I am not posting on this channel for the foreseeable future and will be using LinkedIn to post my thoughts and musings. Please feel free to join me:
Look forward to sharing thoughts, ideas and comments there!
I am not posting on this channel for the foreseeable future and will be using LinkedIn to post my thoughts and musings. Please feel free to join me:
Look forward to sharing thoughts, ideas and comments there!
As far as heated debates go, 2016 was a hotbed. There was something for everyone: Brexit, the American election, civil war in Syria, terrorist attacks, immigration, refugees, the economy, global warming. The list of topics we all disagreed on was as endless as it was depressing.
Although these topics would have put the old adage of no politics, religion and money (or is it sex?) discussions at the dinner table to the test, nowhere did the arguments fester more gangrenous-ly than on social media. The deluge of posts regarding each topic on platforms like Facebook pitted friends against each other, often leading to the kind of personal, cynical, sarcastic attacks far beyond anything we would dare to say in person.
After several intense exchanges about refugees and migration on Facebook, I decided enough was enough. My blood pressure was hitting dizzying heights dealing with what I saw as small-minded, xenophobic, racist slurs from the people in my network. My friends. I concluded the easiest solution to avoid permanent fall outs was to remove myself from the conversations by unfriending (or muting from my feed) anyone with significantly opposing points of view.
The Creation of the Social Bubble
The result was delightful and immediate. No more polemic posts to get worked up about. Blood pressure back to normal. I had rediscovered my inner peace. However, the consequence of my actions was I had now surrounded myself with beliefs and attitudes that aligned to mine, increasingly unaware of the strength and subsequent impact of the opinions of the others, particularly on the outcome of Brexit and the American election. I had created a Social Bubble.
The danger of living in a social bubble is that you become unaware of how others think. The result is not just ignorance but also the arrested development and lack of diversity of your thoughts.
This is just as true in work-life. The opinions of those who disagree with you or advocate different processes are important to question your own approach. Limiting yourself to influencers who think similarly to you stifles your ability to innovate. Basing your strategy on a single school of thought, however well respected, limits your options. In the end, we all end up believing and doing the same, whether it is right or wrong.
For what it’s worth, I have decided to un-mute those who with opposing points of view. I want to know how the other side thinks, not to agree (or argue) with them but to question my own thoughts and ideals.
Aristotle once said “it is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”
You have your list, but you are talking to the wrong companies.
The first lesson marketers harp on about account-based marketing (ABM) is the need to build the ‘right’ list. Yet, this is why most ABM campaigns are destined to fail before they’ve even started. This is mainly down to the way people build their lists. The theory tells you, as the CMO, to bring together your marketing and sales teams and identify those accounts that need to be targeted, be that because they meet a set of predefined criteria or attributes (revenue, market segment, size, etc.) or because they are the proverbial ‘good fit’ with your brand. The problem is that none of the above actually indicates that they are interested in your solutions. In reality, you need to be much more specific in your list build. You need to research and identify a niche of accounts that are suffering a particular challenge that your solutions address.
Example: A company selling hybrid cloud solutions could target all organisations of about $1bn revenue, in the manufacturing and banking sector in the UK — there are about 159. Seems sensible, but how many of those companies already have a modern infrastructure in place? How many currently consume enough cloud services to warrant a move to hybrid?
Instead: The company could identify businesses in the above-mentioned sectors that also have ageing legacy servers and/or are currently consuming a large amount of cloud services. A list a little harder to develop, and much smaller but with a much greater propensity to buy a hybrid cloud solution.
Identify a niche of accounts who are truly are in need of your product or service. Start small, test and scale.
You are telling the wrong story.
Everyone likes to talk about themselves. It is comfortable and easy. Here is a universally known truth that is still ignored by 99% of marketers: no one wants to hear about you and your solutions, however relevant or interesting you might be. To be successful at ABM, or any marketing for that matter, you need to frame your story around your audience’s preconceived ideas and existing conversations, and make your solution part of that story. Your story needs be contextual, relevant and, most important of all, believable.
Example: said company selling Hybrid Cloud solutions could wax lyrical about the fact that the solution pays for itself, is easy to implement and will show a return on investment as soon as the migration has happened. All great arguments by the way.
Instead: The company could tap into the ongoing conversation that most enterprise leadership are struggling with: digital transformation — how it helps achieve efficiencies and secure flexible working, as well as improve collaboration. Once it has a voice in this conversation, the company can slowly weave in the importance of hybrid cloud as a secure, yet flexible on/off premise balancing act. If the story is told authentically, the audience will come to the conclusion that it is in fact an integral part of transforming their business.
Identify and tap into the conversations that your target audience is having with an authentic, contextual and relevant story.
You have a great story, but are telling it in the wrong places.
Most marketing campaigns, including ABM campaigns, rely (too) heavily on email. The intrinsic value of email as a marketing channel is irrelevant for the purpose of this article. The fact is that a well-oiled, automated email marketing campaign can be an essential part of a successful ABM campaign. But the essence of ABM is to surround the decision makers at each account with the story they want (they need) to hear. This means you need a deep understanding of your target audience and where they hang out to have these conversations. Depending on their profiles, this might mean the story needs to be told at 1-on-1 events, on social media, by direct mail or by the sales people themselves. Most likely it will be a combination of all the above.
Example: The hybrid cloud company has all the email addresses of their target audience at the selected account. The easy option would be to set up a flawless email marketing campaign targeting their accounts with the perfect story and adding some targeted paid media air cover.
Instead: The company need to research their audience and find out how the key stakeholders are influenced. In the case of Digital Transformation, the conversation is typically held at C-suite so email might not be the best (and should certainly not be the only) mechanism. Considering C-suite are inundated by email and typically only inspired by peers, the company would be better off to identify speaking opportunities at events, organise round tables, partner with 3rd parties who already engage with the audience. Also, retargeting advertising should be combined into the mix to recapture those who have engaged with the company in a specific way. Last but not least, the company might consider sending out high-impact, personalised direct mailings to those contacts who have repeatedly shown an interest in their solution.
Despite the fact that it has been around for a while, Account-based Marketing is a bit of a hot topic at the moment, and rightfully so. According to ITSMA, “ABM delivers the highest return on investment in B2B marketing.” But just because it is popular doesn’t make it easy or inherently successful. To get it right takes research, great storytelling and a holistic approach to marketing.
You might also be interested in the 7 Essentials to Account-Based Marketing (click here or on the image below).
QR Codes are making a comeback. There, I said it. Yes, there will be some laughs. Yes, there will be many doubters. But I stand by my convictions. And with good reason.
Back in 2013 the conversation about whether QR Codes were dead had reached its climax. The resounding answer was ‘Yes’; in the US only about 21% of people had ever scanned a QR Code; in the UK they were being placed on underground station advertising (where there was no internet connection – pretty important for QR Code marketing); and so on. The result: people turned their backs on the once popular QR Code.
This sentiment continues today. In fact, it has become an easy bandwagon to jump on. However, the world has changed since 2013. For one, there is wifi in most underground stations. But more importantly, marketers are finally seeing ‘digital’ as part of marketing rather than an alternative. The re-introduction of direct and dimensional mail into marketing campaigns is making a strong comeback as marketers realise mail and offline media are necessary supplements to the cluttered inbox or busy social channels.
The QR code enables a simple link to be made between print and online. Crossing this divide is essential for a comprehensive, seamless and multichannel user experience.
Nowhere is this seamless, multichannel experience more important than in B2B account-based marketing, where surrounding a variety of stakeholders within an organisation with relevant and meaningful content, across multiple channels, is essential to inspire and influence their buying decisions.
There are of course alternatives, such as iBeacons, NFC and others, but none of these work for print or are as simple and practical to implement as the QR code, which takes a few seconds to generate (free – best site here) and is scanned in even less time. Granted you need a QR code scanner (although these come standard on most recent iPhones and Android mobiles).
So next time you plan your next multichannel campaign, which will hopefully include some direct/dimensional mail and/or print media activity, consider the QR code. It had a bad run and deserves a second chance.
In the meantime, if you want to book BNJ for a free B2B Marketing Best Practice Review, why not scan the barcode below and pick your slot.
My mother taught me a lesson very early on in life, one I have never forgotten and always (tried to) live by: ‘if you don’t enjoy what you are doing, stop doing it and find something else. You will never be successful in a job you don’t enjoy’. Wiser words have never been spoken (ok, not often!).
Of course the main reason we go to work every day is because we need to pay the bills, and if you don’t go to work (at least mentally if not physically) you might quickly find yourself superfluous to requirements. Like most people, I work to earn a living. But, following Mrs Boogaard Senior’s logic, I also need to enjoy what I do to make my day worthwhile. So what is it that makes work enjoyable to me?
Simple: the buzz I get from the little exhilarating moments. Not the big, ego-filled, public victory laps. The mental ‘punch your fist in the air’ moments that come in all shapes and sizes and at any time of the day.
Last week I did that overexcited ‘you da man!‘ scream in my head when I managed to set up a new website on my own after hours of fighting with the technology. The week before, I had crazy butterflies in my stomach when a Request For Proposal came in from a client I have wanted to work with for the last 6 months. No doubt those butterflies will be bouncing around like Tigger on acid when we actually win the pitch!
But, honestly, most of the time I can get genuinely excited about the little things; a new prospect accepting a meeting request; an email reply that I hadn’t expected; a meeting that went better than planned; getting positive feedback from a client.
Finding and learning to enjoy those little exhilarating moments makes it easy to get up every morning, ready for the work day. A word of caution though: once you start enjoying these moments they are addictive. Some days there are no psychological touchdowns to celebrate and that should be OK too.
Too much of a good thing isn’t good either…
Request For Proposals (RFPs) are the lifeblood of marketing agencies and yet last week I declined one of the most exciting RFPs that I have come across in the past 12 months….and I still feel sick to my stomach. It was for an industry-leading brand, working on a highly visible global B2B campaign with a big budget and a fantastic team. But sometimes you need to know when to say ‘no’.
It is easy to get carried away with the excitement of receiving an RFP, particularly when it comes from a new potential customer, and even more so when it reads like the one we turned down. But getting carried away on formulating an adequate reply can cost the agency a lot of wasted time and money; winning an unsuitable RFP can end disastrously.
Here are the six criteria I use to determine how we reply to an RFP:
1. Client Fit
The most important question is whether the potential client is a good fit. Do they add value to your portfolio? Do you feel you have something unique and valuable to offer them? Do you have a positive experience in their sector? Although it is tempting to go for every attractive RFP, if the answer to any of the previous questions is ‘no’ you have to consider whether your time and effort isn’t better spent attracting or working on a ‘sweet spot’ client.
2. Project fit
Does the particular project match your highest best? Does it play to the strengths of your agency? Are you able to fulfil the requirements of the project? Any answers apart from a solid ‘yes’ means you need to politely decline. If only part of the RFP is a perfect match, you might consider partnering with another entity – it might mean sacrificing part of the profit but it will be worth the peace of mind. Alternatively, you should ask whether you could respond to only part of the request, providing convincing reasoning why you are still worth considering.
3. Resource availability
The client might be the perfect fit and the project playing to your absolute highest best, but if you don’t have the available resources (or the ability to resource up), the chances are that the perfect project will end up a massive disappointment. Lack of resources to deliver will generally end up in rushed jobs with mediocre results and/or late delivery. Worse, it might prevent you from servicing your other clients, creating a negative knock-on effect.
Last minute resourcing typically sees your profit margins being eaten away by expensive freelancers and contractors. Make sure you consider the resource requirements carefully and factor these costs into your proposal with a good margin of error to avoid disappointing yourself and ultimately the client.
Some say ‘the best things in life are free’…but unfortunately that doesn’t apply in business. Delivering quality costs money but, in turn, should always provide the client with a good return on investment. That is the essential win-win criteria for an effective client-supplier relationship. When you have reached this point in your considerations, you need to know what the budgets are and if you don’t know, you need to ask.
If you don’t at least get a budget range, I would seriously question the sanity of investing time in the RFP. Having a budget isn’t an opportunity to fleece the client by pricing it right to the limit, but should instead mean that you design the best possible solution within the boundaries set by the client.
5. Win potential
The most subjective factor in your decision is the probability of winning. Your chance of winning is unfortunately not just based on a good fit in terms if client or project, or even the quality of your response. Very often other factors come into play, including whether other agencies responding are better positioned than you to deliver the goods, or whether the incumbent agency has an unbreakable bond with the client.
My advice is to always ask how many agencies are included in the RFP (the more agencies, the less inclined I am to reply). Research the RFP owners and see whom they are connected to on LinkedIn or who they are communicating with on social media (this can often uncover a strong bond with other agencies). Search the Internet for potential agencies the company may have worked with (often awards are a good indicator). None of these factors necessarily imply you decline, but at least you go in with your eyes wide open. As I said, this is very subjective so go with your gut. If you don’t feel confident you have a good chance of winning, maybe now is the time to back away.
6. Future potential
Lastly, although the longevity of the relationship and the guarantee of further work are not necessarily essential, I always consider the future potential of the account. If you are going to invest money in an RFP you should do so under the assumption that you are going to win and therefore willing to commit your valuable resources. If you are willing to commit your resources and, assuming your resources like everything else on earth are limited, you do so at an opportunity cost – the value of the other projects you will have to forego to deliver this one. Therefore it is always worth considering clients that offer a high lifetime value, over those that represent a one-off gain as the acquisition costs are often the same.
Back to my RFP…Sadly, the one I turned down was a perfect fit in terms of client and project. It would no doubt have had a decent budget and certainly had a huge potential for the future. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the resources available to deliver our highest best and submitting a proposal would have put at risk all the potential benefits. In the interest of the potential client and for the chance to work with them in the future, we had to withdraw.
Don’t get me wrong, all the above doesn’t make that decision any less painful…but it does make it easier.
Demand generation and marketing automation is nothing new. Yet, many B2B marketers can safely argue that established practice doesn’t imply proficiency, let alone a higher degree of marketing performance. In fact, according to Forrester half of B2B marketers surveyed don’t have well-defined processes in place to govern their marketing automation efforts. The result? A demand generation approach that behaves more like an automated drip system delivering generic emails and a high volume of barely qualified leads. To turn this around, I believe the path to performance and proficiency starts with a refresh around buyer fundamentals.
Top Five Buyer Fundamentals
#1: Buyers move around a lot
Most demand generation strategies major on adding leads to the top of the funnel, with less attention given to nurturing buyers midstream, or dare I say, mid-funnel. This assumes that your buyer travels a highly linear path from one buyer journey phase to the next. In reality buyers move around and oscillate a lot. Often they plateau along their journey as their priorities or budgets change. Marketers need to be mindful of this fluidity and develop strategies that acknowledge and support their movement and moments of pause along their journey.
#2: Buyers are different
According to Marketo, 31% of B2B marketers don’t have personas in place and out of those who do only 27% said their personas were aligned to their messaging (2015 Demand Gen Report Benchmark Study). A deep understanding of your buyer is essential for an effective demand generation strategy. It determines who needs to be engaged (identifying the real decision-makers and influencers), when they need to be engaged (at what stage of the purchase journey), how they can be reached (the most effective channel to reach them,) and what type of content they need (the right message and format).
#3: Buyers prefer messages that matter to them
Most companies in the UK think of marketing automation as the distribution of 3rd party content by email. This might deliver the quantity, but the whole purpose of demand generation and marketing automation is to take the effort out of early-stage selling, with high quality leads. This can most effectively be achieved through bespoke content, tailored to and addressing the specific concerns of each key stakeholder at the relevant point in their buyer journey. Depending on the buyer personas, this more often than not will include a combination of formats and channels, with online advertising, email newsletters, blog posts and articles influencing the early stages of the sales funnel, and testimonials, analysts’ reports and demos reserved for the latter stages.
#4: Buyers leave bread crumbs. Our job is to track and record them
According to Trip Kucera it takes up to 8 to 10 marketing touches to close a deal (2014 B2B Content2Conversion Conference), which means that last touch attribution may tell a misleading story. Using platforms like Marketo, will provide transparency on the value of each piece of content and the efficacy of the channel in which it is distributed.
#5: Not all buyers will buy. Score and segment your most valuable leads
Underpinning marketing automation is lead qualification or scoring. This tells us how close someone is to becoming a sales qualified lead. All the above investment in developing buyer profiles and content strategies will be to no avail if the scoring isn’t effective. Two fundamental pieces of this part of the puzzle are the initial data, which should be clean, and the scoring, which needs to be constantly monitored and refined. More specific details about this here.
If you aren’t following some or all of the above, 2015 could be your chance to turn things around. Get in touch if you need help!