Two months ago, I wrote an article titled The Economic Value of Your Company Brand. The theme of the post: No matter the size and scope of your company, the brand position you hold with your prospects and customers has monetary value in terms of sales, stock prices and even employee retention. One of the points I made in the article is that you are sometimes better off if you are starting off with a clean branding slate. The downside is that few people know about you – the upside is that you can start with a fresh and differentiated brand position.Read More›
To Your B2B Marketing Success!
Join us for actionable business-to-business insight that will help you get sales and marketing results. You will find many valuable ideas here across a broad spectrum of B2B marketing topics and issues.
Rather than my usual practice of writing some in-depth content about a specific subject area, thought I would share some quick thoughts on some important subjects related to B2B marketing and sales. Sometimes there’s just too much going on for a single-topic post!
A guy named John Wanamaker, who was a pioneer of advertising in the early part of the 20th century, made the famous observation, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”Read More›
Let’s face it – there is only one leader in every business category: Apple in smartphones, Wal-Mart in retail, Cargill in food processing, Microsoft in computer software and Wells Fargo in banking. This is equally true in smaller market segments. More often than not, you are not going to be the biggest company in your space and will have to adjust your strategy accordingly.
I’ve spent a lot of my career as a so-called market “underdog.” I actually enjoy being in this position.Read More›
When my sons were in high school, I used to tell them that everything they did during their high school career counted. Not just their grades, but also their participation in sports and extracurricular activities would be seen and evaluated by future employers and especially college admissions people. Their performance in every class could mean the difference between being accepted into the university of choice or a college they had to settle for.
So how does this lesson apply to B2B marketing?Read More›
In honor of Super Bowl week, I thought I would explore just what it takes to be a great B2B marketing coach. Hopefully you won’t have to deal with issues like injuries and deflated footballs. But regardless if you are solely responsible for your B2B marketing efforts, or manage one or more people, you need to accept the responsibility for moving the ball forward. Here are six strategies to help you accomplish this:Read More›
I was a guest speaker for The Center for Business Modeling at a video/podcast on a subject near and dear to my heart: the economic value of a brand. Following is a summary of what I said on the podcast.
When people talk about a company brand, it is often expressed as sort of an abstract conceptRead More›
At the beginning of each year, my team and I publish a report on significant trends in B2B sales and marketing. This report is based on our experience with our B2B clients as well as relevant industry research. The purpose or the report is to provide information that is timely and actionable. You can read the full report here.
Trend 1: Metrics are a major priority. We see many B2B companies adopting an end-to-end marketing and sales framework that:Read More›
Like many of you, I am in the middle of the process of strategizing how to best achieve my 2015 objectives, which include optimizing results for my family, business, friendships, activities, and so forth. And when I look back on 2014, I think I did a decent job of improving results in each of these areas. However, if there is one thing that was a barrier to more success, it is the insidious habit of focusing on non-productive activities.
The subject of wasting time reminds me of the famous quote which opens Leo Tolstoy’s book Anna Karenina: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” I can probably guess what attributes make you a good marketing manager, sales executive or business owner – but I have a harder time understanding what activities make you unproductive. Heck, I have a hard time figuring this out for myself, but here is a list of the usual suspects:
- Surfing the Internet for information that has nothing to do with your business.
- Going to meetings that seldom accomplish anything.
- Producing reports that people don’t read or act upon. Good rule: If the information is not actionable, don’t report on it.
- Endless rounds of office conversation/gossip about people, sports, etc.
- Spending twice as much time on an activity to make the results 5-10 percent better.
By the way, if you want to understand the value of practicing intense focus on productive activities (FOPA), think about the last time you were heading off to a vacation. Perhaps you only had a day to accomplish 2-3 days’ worth of work so you ignored all distractions and plowed straight ahead. You probably felt pretty good about what you produced and a little voice inside you was saying: “Imagine how much I could accomplish if I worked like this all the time!”
This proves Parkinson’s Law, based on Cyril Parkinson’s observation when he was with the British civil service: that even a series of simple tasks tends to increase in complexity to fill up the time allotted to it. Conversely, as the length of time allocated to a task became shorter, the task became simpler and easier to solve. So instead of giving yourself two days to complete that white paper or finish those dashboard reports – lock your office door, shut off the phone and email, and give yourself only four hours. You’ll be amazed at how more you can accomplish with intense focus. This produces much better results than endless worrying about the project.
We all know of co-workers who brag about how hard they work and how many hours they put in – but if you analyze their results, they produce no more (sometimes less) than those who work fewer but more focused, hours. I’d rather be the latter type of person, and spend the saved time with my family – I bet you would as well. And so my mantra for 2015 will be to spend as much time as possible focusing on productive activities (FOPA) and as little as possible focusing on that which is unproductive.
Carpe New Year!
The transition to a new year can be a perilous time for B2B marketing organizations. Sales managers, finance people and CEOs are gathered in rooms or on conference calls having tough conversations about priorities and funding for the new year. The output of these meetings can wreak havoc on the unsuspecting marketing department, especially when these types of statements are made:
“Marketing underperformed last year. Why don’t we cut the marketing budget by 20 percent?”
“The sales team thinks it can out-market the marketing team. Why don’t we let the marketing department report to the sales VP?”
“We need to cut marketing staff to afford more sales reps.”
“What’s up with all this social media? Are we really paying people to Tweet and play on Facebook?’
“The website is awful and our leads our worthless. Why don’t we just outsource our marketing?”
“What does marketing do with all that money we give them? Do we really need another $30,000 trade show? How does any of it convert to revenue?”
And the cruelest statement of all: “Do we really need marketing?”
All of these statements and outcomes are driven by three basic problems:
Problem 1: Misalignment between sales and marketing. This gap occurs if your sales leader and marketing leader don’t see eye to eye on objectives, branding, sales support needs, etc. Because the sales department is closer to revenue, this gap will usually work against the interests of the marketing department. Marketing VPs have been fired because of the failure to achieve alignment. My recent post on how to align sales and marketing plans will help you in this area.
Problem 2: Lack of accountability. Metrics drive the modern B2B marketing organization. Ideally, you have a sales level agreement (SLA) that specifies what your department is expected to directly produce in terms of awareness, inquiries (raw leads) and qualified leads – and also how you will influence metrics like the number of qualified leads, opportunities and even revenue. A lack of accountability can produce issues like that reported by John Staples in his blog post titled Why Don’t We Just Cut the Marketing Budget?: “Lead Generation does not produce quality leads – marketing continues to take the blame for a lack of evolution in many sales forces. “It’s not me, it was a bad lead.” All of us who have been in B2B marketing for any length of time have heard such pronouncements, and regardless of whether they are true, it is often perception more than reality that can sink your marketing ship.
Problem 3: Unachievable objectives. We marketers tend to be optimistic by nature but too much optimism can get us in trouble, especially when it comes to making promises. The sales VP says, “We need 150 qualified leads a month to hit our numbers.” Instead of a thoughtful response like “Let me run the numbers and get back to you,” you blurt out, “Of course. No problem. We’ll get your 150 qualified leads per month.” Like the coach who promises to win the Super Bowl and only wins a division title, even though you have a good year, your well-intentioned promise will come back to haunt you. For B2B marketing leaders, it is always better to slightly under-promise and over-deliver.
Address these three potential problems early in the year and you will have a more successful 2015 and beyond.