B2B Marketers Hold Off on Killing Traditional Media

October 22, 2010

And so from the looks of it, according to the latest chart from MarketingSherpa, traditional marketing venues such as trade shows and advertising are still in play today and will be for the next year. Their latest study points out that “The majority of B2B organizations are increasing marketing budgets for inbound marketing tactics, including social media, virtual events and webinars, SEO and PPC”.

But, more interesting is that the majority of B2B Marketers are not planning on changing their marketing budget allocation for traditional marketing tactics. Also interesting to note that telemarketing as a budget item will also remain a key part of the budget, which shows outbound lead generation is still a strong component of most marketing plans.

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B2B Marketing Summit Shows Old Problems Persist

October 14, 2010

So it seems MarketingSherpa’s B2B Summit 2010 is over and from what I read in their wrap up post, the same old problems plaguing marketers for the last 5 years are still here today. First of all, what is this summit? According to their post:

“Last week in San Francisco, 211 business-to-business marketers spent two days sharing insights, case studies and advice on social media marketing, lead generation, Sales and Marketing alignment, and other hot-button issues on the West Coast swing of MarketingSherpa’s seventh annual B2B Marketing Summit.”

MarketingSherpa is known for quality content and I have attended a couple conferences (I was a speaker at the Email Marketing Summit 2008) and have always thought that the best you get from attending an event like this is more in the form of networking than in content itself. The other good thing about going to such a conference for me, is that I get dedicated time to really think through all the topics being discussed, without being interrupted for meetings, phone ringing and people walking in the office.

The many takeaways from this year’s B2B Marketing Summit (West Coast) according to MarketingSherpa, were:

  1. Begin with the end in mind
  2. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes
  3. Getting a lead is just the beginning…
  4. For successful lead generation and nurturing, you need quality content
  5. Use measurements that matter
  6. It all happens on the landing page
  7. Be strategic about presenting your campaigns and your vision to the C-level

None of the takeaways above strike me as particularly new or groundbreaking, but that’s how it always goes. Sometimes we just need to be reminded of the obvious so that we can focus on the essential.


Flip the Funnel Book Review

October 13, 2010

At the San Francisco Marketing Book Club meeting last week we discussed “Flip the Funnel: How to use existing customers to gain new ones“, by Joseph Jaffe. 

What’s the verdict?  Buy the book. OK, now the explanations and caveats.

First, the book talks about the essential function of customer service and how to leverage it with today’s current technologies, including (of course) social media. If you haven’t read much about customer service or if marketing isn’t your background, then the book will be a good starting point. For those that have some experience and background on the topic of excellence in customer service and have read one of the many classic books out there, then a lot of it will be just a review of what has already been said.

My biggest disappointed was that the author used mostly well known examples to illustrate his points. JetBlue, Domino’s, United Airlines, Zappos, and others are cases that we marketers already know. I would have liked to see other companies that he has worked with and are not so obvious and how they implemented his recommendations or how they have failed to recognize the importance of “flipping the funnel”. But then, maybe I’m not the target market for this book.

The other thing to be aware is that Mr. Jaffe is a bit verbose. If you have listened to his podcasts or seen his videos, then you know what I’m talking about. I felt like skipping a few pages just so I could get right to the point. Others may be ok with his style, but it just made it much harder for me to make progress. You should read an excerpt or check it out at the local bookstore to see if you like how he writes before buying the book.

But don’t be fooled, there are some really good ideas in the book:

Where is the money going?

Early in the book he makes the case that we’re spending money on the wrong side of the funnel. “Shouldn’t we be spending money against qualified prospective buyers versus shots in the dark at bagging a random stranger?”. He continues saying “The marketing funnel produces customers – but then does nothing with them.”

How right he is! Why is it we spend all that money and effort into getting people interested just to forget about them once we get the purchase order? There’s gold to be mined in existing customers and the book treats this as the new mantra for marketing. In Jaffe’s words “Keeping, cultivating, and nurturing existing customers and establishing unbreakable bonds with them”.

Segment and Treat Customers Differently

Although the methodology varies based on your industry and whether you are a B2B or B2C company, the big picture is clear. “The more opportunities we give our customers to engage us (as opposed to us engaging them), the more likely they’ll be able to do just that”, and I completely agree. According to Jaffe, we should segment customers into “walkers”, “talkers”, and “hybrid”, and deploy distinct approaches for each one. His new “flipped funnel” approach to doing that is called A.D.I.A (Acknowledgement, Dialogue, Incentivization, and Activation).

The Customer Experience

The whole point of the “new” flipped funnel approach is to create this unique “customer experience”, which means giving customers ways in which they can interact with the brand, and we can interact back with them. Sure, this is not new, but he suggests that “companies need to have an intensive, omnipresent approach to dealing with their customers”. Does this sound like your company? I know, everyone talks about how important the customer is, etc but very few companies really put the necessary resources behind that. The payback, he argues, is that “customers will pay a premium for higher perceived value”, and such value is likely to be how customers are treated. Customer service becomes your product, or better yet, the differentiator between your product and your competitor’s.

Social Media Still Not Treated Seriously

Where I think the book falls short is on the implementation side. It talks about companies having to deploy capabilities across every single customer touchpoint, connecting the dots between the physical and virtual world and giving customer service the strategic value it deserves, but there’s not much in terms of HOW companies are doing that. Although, if the research from MS&L mentioned in the book is correct (one third of companies are not incorporating social media in marketing efforts, and of 63% that were, a full two-thirds had not made changes to products or marketing based on customer feedback), then the problem is actually there aren’t many good examples to follow. Are we entering a new world, travelling a path very few have survived? We’ll see.

 

In sum, if you’ve already read a few books on the subject, you’re not going to gain anything new but for the novice or uninitiated this book may be just what you need to get your company on the right track to flipping the funnel and gaining new customers.


Making Website Reviews Easy

October 5, 2010

64/365 - mapping by Jenn Vargas @ Flickr

The website is a few years old, there are some inconsistencies in font and the colors don’t match all that well. On top of that, now you have videos you want to showcase and the home page was not designed with that in mind. In sum, the website needs a complete makeover. Sounds familiar?

When reviewing websites and discussing design elements, you invariably end up drawing all over the whiteboard, asking your designer to come up with some mockups and then annotating those and sending them back. How about using some technology to make things easier? I’ve already discussed the use of PowerPoint for website reviews and if you’re starting from scratch it not only provides you with a grate starting point but is a low cost solutions.

For reviewing existing websites, I have used my tablet PC to make screen annotations and save them as images to the team, but what if you have people remote or if you want them to review and add their own comments about the site on their own time?

Below are a few useful tools out there for this problem.

Website Review and Annotation Tools

ShiftSpace.org is an interesting app that gives you the ability to comment on any website using your browser, but others have to have ShiftSpace installed to see them.

Google Sidewiki is an extension for Google Chrome that lets you comment on any website, but falls short on the drawing options (arrows and circles and such).

Diigo allows you to add sticky notes and highlights to websites and share with other people, and they do not have to have diigo installed. Problem is, you can’t draw circles or squares on the site to illustrate changes in the design.

Sharedcopy.com takes a screenshot of a site, let’s you annotate, send to other people, where they can add their own comments to it. Requires users to have the sharecopy bookmark app on their browsers, but works nicely.

Notable is a paid app that gives you great tools for annotations and commenting on any site.

Bounce is my favorite so far, because not only is a free version of Notable, but is the easiest to use. No registrations, no downloads required. Simply go to the Bounce site, enter a URL and start annotating. Then save the comments and share the unique link with your team. If there’s one thing missing is the ability to draw on the page.

Any other tools I have missed?





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