If I Only Had $1 for Marketing, Where Should I Spend It?

May 21st, 2009 by Matthew Rosenhaft No comments »

A question that I have been working on for a number of weeks… Where would I focus my marketing budget at different budget levels? What activities provide the biggerst return on your marketing dollars? What would I recommend for a marketing budget?

These are common questions that I get when I build a marketing organization directly or I provide marketing consulting. It is especially relavent with so many companies slashing marketing budgets, at the same time looking for something to change the rules and build a foundation for growth.

My short list of critical marketing activities are below… budget is harder because you have to take a lot more factors into account; such as industry, sale cycle, channels, pricing, packaging, type of product, type of services, size of company, growth expectations, etc…

1. Branding – the ability to tell your story, make it compelling, and differentiate yourself is critical.

2. Website – making sure that the website tells the right story, is search optimized, and credentials your organization. Some websites sell, but most are really sales support or customer support. The best sites manage the customer relationship. Depending on the industy, maturity, etc. I would recommend building an online community (social media components embedded into the website) to manage the pre-sales activities (community) and the one-to-one customer account activities (private groups).

3. Demo, Video, Sample, Picture, Flash, etc. – something that is a tangible representation of your offering that communicates the value of the offering which can be syndicated out through social media sites, Youtube, etc.

4. References, Case Studies, and Testimonials – Communicating value in a tangible way, credentialling your ability to deliver the solution

5. Collateral, PowerPoint, Flash, Webinars, Seminars, etc. – Depending upon your industry, there are accepted norms for delivering the pitch… some industries it can be done your website, via webinar, others require a PowerPoint, others still use PDFs. Irregardless of the medim, you have to tell the “visual story”; solution, pictures/imagery, value proposition, differentiation, package, pricing, functions, features….

6. Online Marketing – Search Engine Pay-Per-Click, Search Optimized Press Releases, Linkedin, Facebook, other industry specific social media sites/groups, maybe a banner ad on critical industry sites, etc.

7. Media, Blogger, & Analyst Outreach / Industry-specific Online CommunitySocial & Forum participation – The lines between traditional media, bloggers, analysts, and communities are blurring. You have to have a strong presence and recognize the contribution those who follow the industry have on buyers.

8. Multi-channel Marketing – Email, direct mail, personal landing pages, drip marketing, campaigns, analytics, etc. You need a good outbound marketing engine as most companies cannot rely on networking & inbound referrals alone. You also should tie it into a good CRM system so that you can make the information actionable.

9.Events, Conferences, Tradeshows – With the economy tight, a lot of the travel dollars have been slashed, but participation is still a good way to get out of your own network. Selection of which to attend is more art than science, but a good rule of thumb is “go where the customers are”…

10. Partnerships – getting a partnership is really only the first step in actually getting business from partners. Nurturing relationships, training and supporting, building solution value, providing sales support, and providing channel marketing are the real challenge in getting sustainable business. “Build it & they will come” doesn’t usually work for partnerships, either.

Bottom line, is this is a generic list of activities, but the secret sauce is prioritizing where you spend your limited dollars. I write about social media a great deal as I believe that done correctly that it can be a game changer, but the real value is focusing on doing the marketing basics really well. You can always build upon a great foundation, but you have to crawl before you walk before you run.

In Web 2.0 Software, Adoption Trumps Functionality

May 21st, 2009 by Matthew Rosenhaft No comments »

The last several years have seen the greater adoption of social media and other Web 2.0 software components. These component software tools provide users with a more interactive experience, personalization, with the ability to create their own content, links, tags, navigation, etc. Additionally, you are seeing the growth of the “connected web”; web services, RSS, embeddable code, ubiquitous meta-tagging, widgets, consumable data, etc.

The proliferation of these software applications has migrated to every sector; consumer, enterprise, SMB, etc. What used to take NDA’s, sharing and modification of API’s, and endless meetings now can be accomplished with a snippet of code.

As the web transitions to more semantic driven applications and less user-interface driven, you would think that functionality would become increasingly important in applications.

In my experience, the trend is towards the opposite and that ADOPTION trumps functionality. The challenge is that we have too many options on the internet; too much data, content, search results, websites, applications, etc. The word I hear over and over is “overwhelming”.

So, if you have a very limited window of attention from your audience, why would you throw extraneous “stuff” at them hoping something would stick. Instead, take advantage of the Web 2.0 technologies and provide them with a tailored experience with just-enough functionality.

More importantly, focus on what is their motivation and interests. Not all potential buyers are the same. Don’t provide a generic website experience that meets 80% of 80% of the visitors and satisfies none. Instead, focus on identifying what a 100% of a smaller audience that you know will buy and add additonal functionality to support additional segments over time. Customers provide unsolicited referrals when you exceed their expectations and provide them a WOW! experience. This is the heart of word-of-mouth marketing. EXCEED CUSTOMER EXPECTATIONS!

If you cannot exceeed the whole group, then focus on a small enough group that talks to each other and build from there. You see countless blogs and articles about how to launch products on the interet. This is the reasoning behind the axioms. You need a critical mass of associated happy customers that will tell others about it.

It is about numbers. If you satisfy 1% of a large group, that doesn’t make much of a market impact. If you satisfy 80% of a small group, you own the market. Bottom line, adoption of your solution is more critical than providing everything, including the kitchen sink.

Of course, the secret is prioritizing the “right” functionality to satisfy the customer which takes someone asking them….

Leveraging Linkedin for Business Development and Marketing

May 20th, 2009 by Matthew Rosenhaft No comments »

I was at a networking event on social media strategy this week. One of the networking topics was how to leverage linkedin for networking. When I shared my approach to managing my linkedin profile with an account manager and a CEO, they were shocked to find out I was doing some things radically different and getting much better results.

We first compared numbers of contacts. Mine is close to 4000, theirs were approx. 100. I shared with them that I get unsolicited consulting requests because my profile is searchable by about 1/3 of the Linkedin network, approx 15,000,000 people.

Secondly, I solicited requests for recommendation from all of my contacts that I have worked with; colleagues, partners, employees, and customers. I had 25 or so recommendations, they had 1 or 2 each that they got for giving a recommendation. I give them appropriately and I request them appropriately. If you have a couple of people saying nice things about you, may or may not be true, but my feeling is that if you have sufficient volume, it speaks much more clearly about your abilities than you could ever tell. You don’t ask, you don’t get….

Next, I put up links to my blog and I put up powerpoint presentations. My goal is to credential myself so that when people find me they can evaluate my thought leadership. Obviously, I want them to think highly of me and want to reach out to engage me. Very similar to your marketing strategy; have an outbound marketing outreach program, but also make sure that when they are inbound that you provide them with a compelling interaction when they arrive. How would I know I want to do business with you if there is nothing on your profile to interest me. So, here are basic recommendations:

1. Fill out your profile completely, including jobs, roles, interests, contact information, etc.

2. Use key words liberally. We all do searches for key words to find people, make sure you are found by your key words.

2. Link to everyone you know & meet. Keeping a closed database works if you want to stay closed. If you want to be found, then make sure you connect and help others connect.

3. Join Linkedin LIONs – Linkedin Open Networkers – you have to accept requests with LION in the invitation, but if your goal is visability in Linked, this group of “connectors” is the very spirit of business development

4. Join Groups that are relavent to you – all about visability & making sure that you are accounted for in the markets where you play. Also, there are some groups that are great sources of information on markets, technologies, and connections.

5. Create content – Q&A, status updates, add powerpoints, add your blog, video, etc. for all of the reasons stated above.

6. Dont’ assume a linkedin contact is a “real” contact & don’t assume they got your message. I get SPAM messages all of the time from people who asked to connect and then assume I am fair game… you have to make sure that your messages to your contacts are respectful, reintroduce yourself even though you are a 1st level contact, and also assume that you will have to reach them another way. Almost a 1/3 of linkedin messages get lost in a SPAM filter so don’t just blast and assume they are interested or not.

7. Along those lines, I make it a point to also reach out to my contacts outside of linked if I really want a response. At the end of the day, people are open to connecting, but you have to still make it relevant, make it personal, and get there attention.

Linkedin does work… I know one of my contacts who makes 80% of her sales through her linkedin database. She built it up and then reduced it to just the “right” contacts, but if you are connected to her, you are a player. That is the exact perception she wants to create and does it extremely effectively. CMOs know that she has an exclusive database of other CMOs and they feel like they are a part of an exclusive club. When she calls or reaches out to them, they respond because they recognize the value she brings beyond just the immediate offering she sells.

At the end of the day, social media is about giving more value that you get…. but then again, that is the secret to networking in general…

Decoding Marketing: BtoB CMOs Integrating SM, SEO,Lead Gen, CRM, MCM, and M$trics for Success

May 20th, 2009 by Matthew Rosenhaft No comments »

What? Let me translate…

B-to-B = Business to Business

CMO = Chief Marketing Officer who has responsibility for Strategic Marketing, Product Management, Product Marketing, Channel Marketing, Marketing Communications, Lead Generation, & depending upon the nature of the company Customer Service.

SM = Social Marketing; both the external Social Media properties like FaceBook, Linkedin, Twitter, YouTube, etc, as well as, the branded online communities built as a part of the corporate website that leverage social media components and generate a ton of user content.

SEO = Organic Search. SEM is Search Engine Marketing whereby you pay-per-click for placement. SEO is better, but you have to be on the 1st page of organic search to really get placement. There are some really effective strategies leveraging online press releases, PR, cross-linking strategies, user generated content on your website, targeted meta-tagging, and more focused website content.

Lead Gen = Lead Generation, meaning the qualified stuff, not the “IP address 123.345.128 visited your page at 12:35am”. I mean the stuff sales organizations appreciate; qualified, interested, and clearly identified, preferrably educated, but ideally a referral. Inbound leads are a reflection of your outbound activities. If you are scatter-shotting your marketing activities, throwing stuff up against the wall, without a clearly coordinated call to action, you will have trouble with leads. Good marketing aircover involves multi-channel, clear value communications, and targeted to potential buyers where they buy. As a friend said the other day, “one message is ok, a campaign is better, a relationship is the best”. Relationships take time, multiple interactions, and can’t just be about the transaction….

CRM = heard about a new company doing Social CRM which brings all of your online social media contacts from multiple sites into your CRM. COOL! Now, take it one step further and find a way to bring those contacts into a dialogue on your website about attributes of your offering that is of interest to them… priceless…

MCM = Multi-channel communications, an essential tool in today’s world. Not the end-all, but a significant, important tool to managing your outbound marketing. The ability to coordinate marketing communications, target market specific interactions, and tie all of that into your CRM system is a strong foundation. I am talking with a leading Multi-channel Marketing firm this afternoon to find out there strategies for integration social media components into their lead scoring systems.

M$trics – A cute way of saying metrics. Marketing cannot get quantitative enough in my opinion. We need to make sure that we have clear ways to measure the impact on the business; whether through a direct ROI or the ability to affect the conversion from one stage of the sales process to the next. At the end of the day, Branding disconnected from the Business is hard to justify.

Success = Integrated marketing strategy that helps position the company & the product above the competition, drives awareness in the market, generated leads, and help position the company to get referrals and repeat purchases.

Plan = Without a destination, it is hard to figure out if you will arrive….