Thought Leadership Interview #7 - Scott Mersy of Genius.com

I’m pleased to bring you a series of interviews with thought leaders in B2B Sales and Marketing.

This time we interviewed a sharp guy in marketing — Scott Mersy, Vice President of Marketing and Products at Genius.com. Scott’s also a contributor to the popular blog, The Connected Marketer (The Fearless Competitor is a contributor there too.)  We have a full bio on Scott at the end of this interview.

If you like what Scott has to say, just visit him at Genius.com or send an email to smersy at genius.com.  I wish to thank Scott for his contributions to Fearless Competitor.

Many more thought leaders are coming soon, so stay tuned. We’re on a mission to bring our readers the very best.

CSO Insights recently found that quota achievement was at its lowest rate ever, lead generation budgets were flat or cut, and quotas were being raised.  Jim Dickie sees this as the Perfect Storm. Jim Dickey said it is like raising the high jump bar, when we could not clear the last height.  As a marketing expert, Scott, what are you observing in B2B sales?

Thanks for leading off with a question about B2B Sales! As you know, Genius.com founded the Sales 2.0 conference, and also wrote “Sales 2.0 for Dummies” because we understand that sales enablement is the most important aspect of marketing. Marketers should always remember that if they aren’t positively impacting “the number”, they’re not being effective. In a complex selling environment, marketing needs to feed direct, actionable, and real-time behavioral information directly to the sales team at the moment the lead score or other specific prospect behavior indicates it’s time for a real person to engage. After all in B2B sales, the human element of engagement - to consult, inform, and sell - is still paramount. While data over time, optimization and improvement are definitely important; we can’t overlook the value of driving the right personal interaction at the right time. Because of this, we’ve seen incredible results throughout our customer base of sales-driven marketing organizations that “get” that they need to help “get” sales!

The economic challenges of today are a major problem for B2B sellers. Blogs and content sharing are critical elements like websites and Connected Marketer, where you use industry experts, is a very popular blog. How can a robust online presence help generate leads? Can you share the lessons you’ve learned with our readers?

Today, a robust online presence is essential to generate leads. Having a popular blog is great and serves as an important component of an overall content and thought leadership strategy. However, good content on your blog or website doesn’t help much without a strategy to reach prospects wherever they are naturally doing research on your market and solutions.  Find out what the relevant sites are for your prospects and market and be there, too. But being there isn’t enough - marketers need to engage prospects with helpful content and drive them back to their blog or website and track all the interactions along the way. This levels the playing field and lets the marketer regain some leverage in the relationship.

Changing of the status quo is a major impediment to progress.  How can marketing and sales leaders implement change without incurring undue risk?

Sample, test, measure, iterate … repeat. Understand the big picture, but take smaller portions of your budget (and your time) and try new things. Make sure you understand your goals and measure everything. If marketers are constantly trying new things in small chunks, they’ll be surprised to find out how quickly things wholly change out as they go, without taking unnecessary risks.

Today it’s more critical than ever that marketers can measure the impact of options.  They need to know what’s working, what’s not, and what to change.  What do you recommend they do to focus on the most important items?

We all know that any good marketing team is touching potential customers with multiple different tactics, media, and offers all the time - email, social media, webinars, white papers, google adwords, SEO, and on and on. I can guarantee that very few deals in a complex selling process can be linked to one and only one tactic/offer/lead channel. And this becomes even less likely when lead nurturing is involved. Marketing is inherently complex and filled with lots of moving parts. But, it all comes down to figuring out what’s driving revenue. It’s important, but an oversimplification, to only measure the lead source and program that initially (or most recently) drove a customer into the pipeline. A good integrated marketing approach is to focus in on a number of key metrics or KPIs against which success is measured. Beyond leads generated, sales-ready leads generated, opportunities, or deals (revenue), marketers also need to look at things like: How many touches does it take for a certain type of customer (or “persona”) to become a customer? What’s the best mix of programs to drive deals? What’s my best offer?

Content is more important than ever.  Buyers look for content at every stage of the buying process.  What do marketers need to know about content and what actions do you recommend they take?

Content is extremely important these days. The first thing to think about when you are developing content is the buyer. If you want to leverage content effectively, it’s critical that you understand your buyer(s) completely, and understand what questions they might have at various stages of the buying process. Developing buyer personas would be the first step, then supporting those personas with an inventory of content specific to them at any given point. This way you are always relevant. One more thing to remember is not all content in this context is online. The idea is to develop a content strategy that leverages tweets, blog posts, website pages, emails, and even sales materials. Once you understand what your buyer is really looking for, it will be easy to stay relevant and continue to add value to their professional lives.

If a CMO were to ask you today – “What are the 3 most important takeaways that I need to know, Scott?” How would you answer?

Oracle coined a phrase in the frothy dot-com days that nevertheless rings true for today’s CMO: “The Internet Changes Everything”:

1. “Inbound Marketing” (pull) is increasingly important. SEO and Social Media must drive interest from outposts on the Internet that are outside of your control to your Website, where the marketer can continue the conversation and build a relationship.

2. Outbound Marketing (push) has changed drastically. Today, digital (or online or “e”) marketing is king. It’s relatively low cost, brings broad reach, and it’s quite measurable. Just like with Inbound, your website (and the tools/systems you’re using in conjunction with your website) is the key to achieving conversion and pull through.

3. Expertise (“Thought Leadership”) and relevant, engaging content drives both leads and market validation. Once again, it’s your website (and the blog should be a coherent part of your website, not a separate beast) that houses all this expert content

Taken together, today’s CMO should take away that they need to take an integrated approach to presenting useful content wherever their best prospects and customers are engaging, and they need to drive response to their website. From there, the systems need to measure channel and program effectiveness, provide appropriate interfaces to the prospect to nurture the relationship through to a deal, and provide the marketer with pipeline analytics to show the best-performing programs from a revenue standpoint.

Thanks, Scott.  Great stuff.  We welcome reader comments too.

As Vice President of Marketing & Products, Mersy leads the company’s marketing strategy, awareness, demand generation, and product efforts. Scott has been with Genius since the company got started in early 2005, working with co-founders Robert Seidl and David Thompson to develop and launch the initial SalesGenius product in 2006. Since then, Scott has worked closely with colleagues in marketing and engineering to define and launch 6 products in 3 years, contributing to 200% year over year growth at Genius.com in 2008 and 100% year over year growth in 2009.

Join us every Thursday at 8pm ET/5pm PT for Twitter chat about b2b demand generation. Just go to http://tweetchat.com/ and enter hashtag #b2bchat.

Jeff Ogden, the Fearless Competitor, is President of Find New CustomersLead Generation Made Simple.” He’s also the author of two highly acclaimed white papers, How to Find New Customers and Definitive Guide to Making Quota, as well the ebook, Prospect Driven Marketing. He’s been retained to write a new white paper and holds a BBA in Marketing from the University of Notre Dame.

Find New Customers helps business develop and implement programs to improve the way they find and acquire new customers using best practices in lead generation.

Every company today needs a Chief Content Officer.

“Find New Customers, can certainly help your business dramatically improve the flow of sales-ready leads to salespeople.” Paul Dunay, Buzz Marketing for Technology.

1 Response to “Thought Leadership Interview #7 - Scott Mersy of Genius.com”



  1. 1 The One Thing EVERY Company Needs Today « Trackback on May 18, 2010 at 11:04 am

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