Category Archives: Business Strategy

The Interesting Similarities Between a Manufacturing Assembly Line and a Modern Marketing Process

Assembly line for manufacturing and the marketing process

Guest Expert: Grant Grigorian, CEO and Co-founder of Path to Scale

Listen to the Full Podcast HERE


  • Marketing metrics are strongly similar to metrics used for quantifying the efficiency and efficacy of an assembly line.
  • Learn about the analogy of efficiency and quantity for an assembly line as it applies to modern marketing processes for manufacturing marketing function.
  • Quality versus quantity balance and constraints.
  • Real life examples of how a marketing team has implemented the factory assembly line framework.
  • Challenge question –  Grant outlines how to get started tracking ROI – 3 things to get started with tracking ROI with  Marketo and
  • Just like manufacturing spends time, money and resources on research and development, marketing should set aside time, money and resources to experiment, create and innovate as a separate function to the standard marketing production line.  Don’t mix the marketing R&D with the regular production line.  Develop a marketing ‘Skunk Works’ for your team.

Answers and discussion addressing these questions:

  1. Grant, marketing is seldom integrated into the fabric of a manufacturing company, but you have a really interesting perspective on the parallels between a modern marketing function and the factory assembly line.  Could you summarize your view on this interesting parallel?
  2. Specifically, what is the “product” of the marketing assembly line?
  3. The goal of an assembly line is achieving a highly efficient production process overlapped with high quality.  Is it possible for the marketing process to become more efficient with higher quality using the assembly line framework?
  4. Are you seeing this type of marketing function being used already?  Could you give a couple of real life examples?
  5. Why should manufacturing marketing leaders consider this type of approach if their existing marketing processes, teams and tools have been working well so far?

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The Huge Opportunity for Manufacturing Companies

Are You Missing This Opportunity?

Listen to this podcast episode HERE

Guest Expert:  Tom Repp, CEO and Owner, The Repp Group

Answers and discussion addressing these questions:

  1. Why is there a huge opportunity for manufacturing marketers and their organizations?
  2. Could you provide a couple of real life examples?
  3. You wrote a post on your Market Pipeline blog titled “Why Understanding Content Saturation is a Bonanza for Industrial Marketers”, could you summarize this idea of content saturation and why it is a potential bonanza?
  4. You’ve mentioned content marketing a few times, I think most of our listeners may have heard the term, but are not sure about the definition.  Could you give us your definition of content marketing?
  5. In your Industrial marketing consulting practice, are you seeing a big uptake in content marketing and the other types of marketing we’ve been talking about today?

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‘How to Succeed with Webinars’ or ‘Succeeding with Webinars is Easier Thank You Think’

Team Success

The first thing you have to do to succeed is to define ‘succeed’.  This may seem simple enough, but it is a step often overlooked in many a marketing campaign.  For the purpose of this post, let’s define ‘succeed’ in traditional marketing metrics.  For traditional success metrics, I suggest ‘leads’ or ‘qualified leads’ as a good metric assuming you have agreed on a definition with the sales team.  A better success metric is ‘influenced opportunities’ or even better, ‘influenced, closed won opportunities’.  The latter requires a synchronized customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing automation platform (MAP) system with myriad other infrastructure in place.  If you’re a beginner with webinars, you could also start with basic webinar metrics such as ‘registrants’, ‘attendees’ and ‘on-demand views’.  The point is that you must first define success before you can make it easier to succeed.

If you are reading this post, chances are high that you have tried webinars or are in the midst of trying webinars you deem to have poor success or even to have failed.  Don’t beat yourself up, most webinars do fail and the number one reason for failure is choosing the wrong topic.  As long as we’re talking about definitions, you may ask, “what is the wrong topic?”  I could be coy and say the wrong topic is one that fails to meet expectations, but I’ll give you a more explicit answer.  The wrong topic is one that is about your product and/or your company.  I’ll qualify that a bit more by saying there is an exception to this rule and that is if you are working with prospective customers in the latter stage of the buying cycle.  Prospects in this stage could very well benefit from a product oriented webinar, but these audiences will usually be very small.

Are you ready for wildly successful webinars that engage with a goodly portion of your target audience?  A target audience that may not even know you exist and may even be using your competition is ready and waiting for your educational, knowledge based webinars.  Here’s how to succeed with webinars:

  • Choosing a useful, educational topic that is at the intersection of the pain or passion common in your target audience and your particular expertise is guaranteed make it easier to succeed.  Typically, when a firm decides to try webinars as a marketing tactic, they choose a topic about their product.  That is the wrong approach.  I’ve never seen a product based webinar outperform an educational webinar.  In fact, product based webinars usually end up labeled as a failure.  In my experience with creating and executing webinars for manufacturing companies, I always, repeat always, see educational webinars outperform product based webinars in the range of 1000% to 2000%!  Listen to this KMI webinar series if you want to learn more about choosing the right topic.
  • Good webinar promotion also makes it easier to succeed.  Many times a company will send one email to their house database and wait for them to register.  Surprisingly,  this will garner a lot of registrants, but it is only the low hanging fruit.  Success comes easier if you promote your educational webinars in venues outside of your house list where your target audience resides.  For the manufacturing sector, consider inviting members of online trade associations by advertising in their enewsletters or by emailing their list.
  • It always amazes me when the marketing team acts like the live broadcast is the end of the webinar effort.  I can see why the completion of the live broadcast feels like it’s over.  But, it is easier to realize your success metric if you follow up with everyone who registered, but especially with those who registered and did not attend the live broadcast.  Follow up with an email offering a direct link to the slides and the recorded webinar, a sales call, a post card, a message in a bottle – just do something to follow up!

Finally, the only way you know if you succeed is to measure the results against your success metrics.  It may seem too simple, but to make it easier to succeed, measure success.  After you measure your wildly successful educational webinar, report the results to the leadership team.  Granted, the leadership team will respect the metric that shows you created and/or contributed to new opportunities, but high registration numbers also garner attention.  Ultimately, if you can show that your webinars positively affected revenue, you’re webinars are successful.

Do these things make is easier to succeed with webinars than you previously thought?  If not, you can always hire a company like KMI to produce turn-key webinars guaranteed to succeed with high number of qualified registrants and attendees.  How do we guarantee it?  One option is to only pay for registrations.  If is sounds interesting, check it out at the KMI website.


How Would You Like to Triple Your Organic Growth Rate?

Image from Pixabay
How would you like to triple your organic growth rate?  I’ve been successful at developing and implementing a strategic marketing framework that does exactly that, triples your organic growth rate.  This method works extremely well for global manufacturing companies.  I can make this happen at your company.  

Here’s the secret:  “Stop pitching products and start educating”
At this point, you are probably thinking, is this guy for real?   The answer is yes.  You’re probably also asking yourselves three questions:
  1. How does it work?
  2. Will it work for my company?
  3. Could this guy really pull it off and move the needle on top line growth

How does it work? 
This is why product marketing fails where educational marketing sails. 
You choose your target audience because you believe that some day they will buy what you are selling, correct?  If we look at the entire population, on any one day when they see your product ad, they will take an action if they are at a very specific point; BANT budget, authority, need and time-frame.  This is a very small portion of the population (<1%).  But, let’s suppose 80% will be faced with a problem that you can help them solve.  On any given day, they are struggling with the problem.  If I promote something like a webinar or a how-to paper that helps them address that problem, I have a much greater chance of them engaging with my asset and my brand.  This engagement leads to a top of mind awareness and credibility as they get to know my company, brand, experts, etc.  Then, when the day comes along and they have BANT, who do they think of?  They think of your company.  This is a huge competitive edge.  That’s why this framework grows your business.  That’s the foundation.
Could I get the same great results for your company?  Yes, absolutely, it really doesn’t matter what you’re selling. You have expertise and a good product.  All you need to do is help those in your target audience improve in some way as a result of your expertise.  They engage with you, remember you and trust you.  This leads to purchase in many more cases than if you promote a product as your main marketing focus.
If I were to hire this guy as my VP Marketing, could he pull it off? 
When I was a marketing manager at a $380 million dollar global electronics company,  annual growth rates in my divisions were between 6 and 8% with about 3 to 5% attributable to price increases.  They were pitching product features hard with the main tactic being print ads pushing the product features in more than 37 different magazine publications.  I applied this idea of knowledge marketing.  We stopped pitching products and we began educating the audience.  Year 1 of the education marketing strategy saw an 11% organic growth rate, year 2 saw 19% and year 3 saw 32%.

“Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” Albert Einstein

If you want to triple your growth rates, remember this “Educational Marketing Sails where Product Marketing Fails”

How a Manufacturing CEO can Profit in a Down Economy

It seems one day manufacturing is up and the next day manufacturing is down.  It’s already mid February and your numbers just aren’t coming in like you expected.  You miss the old days when double digit growth was a given based on introducing a few new products and whipping your sales team just a little.

You’ve beefed up R&D spending and added feet on the street in the sales channel.  You just can’t break through that single digit growth barrier.   Looking at global manufacturing output stats showing meager 2% or less increases, it’s no wonder.  No single industry is growing at double digit rates.  Many industries are in negative growth rates.  But, there are some companies growing at 10%, 20% or even 30% rates in this very same economic environment.

If your company is one of those growing at double digit rates, you don’t have to read on because you’ve probably already figured this one out.  If you’re not in this high growth rate group, read on and learn how you too can achieve a high rate of growth.  (I’m talking about organic growth!)

It doesn’t take a huge investment in people or other resources.  It’s just a different way of thinking about how your business generates revenue.  More specifically, it’s about who or which function you leverage for generating revenue.

Surprise!  It’s not the sales team and it’s not the product team.  It’s the marketing team.

That’s right, a modern marketing function can drive 10%, 20% or even 30% growth rates and it’s not complex or expensive.  Your biggest obstacle is likely to be your ancient go to market culture.

These are the 6 essential components required to convert your marketing team from a cost center to a high performance revenue engine:

  1. A tech-savvy, content savvy modern professional marketer as a leader.
  2. A business culture where the Marketing function is integrated strategically and tactically.
  3. Modern technology and tools (choosing the right tools requires a tech savvy leader)
  4. A content based marketing strategy.
  5. Executive leadership sponsorship.
  6. A formal, written, dynamic marketing plan.
But hold on a minute, you and your company may not be ready for these changes and that’s ok.  Just understand that these ideas are percolating all over the place.  It’s not easy to get here, but it’s not rocket science either.
Be warned, the first company in your competitive space to embrace these changes and make them work will be the company that wins market share in that space.  Don’t delay, do it today!

For a more in-depth discussion, check out this Slideshare presentation.

Go Back to the Future and Write Your Marketing Plan

This blog post was originally published on Content Marketing Institute Blog January 14, 2014.

In the olden days of marketing, we talked about positioning statements, the 4 Ps, marketing plans, branding, etc.  Some pundits and bloggers might claim that these old style concepts and practices are obsolete and have been replaced with content marketing, social media, marketing automation, SEO, SEM and so on.  I suggest these so-called old style, obsolete concepts, strategies and tactics are more important than ever.  As professional marketers, I suggest we go back to the future and embrace the fundamentals before we begin to use the modern tools like content marketing.
[picture credit]
Embarking upon a plan to ‘do content marketing’ or ‘do social media’ without first preparing a proper marketing plan is like building a house with no blueprint.  Adding rooms (marketing tactics) on a whim without an understanding of how each room supports the overall structure (business goals), the purpose of each room (objectives) and how you will decide if the room is successful (measurement) is a recipe for disaster at worst and poor performance at best.
We as professional marketers are all excited about content marketing.  We are itching to get started creating great content we know will launch our business onto the next great growth trajectory.  The momentum and the enthusiasm are great.   However, I suggest holding on to our horses for just a moment before jumping in while we consider the broader marketing plan.  Before you get started with creating content or launching any type of marketing activity it is critically important to have completed your marketing plan.  Why, you may ask, must I take precious time and utilize my already stretched resources to write down a plan.  Isn’t that a bit old fashioned?  Yes, it is old fashioned and at the same time, more important than ever in this modern marketing age.  The marketing plan, 4 Ps, positioning, et al have likely been around for 1000s of years in one form or another.  We must travel back to the future.  The reason these concepts have endured is because they fundamentally support the exchange of goods.  In spite of our modern marketing technology, the basics of business have not changed since the dawn of the first civilization in Mesopotamia.  We are still exchanging products or services for some type of consideration.  Whether we were a merchant pedaling our wares in the Middle Ages or we are selling access to a SaaS service today, there is fundamentally no difference.  It is an exchange.  Success of either the Middle Ages merchant or the modern SaaS vendor depends on awareness of the offering and establishment of value in the minds of the prospective buyer. In other words, it depends on marketing (assuming the sales function is a subset of a broad definition of marketing).
Consider the 4 major parts of a good marketing plan as discussed below.  This discussion is not meant to be comprehensive education about how to create a marketing plan,  It is a starter discussion to show how important it is to have a proper, written marketing plan.  It is a simple framework of the components of a good marketing plan.
Definition of a Marketing Plan
A marketing plan is a comprehensive document that summarizes marketplace knowledge and the strategies and steps to be taken in achieving the objectives set marketing managers for a particular period.[1]
What a Marketing Plan is Not
A marketing plan is not a spreadsheet of activities.  It’s not an editorial calendar.  It’s not a list of campaigns.  It’s not a budget or set of goals. It’s not something you think you have in your head.
These are the 4 essential topics that must be covered in your marketing plan before proceeding with any marketing activities such as content marketing, social media, direct mail, email promotion, nurturing, web sites, landing pages, PPC, et al:
1.      Assess the Current Situation
·         What resources are available?
·         Analyze and summarize your market space(s).
·         Analyze internal strengths and weaknesses.
·         Analyze external opportunities and threats.
·         Assess the competition and competitive environment.
·         Assess the macro environment; social, economic, political, technological
·         Identify critical issues
2.      Describe the Marketing Strategy
·         Mission and vision
·         Business objectives
·         Marketing objectives
·         Target market description
·         Positioning statement
·         Value proposition
3.      Marketing Program
·         Product
·         Pricing strategy
·         Channels
·         Promotion
4.      Controls and measurement
·         Financials
·         Critical success factors
·         Key performance indicators
·         Technology and platforms
It is interesting to note that ‘content marketing’ could come under number 3, as a means of promotion.  It could also (and probably should) fall under number 2 as the foundation to the overall marketing strategy. 
Many marketers and firms will claim they have the marketing plan in their head or within the tribal knowledge of the organization.  Not good enough.  Many firms will have several disparate pieces of a marketing plan spread throughout the organization with the sales department, product managers, marketing department, executive leadership team, strategic business planners or other such places.  In order for Marketing to do its job, Marketing must create and own a proper marketing plan first and foremost. One of the real tangible benefits of writing a proper plan is in the forced collaboration between the stakeholders.  This collaboration helps to align the various functions.  The process of writing the plan also positions the marketing department and personnel as valid business participants as opposed to being perceived as a service center reacting to one request after another.
It may be the case where a firm requires multiple marketing plans for multiple units such as business units, geographic regions, product groups or other classifications depending on your firm’s business plan.
One last point, creating the Marketing Plan is not just an exercise to be done once and then put on the virtual shelf.  It is a living, dynamic document which should be referred to on a regular basis and updated as conditions or situations change.
I leave you with a challenge.  See if you can find a written marketing plan at your organization.  If you find one that is current, dynamic and being used as a daily reference upon which to base marketing decisions, bravo!  If you can’t find it or if you hear people tell you it is all in their head, step back and begin to craft a proper plan today before you do anything else.
For more information about creating a proper marketing plan, I recommend ‘The Marketing Plan Handbook (4th Edition) by Marian Burk Wood.

[1]The Marketing Plan Handbook, Marian Burk Wood

How Content Converts to Revenue

content converts

How Content Converts to Revenue

This slide deck demonstrates how content converts to revenue.  As you make decisions about which content to create, how the content converts to revenue should be top of mind.  And, don’t forget to make sure the content aligns with your content mission statement.

Have You Ever Heard of Marketing 2.0?

You’ve probably heard of Web 2.0 or Sales 2.0 which generally means a newer, updated, more effective framework.  I’m introducing Marketing 2.0 defined as: 
  • A revenue generator.  A revenue engine for the business. 
  • A strategic partner providing high value in aligning modern marketing strategy, tools and teams to the business goals. 
  • Metrics obsessed to ensure it is known what works great, what works OK, what does not work and what has failed in order to optimize and iterate for the absolute growth. 
  • A high value, clean and comprehensive database from which to market, cross sell, up sell and analyze. 
  • Maintains a website designed to have a conversation with visitors, deliver relevant dynamic content tailored to the visitor. 
  • Strategic positioning, value propositions that resonated, messaging about the customer’s needs. 
  • Tactics that funnel large numbers of qualified leads who are ready, willing and able to buy. 
  • Producing high value, useful, helpful marketing material, events and activities engaging early in the purchasing process. 
  • Understands technology, fully leveraging technology for efficient and scalable marketing activities.

If you’re not there already, it can be a very difficult journey.  The rewards, however, will be huge!
Check out this Prezi for a bit more detail about the Journey to Marketing 2.0. 

    Eloqua and Oracle

    It was announced on Friday that Oracle has closed the purchase of Eloqua.  So what does it mean for us Eloqua users?  Naturally, we hear grand plans and promise of great things to come.  I think we’re all a bit skeptical or maybe it’s just me.  It seems that when a behomouth like Oracle buys a relatively small company like Eloqua, the software gets absorbed or even lost amongst the huge offering of the big company.    Oracle already purchased Market2Lead a while ago.  What happened to that one?  Adobe bought Omniture.  IBM bought Unica, TeaLead and CoreMetrics.  Microsoft bought CoreMetrics.

    Is it possible that Oracle swallows Eloqua into one of their other systems and now, instead of paying $50,000 per year, we are paying $500,000 per year to keep the same technology?  One thing we may be sure of is that Oracle didn’t buy Eloqua to benefit Eloqua users, they bought it because they foresee a way to leverage the technology to make more profit.  Oracle is not interested in the SMB market.  It’s likely that Oracle isn’t going to continue offering Eloqua as it is offered today.  There’s just not enough volume or profit in it to be of interest to Oracle.  Oracel with it’s $37 billion dollar revenue stream is not interested in maintaining Eloqua and it’s relatively meager $95.8 million dollar revenue stream.  You can be sure some other plan is in the works.

    The effect on existing Eloqua users will occur at some point.  The question is how much will it cost us and when will we get the bill.   Cynical?  Perhaps.   Realistic?  We’ll see.

    Oracle, Adobe, SAP and their ilk aren’t really interested in the SMB market.  Perhaps the consolidation that seems to be occurring will force small and medium size companies to the likes of Marketo or Genius for example.  Or, perhaps this opens the door for to bring in a full marketing automation suite.

    One thing is sure, it will be interesting.

    Top 6 Techniques for Persuasion and Influence

    Now that we’ve spent the last few weeks discussing the 6 principles for persuading and influencing, I’d like to summarize in one blog post.

    1. Reciprocity – This is the same idea as the Golden Rule.  Treat people like you would like to be treated.  More specifically, you get what (or if) you give.  It is a deeply ingrained human predisposition to repay in kind when we are given some thing or another.  One way the Modern Marketer can apply this principle is with a good content marketing program.  Give away information that is valued by your target audience and watch your business growth soar.
    2. Liking – People are more influenced by those people they like. And people generally like other people similar to themselves and/or people who like them.  Tactics to increase your likability are praising and pointing out similarities.  Always be authentic in your praise.  One way the Modern Marketer can use this principle is using imagery and language that resonates with the target audience.
    3. Social Proof – People are influenced by the ideas, actions and statements made by or endorsed by the group of people they consider as being part of their own group or type.  One example of applying this principle in practice is the tried and true customer testimonial.
    4. Authority –  People who are viewed as experts are able to persuade and influence because of their perceived expertise.  A Modern Marketer could apply this principle by branding an internal expert as an expert in a topic where the target market has interest.  And it’s always good to remember; expertise = credibility = premium pricing.
    5. Consistency – The idea behind the principle of consistency is that people will, more often than not, want to remain consistent with their stated or written opinions, values or commitments. If you want to influence your colleagues, subordinates, or your boss, getting them to state a position out loud is a powerful form of persuasion. Even more powerful is getting them to write it down and share it with other colleagues.  How could you utilize this principle in your 2013 Marketing plan?
    6. Scarcity – It is human nature to want what one cannot have or want more when we can only have less. There are many studies that prove this as true.  Remember I mentioned the struggle to obtain the elusive hot video game during the Christmas shopping season as an example.  Scarcity goes hand-in-hand with promoting your unique selling position or differentiated value proposition.  An exclusive and limited available offer is even more compelling than just a scarce offer.

    Those are the 6 principles of persuasion and influence.  These are not new.  In fact, these principles have been documented and discussed as far back as the ancient days of the Greeks and Romans.  One major aspect of marketing is to influence the target audience to choose your particular product or service.  These principles should be kept in mind as you develop your 2013 marketing strategy and tactics.  What’s that you say?  You haven’t started your 2013 plans?  No worries, my next series of posts will be all about the Marketing Plan.

    Last and most important point about the 6 Principles is to apply them with authenticity.  There’s nothing any of us hate more than to feel manipulated.  Be genuine.