What Marketing Org Charts Tell You About The Business

August 10, 2014

Organizational charts are an interesting thing. Every company has an official one and also a few “unofficial” charts. Look at how people are structured and what the reporting structure looks like and it will tell how the company is run, what is important to them, and how they think about their product and services and the market in general.

Although it seems that for certain departments the org chart doesn’t vary much (take finance, sales, even engineering), for Marketing departments the org chart can be all over the place. Marketing is probably an area that changes more frequently based on the stage the company is in than any other, at least from what I have seen. A small startup will have a head marketing person with a few helpers below, but as it grows more people are added to handle the other facets of promoting the business. 

A marketing org chart can give you clues about how a company goes to market. How quickly they can react and if they are product-centric or sales-oriented. 

Organizational Chart

Sending a Message Through the Marketing Org Chart

Some companies change the marketing organization or rename functions as a way to signal the market and employees of a new strategic direction. Take for example P&G who recently announced that marketing directors and associate marketing directors are now called brand directors and associate brand directors. This is supposedly to emphasize the role of creativity and to inspire bolder, better ideas into their marketing.

A recent article in Harvard Business Review magazine argues that the marketing function hasn’t changed much in the past 40 years and makes the case for marketing reorganization.

“In the past decade, what marketers do to engage customers has changed almost beyond recognition …. Yet in most companies the organization structure of the marketing function hasn’t changed since the practice of brand management emerged, more than 40 years ago.” – HBR

It makes sense as brands evolve, technology now permeates every aspect of marketing, and consumers have taken control of the buying process. At least that’s the excuse for Electrolux to have restructured its marketing team and have moved marketers from the corporate HQ into consumer teams focused on fully understanding the consumer experience and sharing the knowledge among various groups so that the whole organization is aligned to better serve the consumer.

Sometimes the reasons are related to inefficient and costly marketing structures that have grown so big that they become an impediment to successfully conducting business and start damaging the brand. Behemoths such as HP changed from a decentralized marketing to a centralized marketing organization in order to save money and respond faster to market demands.

“Ensuring we have the right organizational structure in place is a critical first step in driving improved execution, and increasing effectiveness and efficiency” – Meg Whitman, HP.

A while ago Microsoft went through a big marketing reorganization as well because, as then-CEO Steve Ballmer said, the company wasn’t getting enough ROM (return on marketing spend). 

The Right Marketing Structure

The question of how to best structure your marketing department shouldn’t be the thing that keeps you up at night. The needs of a company change depending on where it is in its life cycle, how much money it has to allocate to marketing, and how critical the marketing role is seen for the success of the company.

According to a Forbes article titled “The Central Question for CMOs“, the debate of centralized vs decentralized is mute. 

But let’s say you do want to put in place a marketing org chart that makes sense and resists the test of time, even if it’s just for 12 months. Well, there isn’t a better starting place than the SlideShare presentation put together by HubSpot on this very subject. The CMO’s Guide to Marketing Org Structures shows how seven different companies have structure their marketing departments and why they have chosen to do it this way, at least for now.

So while there isn’t such thing as the “right marketing org structure” or the “best way to organize the marketing department”, the presentation is a good starting point to have a discussion at your company about the role of marketing and what the department should look like 12 months or 2 years ahead.


The Importance of Content Continuity

October 8, 2012

If good content marketing equates to telling a good story, then content continuity is getting that story to become memorable. Let me explain.

When you create a piece of content, why stop at the first distribution channel? Sure you can re-purpose the content so that it will be used at another channel but content continuity means more than simply taking the content and fitting it in another medium. It involves using that content and expanding it, working different angles, but keeping the core message intact. It’s not that difficult, but it requires some planning.

A good example might be that presentation one of your executives delivered at the trade show. The PowerPoint slides can be uploaded to SlideShare where people who didn’t attend the session can now access it (this is re-purposing the content). But if you take the presentation, and add a few more slides to it in order to emphasize a key message, or if you take that message and link it to a video or an eBook that reinforces the story, then you are creating continuity.

Why is this distinction important? First, because if you simply take the exact same message and just change the publishing format (from PowerPoint to video, for example) it may attract different readers but it doesn’t help promote or further expand the message, it’s just a rehash of what has already been said in another format. Second, if you simply repurpose content you already created then you may lose the opportunity to create important links between the multiple stories your products or services support.

So instead of creating pieces of content that stand alone, create a “content network” (for lack of a better term) in which each node reinforces another, where a story you started telling is continued and extended with the next piece of content.

Next time you create some content (eBook, whitepaper, blog article, video, etc.), don’t just publish and forget; think of it as part of a broader theme or story. Good stories don’t have to end and neither does your content (think of it as “Your Content – Part II”, like in Hollywood).


10 Do’s and Don’ts of Partner Marketing Programs

September 25, 2012

I’ve been on both sides of the table, both as the vendor putting together partner marketing initiatives and as the reseller making use of the marketing resources a partner company has made available. It is interesting that once you’ve been on the consuming side of things you get a different perspective. I have worked with partner marketing programs from some big companies like IBM, SAP, Sage, and smaller ones like Adaptive Planning and Avalara and based on this experience I would like to share with you what I think are the 10 Do’s and Don’ts of Partner Marketing Programs.

What To Do

1. Provide an explanation, or introduction to your partner marketing program as soon as you have a new partner signed up including what resources are available

2. Understand what your partners do, how they sell and how they will re-sell your solution

3. Be proactive and reach out to your partners to get feedback and to provide help in planning campaigns

4. Help your partners with tips on best practices for list segmentation (who’s a good target based on your experience) for your solution

5. Have a plan for reaching out on a quarterly basis to your partners and ask how you can help them promote your products

6. Keep your partners updated on changes to the program especially as new materials become available

7. Give your partners access to collateral materials, training videos, webinar recordings, and other marketing assets as early as possible in the program and reach out to them to make sure they were able to access the materials or if they have questions

8. Follow up with your partners after campaigns and ask how they did and what you can do to help next time

9. Provide your partners with content snippets about your company and solutions that they can use on their websites and social channels

10. Ensure your partners are using your content correctly and following your brand guidelines

 

What Not To Do

1. Don’t assume your partners will be as fluent as you are in what your solution does, training may be required especially for the marketing folks (so that they understand how to better market and sell or re-sell the solution)

2. Don’t assume you are the partner’s priority, it is very likely that you are only one vendor among several that the partner deals with

3. Don’t keep the partner in the dark, make them one of the first to hear about new product releases and other important information

4. Don’t assume the marketing folks at the partner company are as savvy as you or your team is

5. Don’t forget that partner marketing materials are important to help sell your product, therefore they need to be updated as frequently as your direct channel materials

6. Don’t make your partner co-op programs too confusing or restrictive, after all, you want your partners to keep doing programs to promote your solutions

7. Don’t expect your partners to be social-media savvy or to understand how to use social channels, you may have to give them training or provide materials they can easily use on social media

8. Don’t wait for your partner to reach out to you with questions or to plan a campaign, make sure to routinely talk to your partners

9. Don’t let your partner marketing collateral and resources go stale, keep them fresh and your partners are more likely to pay attention to them

10. Don’t take your partner for granted

 

There is more to it than these simple ‘rules’, but it seems that these are the core of what makes or breaks a decent partner marketing initiative. What are YOUR ideas for putting together a good partner marketing program?


How to Get Sales and Marketing on the Same Page

June 26, 2012

© frenta - Fotolia.com

This is a guest post by Brad Shorr.

Internal struggles between sales and marketing are commonplace in organizations of all sizes. Having worked on both sides, I’ve come to appreciate how difficult it can be to remedy the situation, and also how rewarding it is to get both departments singing the same tune. Sales and marketing can make beautiful music together in the form of more leads and sales! Here are a few thoughts on how to make it happen.

Problem 1: Political Infighting

Might as well start with the toughest and touchiest problem. Tensions abound when sales and marketing leadership are locked in a battle of wills. Everything each department says or does is seen by the other in the worst possible light, cooperation is virtually nonexistent, and the entire situation becomes a long and depressing tailspin into mediocrity.

One possible fix is to create a VP of Sales and Marketing role. The potential for infighting is high when two departments are battling for favored treatment from a neutral shared boss, such as a CEO or branch manager. Bringing the departments together may not obliterate turf battles, but at least they will be contained within a single department, and resolved there.

Another way to short circuit political issues is for executive leadership to clearly articulate the roles and priorities of sales and marketing. Some firms are sales-driven; others are marketing-driven. If a department doesn’t know where it stands, it will naturally push as hard as it can for as much as it can.

Articulating roles and priorities is not a one-time exercise, either. Priorities can change rapidly, depending on what’s going on internally and industry-wide. For example, consider a sales-driven company ready to introduce a new line of products into a new market segment. Marketing will now take precedence, but marketing will be tentative and sales will be frustrated if the new priorities aren’t understood.

Problem 2: Unfamiliarity Breeds Contempt

You often hear sales types complain that marketing doesn’t understand sales. And just as often, you hear marketers complain that sales doesn’t understand marketing. Unfortunately, these statements usually contain more than a grain of truth, and nothing fosters ill will and ineffectiveness so much as ignorance.

Fortunately, the fix for this problem is simple: cross-training.

When marketers understand sales, their work becomes more relevant to customers, and more persuasive. When sales people understand marketing, they become more systematic and efficient. I don’t think it’s an accident that many successful marketers have had freelance experience, where they were forced to be sales people by necessity. And, throughout my career I have seen many sales reps become tremendously successful by incorporating solid marketing techniques into their work.

Cross-training also alleviates political infighting and internal communication issues. Having a better sense of where a person is coming from, and having some idea of the method behind his apparent madness makes for constructive dialog.

Problem 3: Poor Processes and Shaky Structures

 Sometimes, firms just don’t know what they’re missing by allowing sales and marketing teams to plow ahead without having an organized system behind them. When internal systems are ill-defined and chaotic, sales and marketing tend to clash not only on issues that matter, but also on ones that shouldn’t.

For instance, every marketing department should have a clear process for producing a sales brochure, a process that defines responsibilities and timelines. But for many firms, creating a brochure turns into a fire drill, and it’s never done the same way twice. As a result, steps get skipped, input is overlooked, reviews are haphazard, expectations run the gamut, and everyone generally walks away underwhelmed.

Even worse than poor processes is the problem of shaky structures. Many of us have seen the firm that delegates marketing to a customer service rep who took a few creative writing classes and uses Facebook a lot. And perhaps we’ve also run into the sales manager who checks in with his reps once a month and spends the rest of his time playing customer golf.

If a firm doesn’t appreciate the complexity and difficulty of sales and marketing, it is really setting its staff up for failure. Political infighting is at least organized fighting; when staffers are at each other’s throats because there’s no other way to get things done, you’ve now set the stage for a gang war.

These issues arise frequently in entrepreneurial firms that have enjoyed rapid growth; adding a little management talent is often all it takes to completely transform the situation.

Work On It

For executive leadership, I suppose all of these three sales-marketing problems come back to that same issue of working on the business instead of in the business. Sales and marketing are completely different disciplines with completely different mindsets. And just because both groups have the same goal of increasing sales, it’s by no means a given that they will get along. It’s a tough problem to be sure, but that’s why execs get the big bucks.

Brad Shorr is Director of Content & Social Media for Straight North, an agency that does web marketing in Chicago. They specialize in B2B with clients in industrial niches from credit card mobile processing to machine knit fingerless gloves.



What My Paper Route Taught Me about Content Marketing

May 3, 2012

Note: This is a guest post by Brad Shorr. See his bio at the end.

My career in content marketing started at age 12. Every day I’d load up my red Schwinn Varsity bicycle with The Aurora Beacon News and head out to make deliveries, learning valuable lessons about digital content marketing that just starting to sink in lately. Here are a few of these lessons, which I’m sure you will pick up a lot faster than I did!

Old man using a laptop with his grand son reading a newspaper1.     Content Marketing Is Hard Work

Delivering content may not be as physically demanding as it once was, but today it is a combination of strategic planning, thorough execution, meticulous review and continual improvement. There are no shortcuts, either. Back in the day, if I cut across a neighbor’s yard to get to the next house … I’d get yelled at. Today, if you try to skip steps or gloss over them, you’ll similarly be punished. Shortcuts to avoid include things such as –

  • Trying to pass off lame, rehashed content as something new and relevant
  • Relying on automated feeds to push content rather than building genuine social media connections
  • Putting content marketing processes on autopilot in order to shift attention to shiny new marketing toys

2.     Reader Convenience Is Everything

In the print era, there was nothing more convenient than having the latest news delivered literally to your doorstep. Newspapers thrived in part because of their efficient and ultra-convenient delivery system. The principle still applies in the age of digital content. Making content easy for the reader to obtain and consume makes all the difference:

  • Site loading speed. A big consideration, one that is so important that Google now uses loading speed as a ranking factor. If I showed up at a subscriber’s house an hour late … I’d get yelled at. Today, if readers have to wait five seconds for a page to load, they will click off.
  • On-page usability factors. Facilitating easy content consumption means adhering to best practices for typography, navigation, page layout and design. Tripping up in any one of these areas invites readers to make a hasty exit and leave with a bad taste in their mouths.
  •  Multiple search options.It should be as easy as possible for readers to find relevant content on a business site or blog. Among the techniques to accomplish this:
    • Internal search engines
    • “Most Popular” blog posts listed on the sidebar
    • “Most Commented” blog posts listed on the sidebar
    • “Recent” blog posts listed on the sidebar
    • User-friendly archiving
    • Meaningful blog categories
  • Multiple delivery options.  In the past, there weren’t many ways to deliver news. Today, content marketers must support readers who find content via RSS, email subscriptions, bookmarking sites, social media, and organic search. This necessitates optimizing content for search and social sharing, and engaging with multiple communities on multiple social networks.

3.     Consistent Delivery Matters

My paper route taught me how much we humans are creatures of habit. If I showed up 15 minutes behind schedule … I’d get yelled at. Some people would even freak out if I showed up early. Well, even though content marketing technology has changed enormously, human nature remains the same. This means content marketers must bring a certain degree of consistency to their execution, including –

  • Theming. Is the big-picture, underlying message consistent, or does it change from one day to the next? Inconsistencies dilute brand identity and put obstacles in front of prospects that are trying to figure out what a company does and why they should care.
  • Publishing. Are blog posts and e-newsletters delivered on a consistent, predictable schedule, or haphazardly? Digital marketers can learn a LOT from the newspaper industry on this score: when people know when to expect information, they have a greater appetite for it.
  • Social Sharing. Because people are habitual, they hang out on Facebook, Twitter and other networks at fairly regular times throughout the day. By testing and analyzing re-shares and mentions, content marketers can develop intelligent timetables for both scheduled posting and active engagement.

About the Author

Brad Shorr is Director of Content & Social Media for Straight North, a search engine marketing firm in Chicago. They work with middle market B2Bs in industries as diverse as restaurant merchant processing and bulk gloves. Brad is an experienced content strategist, SEO copywriter and blogger. He still rides a bicycle. 


The State of Demand Generation

March 22, 2012

If you missed the DemandCon Conference hosted earlier this month in San Francisco, the online recording of the sessions is worth checking out. BrightTalk did an excellent job with the recordings and is making all of them available for free on their website.

There are over 20 presentations available, ranging from Social CRM and Lead Generation, to Case Studies and Sales Enablement. A must-watch presentation, though, is the keynote address “The State of Demand Creation“, by Tony Jaros, SVP Research for SiriusDecisions. Here are some of my notes.

SiriusDecisions State of Demand Gen 2012

The State of Demand Generation 2012

Why is demand generation so important? According to Tony Jaros, marketers will typically spend 60% of their budget on demand generation programs. The problem is, there are 4 key battles playing out in organizations:

  1. Task ownership (who does what in demand gen process)
  2. Buying cycle control (you need to facilitate the buying process and understand what is required of you as a result)
  3. Create sufficient content (how can we possibly keep up with demand for content?)
  4. Create demand while we sleep (build a “perpetual demand engine”)

Tony says that SiriusDecisions is in the process of revising their demand generation waterfall framework (Inquiries > Marketing Qualified Leads > Sales Accepted Leads > Sales Qualified Leads > Deal Closed), but shared some interesting facts about typical conversion rates and contrasted those with what they consider “best-in-class” companies:

Typical Rates for the Average B2B Company:

  • Inquiries to MQL: 4.4%
  • MQL to SAL: 66%
  • SAL to SQL: 49%
  • SQL to Close: 20%

The numbers above mean that out of 1,000 inquiries, the typical organization will close 2.9 deals.

Best Practice B2B Company Rates:

  • Inquiries to MQL: 9.3%
  • MQL to SAL: 85%
  • SAL to SQL: 62%
  • SQL to Close: 29%

Best practice companies, on the other hand, will typically close 14 deals out of 1,000 inquiries.

The 5 Critical Tasks

How do you get to be a “best practice” company and increase your efficiency? SiriusDecisions says that to drive best-in-class performance, sales and marketing must align around five waterfall-based jobs:

  • Seed (use of traditional and social media to set the stage for demand creation)
  • Create (generation of “original” demand, focusing on quality, i.e. generating a better lead for sales)
  • Nurture (care and feeding of prospects that aren’t ready for sales or that have fallen out of the waterfall)
  • Enable (help reps increase productivity, both for sales and marketing-sourced demand)
  • Accelerate (help sales move deals more quickly through the pipeline)

This all leads to a few things. For one, the rise of the “Demand Center” taking away tasks that were typically the domain of Field Marketing. But, more importantly, demand creation has become more complex, requiring increasingly specialized skills. And so, there are new roles coming down the pike based on each of the critical tasks mentioned before:

Seed:

  • Content strategist
  • Inbound marketer

Create:

  • Automation expert
  • Web anthropologist

Nurture:

  • Nurturing specialist

Accelerate:

  • Acceleration specialist

The Customer Buying Cycle Framework

According to SiriusDecisions, buyers go through three stages and six steps during their buying process.

Stage 1: Education
– Loosening the status quo
– Committing to change

Stage 2: Solution
– Exploring possible solutions
– Commiting to a solution

Stage 3: Vendor Selection
– Justifying the decision
– Making the selection

Buyers move in and out of each stage. You have to be prepared to engage them throughout the cycle. The problem, though, is that marketers have to face the realities of the B2B Buying Cycle:

  • You control less
  • You see less
  • Your sales resources will often be in reactive mode

Organizations have to become better at determining what need and what questions buyers have when they decide to engage in the sales process. Understanding the buying cycle and the key needs buyers have at each point can help marketers and sales reps. Create a knowledge base with relevant content that your sales team can leverage during the sales cycle.

Content Creation Challenges

The biggest complaint from marketers is that they can’t keep up with content creation needs (multi-touch programs, social media, nurturing programs, thought leadership, etc.).

Why companies can’t keep up? Usually because marketers suffer from:

  • No accountability (is everybody’s job and nobody’s job, there is a void in planning and strategy related to content creation)
  • Lack of targeting (too broad a vision/strategy which is never revised)
  • Rampart waste (content created has no memory, not related to previous content, not connected to other content, and has no story; and limited ability to find what’s needed)
  • Burned cycles (lack of buyer knowledge, and lack of specificity)

Centralized responsibility for content strategy is becoming a requirement for highly effecitve b2b marketing. AKA the rise of the “Content Strategist“, which is someone that has:

  • Accountability
  • Authority
  • Responsibility
  • Organization
  • Measurement

Another issue when it comes to content creation is that most organizations engagage in “absolute targetting“, they think about everyone that could potentially buy what they are selling, and create content accordingly which means response rates are low, and quality of leads is also low.

Marketers should instead engage in “relative targeting“. You want to take your industry and segment it into sub-verticals and rank them in terms of external factors (trends, category spend, product use and importance, competitive presence). Then, use internal factors (solutions delta, domain knowledge, messaging, sales readiness, and database) to select the best segment for you to go after.

Content Audit

Best in class companies are auditing their assets. There are two steps for that:

  1. Classify by content type (white papers, brochures, testimonials, videos, case studies, etc.)
  2. Evaluate each piece of content (quality, relevance, value, influence on buyer perception)

The Complete B2B Persona

Buyer personas are all the hype again, and for good reason. They are the first step in your content planning process. SiriusDecisions has a B2B Persona template they use which you should consider for your next content creation project. Here are the key things they look at when creating the persona:

  • Job role
  • Demographics
  • Buying Center (the department that makes the buying decision)
  • Common titles
  • Position in the org chart
  • Challenges (what are the challenges this person faces?)
  • Initiatives (what initiatives in this person involved with?)
  • Buyer role type (influencer, decision maker, etc.)
  • Interaction preferences (how do they prefer to communicate)
  • Watering Holes (where do they go to get info they want)

The Perpetual Demand Creation

The presentation ends with the idea of the PDC (Perpetual Demand Creation). Building the perpetual demand creation involves a set of strategies to create efficiencies and improve performance over time:

  • Inbound Marketing
  • Website Conversion Optimization
  • Lead Nurturing
  • Sales Programs

As I said, there is a lot of good information presented and is definitely worth watching the BrighTalk recording in full.


Guidelines for a Content Marketing Audit

February 29, 2012

If you are already a content marketing convert and understand the importance of embracing content publishing as a core component of your marketing strategy, you may be wondering how well you are doing in comparison to other companies. The Altimeter Group has a report that can help you with that. Their recently released “Content: The New Marketing Equation” report puts together a “Content Marketing Maturity” framework to help you assess your content marketing efforts.

The Content Marketing Maturity Model

Based on their analysis, the Altimeter Group devised a content marketing maturity model comprised of the following stages:

  • Stand: you haven’t yet realized the value of content marketing as a key component of your marketing strategy.
  • Stretch: you understand the benefits of content marketing and have started to create content.
  • Walk: now with a solid foundation organizationally that supports content creation, your content strategy is more fully refined and tweaked. There is also a concerted effort to connect content development with all parts of the organization’s communication teams.
  • Jog: your company is seriously committed to content marketing and has a clear strategy.
  • Run: companies at this stage have production and creative as full, standalone business unit, and your company is creating content that is sold and licensed based on its standalone merit.

 

Content Marketing Maturity Model - Altimeter Group

The report details each stage with an accompanying case study and suggestions for moving onto the next stage. It also shows how you can perform a content marketing self-audit and score your organization based on the different elements that define content marketing maturity, namely:

  • Organizational Structure
  • Internal Resources
  • External Resources
  • Measurement
  • Education

Whether you decide to really audit your content creation efforts or not, just going through the criteria and the different case studies can give you additional insights you can use to better fine tune your own content marketing processes.

Key Content Creation Recommendations

The report ends with some final recommendations for anyone that wishes to improve their content marketing creation efforts:

  1. Build Content Around the Brand/Product/Service, Not About It
  2. Drive Organizational Change and Transformation
  3. Educate and Train
  4. Design Recombinant Content

One thing is clear, in order to achieve the higher stages of content marketing maturity, the whole organization must recognize its importance and support for content creation must come from the executive levels.

The free report is available to download directly from the Altimeter Group’s website (or click the image below).

Altimeter Group Report The Content Marketing Equation


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