Lead Generation Checklist - Part 1: Conversations, Not Campaigns

Lead generation tactis are changing rapidly. The previous transactional approach isn't working anymore, prospects dont want to be sold to but engaged in a conversation about their challenges and learn how a vendor can help solve problems. Think of lead generation as a series of conversations with your audience, not campaigns. Show your prospects that you understand their industry, and specific issues, and that you are interested in building a long term relationship.

As Brian Carroll in his excellent B2B Lead Generation Blog points out, this way you will become a trusted advisor rather than just another sales person. Brian has a series of great blogs on lead generation in the 21st century. I will feature them here over the next few days, starting today with "Lead Generation Checklist - Part 1: Conversations, not campaigns".

How to Make Your White Paper a Success

Here is an excellent article from The Bloom Group on how to write truly compelling white papers that create excitement in the marketplace. Making white papers more compelling isn't a mystery, but it does require a methodical approach: http://www.bloomgroup.com/content/reengineering-white-paper

Fixing the Crisis in Marketing

I ran across an interesting blog post "The Crisis in Marketing" by Erik Bower from MarketBright where he talks about current Marketing methodologies not keeping pace with the pressures in today’s business environments: volatile markets, pressure to prove marketing's impact on sales pipeline, reduced budgets and headcounts, new tactics such as social media, etc.

Bower takes a page from the shift in software development methodologies (agile development replacing waterfall model, etc over the last years) and applies it to marketing. This approach replaces the static, long timeframe planning approach common in most marketing departments today with an agile approach that emphasizes team collaboration over process, quick iterative adjustments to changes over plan adherence.

With agile marketing, quarterly plans shrink to six week sprints, daily reviews of program performance (similar to the daily build concept in software development) replace quarterly reviews, quick mid-course corrections based on testing and real-time market feedback are encouraged, and project plans allow for unforeseen issues and last minute additions.

This approach helps marketing not only remain relevant in today’s organizations but provide visibility into the value it provides to the company, aligning with the needs of the sales organization, and reducing the cost of marketing while increasing performance (http://bit.ly/5kVZzm). How are you managing marketing in your organization?

Technology Marketing Collateral Trends

Here is a recent survey report on B2B technology marketing collateral trends from Eccolo Media that you may find interesting: “Eccolo Media 2009 B2B Technology Collateral Survey Report”.

Key findings in the report:
• White papers – especially those that are long on expert content and light on sales jargon – continue to be the No. 1 form of collateral influencing technology purchasers. Product brochures and data sheets are the most frequently consumed, but white papers are considered the most influential type of content when making technology purchasing decisions
• People more than ever view collateral from their desktop – in fact, only 1 in 4 surveyed ever print an online marketing document – and most share them electronically with colleagues.
• Video is on the rise in terms of frequency of use by technology purchasers – especially video that features customers speaking about real experience using a product or service.

Looking for Social Media Policy Examples?

Do you hesitate to jump on the social media bandwagon with your company? Concerned about what happens when an employee shares insider information? Social media is inherently dynamic, even chaotic. Provide no guidance and you likely end up damaging your brand. Be too restrictive and your social media initiative will never take off, putting you at a competitive disadvantage. Clear policies help you better navigate this new communication channel and provide guidance to your audience as to what is ok to post and what isn't.

Here is a great collection of social media policies from 123 Social Media's web site to help you create a policy that works for your organization: http://bit.ly/2qYKjm

How To Price Software Without Just Rolling The Dice

Pricing of new software products is one of those things that poses quite a challenge to even the most sophisticated product managers and marketers. Too often pricing is guesswork or based only on comparable products in the market, which inevitably leads to a price that doesn't optimize profits overall.

I just read a great post by Dharmesh Shah that I would like to share with you. "How To Price Software Without Just Rolling The Dice" compiles some critical lessons most of us have learned the hard way over the years. Check it out.

What are your thoughts and advice on software pricing?

Put an End to Flying Blind: A Ten-Step Process for Creating a Go-to-Market Tactical Plan

by Laura Patterson

Many organizations can achieve substantial growth by entering a new market with a well thought out and flawlessly executed plan. The operative words here are well thought-out and flawlessly executed. It’s surprising -actually alarming -at how many organizations attempt this strategic endeavor without a Go-to-Market (GTM) plan and end up flying blind into new territory. Perhaps they skip this step because they think it is a daunting task. Or perhaps it is because the entry into a new market isn’t so much a deliberate decision as an opportunistic one – a step taken maybe because it seems like a good idea based on a few recently acquired new customers. As the CEO, we hope you will mandate that a GTM plan be created and reviewed before any resources are deployed to pursue a new market.

A GTM plan is a powerful tool for four reasons. First, it provides a blueprint or roadmap for how the organization will enter a market and create revenue. Second, it helps allocate resources toward the most profitable opportunities and fosters focus. Third, it allows for the coordination of multiple resources toward the achievement of explicit measurable objectives. And lastly, it increases effectiveness and reduces risk by clearly identifying the discrete tasks necessary for success.
A GTM plan doesn’t have to be a task that consumes the entire organization months on end. This article outlines a ten-step process any size company can use to successfully enter a new market. These steps involve:

1. Leveraging an ecosystem map

2. Establishing success factors

3. Defining the target market and market entry strategy

4. Creating the foundational elements

5. Developing the measurable objectives

6. Creating performance-based tactical programs for customer acquisition

7. Defining tactical program activities, budget, calendar and ownership

8. Enabling the sales team for success

9. Implementation

10. Evaluation

Let’s take a quick look at what each step entails.

Step One: Working from an Ecosystem Map
The first step is to understand the lay of the land. A useful way to gain this insight is to create an ecosystem map. An ecosystem map provides a visual representation of the network. It depicts all the network members, such as buyers, competitors, distribution channels, and influencers, and graphically represents the relationship of these members to each other. A key value of the map lies in its ability to identify and visually represent these relationships. By creating a map of the ecosystem you can assess whether the ecosystem is healthy, attractive and open to new participants. The ecosystem map will help you make a go/no decision and pinpoint the cluster of ecosystem participants and associated relationships that represent the most favorable environment for market entry.

Step Two: Establish Success Factors
Should you decide to pursue a market you will want to have a clear idea of what success is before proceeding. By answering these two questions you can define success for you and your team.

1. What constitutes initial success in this vertical (initial number of adopters, rate of adoption of first buyers)?

2. What constitutes longer-term success in this vertical (market share, share of wallet, number of customers, revenue)?

Your marketing team should use these success factors to create quantifiable and measurable objectives for the tactical plan.

Step Three: Define the Entry Points and Market Entry Strategy
Now that you have decided to enter a market and have defined what constitutes success, the next step is to create your entry strategy. We find answers to these kinds of questions can often help with creating the strategy:

1. What are the characteristics of the ideal customer and their buying process?

2. Where and who do they go to when looking for solutions provided by your company?

3. Who are the competitors’ customers and which of these customers is most likely to switch and why?

4. Who would be the first five, ten or twenty best first targets and why?

5. What kind of people (titles, roles) would be the best initial point of contact inside the customer targets that would accelerate access?

In keeping with the Boy Scout’s Motto, “Be Prepared,” this step prepares you to anticipate how competitors and prospective customers might react so you can anticipate potential adjustments and develop contingency strategies.

Step Four: Foundational Elements
Armed with your market entry strategy, there are three foundational elements that need to be developed to support the GTM plan: Your value proposition (why they should buy from you), your positioning (how are you better and different), and your message map that communicates your unique value proposition. These three elements will serve as the foundation for every subsequent market sales asset, such as product literature, public and analyst relations material, sales presentations and tools, website content, white papers, educational events, search engine key words and so on.

Step Five: Developing the Plan Objectives
Your measurable objectives are the basis of a GTM Tactical plan. For objectives to be effective they need to be quantifiable and actionable. The objectives provide focus, establish priorities and guide the development of all your tactical programs

Step Six: Create Tactical Programs for Customer Acquisition
You’ll want to design your tactical programs to support the strategies and objectives. In a GTM plan tactical programs typically include efforts related to establishing thought leadership, gaining support from key influencers such as analysts, reporters and bloggers, to developing online and offline paid advertising to create air coverage for your sales team, producing and delivering training and tools to enable the sales team, and of course to efforts designed to generate demand and leads. Keep in mind the contingency strategies you identified earlier and give some thought to what other tactical programs if any might be needed to support these contingencies.

Understanding and documenting the customer buying process will be pivotal to knowing which influencers to approach, what thought leadership venues to secure, which tools are preferred and at what point in the buying process prospective customers want and use these tools. The customer buying pipeline provides insight into how to engage prospective customers to accelerate consideration and preference.

Step Seven: Define Tactical Program Performance Targets, Activities, Budget, and Calendar
Once you have the entire tactical program outlined you will need to put the meat on the bones. The first step is to establish performance targets and milestones for each tactical program. Since various activities generally comprise a tactical program, each of these activities needs to be identified and added to the plan calendar. Execution of the plan is where the rubber meets the road and it is often the lack of detail and a clearly identified owner for activities and their corresponding tactical program that derails plan implementation. This is also the step where you want to develop check points for assessing whether performance targets are being met and execution is going as planned.

Step Eight: Sales Enablement
Often times an organization believes that once the sales organization has been informed of the product’s features, reviewed information about a new market, and been given a set of the tools, they can check sales enablement off the list. Your sales team needs to understand why the organization is pursuing this new market, what it will take to be successful, the strategy and tactics being deployed, and the customer buying process. During the sales training you will want to review various sales enablement tools, what they are, how and when to use them. The sales enablement tools might include call scripts, presentations for initial meetings, personas, use cases, playbooks, etc.

Steps Nine and Ten: Implementation and Evaluation
The plan is complete. It has been reviewed and approved. Marketing, sales management, product engineering, operations, customer service, finance, legal are all in the loop and are all on-board. You’re ready to move from planning to implementation. Upon commencing the plan it is essential to monitor reactions from every key connection and to every activity so course corrections, if needed, can be rapidly made. The checkpoints previously established serve as an opportunity to evaluate the plan and your progress. Once the plan is complete, make time to debrief on what went well, what could have gone better and to decide next steps.

About Laura Patterson

Laura Patterson’s marketing and sales career spans nearly 30 years having worked for both large public companies such as State Farm and Motorola and as well as start ups. In 1999 she co-founded VisionEdge Marketing (http://www.visionedgemarketing.com), a data-driven metrics based strategic and product marketing company that specializes in improving marketing performance and helping organizations create a competitive advantage designed to attract, secure and retain profitable customers. Author of dozens of published marketing and branding articles and the books Gone Fishin' and Measure What Matters and the recently published Metrics in Action: Creating Performance-Driven Organizations.

Before you jump into social media, ask yourself: Do you know who speaks on your behalf?

By Debbie Laskey

The topic on everyone’s mind these days is social media this and social media that. But, even before you get started and promote your company in this new online environment and create customized conversations with your customers and other stakeholders, you must consider who can “speak” on behalf of your company.

Do you know who is responsible for entering your company’s details on LinkedIn? Think about it. At this very moment, a member of your IT department is spending time that should be allocated toward infrastructure improvements on the LinkedIn site adding company information – information that might be confidential, or at the very least, not appropriate for worldwide distribution. Do you want the number of employees stated as well as which employees were terminated and which were promoted? Do you want your website included? What is the one sentence that best states your competitive positioning? Do you want all senior management names and titles listed? Should the CEO, COO, CMO, VP of Human Resources, or the marketing department be involved in making these decisions? And what’s more, how does a member of the IT department know the answers to these marketing questions?

Those were just some basic questions for LinkedIn – there are more in-depth questions that apply to the other social media marketing sites. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and several other sites provide a unique opportunity to build relationships with your customers – previously, one message was sufficient to promote a product or service. Today, customers are more brand-savvy and eager to learn how a particular product or service is a close fit with his/her preferences and needs. Welcome to marketing for the 21st century! Sorry if any offense is taken by the IT folks, but the marketing teams are the ones to lead the defense and implement social media strategies. However, the tech people do have a place in the social media realm. When employees start accessing Twitter, Facebook, etc., from their office computers, they open up company networks to viruses and other malware. Therefore, companies need to create and carefully monitor employee usage of these sites – or institute a policy to not access them during company time.

Marketing teams should be studying the nuances of each social media site (for example, Twitter has a 140-character limit for all messages, Facebook creates specialized content for “fans,” and LinkedIn provides people to connect through specialized “groups”) and then create unique campaigns to take advantage of the opportunities to reach existing and new customers.

In order to successfully utilize the new social media tool as part of a complete, and many are now calling it a “traditional” marketing strategy, senior leadership should involve all levels of a company. But either one person or a department needs to be in charge of creating and executing the company’s policy. Otherwise, your company’s genuine message will get shut out by all the clutter.

Debbie Laskey is a Marketing & Website Consultant in Los Angeles, California.

Welcome to Everything Technology Marketing

Welcome to the new blog "Everything Technology Marketing". As the title suggests, this blog will be about topics that are relevant and interesting to marketing professionals in high-tech industries - from software and IT to clean energy technologies. Topics will include go-to-market planning, branding, lead generation, campaign management, competitive analysis, marketing tactics, social media and more.

Sure there are already tons of blogs on marketing but few with a B2B technology focus. As with all my blogs, this is not a one-way blog where I write about my thoughts on tech marketing. Instead, this blog will feature contributions from a variety of authors and sources to generate a good mix of interesting content, and I hope this will stimulate interesting debates. Enjoy the blog!