Is over reliance on marketing automation stifling your marketing innovation?

No one will deny that the last few years have seen huge advances in Marketing Automation and while this automation has allowed Business to Consumer marketing companies to thrive it has regressed Business Marketing innovation in certain ways.

Business marketers are all talking about “Big Data” and its benefits but in the meantime marketing data is flooding the enterprise and marketers are realizing that besides static analytics they need something else to help them take advantage of all of this data. Most experienced marketers know how to get, manage and analyze data, but only a handful know how to “turn data into winning insight”.

Undoubtedly analyzing clean data will help achieve business goals, but without the addition of impactful insight about the state of accounts or market segments it will be only partially effective.

To acquire this important insight in spite of all of the obstacles to reach people live, you need to speak directly and meaningfully with your target (new) prospects (not customers as they are already in your camp) and here is where the Marketing Innovation steps come in.

To really understand the demand for your products or services in an account or market segment today you have to apply an innovative approach. Furthermore, your approach must be modularized into workable segments as neither too high level nor too detailed information works since the great majority of the prospects are already in somebody else’s camp and overwhelmed by the flood of information.

Most business marketers seem to borrow tactics from their consumer brethren and flood the market with millions of messages singing praises for their products and prices. The slightest prospect reaction, such as a website visit, triggers an instantaneous onslaught by often lower skilled market facing personnel, which just annoys the visitor.

In the end the business marketer rarely obtains the insight they need to prosper in ever increasingly competitive markets – which is why so many marketing campaigns fail.

So how do you get this impactful insight? By executing an organized “insight gathering campaign” with realistic objectives and to which your entire market facing team is committed.  Perfect insight is too expensive so your campaign must be deigned to have “just right” value and be relatively straight forward to implement.

If you want to be an effective marketing leader you will blend the needed account insight into your marketing mix because incorporating innovative tactics helps clarify and refine the best path to winning new accounts – which is a business marketers overarching measure of success.

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The Ryder Cup 2014 and Business Marketing

What the Ryder Cup 2014 tells us about Business Marketing

Business Managers often describe their actions in terms of metaphors drawn from sporting events outcomes. In this blog, I’d like to discourse on the parallels between the recently completed 2014 Ryder Cup and business management (and/or marketing) success.

In most American team sports coaches have a stack of charts or set plays (observe football). But golf is an individual sport – until the Ryder Cup where national pride and team pride is at stake.
So what business lessons we can derive from this Ryder Cup in particular?
The Ryder Cup is an interesting mixture of team and individual performances with team play preceding the singles and more often than not, an accurate predictor of the final outcome.

In this edition of the Cup it quickly became obvious that Europe’s captain’s strategy and tactics were superior to the USA’s, although, on paper, he had a shallower talent pool (based on players‘ world rankings).
As you observed the contest it became obvious that Europe’s captain had much better insight into not only his players’ ranking but also their psyche, their personal backgrounds and their environments, while the USA, by my observations, relied more on traditional measures and ad-hoc adjustment.
One other key difference was that Europe’s Captain urged his players to play with intensity, whether winning or not. The coach of the Europe team had much better insight how the players would play off each other, based upon personal histories, inter-relationships and backgrounds.
In short, he had much better vision how to drive the best performance from his players. He trusted a player who was much lower in ranking than his other stars to go first because he knew how he would face whatever USA opponent turned out to be. Nota bene – this player did not disappoint him turning initial adversity into a win, and no doubt added confidence to his teammates.

Drawing similarities to business marketing and/or management – how many business marketers have this kind of insight into their own sales team capabilities, which is their power domain.
Then can they equip them with the right insight to face unexpected market vagaries?

Touching upon the subject of external insight (i.e., insight on the US Team) one does and should not seek perfect intelligence as it is too volatile and too expensive to obtain, even with looming Big Data benefits.
When wins as important as The Ryder Cup are at stake to gain competitive advantage you need to have better insight in at least one key area of your business play.

Losing a business opportunity in this competitive world more often than not results in having to wait a considerable amount of time for another such opportunity. The Americans will have to wait another two years.

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Is digital marketing impersonalizing your business market touch?

In some ways the spread of digital marketing spread has had a Doctor Hyde and Mister Jekyll effect on today’s business marketing. On the good side, it is easy and economical to send thousands of messages to increase awareness and brand your service, product or company. On the other hand, it can overwhelm the recipients with irrelevant messages.

Recently, a study by Accenture™ stated that Big Data provides astronomical gains in data in terms of revenue and many other attributes. Carefully analyzing the impact of Big Data, one could conclude that the beneficiaries are predominantly large B2C companies with the ability to spread the message via M2M. This new future with the right message going to the right contacts based upon their past behavior has been touted as revolutionizing B2C relationships.

But while digital marketing is good for the business to consumer markets, I maintain that it is not as effective for complex business-business markets. I personally believe that companies in business markets simply do not have enough human touch with the customer base with digital media alone.

My experience tells me that business marketing professionals can quickly become out of touch with their market if using primarily digital media. Often I wonder why many of us are even needed – to develop content for an email or glorified press release? What has happened to real market understanding and account insight? Who listens to the customer? Is this why many old established powers are in impending trouble or diminished in relevancy?

If you truly poll business marketers about the source of the leads moving through the pipeline, you will conclude that a large proportion of business sales leads are derived from events and personal connections. That personal touch is the difference because you uncover what your customer base is really thinking.
Bombarding your customers with seemingly customized web messages or standard BANT questions can only tell part of the story, and often annoy them, as well.

To supplement your “big data” findings, however you define it, you need to have a methodology to gather objective personal insight (even if it is not flattering). And when you apply that insight/intelligence customers know that you truly want to partner and work with them.

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Is your business marketing mimicking consumer marketing

A recent interview with Jeff Bezos on CBS's 60 minutes alluded to today's
prevailing trends in business marketing.

The implied message was ominous for business marketing.  As Amazon and the
like are more mass marketing than enterprise type businesses, they thrive
with the new paradigm.  In the world of business marketing this plentiful
arsenal of "go to market" consumer methods are causing overreliance on brand
building, rather than applying agile tactical marketing.

While these branding techniques revolutionized the marketing of simple to
use products and services, they did not significantly increase the
efficiency of complex solutions and services marketing, that is partly why
almost every industrial or technology giant is posting revenue declines.

The still valid fundamentals of building trust and relationships in business
marketing are shoved to the background.  While in the consumer, household
and micro-business we can reliably determine the traits which will cause
demand in larger businesses, their operational dynamics are too complex and
difficult to uncover with the same methods in business marketing.

Additional factors in businesses marketing are over reliance on historical
financial performance metrics, which, while still a key measure, is not
sufficient in itself to indicate longer term growth.  As market competition
in all sectors is relentlessly increasing with stress on the cost of doing
business, enterprise companies need effective methods more than ever.

This new vast business battleground will be won by companies with the best
trained (special force type) troops armed with relevant tools (insight)
practicing agile marketing. They will win new business and thrive long term.

You do not have to alter core business marketing tactics as they are the
same for every business and can be illustrated as a highway where most
businesses choose to send large volume of their branding messages.  They
rely on the fact that some of the accounts will always contact them without
prompting.

However, most accounts have too limited time and amount of money to properly
evaluate this high speed marketing highway's traffic in order to identify
the right vehicle to solve their problem. So accounts with mild cost pains
delay the decision.  The ones with high cost pressures simply reach out to
the incumbent vendor, maybe a big name brand, or a rival which happen to be
closest to their entrance.  Even if perfect matches are rarity, in this way
both better matched parties may lose heavily, kind of Pyrrhic victory: a
better suited seller by not winning new account and the account by not
getting a better solution.

Despite not winning new business accounts at the needed rate we continue
driving on this highway because it is easy and less costly, but we remain
unsure where to land a new business accounts and continue to miss many good
and viable opportunities.

My next blog will explore ways of acquiring more new business accounts.
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