Industry Q&A: What’s Up With B2B Marketing in Argentina?

I was teaching B2B digital marketing to master’s degree students at San Andres University in Buenos Aires again this summer. The students were pretty enthusiastic about the concepts and tactics I shared. So, I decided to look into what’s going on in B2B marketing in Argentina, overall.

I was teaching B2B digital marketing to master’s degree students at San Andres University in Buenos Aires again this summer. The students were pretty enthusiastic about the concepts and tactics I shared. So, I decided to look into what’s going on in B2B marketing in Argentina, overall.

Martin J. Frias
Martin J. Frias

Thanks to an introduction from the longtime agency pro and university instructor Freddy Rosales, I had the chance to meet Martin J. Frias, who filled me in. Here’s what I learned.

Ruth Stevens: How do B2B marketers in Argentina approach new customer prospecting these days?

Martin Frias: Twenty years ago, we would buy databases from trade publications and data vendors, and use them to cold call, trying to reach senior executives. The problem in those days was getting past the gatekeepers.

Stevens: What has changed since then?

Frias: Three things. First, technology. Buyers now have anonymous access to product information. Sellers — even smaller brands — are using marketing automation like InfusionSoft, Marketo, and a local provider called Doppler emBlue to conduct event-triggered campaigns. Second, inbound marketing, meaning content posted by sellers on LinkedIn and blogs. Third, a larger role for marketing, as active members of inside sales and lead qualification teams. But I must tell you, not all firms are moving toward this kind of modern marketing. Most are still doing the same old push email and events.

Stevens: So, what’s still missing?

Frias: A shared vision between sales and marketing about the entire demand generation and sales process. The two sides need to agree on what is a lead, how to define qualification, and identify the tools needed to operate — from marketing automation, to CRM, to ERP. In short, sales and marketing need to take joint responsibility for guiding the buying process.

Stevens: I am hearing that WhatsApp is a favorite tool here. Please explain.

Frias: Yes, WhatsApp offers an enterprise network tool that integrates with marketing automation, so you can manage omnichannel messaging via WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, and others. But you have to be careful. It can backfire. Many business buyers consider WhatsApp an exclusively personal medium, and they resent receiving business communications through it. Also, I think businesses may worry that their targeted communications could fall into the hands of competitors, thanks to WhatsApp’s extraordinary ease of sharing.

Stevens: Are there any prospecting data sources available now?

Frias: You can buy data, or you can buy access. For example, there’s an IT community platform here with a half a million subscribers. Marketers generally don’t trust the databases that are for sale. At my agency, we use LinkedIn Sales Navigator; whereby, we can contact 5 million Argentinean professionals, mostly those in middle management. We use LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index, company size, industry, and title for segmentation, and we attract the targets with content.

Stevens: Is there a professional association for B2B marketers in Argentina?

Frias: No. I wish there were. There is a post-grad program in B2B marketing offered at ITBA, one of our leading engineering schools. The tech industry is really the leader in B2B marketing here. Other key industries, like oil and gas, manufacturing, and construction, are more interested in brand positioning and awareness, and less about lead generation. So, they focus on their websites, value propositions, sales collateral, trade shows, and business events — like golf outings, and sponsoring sports events. They’re not using content, marketing automation, and lead management.

Stevens: Please tell me about yourself and how you became active in B2B marketing here in Argentina.

Frias: I started at Oracle Hyperion, heading a lead generation team in the financial services area. Then I worked at several other firms. Now, I have a 15-person agency called Pragmativa. We offer full B2B demand generation services, including website design, search marketing, display advertising, content, social media, and marketing automation. So, we’ll run a client’s prospecting, and manage their data. The one thing we don’t do, because I don’t believe in it, is cold-call telemarketing. Despite frequent requests from clients.

Stevens: Anything else you’d like to share?

Frias: Yes, I have a B2B marketing blog, in Spanish, and welcome followers.

 

A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.

Building a Center of Excellence for Customer Engagement — Part 2

This is Part 2 of a two-part posting on how to create and organize a center of excellence (CoE) for demand generation and customer engagement. In this post, we will discuss the inputs and outputs to the CoE and what driving for excellence means, in practice.

This is Part 2 of a two-part posting on how to create and organize a center of excellence (CoE) for demand generation and customer engagement. In Part 1, we highlighted that one must define the capabilities that will exist within the CoE and talked generally about the people involved. In this post, we will discuss the inputs and outputs to the CoE and what driving for excellence means, in practice.

CoE Inputs and Outputs

So let’s say you’ve decided to create a Customer Engagement CoE, within marketing, and they will drive all your inbound and outbound campaigns, engaging with prospects and customers. You already concluded which capabilities you will need in the team in order to execute.

Next, you need to consider the inputs and outputs to this organization very carefully. Why? Imagine a baker is determined to be excellent, the best in the county. They are going to master the best cates around. They will test different ingredients, ovens, temperatures, cooking times, blending methods etc., all to arrive at the perfect cake. If the ingredients were to change in composition every week, would that stymie the baker’s attempts to achieve excellence? Of course. So for our customer engagement team, if there is no defined process for submitting campaign requests, or offers, or personas, or buying journey maps, or campaign and event calendars, or communications cadence and governance rules, they will not be able to hone their results. They will do their best to manage the chaos, but don’t expect them to achieve continuous improvement.

The outputs will, of course, depend on the capabilities you put in the CoE. Let’s assume for a moment you put the email platform power users, the inbound power users, the SEM/SEO, social media, and event managers all in here. The obvious output is, of course, great customer engagement and MQLs/SQLs. The other outputs include:

  • Content requirements to the content group
  • Content engagement results to the content group
  • A campaign calendar
  • MQL/SQL results, broken down by product and region
  • Technology, process, data, and reporting requirements to the marketing operations team

Driving for Excellence

So what does it mean to drive for excellence? We could just put a demand generation team together instead of creating a CoE, so what’s the difference?

Putting a team of people together, all driving for a common business outcome, does not make them a CoE. Creating a managed services team does not make it a CoE. The CoE label is earned if you direct them as follows:

  1. There is an expectation of excellence from this team. They will have precisely defined outcomes and goals. These will be measured and reviewed regularly.
  2. They will have a maniacal pursuit of excellence in the delivery of their outcomes. A strong QA ethic. And if the inputs do not conform to the defined process and expectation, the task is not accepted. For example, a campaign brief or blueprint is submitted with missing details, perhaps missing copy or assets, it is rejected. Nothing is allowed to interfere with the precise operation of a customer engagement machine that is being fine-tuned for perfection.
  3. There is a burning need for continuous improvement. There is experimentation and multivariate testing. The best practices are carefully documented and rigidly followed. There is continuous education for all team members. They are to become the elites in the industry.
  4. The team is empowered to task some measured risks, to embrace innovation, and to operate in an agile fashion.

Conclusion

It is likely that a new team will not become a CoE overnight. It may take months to define the inputs and outputs and the processes behind them, so that the quality becomes consistent. It may take time to find people who are passionate about continuous improvement and open to experimentation. New ways of rewarding performance may be required. But the extra investment in creating a CoE, instead of just forming a group, will be returned in much higher-than-average results.

How to Build a Center of Excellence for Customer Engagement — Part I

This is Part 1 of a two-part posting on how to create and organize a center of excellence for demand generation and customer engagement. Different definitions for a center of excellence, or CoE, have circulated for some time.

This is Part 1 of a two-part posting on how to create and organize a center of excellence for demand generation and customer engagement.

Different definitions for a center of excellence, or CoE, have circulated for some time:

  • In academia, where the phrase was coined, CoEs are sometimes called a “competency center” or “capability center.” A CoE brings together people from different disciplines and provides shared facilities/resources.
  • Business CoEs are sometimes defined as a team that leads others in the organization in a particular area of expertise; whether that be technology, skill or discipline — providing leadership, best practices, research, support and/or training.
  • Additionally, if leaders don’t define “excellence” with KPIs and output metrics, then it’s not a Marketing Center of Excellence, it’s just a skilled group.

Gartner defines a CoE as “a physical or virtual center of knowledge, concentrating existing expertise and resources in a discipline or capability to attain and sustain world-class performance and value.” Gartner then proceeds to state that this breaks down into four elements. Let me paraphrase those here:

  1. CoEs need to focus on a tight scope, defined around a specific capability
  2. Define the location of the CoE (physical vs. virtual)
  3. CoEs should optimize and leverage resources internal to the organization, not external vendors or agencies
  4. Have a focus on pushing beyond standard performance norms. (i.e., Drive toward excellence in the chosen capabilities.)

This is a good list, but it feels a little incomplete. We need to further differentiate a CoE from a simple organization chart department, or managed services group, or council. What are the characteristics of a Revenue Marketing CoE?

  1. The Revenue Marketing CoE is based on a set of related capabilities. What is a capability? “A capability is a unique bundling of skills, knowledge, and resources that facilitate the execution of business processes, and are what ultimately contribute to sustainable competitive advantage and superior performance.” (Day, 1994, opens as a PDF).
  2. The CoE has a clearly defined mission and charter
  3. The CoE has a defined structure and borders — i.e., what are the inputs and the outputs. And related to this, there needs to be a definition for how the broader organization interoperates with the CoE
  4. The CoE is chartered to drive for continuous improvement and curation of best practices; thereby, achieving excellence
  5. The CoE has a significant impact on the competiveness of the organization, and a strong ROI

Capabilities

Let’s start with the capabilities, what should be in the Customer Engagement CoE, and remember — just because you move a capability in here, doesn’t mean that it can’t also exist outside the CoE … content creation, for example. To build a CoE for customer engagement, you will benefit from the following set of capabilities, at a minimum:

  • Demand management
  • Program management
  • Campaign management (inbound and outbound)
  • Best practices management
  • Customer journey and persona management
  • Operational outcome reporting
  • Customer experience management

There are other capabilities that could optionally be added:

  • Campaign content operations
  • Marketing technology operations (i.e., the folks who build inbound and outbound campaigns)
  • Data analysis and analytics/reporting

So, at a minimum, you might have job titles like these in the COE:

  1. Demand Generation Managers; AKA, program/campaign strategists
  2. Power users for all channels (email, social, paid media, events, etc.)
  3. Customer data tzar, possibly also good for reporting analysis and segmentation
  4. Content creative and copy writing
  5. Content strategist
  6. Inbound admin/guru and MAP/CRM admin/guru, especially for config and reporting
  7. Campaign Managers; AKA, project managers for campaign design/execution
  8. Traffic managers for handling all the asset production and workflows

You may choose to implement a customer engagement CoE that extends beyond the walls of marketing and, in doing so, needs to include representatives from sales and support. When you consider that a focus on customer experience is a company-wide mandate and cannot be executed by marketing alone, then creating a customer engagement CoE that can serve the broader organization makes sense.

Hopefully, this discussion on capabilities in the CoE got you thinking, and you are asking yourself:

“Whoa, would I put content/creative types in there?”

“Would I put social, paid media folks in there?”

“ Would I put the campaign strategists/designers in there? I mean, what if I have field marketing?”

“Jeez, Kevin, keep it simple. Why not simply make a CoE out of the Marketing Automation Platform (MAP) power users, put them in HQ, call them a CoE, stick it under Marketing Ops and call it good?”

Not so fast. Is the latter really a CoE? Do they represent one or more capabilities in the way we defined capabilities above? No. Are they in one location, yes. Can they strive for excellence in building, sure. But they cannot measure their results based on the business outcomes, because so much is out of their control: the quality of the design, the offers, the data, the metrics. So, they make it on three of the four Gartner criteria, but fail on No. 1. Do they represent one or more capabilities? You could argue that this is semantics and that “MAP usage” is a capability. Not so fast (again). Remember Day’s definition of a capability?

“A unique bundling of skills, knowledge, and resources that facilitate the execution of business processes…”

Does building a campaign all by itself rise to the level of “facilitates execution of a business process”? No. Nor will it “contribute to a sustainable competitive advantage.” But it is part of the customer engagement process where we can hope to gain competitive advantage. And now we get to the crux of the discussion: We cannot determine if a CoE is right for our organization until we have agreement on what the required capabilities might be.

A COE is the right way to organize a team and, thereby, increase marketing effectiveness, when these conditions exist relative to the capabilities and people:

  • Capabilities:
    • Specific Revenue Marketing capabilities can be provided by a small or modest-sized group
    • Grouping these capabilities and the individuals together will be synergistic
    • The returned value to the organization in driving to excellence in these capabilities is high
  • People:
    • A modest-sized group of specialists, who may be skilled in completely different areas, and all share common goals or business outcomes for their skills, can be grouped together under one leader.
    • This group can be united as one and manically pursue excellence in the delivery of those business outcomes.
    • The team is empowered, embraces innovation, has a bias for action, and operates in an agile fashion

There are, of course, other criteria to consider before electing to invest more and create a CoE, instead of simply organizing as a group. They include a detailed specification of the CoE inputs and outputs, what driving for excellence actually means in practice, and having a well-defined mission and charter. All this and more will come next month in Part 2 of this blog post.

1 Big Pitfall to Successful Demand Generation Digital Transformation

As marketing leaders, we sometimes inadvertently lead our teams astray. When we delegate the outcomes we want, and simultaneously drive a sense of urgency, our teams may skip important steps in their drive to achieve the outcomes.

As marketing leaders, we sometimes inadvertently lead our teams astray. When we delegate the outcomes we want, and simultaneously drive a sense of urgency, our teams may skip important steps in their drive to achieve the outcomes. Here is a classic example we see all too frequently with clients.

The Scenario

We start with the desired outcomes, of course. In demand generation, this is usually marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) or sales-qualified leads (SQLs), bookings and revenue. If this desired outcome was somehow unexpected, then a sense of urgency invariably accompanies it. So, in turn, we light a fire under our teams to quickly get some leads in the door, generate MQLs and SQLs ASAP.

The Result and the 1 Big Pitfall

We need to generate leads and MQLs? Let’s create a campaign! Yay! Design it this week, build it next week, QA and launch the end of the week, and leads will start pouring in subsequent to that. Oh, dear. If only it were that easy. Going straight from “we need MQLs” to “let’s create a campaign” means going from Step 1 to Step 8 and skipping six important steps.

  1. Generate new MQLs and SQLs
  2. Create a campaign!

Here are the six intervening steps you will want to ensure your team takes if you are to have successful demand generation campaigns and succeed in your digital transformation.

Preventing the Pitfall

Step 2. What Buying Stage Transition Are We Targeting?

Once we understand the outcome desired in Step 1, we must determine what customer buying journey stage we are targeting. Are we moving people from unaware to aware, or from aware to consideration, etc. If you haven’t defined the customer buying journey, stop and define at least one.

Step 3. What Persona Are We Targeting?

Don’t have any defined personas? Stop and define at least one. Having a clear picture of who you are targeting is a critical step to successfully achieving your outcome. Now that you have the persona selected, the team gets to review what channels the persona prefers, and the content preferences. Step 2 and Step 3 are interchangeable. I.e., there will be occasions where you perceive your funnel conversion rate from one stage to another is low, and you make the buying journey stage decision first. There will be other times where you recognize your funnel volume is low on a particular persona, and you make the persona decision first and the buying journey stage decision second. Regardless, you need to take both steps.

Step 4. What Problem Does Your Persona Have at This Stage?

The next question to answer, now that you have selected the target persona, and the current buying journey stage, is what problem do the members of it have at this stage that can be solved with your content?

For example, if you are targeting the Aware stage, and want to move them to Consideration, what information or education will trigger the buyers to sit up, realize they have been ignoring a pain in their sides that is curable, or that they have an opportunity to do something they have not done before, and they need to finally take action? The ideal content you send is most likely NOT product-centric. It will be customer-centric and it will have the buyer‘s challenge or the opportunity as the primary theme. It will be very narrowly focused around that theme.

We are looking for the trigger that will move this persona one step forward in the buying journey. We are not trying to move them all of the way to “closed won” with a single piece of content, or a single campaign.

Step 5. What Message or Content Addresses That Challenge or Opportunity?

Okay, we have the target persona, the buying journey stage they are in, the trigger we feel will tip them forward into the next stage in the buying journey. So now the question is, what content do we have that directly addresses this issue? Ignore the medium it is in for now, as repackaging it may not be hard. Focus on which Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) can or have already produced in terms of educational pieces of content that will be most effective in engaging the targets and moving them forward.

Step 6. What Is the Appropriate Medium for the Information?

All too often, we have clients ask us: “What is the hottest medium to use these days — video, white papers, webinars, slide shares, infographics, what?”

This is totally the wrong question! The answer depends on the message itself, and the persona and, to some extent, the buying stage they are in.

For example, if your target persona is a technical influencer, and uses a smartphone frequently to read email on the commuter train in the morning, sending a white paper would be silly, but a 2-minute video could work great … depending on the message you are trying to send. And the medium may also depend on the channels we pick in Step 7. Because more and more campaigns are becoming multichannel, it is likely you will end up choosing multiple media for the message, to match the multiple channels you use to engage the targets.

Step 7. What Combination of Channels Will We Use to Communicate That Content?

Next, we have to determine which channels will work for this persona. It is a good idea to use more than one channel to convey the same message to the same individuals. The results will simply be better, and the level of effort is not significantly more.

Some firms erroneously believe that paid media ads are only for top-of-funnel, new-lead acquisition. This is not true.

For instance, you can upload a list of email addresses into Facebook, or LinkedIn, match them against their data to create your new target list, and then do nurturing campaigns through those channels very economically only to your existing leads.

Step 8: Put It All Together

Now you are finally ready for Step 8. Let’s design a campaign based on all of the decisions made in Steps 2-7.  Now the cynics among you will say, “Hey, steps 2-7 are really part of basic campaign design, how can people be skipping them?”

The Pitfall You Just Avoided

Well, many firms don’t have defined personas and buying journey maps and here is what happens:

Step 1. CMO: We need more MQLs, urgently

Step 8. Team: Let’s design a campaign

  • An Email campaign, right? Blast everyone who is not a customer in our database, right?
  • 4 touches, check
  • 2 weeks apart, check
  • What offers can we put in there, a case study, an infographic, a research report and the last email is the call to action — “request a demo.” Check
  • Great, code up that campaign, we can get this out in under two weeks. Yay.
  • Count all the MQLs.

Conclusion

So, the message is this. If you urgently discover you need more MQLs, update your resume, not your campaign calendar. If you want to be successful in digital transformation, become more customer-centric, and approach customer engagement from the buyer perspective:

Think about what information they need first. Secondly, determine what content contains that information and then lastly, what channels and campaigns can convey that information to the recipients. And understand that one campaign does not produce a meaningful flow of MQLs or SQLs. Nurturing is a process, it requires commitment and it must be sustained over a longer period of time

CMO Accountability: What’s the Time Horizon?

What are CMOs held accountable for at the end of the year? Let’s say we invest 5 percent of revenues in a given year in marketing, what do the CEO and the board of directors expect in return?

What are CMOs held accountable for at the end of the year? Let’s say we invest 5 percent of revenues in a given year in marketing, what do the CEO and the board of directors expect in return?

  1. Incremental sales to the tune of 20x their investment?
  2. Incremental market share or new market penetration?
  3. Incremental profits?
  4. Incremental customer loyalty, customer satisfaction and customer value?
  5. Increasing shareholder value?
  6. All of the above?

Whereas sales representatives may have a one quarter horizon, can the CMO afford to invest in marketing functions with such a short time horizon in mind? In our post last month, we discussed these six major functions for which marketing is responsible, presumably so that they can deliver on the list above:

  1. Gather customer requirements, defining markets and the product/service sets
  2. Help create and retain customers with demand generation programs, content marketing, events, social, etc.
  3. Increase brand equity
  4. Channel marketing and technology partner management
  5. Empower the sales channels with market data, prospect data, competitive data and sales tools & collateral
  6. Participate in the support and delivery of the “whole product” to customers

Reconciling the investments in each of the latter six functions with the results described in the former list of six outcomes is a herculean task. So, let’s focus on just one aspect: Which marketing functions require the CMO to have a longer time horizon than one year?

  1. Defining the markets, and defining the products/services required to successfully penetrate those markets are tasks usually associated with product management (PMM). But the final decision-making requires participation from representatives in nearly every function in the company. The ROI period for these efforts could be three to five years or more. What share of the marketing budget should go to PMM knowing that it is a long-term investment? Most firms tie this to market share changes and revenue/profits that the PMM forecasts over a multi-year period.
  2. If the sales cycle is six months or less, it is conceivable that the ROI for demand generation could be viewed as a near-term investment. As a result, many marketing organizations focus their ROI reporting solely on their promotion and content budgets and ignore ROI calculations on many of the other marketing investments.
  3. Increases in brand equity can be measured, but it is definitely a long-term investment. The benefits are obvious to most: increased brand awareness, brand loyalty, perceived quality, and clearly defined brand attributes improve lead acquisition, increased loyalty, and lower cost of acquiring new business.
  4. In many cases the management and nurturing of channel partners, resellers and VARs lean on marketing to support these players with educational materials, training, and product information. Ie the Partner Managers are in marketing. Additionally, if products or services from an OEM are an integral part of the product or solution sold, those relationships are also managed in marketing by product marketing managers. The ROI for investments in these relationships is near term and can be measured.
  5. Sales enablement with tools, content, templates, training, competitive data target, customer and prospect data and market data is a requirement, and in most cases the ROI is both near and long term. The return is an increase in productivity in the sales teams and sales channels. It is easy to measure, but difficult to allocate how much credit falls to marketing initiatives. Also, much of the tools and content (but not all) will be accounted for in No. 2 above.
  6. How do you do an ROI on marketing’s role as part of the product or service delivery? If marketing is doing follow-up communications with new customers to ensure adoption and satisfaction how are the benefits measured? If marketing owns the e-commerce platform an ROI is easy. How about marketing communications around support contract renewals?

The long-term investments for marketing, at a minimum, are product marketing/management, brand equity and of course any infrastructure investments (technology, data and process). Brand equity investments are usually rolled up under promotion and demand generation efforts as if they were near-term investments. Investing in infrastructure is usually accounted for by tying it to increasing marketing productivity, enabling marketing to be more competitive, or improving customer experience (leading to greater acquisition and loyalty presumably).

The conclusion here is that the CMO is accountable for a portfolio of investments, related to different functions and with both near and long-term return horizons. The methods for measuring these returns vary, and the outcomes for the business from these investments also vary. The CMO has to rebalance the portfolio quarterly and they must adopt an “agile” approach without taking their eyes off the goals. Although for sales, this may be the most important quarter in the company’s history, the CMO has too many long-term investments to have a short time horizon.

A Revenue Marketing Journey: The Conclusion

Sixteen months ago, we started the revenue marketing journey together. We defined revenue marketing as the combined set of strategies, processes, people, technologies, content and result measurements across marketing and sales.

Sixteen months ago, we started the revenue marketing journey together. We defined revenue marketing as the combined set of strategies, processes, people, technologies, content and result measurements across marketing and sales.

What followed was a series of articles that chronicled the major tasks fundamental to transforming your marketing organization to one that influences revenue in a predictable, scalable way. We covered, in the following order, the organization structure, the processes, content, channels, technology and analytics. Links to all 16 posts are provided below.

  1. First Steps in the Revenue Marketing Journey
  2. An Organizational Structure for Modern Marketing Success
  3. Marketing Operations Grows Up: Why Unicorns Rule
  4. Driving Demand Generation: Who Belongs on That Bus?
  5. The Digital and Content Team: Is Splintering a Verb?
  6. 5 Core Marketing Operations Processes to Master
  7. 7 Outrageous Lead Management Errors and How to Fix Them
  8. Is Data-Driven Decision-Making (3D) at the Heart of Your Marketing Organization?
  9. Add Data Operations to Accelerate Your Revenue Marketing Journey
  10. WARNING Don’t Wing Campaign Development: 6 Steps to a Flawless Rollout
  11. Are You Drowning in Content Chaos?
  12. Brilliant Marketing: Why Thomas Edison Was Light-Years Ahead of His Time
  13. How to Formulate Your 2018 Content Marketing Strategy
  14. Your Prospects Are Multichannel. Are You?
  15. How Marketing Operations Chooses Wisely Between Bright, Shiny Objects
  16. Get Revenue Marketing Analytics Right for 2018

Now that we have covered the fundamentals of revenue marketing, it is time to discuss how we operationalize a response to the big challenges facing marketing today using our revenue marketing capabilities. How do we help marketing become even more accountable, fully execute a digital transformation, and embrace the customer experience as the dominant competitive battlefield?

Next month, we will start with accountability and how to shape those quarterly and annual goals of the marketing organization.

Driving Demand Generation: Who Belongs on That Bus?

In last month’s blog post, I discussed the ideal marketing operations structure — the why and how to centralize this vital function. In this post, we explore the demand generation function. What should be part of this function and how should you reconcile it with having a “shared services” team?

Revenue Marketing RoadmapIn last month’s blog post, I discussed the ideal marketing operations (MO) structure — the why and how to centralize this vital function. In this post, we explore the demand generation function.

What should be part of this function and how to reconcile it with having a “shared services” team in MO? How would you go about centralizing all demand generation into this one group if you currently have an outbound team and a separate inbound team under different directors?

Demand Generation Group Structure

The charter of a demand generation group looks like this:

Responsible for driving revenue results and optimizing interactions with all global buyers across the revenue cycle to accelerate predictable revenue growth.

Consequently, in larger organizations you are likely to see the following functions in this group:

Demand generation group functions
Demand generation group functions.

If that chart doesn’t scream a set of questions for you, its time for another cup of coffee!

Program managers, top-level business managers for marketing investment in demand generation, provide direction to the content team, and ultimately own the number: marketing influenced revenue.

Campaign managers take direction from the program managers. They are probably the same person in smaller firms. Campaign managers may specialize in one or more channels, but since campaigns are becoming omnichannel you are better off having them focused by target market segment. Their campaigns are grouped by stages of the buying cycle by segment — awareness, lead acquisition, lead nurturing, customer loyalty, advocacy etc.

The martech power users, QA and best practices management functions could alternatively be executed in a marketing operations department. Keeping them in demand generation means they continue to operate close to the program and campaign management team. On the other hand, if your MO function is well developed, putting them in the shared services group in MO means they are close to analytics and project management. This means this team will probably have a more streamlined relationship with the field marketing team, i.e. the “HQ” region is less likely to dominate the global campaign calendar unless the revenue goals merit it.

Tele-qualification is often both in marketing and sales. If the line is blurry, that’s good. It should be, because the function is squarely on the line between the two organizations. If you use them to sell smaller deals, renew contracts, etc, then they probably belong in sales, and are rightfully described as an inside sales function. But if the function is strictly to provide higher quality leads to sales, driving up sales’ productivity, then keep them in marketing.

An Inbound vs. Outbound Digression

There are more internet battles on inbound versus outbound than about Kirk versus Picard! Some say inbound is less expensive than outbound for lead generation or that outbound is marketing to the masses (TV commercials, radio, email blasts, trade shows). Is inbound just content marketing using SEO, and paid traffic through online channels? By all means add your comments below, but here is my perspective: It is not news that the two are merging so marketers need to move past these debates, unite these teams, and start designing and executing omnichannel campaigns.

The Great Marketing Data Revolution

I think it’s safe to say that “Big Data” is enjoying its 15 minutes of fame. It’s a topic we’ve covered in this blog, as well. In case you missed it, I briefly touched on this topic in a post titled “Deciphering Big Data Is Key to Understanding Buyer’s Journey,” which I published a few weeks back. For those of you who don’t know what it is, Big Data refers to the massive quantities of information, much of it marketing-related, that firms are currently collecting as they do business.

I think it’s safe to say that “Big Data” is enjoying its 15 minutes of fame. It’s a topic we’ve covered in this blog, as well. In case you missed it, I briefly touched on this topic in a post titled “Deciphering Big Data Is Key to Understanding Buyer’s Journey,” which I published a few weeks back.

For those of you who don’t know what it is, Big Data refers to the massive quantities of information, much of it marketing-related, that firms are currently collecting as they do business. Since the data are being stored in different places and many varying formats, for the most part the state they’re in is what we refer to as “unstructured.” Additionally, because Big Data is also stored in different silos within the organization, it’s generally managed by various teams or divisions. With the recent advent of Web 2.0, the volume of data firms are confronted with has quite literally exploded, and many are struggling to store, manage and make sense out of it.

The breadth of data is simply staggering. In fact, according to Teradata, more data have been created in the last three years than in all past 40,000 years of human history combined! And the pace of data is only predicted to continue growing. You see, proliferating channels are providing us with an unprecedented amount of information—too much even to store! In a marketing sense, the term Big Data essentially refers to the collection of unstructured data from across different segments, and the drive to make sense of it all. And it’s not an easy task.

Think about it. How do you compare email opens, clicks and unsubscribes to Facebook “Likes” or Twitter followers, tweets or mentions? How does traffic your main website is receiving relate to the data stored in your CRM? How can you possibly compare the valuable business intelligence you’re tracking in your marketing automation platform you’re using for demand generation, against the detailed customer records you’re storing in your ERP you use for billing and customer service? Now throw in call center data, point of sale (POS) stats … information provided by Value Added Retailers (VARs), distributors and third-party data providers. More importantly, how do they ALL compare and relate together? You get the picture.

Now this begs the next question; which is, namely, what does this mean to marketers and marketing departments. This is where it gets very interesting. You see, unbeknownst to many, there’s an amazing transformation that is just now taking place within many firms as they deal with the endless volumes of unstructured data they are tracking and storing every day across their organization.

What’s happening is firms are rethinking the way they store, manage data and channel data throughout their entire companies. I call it the Great Marketing Data Revolution. It’s essentially a complete repurposing and reprocessing of the tools they use and how they’re used. This wholesale repurposing aims not only to make sense out of this trove of data, but also to break down the walls separating the various silos where the information is stored. As we speak, pioneering companies are just now leading the charge … and will be the first to reap the immense benefits down the road when the revolution is complete.

Ultimately, success in this crucial endeavor demands a holistic approach. This is the case because this drive essentially requires hammering out a better way of doing business by reprocessing across these four major steps: Process Workflow, Human Capital, Technology, and Supply Chain Management. In other words, doing this right way may require a complete rethinking of the direction that data flows within an organization, who manages it, where the information is stored, and what third-party suppliers need to be engaged with to assist in the process. We’re talking a completely new way of looking at marketing process management.

With so many moving parts, not surprisingly there are many obstacles in the way. Those obstacles include legacy IT infrastructure, disparate marketing structure scattered across various departments, limited IT budgets and, of course, sheer inertia. But out of all the obstacles companies face, the most important may be the dearth of data-savvy staff and marketing talent that firms have on staff.

Firms are having a difficult time staffing up in this area because this transformation is actually a hybrid marketing and IT process. Think about it. The data are being created by the firm’s marketing department. As such, only marketing truly understands not only how the data are being generated, but more importantly why they’re important and how this information can be put to actionable use in the future. At the same time, the data are stored within IT’s domain, sitting on servers or stacks, or else stored in the cloud. And because the process involves a complete rethinking and reprocessing, it really needs a new type of talent—basically a hybrid marketer/technologist—to make it happen.

Many are deeming this new role that of a Data Scientist. Not surprisingly, because this is a new role, employees with these skills aren’t exactly a dime a dozen. You can read about that here in this article that appeared on AOL Jobs titled “Data Scientist: The Hottest Job You Haven’t Heard Of.” The article reports that, because they’re in such high demand, Data Scientists can expect to earn decent salaries—ranging from $60,000 to $115,000.

Know any Data Scientists? Are you involved in a similar reprocessing transformation for your firm? If so, I’d love to know in your comments.

An Online Lead Generation Chat With LeadsCon Founder

Jay Weintraub, founder of LeadsCon, a conference and expo focused on online lead generation, believes that online lead generation is alive and well — and getting stronger. That’s what he told me during the recent discussion we had about online lead generation, and he certainly ought to know: Following stints with Advertising.com and Oversee.net, Weintraub’s annual LeadsCon conferences have taken off since the first one was held in April 2008.

Jay Weintraub, founder of LeadsCon, a conference and expo focused on online lead generation, believes that online lead generation is alive and well — and getting stronger. That’s what he told me during the recent discussion we had about online lead generation, and he certainly ought to know: Following stints with Advertising.com and Oversee.net, Weintraub’s annual LeadsCon conferences have taken off since the first one was held in April 2008.

As he was preparing for LeadsCon’s third conference to be held next February in Las Vegas, I asked him about the state of the online lead generation industry. The following are highlights from our discussion:

Melissa Campanelli: How would you define online lead generation?
Jay Weintraub:
There are two distinct types of online lead generation. One type involves an expression of real-time interest by a consumer, whereby the consumer completes an online form about himself. Then, in real time or near real time, that information is in the hands of the buyer or the person who’s interested in using lead generation.

Another type involves prospecting and what people tend to also call demand generation. Here, I may sell high-end databases and I may want to purchase a large file of names of potential prospects. Then, I may follow up with them on the phone or via email. The folks I am contacting didn’t request that I contact them, but they’re part of a data set of people that fit my criteria.

These two online lead generation worlds are very different. Not one is better than the other. But it shows that the term “online lead generation” is very broad.

MC: What are some trends in the online lead generation space?
JW: I’ve seen an emergence of consumer-facing sites that offer great value but only get paid when some sort of action happens.

One example is a site called BillShrink.com, which I call “LowerMyBills.com 2.0.” The site, which compares gas prices, credit card offers and cell phone plans, and then directs consumers to buy the best plan for them, only gets paid on a performance basis. The company only gets commission when people sign up for plans they were directed to by BillShrink.com

Another example is Mint.com, which was recently purchased by software giant Intuit. This site, a provider of free online personal finance services, generates revenue by recommending personalized financial products to its users.

MC: What are some best practices for using online lead generation as a marketing technique?
JW: As dumb as it sounds, know if you’re a B-to-B or B-to-C company. Know who you want to go after. This will dictate very much which online generation techniques to use or which companies you’ll choose to work with.

Also, know your cost per acquisition. Look at what you spend today to acquire new customers, because you may very well not know, or, more likely, underestimate this cost. A referral from a buddy, for example, will most likely close at a high rate, while a lead from someone who doesn’t know you will most likely close at a lower rate. Knowing this information is prudent when trying to figure out how much to spend on online lead generation.

Also, be aware that every lead you have will not close and that it’s up to your lead provider to give you a valid lead. Finally, know what you’re going to do with your lead in advance of getting it, and be ready to follow up on it immediately.