Category Archives: B2B Marketing

SiriusDecisions rates Eloqua as ‘number one’ marketing platform

SiriusDecisions rates Eloqua as ‘number one’ marketing platform

In other news, the Manchester United Supporters Club thinks Manchester United are great and the Pope is a big fan of Catholics. Seriously though, even as an Eloqua client and a big fan of the platform, I have to wonder about the neutrality of studies from advisors such as SiriusDecisions (whose summit this year was sponsored by – guess who – Eloqua…).

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Another milestone, but what’s the future of LinkedIn for B2B marketing?

LinkedIn hit another major milestone this week, as the 200 millionth member registered on the site. The network has become a highly potent weapon for most B2B marketeers for three main reasons:

  1. Reach. It sounds obvious, but if you are marketing IT, professional services or telecommunications there are few members of your target audience who can’t be reached through LinkedIn.
  2. Accuracy. Individuals have a huge incentive – there own careers – to keep their personal data on LinkedIn up to date. As a result, LinkedIn is one of the few sites where a B2B marketeer can reach their audience with confidence that there will be minimum wastage. That in turn helps senior client-side marketeers to justify their investments to management teams.
  3. Integration. LinkedIn do a great job of enabling marketeers to use a combination of traditional display, communities and LinkedIn Today to reach their audiences. This integration is now evolving intelligently with social sign on, which should do the same thing for LinkedIn in the business space that it does for Facebook in the consumer world: to make them the ubiquitous social network of choice.

So LinkedIn has done a fantastic job in a browser-based world. The key question for B2B marketeers now is whether they will be able to evolve their offering to B2B advertisers from the browser into mobile environments?

The LinkedIn apps are fantastic for users, but primarily because they don’t include advertising. Unfortunately for LinkedIn sales in traditional PCs are nosediving: according to Gartner, sales were down 4.9% in Q4 2012 compared to Q4 2011. This is similar to IDC numbers last week, which recorded a 6.4% decline. This change is not limited to consumers. Businesses are also buying tablets in large numbers, especially for the very decision makers that B2B marketeers want to reach.

Will LinkedIn enable marketeers to achieve their objectives in an increasingly mobile world? Or will they struggle to achieve this in the same way that Facebook has for consumers? The effectiveness of one of the most important channels for B2B marketeers will depend on the answer to these questions.

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The B2B Content Marketing Cookbook

The B2B Content Marketing Cookbook

I received a copy of the B2B Content Marketing Cookbook from the Manchester agency Marketecture today. It’s a quick read, but is a really nice summary of some of the issues facing B2B marketeers putting together integrated programs today. The book includes some good check lists and pointers for marketeers.

It’s free and is well worth spending a few minutes to request a copy or download the PDF (clicking on the image takes you straight to their site).

Disclaimer: I don’t work with Marketecture, nor have I done in the past!

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The CMO: now with added IT power! Four pointers for dealing with IT from a marketing leader’s perspective.

The one hot topic in B2B marketing last week was the acquisition of Eloqua by Oracle. One of the most interesting aspects of the acquisition from my personal perspective was the reaction within my company. Instead of me asking the IT department what the implications could be for us, this time the questions came to me. The questions that I received reinforced the shift in the relationship between most corporate IT departments and the lines of business that they serve that has taken place over the past few years.

Marketing has been no exception. Many analysts believe that marketing will be one of the core areas of growth for IT spending over the next few years. So marketeers are becoming increasingly knowledgable about their requirements and IT departments often cannot learn about the specialist solutions that we need quickly enough or with sufficient depth, so they are relying on us to tell them what they need.This places many marketing leaders in an unfamiliar position: they have to really engage IT for the first time in order to do their jobs effectively and this requires us all to take a new approach and to develop a new set of competencies.

I have been focused in this area over the past twelve months, as we developed both our marketing automation strategy and our marketing performance reporting and I have identified four main pointers for working more effectively with IT:

  1. IT is not the enemy! Your IT department is not the enemy, but they may have a different agenda to you, whether it be a lack of resources or a concern about the potential impact of what you want on their wider architecture. Marketeers have a habit of oversimplification (it’s our job, after all), but take the time to understand what drives your colleagues and never assume that what may be genuine concerns are simply IT acting in a dogmatic fashion. You are more likely to succeed in convincing them to help you if they believe that you are taking their motivations seriously.
  2. Take the time to explain your agenda and what your IT priorities will deliver to the business. Very often there will be a lack of understanding of the solutions that you are proposing and so you may find that there is a tendency to reduce the understanding of the solution you are proposing to a lowest common denominator. For example, a marketing automation solution is reduced to an email distribution tool: and with this reduction comes cynicism from IT about whether you really need a specialist solution with all the extra cost and effort that it involves. So take the time to build a robust business case and explain the subtle but important differences that underpin your need for specialist marketing technology.
  3. Don’t assume that IT knows more about the technology than you do. Your IT department has to cover the full spectrum of your business, so it’s unrealistic to expect them to understand marketing solutions in any great level of depth. Your responsiblity is to have a wider and deeper understanding of the technology that you need, including its capabilities, competition and whether it is likely to fit into your wider IT architecture. This is a broader challenge than most marketeers have ever faced, but it is necessary to ensure that you get the results that you crave.
  4. Define success together. Last, but certainly not least, define what success looks like together and ensure that you are generous in your praise of your colleagues. Changes in marketing technology are a challenge for both of you, so make sure that you are prepared to succeed – and fail – together. That way you will lay the foundations for what is likely to become an enduring relationship over the next few years.

This approach seems to have worked quite well for us so far, even if changes sometimes takes longer than I would like, but I would be interested to know what ideas you have for working effectively with your IT team?

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B2B Marketing: Get professional, get passionate or get a new job…

I was talking recently to a close contact from an agency and we were discussing the issue of poor quality briefings. “The problem is David,” he said, “that too many people on the client side get too comfortable, but they don’t really know what they are doing”. He went on “and then they get the good salary and…” – at this point I finished his sentence – “…it all becomes about protecting their position…”.

I think that he has a valid point. For far too long, business-to-business marketing has been treated as a catch-all function that has often failed to take a professional approach to people management – and this has devalued our profession.

Like many others, I always knew that I wanted to work in marketing. I was absolutely focused on it. I studied every discipline of marketing that I could to systematically prepare myself. Even when I worked in Sales or Operations for periods, I always knew that I wanted the experience to make me a better marketeer – it was a means to an end.

Yet unfortunately, I think that although there are many professional marketeers who are just as passionate about marketing as I am (and many who are far more so), there are still many others who don’t work in B2B marketing because they love it. They simply fall into B2B marketing, because they:

  1. Couldn’t quite make it in Sales. They wanted the status of being in Sales, yet they didn’t quite have the killer instinct needed to sell. There’s no shame in this. But it doesn’t mean that you will be a good marketeer.
  2. Quite fancied working in ‘advertising’ or ‘events’ after stints elsewhere. This again is a huge issue: just because you like the idea of something (and ‘advertising’ sounds more glamorous than most jobs), doesn’t mean that you will be any good at it… I fancied playing football for Liverpool. But try as i might, it was never going to happen…
  3. Worked as a product manager, but built out their empires to incorporate marketing as “nobody understood their product” quite like they did. Again though, detailed knowledge of a product’s specification doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be able to translate that knowledge into programs that will inspire customers to engage with your company.

So all of these groups land in Marketing by default, but they could just as easily have ended up in any other function. And therein lies one of the biggest issues with marketing as a discipline: it is still not truly taken seriously as a profession that can add value to companies by too many senior people in large organizations.

Can you imagine the company lawyer being told how he should litigate? Or the CIO being told how he should deploy his data centers? Yet in many marketing functions being told how to market is an everyday occurrence.

Many senior executives recognize that there is a need to market their company and/or their products, but they are unwilling to recognize that a professional and strategic approach to marketing is necessary to fulfil its potential. So they don’t demand it. Far easier (and cheaper) to limit marketing to playing at the tactical edges of the company, than to have it front and center.

Many marketing teams only have themselves to blame for this lack of respect for their work. They shy away from the difficult parts of the job – such as building marketing programs around the business strategy and making real efforts to measure return on investment – because they have never been trained to do them. Marketeers fail to engage with the business around them for fear of criticism. Better to stick to the ‘easy’ areas of marketing that they can use as cover through the use of agencies.

Similarly, marketing leaders turn a blind eye, because it’s easier to do so than to deal with the issue (and after all, “Bob’s a really nice guy”). And so a vicious circle ensues: there is nobody to articulate the value created by marketing, so marketing becomes a cost center to be managed, rather than the revenue generation supporter and engine that it should be.

So we are all complicit in this situation to a greater or lesser extent. But what to do? I believe that the solution starts in how we build and select our marketing teams.

A Chief Marketing Officer who I know well always insisted that he only wanted formally (for that read ‘graduate level’) trained marketeers in his team. I wouldn’t quite go that far – some of the best marketeers I know began life in IT or engineering – but he had a point: that if marketing is a safe harbor rather than a passion, then it’s unlikely that to result in truly outstanding results. And with the pace at which marketing is now changing, it is also unlikely that such individuals will have the desire to keep up with new areas, such as social media and marketing automation.

That’s why I believe that true marketeers need three core qualities:

  1. A genuine passion for marketing. I want team members that hunger to be marketeers. That think about marketing all day every day. Individuals who, even when they are sitting at home with a beer, are thinking of creative ideas to improve how they market – and have the self belief and professional approach to make them happen.
  2. A hunger for learning and personal growth. This aspect is growing in importance. With the pace of change within marketing, it is essential that marketeers are always open to the new. This may take the form of professional development, but it could just as easily take many less formal forms. A tendency to favor the new over the tried and tested is really important.
  3. A strategic understanding of the wider market in which the company operates. This is crucial and is so often overlooked: How can I expect to put together differentiated marketing programs and gain the support of the business without being able to clearly articulate how they underpin the organization’s strategic aims?

Is it just me who feels this? Look around you: if members of your team are in Marketing by default, rather than desire; if their ambition is self-preservation, rather than professionalism, isn’t it right to ask yourself if you will be able to count on them to deliver the ideas and marketing programs that you will need to make your company stand out in the future?

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