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3 Marketing Programs to Kickstart Summer

Too early to talk Q3? Nope.

For many companies, Q3 is slow. Summer vacay is in full swing, and those of us back in the office are itching to pack it in early. And Europe? Literally the entire continent is eating gelato at the seaside until mid-August.

Yes, it’s summertime and the livin is easy (as Gershwin wrote and Billie Holiday turned into magic—you really should listen right here). It’s everyone’s favorite season but Q3 can be the toughest time of year for B2B. So why not plan ahead and take advantage of the lull?

Here’s three ideas to kick start your Q3 plan (or recharge marketing any time of the year).

1. The Summer of the Sprint

For those familiar with agile project management, scrums and sprints are a big deal. While the marketing team isn’t responsible for product development, which is usually the context for agile, you can still apply the idea to marketing.

Pick three sprint themes to tackle this summer. Maybe your customer onboarding needs a refresher, or nurture emails that have been running on autopilot need some love, or you’ve been meaning to connect with new influencers to expand your reach but haven’t had the time.

No matter what you have going on, I’m pretty sure you can find a few projects that dropped off the radar, and those will be your sprints. From there, it’s all about planning and execution.

Here’s a quick breakdown of how a sprint runs:

  1. Identify sprint theme
  2. Pinpoint goals and scope the work
  3. Select team members and responsibilities
  4. Schedule kickoff meeting and daily scrum
  5. Go
  6. Meet at the end for a project review
  7. Move on to the next sprint

Week-long sprints are great because they’re so fast. On Monday you kickoff, and by Friday you’ve achieved something. The momentum never has time to wane, and before you know it, you’re on to the next thing. If you have a bigger project, try two or three-week sprints.

By the end of the summer, the team will feel great about crushing a few big projects and you’ll have results to show for it.

2. The Summer of A/B Love

You only need to attend one conference a year to feel cosmically bad about the A/B tests you’re not running.

When it comes to email marketing, web presence, messaging, and pretty much everything else we do, A/B testing is the one thing we should be doing, yet tends to get kicked to the curb. A shame, since A/B testing can actually help identify valuable insights that can’t be found by other means.

Build a few important A/B tests into your Q3 plan. If that doesn’t sound like fun, divide into Team A and Team B and see who wins.

If you can find a way to gamify the tests, you’ll get the whole team writing better copy, tightening up messaging, and re-imagining landing pages for better conversion.

Regardless of what you’re testing this summer, take the time to do it right. Also take the time to listen to this podcast, where two wicked smart economists discuss data and causation.

And speaking of gamification, don’t forget to pick a nice outdoor patio for happy hour to celebrate the winning team!

3. The Summer of Trying Something New

Even if summer isn’t a slow time for your organization, it’s a great time to kick the tires on a new tool or platform. If you wait to start assessing vendors and doing demos until Q4, it could be too late to sign a deal and get up and running in time for the new year.

So think about the tools and initiatives you’ve been meaning to explore and get into it.

Here are a few solutions we love:

Engagio

Pretty sure we might have hit maximum overload on ABM about four months ago, but while many are familiar with the concept, most are far from implementing it or understanding how to measure ABM success.

Over the past few years, digital and inbound have matured and we’ve learned a few lessons. Namely, when you stuff the top of your funnel with folks who downloaded a piece of content, it might take an act of divinity to move those folks through the funnel.

Without exactly the right mix of content, campaigns, and sales outreach, you can forget about decent conversion rates or a healthy funnel.

Or, you can stop thinking solely in terms of leads and start thinking about engaging the right people at the right accounts. This is where ABM comes in, and Engagio is leading the pack. Because ABM requires tight alignment between sales and marketing, Engagio has built a great platform for marketers and an equally great Salesforce widget for your reps to track account activity.

LinkedIn for Lead Gen and Retargeting

Okay so LinkedIn just rolled out native forms. If you run sponsored content programs already, you can now point to a LinkedIn form instead of your own.

I like being an early adopter so I’ve been giving it a try for one of my clients. I’m recommending it here because I’ve seen a boost in conversion: forms are pre-filled with the person’s LinkedIn data, thus removing friction, and the experience is seamless because they’re not leaving LinkedIn and bouncing to your landing page (you could also argue there’s less connection with your brand).

That said, the new lead gen forms are not without bugs (you can’t download leads in Chrome—only works in IE or Firefox), and the UX is not at all intuitive: you need an account manager to walk you through it once or twice.

Another huge offering from LinkedIn is retargeting through Matched Audiences. You can engage key accounts, prospects, and audiences with three new capabilities: website retargeting, account targeting, and contact targeting.

If your database is loaded with contacts who’ve gone cold and email isn’t cutting it, this is an effective way to reach them through targeted ads and content. And for visits to your website that haven’t converted, you’ll expand your reach on LinkedIn, which has the potential to be much more targeted than Google Display.

Plus LinkedIn is up to 500 million members, so.

Sponge

Welp, if I didn’t believe in this product I wouldn’t be working here. Sponge is the only solution that ties planning with performance and analytics, and really helps even the most non-mathy marketer become revenue-focused and quantitative.

After a simple integration with Salesforce, login to Sponge and start playing with revenue targets and model budget scenarios to see marketing’s impact on the bottom line.

Sponge also provides reporting made for demand gen marketers, so you won’t have to rely on Salesforce reports and waiting around for the ops team to get you the data you need. Since Sponge gives you one place for plans, campaigns, and analytics, the whole team will be addicted before you know it.

If you’re a semi-neurotic serial refresher (no judgment here)—tracking campaign performance by the minute, running conversion rates, and contemplating the health and velocity of your funnel—Sponge is your new nerdy best friend.

Rybbon

If you use gift cards or other incentives to drive webinar registrants, survey completion, or any other point of engagement, I bet whatever you’re doing is pretty manual and not easy to track.

Rybbon changes all that. You can order through the Rybbon portal, set up your campaign, grab a token for Marketo, and you’re done. You can track when a gift is redeemed and schedule a sales follow up. The ease of use is one thing, but the lack of risk is also huge: if your allotted giftcards aren’t used, you can return them for a refund or order new gifts in any increment you need.

Try a survey that helps you get a better read on your customers and prospects, then offer the anonymous results in a follow up campaign. It’s a great way to boost engagement and get valuable insights at the same time.

So there you go, a few ideas to rally the team and try new initiatives that can move the needle in meaningful ways. Whether your summers are slow or not, a smart Q3 plan can set you up to crush Q4 and end the year strong.

Happy Hour Will Resume After Q2 Planning

FML it’s end of quarter again.

It’s late. I have so many tabs open I’ve lost track of where I am. This would be waaay better with wine (yanks laptop off docking station, runs for door).

I’m pretty sure you can relate to late nights during end-of-quarter planning. Of course we track throughout the quarter, but the EOQ round up is a big deal—and rightfully so. Your plan for the upcoming quarter is only as good as your audit of the past.

It helps to focus on a few key questions, like:

  • Did the company achieve its revenue target? What was marketing’s contribution?
  • Which campaigns generated the most leads? The fewest?
  • Which campaigns had the highest impact on pipeline?
  • How did the funnel perform compared to your assumptions?
  • Did anything unexpected happen? What and why?

Whether your team adheres to a lead target, an opp target, or an ABM strategy that focuses on engagement within key accounts, ask the right questions, get the answers, and document that data in your quarterly plan. When you gather the team for a marathon planning sesh, the “Look Back” slide should be your starting point—inviting the team to unpack what worked and what didn’t.

In this on-demand webinar, three CMOs discuss how they set the marketing vision, inspire their team, and create plans that drive growth. Watch Planning for Growth in 2017 now.

Stop. Start. Adjust.

Stop, Start, Adjust is an annual and quarterly exercise that forces brevity and clarity around where you’ve been and where you want to go. Assuming your lead and opp targets don’t fluctuate wildly from quarter to quarter and you know your goals, dedicate a session to outline the practices that need to go away completely, that need to begin in earnest, and that need to be optimized for better performance.

Here’s an example of how the exercise can take shape:

Once you’ve nailed Stop, Start, Adjust, move on to budget. Do you have the budget to support new initiatives or fine-tune what you already have? Can you reallocate anything from the Stop column? Here’s a few practical tips that’ll help you stay on track:

3 Guidelines to Throw on Your Whiteboard Right Now

1. Be bold enough to kill anything that isn’t working

Seriously. Do not be afraid of losing leads. If you have campaigns or channels that generate leads with abysmal conversion, take them out back and shoot them. Free up that budget to try something new. You have nothing to lose.

2. Revisit your target personas

Funny how we lose sight of who we’re actually marketing to in the midst of all the number crunching. Make sure everyone is clear on who your target personas are and aren’t—and evaluate whether your programs do a good job of reaching them. Be prepared to abandon generic offers that cater to everyone and no one.

3. Budget with agility

Start with the big buckets and assign budgets accordingly, then follow through with a budget review every two weeks and adjust as necessary. Give your team the freedom to spend smarter on campaigns that move the needle.

 

Planning doesn’t have to be painful. Read The Modern Marketer’s Guide to 2017 Planning and learn how to create effective plans, inspire your team, and put some damn fun back into B2B marketing.

 

That Time I Got Advice about My Marketing Career

In 2011 I was running content marketing at a software company in Burbank CA.

There was a good Mexican place down the street, a notable Armenian café around the corner, and the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains rolling down to meet the road behind the office. Coyotes would hang around the parking lot at dusk.

The place itself was meh—an 80s building with a depressing façade and joyless cubicles inside. Mostly beige from what I remember, open and light, but every bit as bleak as a brown Caprice Classic. My favorite memories of that place are the people I worked with and the enormous pine trees I could see out back, over the maze of cubicle walls.

Another memory that stands out is a bit of advice from my boss. I’m pretty sure he meant well, but I remember driving home that day wondering where I really fit in. It was simply this: “Robin, you’re creative. You need to stop tinkering. Just focus on writing and quit all this tinkering.”

Even though this was only 6 years ago, it was relatively early days for marketing automation and inbound. Marketo was still a shiny new toy—and holy crap! I couldn’t stop tinkering.

His point was that I was hired to produce compelling content—to tell stories, craft narrative, and connect with IT dudes who might care about storage virtualization and I/O optimization. Yet there I was messing around in Marketo, running A/B tests, and trying to figure out if leads were converting to opps, and if opps were turning into deals.

Why? Because no one creates content for the sake of creating content.  Plus I’m a curious person.

My content was part of email campaigns, paid social campaigns, Google search and display—my content lived behind landing pages that had to convert for lead gen. My content served the top of the funnel, the middle of the funnel, and armed Sales with material to slay the competition and win business. My content was actually like that Run DMC song about Adidas (in my own mind anyway).

But seriously, even though this was only 6 years ago, it was relatively early days for marketing automation and inbound. Marketo was still a shiny new toy—and holy crap! I couldn’t stop tinkering.

To me—like so many of us—there was nothing more satisfying than not only creating the content itself, but also setting up a campaign, sending it out into the world and measuring what came back.

Here were the tools that made it all possible.

Sure, I’m creative, but I’m also a B2B marketer. What’s the point of all this creativity if I have no idea if my shit is effective? I still live in the real world of leads, opps, conversion, pipeline and revenue.

In fact nerdy unicorns who possess that rare mix of creativity, analytical thinking, and operations chops are replacing the old guard—the CMOs who focus on corporate communications, brand, and PR.

Anyway, fast forward to present time. These days I focus less on content creation and more on demand gen, ABM, and funnel optimization. I spend crazy hours bouncing from Marketo to Salesforce to Google Analytics to Excel, piecing together data and trying to answer some of marketing’s most basic (yet still very tough to unpack) questions: What the hell is working? What’s not? How should I allocate my marketing dollars over the next 4 quarters?

Sure. I wish it were easier to untangle the metrics behind multi-channel B2B marketing. Yep, I sometimes wish I could go back to focusing more on the creative side.

But here’s the greatest thing about marketing in 2017: it’s not a matter of one or the other anymore. In fact, nerdy unicorns who possess that rare mix of creativity, analytical thinking, and operations chops are replacing the old guard—the CMOs who focus on corporate communications, brand, and PR.

While I appreciate the advice and the nod to my talent, I’d rather apply data to my creativity, and use every tool in the toolbox to help marketing teams hit goals and drive revenue.

So If you need me, I’ll just be right over here. Tinkering.

Sponge can turn you into a marketing unicorn. Hop on a demo right here.

Staying on Top of Your Metrics

Marketing plans vary so wildly from team to team, it’s amazing we have a common language at all. Yet how we codify our roles and our contribution to an organization are very similar—whether we’re B2B, B2C, or in entirely dissimilar industries.

What’s one thing we all have in common? The very real need to change quickly when we have to.

Marketing goals are tied to the goals of the business: if leads are lagging or not converting, you need to spot the problem and make changes. Access to real-time metrics is key to data-driven, agile marketing.

When planning for the year ahead, any marketing team should consider flexibility. Let’s say you plan to roll out two big campaigns in the first half of the year with multi-channel programs rolling up under those campaigns.

What if your campaigns are on track, but you’re not hitting the number of leads you planned? Your goals and themes won’t change, but your channels and strategies might have to—and that’s what agile marketing is about.

Apply the 80/20 rule to your marketing plan: 80% of your campaigns and activities should be planned in advance, while the remaining 20% can be committed later as you test, learn, and iterate.

For example, if social is proving ineffective for driving leads, you’ll need to rethink your social strategy or consider replacing it with another tactic to close the gap. A tight relationship with sales and a pulse on real-time metrics are key—if something’s not working, you need to react quickly to turn things around while there’s still time to impact pipeline.

The diagram below shows an example of opp targets, lead targets, and two BACs (big ass campaigns), with channels for promotion:

Your marketing plan will most likely include an estimate of how many leads you’ll generate from each channel for each campaign.

But what if the leads you bring in from content syndication don’t convert? And what if you hit a snag in your email marketing due to list exhaustion or a blacklist? Take it from experience, it can happen, and when it does, it’s ugly. You’ll need to find a way to close the lead gap as quickly as possible.

Looking back at the end of a quarter with a shrug, “Welp, that didn’t work. Should’ve done something else,” helps no one. But using the 80/20 rule, staying on top of your metrics, and planning for agility can. It’s your best bet at staying on track—no matter what comes your way.

What key metrics should you measure? Why should your marketing plan start with company revenue goals? Here you go: The Modern Marketer’s Guide to 2017 Planning.

Revenue-Driven Marketing

As marketers, we have seen the days come and pass where marketing was a necessary expense on the balance sheet. We now are tasked with answering the question, “how are you creating revenue?” This might be daunting to some, but to those ready to adopt the analytics side of marketing and answer this question, it can be very rewarding. Showing the brass at your company you are able to provide return on investment can give you more bargaining power for things like larger budgets and say strategic decisions.

The problem that most marketers are facing is how do they go from driving demand for their company, to instead focusing on driving revenue. There might not be any perfect answer to this question, but there are however a few best practices for marketers to keep in mind. In this post we will be covering five things marketers need to do in order to drive revenue.

1) Align Marketing and Sales

You can’t win the war if you are fighting amongst yourself. Aligning marketing a sales is important to ensure that customers are hearing a single coherent message throughout the selling process. To drive revenue, you need to control costs. When it comes to marketing and sales, if you’re unaligned and require large investments in each team, then you are not maximizing your return revenue potential. Simplify the process and minimize investment for both teams by joint planning, sharing goals, and having a clear resource allocation process. Remember that both sales and marketing have a common end goal and should be working together in order to reach it.

Sales & Marketing Alignment

Sales & Marketing Alignment (Source)

2) Scale Marketing Efforts with Results

Rather than thinking your marketing teams needs more investment to reach higher revenue goals, try challenging yourself, and your team, to meet revenue goals in order to receive investments. Sales teams generally have to meet quarterly quotas to get more investment in the team, so try and apply this philosophy to your marketing team. Double the amount of revenue you making and then invest that back into your marketing efforts. Too often we see people think they need more in order to reach goals when it might be a simpler option to try and bootstrap to drive revenue.

3) Measure the Right Analytics

When you are switching from a demand generation strategy to a revenue driven strategy it is important that you are tracking the right metrics. A demand waterfall is a great way to track how well your revenue strategy is doing. If you know that you want to increase revenue from last year by 60% then think about the metrics you need to track in order to meet that goal. Set performance for your waterfall such as site visitors, leads, opportunities, and lastly closed deals. If there is a weak link in your revenue strategy you will be able to spot it.

Demand Waterfall

Demand Waterfall

4) Set The Parameters of SLA’s (Service Level Agreements)

Again, if you are going to be successful in meeting your revenue goals it is important for marketing and sales to be on the same page. One of the best ways of doing this is to define your service level agreements. Maybe it is decided that marketing will provide leads to the sales only if they meet every aspect of a defined set of qualifications. This can help sales tailor their message to these prospects since they will all be from the same background. In return, maybe marketing decides that the sales team has to speak about a certain aspect of the company’s product or service in their sales pitch.

The most important SLA that should be agreed upon is when a lead is passed from marketing to sales. This is usually a high point of friction between the two teams so make it very clear when a lead goes from marketing to the sales team.

Free Service Level Agreement Templates – Download from Tidy Forms

5) The Customer is Still The Most Important Person

It is easy to forget about the most important thing when you are focused on turning a strong profit. The customer always has been, and always will be, the most important person for a company. If you do not optimize your marketing campaigns for the person buying your product or service, then there will not be a market for it. Make the process of buying your product or service as easy and as enjoyable as possible. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and think about what they want, and then give it to them!

Satisfied Customers

Satisfied Customers (Source)

It is important to keep in mind that not every organization is the same, and yours might have different areas that will help lead to revenue generation. As a whole though, the topics covered in this post are a great starting point for most companies to start making the switch from just driving demand, to generating revenue. Try and strip away all the fluff of driving revenue and make it a simple process. Marketing is on-boarding and nurturing prospects until they are right for sales. If you accept that your end result needs to be a sale and that is the only thing that matter; then adopting a revenue-driven marketing strategy.

We as marketers are facing increasing pressure to show the benefits of our work on the bottom line of the balance sheet. Executives want to see that we’re creating sales for the company. Switching to a revenue marketing strategy is a great way to prove the marketing teams value to stakeholders.

To learn more about how to drive revenue for your company, sign up for The Marketing Machine Playbook, a two part eBook for building an integrated marketing system designed for growth.

The Marketing Machine Playbook

Aligning Brand and Demand

Introduction

Is brand awareness a part of demand generation? No, the pure definition of demand generation nullifies this notion. Demand generation is the process of generating measurable demand for your product or service. Brand awareness on the other hand is more about maintaining a visible presence between your company and consumers. This is a practice that is not always measurable by today’s marketing metrics.

With that in mind, it is important to align your demand gen efforts with your overall brand strategy. Yes, the two are different components of the marketing mix and brand awareness is difficult to measure; but the two do have coinciding metrics that they both need to achieve. Here are the top four metrics for aligning brand awareness and demand gen:

  1. Revenue Generated
  2. Return on Investment
  3. Leads Generated
  4. Website traffic

In this post we will walk through each one of these four metrics and explain how they are reached on the demand side and how they are reached on the brand side. For this post we will be referencing a case study done by Act-On in their E-book, Rethink Marketing [Automation].

The case study by Act-On interviewed over 900 marketers about their KPI’s (key performance indicators) in terms of either demand, brand, or customer marketing. We will be focusing on brand and demand for this post and the metrics that closely align between the two.

Brand Marketing

KPI's of Brand Awareness

KPI’s of Brand Awareness (Source)

Demand Generation

KPI's of Demand Generation

KPI’s of Demand Generation (Source)

1) Revenue Generated

Revenue generated is an easy metric to wrap your head around. It simply is the amount of revenue created by a marketing “action”. This could be the revenue that comes from a full campaign, or it could be the revenue that comes from a single piece of content. Revenue generated is an important metric for everyone in the company because it applies directly to executives. Executives always want to know how much money is being made by the marketing team. This makes revenue generated an important metric to keep track of. As marketers you should be able to tell which campaigns are generating revenue. If a campaign isn’t generating revenue it needs to be changed or killed.

Brand Marketing Outlook

It seems strange that branding is concerned with revenue generation. It is difficult to track branding efforts effect on the bottom line. What many fail to realize though is that social media falls under the umbrella of branding. Social channels can be an effective means of not only prospecting, but nurturing leads once they have entered the funnel.

For example, image you have just finished recording a webinar with an SME. This webinar is aimed at on-boarding prospects into the sales funnel. Now that the webinar is done do you just wash your hands of it? NO! Now is the time to push that content out to more people. Your company’s social channels are a good source for remarketing your content. You can track who clicks on this content and if they wind up making a purchase at the end of the sales funnel to add to revenue generated. Most companies understand that sales are a long process and will assign a portion of revenue generated to a prospect clicking on a social media link to show how much total revenue was generated from branding.

“50% of B2B marketing executives find it difficult to attribute marketing activities directly to revenue results as a means to justify budgets” -CMO.com — Tweet This Quote Tweet: 50% of B2B marketing exec's find it difficult to attribute marketing activity directly to revenue results as a means to justify budgets.

Demand Gen Outlook

Demand generation has an easier path to seeing revenue generated from marketing activities. A lot like with brand marketing, a marketer on the demand team can see if a person who read their blog post wound up converting to a sale down the way and can assign revenue value to that particular blog post. This form of assigning revenue to a blog post is called attribution. Even though a consumer did not buy anything from the blog post, you still need to assign a portion of the final revenue due to it being a touchpoint on the path to conversion. Attribution is one way that marketers can help prove the benefit of their content to executives when reporting.

As I mentioned prior, executives like to see that revenue is coming from marketing activities, making it extremely important for marketers to be able to justify their content. Demand gen marketers are creating content, but the brand side of the marketing team is assisting in getting that content seen to help boost overall revenue generation for content or campaigns as a whole.

2) Return on Investment – ROI

Marketing ROI is an easy metric to guess as being important to both the brand and demand teams since almost every article on the web is referencing the importance of measuring ROI. ROI is overstated at times, but it is extremely important to businesses, especially in the marketing department. ROI is essentially the bang that you are getting for your buck, and if you are spending less and getting more in return, then you’re making effective campaigns which makes everyone’s job easier.

Brand Marketing Outlook

10 years ago, it might’ve been impossible to determine the return on investment from branding activities, but with technological advances and new tools that we now possess as marketers, it has become easier to know if you’re making an impact for your brand.

One such tool that has changed the way we measure branding ROI is Google AdWords. Google AdWords is Google’s paid advertising platform that allows user’s to pay to have their ad(s) shown for specified keywords. This may not sound like it has anything to do with branding but it does. Say you are running a branding campaign trying to get more visitors to search for a specific page on your website relating to a branded term. Over time you’ll see the fluctuations in search traffic for that term by reviewing your Google AdWord’s reports. By placing a snippet of code to the end of your URL on your ad links, Google is able to track clicks on your ads. If you see an increase in web traffic directed at a landing page coming from your ads then you know that your branding activities are paying off.

 

Demand Gen Outlook

Return on investment is very important for demand generation. The main task of a Demand Generation Director is to acquire more leads; but the second part that is often missed in that statement is that it needs to be done as cost effective as possible. It might be that you are acquiring 1,000 new leads a week and have a good conversion rate of about 30%, but if you are spending $4,000 on marketing to get those leads and your product is only worth $100 then you are missing the entire point.

When increasing demand for your business you need to be able to increase demand without increasing spending. More for less. To do this you might try and improve on your conversion rate. This is a ver effective way to increase marketing ROI because you are not driving more traffic to your site, you’re just doing a better job at getting visitors to perform a desired action. You can do this by optimizing landing pages, or call’s to actions so that they’re simpler. Make it as easy as possible to understand what to do next when landing on a page.

Another option that you might consider is to generate more leads with recycled content. Take content that is old and outdated and give it a facelift. Then take the “new” content and remarket it to bring in more customers without having to put more time into creating an entirely new piece of content.

Demand Generation Waterfall

Demand Generation Waterfall

3) Leads Generated

Generating leads is a lot more important for the demand generation team than it is for the branding side of operations, but it is still important non the less. Leads are what drive revenue for a business; the more leads you have the more potential revenue you stand to acquire. We have already talked about how important it is for brand and demand to show revenue generated, and revenue and leads go hand-in-hand.

Brand Marketing Outlook

Branding is not solely focused on generating new leads for the business as it is more of a perk when a lead comes from a branding campaign. Examples of companies that have great lead generation from branding are IBM, Nike, and Starbucks. These are not your average companies though as they possess large amounts of funding for branding, thus increasing their visible presence beyond what is normally capable. A more traditional example of branding leading to leads would be Honest Tea.

Honest Tea - National Honesty Index Campaign

Honest Tea – National Honesty Index Campaign (Source)

Honest Tea is a beverage provider owned by the Coca-Cola corporation. They possessed only a small marketing budget in their early goings. To increase brand awareness Honest Tea ran a campaign called the “National Honesty Index” where the company set up unmanned kiosks around major cities in America asking customers to give $1 and take a tea. The teas were not locked away; they were simply out in the open for anyone to take. The campaign was a huge success getting national media attention as to what city was the most honest in America. This lead to a huge influx of online visits and purchase order requests. Honest Tea is a great example of how a branding campaign can lead to unforeseen leads seeking out your business without that sole intention.

Demand Gen Outlook

Lead generation is the main KPI for anyone working in demand gen. The demand gen team and the sales team work closely together for most businesses. The task of the demand team is to acquire as many leads as they can and qualify them to then be passed along to the sales team. This is mainly done through content creation and promotion. Many sources are used to create new and exciting content. Once content is created use different channels to promote the content to different targeted prospects to help generate leads.

When the demand gen team is trying to acquire new leads, they typically take content and place it behind a “gate”. By doing this they are able to acquire information about a person that can help them make a sale down the road. An example is giving your name and email address on a signup form for a webinar. You get access to the webinar, but it also gives your information to the company to determine if you are a viable prospect.

Gated Content Signup Form

Gated Content Signup Form

4) Website Traffic 

Creating website traffic is a very simple topic. You’re trying to create something that in turn will push more users to visit your website. Why might you be wanting to do this? Maybe you’re running a sale, or want to have visitor’s signup for a webinar that is being hosted from your website. What most people fail to do properly is have an optimized website. Each page on your site should have one specific task, and you should be able to figure out what that task is within five seconds of landing on that page. Have a high converting website can make branding and demand generation campaigns much more successful.

Brand Marketing Outlook

Driving traffic to your website is one of the main focuses of brand awareness. How do you do this though? Brand awareness is in large part about understanding your target market. Having a deep understanding of your target market makes it is easier to create a message that appeals to them. Companies like Apple, Google, and BMW understand who their customers are, and as a result do a brilliant job at branding around them.

By having the proper branding message within your campaign, you’re not only enticing your current clientele to visit your website, but those that come into contact with your campaign and identify with the message. Your best chance at increasing traffic from branding is to use strong calls to action wherever possible. Your job in marketing is to act as a guide and you do not want prospects to get lost. Give them a single, easy to follow route from each touchpoint to a final sale. One CTA on every one touchpoint.

Demand Gen Outlook

Increasing traffic to your website isn’t the main task of the demand gen team, but it is an important one. Your website is a hub for sales and the more people you can get there; the higher sales numbers you will generally see. As mentioned previously, the demand gen team does a lot of content creation, and to get people to your website you need to use calls-to-action, just like the branding side of operations. Whenever you are finishing a blog post, webinar, e-book, it is a good idea to have a CTA there. The person has already shown interest in your product/service, so why not see if they are interested in more? One of the best companies at optimizing CTA’s is Hubspot. Below is a great example of one of Hubspot’s CTA’s.

Hubspot CTA

Hubspot CTA

Once a prospect has reached your website hopefully you have it optimized to convert on each of your pages. It is important to have a specific purpose for each one of your web pages. The next step on a page should be easy to notice and follow through on. The demand generation team is responsible for using content to push traffic to the website, and then follow through on the next value adding task.

Conclusion

Brand awareness and demand generation are two different segments of the marketing team. The two need to be aligned in order to obtain a successful marketing mix. This happens with constant communication. Try having a monthly, or bi-weekly meeting to ensure everyone on the marketing team understands the focus of marketing efforts. Many KPI’s align for both brand and demand, the hard part is implementing the right strategies to ensure that both brand and demand are meeting selected goals. I have always found that simpler is better. The more you can simplify the process for increasing conversions for these KPI’s the better off you will be.

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Building the Perfect Marketing Team – Step 1

The role of marketing has changed dramatically in the last decade, and the mix of people you need on your marketing team is very different than it was in the past. There are new roles and skill sets, new technologies, new mindsets and biases. When CEOs complain about their marketing department, I’ve found it’s not necessarily that the individuals on the team are incompetent. More often, it’s because the marketing team doesn’t have the right mix of skills required to achieve the CEO’s goals, which are often driven by revenue.

At my previous company, we fumbled in the dark to build out the marketing team we needed to grow from $10 million to $40 million in revenue by making a lot of mistakes. We hired the wrong people and had to let them go after too much time had passed. When I talk to other marketing leaders, they have similar stories. In this post, I’ll share a team structure that has worked for me in the past, including roles, org chart, and lessons learned on what not to do. Of course, this certainly isn’t the only way to structure your marketing team, but I hope it will provide visibility into the capabilities you need, regardless of how they’re organized.

Sample B2B Marketing Org Chart

Here’s the org chart I’d use if I were starting a new marketing team today from scratch.

Marketing Organizational Chart

Marketing Organizational Chart

I’ve organized the team into three groups: 1) brand, 2) demand generation, and 3) product marketing. Each group is led by a Director, and the whole team is led by the CMO or VP of Marketing. This marketing team is comprised of the following 13 roles:

  1. VP of Marketing
  2. Director of Brand & Communications
  3. PR & Social Media Manager
  4. Customer Marketing Manager
  5. Marketing Events Manager
  6. Director of Demand Generation
  7. Marketing Campaigns Manager
  8. Digital Marketing Manager
  9. Marketing Operations Manager
  10. Content Marketing Manager
  11. Director of Product Marketing
  12. Product Marketing Manager
  13. Analyst Relations Manager

B2B Marketing Job Descriptions

In this post, we’ll cover the top two levels, namely the VP of Marketing and the group leaders. In the next three posts in this series, we’ll do a deep dive on each group to describe the various roles and responsibilities within them.

 

CMO/VP of Marketing

Your VP of Marketing is responsible for the company’s overall marketing strategy, including messaging, campaigns, and metrics. This person is also responsible for putting the team in place to execute on the marketing plan and is a member of the executive team. This is a key hire, so this person should have the right skills to fit your organization. Do you need to grow revenue? Then you need hire someone with a strong demand generation background. Are you having trouble telling your company story? Then you need to hire someone with a strong background in product marketing. Do you need to modernize your look & feel? Then look for someone more brand-oriented. Someone once told me that when you’re recruiting a VP of Marketing, you’re looking for a mix of three skills – brand, demand gen, and product marketing – but you only get to pick two. It’s *very* rare to find all three in one person, so you’ll need to decide what’s most important for your company in the current stage.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Create, communicate, and execute on the company’s marketing strategy
  • Support sales through comprehensive demand generation programs, which may or may not include management of the business development team
  • Craft the company’s story and manage consistent communications of the marketing message with press, analysts, and the market at large
  • Own the the company’s brand, including the look & feel of all branded assets and web properties, as well as any touchpoints along the buyer’s journey
  • Manage the marketing budget to ensure efficient spend across programs
  • Develop and assist programs with quantifiable objectives to measure results of ROI

 

Director of Brand & Communications

The Director of Brand & Communications is your brand champion. They’re creative, have a strong eye for design, focus on the big picture, and manage major projects with a lot of stakeholders. They’re also a bit of a stickler. That’s a good thing – because you want someone who will be a bit bullish to set brand standards and push the rest of the organization to maintain consistency across different assets and channels. This person also works closely with the VP of Marketing to formulate the marketing message, which will influence the corporate website, press relations, and other corporate communications within their domain.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Work with internal stakeholders to formulate the company story and craft messaging in response to new competitive positioning, product releases, etc.
  • Manage the corporate website to present the marketing message in a visually compelling way (note: usually in conjunction with an agency for development support)
  • Expand company awareness through the press, social media, and events
  • Own the consistency of all touchpoints along the buyer’s journey, with a particular focus on customer engagement and happiness

Director of Demand Generation

The Director of Demand Generation is where the rubber hits the road for sales. They’re energetic, analytical, ruthlessly efficient, detail-oriented, and have a way of creating great relationships with sales without being afraid to push back on dumb ideas. This person is a truth teller and relies on data to make decisions, but ultimately has a service orientation to support sales in achieving their goals. This person owns the plan, execution, and analysis of all marketing campaigns to generate leads and opportunities. They also work closely with sales to ensure leads are followed up with appropriately to achieve the best results.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Plan and execute demand generation campaigns across all channels, including email, paid search, display advertising, content syndication, social, etc.
  • Own the marketing prospect database and maintain efforts to improve the size and quality of contacts to support future marketing campaigns
  • Analyze campaign effectiveness to maximize marketing ROI to achieve sales goals within given marketing budget
  • Manage the marketing automation system and integration with the CRM to ensure the right information is captured to handoff leads to sales and attribute campaign success
  • Own the content calendar to support demand generation efforts across channels

Director of Product Marketing

The Director of Product Marketing is responsible for ensuring that the company’s products and services resonate with the target market. They’re highly intelligent, creative, strategic thinkers who can translate convoluted technical concepts into easy-to-understand frameworks. They’re the “thought leaders” of the organization, in that they’re generating the “thoughts” that the rest of the marketing team will distribute inside and outside the company. They interface directly with clients and report back to product management on key findings, monitor the competitive landscape and marketing trends, and are responsible for the ever-misunderstood sales enablement to support new messaging, product launches, and other marketing campaigns.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Plan product launches for all new products and releases and coordinate with product management, marketing, and sales to execute a successful launch
  • Conduct regular, in-depth competitive analysis to ensure the marketing and sales teams are aware of new developments so they can speak more credibly with prospects
  • Develop all sales tools, including value propositions, competitive positioning, launch scripts, customer proof points, ROI metrics and calculations
  • Develop thought leadership for use in bylines, corporate messaging, and other content

In our next post, we’ll dive into the brand & communications group to describe the roles and responsibilities for driving brand awareness and managing consistent corporate communications. Stay tuned, and be sure to share how you structure your marketing team in the comments!

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An 18-Month Playbook for Building Your Lead Generation Machine

“These leads suck. We need 100 qualified opportunities with the right people who are ready to buy this quarter or else we won’t hit the number. What are you going to do about it?”

Sigh.

Whether you’re new to marketing or an industry veteran, chances are you’ve had this conversation before. I remember the first time it happened to me, and I immediately went into panic mode: Have we just wasted a ton of time and money? What can we pull off in the next week to turn things around? The second time, I admit I was indignant. Since when did marketing become sales? I wondered. Why isn’t anyone asking what they’re going to do about it? And the third time, I laughed. Okay, let’s dig in – where are things going wrong, and what can we do to fix it?

Because like it or not, marketing drives growth. And unless you work at a company that has superhero salespeople who love prospecting and want to know what they can do for you (in which case please email me so I can send you my resume), a big part of your job as a marketer is lead generation.

To generate leads consistently – month over month, quarter over quarter – you need to have a plan. But a good marketing plan is more than a collection of slides, documents, and spreadsheets that describe a long list of things you’re planning to do. In sales, the playbook is a common framework to help account execs follow a repeatable selling process, but in marketing, we have no such guide. I’ve talked to hundreds of marketers over the years about what it takes to “build the machine,” and I can tell you that many of us are piecing things together and making it up as we go along. While there are aspects of marketing that are an art, building your lead generation machine is not one of them.

After leaving the company where I ran demand gen for six years (while supporting 92% of the sales pipeline and growing revenue 4X), I decided to document a process through which marketers can systematically build a lead generation machine to drive growth at any company. I’ve taken my experience and combined it with everything I’ve read and learned from others to create The Marketing Machine Playbook, a step-by-step guide to predictable revenue over the course of 18 months.

Why 18 months, and not 6 or 12 months? Because this stuff takes time – time to launch, time to learn, time to refine. This is not about dabbling in blogs and social media, or sending out a couple newsletters per month. This is about defining your marketing strategy, and setting up the systems and people you need to make it happen. It’s hard work, and it takes discipline, creativity, and a certain level of scrappiness to “build the machine,” but over the next few months, I’ll show you how it’s done.

Each week we’ll cover one month in an 18-month action plan to build your marketing machine from scratch. By the end of the summer, you’ll learn how to:

  • Set the right goals and build a marketing plan to support sales
  • Expand your marketing mix and develop new capabilities across different channels, including email, online advertising, telemarketing, social media, events, and more
  • Choose the right tools and set up your marketing system so that everything works and you can track what’s working and what’s not
  • Improve your relationship with sales by setting clear expectations and consistently delivering what you say you will

Sound fun? It totally is, but let me warn you that it’s also a lot of work. It’ll be messy, chaotic, and disorganized long before it’s functional, organized, and awesome. There will be times when you want to quit, or worse – settle for the status quo. But if you stick with it and focus on incremental improvements, you’ll be able to look back at the end of 18 months and see how far you’ve come. And as I learned from The Bachelor, it’s all about the journey. Are you here for the right reasons, and are you ready to make your marketing awesome?

Join me in an epic journey to build a marketing machine and drive growth at your company. By the end of the summer, you’ll have everything you need to level up your marketing and support sales through 2016 and beyond.

Sign up here: The Marketing Machine Playbook series

How to Negotiate a Bigger Marketing Budget

I’ve been talking to a lot of marketers lately, and they all seem to have one thing in common – they could really use a bigger marketing budget. And yet while most marketers agree they’re strapped for funds, there seems to be this resignation that it is what it is, and there’s really nothing they can do about it.

While there certainly are limits to your company’s willingness to spend on marketing, I’d argue that most marketers simply accept whatever number comes out of the voodoo Excel magic your CFO is doing instead of proactively constructing a plan to demonstrate what you can do with different dollar amounts. Here’s how you can change that.

I first learned about this technique a few years ago when I was putting together a proposal for a potential consulting client. I was reading The Consulting Bible by Alan Weiss around the same time, and in the book he talks about how the most common pushback you encounter from potential clients is, “Wow, this is great, but we weren’t prepared to spend this much. Can you come down by x%”. Depending on your personality, your natural reaction may be to simply reduce your price to get the contract, or hold firm and hope they sign anyway.

Instead, Weiss suggests submitting a proposal with 3 options. Option A is the small project, small budget option. Option B is larger scope, larger budget, and Option C is the biggest scope, biggest budget. In this scenario, after seeing your proposal, the prospect may say something like, “We really want to tackle Option B, but our budget is more in line with Option A. Can you come down at all?” To which you respond, “No problem. Let’s start with Option A, and then once we get through the first phase, you can decide if you want to continue working with me to achieve the extra deliverables in Option B.” Almost everyone will bite and sign the contract (whether Option A or Option B).

The key here is you’re giving people three ways to say YES instead of equal options of saying yes or no. You’re also matching budget to deliverable so it’s clear what they get for the money.

You can use the same method can be used to negotiate a bigger marketing budget at your company. Most marketers are handed a budget number and expected to make it work regardless of lead/opportunity targets, but that’s like setting a price without knowing what you’re going to get in return – makes no sense! If you treat your budget as a fixed cost, you’ll end up signing up for targets that you can’t possibly achieve, that you KNOW won’t work out, and yet you’re telling the CEO and VP of Sales that you can.

Guess who’s getting blamed when you don’t hit the target?

Instead, before you’re given this mythical budget number, take charge and demonstrate what you can do for different dollar amounts by following these simple steps:

  1. Get involved in the planning process early. In reality, there’s no voodoo magic happening to determine your budget – you’re just not part of the conversation. To earn a bigger marketing budget, you need to insert yourself into the planning process and demonstrate the value you can deliver with the right funds. Understand the revenue scenarios at play – what are the conservative, moderate, and aggressive plans for the company, and craft marketing plans to support each one.
  1. Demonstrate your ability to get more efficient. This is a big one. It’s hard for a CEO to swallow spending $500k more in marketing, but if you’re showing that you’re actually becoming more efficient (include how you’re doing this) on a cost/lead and cost/opportunity basis, it becomes a much easier conversation.
  1. Make sales your ally. Sales has a big incentive to get as much as they can from marketing. When you’re coming up with the marketing plan, sales should be in lock step from day 1. Make sure you’re on the same page with regard to goals, how you’ll get there, and who owns what so you can go to the CEO and present a united front. If sales is arguing that they really need more from marketing and you’ve presented a plan on how you can do more, the CEO/CFO is much more likely to get on board.
  1. Deliver what you say you’re going to deliver. The biggest factor in earning a bigger budget is trust that you’ll use those funds wisely. You earn trust by doing what you say you’re going to do consistently over time. No more signing up for targets you don’t believe in. Instead, create a plan you really think you can achieve, and hit your targets month over month, quarter over quarter.

Okay folks, that’s all I’ve got. What did I miss? How do you fight for the marketing budget you need to support the sales pipeline? And if you struggle with revenue planning and are looking to reclaim your sanity with a better approach, sign up for the Sponge beta!

How to Create a Marketing Budget [Excel Template]

In this post, I’ll go over how to create a marketing budget and track expenses throughout the year. Managing a budget requires discipline and easy access to the right information, so I’ve created this handy Marketing Budget Excel Template to make life easier. Basically I’ve spent hours creating formulas, formatting cells, and tinkering with design so you don’t have to! If you decide to use it, definitely let me know how it works for you and what you would change – spreadsheets are living documents and I like stealing leveraging other people’s ideas to make them better.

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