Wednesday, November 23, 2011

2012 Marketing Trends: Strategy and Practice

Let me first say that "no, you didn't miss a post". I've been working on my budget so my mind has been very much in 2012 instead of in the present where it belongs. As a result, I got to thinking about upcoming trends instead of leadership, so you get a trends post instead. I'm still going to do the leadership post, but it will be the next time around. I hope you'll forgive me.

Ralph Oliva recently presented the much-anticipated ISBM Trends 2012 Study: Business-To-Business Marketing Trends and Best Practices. He and the ISBM research group focus on capturing how B2B marketers think and feel about the future. The “Trends” study is a US-Based study that was initiated in 1997 and is conducted every two or three years. It comes out of the noted Institute for the Study of Business Markets at Penn State University. I've included the presentation at the end of this post.

The 2012 study identifies seven trends with two dominant themes: understanding and communicating (effectively) with customers; secondly, identifying opportunities for growth. Ralph Oliva discusses these trends in great depth in his presentation, “Business to Business Marketing Trends and Best Practice”, and in many cases points to background materials and readings which can provide a better understanding of the “narrative”. The top three dominated and are listed in order of importance.

The Top Three by a Landslide

  1. Value – The need to more effectively quantify and communicate value created for customers. The need is to “bring a more holistic value proposition to customers” in order to gain mind share and not just be evaluated on a per item quote with the competition. The onus is on the supplier to exhibit “enough value for customers to even make time to meet with you".

    ISBM Recommendations
    Value Merchants: Demonstrating and Documenting Superior Value in Business Markets (Kellogg; Kumar)
    Winning With Customers – A Playbook for B2B (Pigues; Valkyre)

  2. Voice of the Customer – Developing approaches to better understand what customers really need. This is where we, as marketers, need to become a sort of mind reader. We need to understand what customers need, beyond what they can articulate. It is on us to anticipate “the shift in the way customers do business.” Their business design is changing and we need to understand and accommodate that now. One response is to become better at “uncovering fundamental needs and creating exciting offerings that are not considered ‘me too’”.

    ISBM Recommendation
    PDMA Toolbook (Griffin)
  3. Growth – Finding, “sensing”, identifying and assessing new opportunities for growth. This is the new reality for B2B marketers. We are not going to return to the way things were. It’s time to focus on the future. As such, we should consider the following:
    • Where is the money and who’s my competition for it?
    • How do I achieve profitable growth in a difficult fiscal climate? Focus on the “new reality.”
    • What are my market expansion opportunities? Consider geography and new technology.
    • What am I doing to encourage organic growth? Encourage product and business development, and innovation and opportunity realization.
    ISBM Recommendations
    How to Grow When Markets Don’t (Slywotsky)
    The Upside

The Remaining Four

  1. Connections – Developing closer ties with customers, suppliers, channel partnerships, and Sales and Marketing. There are several characteristics that are rising in importance in the upcoming year.
    • Partnership Skills – the ability to identify when partnerships will be beneficial and who they should be formed with.
    • Delivering Customer Value – managing partners and expanding the company’s ecosystem.
    • Compete vs. Cooperate – deciding which way to go in order to maximize available resources.
    ISBM Recommendations
    Build, Fix or Terminate – The Distributor’s Guide to More Profitable Supplier Relations (Narus; Forest)
    Alliance Competence (Spekman)
  2. Emerging – Capitalize on new growth/emerging markets. This trend was positioned higher than ever before and has several new focuses.
    • Reassess global markets
    • Innovate globally
    • Understand cultural differences
    • Global harmonization of the offer
    • BRIC as an economic power
    ISBM Recommendation
    Global Tectonics: What Every Business Needs to Know (Ghadar)
  3. Balance – Balancing short-term requirements and long-term opportunities. The focus for balance includes:
    • Maximize today’s value while investing for tomorrow
    • Consider the firm’s short-term actions in terms of its long-term position
    • Transition to the “new reality”
    • Rebuild marketing organizations
    ISBM Recommendation
    DoingBoth – How Cisco Captures Today’s Profit and Drives Tomorrow’s Growth (Sidhu)

  4. Segmentation – Selecting the right set of customers for your business, and managing them effectively. Finally, there is segmentation. This remains a critical issue with emphasis placed on:
    • Selecting the right customer. Don’t let the economy return you to the mindset of “any customer is a good customer.”
    • Choose customers to whom differentiation matters.

The Implications

What it boils down to is there are some steps we, as marketers, can take in order to set ourselves up for success. Install the best tools for your sales team to quantify and communicate value. Learn and champion the real VOC. Look at the forest: look past the daily minutia to find growth opportunities. And get buy-in from the entire organization. Translate your markets and customers into terms everyone can understand.

Thanks again to ISBM and Ralph Oliva for the valuable information I was able to include in this blog.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Effective Leadership and Emotional Intelligence

Typically, I write more on what I would call hard skills: strategy, research, analytics, etc. but I've been doing a lot of thinking about leadership lately, and what makes a good leader. I've been in design industry a long time, 19 years, and most of it has included some aspect of marketing, though that didn't become my focus until about 13 years ago. I've worked with, and under, a lot of people in positions of leadership during that time, both creative types and business types. You notice that I say "people in positions of leadership" not "leaders." There is a big difference. Someone can have worked their way into a leadership position without being a good leader, and I don't necessarily see evidence that the business person is a better leader than the creative person, though that's the stereotype.

I have a good amount of experience as a leader, having led a lot of virtual, ad hoc, and traditional cross-functional teams, and I also have a lot of education in that field, as well as having created some leadership training programs. Does that experience and education make me a leader? Sure. I like to hope I'm a good leader, but is that a result of only those two elements? I don't think so. My belief is that emotional intelligence (EQ/EI) is the sine qua non of leadership and there is a direct correlation between EQ/EI and measurable business results. Daniel Goleman coined the term back in 1995 when he published his book of the same name and I've been following him ever since. His most recent publication on leadership, if you're interested, is Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence. According to Goleman there are five components of emotional intelligence and therefore of effective leadership.

Components of Emotional Intelligence

Self-Awareness» The ability to recognize and understand your moods, emotions and drives and how they effect others» Self-confidence
» Realistic self-assessment
» Self-deprecating sense of humor
Regulation» The ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods
» The predilection to think before acting
» Trustworthiness and integrity
» Comfort with ambiguity
» Openness to change
Motivation»A passion to work for reasons other than money or status
»A predilection to energetically and persistently pursue goals
»Strong drive to achieve
»Eternal optimism
»Organizational commitment
Empathy» Able to understand the emotions of other people
» Able to treat people based on their emotional reactions
» Expertise in building and retaining talent
» Cross-cultural sensitivity
» Service to clients, both internal and external
Social Skills» Proficient in building relationships and networks
» Ability to find common ground and achieve rapport
» Effective in leading change
» Persuasive
» Expertise in building and leading teams

All that said, there is much more to it than this, but these are the basics of emotional intelligence. Effective leaders use this, in conjunction with one or more leadership styles (Coercive, Authoritative, Affiliative, Democratic, Pacesetting, and Coaching) to motivate and lead their teams to success. I'll go into those leadership styles in my next post, but if you don't want to wait, has a basic description on their site.

I'd also like to add one element that is very important to me, and one that I see missing a lot: Show respect. Show respect to your supervisors, co-workers, and reports. Show it to your customers/clients. Show it whether they can hear you or not; whether they're in good standing or not. It doesn't do anyone any good to hear their boss stomping around the office berating a customer because they're late on a payment or speaking patronizingly to a direct report. In the workplace, there is always someone who is aware.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Push vs. Pull Marketing

There are a variety of marketing strategies available for you to implement but all of them fall within two categories. They are either push or pull marketing. I actually had someone say, recently, that push marketing is dead due to the surge in media marketing. I don't think they've turned their TV on recently. In order to be effective, you need to understand what they are and be able to use them both.

Push Marketing

This is what I would consider to be traditional marketing. These are the activities you undertake that put your message in front of your ideal customer. You control what the message is, where and when it appears, and how it's seen. It's a little like being the guy behind the Outer Limits intro who controls your television. Examples of push marketing include:
  • TV Commercials
    31% of all households have 4 or more televisions and spend approximately 35.6 hours per week in front of the television, according to Nielsen Statistics. This is a very viable form of push marketing if you can afford it.
  • Cold CallingThis technique is particularly pertinent to service-oriented companies who may call the consumer to explain what the company does and determine they have a need for what the company is offering.
  • Direct E-MailThis might confuse some people because e-mail marketing is permission-based. That doesn't change the fact that you are sending your message out to the customer telling them about sales, asking for testimonials or introducing new products.

Pull Marketing

Pull marketing is designed to bring the consumer to you in order to find out if you have anything to offer that is of value to them. Pull marketing incorporates your corporate/brand identity to pull people to you and turn them into fans. Examples of pull marketing include:
  • Video MarketingTechnology is advancing at an unbelievable rate and consumers are becoming used to information-on-demand. Unlike commercials, videos can be filmed in a home or office for little or no monetary outlay and can be whatever length is needed to convey the message. Once they're done, the videos can be shared on YouTube, Facebook, or the corporate website.
  • BloggingBlogging is steadily gaining a reputation as an effective way for companies to share information about themselves, solicit consumer feedback, and keep a thumb on the pulse of their reputation. Blogging lets companies interact with their consumers and be immediately responsive in the relationship.

Social Media's Effect on Push Marketing

Now, all that said, I have seen an evolution in push marketing since the introduction of social media where push marketing is incorporating the idea that you are getting your consumer to spread your message for you. You are still creating advertising and promotional strategies, but now part of the objective is to get the consumers talking. I believe this explains what's behind the trend of producing shocking and controversial commercials, ads, etc. They create buzz and get people talking. I once had an art professor tell me that as long as the art creates a reaction, whether it's positive or negative, it's effective. I sometimes think that many marketers follow the same tenet with regard to their strategy.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Marketing Metrics and Analytics: Defining, Using, and the Results

If you spend any time in the marketing field at all, you’ll hear these words bandied about: analytics and metrics. They’re used in reference to marketing of all forms from print, to audio/visual to interactive. I’ve discovered that a lot of people in the field don’t really know the difference or how to truly use them. Make no mistake, though, the two are very different and the use is more involved then pulling open a spreadsheet or metrics tool and parroting the numbers.

Metrics vs. Analytics

It’s pretty simple when you get right down to it. Metrics are numbers and that’s all. They may indicate market share, response rates, advertising dollars spent, page visits, or clickstream. They usually show up in columns or rows in a spreadsheet type of layout. Metrics are the lifeblood of all the measuring that we do.

Analytics is pretty easy to figure out: it’s the science of analysis. Who would’ve thought? And analysis is, of course, the process of deriving complex concepts or propositions from basic components. In other words analytics is the process of making a decision or proposition based on the existing data, or metrics. Now, decisions may incorporate information from other qualitative sources such as “rule-of-thumb” or past history, but as long as metrics are involved it remains a quantitative analysis.

How to Use Analytics

As with every complex undertaking, having a good plan in place is more likely to lead to a successful endeavor. Marketing analysis is no exception. There is a series of steps I typically go through when I’m setting up an analytics model.
  1. Identify the business objectives. Successful objectives are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time Specific. For example, a new business objective might be to achieve sales of $500,000 within 5 years.
  2. Identify the goals for each objective. Goals are strategies you leverage to achieve the objectives. Define the steps you’re going to take and how you will take each one. An example goal for the above objective might be a first year sales goal of $50,000, accompanied by strategies for accomplishing that goal.
  3. Identify the Key Performance Indicators and set parameters for them. KPIs should reflect the organizations goals, be key to their success, and be quantifiable. In our example, a KPI would be repeat customers and the parameter is that 12% of sales must come from those repeat customers.
  4. Identify the segments for analysis. Are you going to analyze phone calls? Page views? Trade show booth visits? Conversions? Determine which segments need to be analyzed in order to determine failure or success of the objectives and goals.

The Benefits of Analytics

Did you know that in some cases, using analytics, B2C companies have seen a YOY market share growth of 30%? Sales increases of up to 50%? And customer attrition rates decreased by as much as 40%? Those are some pretty awesome numbers and obviously one of the best ROIs out there.

Why is that? Mostly it’s because analytics can provide you with very specific information that will help you hone or modify your marketing strategy or mix in order to take advantage of the metrics being received.
  • The best referral sites for your advertising.
  • Which products are more popular and which promotions are most effective.
  • Track buyer habits to determine interests and target cross-selling opportunities.
  • Identify clickstreams and errors to optimize your web site's layout and functionality.
  • Send E-mail or direct mail blasts with targeted promotions.

Monday, November 7, 2011

QR Codes: What the Heck?

You've seen them. You might not know what they do, or what they can be used for, but you've seen them. They're invading magazine ads, trade show booths, POP displays, maps and any number of other locations. They're those little black and white (usually) pixel boxes that tease you into wondering what the heck is going on. They're the latest in the social media trend.

What They Are

A QR, or Quick Response, Code is basically a souped up barcode. They're usually black and white, though they can be produced in color. One of the sites that will do that is They were originally used to track auto parts but are slowly making their way into the marketing lexicon. QR Codes can contain information on both the vertical and horizontal plains which means they can contain a lot more information than a barcode. They can also be read from any angle. When a QR Code is read, it acts as a trigger: opening a webpage, downloading a file, delivering a vcard or whatever other action has been programmed into it. The only thing the consumer needs to use it is a QR reader and most newer android and nokia phones and blackberries come with one straight out of the box. The consumer opens the app, points the camera at the QR code, presses the button, and action takes place.

How They're Used

Here are a few ideas I've either found online or come up with for creative QR Code uses:
  • Print
    • Demo Videos, testimonials, reviews
    • Contact information
    • Order form
    • Features and performance
    • Mobile site to register for tweets, rss,etc.
    • Current weather
    • Warranty registration
    • Provide feedback
  • Events
    • Pre-Event - background information, straw polls, registration, directions, booth information
    • Event Day - schedule, mobile site
    • Post Event - contact information, evaluation form, social media sites
  • Business Cards
    • Biography
    • Website
    • Vcard
The uses for QR codes are, in no way, explored to their extent in this very small list. They're only limited by the imagination of the person using them in their marketing strategy. I have seen them used in hotel lobbies to advertise restaurant specials, by clothing companies to show sizes or specials, and on food wrappers to share nutritional information.

Don't Forget

While all this is new and exciting, there are a few things we need to remember.

  • The consumer is using a mobile device.
    Make sure the landing page, PURL, etc. is mobile friendly.
  • Metrics and Analytics.
    Remember to collect the information pertinent to the campaign and analyze. The boss is going to want to know if its effective and how it needs to be modified.
    • What phone was used.
    • Where and when was the QR code accessed
    • Repeat visits
  • Change up the content.
    The back end of a QR Code can be changed at any time. A person who picks up the magazine 3 months after initial publication could have a completely different experience from the person who picked it up the same week it came out.
  • This is part of your branding and identity.