Channel Partners Need T.L. Marketing Too!

Channel Partners Need T.L. Marketing Too!

Ready.  Set. Build a channel partner program!  Not so fast! The potential to reduce costs, improve efficiency, gain more customers, and tap into new markets is very enticing when it comes to channel partners.  But the reality is, a successful channel partner program requires a lot of support, time, and what our guest, Louis Gudema calls, “Tender Loving Marketing�.

Our most recent guest on Unleash Possible, Louis Gudema, dives into this topic of channel partners and channel enablement. In his book, “Bullseye Marketing�, he outlines hundreds of tips and best practices for organizations building a partner channel or honing an existing one.

One of the first steps we discussed was deciding if a channel partner program is right for your organization. Louis recommends you conduct a fundamental assessment of your current marketing and sales activities that support your existing inbound sales channel before deciding.  Many companies find they are not utilizing their internal marketing assets to their fullest. Areas such as web site optimization, quality email marketing lists, organic social media, targeted display advertising, etc., should be functioning well before you entertain a channel partner program. If you’re having trouble with marketing your own sales channel, truth is, you will probably struggle to create a successful channel partner program.

A big misconception with a channel program strategy, is that it will be an easy way to increase sales and tap new markets by simply letting someone else sell your products or services for you. You’d be surprised how many channel partners are not equipped organizationally to market your products, or once you have partners in place, they simply are not doing any marketing at all.  Chances are, your product is not the only one vying for their attention, so what will motivate them and keep them engaged? A solid and consistent marketing plan, that provides them with the tools and constant support needed, is crucial to keeping your product in the forefront. Your marketing efforts need to make your partners feel like your product is their own. Supporting and building a successful sales channel is not easy, but with consistent “Tender Loving Marketing�, your channel will be effective.

Tune in to episode #27 of Unleash Possible and see if this is the right time for you to consider implementing a channel partner program.

Activating Persona Insights

Activating Persona Insights

As leaders, we do a lot of work to understand our audience. We talk to customers, we survey buyers, we watch and interpret traffic patterns. All of this research gives us insights into what messages and offers are most likely to resonate for a given audience segment.

However, the knowledge is only valuable if we can activate it.  One way we leverage these insights is to create personas – documented summaries that explore what will motivate a particular audience. We even go as far as training our teams on these personas.  However, many organizations fail to map these important learnings into their database. Without adding a persona field in your marketing automation and CRM systems there is no way for a salesperson to leverage the training to make an outbound voice mail script that’s going to wow. Or for marketers to segment nurture lists by persona.

As a result, we default to segmenting based on job function, geography or some other profile criteria. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Using simple techniques you can map contacts to a persona and fully activate the research you’ve worked so hard to develop.

(1) Use forms to collect insights not simply for routing. Most forms are used for lead routing. We ask a lot of questions that don’t provide insight into buyer motivations. The good news is you have complete control over what you ask. Don’t be afraid to drop some geographic fields and focus on motivators.

(2) Map content to persona attributes. Not every piece of content is going to give you a persona signal. However, if you are smart about your editorial calendar, you can derive a hypothesis about someone’s persona from the content they consume. Be careful not to use web traffic patterns as a proxy, as that can be very misleading. It may take a visitor a long time to navigate your site to the content that is of real interest to them.

(3) Build nurture streams to uncover preferences. Don’t worry if the first content download doesn’t give you sufficient insight to make a determination. Use nurture streams with a variety of offerings to detect patterns.

(4) Leverage the sales & customer support team to correct hypothesis your data analysis made by making the persona field something that can be edited, and teach the team how to make an assessment.

Don’t have personas yet, don’t worry. Our resource library is filled with everything you need to get started. Scroll towards the bottom of the list to find all things persona.

And of course, don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions about how to apply this advice to your own organization.

Untangling content and product marketing

Untangling content and product marketing

As the discipline of content marketing matures I’ve had an increasing number of questions about it’s relationship to product marketing. The question arises in many forms. Do product and content marketers do the same job? Should every product marketer be a content marketer? Does product marketing need to exist any more? Do great product marketers need content marketing at all? Should content marketing report to product marketing?

I believe that product and content marketing are different disciplines. In fact, product marketing hasn’t really changed since the introduction of content marketing.  Rather, content marketing filled a gap product marketers were rarely able to fill.

Product marketing has always been focused on planning for and supporting, company growth through clear differentiated messaging, sales enablement and market research. A product marketer cares deeply about buyers but in the context of their organization’s products and services.

We gave birth to content marketing as a response to an increased desire for buyers to be educated on the market rather than just on vendor offerings.

As a result, the two functions address very different needs. Here’s a simple way to look at the work each function does:

How are your content and product marketing teams set up for success?

Product Marketing as an Explosive Growth Trigger

Product Marketing as an Explosive Growth Trigger

Product Marketing is an important part of any company’s go to market approach.  But what does it look like in an organization that wants explosive growth?

Diego Lomanto, VP of Product Marketing at UiPath, joined us on the Unleash Possible Podcast to share his unique views on the role of product marketing.  His company, UiPath, helps companies automate tedious repetitive processes freeing up people to do more creative work. Once ahead of the product life cycle curve, this kind of automation has now “crossed the chasm.� They are experiencing explosive growth and at the time of their recent Series C funding, their valuation had tripled in just a few months.

Diego believes that the framework they use for their product marketing department, which has grown rapidly along with the company, is a significant factor in their success. His framework contains 7 pillars, which Diego graciously shared with us in detail, along with his additional thoughts about how to staff the roles appropriately.

Be sure to listen to the end where I ask Diego how the role of product launches has changed with the introduction of more fluid, agile development processes.

Many thanks to Diego for sharing his words of wisdom! Join the conversation here.


The Brand Impact of a Services Culture

The Brand Impact of a Services Culture

It’s always interesting to hear people’s marketing career stories. This week, on our Unleash Possible Podcast, join us as the charming Judd Marcello, CMO of Cheetah Digital, shares his career story along with his views about the marketing tenets that enable massive growth along the lines that Cheetah Digital has seen.

Judd began his career in sales for B2C brands, moved into marketing, and eventually switched from B2C to B2B. All the while, physically relocating all over the world! Judd shares his rationale on why this was a boon to his career and the benefits that come from a diverse background like his.

His company, Cheetah Digital, was founded in the 90s as Cheetah Mail, an email marketing platform that has since evolved to an impressive cross-channel platform for B2C marketers. They have a very specific way of thinking about the post-sale that has been maintained as a pillar of their culture and Judd explains why they choose to have an 800 person services organization and the implications to the brand and customer loyalty.

Many thanks to Judd for taking time to share his stories and perspective with us. Listen in to Judd’s interview with me here.

Looking for Marketing Lessons in Unsuspecting Places

Looking for Marketing Lessons in Unsuspecting Places

In this episode of the Unleash Possible podcast, Samantha talks with Len Herstein, CEO of Managecamp. Len has a really fascinating background as a longtime marketer because he is also a volunteer Sheriff Deputy.  He has an interesting perspective on key takeaways that have come from his experience blending his two worlds: professional (marketing) and (law enforcement) passion.

In the discussion, Len explains that he’s embraced a philosophy of looking for learnings in places you don’t expect to find them and, he shares some of the learnings gleaned from law enforcement that he’s been successful applying in marketing.

The critical lessons he covers include:

  • complacency kills
  • the advantages of being introspective and aware Look for learnings in places you don’t expect to find them
  • benefits of frequently debriefing successes and failures
  • why and how you should use the OODA loop

It’s clear from our discussion with Len that even though our worlds can often seem unrelated, our experiences teach us lessons and skills that are integral for our overall success. Thanks to Len for sharing his words of wisdom! You can access the podcast with Len Herstein here.

Three Rules for Publishing High Impact Research

Three Rules for Publishing High Impact Research

I recently read The Content Experience Report by Uberflip with much interest.  After all, content strategy is a big part of what we do here at the Marketing Advisory Network.  In summary, I think the report offers some good tips and is worth reading, particularly the section about navigation. However, the report also falls victim to some of the classic content blunders that frequently come when writing a research report.

Here are some tips to help you avoid these common missteps.

Tip #1: You can’t “over review� a research document.  In a report like this, let’s face it, typos are a credibility killer.  Several people should review and edit the document and the last review should be done by a grammar and spelling pro that’s not seen the report before.  In the case of this report, they could have caught the spacing issues in the introduction (not a big deal) and some of the mislabelling of the graphs throughout (a bigger gotcha that will confuse readers).

Tip #2: Dig deep into your data to find insights. People read research to learn something new.  It is really important to give them that since they’re dedicating their time to reading your content. There were a couple places in the report that almost got there. For example, the report dedicates a section to “Putting content in more than one place can increase views by 8x on average!�.  It’s great to quantify the benefit of being in more places but this is not groundbreaking information for the reader. Deeper insight would have come had they dug a level deeper and uncovered a predictive model that shows how much larger the audience needs to be in order to generate different levels of viewership, or how much placement location impacts engagement for specific types of audiences.

Tip #3: Graphical representations are critical. Most people are visually oriented and that means, in a report like this, how you display the data is critical to people’s comprehension.  This report has a variety of graphical representation and some are very effective, but there are a couple that could use improvement. Here are some specific rules of thumb related to graphs that might help:

  1. Use the right charts for the right purpose: When comparing data points, always put them on the same chart.  Asking a reader to compare 2 charts against one another introduces a risk of misinterpretation and is not a smooth reader experience. Specifically, in this case, the reader is asked to compare two column graphs that each have 2 points.  All 4 data points could have been placed on a graph with points plotted on 2 axes and labeled to make comparison much easier.
  2. Be consistent: If you must have readers compare charts, put them side by side (not stacked vertically) and ensure that the scales on both axes are identical in order to make comprehension as easy as possible.
  3. Put charts through a robust review process: Labels on graphs are the key to comprehension.  Make them part of the review process as mislabelled axis or titles will cause confusion.
  4. Follow color norms: OK, this didn’t come from the UberFlip report, but by a user interface I was studying from another vendor. In this case, they were showing saturation points on a spectrum. Color intensity can be very helpful here, but they made a mistake. Green was used to signal low saturation, and yellow, orange and red were used to signal increasing amounts. Unfortunately, we have all been trained that red is bad and green is good, so visually the data told the opposite story they wanted to express.  

I applaud anyone who takes on a research project such as this one.  It is a huge undertaking. And, because it is such a huge undertaking, there are high expectations for the results from it. Taking extra steps and time to ensure a high-quality report makes for better content products and is worth it in the end.

Trust: Are we on the verge of losing it?

Trust: Are we on the verge of losing it?

Google just announced a remarkable achievement – an AI assistant that can make phone calls on your behalf to live humans. For example, it called a salon to make an appointment. You can listen to the calls here.

The engineers who designed the system taught the assistant to use human-like cadences such as um, mm, hmmm to make the computer voices sound remarkably human. Even knowing it was a machine on one end of the discussion, I had to listen carefully to figure out which party was the computer.

The AI marketer in me is both excited and worried.

The ability to mimic human interaction is an incredible milestone in machine intelligence, but the lack of transparency is something we should fear.

In a digital world easily manipulated, just because we have the ability to pretend to be human doesn’t mean we should. We are on the threshold of remarkably swift change and the burden not to sacrifice trust for saving time must wear heavily on the companies bringing about the future.

I applaud Google for following the announcement with a clear statement that their assistant will disclose it is a machine, not human, on the line. I hope they, and other leaders, continue to stay on the side of transparency. And so must each of us in our use of these remarkable achievements.

Trust is the foundation for all relationships, including the one between a brand and it’s customers.  We must ensure that trust is bi-directional both to and from the end consumer.

Countdown to GDPR – 3 Areas Marketers Need to Understand

Countdown to GDPR – 3 Areas Marketers Need to Understand

Guest post by GDPR certified marketer Erika Goldwater

It’s countdown time for the pending General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which goes into effect May 25, 2018. And you need to be paying attention even if operate out of North America.

What is GDPR you ask? It’s only the most broad-reaching data and privacy regulations since 1995, when the last directive was put in place. The new regulations protect the individual and ensure that privacy and data protection become an integral part of business, not just an afterthought.

The legislation now takes into account modern marketing methods of data collection and new processes and technologies that may impact privacy and data storage including artificial intelligence, texts, and others. And although the GDPR it was written specifically for EU citizens (UK too), it impacts organizations globally because legislation is binding. Directives were viewed as suggestions by many organizations, but legislation is a different ballgame.

Why will marketers in the US be impacted by DGPR? Any organization that processes, stores, records or archives data of any EU citizen is subject to compliance under GDPR and it will impact all areas of organizations from sales, to marketing, to customer service across industries. There are many aspects of the 260-page legislation that marketers need to be aware of, but several aspects of change warrant explanation to ensure we are prepared for this paradigm shift in ownership and definitions of data and privacy.

Obligatory disclaimer J: The content in this post is not legal advice. This is an aide to help marketers understand the terms and impact of GDPR. Organizations should consult legal and compliance experts when building GDPR compliance processes.

Scope –  Any organization that processes, stores, records data of EU citizens is impacted. This means the organizations themselves, as well as any third party or outsourced organizations hired by the organization that handles or stores this data, regardless of the organization’s location or headquarters. Yikes.  So basically EVERYONE, and it is important to understand the far-reaching implications of GDPR as other countries may revise their data policies based on this.

Definition of Personal Data – One of the most important aspects of GDPR for organizations and especially marketers to recognize is that the definition of Personal Data has expanded in a very big way. In the United States we typically use the term Personally Identifiable Information (PII) to define the types of data that are “sensitiveâ€�. PII includes any information, such as name, social security numbers or date of birth, that could be used on its own or in conjunction with other information to identify, contact, or locate a single person or identify an individual in context.

The EU uses the term Personal Data instead of PII and has added some very specific and broad categories that are now protected under GDPR. The new category, Sensitive Personal Data, includes ethnic, racial, health, biometric and genetic data. Political opinions and a few other types also fall under the Sensitive Personal Data.
Much of what B2B marketers collect and store will be considered Sensitive Personal Data including browser information, cookies, and IP address. Additional information regarding the definitions of Personal and Sensitive Personal Data can be found in this article, Personal data protection: data subject, personal data and identifiers explained.

Consent and Ownership- When marketers think about consent to use or store data, we often believe we have tacit approval from the individual to do so. We also often believe we “own� the data because we have collected it. This is an outdated view of consent and one of the fundamental changes the legislation highlights.

Consent is now clearly defined as “any freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous indication of his or her wishes by which the data subject, either by a statement or by a clear affirmative action, signifies agreement to personal data relating to them being processes.�

Individuals also have a right to understand how their data was collected, for what purpose it is being used for and may change or retract their consent at any time. Pre-checked boxes of consent at the end of web forms will no longer suffice for consent. Organizations will need to prove they have consent to market to individuals as well, so bulk buying of lists or names is not a good idea.

Regarding consent, don’t panic. Building a preference center to obtain explicit consent will help manage consent. However, as mid-size and enterprise organizations often have many different CRM systems and siloed platforms, it will be imperative to tightly integrate all data and leave no margin for error. Once someone opts out, they are opted out of everything from text messages, telephone calls or emails without fail. This means even emails scheduled in marketing automation systems. It’s a breach of compliance if an individual receives a message once they have opted out.  Pre-scheduled programs are not an excuse.

Individuals, not organizations, own their data, and now have the right to access, edit (rectification) directly and even completely erase (Right to be Forgotten or Right to Erasure) their data. If an individual requests access to their data, organizations have to produce the data without “undue delay� within one month of request.

This means organizations must know where every piece of data is stored (including recordings) so that the consumer may action it accordingly. Most organizations have data stored across different platforms, making consolidation and export of data requests challenging at best.

Act now If that is not enough to get you thinking about how DGPR will impact your organization, the deadline is fast approaching. The new regulations will go into effect May 25 2018 and the head of the Information Commissioner’s Office has been very clear in saying there will be no grace period for DGPR.

Lastly, you need to be aware of the penalties for not complying with GDPR because they are significant. Failure to comply may result in a €20 million Euro fine or 4% of company revenue. There is no time to waste in planning for May 25, 2018. Organizations need to conduct a full data assessment to understand where any and all data resides across their organization and hired third parties, and begin to plan to upgrade their processes to reach compliance. Build or update your preference centers now, and start thinking about data and privacy as the right of the individual, not the organization.

This will impact you. Be ready.

Must-read books for 2018

Must-read books for 2018

Guest post by Erika Goldwater

Books have always been my strongest foundations for learning and there is no shortage of great business and marketing books to keep me busy. I love to have a book in my hands and a notepad by my side. I am a voracious reader, sometimes reading two books a week. Although I have to admit, not all my book choices are business or marketing related as I have a weakness for James Patterson books.

As we get ready to jump into 2018, there are a few marketing and business books that are essentials for the New Year. Some of these books may be familiar and some may be brand new. These selections offer a variety of perspectives on today’s relevant business and marketing topics, but also, touch on leadership and personal growth to help guide us in life and in work.

I’ve included a few books here written by friends because not only are they great reads, but they are written by people who live and breath marketing and sales every day. These are not books written by scholars, they are books by practitioners that have experienced success and failures, and share their stories along the way. Take a look and enjoy your newest reading list.

Principals by Ray Dalio

If you haven’t heard of Ray Dalio, you must read this book first. Dalio, the founder of Bridgewater Associates, is known for practicing “radical truth� is inspirational but also instructional. This book discusses the role of principals and why they are essential for establishing a successful business, but also, a solid foundation for our personal lives as well.

The Workplace Writers Process: A Guide To Getting The Job Done by Anne H Janzer

This how-to-guide gives practical advice for writing that will help even the most reluctant writer, write. Take a look at the section on the field guide to writers in the workplace including the aspirational writer and the inadvertent writer that made me laugh.

Contagious by Jonah Berger

The title says it all. This book by Berger shares insights into why something catches on and it’s not what you might think. This is a fun and engaging book that will help you think about your business and marketing efforts in a different way.

Everybody Writes by Ann Handley

Handley makes writing fun, even for those who say they can’t write. This book is a must-have for anyone who writes, and that, of course, is everybody.  Might be one of my favorite books on the list for many reasons, least of all because it is universally helpful, most of all because it makes learning about how to write better an engaging read.

The Right Way To Select Technology, Get the Real Story on Finding the Best Fit by Tony Byrne

This is a must-read for anyone involved in technology purchases. Why? Because you are probably making purchase decisions and attempting the integration all wrong. Byrne helps explain how to select technology for the best fit and gives examples and instructions. Don’t buy technology in 2018 without reading this.

Analytics How to win with intelligence by John K. Thompson and Shawn P. Rogers

Analytics and big data are part of what powers organizations today. However, many organizations aren’t using the data effectively and in fact, they may even be using the information without permission. Thompson and Rogers introduce the three-part litmus test (context, permission, and accuracy) that can help us all maximize our analytics.

Getting to Yes And, The Art of Business Improv by Bob Kulhan

Improv techniques used in business? Yep. Marketers are well aware of the use of this art form via marketer Tim Washer who uses improv techniques in his work at Cisco. This book by Kulhan is a great introduction to using more agile thinking in business and highlights the “so what� factor for each

Unleash Possible A Marketing Playbook That Drives Sales by Samantha Stone

This is a true B2B marketing playbook that shows how to build the marketing engine to drive revenue for organizations of any size. Stone gives case studies, metrics, interview guides and instructions to get the reader thinking about the marketing and sales partnership that drive results.

Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek
I love this book. If you have ever had the pleasure of hearing Sinek speak, the book reads the same way he delivers a presentation; engaging, educational and totally entertaining. Read it and incorporate some of the leadership tips he shares. Your teams will appreciate it.

Driving Demand by Carlos Hidalgo

This book was published in 2015 and in all honesty, I had a hand in it. It is still an essential read for any business, sales or marketing leader who is looking to transform their organization using modern marketing methods and change management techniques. Becoming a customer-centric organization isn’t easy but Hidalgo helps teams get there via clearly defined methods.

Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing by Carla Johnson and Robert Rose

The buying process has changed today, yet marketers still struggle to engage their audiences. Experiences is the book that will help marketers become more effective in 2018. With extensive data and practical experiences to support their advice, Johnson and Rose show not only how we need to deliver experience-driven content, but explain why as well.

Be Like Amazon by Jeffrey and Bryan Eisenberg

What can we learn from Amazon? A lot. Jeffrey and Brian Eisenberg make the guiding principals of Amazon easy to understand and help anyone looking to get into business or grow an existing business actionable. Not every business wants to be Amazon, but if we learn customer centricity Amazon-style, success is possible.

This is only a snippet of some of the great books available. Did I miss any of your favorites? Share them in the comments.


Simple Ways EVERY Business Can Lend a Helping Hand in a Crisis

Simple Ways EVERY Business Can Lend a Helping Hand in a Crisis

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn. Follow me on LinkedIn to join the conversation.

The recent floods in Texas and IRMA beating down on the Carribean have dominated the news. Stories of strength and persistence give us hope, while tales of loss make us grateful. Even from far away I am touched by the grand gestures many businesses are making to help those most in need. Like this from my friend Dan Briscoe and his team at HCSS or Amazon who made it easy for The Marketing Advisory Network to donate money to support the American Red Cross efforts on the ground.

Volunteering time and making donations is just one of the ways your business can help. I’ve put together a list of easy things any business can do to support a community in their time of need.

Extend payment terms – Remove financial concerns by notifying customers in impacted zones that payment terms have been extended for an extra 30 or 60 days without penalty for any invoice outstanding. The bottom line impact is tiny compared to the gesture of good will.

Pause your promotional communications – I promise you the last thing on the minds of residents crushed by flooding is your web seminar. Pause promotional communications for at least two weeks following an emergency situation.

Place impacted contacts on your sales do not call list temporarily – Temporarily place contacts in impacted areas on your sales do not call list to avoid causing frustration. This is not the time to “take advantage” of fear and uncertainty.

Proactively communicate about shipping/delivery delays – Your customers may be affected by the emergency even if they are outside of the impact zone.

Don’t raise prices – Airlines are coming under fire for dramatic price hikes in the wake of IRMA predictions. The internet is not happy and responding with ire towards airline brands. Except for JetBlue who capped fares leaving Florida at $99 and is winning hearts across the country. Any short term revenue you gain from price spikes will be offset by a long term hit to your reputation.

It’s not only right to respond when your customers need you, it’s good business.

B2B Forum’s Special Magic Isn’t an Accident

B2B Forum’s Special Magic Isn’t an Accident

It all starts with intention.

Event planners, take note, B2B Forum’s success all starts with clear intention (and a dash of Ann Handley’s never ending energy).

Marketing Profs B2B Forum is a rare mixture of insight, inspiration and networking that’s focused exclusively on marketers who sell to other businesses. It’s big enough to have tons of valuable content, but intimate enough to spend time chatting with speakers and other attendees. It’s this focus that makes attendees feel like they’ve come home, surrounded by their people. It’s a formula that brings me back year after year.

All of this magic is not by chance. The Marketing Profs team works hard to make each year a can’t miss event.  2017 will be no different. Ann Handley was kind enough to take me behind the scenes to see a glimpse of how the team creates B2B Forum magic.

Ann tells me “I am obsessed with the attendee experience.�  It’s really all you need to know! Ann and her team think through every detail from keynote speakers, to lunch menus, through the lens of the attendee.

Ann wants every B2B attendee to walk away with a better understanding of the context within which we all operate, but equally to be inspired to do new things. When selecting keynotes and breakout speakers they find speakers who can speak to “What is�, “What could be� and “Innovation� – how to get to the future state, and they do it keeping B2B marketing top of mind at every step. In the end B2B Forum takes us through a journey from where we are, to what’s coming preparing B2B marketing to be on the front lines of forward-looking change.

I believe the reason B2B Forum is different does not sit in the content alone. Ann and her team not only want to educate marketers, but they want to “feed attendees as people�.  It’s the honest, reality-based approach to content selection and speaker prep that has touched thousands of marketers professionally, but also propelled their personal journeys of growth.

In fact, from the very beginning of planning a full 10 months in advance, Ann’s team is thoughtful not only about what attendees will learn, but “how they feel�.

It’s this intention to feel, to learn and to connect that makes B2B Forum a worthy event year after year.

Thank you Ann and the entire team for making me feel so much, year after year!

Let’s connect!

B2B Forum holds a special place in my heart because it’s where I launched Unleash Possible: A Marketing Playbook that Drives Sales last October. I might just have to hold a little birthday party to celebrate!

In the interim, I’m working up material for two informative sessions.  On Tuesday I’ll be co-teaching a Marketing Strategy Workshop, followed on Friday by a practical look at technology selection in the  break-out session: A Proven Process For Selecting Marketing Technology That Drives Business Impact.

I hope to see you there.

Need a B2B Forum pass? I’ve got a discount for you.

I hope you’ll join me at this juicy, must-attend conference because it’s dedicated to the challenges and opportunities unique to B2B marketing!

Use promo code: PLANNING17 to get a $100 off the registration fee.



2017: Employee Advocacy Impact Study

2017: Employee Advocacy Impact Study

Marketers have a lot in common when it comes to employee advocacy. Sometimes it feels like the same, predictable employees share company news and insights. Other times we have a huge win and it feels like the whole company is engaged and fully supporting our efforts.

“Employees who are passionate about their workplace are typically much more highly engaged. Passionate and engaged employees are your best customer advocates. Research shows that companies with very high levels of employee engagement can have 3x higher customer satisfaction ratings.”

Mark Somol Founder, Zeal

Most of the time, however, employee advocacy efforts hit limits we’d all like to overcome.

In fact, LinkedIn reports “In an average company, only 3% of employees share company-related content but they are responsible for driving a 30% increase in the content’s total likes, shares, and comments.�

The Marketing Advisory Network set out to find out what’s holding employees back, and more importantly, what can be done to break through the barriers and drive more engagement. To achieve that goal, we went right to the source – surveying 499 employees from a wide range of organizations.

We found some remarkable truths.

  • Just like we have buyer personas, we need to develop employee personas. Many factors influence an employee’s motivation and desire to advocate on behalf of the company.
  • Millennials aren’t the only ones who get social. Gen X employees are very sophisticated in their digital sharing.
  • Those organizations that document social media guidelines have higher rates of employee advocacy

We encourage you to dig deep into the study results where we answer many additional questions such as:

How does employee tenure effect social sharing?

Does publishing a personal blog indicate a higher propensity to share company news & insights?

What motivates employees to share more?

Explore the full report here.

Have customer satisfaction scores become useless?

Have customer satisfaction scores become useless?

Exceptional customer experiences are what drive word of mouth marketing.  As marketers we often strive to improve customer advocacy by using customer satisfaction surveys to collect feedback about our service interactions. Sadly, the method is easily manipulated and instead of soliciting sincere feedback, many teams are gaming the system to collect high scores.

This is exactly what I experienced at a recent trip to our local restaurant/arcade.

Upon arriving at over stimulation land – lights flashing, music blaring, dollars practically jumping out of my wallet for tokens –  we were quickly seated. Our server stopped by to introduce himself. We were off to a good start when something strange happened. After asking if we’d been to the restaurant before, our waiter handed me a slip of paper with a link to a survey.  He explained that we should fill out the survey now (using the provided code), and give all fives because if we did we’d be his BFF (seriously, I’m not making this up), and it was “the only way” to guarantee a $10 off coupon for our next visit.  Clearly this was for the table he had served before us, as we hadn’t even ordered our food. I smiled and put the survey aside. He stood waiting for me to pull out my phone and go to the survey URL. I explained I’d be happy to fill it out after our meal had been served. He smiled and took our order.

I worried he would spit in my food.

Our food came and we ate quickly, the boys anxious to dart off and play arcade games. After they disappeared, $25 game cards in hand, I asked for the check. Our bill came with another survey, this one for my order. The marketing researcher in me was curious, so I logged into the online survey.  As you’d expect I was asked about the food,  would I recommend the restaurant, was the restaurant clean, my server’s responsiveness, etc. Most questions asked me to respond on a 5-star scale. 1 was unsatisfied, 5 extremely satisfied.

After I’d filled out the survey, my waiter came by to pick up payment. I asked him why he had been so anxious for us to fill out the first survey.  Did he have a bet going?  This nice young man sat down and looked me in the eye. He explained that he was trying to get assigned to bar tables (presumably because he’d make more money in tips), and that his manager made all their decisions solely on the surveys. If he didn’t get all fives across everything in the survey,  he didn’t get good assignments, raises or extra shifts.

Think about this for a minute.  The manager was not interested in finding out what was done well, and where the restaurant could improve. They were holding the waiter hostage to a specific score, essentially rewarding servers who were good at begging for fives. Later I even saw the manager quietly scold the server for not getting a perfect score across every question, most of which were unrelated to the waiter’s job. They were not discussing how the waiter could have made our meal more satisfactory, they were discussing how the server could have asked me about the survey differently to get a five. Clearly, the manager didn’t want actual feedback on my meal experience. This manager was teaching how to get a specific score, not how to act on feedback.

Did any of this improve my experience as a customer?  One could argue that by making decisions based on the survey results, wait staff are motivated to provide a good experience. This may be true in theory, but in practice does it make the service better? Or does it make the server manipulate when and who fills out surveys?

While my waiter was a bit over enthusiastic, he’s not alone. I recently experienced similar “give me 5 begging” at my car dealership, and after a call center exchange.

Does this mean that survey data is useless? I doubt it, but how many marketers are using them borders on counterproductive.

If we want to collect feedback that will improve customer interactions we need to stop motivating employees to manipulate the system. Instead, we have to collect and use the data to actually improve our service. This means reducing our dependance on scores, and instead focusing on qualitative insights. For example, we could ask these two simple questions.

What did we do well today?

Where did we disappoint you?

After all, what numbers are going to tell you more about your business – a customer satisfaction score? Or return visits and average order value trends over time?








MarTech Boston Delivers Community & Insight

MarTech Boston Delivers Community & Insight

Marketing is at a crossroad. A third of marketing budgets are spent on technology, yet we are selecting marketing tools & systems all wrong.

We know this because marketers everywhere are failing to drive robust adoption, using only a fraction of the capabilities they’ve purchased.  In fact, almost half of all marketers say they don’t fully utilize the marketing technology they ALREADY have.

Thankfully, there’s a conference designed for marketing operations, marketing executives and IT professionals who are ready to reverse this trend.  MarTech Boston will be hosted Oct. 2 – 4th and is a must attend event for those looking to maximize their technology investments.

Scott Brinker, founder of the MarTech conference and Boston marketing technology icon, was kind enough to join me for a tea to talk about the 2017 Boston MarTech experience.

The first MarTech was hosted in 2014 right here in Boston. For Scott the October event feels like a homecoming.  After only a couple of minutes you can see why. Although Scott humbly calls MarTech a hobby, his passion for using technology comes through as so much more.

In my experience events take on the character of their founders. Like Scott,  MarTech provides graduate level content designed to address complex needs across organizations of all types. The material is smart, insightful and inspiring.  Scott explains, “Although MarTech participants share a lot in common, each conference takes on a bit of local geographic context. In Boston we’ll focus a bit more on business challenges, possibly organizational alignment, than we did in San Francisco.�

Scott’s goal is always the same, to serve the audience well by fostering a community that can’t be found anywhere else. At MarTech the unvarnished truth about the challenges and opportunities technology provides are discussed in a collaborative environment. Attendees and speakers alike are there to learn, share and explore new possibilities.

You can register for MarTech Boston here.

A Great Event Is More Than Great Content

A Great Event Is More Than Great Content

I wish I could attend every single marketing conference out there. A girl can dream! But since it’s not feasible to attend every one I rely on the next best thing, tapping into the experiences of my marketing friends. Special thanks to Erika Goldwater for this energizing summary of #B2BMX.

Guest post by Erika Goldwater

What makes a great B2B marketing and sales conference? Excellent content is hugely important, but it’s not the only thing that matters. Quality presenters are an essential piece, but again, it takes more than that to make a memorable experience at an event these days. For me, it is a combination of amazing content, excellent presenters, vendors, attendees, a fabulous venue is always much appreciated, but it is the little extra, the heart of the event, that ties it all together. That is what made this year’s #B2BMX in Scottsdale last week so memorable.
The event, now in it’s sixth year, achieved something not every event can do, it became memorable. The content is top notch, as you would expect from G3 Communications, the publishers of Demand Gen Report, Content4Demand and ABM in Action.

Customer Focus
There were more than a few notable presenters, including Tim Reisterer, Chief Strategy and Research Officer, Corporate Visions, who delivered a keynote session on, “Why Change, Why Stay, Customer Renewal Messaging� and why we need to destabilize customer preferences if we want them to enact change. According to Reisterer, nearly half of companies spend less than 10% on renewal messaging and obtaining customers is expensive and uber-competitive, keeping them as customers is even harder. Not investing in customer renewal is a missed opportunity to grow and sustain revenue.

Customer Marketing
Another presenter that really impressed me was Jeff Marcoux, CMO Lead for Worldwide Enterprise Marketing at Microsoft who talked about customer marketing and it is fair to say I was pretty much blown away by Jeff.  It’s not that I was surprised by the quality of his content, but Jeff had amazing energy, showed moving examples to support his points and wow, is Microsoft changing everything in 2017! Marcoux focused on how every interaction with a customer is a marketing experience, the need to be ruthlessly authentic in our interactions and that technology is not the answer to our marketing problems. I could not agree more with Jeff and loved the whole presentation. If you have the chance to listen to him, don’t miss it.

Demand Gen Summit Track
I was fortunate enough to facilitate the Demand Gen Summit track for the duration of the event and had a line-up of stellar presenters including Kathleen Schaub from IDC, Mike Ballard from Lenovo, Laura Ramos from Forrester, Jason Hekl of Milestone Strategy Group, and Ann Marinovich of Forbes Media and many more. Key takeaways from the Demand Gen Summit tracks centered on knowing your customer, focusing on your customer and how to better engage with your customer from the pre-sale content to the post-sale content and ongoing engagement. After all, we are marketers and sales professionals. Demand generation is only one part of our job and after listening to a few of the event speakers, it might not even be the most important part of our job. Focus on the customer in all you do, but also as an organization to be successful.

The Real Engagement, Heart
I want to highlight perhaps one of the most unique parts of this event and what made it so memorable for me as a marketer and an attendee…the heart of the organization. Not only did the event raise money for a charity, it did it for two; the Pajama Program delivers new books and pajamas to local children in need (one I am involved in) and K9s for, a program that provides service dogs to military veterans suffering from Post-tramautic Stress Disorder. The event tied in these two causes though fund raising efforts (donating a portion of profits to the charities) but also, helped the event attendees, their buyers, become engaged and connected to something other than just marketing content.

As attendees we were exposed to something bigger than marketing. We saw and experienced compassion and heart, there wasn’t a dry eye in the audience when the video that was submitted for a prestigious Finny award for cause marketing was shown. I don’t think there was a person sitting in their seats when Randy and his service dog, Captain, took the stage as attendees gave a heartfelt standing ovation. If you haven’t seen the video, please take a moment to watch it here.

The B2B Marketing Exchange event taught attendees many things, but perhaps the most important was how to be ruthlessly authentic and how that authenticity can be what makes us better marketers. The event organizers showed their authenticity, their heart and enabled attendees to learn from and connect with our fellow marketing and sales peers for lessons that didn’t stop at content or account-based marketing.  Mark #B2BMX18 as a must-attend event for your team next year, you won’t be disappointed.






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