Category Archives: Marketing strategy

Sneak Peek at “The New Way to Go-to-Market for Manufacturing”

The book, “The New Way to Go-to-Market for Manufacturing” will be out and available by March 1, 2016. Follow the blog for more sneak peeks over the coming weeks.

Chapter 3 The Sweet Spot of Engagement

Let’s summarize what we have so far uncovered as the very big opportunities available to smart manufacturing firms. We have discovered that expertise is usually prevalent within any manufacturing organization. The expertise we want to mine is not the expertise used in building the product, but is a deeper expertise around the underlying needs of the target audience.

We have an understanding that the best way to engage with the people in the target audience is by helping them relieve pain rather than pitching product features. In order to really understand the pain points that can be relieved by sharing your firm’s expertise, it is a good idea to conduct primary research. We will talk about this more in a later chapter. For now, I encourage you to put on your critical thinking hat and question the tribal wisdom that pervades most manufacturing organizations.

When choosing the Sweet Spot of Engagement, it is important to collaborate with your stakeholders if at all possible. Doing this work as an individual or even as a singular marketing group is much less effective than collaborating in order to gain agreement and buy-in from your stakeholders. The most common critical stakeholders are the Sales and Product leadership folks. If you are in a predicament where your stakeholders dismiss marketing altogether, then, you will have to go it alone which I strongly encourage if the alternative is to do nothing.

The Sweet Spot of Engagement is at the intersection of the pain you have identified as common to a majority of your target audience and the expertise you have uncovered among the employees within your manufacturing firm.

sweet spot

The diagram above is meant to be a worksheet for brainstorming. You may come up with more than one pain, expertise and Sweet Spots, but it is important to choose only one of each for each business category. You may have more than one Sweet Spot of Engagement depending on the size of your firm and the structure of the organization. For example, you may determine a sweet spot for each product area or each business area. The sweet spot will define your topic or mission that will drive the marketing strategy, related tactics and messaging.

As an example, let us continue with the measurement instrument company we discussed in Chapter One. One of the product groups in the instrument manufacturing company is humidity measurement instruments. After conducting primary research, they discovered the pain common to a large majority of the people in the target audience is that humidity is a very difficult measurement to make consistently and reliably. Reliable and consistent measurement is critical to the target audience which consists of pharmaceutical companies and semi-conductor manufacturers. The related expertise uncovered among the product engineers working in the Research and Development department is in understanding the science behind the properties of a moist gas (humidity). The Sweet Spot of Audience Engagement was agreed to be in providing an education about humidity and humidity measurement technology to the people in the target audience who are frustrated at their own ability to get a reliable measurement. The hypothesis is that by teaching them about the science, they will be equipped to make a better measurement.

Once you have determined the sweet spot and you have agreement with your stakeholders, it is time to craft the Audience Facing Mission Statement (AFMS). The AFMS will be your guiding light when it comes to making decisions about marketing activities and expenditure. If one of your colleagues suggests creating a piece of content or an activity that is not in line with the AFMS, it should be rejected.
As you proceed with building out your content marketing program with the AFMS as the compass, you will continuously measure results to confirm your hypothesis. As with any hypothesis, if testing does not prove the hypothesis, you should go back to the drawing board and revise the Sweet Spot and the AFMS.

Continuing with our example of the humidity product group, the AFMS might sound something like this: “We help the people in our target audience make a more reliable, repeatable and accurate measurement of humidity so that they produce higher quality goods in a more efficient manner.”

Rather than calling it just a ‘mission statement’, I call it ‘Audience Facing’ for a very important reason. When most of us think about a Mission Statement, we think about the mission of the company. Many times these corporate mission statements sound like this: “To be the preferred widget manufacturing on the face of the planet….” This is internal facing. I want to make a clear distinction between the corporate mission statement and the AFMS. It is important to notice the Sweet Spot of Engagement and the AFMS are not about the product. They are about the people in the target audience. You will likely get push-back from your Sales and Product stakeholders around this idea. As you begin to collaborate, the product culture will kick in and you will hear that the expertise is in ‘building widgets’ or ‘creating new products’. You must remain resolute and push them to see that the expertise is much deeper than just manufacturing products.

Understanding the Sweet Spot of Engagement and the AFMS contributes to the huge opportunity we are discussing. While your competitors build a strategy around pitching products, you will be mopping up the market share with broader and deeper engagement. A manufacturing marketing strategy built around an AFMS works wonders on the growth rate. I have personally developed such a strategy around this type of marketing pivot from product focus to audience pain focus. My experience was in seeing growth increase from an annual rate of 3 – 5% to a rate between 20 – 25% within a two-year period. Naturally there is much more behind driving this type of growth beyond the Sweet Spot of Engagement and the AFMS which we will discuss more in Part 4, the How-to section. In Part 3 we will discuss more about how to overcome the product culture that is embedded deeply in most manufacturing companies.

Takeaway Actions:

  1. Gather some trusted colleagues together for a preliminary discussion about the audience pain point and the company expertise. Explain the ultimate objective of the AFMS. Depending on the tone and outcome of the preliminary meeting, you will get an idea about how strong the product culture is at your company. This preliminary meeting is a rehearsal for the main meeting with your stakeholders.
  2. Prepare a research study to determine the pain points common to the people in your target audience. Use critical thinking skills as you evaluate the tribal knowledge about pain points you will hear from the Sales people and the Product people. The combination of your internal assessment and the primary research will give you a good idea of the pain point. As you prepare your Marketing Research, keep in mind the expertise you have chosen. It may be the case where the primary research examines pain points in relation to more than one areas of expertise.
  3. Fill out the Sweet Spot diagram and craft your AFMS. You are now ready to proceed with your pilot program which we discuss at length in Chapters 17 – 22.

Marketing Automation – Is it right for manufacturing?

 

marketing automation for manufacturing

The decision to purchase a marketing automation platform/service (MAP) for your manufacturing marketing team is a big one.  Not only is it a big decision because of the monetary investment, it’s a big decision because of the typically large cultural change that may be necessary to support such a broadly invasive tool into your marketing team and your entire revenue generating functions.

There are many companies offering MAP services with price points from a couple of hundred dollars a month to several thousand dollars per month.  The price is usually driven by the size of the database, features and support plans.  One of the good things about these tools is that the pricing is usually posted on the websites for easy comparison.

Is it worth the investment?

When a B2B Marketer contemplates purchasing, implementing and integrating a MAP to their modern marketing tool kit, the concept is usually proposed to management with a supporting business case.   It’s fairly easy to show how MA should improve efficiency of the marketing team and increase sales, but it is very difficult to execute a plan that achieves these results.

My premise begs the question, “is MAP worth it?” and, of course the answer is “it depends”.  Your initial investment in MA will likely cost between $5000 and $40,000 per year.   It’s not a one-time purchase price, but an ongoing subscription.  It is not hard to show a robust ROI on paper based on some rosy efficiency numbers.  However, the danger in determining if MAP is worth the investment is there are many hidden costs that don’t show up in the aforementioned business case nor in the brochures and websites of the MAP companies. Hidden costs may include:

  • Staff man-hours spent on implementation and learning how to use the tool
  • Complexity = hidden cost
  • Vendor cost for set-up and training
  • Outsourced cost for maintenance and execution
  • Opportunity cost (could your time and money be better spent on something else?)
  • Internal selling cost of time and energy, not to mention cost to reputation if the project fails to meet expectations

Suppose you submit to the annual expense and agree to absorb the hidden costs, what is the payback and are you capable of utilizing the tool to realize a payback?  I hear from marketing directors and managers more often than not who have purchased a MAP subscription, excited by the possibilities, but are unable to fully utilize the tool because of lack of leadership, expertise or personnel.  They usually end up using it as an email tool.

On the flip side, those marketing organizations able to fully leverage a MAP show more effective revenue and profitability.  Naturally, this begs the question inherent in any correlation, “Does better performance lead to deeper use of MAP or does full use of MAP lead to better performance?” I don’t have the answer to that question.  What do you think?

One may think that everyone in manufacturing is using MAP and if you and your organization don’t get onboard, you’ll be labeled a laggard and end up missing the rapid growth boat to your more adoptive competitors.  This is not the reality of the manufacturing marketing landscape.  According to the 2012 Marketing Sherpa B2B Marketing Benchmark Report, only 24% of B2B marketers are using MA.  The report further states that of those 24%, at best, 53% have implemented core functions.  Only 30% have fully implemented advanced functions such as report dashboards, lead management, nurturing or lead scoring.  Therefore, only 8% of B2B marketers are fully leveraging their MAP.

More recent data from a 2014 study by Sirius Decisions as reported by AdAge states that only 16% of North American B2B companies use marketing automation.  This report shows a wide range of adoption rates as broken down by industry with the highest rate of 65% with Information Technology companies and the lowest rates with Healthcare, Financial Services and Manufacturing all with adoption rates less than 10%.

Could this be opportunity knocking for your firm to get a leg up on the competition with a shiny new MAP?  Perhaps, but there are some strong indicators of success you can benchmark against to help determine if you and your organization have a good chance to be successful with a MAP.  For the sake of this discussion, let’s define success as increased revenue growth rate as a result of a MAP.

Based on my 6 plus years of experience with purchasing, implementing and using various marketing automation platforms, these are some key success factors for marketing automation:

  1. Make sure your key stakeholders are on board and excited about what a MAP can do for them.  Key stakeholders might vary with your organization, but should start the executive team; CEO, CFO, CMO, VP Sales, etc. and their associated teams.
  2. Have at least a preliminary plan written down and shared.  Note the ‘written down’ part of this step.  If the plan is in your head or someone else’s head, be wary because the details of any plan in the head are usually absent.
  3. Own the owner.  You need to have one person who owns the MAP and is responsible for it’s success.  This person should be on your team and not nestled away in the IT department or the Sales department.  This is your champion and, ideally, s/he loves technology, is curious, fearless, innovative, creative and has a thick skin (shouldn’t all marketers have thick skins?).  Reward this person for success!  If you try to add the responsibility for the MAP on to the litany of other tools the webmaster or other marketing person owns, it will be very difficult to get any traction with your new MAP tool.  It will likely languish as a glorified email tool at best and as a forgotten resource costing you $2 – $3000 per month at worst.  Don’t rely solely on outsourcing for strategy and execution.  Outsourcing is, no doubt, a highly valuable resource and I encourage supplementing your MAP with outsourced of freelance help, but they can’t replace an in-house MAP champion expert.
  4. You will need the expertise of an outside vendor, especially if you plan to integrate MAP to other systems in place like your CRM.  The expertise of outside vendors will speed up your implementation, help get your team up to speed much more quickly and set a strong foundation for future efficient use.
  5. Communicate.  Communicate. Communicate.  Let your whole company know how this tool is contributing to the goals of the firm.  Be careful not to report vanity metrics or metrics that seem to be bragging about yourself or the team.  Talk about how a certain campaign increased sales for example.  Even better, highlight the success of one of the stakeholders because of their use of the tool.  You can’t over-communicate the success of the MAP.  As marketers, you could treat it as an internal product launch with a positioning statement, value proposition and associated messaging.
  6. Measure everything and customize the presentation of results to fit the respective audiences.

Your team should be excited and interested to learn as much about this tool as possible.  Every marketer should be assigned to become an expert in the MAP strategy and technology.  Your team should plan to be using this tool on a daily basis.  Without that kind of interest, your success will be limited.  If you plan to assign everything about the tool to one individual or a very small team of so called ‘Digital Marketers’, your success will also be limited.

Is marketing automation worth it?  No, if you’re strapped for resources and won’t be able to invest in the time and absorb the hidden costs that are incurred to optimize the MAP.  No, if your culture is not eager and ready for a marketing automation tool.  Yes, definitely, if you are able to leverage the power and implement all the core functions to your marketing plan around an energized technically savvy group of marketers.

Note: This post was first published at BMA Colorado blog on November 10, 2015.

Is it Time for Manufacturers to Stop Doing Trade Shows?

Time to stop doing trade shows

Of all the marketing activities a manufacturing company undertakes, trade shows are the worst expenditure because of the typically low return on the high level of investment. There are a few things you can do to improve on your trade show investment which I’ll share at the end of this post.  However, I would advise most manufacturing companies to divest of trade shows and invest in other, higher ROI tactics where you can get better engagement and offer more value.  My answer to the title question is “yes” stop doing trade shows.

Trade shows are a very popular marketing tactic among manufacturing companies and their sales teams.  It is the very nature of a sales person that compels them to love the trade show.  They get to be the center of attention albeit one of many centers of attention.  Sales people love to say hello, shake hands and re-acquaint with their customers during a show.  Trade shows are mostly a social event with the booth visits, drinks, dinner, coffee and snacks all shared with their customers and prospective customers.  Some would say that trade shows are nothing more than a boondoggle for event exhibitors as well as the attendees.  I would not go that far because I’ve spent my share of hours standing on barely padded carpet over hard concrete floors with aching feet, an aching back and not much to show for my efforts.  Trade shows can be very tough on the body in spite of the boondoggle nature.  The more popular the destination, the higher chance of the show being a boondoggle for exhibitors and attendees.

The Sales team will fight you to the death to keep the trade show bandwagon going.  If you ask your sales folks why they want to do so many shows, you’ll likely get these answers:

  • “I can see a bunch of my customers at one location and one time.”
  • “In some cases, it is the only chance I have all year long to see my customers.”
  • “We’ve been going to show ABC for years, if we stop going now, everyone will think we’re going out of business.”

Each of these are legitimate but weak arguments that can be rebutted with a good marketing strategy.  Other reasons some companies go to trade shows is to actually sell product on the show floor.  This may be the one instance where a trade show might produce a decent return, however, it certainly should be analyzed.  What is the gross margin for products sold at a show?  You actually might be losing money if you include the costs of the show and the time invested by staff.

Bottom line, trade shows are most likely producing a negative return.  Back in the old days, let’s say before 2000, trade shows were a necessary and effective spend of marketing money.  Interactions with customers and your general target audience were limited before the days of email, Skype, easy screen sharing, webinar broadcasts and even virtual events.  Sales people did have to go to a show to see people.  Before the high speed internet, the annual trade show was the only place customers could see what’s new and what’s coming down the product pipeline.  Those days are long gone with the advent of the internet and your website.

Let’s look at some numbers.  Suppose you rent a 200 square foot booth space at your (or your sales team’s) favorite annual show for a fee of $10,000.  You fly in 4 of your sales people from around the country and also bring in a couple of product managers from Europe.  Add up the travel costs, food, shipping, booth setup and event extras and you’re looking at a $50,000 expenditure for the 3 day show.  Let’s say the venue is able to bing in 25,000 people to the show.  You get about 150 visitors to your booth over 3 days and collect about 100 new names.

  • Cost per thousand exposure  $2000 per thousand exposure.  A good trade magazine ad gets you about $30 per thousand exposure.
  • Cost per visitor  $333.33 –  This is only a visitor, not necessarily a prospective or existing customer.
  • Cost per new name  $500.00 – You can do a lot better than that with other types of marketing activities.

How about a true measure of return on investment.  Are you able to track a sale from a new name obtained at a trade show all the way to a purchase order?  If you’re sales and marketing infrastructure is not able to track attribution, it just adds one more reason to stop going to trade shows.

In many manufacturing organizations, trade shows are the single most important marketing event.  I’ve seen large firms spend a couple of million dollars each year on trade shows with no idea if they were working or not.  What would happen if you started showing the true ROI and started recommending that you trim the trade show budget in favor of something different?  I can pretty much guarantee your sales people will go ballistic.  You’ll likely hear the usual reasons it is absolutely necessary to keep spending money on shows.  See the list above.

If you’re a marketer and you are going to attempt to pare back the trade show spend which is, typically, a drastic and cultural change in your manufacturing organization, you need to be ready, willing and able to make a case for the poor return and be ready with your recommendation for other lead producing activities.  Here are a few activities that are measurable and gain high engagement to consider in place of trade shows:

  1. Try a webinar.  A webinar with a well chosen topic can easily garner hundreds of registrants and hundreds of attendees.  Not only is the cost per registrant about 10% that of a trade show booth visitor, but you capture their attention for any where between 30 and 60 minutes.  Which is more valuable, a 3 minute visit to a trade show booth or a 30 minute conversation that actually gives the person in your target audience something useful.
  2. Try a live seminar.  A live seminar can draw anywhere between 20 and 200 attendees, again depending on the subject matter.  Which would you rather have, 100 people stop by your booth for 3 to 5 minutes or 20 people to spend the day with you at a seminar?
  3. Try exhibiting at a virtual event.  These types of events have been proven to engage better and more people than live trade shows.  The virtual show is not tried and true, but they are worth investigating.
  4. Instead of spending $2 million on trade shows, spend half on shows and spend the other half on a digital marketing strategy, tools and personnel.

Your sales team won’t like #4, so be careful to prepare your base of support on that one.   It is also a good idea to start small as far as stopping the trade show train.  Coming up with a proposal to drop 50% of shows will likely get you more push-back than proposing dropping 5% or 10% per year.

Not convinced and you feel that trade shows are a must for your firm?  At least do these 2 things to help improve your ROI on trade shows:

  1. Let them know you’ll be there and why they should visit your booth.  I’ve seen the oft quoted statistic that 80% of trade show visitors decide which booths they will visit before ever setting foot on the show floor.  You need to let your target audience know ahead of the show that you will be there and give them a compelling reason to put you on their list of booths to visit.  What’s that you say, of course our customers will seek us out, they love us and how could they resist our charm and our magnetic smiles?  Think again my friend, you even need to give your customers a reason to visit. We offered a very simple promotion this year at Interphex; stop by to see some new products and pick up a free t-shirt for your trouble.  It worked like a charm.  We had more visitors than any previous year.  I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the booth across the aisle with not much activity and a booth size twice as big.  Undoubtedly, they did not tell their target audience or their customers about the show or give them a reason so visit.  But, they did seem charming and magnetic.
  2. Follow up quickly.  After 24 hours, every day that goes by causes an exponential decrease in your show ROI.   Make sure the sales people follow up on requests immediately and that everyone else who visited the booth gets some type of follow up correspondence or action within 24 hours.  You would be amazed at the number of companies who spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on a show but never follow up with the visitors after the show.  It’s hard.  The poor salesman spends 3 days at the show, offline or partially offline and when he gets back, there’s just too much “real work” to do, so the leads go into the CRM or sit on his desk, never to be heard from again.  This scenario is the BIGGEST killer of trade show ROI above and beyond any other issue.  Let’s face it, in big shows, there are so many booths and so many people to see, your booth folks, your brand and your offering are way too easy to forget or mix up with the competition.  Follow up!

Good luck!  Here’s another good article along the same lines from Red Cedar Marketing & Events.

How to Win Big in B2B Manufacturing

B2B Manufacturing win big

B2B manufacturing organizations are having a rough go of it lately due to rampant global competition and a tepid economic recovery just to mention a couple of challenges.  Is it even possible for a B2B manufacturing firm to ‘Win Big’?  Let’s preface the conversation by saying that to ‘win big’ means to grow market share annually in the double digit range along with a healthy profit margin.  Let’s also stipulate that manufacturers, as a group, have the infrastructure, supply chains, production and most other critical production and delivery functions in good shape as a whole. Because manufacturers have been focusing on their products, i.e. the production and distribution for so many years, they are good at it and attaining an edge in these particular areas is very difficult at best.  In most cases, even if a firm is able to gain an edge in production or distribution, it is not perceptible to the market audience.

So, what is left?  Marketing may be the final frontier where manufacturers can gain an advantage.  Manufacturers can win big by being better at marketing their offering.  By marketing, I don’t mean setting up more trade shows, re-configuring the web site, creating a new brochure or coming up with a clever advertisement.  That’s not the type of marketing that will make any difference at all.  [By the way, trade shows are one of the worst marketing activities a manufacturer can do with respect to return on the investment.  More on that in a separate post.]

Here’s how B2B manufacturing can win big with marketing:

  1. Stop pitching products and start helping the people in your target audience.  At this point, many of you who are in manufacturing might say a cuss word and delete the post.  I encourage you to keep an open mind and read on. This stuff has been proven over and over to work and, if used consistently, is the secret to winning big in your market.  Now is where I share the tough love.  The people in your target audience, I mean the ones who will some day buy the thing you are making from you or from your competitor, don’t care about your product, your company, your CEO or you.  They care about what’s in it for them.  It doesn’t matter how much you try to convince them that the features of your product are good for them and superior to all other products on the market.  You have to prove to them that you can help them to relieve pain, help them to be better at their professions or help improve their lives.  It’s like dating and marriage.  You don’t talk about marriage, the house you will live in or how beautiful your kids will be on the first date.  Just to be clear, I’m talking about early engagement with the people in your target audience to position your firm and your brand top of mind.  Of course, your sales people will have to talk about the product features and advantages later in the purchase cycle.  The secret to winning big is in positioning at the top of the sales funnel.  You don’t use that stuff to engage with the broader audience as they first get to know your company.  You win big when you don’t pitch the product at the top of the sales funnel.
  2. Share your expertise.  Many manufactures guard their expertise like it’s the gold in Fort Knox.  If you feel this way about your B2B manufacturing firm’s knowledge and expertise, then I’d like to suggest that you’re living back in the 80’s and 90’s when manufacturing firms could control the information and use that control to their advantage in growing the business.  Now, in the year 2015, there is no such thing as proprietary information.  It’s all out there somewhere, so why not share it freely and be fully transparent. By sharing your expertise freely with everyone in your target audience, you will become perceived as the go-to expert, increase your credibility and, ultimately, gain market share from your competitor who refuses to share his expertise.  Sharing creates a feeling of reciprocity.  What good does reciprocity do?  Here’s how it works; if you have chosen your target audience well, one day they will buy the thing you produce.  They’ll buy it from you or your competitor.  Sharing expertise positions your firm as the first and best choice.  When the day comes around and that person in your target audience is ready to make a purchase, the manufacturing company that has helped the prospective customer to be better by giving the gift of expertise will most likely win the business, even at a higher price point.  What’s that, you’re worried about your competitor getting your valuable information?  Foggetaboutit.  They already have it, compliments of the world wide web.
  3. Focus on the people in the target audience.  Most manufacturers will swear they focus on the customer.  “Customer is king”.  “The Customer is always right.”  “The Customer can fire us all.”  But do they really focus on the needs and wants of the people in their target audience or do they just try to figure out ways to convince them that their widget is the best and call that customer focus?  Do you see the difference? Another common refrain we hear is that the manufacturer (usually sales reps) are out there asking the customers what they want and/or need.  I ask you, is that really customer focus or is that just trying to figure out what else you can sell to them?  Customer focus is when the manufacturer really understands the pain points of the audience and helps them to relieve that pain by sharing expertise even if they never buy anything.  I can see the eyes rolling and hear the curse words flying after that last sentence.  Hang in there. This type of attitude, helping them even if they never buy anything, is deeply engaging with those people in your target audience.  If you act like they will never buy anything from your firm, but help them to relieve their pain anyways, guess who they will call when they have a need to make a related purchase.  That’s right, your firm gets the call and usually gets the business.  That, my fellow B2B manufacturing marketer is customer focus!
  4. Embrace the Marketing function as a highly valuable, strategic partner within your organization.  Your marketers are smart.  They know about how to engage by sharing expertise.  Embrace your marketing professionals and let them be the professional marketers they long to become.  I’m not talking about the marketing function you have right now, those folks chained up by your lack of faith in marketing in the back who set up trade shows, make some brochures and create PowerPoint templates.  I’m talking about creating and embracing a Marketing leader and his team as a revenue generating machine.  Yes, this means investing in the marketing function.  It means finding a marketing leader who understands the strategic and the tactical aspects of marketing, how that function can generate revenue and how to discuss it with the executive leadership team.  Embrace the marketing function that knows how to use modern digital tools for engagement and measurement.  Embrace a marketing team who can drive revenue 10x more than the field sales force and manufacturers reps combined.  It can be done and, in fact, it must to be done to win big.  Marketers are smart and they get it if you would only listen to them once in a while.
  5. Walk the walk when it comes to innovation.  Most B2B manufacturing leaders consider innovation to be about new products or new processes within the production and distribution lines.  There is no area today more ripe for exploiting innovation than in Marketing.  After you embrace Marketing as a strategic function, let them innovate and support that innovation.  When the Marketing leader comes to the next leadership meeting and requests funds for a strategy that does not pitch the product, give it to him!  Listen to him with an open mind and an authentic, innovative heart.  Discard all of that old product culture baggage and try something new and innovative in marketing.

So that’s how to win big in B2B manufacturing.  Marketing is the last organic revenue growth frontier in manufacturing.  I know many manufacturers have a hard time getting their arms around the fact that marketing could make any more difference than a line item on the expense side of the ledger.  It’s a hard cultural change in most manufacturing organizations.  My final piece of advice is to do this thing before your competition does it.  First movers will be the big winners.

My Personal Takeaways from Content Marketing World 2015

CMW2015

Fresh of the airplane returning from Content Marketing World 2015, I was able to ponder my 3 days in Cleveland and come up with 5 important takeaways.

  1. Be authentic.  This seemed to be a recurring theme this year.  We heard it from Jay Baer in his keynote as he regaled us with tales of his mother’s brutal honesty.  We heard it from John Cleese in his keynote as he was not afraid to tell us what he thought of Cleveland in no uncertain terms.  We heard it from Nick Offerman as he told us how he rejected the Hollywood entertainment industry when they tried to cast him as the murderer/rapist role which was he felt was not his authentic acting role.  We heard if from Doug Kessler in his B2B presentation titled “Insane Honesty” where he enlightened us marketers to embrace the true offering or meaning of our products.  We heard if from the “man” himself, Joe Pulizzi, who encouraged all of us to be true to ourselves and be authentic in our marketing.
  2. Most of us will never be GE, Marriott, Coca Cola or Red Bull.  If you got the chance to attend Katrina Craigwell’s presentation, you were no doubt amazed at the content GE and Katrina are creating.  It is awesome!  They show us how a jet engine is made and how it works. They film a new, state of the art, locomotive from a helicopter whistling through the sky over the high plains of the Midwest.  They are even creating content with state of the art virtual reality technology.  I think Katrina might have the best marketing job in all of the world.  But, alas, most of us will never be hanging out of that helicopter or even be able to get near the factory floor where turbines or locomotives are being manufactured.  We’ll never have multi-million dollar budgets or work with virtual reality content.  And that’s ok.  Referring to number 1 above, if we’re authentic and true to ourselves we can be happy even if we never get to be GE.  But that doesn’t mean we can dream about hanging out of a helicopter.  If I worked for GE, I would want to drive that train, not just film it.
  3. Marketers are smart.  Every marketing conference I attend reinforces this idea.  Marketers are some smart bastards.  I mean that with all due respect and love to my profession.  Talking to my colleagues at CMW, I am always amazed at their insight, cleverness, creativity and pure dedication to the profession of marketing. It always saddens me a little when the share their all to common stories about how the leadership at their company will never let them implement any new ideas.  Most corporations would be amazed and dazed if they would only listen to their marketing team, especially after a conference like Content Marketing World.  The vast majority of these smart marketers will return to their cubicles on Monday, file their great ideas away, and settle back down into their world of servitude to the sales or product teams.  My message to all the really smart marketers out there is to keep going and make yourselves the absolute best marketer you could possible become.  Bring up your creative and innovative ideas to your colleagues, peers and managers whenever you get a chance.  Sure, you might get that blank stare or even a derogatory laugh from time to time, but persevere and your day will come.  When they tell you ‘no’, find a way to do it anyways and learn from your trials.  Treat your corporate marketing position as a live learning laboratory and experiment away you smart bastard.
  4. Write a book.  This is more of a personal takeaway, but can be applied to anyone striving to establish themselves or their company as the ‘expert’ around a certain subject area.  There is a lot of noise out there in the marketing and advertising space.  One can become perceived as an expert by shouting loud and often.  Shouting loud and often requires inordinate amount of resources (time and money) which most of us do not have.  Writing a book seems to be a reasonable means towards achieving the perception.  Why would one want to be perceived as an expert?  This perception helps a consultant like myself, grow a practice or it can help a company increase their growth rate.  If one were inclined towards professional speaking or being invited to conferences as a speaker, a book is your calling card.  My takeaway is that I need to write a book.  The challenge is time and money.  Anyone out there want to sponsor my effort?
  5. Patience is a marketer’s virtue.  As marketers, or maybe just as human beings, we love the new shiny object.  This year’s CMW vendor floor was chock full of shiny new marketing technology.  Wow, if I had a million dollars.  (someone should write a song about that)  Regardless of the technology, not much is really new or unique in the bigger picture as we might observe.  As much as we want to play with all this new technology, patience is advised.  You must have the time, inclination and budget for new technology.  But even more important, we must have the marketing fundamentals in place first before any technology will pay off.

Finally, as I was walking out of the Cleveland Convention Center yesterday, I happened upon this guy dressed all in orange.  His name is Joe Pulizzi and I asked his advice about growing my fledgling and sometimes struggling marketing consultancy for manufacturing companies.  I said, “Joe, it’s not working.  I can’t get any traction in growing my audience of subscribers.  I’ve been blogging every week, sharing content, posting religiously on LinkedIn and fine tuning my SEO for my website and nobody is paying attention.  I have 35 subscribers to my enewsletter and I’ve been stuck there for 3 months.  Joe, I’m begging you, let me in on the secret.”  Joe looked at me, sort of smiled and stifled a chuckle as he shook his head ever so slightly and said, ”Bruce, you’re doing all the right things.  It took me 4 years to begin to get traction.  Here’s my advice, refine your niche, ‘manufacturing companies’ to be more targeted, be authentic and be patient.  Patience is the hardest one.”  Thanks Joe!   You’re awesome and I’ll see you next year.

Those are my takeaways from Content Marketing World 2015.  I’d love to hear your takeaways, even if it’s just one thing.  Stay patient, be authentic and keep on marketing.

What’s Holding Back Your Manufacturing Growth?

holding-back

If you’re a manufacturing company executive who is satisfied with your 5 year CAGR and/or your annual projected growth rate, you should pass on this article.  This article is about some not-so-obvious things that could be holding back your firm’s growth in our present era of global competition, commoditized products and customer empowerment.  There are really only 3 ways to manufacturing growth that is more than the anemic GDP annual growth rate of about 3%:

  1. Purchase manufacturing growth through acquisitions.
  2. Sell more product overseas in developing economies.
  3. Take market share from competitors.

Numbers 1 & 2 have their own challenges and are well beyond the scope of this article, and they are also very difficult to execute.  We’ll focus on the things that are holding you back from executing number 3.  The good news is that if you are a progressive minded manufacturing executive, you can achieve manufacturing growth by taking market share from your competitors because most of your competitors are stuck in the late Industrial Age pitching their commoditized products by attending trade shows and talking about themselves in addition to the worn out product features and benefits.  Here’s the dirty little secret;  the people in your target audience don’t care about your company, your products, your CEO or you.  They care about what your company and your products can do for them.  They care about WIIFM (what’s in it for me).  With that theme in mind, these are the things holding you back from achieving double digit growth:

You don’t talk about the pain and problems faced by the people in your target audience.  This is the number one issue holding back manufacturing company growth.  The good news is that if you are the company in your competitive marketplace to get this and execute first. You win.  Take a look at your website.  Is it filled with first person pronouns such as ‘we’, ‘our’, ‘I’, and ‘us’?  Is the website content all about your products or how your products are used in the field?  Is the blog all about new product launches or company achievements?  Are the webinars about how to use your product or about the features and benefits of the product?  Most manufacturing companies will answer yes, yes and yes to these questions.   Don’t get me wrong, you need to have information about your products available on your website because when the prospective customer is ready to buy, they look for that information.  But what about when they are looking for help to solve their problem, do you have helpful information that is not based on your product?  The manufacturing company that offers helpful, useful information made freely available during a prospective customer’s self education phase will gain the hearts and minds of the people in the target audiences and oh so much more.  That’s right, I’m telling you to give away your expertise to your prospective customers even if they aren’t ready to buy right away.  Help them to be better, solve a problem or relieve pain.   Create some webinars that don’t feature your products but feature solutions to their problem.  Post helpful, useful and interesting information on your blog that is not about your product or your firm, but is about the people in your target audience.  If you change your marketing strategy in just this one way, you will see huge benefits that will launch your manufacturing business into the double digit growth range.

You’re not reaping the knowledge and experience of your marketing team.  In most manufacturing cultures, the marketing team consists of the folks in the back cubicles who are at the beck and call of the rest of the company.  They make brochures, place ads, set up trade shows and maintain the web site.  They are a virtual vending machine for the sales team.  You’d be surprised by the untapped energy, enthusiasm and knowledge buried within your marketing team.  They know about marketing strategy, modern tactics, marketing technology, content marketing and so much more. Elevate your team!  If you marketing team leader is old school and still marketing like it is the late Industrial Age, get rid of her and find someone with progressive ideas and experience with audience engagement beyond promoting similar products from a similar industry.

The brand awareness problem.  Most manufacturing companies don’t have the resources to purchase brand awareness.  If you’re an Emerson, ABB or Siemens you can spend millions to get attention and awareness (although these behemoths could also benefit from these ideas).  The rest of us have to be more clever.  There is a lot of noise out there in the webosphere and it is exceedingly difficult to break through and get any attention let alone awareness.  The solution to overcoming this obstacle and to gain top-of-mind awareness and credibility is to help the people in the target audience to be better or relieve some pain.  If you can achieve this, you get awareness, you get credibility and you get a feeling of reciprocity in the minds of the people in your target audience.  The result is that when the day comes around and they are ready to buy, the manufacturing firm that was able to help will get the call and usually get the business.  That is how this concept will enable you to take market share from your competitor; at least until your competitor catches on.

The lead generation problem.  Leads are expensive.  A typical trade show lead can cost as much as $300 when you figure in the cost of the show, logistics and travel.  If you are focusing on your product and your field sales team to generate leads, every single new lead is a struggle and a triumph. The problem is that your ads and your trade show booth look and sound exactly like your competitor. By the time your prospective customer reaches out to you, because everyone looks the same, they have determined that price is the only differentiator.  As your prospective customer, if you are the firm that has been helping me solve my problem, I’m happy to pay a little more for your product.  Prospective customers will flock to your lead generation forms is you can help them relieve pain.  As much as you want to believe it, your product and your employees will not be perceived as differentiators to your target audience.  The only way to differentiate yourself in our commoditized, global market is to focus on relieving the pain of the people in your target audience.  When you do this, the lead generation problem is solved.

Need some help with overcoming these hurdles?  Request a free Content Strategy Brainstorming session from KMI.

 

The Biggest Problem with Webinars and How You Can Fix It

sweet spotWhen I talk to marketers who have tried webinars, most of them tell me webinars don’t work very well as a marketing tactic.  They further explain the biggest problem is that not enough people sign up and even fewer people show up at the live broadcast.  In other words, they devote time and money to creating, producing and broadcasting the webinar, but only a handful of people register.  I have also experienced this disappointment with webinars before I learned the secret to getting hundreds, and in a few cases, thousands of people to sign up and show up for my webinars.

Just to be clear, the biggest problem with webinars is that not enough people sign up and/or show up to your webinars.

There are only 3 things you need to focus on in order to fix the biggest problem with webinars.  As you peruse the list, you may be inclined to think that you did focus on these 3 things when you created your own disappointing webinars, but I guarantee that if you aren’t getting significant registrations (at least 300+) you didn’t really focus on the audience.  Here’s how you can fix the biggest problem with webinars and get hundreds or thousands of registrants for your webinars:

  1. Choose a topic that helps the people in your target audience to relieve a pain or improve on a passion.  The single biggest problem with webinars is that you choose a topic about your company or your product.1   Typically, the goal of most webinars is to improve awareness and fill the top of the sales funnel.  With that goal in mind, you MUST choose a topic that matters to your audience.  Until they are in a position to purchase the thing which you want to sell,  they don’t care about your company or your product.  This is a huge opportunity for a savvy marketer who is able to find a topic that lies at the intersection of a pain or passion common to the target audience and a unique expertise that is embedded within your company mission.  Check out this post for more insight into how to choose such a topic that excites and compels the people in your target audience to sign up for your webinars in droves.
  2. Most webinars fail because they we-we all over themselves.  No, it isn’t what you think.  By we-weing all over themselves, I mean the topic, the presenter and nearly every slide is about the company, product or presenter.  You see and hear a lot first person pronouns like ‘we’, ‘our’, ‘us’, ‘I’.  Let me reiterate what I said in point #1,  your audience doesn’t care about you, your company or your product.  They care about themselves, their pain or their passion.  A good webinar is audience focused.  You should be talking about the audience and the pain or passion that you have identified.  The bottom line is that if your webinar helps the people in your target audience to be better at something they care about, then it’s a winner!
  3. Promotion.  Even if you do choose a topic that is relevant to the target audience and create a webinar that is laser focused on the audience, it won’t draw a large number of registrants without a solid promotion plan.  In spite of what your sales people think,  unless you are a large market consumer brand or in an oligarchical market like commercial airliners, your brand, company and products are not really well-known within your target market.  You have to tell them about your webinar.  You have to tell them about how your webinar will help them relieve some pain or enhance a passion.  Promote your webinar in venues where the people in your target audience go or congregate for information.  And, don’t forget to promote and/or invite your house database and/or customer database.  For maximum benefit, you need to promote to your house list and to your larger target audience who may not already know about your company.

If you focus on these 3 areas, you will solve the biggest problem with webinars.

Need help getting started?  Call KMI and we’ll be happy to take a look at past webinars, make suggestions and even produce a turn-key webinar series customer tailored for your target audience.

Note 1.  The only instance that a product or company focused webinar is appropriate is to target very small groups of prospective customers who happen to be in the final stages of making their decision.

10 FAQs About Webinars for Manufacturing

goldmine

Let’s say, for the purpose of this post, that you are an executive at a manufacturing company.  You’re CAGR (combined annual growth rate) is about 3% over the last 5 years because of global competition and overall low GDP growth rates in the macro economy where you operate.  You’ve been tearing your hair out trying to figure out how to get back to those heady days of double digit growth.  You’ve tried pushing your sales team to do more, but realized they are doing as much as they can.  You’ve pushed your business development managers to innovate and be more creative in their product road maps, but they just can’t come up with anything really unique that resonates with your target audience.  You’ve tried acquisitions, but they just never really work out as expected in spite of those glorious hockey stick graphs.

There’s one place you probably haven’t looked.  It’s a hidden gold mine and it’s buried within your own company walls.  This hidden mine of growth inducing gold is easy to find and easy to access as long as you have an open mind and are willing to think outside your proverbial manufacturing company box.  The gold mine is your marketing department!

It’s not an easy thing to get your mind around, the fact that your marketing function could be a huge source of revenue producing activity.  Typically, in a manufacturing environment, the marketing team is merely an expense item or, even worse, a black hole where you dump money and never know what you get back.  Manufacturing is just the folks down the hall who come up with those clever ads, set up the trade shows for the sales team and maintain the web site.  Right?

I can tell you, with certainty, that the manufacturing companies that can embrace and support marketing as a revenue generating function will kill it in their competitive space!  And webinars are a great place to start mining the gold and making the conversion.

How does this tie in to a post titled 10 Frequently Asked Questions About Webinars for Manufacturing?  You’re going to get push back on the idea of marketing as a revenue generator.  You will likely need to prove your talk with some type of a pilot test program.  Educational webinars are a great way to uncover the gold mine and prove your hypothesis that marketing will be the next big growth engine for your company.

Here are the 10 FAQs about webinars as a gold mining marketing tactic:

Q.  Why should I care about webinars?
A.  As mentioned above, webinars are one of the best marketing tactics that can get you broader and deeper engagement with your target audience.  Engagement = more customers.  There is no other marketing or sales tactic that can get you in front of hundreds or even thousands of prospective customers with as little cost.  The ROI can be enormous.

Q.  How many leads will I get from a webinar?
A.  I’ve created a single webinar that generated as many as 2500 leads.  The actual number depends somewhat on your current activity and the viability of your current database as well as the makeup of your target audience.  As an example, if yours is a medium size manufacturing company with annual revenue of around $100 million USD, an educational webinar could easily draw 500 registrants.

Q.  How do I use video in my webinars?
A.  You don’t use a live video stream with a webinar.  The assumption that a webinar includes live video feed is a common misconception about webinars.  When we talk about webinars, we’re not talking about a TV broadcast.  In a webinar, you don’t use a live video feed of someone talking.  You use a couple of people who talk over the presentation.  Video adds a great deal of complexity to the webinar if you are broadcasting to hundreds of people.  Complexity increases risk of presenting a poor quality webinar.

Q.  How do I create a webinar?
A.  There are a number of ways to create an effective webinar.  Check out this Webinar Toolkit I put together for the do-it-yourselfers.  The key thing to remember is to make the webinar about something that matters to your target audience.  Don’t create a webinar about your product or your company.  There are a number of good platforms available for webinar creation, production and broadcasting on the market which are easy to find.  Like any event, there are myriad details to cover.  You’ll need someone with a little experience to help you with your first few webinars.

Q.  What is the best topic for my webinar?
A.  As I alluded to above, the best topic is one that helps the people in your audience to be better at something they care about.  Product webinars usually fail as broad engagement activities.  You need to switch your marketing thinking from, “look at us, look at our product, we are great” mentality to a “we can help you, we share our expertise, you are great” mentality.  Find a topic that is at the intersection of a pain point or pleasure point common in your target audience with your unique expertise.

Q.  Who is the best person to speak?
A.  As a manufacturing company, you have a lot of expertise lurking about the halls of your company.  Some are good speakers, some are terrified of speaking and some think they are good speakers.  Find an expert who is passionate and has some experience with speaking.  Members of a Toastmasters group are excellent choices.  Avoid choosing sales people or upper level executives because they will always fall back on pitching the product or the company which defeats the purpose and intent of your educational webinar.  Make sure you coach your speakers and practice, practice, practice!

Q.  How much resources will it take to produce a webinar?
A.  It does take considerable resources in time and personnel to earn growth with webinars.  As far as money, a webinar will give you the lowest cost per person engagement of most any marketing activity.  In other words, webinars are cheaper and provide more return than print ads, trade shows and digital ads.  Plan on 25 hours for the initial setup and about 10 hours per webinar for production.  You can purchase a webinar platform for around $400 per month as a subscription service.  The other resource you should be sensitive to is the time of your subject matter experts.  Make it easy and rewarding for them to participate.

Q.  What is the ROI for a webinar?
A.  As with all questions about ROI, it’s tricky to come up with a black & white answer.  I can say that for about the price of a full page color ad in a trade journal or about 1/3 the cost of a trade show, you can produce the webinar.  The ROI could easily be in the 10’s of thousands of percent.  For example if you invest $8500 in a webinar, a well produced and well done webinar could easily get a 100x return.  Naturally, it depends on the nature of the thing you are selling, but the point is, webinars can give you a lot of bang for your buck.

Q.  What are the specific benefits of webinars?
A.  In addition to the ROI benefit mentioned above, a well done, educational webinar produced with an audience focused topic will provide top of mind awareness, strong feelings of reciprocity, position your firm as highly credible (more credible than the competition), and all of that results in growth, growth and more growth for your business.

Q.  What are the first steps to get started?
A.  Just do it.  You, as the senior manufacturing executive, will have to devote personnel time, budget and probably help recruit the subject matter expert.  Choose a person from the marketing department to own the process.  If you tack it on as an ancillary responsibility to someone’s regular duties, you will get a half-assed result and you will discard webinars altogether missing the gold mine.

Another option to get started is to hire a webinar expert to produce a turn-key program.  At KMI, we offer that service.  Heck, we’re so confident that this will work for your company, you can pay for performance.  Pay for performance means the payment for the webinars is based on the number of registrants or attendees.  Request a price quote today!

B2B Manufacturing Companies Should Forget Social Media; Do These 3 Things Instead

In the most recent Content Marketing Institute (CMI) manufacturing research about how Manufacturing Marketers are using social media, 89% of respondents claim to be using LinkedIn, 83% use YouTube and 80% use Facebook.  Overall, 85% use social media as a marketing tactic; number 3 behind eNewsletters and Videos.  In other recent research presented by Trew Marketing about the target market of many B2B Manufacturing companies, engineers, 42% report social media as not valuable, 34% as unsure or somewhat valuable and only 24% as moderately or very valuable.  This research, as well as my own experience with manufacturing companies, indicates a pretty big disconnect between manufacturing marketers and their technical audiences.

CMI social graph

Let’s give the marketers a break, it may not be their fault.  How  many of us have experienced the Monday morning meeting with the CEO or GM where he comes in all excited about social media.  Maybe he tells a story about how his high school daughters had a couple of friends over and they loved this cool social media app called [Pinterest, SnapChat, fill in your own blank]?  He proceeds to tell you, the marketing professional, that we need to get on the social media bandwagon?  Check out the “Woo Woo” video from Adobe Marketing Cloud for a more humorous (or sad) portrayal.

B2B manufacturing companies should forget about social media and spend time and budget on something else.  Typically, manufacturing companies have very lean marketing staff and budgets.  Every single choice you make is not only a budget choice, it is an opportunity cost.  Spending time on a marketing tactic that your target audience does not value is a lost opportunity for spending time and other resources on a marketing tactic that reaches them with a tactic that they do appreciate, value and use on a regular basis.  Most research data supports the conclusion that the majority of engineers and/or technical audiences are not found on the social media channels. 

 

Trew Social Graph

If you, as a manufacturing marketer, are sure your target audience is using social media and you can prove interaction or, even more important, revenue attribution, then by all means continue.  If you are not sure or unable to prove interaction with the people in your target audience, STOP, PULL THE PLUG, CEASE and DESIST using social media immediately.

Instead, divert those resources (people, time, money, opportunity) to these marketing tactics where engineers and a technical audience go for information.

  1. Start an opt-in enewsletter.  Your technical audience values enewsletters that  are short, easy to read and contain technical content or application stories that are relevant to their professional lives.  Use your company’s expertise to create useful white papers, best practice guides, FAQs, etc.  DO NOT start an enewsletter about your company people, events, products, etc.  DO NOT dump your whole database in as subscribers.  Instead, invite them to subscribe to learn about a subject where your firm’s expertise intersects with their pain or passion.  Opt-in subscribers will engage 5x to 10x more than the email blast receivers.
  2. Create an educational webinar series.  This may sound daunting if you haven’t done webinars.  You are also likely to get push back from your executives or your sales people.  But, I encourage you to persevere.  Educational webinars done well can attract hundreds or even thousands of people in your target audience.  The temptation and pressure to create webinars about your products will be strong.  RESIST!  DO NOT create webinars about your products if your goal is deeper and wider engagement with your target audience.  [shameless self promotion – KMI offers turn-key webinar production for manufacturing companies]
  3. Create educational, useful and relevant content.  This one supports your overall marketing strategy.  As a manufacturing marketer, you likely have outbound and inbound tactics.  The more useful and relevant content you can create to use in your enewsletters, website and outbound paid advertising, the more meaningful and broader will be your audience engagement.  As a manufacturer, you probably have tons of content about your products.  That’s a good thing because every manufacturing company needs to have that content for the later stages of the buying process.  You probably do not have a lot of educational content that is not directly about your product.  This is your gold mine for audience engagement.  Engineers love to download PDF documents.  In fact, according to the TREW Marketing research, 90% of engineers prefer the PDF document format followed by 66% preferring pictures, diagrams and illustrations.  STRONG CAVEAT – the content must be useful and helpful to the people in your target audience.

If social media is a component of your current marketing plan, it might sound scary to abandon the tactic altogether overnight.  Perhaps your particular B2B manufacturing target audience does prefer and value social media as a channel.  If that is the case and you can truly prove it to yourself, your team and your executive leadership, then, by all means, you must continue.  If you have robust marketing resources or marketing people looking for things to do, then, sure, dabble in social media where you could connect with that 15% of the technical audience who do value social media.  For the rest of us, research indicates that if your audience is engineers or technical professionals, the majority does not use nor value social media in their professional lives.  Most manufacturing marketing teams have limited time and resources, so use them wisely and put your message in a place the majority audience values.  Make the message about something they value.  Provide that information in a format the majority prefers.

Good luck!  Feel free to call on KMI for help with content strategy, turn-key educational webinars or leveraging your content with marketing automation.

Resource: (download this report from GlobalSpec).  This report confirms the fact that the greater industrial audience does not value social media in their professional lives.

Does Agility Offer an Advantage to Manufacturing Marketers?

I have to say, I’m intrigued and maybe even fascinated by this concept of effectual marketing planning or agility applied to the marketing plan.   With a bit of research, one discovers that effectual marketing planning is based on the verb, effectuate. Effectuate means to cause to happen or accomplish. Effectuation is the noun; the act of implementing, providing a practical means for accomplishing something or carrying into effect.

I was exposed to the concept via an HBR Blog post written by Peter Whalen and Samuel Holloway. They published a paper about the subject titled, Effectual Marketing Planning (EMP) for New Ventures, in September 2011. Their premise states that traditional marketing planning (TMP) is not effective for new ventures suggesting a framework for EMP. I suggest the concept could and should be adopted by all firms regardless of size or number of years in business.

I highly recommend reading the paper whether you market for a large multinational, a small start-up or anything in between. Suppose we look at a spectrum of marketing planning ranging from TMP to ad-hoc. Where do you lie on the spectrum? Likely, you like someplace in between leaning one way or the other. EMP lies closer to ad-hoc. Therein lies one of the dangers of this concept, confusing EMP for ad-hoc. Ad hoc or seat-of-the-pants marketing is wasteful and ineffective. You’re better off not marketing at all if your current modus operandi is ad hoc.

Even if you market for a large multinational, there is a lot of value in EMP. It’s not that the established markets will change much year to year, but the shorter cycles of EMP as compared to TMP could benefit any organization. We have the tools available allowing us (in large firms) to act with agility and an entrepreneurial spirit. This agility allows the large firm with such a marketing culture to beat the other large competitor stuck in an annual planning cycle. TMP was developed and grew up when optimization tools like marketing automation were not available. Many, many firms still don’t get it remaining stuck marketing as if it were the 80’s.

Let me be clear, I believe strongly in the marketing fundamentals we’re taught in MBA school like the 4 Ps, Porter’s Five Forces, STEP, positioning, value propositions, value chains, etc. I also believe that in this modern Marketing 2.0 world, by leveraging the digital tools, we are able to measure in real-time, draw quick accurate conclusions, adjust, optimize and engage with our target audiences in a timely and highly relevant manner. The result, proven to be effective, is higher organic growth rates and bigger market share.

While a company like Emerson is running a 18 month campaign that cost millions and would take a nuclear blast to derail, a company like Siemens could make quarterly adjustments to audiences, messages, and even the design to optimize the effect. (these are only examples, I have no idea how these companies market) There’s no excuse not to be measuring, monitoring and optimizing in this day and age. It doesn’t take too long for a savvy CMO to get a very strong understanding (backed up by data) as to what messages engage his audience and what messages do not work well. Why would any CMO wait for 12, 18 or 24 months to modify his plan if it isn’t working or shift budget to programs that are working well? EMP is agility!

I’d be happy to discuss this concept, brainstorm, share experiences. Or leave a comment and I’ll reply.