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.

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Some Good Trade Show Advice

December 13, 2011

Despite the fact that trade show attendance is going down and there is less money in your marketing  budget for attending physical events, if you do have to go to one you’d better make it worth it.

I like how Vanessa Nornberg described in an Inc.com article a few tips to make your trade show profitable:

  1. Buy a booth you can afford
  2. Strategically organize your booth
  3. No chairs
  4. Eliminate distractions
  5. No smart phones
  6. Leave laptops at the hotel
  7. Choose the booth staff wisely

Add those to my previous 12+ tips for trade show success and you’ve got yourself a great checklist for planning your next event! 😉


Marketing Events You Can’t Miss

July 21, 2011

It seems Marketo has a nicer way of presenting Marketing Conferences. I did a post back in February listing upcoming marketing events but I have to agree a nice graphic is so much better!

Check out below.

Must Attend Marketing Events by Marketo


12+ Tips for Trade Show Success

June 29, 2011

Trade Show pic by jeckman from FlickrMake Your Trade Shows Count

The old fashioned trade show may not be the hottest topic coming through your inbox these days but odds are that you may still be doing quite a few events and have trade shows as part of your marketing budget. So how do you make the most out of it?

A recent MarketingProfs article, Is Tradeshow Marketing Dead?, brings 12 tips for ensuring shows deliver the leads you expect. It’s a good basic list to get you pointed in the right direction (and I’ll add my two cents right after):

  1. Start planning early
  2. Make sure the audience is a good fit
  3. Get on the presentation agenda
  4. Establish a service level agreement with sales
  5. Negotiate for the full list of registrants
  6. Promote your participation to customers and prospects prior to the show
  7. Demand aggressive and professional performance from booth staff
  8. Capture detailed lead information
  9. Provide giveaways, raffles, and tchotchkes
  10. Enter all leads into a CRM system for Sales follow-up
  11. Continue post-show marketing with an appropriate offer
  12. Hold a post-mortem review with Sales and Marketing

A few more tips

As I said, a good list but I would also add the following:

A. Hold a pre-show meeting

  • Get everyone, especially sales, who will be attending the show to jump on a conference call (or conference room if everyone is in the same building) and go over the show plan. This includes reviewing show and expo dates, setup and tear down times, and working out a schedule for staffing the booth. Tell the sales reps what the giveaways are going to be, any details about lead capture devices, and other relevant information. The goal is to get everyone on the same page and be productive once the show starts.

B. Promote your session

  • If you’re presenting a session at the show (like item number 3 of the MarketingProfs list says), then try to promote the session at your booth. Print small reminder cards and give to people that stop by, and check with show organizers if you can do a prize drawing during your session (good for driving attendance).

C. Put marketers to work

  • Ideally at least one person from the marketing team should be at the show, even if for only one day. Marketing’s goal is to help out with sales efforts and interact with customers and prospects. That’s a great opportunity for marketers to get to know the target market better and listen first-hand to what customers have to say about the company, product, and competition. Talking about competition, marketing folks should walk around the expo floor and check out what the competition is doing. Take pictures of booths and stands that are interesting, make notes of cool giveaways. Everything at the show floor is good food for thought that can help improve your own presence at the next show.

D. Blog about the show

  • Use the tradeshow as an opportunity for content creation. Blog about the show attendance, take pictures of your customers and post them in your blog. Talk to other vendors about the industry or the show, and get them to also post comments in your blog. The event can generate a good couple of blog posts at least!

E. Take pictures

  • As in the previous suggestion, take lots of pictures. If you’re giving away a prize, take picture of the winner(s). As customers stop by to say hi, take pictures of them and their sales reps. Show organizers came over to check how things are going? Take a picture of them in front of your booth. Why? Everyone loves pictures, especially if they’re in the picture. As you send out post-show emails (thanking people for stopping by, etc.), place a link to the pictures you took. Pictures also make for good blog post after the show.

F. Provide content people want to read

  • Think “content marketing” and put your content marketer hat during the show. If you or anyone else from the marketing team can’t stay for the duration of the show, make a point to get help from sales or a business partner to jot down some notes about the sessions going on at the show. If after the event you can writeup a short blog post or email with “ten great lessons from the show”, you’ve got yourself a great content piece people will read and forward.

So there you have it, 12 plus 6 additional tips for making your tradeshow a successful event!


Getting the most out of conferences and events

April 29, 2011

Photo by BillPellowe at Flickr

If you feel like you keep going to conferences and events but don’t have time to apply what you learned when you get back to the office, you’re not alone. Once you’re back and the emails pile up, the phone rings, and people walk into your office there’s not much you can do. All the good intentions you had of applying what you learned when you were out end up being nothing but notes in a drawer.

Making the Conference Count

If you really want to make the most out of your trade show, conference, or other learning event you attended, you have to be prepared to act when you get back to the office. And the best way is to use a systematic approach to attending conferences. I know, it sounds like work but unless you are prepared to approach it as a project, you won’t be able to really take adavantage of the learning experience after the event is over.

How to Take Notes for Learning

I suggest you take a piece of paper (or use MS Word, Evernote, our iPad, it doesn’t matter) and create a template to use at every single session you plan on attending. It doesn’t need to be a full 8.5 x 11 letter size paper, some small 3×5 index cards can do the trick. The goal is to make sure you take the same style of notes at all sessions. Here’s what your template needs to have:

CONFERENCE NAME: [name of the conference]

Session: [title of the session]

Date: [date of the session]
Presenter(s): [name of the presenter, and contact info]

Key Insights: [bullet points on things you’d like to learn more about, research online, or that were just interesting or insightful]

Action Items: [ what will you or your team do once you get back]

The most important part of note taking is the “action items” block. The easiest is to just put down bullet points of what you or your team will do once you get back. Could be as simple as “Review our home page meta tags to improve SEO” or a bit more complex like “Create a project to select a CMS system for our website”. The objective is to write short, very direct items that you will later translate into more details to your team.

As you take notes of each session, an interesting thing will happen. You will suddenly realize not all sessions are really good. If you walk out of a session with a blank page (i.e. no insights or action items) then you know it was just a waste of time. If most sessions end up with blank pages, then that’s a conference you shouldn’t attend next time around.

Acting On Your Learning

Before you leave to the conference there’s two things you need to do. One, is schedule a 30 minutes meeting with your team for the very first day when you arrive back in the office. The second is schedule a one hour slot for yourself either on the very first day or the very next day when you get back.

When you return, you already have a meeting scheduled with your team. Is 30 minutes long, so all those emails and fires can wait 30 mins for you to brief the team. That’s right, you’ll use that time to talk to them about the conference, the good, the bad, etc. And you will also show them your notes and give them an overview of what you’ve learned and what’s coming (action items) to each of them. This serves two purposes. First, with the conference still fresh in your mind you can accurately tell your staff what happened at the show and prepare them for what’s going to come their way, and second it helps you solidify what you learned during the show.

When you get to the second meeting you scheduled prior to leaving the office for that conference, you will then stop whatever you are doing and get all your notes out. Since all of them have an “action items” section at the bottom you can quickly go through your list and start identifying what needs to get done, prioritizing the tasks, and assigning them to appropriate team members (or to yourself).

I think you should also create one ‘master list’ of action items (add the conference name and date to the top) and save it somewhere you can find. If you need to refer back to the list or after 1 year don’t remember how good the conference was, just look at the list.

Sharing the Knowledge

If this process works for you, it is a good idea to show your team what you’ve done. Next time anyone from your group attends a conference or event that’s worth sharing with the team, it will be easier and more productive. As you go through your notes and action-items you are also deciding if this is an event you should go again next time around.

Summary of Conference Note Taking

1. Schedule a 30 mins meeting w/ your team to share what you learned from the show, and to talk about the action items

2. Schedule a 1 hour slot of ‘quiet time’ for you to go through your notes and assign tasks to your team

3. At the conference, write down at each session action items for you or your team to do based on the info provided

4. Back in the office, hold the meetings you have scheduled and share what you’ve learned, assign action items

5. Save the ‘master list’ for reference


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