marketing management

Best-in-Class Marketers Prove They Create Value

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In 2000, the Advertising Research Foundation probably didn’t realize that their report about marketing’s ability, or lack thereof, to measure its value and contribution would initiate numerous studies, conferences, and products on the topic.  This year’s joint VEM/ITSMA Marketing Performance Management Survey* , which looks at how marketers and C level executives would rate marketing’s value, revealed that 85 percent of the nearly 400 study participants are seeing increased pressure for marketers to measure marketing’s value and contribution.

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A key component of the annual study looks at the comparison of the number of marketers earning an ‘A’ grade from the C-Suite for their ability to impact the business and measure their value with their counterparts who are falling short. The grades remained relatively consistent with prior years, with only a quarter of the marketers earning an ‘A’ for their ability to measure and report the contribution of marketing’s programs to the business.

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By now one would think this journey would be nearing completion, but there appears to still be plenty to learn.  Over the years, the study has revealed that ‘A’ marketers exhibit a number of differences from their colleagues–they are better at alignment, accountability, analytics, automation, assessment, and alliances.  The investments in these capabilities and how they approach the work of marketing has enabled them to serve as value creators for their organizations.  On the other hand, the marketers in the “middle of the pack” focus more on enabling sales, and the laggards operate primarily as campaign or program producers. In this day and age, with all the technology that marketers have at their fingertips, it begs the question “Why can’t ‘B’ and ‘C’ marketers get close to C-level executives and show their value?”

Become a Value Generator

Marketing organizations that create value are proactive.  The ‘A’ marketers hold themselves accountable for contributing to business outcomes even if senior leadership doesn’t. They believe it is their responsibility to identify, investigate, evaluate, recommend, and prioritize market and customer opportunities. These marketers implement continuous change to maximize the organization’s success, and enable it to stay abreast or ahead of market, customer, and competitor moves.  ‘B’ and ‘C’ marketers don’t seem to do that, don’t ask the right questions, or don’t know how to show their value.

Make Marketing Performance Management a Priority

According to the data, organizations that are performing well when it comes to customer value and business growth, are those where the marketers excel at performance management.  ‘A’ marketers prioritize performance management, establish a clear roadmap for performance improvement, and focus on aligning marketing to the business not just sales. They have regular two-way dialogue with senior leadership and are motivated to select and report on the metrics that matter most.

Here are three qualities of this elite group that any marketing organization can emulate:

  1. Be a business person first, a marketer second
  2. Provide customer and market insight to inform business strategy, in addition to enabling sales
  3. Tap experts to hone skills and improve capabilities

Join the conversation with VisionEdge Marketing and ITSMA in our webinar, The Link Between Performance Management and Value Creation, Tuesday, June 17th, from 10:00-11:00am CST.

*VEM has been conducting the survey for 13 years. ITSMA has co-sponsored the survey for the past three years.

 

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Four Models Every Marketer Should Master

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We know–models can be intimidating. But as the need to add analytics and science to our work continues to increase, models have become one of the primary vehicles every marketer needs to know how to develop and leverage. If you’ve already dived into the deep end on models, congratulations. On the other hand, if you’re just dipping your toe into the water, have no fear, because while there may be a bit of a current, it is time to venture forth.

Mathematical models help us describe and explain a “system,” such as a market segment or ecosystem. These models enable us to study the effects of different actions, so we can begin to make predictions about behavior, such as purchasing behavior. There are all kinds of mathematical models-statistical models, differential equations, and game theory.

Regardless of the type, all use data to transform an abstract structure into something we can more concretely manage, test, and manipulate. As the mounds of data pile up, it’s easy to lose sight of data application. Because data has become so prolific, you must first be clear about the scope of the model and the associated data sources before constructing any model.

So you’re ready to take the plunge–good for you! So, what models should be part of every marketer’s plan? Whether a novice or a master, we believe that every marketer must be able to build and employ at least four models:

  1. Customer Buying Model: Illustrates the purchasing decision journey for various customers (segments or persona based) to support pipeline engineering, content, touch point and channel decisions.
  2. Market Segmentation or Market Model: Provides the vehicle to evaluate the attractiveness of segments, market, or targets.  More about this in today’s KeyPoint MPM section.
  3. Opportunity Scoring Model: Enables marketing and sales to agree on when opportunities are sales worthy and sales ready.
  4. Campaign Lift Model: Estimates the impact of a particular campaign on the buying behavior.

These four models are an excellent starting point for those of you who are just beginning to incorporate models into your marketing initiatives. For those who have already developed models within your marketing organization, we would love to know whether you have conquered these four, or even whether you agree these four should be at the top of the list. As always, we want to know what you think, so comment or tweet us with your response!

Free Benchmarking–Does Your Marketing Measure Up?

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Here’s something we know after conducting the marketing performance measurement and management study since 2001: Best-in-Class marketers are relentless when it comes to continuous improvement. How do they know how they stack up? They regularly audit and benchmark. We know this can be expensive—even a small benchmarking study for marketing typically takes at least $20,000. With marketing budgets still feeling the crunch, it makes sense to be a bit more creative when it comes to benchmarking. And that’s where our annual marketing performance study comes in!

There are plenty of studies out there, and only you can decide which ones are worth your time. As a marketer you could probably complete a study every day, but if you are feeling the pressure to prove the value of your marketing, then this survey is for you. With 13 years under its belt and participation from marketing professionals and executives from around the world, in every industry and of all size organizations, we are able to provide a solid view into what Best-in-Class marketers do better and differently when it comes to measuring marketing’s contribution and value.

Given how hard you’re working every day, it’s frustrating when budgets are slashed and programs are terminated. You know Marketing is highly valuable to the business, but can you prove it? If you can, you may be among the ranks of the Best-in-Class—those marketers who have made marketing relevant to the C-Suite! If you can’t, it’s probably time to make some changes.

Find out how your organization stacks up against the Best-in-Class. Give 15 minutes of your time to participate in the 13th Annual MPM Survey and save the benchmarking dollars.

What does the survey benchmark? The focus of the survey is Marketing Alignment, Accountability, Analytics, Operations, and Performance Management capabilities. Complete the survey, share the link with your marketing colleagues and leadership team, and use the survey and the upcoming results to spark internal dialogue on the state of your marketing!

You can access the survey by following this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2014MPM_VEM

 

Creating a Change Agent Culture in Marketing

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This year, numerous studies of the marketing discipline and numerous articles highlighted the challenge and need for marketing to capture, manage, synthesize and leverage data and analytics. Marketing organizations around the world want to become more data-driven, but the explosion and rapidly growing volume of data as well as the lack of effective tools make this difficult. In the meantime, they are revamping their organizational lineup, adding more analytical talent and capabilities that enable them to boil oceans of data and produce mountains of reports.  

Access to this information and refined analytical and process skills create an opportunity for marketers to generate business-relevant insights. Having the necessary skills and technological infrastructure are becoming table stakes to successfully compete and serve customers. These capabilities are evolving into the building blocks of every marketing organization’s foundation.  Today, marketing leaders use data, analytics, metrics, and modeling to tackle point problem and to enable organizational change. To be effective change agents, marketing leaders need to move from being a blocking and tackling organization to taking a more holistic approach — one that integrates analytical, process, strategy, planning, and performance management expertise. 

Being a change agent is a noble aspiration, but what does that entail? Change agents are catalysts. A successful change agent improves the organization’s ability to achieve a higher degree of output. When acting as a change agent, marketing leads the creation of a vision of what could or should be. Marketers then identify what it takes to realize this vision and go about amending or replacing strategies, procedures, and processes that are obstacles to achieving the vision. We operate on two planes — one where the organization currently is, and the other being the ideal state. 

Since marketing should be the antenna for the organization — gathering and interpreting the signals — we are in a better position to act as change agents. The business environment is always changing, and therefore, the company that can create, manage and master change has the greatest potential to thrive. Being a change agent means more than just coming up with a brilliant idea — it is about bringing the idea to life and engaging the rest of the organization. Creating, managing and mastering change is a skill. The skills we have in marketing to connect and engage with external customers and prospects are the same skills we need to connect with and engage people within the organization. That’s what gives marketers an advantage as change agents. The steps we use to impact and drive change externally also enable marketing to impact and drive change internally. 

These vital steps are: 

1. Link change explicitly and tightly to real performance outcomes. Change is not for the sake of change; change should improve business performance. The result of change should be concrete, specific, quantifiable, business outcomes. 

2. Develop concrete initiatives that support the outcomes and focus on what it will take for these initiatives to affect the organization’s operation in a positive way. 

3. Include the human dimension in your calculations. People do what people do. They embrace, they resist, they obstruct, and  they rise to the occasion. Listen closely. People dodge drafts. Find ways to enroll people into the process.  

4. Develop and market the message. When we sell to different market groups, we develop appropriate campaigns. Employ this approach inside. Segment your internal markets and tailor the message accordingly. Leverage both the informal and formal networks. 

5. Disruption is an important part of the process. Being a change agent means you’re going to discomfit people around you. You’re going to interrupt the “way we do things.” As change agents you must be able to step outside of your own comfort zone if you want to take people outside of theirs. Key to being a change agent is producing and keeping a healthy tension alive in the organization. 

Here’s an important point to remember about being a change agent — the first person who must change is you. A change agent models the way. We must live the vision we see and the behavior it requires if we want others to do so. The rest of the team will be watching us. We must develop the skills and techniques to change how we work if we’re going to help others acquire the skills and techniques to change how they work. Being on the front line enables us to capture, manage, and synthesize market and customer data sooner and faster. As a result we are ideally situated to use analytics, metrics, and process to act as organizational change agents. 

Managing Marketing Content Across the Customer Life Cycle

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Considering our purpose as marketers, we should be placing customers at the center of our marketing efforts. That’s truer today than ever before, because customers have more choices, more control, more ways to connect, and more access information. No wonder marketers everywhere are scrambling to develop content and make use of the myriad of channels to reach and connect with prospects and customers. 

Many marketers have gotten so caught up in the creation of content, however, that they have forgotten how important it is to match marketing content with the customer buying journey and life cycle. Content delivered in the right channel at the wrong time can be a wasted touch point. 

Too few marketers have mapped their customer’s buying journey and moved from profiles to personas, and therefore few clearly understand their customer’s life cycle. Because keeping a customer is more cost effective and profitable than acquire a new customer, knowing both the buying journey and the customer life cycle is important.  

The Customer Life Cycle 

One common definition of customer lifecycle is “the progression of steps a customer goes through when considering, purchasing, using, and maintaining loyalty to a product or service.” The key point is to recognize that the life cycle defines an ongoing relationship and continuous dialogue. 

Forrester defines the customer life cycle as follows: “The customers’ relationship with a brand as they continue to discover new options, explore their needs, make purchases, and engage with the product experience and their peers.” In our company, we talk about the Six Cs associated with this process: 

1. Contact 

2. Connection 

3. Conversation 

4. Consideration 

5. Consumption 

6. Community 

Whether you use this approach or another, the premise of the customer life cycle is the same: Capture potential and existing customers’ attention, preference, purchase, and loyalty. 

As marketers, we can and should use the customer lifecycle as the basis for every marketing investment decision we make that’s designed to acquire, retain, up-sell, cross-sell, and create customer advocates. Only by understanding the customer life cycle can marketers make better decisions about the additional marketing investments of time, people, and cash on customer-targeted efforts. 

Content and Life Cycle 

The purpose of content marketing is to deliver high-quality, relevant, and valuable information to prospects and customers in the right channel at the right time to drive profitable customer action. Content marketing is not the same as running a campaign. Content marketing looks more like publishing, where you serve as the architect of useful and compelling information that will inform, educate, engage, and entertain customers and prospects. Content marketing is part of the marketing mix, not a substitute for it. 

If you serve more than one market or region, and your product requires a consultative approach, you will likely have multiple customers and will therefore need to map content to multiple buying journeys and life cycles. Perhaps the following examples will help bring this point home. 

Let’s say you currently market and sell a technology product to IT buyers and decision-makers in the federal government. Your research suggests that there may be a strong growth opportunity in the Emergency 911 system—a quasi-governmental system. If you didn’t map the customer buying journey, you might assume that the buying process for the Emergency System was the same as for any other government agency. And you might also assume that the profile of the IT buyer at these sites would be the same as the IT buyer at the agency. Only by mapping the buying process would you learn that these are two very different personas and two different buying processes with different marketing content implications. White papers and tradeshows may be far more important in the early stages of the government-agency buying process, whereas webinars and videos of the system in use are more important in the early stages of the buying process for the emergency services sites. 

How can we record this process when most customer buying journeys and lifecycles are not linear? Though it is impossible to completely capture and monitor the entire buying journey and decision, mapping the process helps you capture channel preferences and interactions. You may not be able to know exactly which colleague, analyst, online and offline channels a customer used, or which publication informed the decision, but mapping the buying journey and customer life cycle will give you insight into when and how they are influenced. 

Mapping the Journey and Life Cycle 

The approaches to mapping differ. Regardless of the approach you take, you should include input from all internal people who are in contact with customers (Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, and Product Marketing) as well as input from the customers themselves. The mapping process should take into account the following: 

  • Initial triggers that lead to first contact 
  • Steps they take (industry reports, product reports and reviews, white papers, demos, etc.) and the conversations (analysts, colleagues, event encounters, call centers, salespeople, etc.) they engage in to solve their problem and find a specific solution 
  • Steps and experiences leading up to their purchase (the RFP, reference calls, pilots, etc.) 
  • Steps associated with the purchase and consumption (the on-boarding process, purchasing processes, implementation, invoicing, etc.) 
  • Ongoing experience and reaction to their purchase (problem resolution process, new product offers, community participation opportunities, etc.) 

 Once you’ve mapped the process and organized each step into the appropriate stage, you can begin to match marketing content with the buying process and life cycle. Two important benefits of the mapping initiative are improved Marketing and Sales alignment and a more behaviorally based opportunity-qualification process. 

Matching Mix, Content, Channel, and Life Cycle 

The links between marketing activities, content, and the customer buying process and life cycle will become clearer once you complete the mapping process. You’ll realize that different programs and content will be more valuable and appropriate at different stages depending on the customer process. The map will serve as a guideline for improving the utility of your mix and the content you use to connect and engage with customers and prospects, as well as to enhance existing customer relationships. 

For example, you may learn from the mapping process that traditional in-person events and presentations are far more valuable at creating contacts and connections for a specific segment than social media and blogs are. Your map may reveal that webinars with industry experts are a viable touch point for consideration for some customer segments while online chats with existing customers and traditional telemarketing are more effective for other segments. Through the process, you may learn that traditional e-newsletters are ideal for staying connected with one set of customers, whereas an online community with guest posts is better for another. Marketing will then need to select the program and build the content that supports the preferred channel for particular touch points in the process. 

Power Tools-Use with Caution

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The results from the marketing performance research recently conducted jointly by ITSMA and VisionEdge Marketing (VEM), and Forrester were just announced. In its 12th year, the purpose of this study has been to understand how proficient marketers are at measuring and managing performance; using metrics, data, and analytics; and communicating marketing’s value, impact and contribution to the business. This year’s study captured input from more than 400 respondents. The study revealed areas in which marketers have made strides and areas where marketers remain challenged.Image

The result I found most perplexing was that, while marketers have access to more data than ever, leverage more analytics, and invest in more tools and systems, they continue to struggle to prove marketing’s contribution to the business. One clear indicator of this is that just 9% of CEOs and 6% of CFOs use marketing data to help make strategic decisions. Less than 10%! Although the majority of the marketers regularly produce and share a marketing dashboard, they are not bringing valuable, useful information to the table.

So where’s the disconnect? If you want your leadership team to understand how marketing is moving the needle in terms of top line revenue, market share, customer value, category ownership, and so on then the dashboard needs to be able to tell that story. Unfortunately, it appears that most marketers participating in the study use their marketing automation (MAP) or sales automation (CRM) systems to create their dashboards. In fact, dashboards and reports are already integrated into many of these systems. These dashboards, however, typically report on marketing activity and associated costs – email activity, website activity, social media activity, lead activity- rather than reporting on metrics executives can to set direction. It’s not that these reports and dashboards are bad; they are valuable when used to support tactical decisions, but if you want your CEO, CFO and other members of the C-Suite to use your dashboard it must clearly connect marketing investments and initiatives to business outcomes and results.

The ability to push a button and generate a pretty report that doesn’t add any value to the strategic decisions made at the C-Suite level doesn’t serve marketing well. To be on the right track, you need to start by making sure the marketing initiatives and investments are clearly aligned to business outcomes and that you have the right metrics in place. Otherwise, investing in better marketing tools is akin to buying a power saw when you have yet to master a hand saw. You have the ability to do more damage faster.

Learn more about the survey results and some initial impressions at:

Need to Engage and Connect With Prospects and Customers? Marketing Automation to the Rescue (Maybe)

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Today, a suitable marketing automation platform is available to meet just about any company’s requirements and budget. These platforms often include systems for managing digital assets, allocating resources and tracking marketing expenditures, automating Imagecampaigns (online and offline), measuring marketing activity and demand generation, and managing Web content and leads.Many companies invest in marketing automation platforms as a way to make their marketing organizations more efficient. Though marketing automation can achieve that objective, two key benefits of these systems is that they help you connect better with prospects and improve the opportunity to engage prospects and customers.

What Marketing Automation Isn’t

Marketing automation isn’t magic. Success requires taking a methodical and disciplined
approach to segmenting, defining the customer-buying process, establishing agreed-upon
definitions of stages, creating personas, establishing common metrics, and committing to
faithfully using the system

.Marketing automation allows you to tailor your content and interactions to enhance how you connect with and engage prospects and customers. As a result, you can positively affect the conversion rate and sales cycle. And, in these tough times, who wouldn’t want to see higher and faster conversions?

Take a Customer-Centric Approach to Configuration

Such benefits alone present a good business case for marketing automation. But for a system to “be all that it can be,” it must be properly configured and deployed. Proper configuration and alignment require and enable stronger alignment between Sales and Marketing.

Many companies configure their systems around how they might sell and evaluate an opportunity (e.g., whether they’ve identified a budget, project, or need). However, before you deploy, take an outside-in view and configure the system around how your customer finds, evaluates, selects, and buys products in your category.

For your investment and that approach to pay off, Sales and Marketing need to agree on how the customer buys, the buying stages, and what constitutes a qualified opportunity, in terms of both fit (segment, budget, size, etc.) and buying behaviors. This approach allows you to use fit and behavior to create a lead-scoring schema.

Create and Measure Four Customer Interactions

Marketing and sales teams are typically proficient in connecting at the beginning and end of the conversation, but the real challenge is managing the middle of the conversation. The middle conversation is when prospects and customers are in the “in-between”—between initial contact and interest, on the one hand, and the short list and final selection, on the other.
A properly configured and deployed marketing automation system enables you to manage the middle. How? It makes it possible to cost-effectively sustain a dialogue with qualified
opportunities until they are ready to buy while enabling you to monitor the interaction between those opportunities and your organization.

You’ll want to set performance targets for these four kinds of interactions, and then use your marketing automation system to create, measure, and monitor them:

• Connections
• Conversations
• Engagement
• Consideration

Think of connections as those contacts with whom you have established communication and rapport and who have agreed to be “touched” by your organization. A connection doesn’t necessarily result in a conversation. Connections are just that: two entities that have a link between them.Think of how many people you may have in your LinkedIn network that you are connected with but don’t necessarily have conversations with. Conversations suggest an exchange—the sharing of ideas, opinions, or observations. Consider how many people you “talk” with on a variety of 3 topics on any given day. Though some of those people might be interesting, they may not necessarily be the right people—or they may not be ready to move the relationship forward.

Ultimately your marketing efforts aim to create engagement, and you want your marketing automation system to support those efforts. Engagement consists of interactions that indicate the strength of the relationship.

Finally, you want to produce and measure consideration because it is the precursor to conversion. Consideration simply refers to those prospects and customers who are actively “shopping” for the products and services you offer and are considering your offer among the options.

If You Build It, They Will Come

The premise of marketing automation is that it will help Marketing increase the number of
business opportunities for your company, deliver sales-worthy and ready leads to Sales, improve your visibility into the pipeline, and enable your marketing organization to focus on efforts that will drive the highest conversion rate and the lowest cost.

The value proposition is that marketing automation will shorten your sales cycle and help
improve your forecast accuracy.And it’s all possible with this one caveat: Marketing automation is only as good as the effort you make in using it. To use it properly and realize the kinds of results you want will likely require changing processes, addressing Marketing and Sales alignment, and improving skills.

Research suggests that when marketing and sales processes, skills, and systems are aligned, an organization can see a five-fold improvement in revenue. If you are willing to make the necessary investments, you can realize the benefits of implementing a marketing automation platform.