We have 3 months until we turn on our marketing automation system (in this case, Marketo). What should we do before we set it up?” First off, don’t wait for anything to turn on marketing automation. You don’t want to wait one more day because the moment you turn it on, it’s going to provide you with visibility into who is engaging your web site and you’ll begin building an activity history that will later be associated to an individually named prospect (as soon as they click on one of your emails). OK, so now you have your marketing automation turned on, what’s next? To help you ensure that you fulfill on the promise of marketing automation and meet the expectations of your management team, the below list are must-have components of anautomated lead management and lead nurturing program powered by marketing automation. These are not optional.  If...
  33. Applying a publishing process to training content

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    At Marketo University yesterday I presented a training program around how companies can apply Marketo’s recently released program management functionality to get more out of their events. My recommended approach to program management entails creating a “master event program template” which contains all of the rules and data-driven email and landing page templates. This saves time and operationalizes best practices around events, while creating a program performance report that measures event success. The original request from Marketo was to create materials for Marketo University – a training point production. Our “Create Like a Publisher” process says, however, that content creation should follow a programmatic approach, and consider multiple purposes when making the time and resource investment to create content. Said another way — rather than repurpose content after the fact, which is inefficient, create it right the first time. So in following this create like a publisher process, we created: a 30-minute on-demand...
  34. “The How” – More effective execution around webinars and event marketing

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    I have been asked to instruct an upcoming Marketo University course on event management as part of Marketo’s Revenue Rockstar Roadshow in Boston. The course will cover how to leverage Marketo’s programs & “my tokens” functionality to best manage lead generation events, both offline and online/webinars. By using a set of database-driven templates to manage all event web pages, emails and rules, you (marketers) can spend less time on event setup and operations, and more time focused on event promotion  — and therefore, getting more out of your events.  And this return on event investments (success rates and new lead acquisition) is rolled up into a single, management report compiled in real-time. Moreover, this approach means you can more easily incorporate best practices into your event and webinar programs.  When it comes to marketing, most of us know what we should be doing, but effectively operationalizing it (and ensuring it sticks) is where most companies fall short...
  35. Pre-produce content so it’s there when you need it (like when the Earth shakes)

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    Yesterday’s earthquake presented one of our customers with an example of the importance and impact of creating and managing modular video assets. We work with our customers to help them create content like publishers in order to accelerate their customers’ buying process, and one of the key fundamentals is pre-producing content across a variety of topics (not to mention – roles, buying stages, industry and other factors), so that “it’s ready when you need it.” Our customer Building Engines is a software-as-a-service for managing real estate operations. Natural disasters such as an earthquake have significant ramifications for a building manager including the need to notify and update tenants across multiple communications channels, track and manage these communications, and for operations staff to file incident reports. With the news of the earthquake reverberating on Tuesday, Building Engines was able to leverage their content to contribute to the conversation, share and generate attention. As background, we...
  36. 5 Things You Must Consider Before Purchasing Marketing Automation Executive Summary

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    As part of a recent Focus Webinar, David Raab — Principal of Raab Associates Inc — presented a webinar entitled “5 Things You Must Consider Before Purchasing Marketing Automation.” Several factors (including the relatively low cost of the software itself) have caused marketing automation to reach a stage where many companies make the decision to buy marketing automation without really knowing why. The purpose of the webinar was to raise certain questions that should be answered before purchasing a marketing automation system. These questions include: 1) What programs will achieve my specific business goals? 2) What do I need to run those programs? 3) How will the programs happen? 4) What can I do already? 5) How do I fill the gaps? This is an executive summary of the webinar and the insights shared by David Raab.  And as Avitage specializes in helping companies take ideas such as these to...
  37. From No-Budget to Signed Deal Using Provocation-Based Selling – Webinar Executive Summary

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    As part of the Marketo Revenue Masters Webinar Series, Principal Consultant for TrellisOne Consulting, Kathleen Schaub and Senior Vice President of Sales for Marketo, Bill Binch, co-presented a webinar entitled “From No Budget to Signed Deal.” The purpose of the webinar was to explain the concept behind provocation based selling and how it can reach high level executives. The webinar covered 3 key questions: 1)What does is mean when a lead says they “have no budget” for you? 2)What provokes an executive to spend their budget on your product or service? 3) How do I get the attention of executives looking to spend their budget on my product or service? This is an executive summary of the presentation. What does “No Budget” Really Mean? There is no such thing as having no budget. Everyone has a budget. When a prospect says they have “no budget,” what they usually mean is...
  38. Perspectives on Marketo’s Product Release – Event Management and Webinar Integration

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    I attended the Marketo product release webinar introducing Marketo’s new event management functionality as part of Marketo’s new pioneer program, for early adopters of the latest Marketo functionality. Marketo’s event management allows users to set up templated event sequences for events such as webinars, and greatly reduces the amount of steps required to re-use assets from event to event. In addition, the first iteration supports direct API access with WebEx, with other integrations planned for the future. The functionality is a good start and part of an overall development plan from Marketo to better automate event management tied to marketing automation. It’s too early for me to review the functionality based on a brief introductory webinar – but it did get me thinking about some of the key drivers as to why Marketo has invested their product development team’s valuable time into this new set of features. Two key reasons stand out:...
  39. 7 Ways to Generate More Sales Revenue with Marketing Automation – Webinar Executive Summary

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    As part of the Marketo Revenue Masters Series, Mac McIntosh, Founding Partner of AcquireB2B and Jep Castelein, Founder of LeadSloth co-presented “7 Ways to Generate More Sales Revenue with Marketing Automation.” This is an executive summary of the 7 ways. Nurture your leads to get 3 out of 4 sales opportunities that come from prospects with longer-term needs Marketing automation can help drive sales revenue by nurturing leads so that sales opportunities come from customers with the right level of needs. Research conducted by Founding Partner of AcquireB2B Mac MacIntosh, has shown that approximately ¾ of sales revenue comes from long term opportunities over six months. The purpose of these lead nurturing campaigns is to move buyers from awareness, to inquiry, to consideration and finally to purchase by appealing to different audiences in different stages of the buying process. Those customers in the beginning stages of the buying process require...
  40. Why Consistency and Standards are So Important – Production and Program Management

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    I recently reviewed with our production team the importance of why we have consistency and standards around the practices and processes of our business. By way of background, some of the areas for which we have developed and manage standards include processes to: Create content like a publisher – creating content for multiple purposes and audiences through a single process (e.g. content for lead generation, lead nurturing & sales enablement) Produce webinars and all the various forms of content that results from it Produce vignettes – video-like content easily tailored for multiple audience Produce software demos – so that they are much more engaging and re-purposable than most Outsource automated lead management programs – Design, implement, on-board customers and operate the program Conduct content inventories & assessments – to align content to buyer roles, interest and stage; and identify content gaps and priorities Now to “the Why” – why standards and consistency are important. For...
  41. Applying Digital Body Language to Webinars

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    Digital Body Language (the phrase coined by Steve Woods of Eloqua) has become a key principle of B2B Digital Sales & Marketing. This involves using web behavior around content consumption to learn more about customers – their issues, interests, stage of the buying process and more. With automated lead management programs, it is used to score prospects and to deliver relevant content based on their interests and stage in their buying process. Webinars are a key component of nearly all B2B sales & marketing organizations’ lead generation programs. But companies are missing a significant opportunity to learn more about their audiences when they employ the generally practiced webinar format. When you conduct a webinar, what do you really know about your audience? Hopefully, you know their name, email address, perhaps organization and maybe role. You know they have a general interest in the topic, but not much more. How can we apply...
  42. How I Created Content Like a Publisher When Speaking at Bentley University

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    This coming week I have two presentations at Bentley University – first, guest lecturing at Terry Skelton’s class Fundamentals of Content Development as part of the Information Design & Corporate Communication department, and then speaking to Marketing and IDCC majors as part of a spotlight for careers in digital content marketing, hosted by Alyssa Hammond. To prepare, I followed a process that we use with our customers to ensure that both speakers and audience get the most out of an event experience, by creating content like a publisher. My presentation includes an overview of B2B Sales & Marketing today – concepts such as inbound marketing, content marketing, digital body language, marketing automation, lead management and the revenue engine. Then I explain how Avitage takes the concepts and puts them into practice through a specific approach and set of processes. Finally I review customer examples and recent case studies with BNA...
  43. Rethinking “Why do you do webinars?”

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    In our recent blog post “7 ways to take your webinars to the next level”, we discussed some specific techniques that can help you get more out of your webinars. The blog post was well received with engagement through our inbox, blog comments, LinkedIn, Twitter and was requested as a guest blog post by Shari Weiss (@sharisax). As we engaged in this dialog, it occurred to us that if you are running a webinar program or thinking about doing so, there is a fundamental “step forward” that you can take to best leverage the medium for your organization. Several years ago, if you asked a marketer why they run webinars, 10 times out of 10 the answer would be for two reasons – “one, to get our message out” and “two, to generate leads”. Today, while these are still important outcomes from a webinar program, we believe that they are trumped...
  44. 7 ways to take your webinars to the next level

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    Webinars are a key component in generating compelling and relevant content to feed your lead generation, lead nurturing and content marketing programs. We see all too often however that companies take a “show up and throw up” approach to webinars, and therefore are only scratching the surface in terms of capitalizing on the opportunity. Webinars should not be a random act of marketing or a point production, but rather fall within a webinar strategy with consistent execution and production. These are seven things you can do right now to take your webinars to the next level, and increase your ROW (Return on Webinars, of course). 1. Pre-produce the webinar Pre-producing the webinar greatly improves the webinar experience for both viewers and presenters. When pre-producing the webinar, the webinar will still be presented as if it’s live (it has just been pre-recorded and edited), followed by a live Q&A.  The pre-production...
  45. Implement a content marketing program – not random acts of marketing

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    The potential payoff for content marketing and lead nurturing has been well documented by marketing research firms, analysts, marketing automation vendors and (most importantly!) businesses that have successfully implemented lead management. However in the marketplace we see a wide gap in the success businesses have in implementing lead management; we see time and again the difference in results can be predicted based on the answer to a simple question – are you implementing a lead management program, or are you implementing “random acts” of marketing? Said another way, are you relying on your marketing automation software as your solution, or is your software enabling a well-managed program? Here are some ways to determine if you are taking the program-driven approach required to generate the desired revenue growth from lead management. Are the following items documented and understood by your internal teams and vendors/partners involved in managing your marketing? Clear goals...
  46. Re-consider PowerPoint — It’s not just a presentation tool

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    I love this idea, that it’s not “just PowerPoint” anymore. I think PowerPoint offers organizations untapped potential for improved sales messaging, knowledge sharing, and customer communications. A better PowerPoint strategy can drive significant content production efficiencies, rapid development and turnaround times, easy content tailoring, the ability to scale content requirements, and dramatically lower production costs compared to documents. PowerPoint is where the corporate communication process starts. When we stop thinking of it as a presentation tool, and think of it as a business graphic development tool to create visual support for conversations, a new world of possibilities opens. How Important is PowerPoint to Your Sales Organization? Several years ago we conducted a survey of 10 technology companies asking them what percent of the hits to their marketing and sales intranet were for the data type PowerPoint. For each company, the answer was between 55% and 62%. In each company, PowerPoint...

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Resolving the number one unconsidered cause of low B2B sales and marketing performance, and revenue growth …
… the inability to deliver effective knowledge, conversations, and situation-specific information (content), in context, at scale
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