A perfect time to bring back this thought leader interview.
Our goal is to bring you insights from the smartest people in B2B Marketing today. With the Aprimo Marketing Summit starting this Sunday (and I’m the host of the B2B track), we want to introduce you to people you will meet there.
I’m excited about this interview. This time we interviewed a sharp guy in marketing — Jeff Chamberlain, Vice President of BtoB Solutions Marketing at Aprimo.
Who is Jeff?
Mr. Chamberlain is a 30-year veteran of computer technology sales and marketing. Prior to joining Aprimo in November 2005, he held previous positions with Hewlett-Packard and Software Artistry. Mr. Chamberlain also helped build marketing consultancy Thoroughbred Group, Inc. (TGI) with his wife, Dana.
Who is Aprimo?
Don’t know Aprimo? World class companies like Intel, Kodak and American Express run their marketing operations and execution on Aprimo’s marketing software. And now that they’ve merged with Teradata, the future’s bright indeed.
If you like what Jeff has to say, send an email to jeff.chamberlain at aprimo.com. I wish to thank Jeff 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, Jeff, what are you observing in B2B sales?
There is a lot of talk about the changes going on in marketing. We are referring to it as the marketing revolution. These same changes are having an impact on sales as well. I do think that things have picked up significantly but we are seeing tremendous demand for integrated marketing solutions for a good reason. We must work smarter, not harder. That means marketing working closer with sales to understand all the touch points (not just the definition of a lead) so you can work from a common understanding of what is important, work from the same set of metrics measured the same way, and be in sync on target markets and messaging. The sales and marketing functions are overlapping more today than ever before. That doesn’t mean they are merging, that means that we are both communicating with the same individuals over a longer period of time. People don’t stop researching and communicating with peers after a sales person engages with them. The materials they find in those efforts are driven by marketing.
At the same time, sales representatives are getting better at using new technology. They are using social networks to find and/or connect with prospects. They are learning more about their competitors and getting a better handle on the market. This learning has to be constantly shared and synchronized with marketing to maintain the consistency of messaging and stay on target with the true brand image and product value propositions.
The economic challenges of today are a major problem for B2B sellers. Blogs and content sharing are critical elements like websites and MarketingStudio blog is very popular. How can a robust online presence help generate leads? Can you share the lessons you’ve learned with our readers?
Content is still king, meaning what will generate leads is getting relevant information and offers in front of buyers at the right time and in the right place. If that place is online for you, and it is for many, then online presence will help generate leads. Marketers love to go to the next shiny object. Right now that is “online” and “social media/networks.” Don’t get me wrong…these are real opportunities and need to be factored in. But you can’t go there exclusively in most cases.
I just recently spoke at a few of the regional events for the Online Marketing Summit. One of the points I was making in my presentation related to integrating online and offline marketing. B2B marketers primarily use two communication vehicles – email and events. This was an event for online marketers, and although I spoke to 100s of marketers across all of the cities, I only found two that use online exclusively. I also mentioned the irony of having a live event specifically for online marketers. The fact is marketers like to connect in person as well as online.
Changing of the status quo is a major impediment to progress. It’s hard to make change happen. How can marketing and sales leaders implement change without incurring undue risk?
Interesting you should bring up the word change. We did some research in marketing to understand the deep-rooted issues and found that one of the biggest challenges marketers have today is dealing with change. I often say “change is the only thing constant in marketing.” With that in mind, I believe the biggest risk comes in not responding to the change. So, sales and marketing aren’t implementing and embracing change but instead are anticipating it or reacting to it.
It is scarier to do nothing than to embrace and proactively drive new marketing strategies . Besides, marketers love to be creative and find new ways to do things. People don’t get into marketing to define a process and “turn the crank.” If you give marketers access to new technologies, time to develop new skills, and support them with a way to measure results, they won’t be concerned about change…they will embrace it!
We talk specifically about embracing changing in one of our ten Imperatives of the Marketing Revolution – The CMO Must be the Change Agent. The key here is that the leaders need to show marketers how to lead and drive new ways and new thinking. Show them that they will be supported in challenging the status quo. With the support from the top, marketing and sales will be emboldened and take lead.
Today it’s more critical than ever that marketers 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?
Measuring is critical. That’s one of the key ways to work smarter not harder. I’ve talked to a lot of marketers and they all seem to feel they are “too busy to measure.” The real answer is they are “too busy NOT to measure.” Running from one project to the next without getting an understanding of what is working is ineffective. If they don’t spend the time to look at the results and track them in light of the effort and cost, they won’t really know what is working. My advice is to focus on new activities and spend the extra energy to measure and analyze the results to see if the results are as expected. Instead of conducting three campaigns, conduct two and spend the time to measure and analyze the results. Better yet, automate and streamline marketing processes so execution and measurement is automated.
I see a lot of references to ROI in marketing and that is the ultimate measure. What is the return in light of the cost? The issue, however, is almost everyone that is talking about ROI is only talking about the results. That represents the return. You can’t measure ROI without the “I.” Tracking the actual investment you are making on marketing activities is a critical component. I’ve seen a number of companies try to do this with people and spreadsheets…I can assure you that won’t scale.
The same thinking applies to testing. A bad campaign might become good with a few tweaks to email subject lines or web page offers and buttons. I encourage everyone to subscribe to Anne Holland’s Which Test Won site. Each week she shows you an A/B test and allows you to guess which one got the best results. It’s great from a couple of perspectives. You get to see what works and learn some best practices. You also get to realize how bad you are at guessing what works so you learn not to trust your own gut feeling all the time.
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 has become so important that some are trying to coin a new type of marketing called “content marketing.” It’s recognition that buyers are researching and scouring the internet for information and intelligence prior to contacting vendors. Regardless of whether you consider a new category of marketing or just the way you get in front of prospects, the imperative for creating content is clear. We’ve acknowledged it as one of the ten Imperatives of the Marketing Revolution – “Free Your Content.” Marketing has always had a focus on content but their preferred delivery mechanisms were ads and collateral in the past. Now content is being delivered in blogs, videos, podcasts, webinars, ebooks, and “how to” documents to name a few. This constant need for fresh content is putting stress on marketing organizations. B2B marketers need content to drive nurture campaigns so they can offer the variety of materials desired by different types of buyers, seeking different solutions for different industries at different stages of the buying cycle. If you consider all of these dimensions to categorize your content, you can identify your gaps. There are a couple of points of relief though –
- One piece of thought leadership can be represented in many different formats as this will drive a different perspective on the information and also address the fact that people don’t all learn the same way – some like to read and some like a video. Presenting this information in different formats multiplies your pieces of content.
- People don’t like to read long white papers or view long webcasts anymore. Consider chunking your information into smaller bites that contain less but are easier to consume.
As you build this content engine, you need to consider how to manage your process for developing content to optimize the process. You should also look at how you are going to manage and organize the resulting pieces of content so you know what you have and can find the unique pieces easily to apply them in nurture campaigns, website offers or outbound communications. I blogged on this recently to provide some additional tips to build a content engine.
If a CMO were to ask you today – What are the 3 most important takeaways that I need to know? What would they be?
As I’ve mentioned we have identified ten imperatives to address this revolution going on in marketing, but I’ll pick three that speak to a different level of issues.
- Since I’m a software vendor, I’ll start with one that I think will surprise you. Many companies are jumping on the marketing automation software bandwagon but only a subset of them are successful. I think many are purchasing with the attitude that automation or software will “fix” their marketing. Marketing software will enable better execution, scale and measurement. However, if you don’t have well-defined marketing processes, agreed upon metrics, or alignment with sales on what is important you won’t be successful with software. You can use the software purchase as a driver to do these things, but they must be done to be successful at marketing.
- Support your team taking the time to measure and assess the true ROI of your marketing activities so you can work smarter and not harder. If you react to falling short of your goals by just trying to do more, you will just burn out your team. Help them identify what is getting the best results and focus on those things.
- Build a content engine that starts with thought leadership based on market needs and your differentiation and continues with a good process for building and producing information. Consider blogging as a part of your content engine.
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Jeff Ogden is President of Find New Customers “Lead Generation Made Simple” Check out the online show every Friday at 11am ET, “Laugh and Learn with the Fearless Competitor.” Find New Customers is one of few lead generation companies in New York. Follow Jeff on Twitter or download the free white paper on B2B lead generation.
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