Why aren’t there more Analytics in Marketing?

A recent issue of Information Week carried a factoid that 500 million users generate 340 Million tweets, daily!  It also commented that in this deluge it’s hard to identify the real experts in any discipline, and in this case they referenced Business Analytics.

Because we are particularly interested in the linkage between integrated marketing and sales enablement, I reviewed the LinkedIn skills of Integrated Marketers and the skills listed in their biographies which enable sales.  When we compiled the data on 100 Marketing Executives, or Integrated Marketing (those more extensively describing their duties) at technology companies (but relevant to all industries) what was absent in a huge majority of biographies was the phrase “I am skilled in use of analytics”.

The dominating skills mentioned were branding, social media, social media marketing, events, webinars, speaking, white papers, success stories and other soft skills.  No-one disputes that  these skills play a very important role in one’s job, but when a company buys a technological solution it is most interested in the solution’s impact on costs, ease of use, price vs. performance and maintenance costs – all requiring quantitative analysis.

My conclusion is that marketing (and also sales), in addition to the soft skills, must also be able to utilize analytics to produce data for such things as productivity gains, cost reduction, environmental improvement, low rate of failures, etc. and how their solution compares to competition in important attributes.  [By the way, how many marketing managers in technology or manufacturing companies know the term “MBTF”?]  There is lack of evidence that analytical techniques are used by marketing folks in the execution of educational, branding or sales enabling campaigns.  By the way, on a personal level, I dislike the word “demand generation”. A much better term would be “awareness creation”. At least one could sleep a little bit better knowing that they are differentiating themselves from the deluge of 340 million tweets!

Not every marketer has the luxury of working with a highly recognizable brand.  So analytical skills (not only with data but also market or account/product/service insight) about both the seller and buyer side will allow us to better identify and assess where and when our products and services a solid winning chance.

And let us not forget that in the end we all operate on a “shoe-string” budget as the Global Fiscal Crisis has shown.

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Do you know what a “smart list” is?

Business marketers often face the dilemma whether to buy, rent or build a list for a marketing campaign. We receive a fair number of requests to build business lists and usually the requests are not clear about the target criteria and have unrealistic pricing in mind, no doubt influenced by purveyors specializing in generic lists, rarely refreshed and highly inaccurate.

Most of these requests to list build we decline because there is too large a gap between the specification and cost. One common discrepancy is that list buyers want what we label a “smart” list, but their pricing expectations are for simple lists with no smartness involved.

When do you need a “smart list”? The rule is not complicated. If you need better than 85% accuracy and need more than three variables (criteria such as geography, vertical market, function) then you need a smart list.

There is one other factor in “smart lists” which is often overlooked:
You need to distinguish between “visible” and “embedded” titles. “C level” names found on websites are visible names. All you have to do is find the email (not as simple as you think). Embedded names are a different story. These are the decision makers hidden in the bowels of the organization, such as Director of Clinical Trials in a pharmaceutical company. You may want also to rank contacts based on how long have they been in their job, their educational background and longevity with the company because those datum points may help find contacts with a greater propensity to buy your solutions. Now the “smart list” is shaping into a valuable marketing tool.

Next starts the fun, or pain. What you choose matters, just like the Ryder Cup this past weekend.

Do not be surprised if you have to pay in the double digits per contact if you want to avoid lynching by your sales team. When your task is developing a “smart list” make sure what your (internal) buyer expects in terms of quantity, quality, accuracy and their budget determines just how “smart” a list you need! The “smart list” approach applied to targeted markets and titles/functions may cost more but is absolutely worth it because the ROI is magnitudes higher!

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I have a Shoe String Budget – What Do I do?

I committed to updating this blog regularly after I heard the umpteenth suggestion that I write a book. It struck me that a blog is a much more direct communication vehicle and I won’t need to struggle with lots of words, which works for me because English is not my first language. Years in B-2-B business have hardened me – so I am direct and to the point. Anyway, here are my condensed thoughts for this week.

Recently I took a call from a VP of Sales of a smallish enterprise about our revenue development services for his enterprise-impacting software solution. He was honest and stated that he called because he could not find a vendor who was well versed in his market, and Impole came recommended. After introductions, I asked him about his goals and he eloquently described his needs.

In itself, this would have been a routine inquiry – if it was not for what he was asking to get!  His simple ”I need leads” objective boiled down to sophisticated market segmentation, account intelligence and of course, sales opportunities. Furthermore, he wanted detailed reporting on the process, influenced no doubt by his earlier vendor experiences.

My shock came when he revealed his budget. It was a fifth of what he needed to get decent results and I told him so. Now he had a shock so he started telling me that he has several vendors saying that they can deliver on his budget. (No surprise since they charge based on activity and not on results). So why contact us? During our conversation several important facts emerged about his offering: the software solution suite is good but not comprehensive, the company has a couple of well-recognized clients but not a brand name and, of course, there are several competitors with deep pockets. Sound familiar? It was immediately obvious that simple “lead gen” was not going to work for him.

This was not the first time we’ve received this kind of inquiry. I carefully explained that he has two options: a.) Select one of the other vendors and whatever happens, happens, or b.) Bite the bullet and structure a scaled back program with a vendor that understands his solutions and market. A successful outcome requires either more budget or scaled back deliverables but, if scoped carefully it will still result in valuable account insight and leads. We have seen this many times over!

If you have a “shoe-string” budget it doesn’t mean you have to pursue the low-cost approach, or break your budget.  Adjust your expectations, be ready to structure the campaign in guerrilla warfare style and you CAN win!

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The “Iron Curtain” barrier to B2B Marketing

I must admit that I struggled mightily about the topic for this blog. There is so much written about improved marketing and sales processes with new ways such as social marketing, that to write something interesting is almost not feasible.
Then my son who is graduating from Southern Methodist University in Dallas repeated a question asked his class by their International Marketing Professor: “Do you prefer to communicate with your best friend via one interactive personal contact or a series of text messages”. The answer, you guessed it, was overwhelmingly in favor of text messaging – 78%!
That astounded me and gave me a topic to address.
An old and simple axiom in B2B marketing is that identifying appropriate prospects is essential to its success. In B2B markets, mass emailing is inexpensive (when you have right addresses) but is it effective?
Generally, executives whom I write or call regarding my company’s services do not have a clear idea how custom developed lists, mostly by phone, effectively compares to “cold” prospecting via mass mailing lists.
No matter what your prospecting email message is it will not be read for more than a couple of seconds by an overwhelming majority of the recipients. Identifying contacts via telephone is expensive and time consuming, but much more effective for prospecting because you can either interact directly or leave a precise voice mail allow them to determine relevancy. Today, most targeted contacts are bombarded with emails which are usually too generic for their specific business needs. As a consequence, they become immune to the mass crafted email prospecting message.
A telephone message is much more effective than email because it is adaptable and is interactive when the connection is made, but it requires both parties to shed the phone avoidance practices which have developed lately.
In short, when the interactive “free flow” access to a company’s managers is blocked by an “Iron Curtain” stance, it is hypocritical for the same company to tell their sales people to engage with their counterparts.
From my long experience in B2B marketing, I can attest that companies whose managers are open to external contact (even cold calling) prosper better than their competitors, especially when measuring organic growth. And it is no coincidence that smaller companies are usually far more open to external contact than large companies.
Companies profess that constant innovation addressing market needs, or improving internal processes, is vital to their future prosperity. However, I read studies that 1 in 3 top managers do not trust market data provided to them but, if you try to communicate to those managers an improved solution or service how to get that data, you run into the same “Iron Curtain” with slim chances of being successful.
In my opinion, innovation of any sort is mainly fostered by diversity of information garnered by employees through personal exchanges, irrespective of their nature. Personally, I find unsolicited cold calls, not of the “me too” nature, very useful because I typically learn of a new method or resource.
Similarly, if I want to make an information request, most companies will ask me to respond to an anonymous address such as sales@info.com but they will ask me a lot of information about myself, company and often including whether I have a project and budget, forgetting that there is an incubation stage and I might need information before I am ready to declare my purpose.
I understand why managers at the companies avoid unsolicited telephone contacts. More often than not, they are irrelevant, ill constructed with poor messages. On the reverse side, when you receive the right content message you can quickly ascertain whether or not there is a match with the prospect.
To illustrate the value of developing relevant contact names, let me use a real example.
Recently we were asked by a small software company with a compelling solution but no brand to develop prospective contact names that they could recruit to their various events. We used primary (telephone) research and sought the relevant needed functions, usually deeply embedded in the target organizations. The final result was impressive attendance at most of their events and development of a number of serious prospects, some well into the sales pipeline.
My message is; be open to “cold” calls as they may bring you unexpected rewards. With an “Iron Curtain” stance you might miss a solution that can make your job a lot easier.

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