Category Archives: Marketing Team

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.

Advertisements

Marketing, the ‘Rodney Dangerfield’ of Manufacturing

No-Respect

You may not know Jacob Rodney Cohen, but you probably do know his stage name, Rodney Dangerfield.  There are some days I feel his pain when it comes to manufacturing and marketing.  The lament of Marketing in a manufacturing company is the same as Rodney’s lament, “I don’t get no respect!”  Chances are, if you are a manufacturing marketer, you feel the same way.

Granted, this is probably not true in every manufacturing organization.  B2C manufacturing is likely to respect their marketing team a bit more.  Based on anecdotal experience and evidence, I feel confident in saying that the vast majority of B2B manufacturing companies do not respect their marketing team or marketing as a discipline. All you need to do is look at the marketing activities and advertisements put out by manufacturing companies.  They are usually terrible and you can’t blame the marketers.  The marketers want to be better and want to do better, but the ‘powers’ within the manufacturing organization (sales, product or executive) don’t support marketing with resources and, even worse, force just shitty ideas on the marketing professionals.  Advertisements appear to be either done in-house by someone who has no idea about design or layout fundamentals or they are done by an advertising agency.  Marketing is getting no respect in either case.

Let’s explore the reason why marketing is the Rodney Dangerfield of the manufacturing organization.  When manufacturing was in its glory days during the post World War II boom, there was really no need for marketing.  The product was king and all they had to do was invent or produce a product and people would buy it if they had the money.  If a product person or a sales manager decided they wanted to run an ad, it was usually a seat of the pants decision and the nearest secretary was tasked to ‘put together an ad’ based on a sketch on the back of a napkin.  There was no strategy or coherent plan in place beyond the sales team, an occasional advertisement and the regular trade show.  Surely, how smart do you have to be to put together a trade show was the thinking in the male dominated industry.   So it was a task someone’s assistant took on.  Note how the manufacturing culture is beginning to define the role of marketing during this time.  Marketing was being defined as a service to the sales or product team and it was just not important enough to support with any type of resources.

Cultures don’t change easily.  Even today, in our so called modern era of digital marketing, the culture in most manufacturing companies is dominated by either the sales organization or the product/R&D organization.  Marketing is seen as an admin function, subservient to all other functions.  Marketing is under funded, under appreciated and under utilized.  Marketers in a manufacturing organization “don’t get no respect”.

At this point in my little rant, I think it’s important to delve into the definition of “marketing”.  I see marketing as being divided into 2 areas; strategy and tactics.  Strategic marketing is usually formulated (and I use this term loosely) by the big boys and girls at the leadership table.  Typically, the ‘Marketing’ leader does not belong to this self-proclaimed ‘elite’ group.  So we have a group of executives who know nothing about practical marketing strategy or marketing tactics making decisions which are usually based on the latest sales persons shallow insight or the latest product under development.  They will try to bring their own personal experiences of being ‘marketed to’ into the discussion.  This leadership team will likely include the CEO, CFO, HR, and business segment leaders.  None of whom will have had any practical marketing experience.  (check out my past post, “Help, My CEO knows nothing about marketing”) Strategic marketing will usually be reduced to a few catch phrases like, “we have to be more customer focused” or “we have to use more digital marketing”.  It is from these types of meetings where strategic decisions about social media are born.  It sounds something like this from the CEO, “Hey, my daughter spends all of her time on Facebook.  Did you know there are more than a billion users of Facebook?”  Then the head of HR pipes up and says, “yeah, my son is on Twitter and he loves it.  He’s majoring in marketing at State U this year.  He says social media really boosts a company’s SEO too.”  The CFO says, “What’s SEO?”  They all have a good laugh, assign someone to tell Rita the marketing manager to get the company up on Facebook and Twitter as they move on the the quarterly income statement. Sadly, but alas, typically, that type of conversation serves as the marketing strategy discussion with the leadership team.

In the meantime, the servant class of marketer takes care of the tactical marketing which includes the daily things called marketing such as trade shows, advertisements, email blasts, etc.  Typically these disrespected marketing team members react to the sales team or the product guy.   In many cases, Product Marketing leads the marketing team.  Even worse, in many manufacturing companies, the engineering team leads marketing.  Ask any manufacturing marketer about what engineers think of marketing and you’ll see the marketer’s eyes roll around and their head shake back and forth.

True story, I was working with a large manufacturing company last Fall where the Vice President of Engineering was given the joint title and role as Vice President of Marketing.  In one meeting, he revealed his idea about what was needed from Marketing.  He wanted to see “pizzazz” and “flamboyance” from the marketing team.  He was completely clueless about marketing strategy, tactics or what a marketing team should be doing for a manufacturing organization.  Clearly, there is no respect for Marketing at that firm.

Marketing can and should be a powerful, revenue generating force within all manufacturing companies.  In this day and age, Marketing should be leading the entire revenue team, including sales, marketing, inside sales and product.  A modern, smart, adept marketing leader and organization has much to offer.  Why is it that there is little mention of marketing in most manufacturing professional organizations?  There is plenty of discussion around “lean manufacturing”,  “supply chain”, “Six Sigma”, etc., but very little mention of marketing.  Oh, but there is one place when marketing is talked about and brought into the conversation.  When budget cuts need to be made, invariably someone on the leadership team will say, “We can always cut our marketing spend”.

The upside is that there is a HUGE opportunity for the manufacturing business and its executives who are willing to change this culture of ‘no respect’ for marketing as a discipline and the professional marketers behind the discipline.  Marketing leaders and professionals are ready, willing and able to step up to the demand for growth.  Professional marketers know how to drive engagement, fill the top of the funnel, create TOMA (top of mind awareness) and, most importantly, deliver business.  Most manufacturing leaders embrace innovation and creativity as a cornerstone of their business.   Well it’s time to put up or shut up when it comes to innovation and marketing.  There is no more innovative and creative group of people than the modern marketer.  There is not a more exciting opportunity to innovate than embracing, respecting and creating a revenue driving marketing team.  Yes, I am a professional marketer and I’m proud of my profession.  As marketers, we have the technology, tools and the knowledge to contribute at the leadership table.  We, the professional marketers, are ready to earn the respect of the manufacturing organization.

They Laughed When I Suggested Webinars, but when the Registrations Started Pouring In…

laughing woman

This is a story about a lesson I learned early in my marketing career.  It’s hard to buck the status quo.  It’s hard to introduce new ideas to an old company.  But when you push through and just do it, you can be a big winner.

I was a brand new marketing manager at a global measurement instrument company just after the dot-com bust.  They were struggling with growth.  It was a traditional manufacturing company where the product was king and the product managers had the P/L responsibility.  Further, guess what, the product managers were at the corporate headquarters in Finland of all places.  I didn’t even know where Finland was on the globe.  They treated Americans like they didn’t exist.

Naturally, I was eager to put my newly minted MBA in Marketing to good use.  I was and still am a big advocate of lifelong learning and professional development.  I had read about webinars and how some thought leaders in the marketing space were using webinars as an education tool to engage with the people in their target audience.  Keeping in mind this was more than 10 years ago when the term “content marketing” was just emerging and the technology to produce your own webinar was available but just in the early adoption stage.

I remember the time quite well.  It was a gray and rainy Monday morning when we got “the speech” from the country manager.  “The Speech” is usually meant to be a combination of inspiration, fear and trepidation.  This one was no different.  The bottom line message was that the company was losing market share and everyone needed to pitch in and work harder because the ‘bosses’ in Finland were on her case for more cash flow.

I was young and I was inspired.  I went into the Country Manager’s office and pitched my idea about using a webinar to educate the folks in our database about something that mattered to them as a way to get more leads and fill the sales funnel.  She said “you mean teach them about our product?”  I said, no, we’ll teach them how to be more effective whether they buy our product or not.  That way we’ll get TOMA.  She said, “What the hell is TOMA?”  I explained that TOMA stood for ‘top of mind awareness’ and it is the key to long term and robust growth.  She laughed and she laughed and then kicked me out of her office claiming she had more important things to do and that I should focus on my next post card design.

Needless to say, I was less inspired, but I believed in my idea and I believed in the concept of education as a way to engage with the audience and grow a business.  So, undaunted, I went to visit the US Product Manager to pitch my idea.  His response was, “We tried webinars and they don’t work”.  He went on to explain that they tried webinars on two separate occasions to launch new products and only a couple of people signed up.  I tried to explain to him that people don’t really care about the products.  Naturally, as the Product Manager, he was appalled and personally offended.  I said,”They don’t care about the product or the company, they care about WIIFM.”  He said, “What the hell is WIFFM?”  I explained that it means “what’s in it for me” from the audience perspective, not from the company perspective.  He laughed, but it was more of a good nature laugh than a mean and dismissive laugh.  He told me to go ahead and put this educational webinar together and he agreed to fund it as a trial marketing tactic.

I was very excited and re-energized.  In spite of the derisive looks I got from the leadership, sales people and even my own marketing peers, I put it together myself.  When I had everything ready, I sent out an email invitation to our database of about 10,000 customers and prospective customers.  One day after the email invitation we had about 200 registrants!  Ultimately, we got about 500 registrants for that first webinar!  The laughing had stopped.  The boss wanted to know more about this idea of educational webinars.   We even had some notice from the executive team in Finland.  It seems that getting the company in front of 500 people from the target audience to spend an hour with your experts at a cost of about $2 per registrant is an impressive feat.

I expanded that webinar program from one to a series of 8 educational webinars.  The business grew at a rate of 20+% per year over the next few years.  Was the growth all due to webinars?  At that time we did not have the tools to prove it, but I suspect most of the growth was because of TOMA, credibility and reciprocity created by the webinars.

Interested in trying educational webinars, contact me at KMI and I’ll show you how to generate leads and improve engagement using webinars or visit the KMI Webinar Page.

5 Things About Webinars Your Boss Wants to Know

BusinessDiscussion

That’s right, there are a few things your boss wants to know about webinars.  As an innovative, modern manufacturing marketer, you’re the best person to fill him in on the potential power of webinars as a lead generation and revenue machine.  Here’s what he wants to know:

  1. WIIFM? As humans, we naturally want to know the answer to the fundamental question ‘what’s in it for me’.  We all hate to admit it, but we all know it’s true deep down in our caveman brains and hearts.  Your boss is no different.  As in any information you present, he wants to know how it will affect him, his career, his compensation, his free time, his reputation, etc.  As far as webinars go,  he wants to know how webinars further the company mission and associated goals.  If the goal is growth, he wants to know how webinars affect growth.  If the goal is more tactical, more leads for example, he wants to know how webinars will drive more leads.  Tell him that webinars do drive growth and they do drive more leads into the sales funnel as long as they are well executed.  Read this post for more insight into what makes a webinar effective as opposed to lame.
  2. How will webinars affect business performance?  Part of your boss’ job is to allocate his limited resources to various marketing personnel and activities.  Naturally, he wants to do his best to get maximum benefit out of his limited resources. Tell him that webinars will feed the sales pipeline and accelerate the buying process for prospective customers stuck in the sales funnel.  By educating the target audience he will also get top-of-mind awareness (TOMA) and credibility in the minds of the people who will one day purchase what the firm is selling.  TOMA + credibility grows the top line organically by taking market share from the competition.  Tell him you can show very specific numbers from the webinar activity that prove or disprove your hypothesis that webinars drive revenue.
  3. How do we make it happen with limited resources?  Webinars do take a significant chunk of resources up front.  However, once the upfront work is done and marketers are past the learning curve, much of the webinar process can be automated.  (shameless self promotion alert) It may require using a freelance webinar consultant or reassigning 1 or 2 people from less effective marketing activities to the webinar project.  The bigger challenge will be lining up and getting time from subject matter experts.  The good news is that you can build a process around webinars and become very efficient at creating, executing and leveraging webinars for more business.
  4. Why don’t we talk about the product?  This one can be a tough sell for a manufacturing marketer trained to live and die by the product.  It’s important to tell him that engagement with the target audience is 10x to 20x more effective with educational webinars as compared to product based webinars.  Take a look at these case studies before your chat with your boss.  He may be skeptical and here is where you plead for a pilot case.  Most senior marketers are open to a pilot test because they can say they are innovative marketers and the risk is pretty low.
  5. Why did you wait so long to tell me about webinars?  This is the question you might get after proving your point.  If you follow webinar best practices, you will get hundreds or even thousands of people directly from your target audience to register and attend the webinar.  If you have the tools in place (CRM and MAP), you can prove the webinar contribution to new opportunities and closed/won opportunities.  If your boss can attend the next leadership meeting and present the results of his new webinar initiative as contribution to 20% of new sales opportunities, you’re the winner!

How many times has your boss asked you to “think out of the box”?  How many times has he asked for innovation and creativity?  This is your chance.  Answer these 5 questions before your boss asks and you’re the next marketing hero at your manufacturing firm!

Does Your Content We-We All Over Itself

Me_we_coThe first thing effective content marketers learn is to get over themselves. Effective manufacturing marketers realize the people in their target audience don’t care about their company, their CEO, their sales people or their marketing people. Great manufacturing marketers know the content they create is about the pain or passion in the people who comprise their target audience and not the pain or passion of the people who comprise the executive team, the sales team or the marketing team.

That’s not to say some portion of the content created is not about the offering. It is critically important to include product based content within your content library. What I mean is that even product or service descriptions are not about your firm, content must always be about your audience. All content must answer this one question as if the people who may one day purchase what you offer are screaming it in unison, “What’s in it for me?”

How do you know if your content is ‘we-weing’ all over itself? Just pull up one of your web pages and start reading. Read one of your own brochures (digital or print). Take a look at your last webinar invitation. Are you telling the reader about your company and your webinar or are you inviting them to be better, learn something or improve their own situation. Here are a few all too common phrases you may encounter which are strong indicators you’re writing from your own self-centric perspective as opposed to your audience’s perspective. If you see these types of phrases permeating your content, then you are a ‘we-we’ company:

  1. “Our [insert offering] is better, faster, cheaper, etc.” Instead say ‘[offering] helps you [insert value]’
  2. “Sign up for our newsletter. Instead say “Sign up to receive your weekly newsletter helping you …..”
  3. “We are the global leader in [insert offering].” Remove this type of language completely. Half the readers don’t care and the other half don’t believe you.
  4. “We do this. We are the best. We have this certification. We got this award.” Again, nobody cares. Rephrase the statement so you tell your audience why it matters to them. In the process, you might realize it doesn’t matter to them.
  5. “Sign up for our webinar.” Instead say “Reserve your spot and learn about……”
  6. “[company name ] recognized as blah, blah, blah” See number 4.

The prospective customer doesn’t care about your company, your product, your service, your CEO, etc. They care about themselves. It’s not a bad thing from a survival viewpoint. All humans are self-centered whether they want to admit it or not. It’s an evolutionary trait. Our cave dwelling ancestors who did not focus on themselves did not survive and their non-self-centered genes were not passed along to subsequent generations as a result of their demise. As marketers, it’s natural to bring our egocentric selves along to the job. We want to tell our own story. We want to tell everyone about our products,services and company. Oh, how we love our products. We want to tell everyone about our greatness. We think that by vociferously tooting our own horn, our audience will also start to think we are great. We think (perhaps hope) they will demonstrate their love and admiration by buying the stuff we are selling. We,we, we, we…

Effective marketers of manufactured products know it doesn’t work that way. Effective marketing strategy and tactics help the people in the target audience to be better at something that matters to them. Yes, you want to help them with something related to your firm’s experts and expertise. Why give away all this free help? You give it away because the recipient will want to reciprocate when the day comes around and they need or want to purchase the thing that you offer to the market.

Why is this concept so important? Think about yourself as you ponder a considered purchase. Let’s use the automobile as an example. Do you really care if Toyota is the global leader in factory efficiency? No. You care if it means you get a lower price because of the efficiency. BMW doesn’t talk about its engine, or its braking system, or its ISO 9001 certification. BMW talks about ‘the ultimate driving machine’ because it’s about your driving experience, not about their car. Note, BMW never says “Buy our ultimate driving machine” or “we’re the leader in luxury cars”.

The story you tell must be about how the product or service your firm offers serves the needs, wants, pains or passion of the people in your target audience. If your story is about your product, your company, your CEO, etc. you will not be able to gain meaningful engagement with your audience, again, because they don’t care! (unless you have zillions of dollars to spend on advertising) The marketers and the companies that get this concept and build their marketing strategy around this concept will win in their market space.

Back in the Industrial Age, we-weing all over yourself worked. In those ancient times of the last half of the 20th century, we buyers didn’t have much choice but to listen to companies pontificate, brag and boast about themselves and their products. The messages were few and far between compared to the modern age. Now, we do have a lot of choice about what we listen to and what we filter out. And, guess what, all of the companies still talking about themselves and their products all sound the same. It’s boring. We, the people in the target audience, don’t care. When they all sound the same and we’re bored with their self-centered, egotistical messages, we go to lowest price. Boom. Lowest price means lower profit, fewer employees and a minimal or negative growth trajectory. However, if one of the myriad companies provides me with some information or some content that helps me solve my problem whether I buy from them or not, I consciously or subconsciously place them ahead of the rest because they care about me, the potential customer. I’m even willing to pay a little more because I want to reciprocate.

86% of B2B marketers claim they use content marketing in their marketing mix according to the recently published research at Content Marketing Institute. If you’re one of those 86%, take a moment and look at one of your white papers, infographics, webinars, blog posts, etc. Count the first person pronouns and the company name used in the possessive. Count the second person pronouns. If the first person pronouns outnumber the second person pronouns, chances are good that you are we-weing all over yourself and your content is not engaging with your audience. This is a huge opportunity!

Treat the people in your target audience as the egocentric humans that we all personify. Give them something that matters to their lives. As a marketer, when you create ads, papers, webinars, web pages, etc. check your own self-centered tendencies, thoughts and actions at the door as you enter your work space. Effective content focuses on the pain or passion of the people in your target audience and helps them to relieve the pain or fan the passion. Change your content from we-we to you-you.

Looking for help in developing an audience focused marketing strategy? Let KMI help you get on track to seizing the opportunity for high level audience engagement.

Marketers Must be Allowed to Succeed and to Fail

I ran across this while I was reviewing Tweets and Blog posts today.  I highly suggest reading it, living it and assimilating the ‘you are allowed’ philosophy & practice within your life and within your marketing teams.  Allow your marketers to succeed and to fail.  Quotes from Addicted to Success.

 

And one not just for the leaders, but for all of us every day.
and one more…
Crazy-Ones-Steve-Jobs-Picture-Quote

 

 

The Marketing Revolution – 5 Ways to Embrace the Fear

marketing revolution

There’s a marketing revolution happening.  Technology is disrupting our world of buying and selling.  We’ll never buy something in the same way we bought 10 years ago.  As a Modern Marketer, this is a scary thought. I suspect CEOs and CFOs are just as scared about the future of their firms.  The playing field is flatter and more level than ever.

  • Barriers to entry are falling like dominoes.
  • Commoditization of products and services is accelerating.
  • International shipping rates are normalizing.
  • We can buy anything at anytime from anyplace in the world from our phone.
  • Technology is accelerating at an exponential rate.
We’re all buyers and we’re all participating in the revolution.  As Manufacturing Marketers, we can embrace the revolution or we can hope it goes away.  Newsflash!  The marketing revolution will happen with us or without us.  Changes won’t slow down, but will continue to accelerate. Control of the message and perceptions of our target audience is non-existent unless we adapt and adapt quickly.
What’s a Manufacturing Marketer to do?
The good news, no, the great news is that there has never been a more exciting time to be a marketer!  We’re on the cutting edge of the buying revolution.  There has never been a time in the history of marketing when we had such a fantastic opportunity to listen to and communicate with our target audience.
If you’re scared of the changes and not sure how to embrace the revolution, you’re not alone.  Here are a five things you can start today to turn fear into excitement:
  1. Learn, learn, learn and learn more.  Set aside at least one hour every day dedicated to educating yourself about technology, business disruptions, new ideas, and more.  There has also never been a time in the history of humanity where information is so easy and abundant.
  2. Participate in the discussion.  Talk to thought leaders in the marketing space and in your particular industry.  Debate.  Put your critical thinking hat on for the discussion.  Use your social media tools (blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, et al) to comment, share and be active.
  3. Test, test and test.  It’s OK to be a critical thinker.  Not only is there a ton of information out there, but there is a ton of bad information out there (and a ton of great information).  If something looks interesting, test it in your own lab.  Consider your business as a laboratory for testing marketing strategy and tactics.  This mindset leads to innovation and creativity.  Some things will work and some will not. What better way to participate in the conversation than sharing success and failure of your tests.
  4. Get out of the office.  Attend conferences, panel discussions, trade shows, seminars, etc.  Talk to your colleagues within your industry and other circles.
  5. Collaborate with your vendors and suppliers.  Vendors and suppliers are an excellent source of information.  Attend their webinars.  Download their content.  You could even (cringe) talk to their sales people.
Bottom line advice, don’t sit on the beach and watch the tidal wave come to you.  Embrace the revolution.  Set a goal to learn something new each and every day.  Use your business as a modern marketing laboratory.  It’s not scary.  It’s exciting!
Good luck and please, feel free to call me or comment.  There is no time like the present to begin!

Scary Times for Modern Marketers

There’s a revolution happening.  Technology is disrupting our world of buying and selling.  We’ll never buy something in the same way we bought 10 years ago.  As a Modern Marketer, this is a scary thought. I suspect CEOs and CFOs are just as scared about the future of their firms.  The playing field is flatter and more level than ever.

  • Barriers to entry are falling like dominoes.
  • Commoditization of products and services is accelerating.
  • International shipping rates are normalizing.
  • We can buy anything at anytime from anyplace in the world from our phone.
  • Technology is accelerating at an exponential rate.
We’re all buyers and we’re all participating in the revolution.  As Modern Marketers, we can embrace the revolution or we can hope it goes away.  Newsflash!  The revolution will happen with us or without us.  Changes won’t slow down, but will continue to accelerate. Control of the message and perceptions of our target audience is non-existent unless we adapt and adapt quickly.
What’s a Modern Marketer to do?
The good news, no, the great news is that there has never been a more exciting time to be a marketer!  We’re on the cutting edge of the buying revolution.  There has never been a time in the history of marketing when we had such a fantastic opportunity to listen to and communicate with our target audience.
If you’re scared of the changes and not sure how to embrace the revolution, you’re not alone.  Here are a few suggestions I have found will turn fear into excitement:
  1. Learn, learn, learn and learn more.  Set aside at least one hour every day dedicated to educating yourself about technology, business disruptions, new ideas, and more.  There has also never been a time in the history of humanity where information is so easy and abundant.
  2. Participate in the discussion.  Talk to thought leaders in the marketing space and in your particular industry.  Debate.  Put your critical thinking hat on for the discussion.  Use your social media tools (blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, et al) to comment, share and be active.
  3. Test, test and test.  It’s OK to be a critical thinker.  Not only is there a ton of information out there, but there is a ton of bad information out there (and a ton of great information).  If something looks interesting, test it in your own lab.  Consider your business as a laboratory for testing marketing strategy and tactics.  This mindset leads to innovation and creativity.  Some things will work and some will not. What better way to participate in the conversation than sharing success and failure of your tests.
  4. Get out of the office.  Attend conferences, panel discussions, trade shows, seminars, etc.  Talk to your colleagues within your industry and other circles.
  5. Collaborate with your vendors and suppliers.  Vendors and suppliers are an excellent source of information.  Attend their webinars.  Download their content.  You could even (cringe) talk to their sales people.
Bottom line advice, don’t sit on the beach and watch the tidal wave come to you.  Embrace the revolution.  Set a goal to learn something new each and every day.  Use your business as a modern marketing laboratory.  It’s not scary.  It’s exciting!
Good luck and please, feel free to call me or comment.  There is no time like the present to begin!
 
“Revolution” by the Beatles
You say you want a revolution
Well you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution
Well you know
We all want to change the world

The 10 Best Marketing Key Performance Indicators

John Wanamaker

Perhaps the best we can do with measuring the performance or ROMI (return on marketing investment) is to employ the age old statement made by John Wanamaker more than 90 years ago, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half”.  We like to think we can do better with modern tools like marketing automation integrated to CRM, the ubiquitous spreadsheet with pivot tables, etc.  Sure, we can attribute a closed opportunity to a marketing campaign or to a type of marketing activity, but it’s only as good as a person’s interpretation.  At some point, someone has to decide how to attribute a closed opportunity.  If the last touch before a closed opportunity was a trade show, does that mean the revenue should be associated with the trade show?  In this modern age of buying behavior, we can never really know, nor should we try, to attribute revenue to one particular source.  Thus, are we back to a modern version of Wanamaker’s interpretation?

This is not to say we should not bother to measure.  Rather than basing decisions on a hard core revenue attribution model, I suggest marketers rely on trends and benchmarks.  These are my top 10 marketing key performance indicators (KPIs) for evaluating the performance of marketing strategy and tactics.  Note the first 5 are meant to be the metrics you use when presenting results to the external (external to the marketing team) stakeholders.  The second 5 are meant to be used internal to the marketing team in evaluating activities, promotions, events, campaigns, etc.

  1. Net Contribution.  This is the best measure of effectiveness.  Do not mistake net contribution for an absolute ROMI.  It is a perfect measure of efficiency and the trend tells the CMO how the overall strategy and tactics are driving revenue.    Net Contribution (%) = [(sales revenue – COGS) – (cost of sales+marketing)] / [sales revenue]
  2. Marketing Contribution to New Opportunities.  Again, not an absolute measure, but useful as a month-to-month benchmark.  Also good for talking points with the Executive Team.
  3. Marketing Contribution to Closed-Won Opportunities.  A great benchmark.  Look for trends. Could also be correlated with other specific marketing metrics like impressions, emails sent, etc. to indicate general effectiveness of the marketing activities.
  4. Revenue per Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL).  Always couch your stakeholder facing metrics as revenue as compared to cost. Think about how your CEO or CFO perceives the Marketing function based on reporting revenue per lead or cost per lead.
  5. Number of MQLs.  The net number of leads passed to Sales is, of course, an important measure of success for the marketing strategy and tactics.
  6. Cost per Click (CPC).  This is the best measure to compare any of the myriad marketing digital activities to each other.  After a while, you’ll be able to reject activities that don’t meet your benchmark and do more of those that exceed your benchmark.
  7. Cost per Thousand Exposures (CPM).  This is a good measure to determine reach.  Cost per click and cost per thousand exposures should be considered together when evaluating the results of activities.
  8. Click through Rate (CTR).  Another good benchmark for comparing the effectiveness of materials and venues.  The CPC, CPM and CRT together help the marketer make decisions about effectiveness.
  9. Funnel conversion metrics.  MQL to SAL to SQO to Closed/Won and other relevant conversions.
  10. Revenue/Cost per attendee.  These are good specifics for evaluating the effectiveness of events like trade shows, conferences or seminars.  Be cautious of making binding decisions based only on these metrics. There are likely to be intangibles that should be considered such as the sales person’s opportunity to see multiple customers and prospects in a short span of time.
Naturally, your particular business or organization may require different metrics depending on what you are selling.  For example, those firms that are selling subscription services may track annual contract value and churn rate.
Let me know what you think about my top 10 marketing Key Performance Indicators.  I’d love to hear your feedback via comments or feel free to send me an email.

Thanks Seth Godin

I have never been a big fan of Seth Godin.  Some of the stuff I read, for example, ‘Meatball Sundae’, I just said ‘meh’.

But I was recently inspired by one of his podcasts called ‘Seth Godin’s Startup School’.   I was listening to it with my usual open-minded cynicism and I was pleasantly surprised.  I looked up his web page, there he is, a funny looking bald guy with yellow glasses.  Disclaimer:  I happen to be a funny looking bald guy too, so I feel it’s ok to make fun of funny looking bald guys.  I looked over some of his blog posts and I saw this one that inspired me (see below). 

So thanks Seth Godin for this blog post:

You already have permission.  Just saying.

You have permission to create, to speak up, and stand up.
You have permission to be generous, to fail, and to be vulnerable.
You have permission to own your words, to matter and to help.
No need to wait.