Where does it go from here?

A number of recent conversations with clients and CMO friends have centered on what to try next in B2B marketing.  The conversations have gone something like this: “I’ve cut back PR because I just couldn’t justify the retainer.  Our traditional media buys are much smaller this year because the economy sucks.  We’re doing our one essential trade show this year and have killed the rest. We’re tweeting and have about 500 followers.  Most of my prospects and customers aren’t on Twitter. Our Facebook page has 250 friends but they are mostly employees, vendors and a small group of customers.  Despite alot of knob turning, our paid and organic search has reached a plateau.  And my sales team is complaining about the quality of the webinar and whitepaper leads…  What can I do?” Here are two cutting edge things that I have seen more progressive marketers testing: Social media lead generation – I know this may be heretical but try using social media to actively engage people.  People  are using one of the social media monitoring tools like Radian6, Scoutlabs or Trackur.  The obvious rules of social media apply (ie don’t be an idiot, be considerate, join the conversation, etc). Online Content Syndication – There are about 10-20 social media sites that have any traffic and really matter to the average B2B company.  Once you establish your presence on these sites, you can use tools like PingFM and Tubemogul as well as RSS feeds to push content.  The idea is to use tags based on your most important SEO keywords.  Again, I know this isn’t “joining the conversation” so you need to be actively monitoring things to participate and engage prospects. Can you suggest any others that I have missed? Also, for those of you didn’t get the 80’s one hit wonder reference in the post headline, here is the video for the song by the  bad Haircut 100.  Enjoy and stay...

Read More
A seven step approach to agile marketing
Sep14

A seven step approach to agile marketing

In the past, I’ve discussed the benefits of applying agile project management to marketing programs without actually discussing the details of how it works.  Based on the suggestion from a regular reader of the the ‘Slice, here is the agile process I frequently use for managing marketing projects.  Keep in mind, that this is not great for projects with many hard deadlines like tradeshows, direct mail or print advertising. 1. Assign roles – The key stakeholders are the “scrum master” (the person who runs the daily scrum meetings), “program owner” (clearly articulates the goals for the project), “chickens” (people involved in the project from an informational standpoint), and “pigs” (the people who will do the heavy lifting for the project). 2. Decide on the duration and frequency of the sprints – In the world of agile project management, the idea is to break the work into smaller digestible chunks (ie sprints) and meet frequently to discuss progress on the specific tasks.  I prefer two to three week sprints.  In a perfect world we would have short scrum meetings daily but most of my agile marketing projects have meetings every other day.  The scrum frequency depends on the work velocity. 3. Set goals for first sprint – The first one is the most difficult.  I suggest first convening a “sprint planning meeting”.   Before starting the sprint, we discuss the theme, review tasks and estimate time requirements.  We’ll then put these tasks on post-it notes on a dedicated wall.  I prefer Post-its to note cards to avoid the need for pushpins.  Finally, we segregate the Post-its into the current sprint (what we will work on for the next two weeks) vs. the sprint backlog (what will come in later sprints).  If there is time, we’ll also discuss who will handle specific tasks. 4. Sprint meetings – I put the scrum meetings in the calendar for all the stakeholders except the “chickens”.  I’ll send the birds an email letting them know about the meetings and welcoming them to join us.  My logic is that this is an open meeting but only the people with real tasks responsibilities are required to attend. 5. Discuss, discuss, and discuss again – We basically run through the Post it notes on the wall and sort them into “in process” tasks vs. the “spring backlog”.  We then close the meeting by asking the “pigs” “what have you completed”, “what are you working on next” and “what are the risks”.  The goal is to quickly identify risks.  These meetings should be short (under 20 mins) so there is nothing wrong with taking issues offline to keep things...

Read More

History repeating itself

About ten years ago corporations often blocked Hotmail and AOL from employees. It is amazing how many times in the last month I’ve heard about this same behavior going on with social media.  I know that looking at pictures from a neighbor’s BBQ on Facebook is quite dangerous but let’s get serious. Using this logic, then corporate IT should also turn off all access to Web browsing, blogging and personal emailing. I wonder when businesses will get comfortable with these new media and trust that employees can act...

Read More
Man can’t live on inbound marketing alone…
Sep10

Man can’t live on inbound marketing alone…

I’ve been thinking a great deal about the balance between inbound and outbound marketing.  I’m not a big fan of the term “inbound marketing” as it is largely a rehash of things that most online marketers discovered over the last 8-10 years.  Accountable and analytic marketers understand that: Most of the mass media and “push” techniques just aren’t as effective as they used to be a decade or two ago. People don’t like to be harassed by telemarketers. Shoppers are increasingly using the Web (including blogs and social media) to learn about your product or service. Prospects who engage with your business online are typically further along the purchasing process and are more likely to buy. These are all things that most of us have discovered empirically. In my opinion, the real challenge is figuring out if you can get enough from your online channels to fill the funnel and support your sales goals.  In many markets, a large percentage of people still use “old media” to learn about things.  For example, while over 10 million people still watch the nightly network news shows in the US, the more popular online TV shows have at best thousands of viewers.  I know, I know we can talk about audience targeting and specificity but differential is meaningful. While all trends are toward online media, most of us will exhaust our productive online opportunities and will need some “old media”push in our marketing mix.  To use an expression popular in the state of Maine, “you can’t get there from here.” We have businesses to run and sometimes we still need the sheer mass of eyeballs you can only get from “old media”. I know that change is upon us as print media and radio suffer through their painful corrections but they still have big, relevant audiences that we need to keep that in mind.  These channels are also not going away anytime soon.  My suggestion is to watch the numbers and be ruthless as you make media decisions understanding that most businesses need more than just online marketing (even if the customer acquisition costs are much higher offline).  At the end of the day, results matter more than channels. How much are you moving to online media?  Can you reach your goals this year with online...

Read More

What’s old is new

Last week I blogged about fresh alternatives to the B2B marketing lead generation trinity (webinars, whitepapers and tradeshows).  While few parts of your marketing mix can help you tell your story, share a demo or answer questions like a live web event, I feel like the medium has become tired.  How many sessions about “Best practices in…” or “X Ways to improve…” can your prospects bear? The format has become as predictable as a “Friends” rerun. You begin with a short intro, followed by a customer or analyst testimonial, then a demo, shameless plug and finally an interactive Q&A.  Your prospects may or may not listen to the audio in the background as they get caught up on email or checkout Perez Hilton. So, what can a software marketer do? Sales is still going to breath down your neck for leads.  My suggestions is to take another look at streaming radio.  I know this is technologically similar to webinar audio but has a few advantages. Costs:  Unless you are using one of the low-cost, higher-risk webinar providers (ie Gotowebinar or Dim Dim), streaming radio can be significantly less expensive. Sound quality: A 128K audio stream typically sounds better than the overburdened VOIP or conference call connections from the major webinar services. Scalability: Webinar providers also often have a different pricing schedule for bigger events (ie over 1,000 people).  Streaming radio on the other hand can use a CDN which typically scales to much great levels without arbitrary limits imposed to maximize revenue yield. Freshness:  Who wants to be a webinar attendee?  An Internet radio show just sounds cooler. Podcasts: It is pretty easy to create podcasts from most streaming radio software. Here are a couple things I have learned: You need an alternative plan for chat.  I’ve dabbled with Twitter and a custom hashtags. You could also consider Skype or some other chat platform for less social media savvy crowds. You need to find a registration system.  I’ve used Eventbrite.  It is free and easy to configure. Live demos are a challenge. You would need to find a screensharing solution. You’ll want to build a custom page for radio show URL. People can access the show without registering, costing you some leads. Anyone else have experiences with streaming radio they would like to...

Read More