Top-10 B2B Marketing Topics of 2010

With 2010 coming to an end, it is time for a quick review of the most popular B2B marketing posts on the Everything Technology Marketing blog.

The 10 Most Popular Blog Posts (by number of re-tweets)

1 - 5 Steps to B2B Marketing Success (100)

2 - The Brave New World of B2B Marketing - Are You Ready? (98)

3 - Is Traditional B2B Marketing Dead? (87)

4 - What B2B Marekting tactics are Up, Down, Flat? (79)

5 - A Simple B2B Marketing Framework (75)

6 - Social Media in B2B Marketing - Survey Results (47)

7 - Is B2B Marketing Ready for Social Media? (44)

8 - Is the In-House B2B Marketing Department Going Away? (39)

9 - It's Budget Season - B2B Marketing Budget Trends (39)

10 - You Have No Metrics for B2B Social Media Measurement? (36)

I hope you had a successful and productive 2010. Thank you all for participating in this blog - I learned a lot from our discussions this year. See you in 2011!

B2B Market Segmentation – Part 3: How to Prioritize

The previous B2B market segmentation exercises (Part 1 | Part 2) likely produced a large number of potential target segments. If focus is one of the reasons for segmentation in the first place, then having too many segments will obviously distract from this goal. To narrow down our list of segments, we need to create a handful of criteria to assess and evaluate the candidate segments in order to prioritize and filter out the non-viable segments.

Segment Scoring
A weighted scoring model can be helpful where we define a list of evaluation criteria, assign a relative weight to each, and then score by assigning points for each criterion across each segment. I suggest starting with the same criteria you used to define the segments and also use them to score your segments. In the next step, we need to add criteria to capture the segments’ strength of demand, growth rates, barriers to entry, competitive situation, etc. Upon closer examination you may notice that some segments aren't really all that different, and maybe they can be collapsed into one.

Segment Map
Also, it might be helpful to plot the segments against a chart with two dimensions: 1) “Segment Attractiveness” (use the relevant criteria from the scoring exercise) and 2) “Relative Competitive Advantage” in order to prioritize target segments. Then plot your segments against this chart using the two dimensions. Segments that end up in the upper right are clear favorites (highly attractive and with a strong competitive advantage), lower left segments (unattractive, no competitive advantage) should be abandoned.

And always watch out for surprises like new, unexpected customers that are enthusiastically adopting your product but don't fall into traditional segment definition. They might be a bluebird / black swan event, a less than ideal customer for other reasons, or they might be an early signal of a new market segment worth pursuing.

What segmentation approach worked for you?

Additional Resources on Market Segmentation

Market Segmentation and Best Customers 

B2B Discovers Market Segmentation

Business to Business Segmentation

B2B Segmentation Strategies

Segmenting Customers: How to do it efficiently to improve enterprise products

Social Media in B2B Marketing - Survey Results

The B2B Technology Marketing Community on LinkedIn conducted a survey earlier this year to explore the rapidly changing landscape of social media in the context of B2B marketing. The survey generated over 270 responses from B2B marketers - and the results are in!


  • Social media shows the biggest increase in use among all B2B marketing tactics over the last 3 years
  • B2B marketers cite using social media primarily for raising awareness (76 percent), then for lead generation (58 percent)
  • The single largest roadblock to social media success is the inability to measure results 
  • The most effective social platform for B2B marketers is LinkedIn, followed by Twitter, and then blogs

Download the complete social media survey report here.

What is your experience with social media in B2B?

It's Budget Season - B2B Marketing Budget Trends for 2011

tight-moneyMarketingSherpa asked more than 900 B2B marketers how they expect their marketing budgets to change for 2011.

The results are in: The majority of B2B organizations are increasing marketing budgets for inbound marketing tactics, including social media, virtual events and webinars, SEO and PPC. When considering outbound marketing tactics such as telemarketing, direct mail and print advertising, the majority of B2B organizations are either not changing or decreasing budgets.

The growing trend of utilizing inbound marketing tactics is a result of the changed buying behaviors of B2B buyers and the perceived cost effectiveness of these marketing channels. Chart of the Week

IDC Reports Slow Growth of B2B Tech Marketing Budgets

On the same topic, IDC reports in the “2010 Tech Marketing Benchmark” study that technology marketing budgets are up 3.7% this year over 2009. It looks like we are bouncing back from the recession compared to last year when tech companies slashed marketing budgets by over 8%.

This year, IDC says, tech companies will allocate 19.3% of their total marketing budget to digital, up from 12.6% last year. Within digital marketing, the largest share of the budget will go toward company websites (26.7%), followed by display ads (21.0%), email marketing (18.6%), search ads (13.6%), search engine optimization (7.6%), digital events (7.1%) and social networks (5.4%).

Traditional advertising, including TV, print, out-of-home and sponsorships, has dropped to 11.9% of the total marketing mix this year from 20.9% last year.

Marketers will spend the largest share of their budget this year on events (20.2%), up from 17.2% last year. They will spend 19.0% on marketing support materials, compared with 17.8% last year.

IDC also asked tech marketers what their primary go-to-market orientation is this year. The top response was product line (25.1%), followed by customer segment (19.6%), solution (16.4%), campaign or theme (16.0%), industry (15.8%), job role (5.8%) and other (1.3%).

Related posts:

Top-7 Challenges for B2B Marketers

According to MarketingSherpa, the top challenges for B2B marketers are becoming, well, more challenging.

Especially the top-3 challenges have grown significantly from 2009 to 2010:

1) Generating high-quality leads (from 69% in 2009 to 78% today) - Today's B2B marketers are tackling this issue with processes and technologies such as marketing automation and lead scoring in an attempt to only deliver qualified, truly sales ready leads. Don't underestimate the need to fuel marketing automation with compelling content to engage with your audiences in a meaningful way along the buyer's journey.

2) Generating a high volume of leads (35% to 44%) - Certainly a big challenge in an environment of shrinking marketing budgets and declining productivity of traditional marketing tactics.

3) Marketing to a lengthening sales cycle (39% to 41%) - Also a function of the economic environment. B2B buyers don't trust the slow recovery and and take their time before pulling the trigger. This situation makes persona-based content marketing more critical than ever.

Here are the top-7 B2B marketing challenges: Chart of the Week

What are your biggest B2B marketing challenges?

B2B Market Segmentation – Part 2: How to Approach Segmentation

In part one of our segmentation series, we discussed the importance of and rationale behind market segmentation.

Let's take a closer look at actual implementation of market segmentation. The biggest segmentation error that people make is to start with the "who" or "what" and segmenting the market using criteria such as industry verticals, company size or geography and other dimensions because this data is easy to gather.

Focusing on WHO a buyer is makes for more easily observable and actionable data that can be used to define segments and their boundaries. But it doesn't get to the core of why companies are buying and what problem they are looking to solve (don’t get me wrong, demographics are still an important factor in the segmentation process, but they shouldn't drive the first steps of segmentation). Also, this approach often fails to identify new, un-served, profitable segments formed around buyer problems, needs and behavioral patterns that cut across "traditional" demographic segments.

As markets are changing rapidly and segments are disappearing and new ones are forming, it becomes more important to look at WHY companies are buying, and segmenting markets along motivational attributes.

A better segmentation strategy is to start with why companies purchase a solution. Understand what is driving demand and what distinct pockets of demand can be profitably served by your organization. Because there are so many attributes and dimensions of motivation and behavior based segmentation (such as business pains, adoption patterns, compelling external events such as introduction of new regulatory legislation, etc), it is important to find the most critical dimensions to use as a pivot point and build your segmentation framework around.

Here are some examples of dimensions that can be used for segmentation:

  • Value Drivers
    Are companies using your solution to reduce cost, increase revenues, comply with mandates, protect assets, improve agility, reduce risk? Especially for solutions that can solve different problems and meet different objectives. What value driver represents your best opportunities? What are the specific use cases of your product to realize the value customers are looking to unlock? Are there innovative or "exotic" uses of your products that you observe with new customers that might indicate a new or bigger market segment that is currently untapped?
  • Adoption Patterns
    One of the best known market segmentation frameworks is the technology adoption model that segments markets into innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards based on buyers' different needs and psychographic patterns at each phase of the adoption cycle. The challenge however is that this model segments markets over time, not necessarily across concurrent segments (although there is overlap between segments). This makes adoption valuable as one dimension of describing your segments, but it is not sufficient.
  • Price Sensitivity
    Do you position your product in segments that are price sensitive and invite vendors to complete on price or segments that pay a premium for a solution that is highly differentiated?
  • Go to Market / Buying Preference
    What is your target markets' preference in procuring solutions,  channel/direct preference?
  • Event Triggers
    What events impact your target markets' business such as compliance with legislative mandates that are going into effect, mergers that cause operational or competitive problems which need to be resolved, new executive hired that need to demonstrate quick results, a disruptive product launched that impacts your customers' competitors, etc.

One of the first questions that arises is how do I segment markets based on attributes I cannot easily observe from the outside? For example, how do I know whether an organization is an early adopter or laggard without investing a tremendous amount of research (that often leads to ambiguous answers anyway)? How do I know how price sensitive a company's buying center is? Or what really drives value in a certain organization?

While company size or industry SIC/NAICS classifications are easy to gather for demographics-based segmentation, behavioral data is not that easy to come by. This is a significant problem for outbound marketing tactics where you need to identify your specific targets and contact information prior to executing a campaign.

Inbound tactics on the other hand provide an opportunity for "ideal-fit prospects" in the right segment to find you and your offering through compelling content. Content marketing is therefore an ideal approach for use in motivation-based market segments where you can create keyword rich content that is closely mapped to your buyer's specific business problem and decision chain.

In other words, motivation-based marketing enables buyers to find you rather than the other way around. This resonates with B2B marketing trends where buyer behavior has changed dramatically over the last decade - 80 percent of B2B purchases today result from buyers identifying and reaching out to vendors first, not the other way around.

Motivation-based segmentation also needs to inform and shape the scoring model you use for marketing automation. Many automation platforms score along two dimensions: demographics and behavior. Behavior is how users interact with your content and website and what marketing stimulus they respond to. But in a broader sense you can incorporate the dimensions and values from your segmentation efforts, and use behavior and interaction with your website content for lead scoring early in the engagement process.

While we said earlier that you should not START your segmentation efforts with demographic attributes, demographic dimensions are still important as segmentation criteria as they often correlate with reasons why customers buy. Or they correlate with the expected profitability of a customer (for example as a function of company size or revenue).

For example:

  • Vertical
    Are certain verticals more likely to have the problem you solve, a higher sense of urgency, more to gain by solving the problem? Regulatory drivers?
  • Company Size
    Does your solution require a minimum number of users or budget to be sold profitably, does it solve a problem that correlates with the size of an organization (complexity, scale, process automation, etc)?
  • Location
    Are customers in certain locations more likely to buy, based on ease of access, local market conditions, regulatory environments? 

This wraps up part 2 of our segmentation blog series. Part 3 will explore ideas on how to prioritize the identified segments to focus on the most profitable ones first. How do you approach B2B market segmentation?

A Framework for B2B Customer Segmentation – Part 1: Why Segment Your Market?

Marketing segmentation is about subdividing markets into segments of customers that have similar needs and behaviors. This way, vendors can optimize their product offering, marketing, and sales approach to meet the specific requirements of the segment better and more cost efficiently than the competition.

But the craft of identifying and selecting the right segments is too often rushed and under-appreciated. Many companies don't segment at all, segment only superficially, or copy segments that seem to be working for their competitors but without really understanding the rationale for selecting target segments.

In complex markets, segmentation is not trivial. And many companies simply don't allocate sufficient resources for defining the right segments. Often, segmentation is seen as "artificially" reducing the addressable market. Why go after only a few target segments when there are so many buyers outside of these segments to be converted? This argument is a fallacy that doesn't recognize the impact of dramatically higher conversion rates and capture of higher value customers within target segments, or the opportunity cost of deviating from your strategy and core competencies by going after less than ideal prospects outside of the target segment.

Benefits of Segmentation
The benefits of segmentation are substantial. With tighter segmentation, vendors can better satisfy customers and produce more revenue in shorter amounts of time, at lower cost. Segmentation is critical as vendors evolve from technology-focused business models to customer-needs driven engineering and development, sales, marketing, and operations.

Because prospects in defined, targeted segments are a better fit with the vendor’s offering, prospects are more likely to buy, they close faster, produce bigger deals, and remain more loyal. In short, they are more profitable. For marketing, well-defined segments means more targeted messages and programs that resonate with buyers. This results in higher response rates, better engagements, shorter conversion cycles, and overall better return on marketing investment.

Marketing Automation Drives Renewed Focus on Segmentation
Market segmentation is experiencing a renaissance. A key driver for this renewed focus on segmentation is marketing automation. Why? Because B2B marketing teams needs to have a sound understanding and definition of the target market segments first in order to create compelling messages and content that addresses segment-specific business drivers and pain points, guides buyers through the buying process, and enables mass customized marketing and automated email nurturing campaigns that execute based on prospects' demographics and behaviors.

Part 2 of this series will explore how to go about segmentation and why the reasons customers buy (motivations) are often more important than who they are (demographics).

How do you approach segmentation in your organization?

Top 5 Social Media Challenges in B2B Marketing (Survey)

We are conducting a survey of B2B marketing professionals. One of the questions is asking participants to select the biggest challenges B2B marketers face when it comes to social media.

Here is a summary of the top-5 challenges the survey identified so far (n = 253). The most selected answer with 56 percent is (1) measuring the results. Not surprising considering that the right metrics and goals associated with social media are still evolving. The challenge of measuring results was followed by (2) identifying where to participate in terms of platforms, forums, blogs, etc (46 percent). Finding out (3) who the communities and influencers are that social media managers need to connect with and keep track of was the third most mentioned challenge with 45 percent. 40 percent of survey participants selected (4) coordination of social media activities as a challenge, and 33 percent found that (5) keeping track of conversations is an issue.

Does this picture reflect the challenges you face using social media in your organization?

Stay tuned for more sneak peaks and the complete survey report to be available soon. If you would like to receive a copy, please participate in the survey:

A Simple B2B Marketing Framework

We often discuss in this blog how B2B marketing is becoming more complex, and how to manage this complexity. Marketing is getting involved in many more areas that touch the customer along the buying process, multiplied by a dizzying variety of new tactics, online communications and engagement platforms. I have always liked frameworks to make sense of this complexity, and add some structure to identify focus areas and value drivers, dependencies and hierarchies - all to make complexity a bit easier to manage.

Pragmatic Marketing Framework
One of the best known frameworks in product marketing is from Pragmatic Marketing. Very clean and structured, it lists all major areas that need to be designed, built, and managed by product marketing and product management.

My problem with the framework is that while it shows a neat hierarchy (from market to programs and support) it only loosely links its components along a common thread. In my mind, this common thread should be the customer’s buying process (instead of the vendor’s planning hierarchy). This way you increase customer centricity and make sure that strategy and tactics are mapped to the buying process your customers perform (stages: unawareness, pain recognition, understanding how to solve the problem, identifying and selecting the right solution and vendor, validating the choice and acting on it).

RocketWatcher Marketing Framework
April Dunford at RocketWatcher has recently published a modified version of the marketing framework that I think is excellent because it simplifies things and focuses on the marketing aspects rather than the product management side of the business.

A Simple B2B Marketing Framework
So taking this general concept a step further, I created a simple B2B marketing framework that depicts the hierarchy of B2B marketing strategy and tactics. It builds upon April's framework and comprises a stack of marketing "layers" that build upon each other, each centered around the customer’s buying process.

The framework starts at the bottom with the “Market Knowledge Layer” - the foundational aspects of understanding the market opportunity and customer problem - and then works its way up to tactical execution of marketing programs along the customer life cycle.

Market Knowledge Layer
The "Market Knowledge" layer captures key information and develops organizational knowledge about target market segments, market needs, the drivers of value (cost reduction, revenue increase, efficiency improvements, etc), and what competing alternatives exist to capture this value.

Business Strategy Layer
The next layer up is "Business Strategy", taking into account the insight derived from the Market Knowledge layer below and deciding what business model is best suited for generating value in the market environment, what products and configurations to take to market, how to go to market from a marketing and sales perspective, etc.

Buyer Centric Tools & Content Layer
The next layer "Buyer Centric Tools & Content" aims at creating deeper insight into the buyer to create the tools that inform message creation, marketing content, education of sales and marketing teams, creation of campaigns, etc. This includes the definition of the buyer personas, how buyers approach buying decisions (buying process) and what messages will influence their perception and decisions at each step (message maps).

Marketing Tactics Layer
Finally, the top layer "Marketing Tactics" is concerned with tactical execution of marketing strategy, the push/pull, outbound/inbound delivery of messages that influence buyers’ decision making. The tactics are informed by a deep understanding of the target segments, buyer personas, and their pain and approach to solving it (buyer’s journey) – all derived from the underlying layers.

I see the marketing tactics layer divided into four phases mapped to the stages of customer development:

(1) Segment Marketing - In the customer life cycle, this is the very first attempt to reach your target audience and attract potential buyers to further engage with you in a conversation. Initially, you may not have any information about the buyer other than generic segment and persona profiles. The goal is to attract interest that converts into qualified leads which you can follow up with and/or nurture over time.

(2) Lead Nurturing – Leads that are not sales ready need to be nurtured with the goal of guiding prospects through their buying decision process with educational and actionable content. Marketing automation tools can help with targeted and event based outreach to prospects, offering opportunities for digital engagement and interaction that provides more insight into the buyer's general fit with the target profile and readiness for taking the next step.

(3) Sales Enablement – At this point your sales team is actively engaged with the prospect. Your marketing activities for this phase focus on providing your sales team with the tools that help them in the discovery process to better understand the prospect’s true needs and to create and present a solution that the buyer finds attractive and selects over competing alternatives.

(4) Customer Marketing – Many marketing teams focus their attention and resources on new lead generation, often neglecting the ongoing nurturing of existing customers. Here is where you have an opportunity to delight your customers, truly understand why and how they use your products or services, and identify additional opportunities to maximize the lifetime value of your customer (not to mention the lower cost of incremental revenue from existing customers).

Goal Setting and Performance Measurement
To make matters more complete, I added “goal setting and metric definition” to the left of the marketing stack, driving the direction of every marketing layer and its components. On the right hand side is the "measurement" aspect that looks at the marketing outcomes using the metrics defined for each layer. Here we can compare results against the original marketing goals to identify deviations, ideally using leading as well as lagging performance indicators.

To close the loop, and ensure continuous improvement, the feedback process (bottom) loops back to inform changes to strategy or adjustment of goals and tactics to more closely reflect the reality of external market dynamics as well as internal company resources and competencies. The idea is to create frequent feedback cycles and adjust as often as feasible (the challenge is to strike a balance between the incremental cost incurred by making changes and the benefits derived from these changes).

Planning and Execution Cycles
Another way to look at the layers of the B2B marketing stack is to think of them as "spinning disks" where each disk revolution represents a planning or execution cycle. For example, the business strategy layer typically has longer planning cycles (a full cycle can take many months or quarters). The tactical layer at the very top, in contrast, is characterized by very fast execution and adaptation cycles (sometimes only days or weeks).

Cycles for planning and knowledge gathering take longer to execute and receive market feedback to validate or invalidate your assumptions of the market (at this layer, your macro environment also changes more slowly). Rapid cycles at the top of the stack, on the other hand, provide almost immediate feedback (for example, what keywords are performing for paid search, reports on open rates of email campaigns, popularity of a content asset) and allow you to adjust quickly.

The feedback collected in real time at the top of the stack not only informs the tactic itself in order to optimize it, but it also cascades down to inform underlying strategy adjustments at the bottom of the marketing stack.

Operationalizing the B2B Marketing Framework
The next iteration of the B2B marketing framework will map out the buyers journey in greater detail. But that's content for another blog post. This framework reflects the marketing view but can be easily expanded to link into the sales perspective (deeper view into the sales cycle). My next posts will dive deeper into the topic and also pick up where I left off with the post “5 Steps to B2B Marketing Success”.

Let me know your thoughts about this framework. What frameworks help you organize and structure your B2B marketing efforts?

You Have No Metrics for B2B Social Media Measurement? (Survey Sneak Peek)

Here is another interesting result from the B2B social media survey. I was surprised to learn that a plurality of B2B marketers (45%) say they don't have ANY metrics in place for measuring social media effectiveness. None. Something tells me that B2B marketers will get away with this only for a short time until investment in social media comes under increased scrutiny.

Take a look the chart below to see the popularity of various social media metrics for measuring activity, followership, engagement, leads, and sales results (click chart to enlarge | n = 210).

Resources to learn more about social media metrics
Take the social media survey now and receive the complete survey report before it is officially published. Feel free to share the survey link with your B2B marketing colleagues and friends:

What B2B Marketing Tactics Are Up, Down, Flat? (Survey Sneak Peek)

Last week, we talked about the changing B2B marketing mix ("Is Traditional B2B Marketing Dead?" which caused a heated debate about whether these changes are real and consequential). Let's take a look at some data. We are currently conducting a social media survey among B2B marketing professionals, and one of the questions is aimed at better understanding what activities marketing teams are doing more or less of than 3 years ago. Here are the preliminary results for this question (click chart to enlarge | n = 176).

Marketing tactics that are trending up
The biggest increase in marketing activity over the last 3 years is reported for social media where 81% of respondents say that they are doing more of it (not surprising considering social media use in B2B was still nascent 3 years ago). The next big jump is in content creation - 68% of respondents have increased this tactic in their marketing mix.

This supports the observation that companies are increasingly using content marketing to influence and guide prospects through the buying cycle. Website activity is also up, with 56% of people using it more aggressively than 3 years ago. Email marketing is slightly up - likely a reflection of the increasing adoption of marketing automation platforms that heavily rely on email to communicate targeted, customized, and behavior driven messages.

Marketing tactics that are trending down
Now let's look at the activities that are down over the last 3 years. A usual suspect, direct mailings, is used less by 55% of the people who responded to the survey. Not surprising considering the often low response rates and difficulties tracking conversions, in addition to the comparatively higher cost of direct mail. Same with print advertising, which is used less by 62% of respondents.

Marketing tactics that are flat
A couple of tactics have maintained their share in the marketing mix over the years. Events and Webinars, for example, are still executed at about the same level as 3 years ago by 50% of the marketers polled in the survey (although Webinars are trending up, and so is online advertising with 42% of respondents keeping it a about the same level and 37 percent increasing investment compared to three years ago).

Want to read the survey report?
If you are interested in receiving the survey report, please contribute to the survey.

Please feel free to share the link with your B2B marketing colleagues and friends - here is the link to forward:

Is the In-House B2B Marketing Department Going Away?

My last post triggered a heated debate (mostly in the LinkedIn B2B Technology Marketing Community) about the dramatic changes we see in the B2B marketing function. One of the interesting topics that came up was outsourcing. As you know, more and more corporate functions are moving to a service and subscription based model where companies aggressively outsource everything that is not core to the business in order to gain advantages related to cost, scalability, and agility. This trend is nothing new, it has been building for a long time and many corporate functions like manufacturing have been outsourcing for decades. It seems as if the marketing function has only recently caught on to this trend in a major way, though.

Is marketing moving to a subscription based model?
We sure see this trend in the marketing automation platforms we use on a daily basis – webcasts, email campaigns, lead management, and many more. Many applications and services are not residing in-house on some server in the datacenter but are instead delivered in the cloud, provided as Software as a Service. This not only reduces fixed cost and enables pay as you go models; it also helps marketing to get the job done more quickly, without having to rely on the IT department (which in too many companies is becoming a bottleneck instead of a business enabler – which is further accelerating the push towards SaaS). The next phase I see is that SaaS vendors are partnering to provide end-to-end solutions that span multiple platforms so you can basically run all of your marketing automation in the cloud through a single interface ( is leading the way here with a myriad of 3rd party apps linked into the ecosystem that expand the value chain step by step).

Outsourcing marketing talent
Do we see the same trend developing for outsourcing of talent? Sure, marketing departments have always outsourced campaigns, creative services, and projects to ad/PR/creative agencies. But it seems to me - observing what is going on in many companies and talking to a lot of people in the B2B marketing space - that the marketing outsourcing trend has dramatically accelerated over the last 12 months. Talent outsourcing is also moving up the value chain to projects that have traditionally remained in house.

What do you see happening?
Do you see the same trends? Is B2B marketing moving to a virtual model where a company only has a minimum core staff of true marketing experts that define strategy and programs, and then orchestrate a complex array of vendors, freelancers, and platforms to deliver on marketing goals? Is the future for the majority of marketing professionals a freelance model of working for dozens of clients at the same time? What is the barrier where the required level of domain expertise and coordination cost are outweighing the incremental savings and flexibility benefits?

Is the classic marketing department dead? Looking forward to your thoughts and observations on the topic.

Is Traditional B2B Marketing Dead?

Earlier this week, I was on a panel at the WIT event "The Intersection of Marketing & Technology" in McLean, VA. One of the discussions was about the dramatic changes happening in B2B marketing today and what the future will hold. The question "Is traditional B2B marketing dead?" ignited a lively discussion.

I think we are experiencing nothing short of a major disruption in marketing today. New technologies and marketing automation are just one expression and a driver of this change, but it goes much deeper, affecting the way we organize marketing, engage with customers, find new business opportunities, and deliver value to the stakeholders inside and outside our organizations.

It is easy to not see the forest for the trees when you are focused on the daily challenges of program execution. So let's take a step back and look at the big picture. I put together an overview of the key dimensions of B2B marketing that I see changing (see below, click image to enlarge). Every dimension (including balance of power, audience focus and presence) has significant implications on the way we plan, organize, and execute B2B marketing going forward. And before you say "wait a minute", of course this isn't a binary, all or nothing switch from one model to the next. Instead we are seeing a classic adoption pattern with early adopters and laggards, false starts, and a mix of "traditional" best practices that are still applicable combined with new methods. What are your observations on the changes in B2B marketing? Please share your thoughts using the comments section below.

Is B2B Marketing Ready for Social Media? Take the Survey to Find Out...

B2B marketing is undergoing dramatic change. Traditional marketing tactics are losing effectiveness, and new tactics such as social media are still perceived as unproven. And while social media is a success story in consumer markets, adoption in B2B markets is still lagging.

The LinkedIn B2B Technology Marketing Community is conducting a comprehensive, vendor neutral survey of B2B marketing executives and professionals to better understand the state of social media in the evolving B2B marketing mix. The survey will answer questions about the latest social media trends in B2B marketing, what challenges managers face, what platforms and tools are considered effective, how companies measure success, and more.

The survey takes less than 10 minutes to complete. If you would like to receive a summary of the survey results to find out what your peers are doing with social media, please make sure to provide your name and email address at the end of the survey.

Follow this link to get started:

Also, please feel free to forward the survey link to your marketing colleagues and friends (or just use the re-tweet button at the top of this post).

The Brave New World of B2B Marketing - Are You Ready?

Your B2B markets are changing rapidly. It is now harder than ever for B2B vendors to get the attention of our audiences. The effectiveness of traditional push marketing is rapidly declining, marketing budgets and headcounts have been slashed over the last few years (while output expectations have increased), and the availability of new technologies for marketing automation is leaving many B2B marketing professionals scratching their heads.

Power Shift
Knowledge is power, and the balance of power is clearly shifting from vendors to the customer. B2B buyers are more sophisticated than ever. They educate themselves on the nature of their business problem, possible solution options, available vendors and products. Today's prospects filter out most attempts by companies to interrupt them with vendor and product focused marketing messages and sales pitches. As a result, many vendors don't show up on prospects' radars anymore - unless they are actively sought out, they are often simply not invited to the party anymore.

Adapt to Stay Relevant
Our entire approach to marketing has to change if we want to stay relevant and add value to the business in this new environment. While this situation can create a crisis in many marketing and sales organizations, it also offers a great opportunity. Remember that today's prospects are actively searching for high-value information to help them better understand problems and solutions, make sense of available solutions, select the best fit for their requirements, and ultimately make an informed purchase decision? Now imagine the information customers are finding is yours. Clearly presented, educating the reader along every step of their decision making process. With compelling content that is relevant, valuable, and of high quality. Remarkable content that leaves a lasting impression and engages the reader to take action such as requesting access to your Webcast or asking to get in touch with you to learn more about your solution.

Brave New B2B Marketing World
Welcome to the brave new world of marketing. This new world is at the intersection of (1) valuable content that carries your message to the prospect, (2) the social and online media that prospects are increasingly using to find information and ask peers for their opinion, and (3) the marketing automation platforms to manage all of this complexity (campaigns, content, leads, etc) without losing your mind.

This intersection of content marketing, social media, and automation is where innovative marketing teams can help their companies gain traction and develop ongoing relationships and customer engagements. I mention "ongoing" because I believe the days of linear, one-dimensional, time-limited "campaigns" on the marketing side and transactional selling on the sales side are for the most part over. The effectiveness of these traditional tactics is declining steadily, and if you are in the marketing profession you'd better pay attention because we are looking at nothing less than a fundamental shift in the way companies engage with prospects.

What we need in this new environment are ongoing, parallel conversations with target audiences that lead to engagements with qualified prospects which in turn lead to value exchanges between both parties. Content marketing is rapidly gaining traction as a truly customer centric marketing tactic that aims at educating prospects and guiding them along their journey towards an educated decision in your favor - exchanging their money for your solution.

Steps to Surviving the Transition - And Thriving in the New Marketing World
So while the idea is pretty simple, execution is not all that trivial in complex B2B environments. After my article on the 5 Steps to B2B Marketing Success, I was asked to provide more guidance on how to actually implement this new approach to marketing. So I have spent some time thinking about how to approach this new world of marketing and developed a simple 7-step framework.

Here are the key components of the framework that I see, and I will spend the next few weeks covering each in greater detail. Interestingly enough, the "new marketing world" will put more emphasis on traditional marketing concepts as they are now truly the foundation for the success of your business - so many of the concepts below will not be new to you. The focus of this article is on content marketing as I believe it to be one of the most effective approaches available to marketers today. Other tactics are still relevant and effective.

Here are the seven steps to B2B marketing success in this new era:

1 - Segmentation & Profiling
Sound familiar? While the concept is not new, the majority of B2B vendors do a poor job at properly segmenting their markets and identifying the most profitable ones they want to compete in. In my opinion, this step determines success or failure on a strategic level, as simple as that. Segmentation as a way to identify target markets that are an ideal fit and allow you to compete successfully while focusing your resources is the first step to unddrstanding your strengths and weaknesses relative to the opportunities and threats in a market. Only with this knowledge will an intelligent marketing approach become possible. Profiling of ideal companies and everything else follows from here.

2 - Buyer Persona
After establishing your target segments at the macro level, and defining your ideal customer profile, let's look at the people within those target organizations that influence and make buying decisions for the type of products or services you offer. What are their roles, goals, motivations, frustrations? How do they impact the buying process? Have you mapped out buyer personas and built profiles in order to align your messages and content with their needs? Where are these buyers looking for information to guide their decisions?

3 - Buyer's Journey
Once we understand who we are trying to influence, let's take a look at their buyer’s journey, from status quo to ultimate purchase of a product or service. What stages do your buyers go through? What are the decisions or outcomes you want to influence at each step of the way? What messages and information do you want to convey? By the way, mapping your entire marketing approach to the customer lifecycle is one way to become a truly customer-centric organization and impact prospects behavior and decisions. More on this later.

4 - Mapping Content to Buyer's Journey
After understanding the world from our prospects' perspectives, let's look at how we adapt to it to better engage and provide value. In this section I will talk about classes of content that map to the various stages of the buying cycle. It is much less complicated than it sounds :)

5 - Content Planning & Creation
At this point, it is time to clearly plan what pieces of content you want to offer specific to your segments, audiences, personas, and buying cycle stages. If not earlier, by now you will likely have a panic moment, realizing that you would need to employ dozens of domain experts and writers to create all the content assets you have identified. Time to take a step back and think about smart strategies to re-purpose and leverage existing content. Perform a content audit to identify gaps and overlap with existing assets. Also, consider how you will make sure that your content is on message and consistent (this is not trivial when you have multiple writers) - for example, do you have message maps that capture your key messages, differentiators, value proposition and positioning - by audience and segment?

Now is also a good time to think about focus as lack of focus has consequences. The further you stretch your resources and attention span (and your understanding of your markets), the less impact you will have on any of your target segments and people, reducing your demand generation and conversion rates significantly. So prioritize and rank your markets, audiences and content assets, and cut back everything that doesn't move the needle, starting from the bottom of your list. Pareto would probably suggest that only 20 percent of your market segments, decision maker personas, content assets, and programs contribute 80 percent of your impact on revenue. Identify those 20 percent - remember the goal is to work smarter, not harder :)

6 - Content Delivery to Engage Audiences
Now that you have planned and created compelling content, how are you going to get it in front of your target audience? Are your buyers frequenting certain online communities, are they searching Google with specific keyword and phrases, do they subscribe to your newsletters? Here you have an opportunity to map out how prospects will receive your information and how you increase your odds of it actually happening. Do you hide all of your content behind registration forms? Do you set it free and make it easily shareable via Email, Twitter, Facebook? Are you building specific calls to action into your content to drive prospects to your next piece of content or interaction with you?

7 - Performance Measurement
With regular reviews of actual performance against goals, you can quickly identify areas for improvement, opportunities for resource re-allocation, process changes, and further education. Dashboards, as the "glue" between strategy and execution, can provide leading and lagging indicators and metrics to correct issues and take action before they grow into bigger problems downstream.

While this approach looks like a neat sequence of steps that can be planned and executed in a waterfall type of fashion, in reality things are often much less clear cut. In analogy to agile programming, we are looking at a highly iterative process that at each step needs to be tested, validated, and tweaked before moving on to the next step. Yes, this is messy, it requires a lot of "hypothesis testing". Don't listen to anybody who tells you they have all the answers already, they don’t. And worse, be prepared to repeat this exercise frequently as your external and internal environment is in constant flux and you will need to adapt. Start with baby steps, learn and improve. This will become easier as you develop frameworks on how to do this so you can build best practices and don’t have to reinvent the wheel with every iteration. Again, welcome to the brave new world of marketing.

Let me know what your experience in this brave new world has been so far. I will spend the next weeks to dive deeper into each of the 7 steps outlined here, and I would like to incorporate your ideas and best practices. So send me your feedback using the comment feature below or send an email to

5 Ways to Better Marketing Performance with Marketing Operations

By Holger Schulze

In my last post “5 Steps to B2B Marketing Success” we established a simple approach to improving success in B2B marketing, starting with understanding your audience, building a strong value proposition, mapping out the buyer’s journey, building compelling messages and content, and finally, investing in robust marketing automation.

Increasing Pressure on Marketing

But how do you ensure that all this happens at peak efficiency, you are meeting your goals, and providing solid quantifiable return on your marketing investment? Today, in many organizations the executive suite is demanding proof of ROI and CEOs are asking the marketing function questions like: What is your economic value add to the company? Where is the return on the millions of Dollars invested in marketing? What happens if I cut your budget by 20 percent? Or add 20 percent? Many CMOs inability to answer these questions in a satisfactory manner has lead to their average tenure of less than 2 years in US companies, the shortest of any C level executive role. The old adage that 50 percent of marketing budget is wasted, the question is which half, just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Contrast this with your sales organization - typically the most measured and performance oriented part of the company. No wonder you get a culture clash between marketing, often focused on activities without clear link to the bottom line, and sales determined to make quota by selling product. The result is misalignment between CMO and CEO, marketing and sales, marketing goals and company goals. Absent strong alignment behind a set of clear measurable objectives, nobody in marketing is really accountable.

Marketing Operations to the Rescue – A 5 Step Program

I believe this challenge is quite healthy as it provides strong incentives for marketing to become a truly performance driven and business critical function of the company. This is where the field of marketing operations (MO) has received a lot of attention lately as a new marketing function designed to create cross-company alignment, performance visibility, and the foundational systems and processes that enable marketing to scale, become more effective and efficient, and contribute to company goals. Such a systematic marketing operations approach brings structure, process and accountability to the marketing function. It also establishes institutional knowledge on how marketing is done - this is important considering the high turnover in many marketing departments and the resulting loss of institutional knowledge. Marketing operations is basically injecting left-brain thinking into the traditionally right-brained creative marketing function. This can be intimidating at first. So let's take a look at how we can break marketing operations into smaller steps and tactics.

Step 1 - Establish a Formal MO Function
Marketing is getting more complex with new technologies such as social media, new tools like marketing automation, and higher performance and ROI expectations. A formal MO function can make sure that best practices and systems are implemented marketing wide so that marketers can take on more sophisticated projects, such as campaign automation, without having to worry about underlying processes, analytics, and metrics. The analytical skill set and experience required for marketing operations are hard to find in marketing folks that have entered the field because of their creative talent, so having a dedicated MO person, and eventually MO team, with the required analytical and marketing process skills makes perfect sense.

Step 2 - Define the Scope of MO
MO adds value to marketing by creating an ecosystem that enables marketers to excel and allows them to focus on their core competencies while being in sync with the requirements of the company and its stakeholders. MO typically includes planning & budgeting, performance measurement, reporting and dashboards, marketing best practices, sales alignment, and automation of processes such as campaign management, to name a few. While marketing operations focus is on the overall performance of the marketing department, it would be a mistake not to include the other departments marketing interacts with. MO has an opportunity to align marketing goals and processes with departments such as sales, finance, and development for example to make sure that critical dependencies and expectations are managed, that goals are aligned and marketing provides value to the company.

Step 3 - Align MO Goals with Biggest Sales and Marketing Challenges
In order to establish MO, justify the investment and show its positive impact on the company, MO has to address the biggest sales and marketing challenges and bring about change. A survey by Gary Katz, CEO of Marketing Operations Partners, shows the marketing priorities in many organizations. First, "measuring marketing ROI and demonstrating value", with 73 percent of respondents selecting this issue. This goes back to the premise that current lack of demonstrated marketing ROI is causing problems for marketing departments in terms of budget funding and CMOs staying power. Second, "balancing marketing strategy and tactics" - over 60% of survey respondents say that they are having trouble aligning day to day activities with big-picture strategy and company goals. MO is designed to address this issue. And third, 57 percent of respondents said that "creating common goals for marketing success that are tied with the goals of other groups in the company" is a major challenge. Here, marketing operations can help by creating a goal framework that starts with corporate goals and cascades them into department and individual goals, and aligns goals across the organization with departments that have a stake in marketing's success, particularly the sales function.

Step 4 - Get Buy-in from Senior Executives
Without senior level buy in from the company's C-management, MO is not going to be successful. MO requires support and collaboration not only within marketing but with other departments to be effective.

Step 5 - Conduct Regular Performance Checks and Improve MO over Time
This ties back to the idea of continuous improvement that the Japanese perfected in manufacturing with Kaizen and other quality management systems. With regular reviews of actual performance against goals, marketing operations can quickly identify areas for improvement, opportunities for resource re-allocation, process changes, and further education. Dashboards, as the "glue" between strategy and execution, can provide leading and lagging indicators to correct issues and take action before they grow into bigger problems downstream.

What is your experience with marketing operations? Does your marketing organization have a dedicated MO function, and if so, what are your success stories?

5 Steps to B2B Marketing Success

By Holger Schulze

Major shifts are taking place in B2B marketing that started a few years ago but have accelerated in recent months – in the marketplace as well as inside vendor organizations.

Prospects and customers are becoming more sophisticated and better informed than ever before. They are tuning out a lot of the marketing noise they receive which makes it harder for marketers to reach audiences the old fashioned way. Customers are are in the driver’s seat today. This has profound implications on marketing and the way companies engage with prospects.

In the “old days”, the mainstream marketing approach was to interrupt and engage prospects, educate them on the vendors offering and move them through the sale cycle towards a transaction – a very vendor and product centric approach. Contrast this with the sophisticated and networked and community-embedded buyer today, who conducts research and talks with their peers in online communities long before identifying and narrowing down the list of potential vendors that can solve the problem.

These buyers and decision makers don’t want to get interrupted by a product promo email or a cold call that likely doesn’t come at the exact time they have a specific problem the caller can help with. And today’s customers are busier than ever. They want to be able to engage with a vendor when they are ready and actively seek out advice, often very late in the buying cycle, and have the vendor guide them through a complex buying and problem solving process - outsourcing part of the buying process to the vendor community if you will.

A simple 5 step program can help you refocus your marketing efforts and adjust to the new requirements for B2B marketing success:

Step 1 – Understand Your Audience
Customer focus begins with understanding your customer and their market environment. What business problems do they face? What are the drivers in their industry that impact profitability? Also make sure you segment your target markets according to demographics, psychographics, and business environment to identify the segments that are the best fit for your company's offering; segments that have the most to gain by becoming your customers.

Step 2 – Build a Strong Value Proposition
Build a strong customer-centric value proposition that puts your product and services in the context of the customer's problem, communicates the value you provide and your differentiators vis-a-vis competing alternatives.

Step 3 – Map Out Buyer’s Journey
Map the customer's buying cycle from problem awareness, identifying generic solutions, identifying potential vendors, selecting vendors that make the short list, evaluating solutions in detail and ultimately selecting a solution. Build a simplified model of your customers’ world, the journey they take from problem to solution. This exercise will help you understand how your customers are progressing through the steps of the buying cycle. What are their goals, concerns, what data do they need to move to the next step, where do they look for information?

Step 4 – Build Compelling Messages and Content
With this information you get a pretty good idea for how to influence the prospect along every step, how to educate them, how to guide them to purchase. Build a simple matrix of messages, marketing collateral and sales tools mapped against each phase of the buying cycle. Also add how you want to get your information to your audience - how will they find you. Focus on social networks and Google and special interest sites for the early phases; that's where buyers will often look first and find your content to make sense of their problem and the solution space and identify potential vendors. Make sure your content is problem and solution focused and doesn’t only talk about your product.

Build call to actions into each content piece to encourage your prospect to keep engaging with you as they move through the buying cycle. Also, make content easily accessible, especially in the early phase of the buying cycle where prospects don't care about specific vendors but want to understand their options and the implications of available choices to solve a problem. So let your educational content (white papers, Webinars) go free so it gets consumed and shared by prospects across social networks, don't hide it behind registration forms, but add a strong call to action into the content asset to move your prospects to the next interaction with you.

Step 5 - Invest in Marketing Automation
One size fits all mass email blasts, for example, don’t provide the level of return you are looking for. Marketing automation will allow you to have very targeted digital conversations with your audience triggered by prospect profile and behavior, driven by their buying cycle. Help prospects follow paths that you have defined to guide them, offering content that matches every step of their buying process from white papers and webinars in the early discovery stages to case studies, ROI studies and competitive comparisons during vendor selection at which point your sales will be heavily engaged in the relationship. With each interaction, you collect more data about the prospect which allows you to build a score to identify the hottest leads that you want to engage with directly and focus your time and sales resources on. With sophisticated analytics and reporting, MA tools will also give you insight into what is working and what not so you can adjust and improve your campaigns.

Buyers expect vendors to help them make sense of the options they have available to solve a particular probldm, their pros and cons – a very consultative, solution, and customer centric approach to marketing and sales that is very different from yesterday’s paradigms. For marketing teams, this means engaging with prospects much earlier in the buying cycle, educating them long before prospects consider specific vendors, and matching each phase of the customer buying cycle with appropriate message, content and marketing tools designed to ease the buyers journey - from problem to solution and carefully steer them to the favorable outcome - to be selected by the buyer.

It also means using new ways to reach the buyer, including social networks. This approach requires much greater domain, industry and business expertise on the vendor side, to really understand the customer, which in turn requires more targeted segmentation, more intelligent messaging, better sales tools, etc. Time to get ready.

Leveraging Actionable Customer Data for Revenue Growth

By Laura Patterson

Peter Drucker is attributed to having said, “the purpose of business is to create a customer.” Delving deeper into what matters to your customers is the key to growing revenue. Focusing on the profitable sources of revenue takes ensuring your organization, especially your marketing team, has the data mining tools, customer research, marketing automation software, and the ability to perform customer analytics. As the CEO, you most likely expect your marketing organization to allocate its marketing dollars, people and time toward your most profitable channels and your most profitable customers.

Therefore you’ve probably have already chartered your marketing team to collect relevant customer-related information. But does your marketing organization have the ability to analyze this information in a way that provides your sales organization and leadership team with valuable insights into customer behavior? This capability requires that your marketing organization be able to perform customer analytics. Applying customer analytics methodologies to your customer information helps identify, attract and retain your best and most profitable customers. Customer analytics leverages customer behavior, trends, psychographic and demographic data to design more effective customer experiences and customer marketing. When done effectively, your organization can use the information derived from the customer analytics to strategically influence interactions with customers’ and prospects.

How might your organization benefit from customer analytics? For example, if keeping customers over a specific time period and having them purchase particular products is important to your profitability and return against the cost to acquire, you can use analytics to determine the components of customer lifetime value, the profitability of each customer, and the likelihood of attrition over a certain period of time. With this information your organization can develop a targeted retention strategy, cross-selling and/or up-selling programs, and leverage the desired communication channels in order to improve the lifetime value of customers. All of these initiatives fall into the domain of your marketing organization.

It takes a number of key elements to adequately deploy customer analytics so that your marketing organization can more effectively address customer and market opportunities. Your marketing organization will need the right people, processes, data and technology. Organizations who make these investments and leverage customer analytics are better able to anticipate, influence and measure customer behavior.

For many organizations, data is one of the primary challenges they face when it comes to customer analytics. Often the required data exists in disparate non-integrated systems creating a number of issues. Top that off with the increase in the number of channels organizations have at their disposal today to reach customers, and the data challenge can quickly become overwhelming. Therefore before most organizations can perform customer analytics, they need to address their data.

Here are three steps you may want to make sure your marketing organization has address:

1. Clean customer data that is updated regularly. We live in a dynamic environment where change is constant and that goes for customer data. The quality of your customer data greatly affects the data analysis. Clean data is imperative to develop valid actionable insight that will improve marketing effectiveness.

2. A customer data management technology that serves as a centralized source for all customer data. As we’ve already noted, data is the lynchpin for justifying and optimizing marketing investments.

3. The integration of all your customer data into the customer data management system. Customer data exists in a number of disparate systems, such as your web analytics tool, your social media monitoring tool, customer feedback and surveys, and your marketing campaign automation tool. It generally takes technology to collect, aggregate and integrate all of your customer data. But it is essential that all your data be integrated into one robust system.

Now you and your marketing organization will be able to answer these kinds of questions about your customers.

1. Who are your most profitable customers?
2. What do they buy?
3. What do they need?
4. What motivates them to buy?

Once you have all your customer data in a robust database, you can apply analytical methodology to the data to derive insights into your customers’ behavior and preferences. Performing this type of analysis enables your organization to use data to create customized marketing initiatives and develop personalized marketing programs that will engage your prospects and customers. Performing customer analytics takes process, tools, and analytical skills but the payoff is better targeted relevant interactions with prospects and customers in order to improve customer loyalty, profitability and of course your marketing organization’s effectiveness.

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 (, 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.

The CMO's Guide to the Social Media Landscape

Here is a nice overview of the social media landscape that will help you understand how to best leverage major social media sites for your marketing. The guide lists the major social media platforms and rates their value for driving customer communication, brand exposure, traffic to your site, and SEO - check it out:

Reengineering the White Paper - How to Build a Lead Stream by Shifting Tactics from “Send and Sell” to “Entice and Engage”

As you might remember, the first article in the "Reengineering the White Paper" series by The Bloom Group was about how to develop compelling content. (Great white papers are not so because the writing is great – they are great because the core ideas are.)

This second part of the series discusses how bringing a white paper to market must now radically change given the abundance of white papers and, more important, because online marketing tools (including but not limited to social media) enable marketers to get readers to come to them.

This series is definitely my favorite guide on how to create compelling white papers - check it out.

Lead Generation Checklist - Part 4: Clear and Universal Lead Definition

In part 4 of the lead generation checklist, we take a look at a critical component of lead generation efforts: a universal lead definition. This will get sales and marketing on the same page to share a common understanding and treatment of the leads in your funnel.

The definition of the lead dimensions also acts as the standard for rating leads and determining whether they are sales ready or need more nurturing by marketing. In part 4 of his lead generation checklist, Brian Carroll highlights some of the key points for defining your leads - click here to read the article. Another great resource discussing the various lead dimensions that need to be defined can be found here.

Lead Generation Checklist – Part 3: Develop and Intensify Your Ideal Customer Profile

One of the biggest mistakes companies can make is to try and be all things to all people, going after all possible customers out of fear to miss out on revenue opportunities. Among all possible prospects, some companies are a better fit for a vendor's solution and have more to gain by purchasing it than other customers. They are more likely to pay a premium and prefer the vendor over less ideal competitors. This translates into higher closing rates and higher lifetime customer value. The increase in revenue from focusing on ideal target segments often far outweighs the loss in revenue from abandoning less ideal segments.

But how do you identify your ideal customers? The concept of the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) is designed to help marketers identify the attributes ideal customers have in common that separate them from other less profitable segments. Attributes used for segmentation include demographics such as industry and company size, psychological characteristics such as technology adoption patterns (innovators, early adopters, early majority, etc.) as well as trigger events such as the hire of a new chief executive or approaching compliance deadlines for regulatory legislation. In part 3 of his lead generation checklist, Brian Carroll explains how to develop and itensify your ideal customer profile. Check it out.

How to Call to Action

While marketing strategy and planning are critical to success, marketing often fails on the execution side. Take online campaigns, for example. Here you can often see campaigns break down not because of lack of a compelling offer or properly segmented audience but because the call to action is not powerful enough to trigger a response. The best offers never get consumed if your call to action doesn't convert the visitor to even get to the offer.

Anne Smarty posted a great article with best practices for improving your call to action on her blog "SEO Smarty". From choice of colors and words to the optimum position of your call to action on the screen, this gets you started on improving your call to actions to boost conversion - go check it out.

What are your secrets for making your call to actions work?

Lead Generation Checklist - Part 2: Sales and Marketing as One Team

Here comes part two of the lead generation checklist series by Brian Carroll. The first part was about engaging prospects and customers in conversations and taking a consultative rather than transactional approach to marketing. Part two focuses on the chasm between sales and marketing that is common in many organizations. How long has it been since your marketing and sales teams got together for a really productive meeting? In many if not most organizations, sales blames marketing for not producing a sufficient number of truly qualified leads, and marketing points the finger at sales for not following up on the great leads that were produced.

In my opinion, sales and marketing alignment is one of the most critical aspects of lead generation and breakdown in the relationship between the two hurts revenue growth. Unless both sales and marketing teams work hand in hand and agree on the lead generation goals, process, and qualification criteria, your lead gen money and efforts will go to waste. Click here to read the complete post.