Many people assume a Go To Market strategy is really just a list of tactics -- trade shows, email, social media, influencers, etc.
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Happy New Year. For aud lang syne and all that.
We are well beyond that beautiful limbo of the holiday season, an inevitable opportunity for us as individuals to pause and look back on the previous 12 months.
Maybe there’s a tinge of regret (they are teachable moments), glimmers of brilliance, and hopefully buckets of pride in what we’ve achieved.
In the marketing industry, like all others being changed by technology, this time of year that falls at the end of calendar Q4 and beginning of Q1 is when we make predictions.
Don’t get me wrong, I love prediction pieces! They have kind of become an industry norm – something every blog and publication tends to run. Many are super helpful expert-POV that help us make sense of the change.
Most often, these predictions are a hugely optimistic look at the months ahead, and a really compelling benchmark - like a time capsule - as to where we are collectively the very moment the calendar year (human construct of time, human construct of time, human construct of time) comes to an end.
In the hype race, customers are left behind.
Now, if you’re situated comfortably within the marketing corner office of a marketing tech vendor (or more likely in a funky open office setting, you know, with the plebians) your predictions likely centralize around whatever it is that you’re selling.
Widget vendor? 2017 is undoubtedly the year of the widget.
If you’re in the media, you’re likely writing or being assigned stories that fall into the greater narrative of the tech industry. (Writing about “AI in marketing” this year? Yeah, you.)
We all know the dangers of hype.
Too often, executives who are making predictions try too hard to… well… sound like they can predict the future. Yes, we should all seek to be thought leaders, on the bleeding edge of our industry, ahead of the game, yadda yadda yadda. But what’s happened in many fields, especially marketing, is a bit of a race that’s getting out of control.
Vendors rush ahead to be innovative (or sound innovative). Our customers can barely keep up. Fast-forward 12 months and it’s time for another set of high-level, pie in the sky predictions that very few practitioners are ready to take advantage of.
Where is the customer in the maturity and adoption of these tactics? Who are you writing for?
They’re still trying to implement 2013’s predictions. Some are stuck in 2009. It’s not their fault, it’s the pace of change that is far more difficult to implement than the time it takes to write a thinkpiece on the future of their industries.
We are really not helping anyone with hundreds of pieces about what’s to come in the year ahead that are grounded in truth only realized by early-adopters, or worse, grounded in fiction.
So, I thought it would be fun to do a brief sanity-check of last year’s predictions. See how right our fortune teller industry luminaries really are.
Note: this is done in jest. I don’t mean to call anyone out, in fact I came across quite a few folks that I know and love and have left all names off my piece.
Let’s get into it: 13 Marketing Industry Predictions from 2016 – Did They Come True?
1. Digital Marketing will Cease as Marketers Shift to Marketing in a Digital World - Forbes
Forget digital, we’re so digital we’re not even digital anymore.
2. The Era of Cognitive Commerce has Begun – Forbes
Spoken like a guy who works for a cognitive business technology company, oh wait, he does (IBM).
3. Real-Time Marketing Analytics will Unite Online and Offline Behavior for Richer Lead Scoring and Nurturing in 2016 – Forbes
I know the predictor behind this one, and he’s a smart cookie. This one is getting closer to the truth, as it hopes phone activities from sales will be included in lead scoring. Also, he works at a company selling insights around phone activity. Moving on.
4. The arrival of Virtual Reality, combined with a major explosion of streaming and the death of old world distribution models will unleash a new age of what we used to call “TV” – Forbes, and this article too
Oooh a new age. I think ages, by definition, take a few years to shake out, so why don’t we check back on this one in a couple of decades.
5. Being Human Will Return to Marketing / Getting Back to Basics Will Trump the Sexy, Shiny, New Marketing Vehicle – Forbes
Now these guys are speaking my language. Are these predictions? Or is this a cop out? The jury is out…
6. The Maturation of Addressable Communications will Advance Across Channels – Forbes
I will take bread with this buzzword soup, yes, thank you. Mmm, delicious.
7. Intent-based Marketing Has Become a Reality – Forbes
Hello my friend! This predictor is also a very smart marketer who I love and respect. Three guesses what his firm sells.
8. By the end of 2016, CMOs will no longer present slideware to show their impact on revenue in board meetings– Forbes
Down with PPT!! Right after I finish editing next week's board slides.
9. In the same Forbes article, there’s one about the importance of data-driven marketing, from a marketing data vendor.
10. Another about sales and marketing alignment from a sales enablement technology vendor. And on it goes.
11. In content marketing, this article predicts live streaming will skyrocket in popularity (I do see a lot more of it from brands. I can’t yet find data on its usage but suppose this is closer to reality.)
12. It also speaks to the rise of personal authority over brand authority – something I harp on with my own clients. I’m behind this one.
13. This one predicts “brand/product/marketing/sales and CS teams will reorganize around innovation and customer experience”—again, let’s check back on that one in a few years. I love the spirit of this, but this one will take a while to shake out. Re-orgs take time…
Looking back, thinking ahead.
Look, while this article is done in the name of fun, I do hope it tempers next year’s slew of prediction pieces back to a pace that both positions your company as an innovative leader in your space, while addressing the real problems faced by your customers.
Otherwise, practitioners are sitting on the train, reading your piece on their phones, thinking “wow. My peers are so much farther along than me.” The truth is, most are not. It’s an illusion.
Speak to where customers are today, while painting a bright future for what they could have tomorrow. This will have more impact than lofty predictions.
In marketing, we can’t afford to be so full of BS about the future of our space. It’s become a joke.
Founders, you don’t need to always fake the illusion that you are somehow light years ahead of the market. No, investors don’t want to hear it. They know the companies that build billion-dollar industries are solving an addressable market problem, at the moment of need, with an eye to what’s to come.
Next time you write a prediction for the year ahead, do a quick gut check.
Now... where’s the champagne? I’m still celebrating.
My friend Samantha opens her new book, Unleash Possible, with this line:
An investor, a CEO and a CMO walk into a boardroom…
If you’re waiting for the punchline, it’s in the form of 15 chapters filled with hard-fought lessons picked up in the real world, from the perspective of someone who has spent her career growing businesses one product launch, sales pitch, customer interview and marketing campaign at a time.
I worked alongside Samantha over the course of the past few months editing every word in this powerful book. 15 case studies, 66,957 words, and 406,311 characters later, it is a real testament to what it takes to be successful in high-growth organizations today.
The book focuses on three core sections, and they are each important areas of concern for business leaders who want to, wait for it… unleash what’s possible. (See what I did there?) They are three things every business leader should focus on in the coming year:
- The motivation - and the metrics - that matter.
Hiring, and motivating, top talent is one of the most difficult pressures facing business leaders today, especially in digital marketing.
Understanding what drives your team, what fosters collaboration and true brainstorming, and what makes people LOVE to come to work every day and produce for you is critical. Hint: it’s not just about work perks like beer on tap (though that definitely doesn’t hurt.)
The keys are empowerment and trust.
What’s more, when measuring your marketing efforts, don’t get bogged down in activity-based metrics like click-through-rates. Tell a story with your numbers. Demonstrate your impact in the language the rest of the business uses: revenue and growth.
- The most important marketing stakeholder: Sales.
“Collaboration and alignment.”
These are the most over-used and under-implemented buzzwords I hear when someone is describing the relationship marketers have with their counterparts in sales.
(Can I get an Amen?)
There is a real, concentrated effort behind true sales and marketing alignment.
It requires consistent input, joint efforts over time, and working in tandem on shared goals (see focus area #1). This doesn’t work if it’s just lip service.
It requires compromise, and creating common ground on items like:
- who your target customers really are (I especially recommend the chapter in this book on the dangers of only chasing the c-suite)
- how to develop accounts together (yes, Account Based Marketing)
- how to execute outbound efforts without sales tearing their hair out
None of these efforts can happen in a silo. I won’t spoil the book, but here’s a tip: ice cream can help.
- Applying buyer-driven guardrails to every tactic you deploy.
From my time as CMO of Cintell, the topic of being customer-centric has always been near and dear to me (watch my TEDx talk on the topic.)
It’s a simple difference of mindset that separates the “meh” and mediocre marketers from those who are high-performing. Customer-centric businesses have always been more profitable, but today, more than ever, it’s easy to lose sight of this fundamental aspect of our roles. We’re so busy, there are so many tools, never enough time.
In the book, Samantha applies the concept of being buyer-driven to a variety of marketing fundamentals. The takeaway for business leaders today is simple: if you’re not making decisions, whether strategic or tactical, with radical empathy for your buyer, your competitors will.
Whether you’re writing marketing content, creating email campaigns to nurture buyers over time with marketing automation, designing a referral program, wrangling together your CRM database, or crafting a PR strategy (all of which is discussed in this book, yes really), all of it starts, and ends, with your buyer - not with you.
You know that thought you have every now and again?
“I really should write a book.”
It’s usually followed by thoughts of “nah, I don’t have that kind of time,” or “nobody will read it.”
It’s simply not true. While writing a book like this is a great and enormous endeavor, it is totally worth it. When practitioners like Samantha, who have some solid and real advice to offer their peers put pen to paper, things like Unleash Possible are born. I personally believe the world of business is better off with this book in it.
And like all great and enormous endeavors, it’s totally surreal to see the final result in my hands. I’ll leave you with two points to consider (and trust me, I have read every word.)
You’ll want to keep it nearby. Unleash Possible is one of those books that you keep near your desk for reference. It will be something you read with a pen in one hand, ready to underline passages and make notes in the margins. The ideas within aren’t fluffy, they’re not out-of-reach, and they’re not intangible.
If you’re been following the hype problem in marketing, this book might be exactly what marketers seek these days.
You don’t need to be a marketer to learn from - and act on - this book. The chapters within are geared for CEOs, leaders in sales, investors, and more as it contains all the practical perspective you need to understand the charter of marketing today.
Congratulations to Samantha on this professional achievement. Thank you for including me in the journey, and for sharing your perspective with the world.
Now, who’s next?
Warning, this post contains two f-bombs and a partridge in a pear tree.
This year my Content Marketing World agenda was more floral decision-making and vow-writing than it was attending sessions, networking, and partying with the who's who of marketing industry celebrities.
With my upcoming nuptials just days away (f*ck), I am officially on hiatus from conference season. But like a good marketer, I followed the buzz of the conference hashtag #CMWorld and the activity of my friends who were speaking, attending, and sponsoring.
I saw the usual feed of interesting stats, some thought-provoking and pithy quotes. I heard the AC was too cold, and folks were generally hungover on day two. Normal conference stuff.
A couple of times I realized there was a new voice among those Tweeting along with the event. Selfie Humblebrag @SHumblebrag.
They were funny.
Friends don't let friends say "Knowledge Bomb." #CMWorld
— Selfie Humblebrag (@SHumblebrag) September 7, 2016
They were a little, um, pointed.
— Selfie Humblebrag (@SHumblebrag) September 9, 2016
And in some cases they were really pointed.
— Selfie Humblebrag (@SHumblebrag) September 8, 2016
They shared anonymous criticism of the event, of the speakers, and of the insights shared. No one was safe - not the attendees, not the speakers, and certainly not the event organizers.
At first, I laughed. I cringed a bit when I saw folks I know and love in the line of fire. But still I laughed because... well it was funny!
I didn't know what to make of it. I asked my network on Facebook what they thought. Marketers responded.
One person said
"I was digging him. Yes, he was a bit obnoxious, but generally on point."
(They had a like for support.)
"Well at least I can't be blamed. But, yea, generally on point. Aren't they are just starting to feel like the same message, same conference?"
One summed up her feelings with
One, a speaker at the show, said
"Funny at times. But cowardly and lots of cheap shots. It's fun to get a contrary voice but have the courage of your convictions. Wonder how she'd do on stage..."
(He was the first to suggest this person was female. His comment had another like for support.)
"I'm ok with voicing dissent but it's a shame to do so with snarky disrespect and hiding behind a false identity. Feels more like a call for attention then a rally to improve our industry. But it got people talking so there is that..."
It made me think.
Throughout my career I have always followed the advice of an early mentor who said "the loudest voice in the room is not always the right voice."
Though I have always strived to amplify the reach of my employer or client's message, I believe the brand with the loudest voice is not always sharing the best advice to follow.
Discernment is important as to whose advice we follow. Especially in an industry of self-promotion like marketing. I think we all need to be judicious about accepting advice and seek proof.
On the flip side, I have worked one-on-one with many executives who are terrified to put themselves out there, on stage, or in writing for this very reason.
They fear being ridiculed.
Humility has a way of preventing very smart people from sharing or promoting their ideas.
A lack of humility allows some others to promote theirs without regard.
No marketer left behind.
We exist in an interesting time in marketing. New tech, new tools, new ways of buying, new... well everything.
It's changing at a pace that leaves some - many - behind.
The speed at which the conference agendas move sometimes feels like light years ahead of where many practitioners are.
The media around marketing is incentivized to cover what's next, what's new, what's cool, what's innovative. Especially in marketing tech.
But many practitioners in marketing are often a few years behind the media. They are still trying to achieve the top priorities from the conference they attended three years ago.
Does marketing have a hype problem?
Are we too good at hyping up our ideas without regard for their practicality, their validity, or their defensibility? Are we all sizzle and no steak?
A truly awesome amount.
My father used to berate me for using the word "awesome" incorrectly. I use it now to mean truly, that which induces awe.
An overwhelmingreverence - or fear.
It's too much.
This doesn't feel like a sustainable pace.
I have found an abundance of companies in my consulting practice who feel left behind - trying desperately to keep up with where the industry says they should be.
A storm is brewing.
I believe it has opened a large market for service providers. The gig economy. Sherpas.
But I also believe it has created a perfect storm of disillusionment.
On one hand we have 4,000 marketing technologists, hundreds more marketing celebrities and speakers, and plenty of publications and blogs all telling the beleaguered marketer -- this is your next most important priority. This is what you should do. Here, this is your mantra (this year).
On the other hand, there is the pace of real business, the lethargy of many organizations to adopt technology or change, and the sheer high-pressure nature of marketing.
The longer time goes on, the larger this gap gets between what's real, and what's not. Between what's happening, and what we say in our keynotes on stage should be happening. 99u ran an article about this in the creative world, calling it the "Bullshit industrial complex."
That gap that is created is filled with disillusionment. A widening sense of skepticism. And ultimately, fear. Fear of being left behind, of being the only one in the room not able to keep up. Fear of failure.
Enter, the voice of disillusionment.
Enter our friend (or foe), Selfie Humblebrag.
Whether they are male, or female.
Whether they're right, or wrong.
Out of line, or a welcome respite from blind agreement.
Whatever your opinion of this person...
They are not the problem.
Perhaps they are, instead, a symptom of an industry too focused on hype.
Though I didn't see her keynote, I know Ann Handley was planning to talk about the importance of slowing down in her keynote. We had chatted about the idea months ago.
Her intuition was SPOT on. I was in vehement support of the importance of slow.
Perhaps it's because I have recently begun the practice of yoga, of mindfulness, and of chilling the f*ck out long enough to quiet the noise, and focus on what matters.
Can we do the same in marketing? Can we self-reflect long enough to make some changes? I don't know. As an industry, we have a lot of reconciliation to do between the hype and the reality of our profession.
Maybe the answer is simply, as another mentor of mine always says, let the bad apples weed themselves out. Let the good ideas, and the right thinkers remain. Can this happen if our conferences and spokespeople are nothing more than an echo chamber?
Maybe Selfie Humblebrag is giving voice to the inner rumbles of frustration that more feel, but do not say aloud. Maybe we do need to be more critical of our conferences, our media, and our institutions that, in a changing world, act as our respite, our guidance, our safe spaces to learn and figure it out. But perhaps we can do it not anonymously, but with confidence, and respect.
As for our friend, Humblebrag, it's interesting that he chose a Van Gogh painting to be his avatar.
"For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream."
Huh, pretty humble guy, that Van Gogh.
What do you think?
Studies prove (and we kind of inherently know) that increasing the variety of content in your marketing mix helps more people find it, allows those with different styles of learning to find what they need, and improves the shelf life of your concepts. I keep this list in Evernote that I reference when I'm considering new content ideas for clients. I hope it helps you think of some new ways to make your story come to life!
Feel free to leave more in the comments.
From short > long:
Instructographics (how-to, steps)
Quick guide (3-5 page)
Worksheets or templates
Tear sheet (or quick reference guide)
Expert Q&A podcast
Email course / newsletter
60 min live webinar event
Speaking session / deck
Research report (custom research or third-party)
Publication (online destination site OR printed)
When asked about their top issues related to marketing content, technology buyers say that “too much marketing hype,” a “lack of truly independent, unbiased information,” and information that is “too general” rounds out their top three.
Yet, these same buyers rely on trusted content to make purchase decisions 5X more today than they did five years ago.
Why is it so difficult to create engaging content for our B2B buyers? What makes marketing trustworthy? How does it stand out from the sea of competing messages? What makes it earn the attention of our overwhelmed buyers, and what can compel them to take action?
One tactic to consider in this brave new world of marketing is the use of custom research surveys. I’ve leveraged them in positions of marketing leadership brand-side, as well as with clients agency-side to help them develop powerful content assets, increase brand awareness with media coverage, and enable sales effectiveness.
Great research and smart marketing is a surefire recipe for success. Here are a few ways to leverage surveys in your B2B marketing:
- Break Through the Noise
In today’s world, everyone is a publisher. 60% of marketers create content daily. The amount of web-based content is doubling every 9 to 24 months. Our modern consumerism inundates us with between 500-3,000 (potentially more) marketing messages each day.
To break through this clutter and earn the mindshare of your besieged buyers, we must develop messages that disrupt the status quo and differentiate our brands. Content must be useful, helpful, interesting, engaging, and persuasive.
If you’re struggling to come up with content ideas that resonate, consider a survey.
Original research studies afford you the opportunity to provide practical insight and an interesting perspective on the state of your industry. You can tell a story informed and backed by statistically sound data.
“Maybe stories are just data with a soul.”- Brene Brown
In world filled with content, research and statistics are an engaging format that captures the attention of overwhelmed readers.
- Boost Content Credibility
Buyers don’t inherently trust brands, (who could blame them?) but they are open to allowing certain brands to become credible sources of content. Instead of content that talks all about you and your solution, consider offering the trends and results of a study.
“Never bring an opinion to a data fight.” - Andy Crestodina
Unlike product-related materials, research allows your buyer to collect persuasive proof points in their quest to build a case for your solution category. Survey results represent the perspective of a wide range of respondents, giving your reader the chance to benchmark their own experience against that of their peers.
What’s more, publishing the results of surveys in report format gives you the opportunity to provide your commentary and forward-thinking ideas on a given area, positioning your brand as one of authority.
- Fuel Multiple Content Assets
Surveys are one of the best sources of content that can be repurposed across multiple formats. To maximize the output of your research study, and extend the impact of your findings, consider creating multiple content formats.
For example, from a report on Chinchilla Farming practices, you can craft:
- A thought leadership report, “Chinchilla Farming 2016: Key Trends, Challenges, and Considerations” summarizing the findings and highlighting trends and key considerations.
- Multiple blog posts
- 15 Stats You Need To Know About Chinchilla Farming
- The 3 Top Challenges for Chinchilla Farmers
- What Leading Chinchilla Farmers Do About Fur Management
- …you get the idea.
- A press release or guest byline for target publication (more on media relations later)
- Multiple social media posts featuring key stats
- A live webinar event walking through the findings, maybe featuring an expert or customer alongside a company executive
- Checklists that align to the successes in your research
- Infographics highlighting key stats in visual format
- Best practices eBook
- A field guide for your topic area with research findings added throughout
- Industry speaking session discussing the findings
- Quiz (where do you stand compared to findings?)
- Interactive assessment tool featuring in-depth analysis of the recipient’s standing against the benchmarking data and your recommended analysis (this is great for lead qualification)
- Sales enablement materials (more on this later)
- An expert Q&A video featuring your executive talking through the findings of the report (and their implications)
- That same Q&A in Podcast format
- Slideshare content
- Reveal Unarticulated Needs
Your first competitor in any buying situation is the customer’s status quo. You’re most often competing against the way things are done today. Often, the first job we have as marketers is to help our prospects understand their unarticulated needs, and realize there is a problem for them to overcome.
Great research-based marketing can shine a light on the problems your audience may not even know they have. These unspoken pain points become more apparent, for example, through report findings that demonstrate a particular widespread issue with the way things are done today. Seek to surprise, seek to challenge the status quo.
Where are your non-customers wasting time and resources? Where can they be more efficient? Use surveys to demonstrate firstly, there is a problem in the industry, and secondly, your prospects are not alone.
(Implied: your solution can help.)
- Equip Sales with Authority + Objectivity
“Don’t take my word for it…”
Our salespeople are often trained on features of our products and services – their benefits, how they stack up against competition, and how they can drive value for customers.
But a relationship between sales and a buyer has to be about an equitable exchange of value far before they start talking about the specifics of our solutions. Our salespeople are only moderately effective when all they have to offer is information about our products. (Our websites do that.)
Sales needs customer-centric material. They need to be able to speak to the problems faced by buyers if they have any hope of forging a connection with them.
Today, only 27% of companies believe their sales enablement campaigns are focused on the prospect’s story rather than their own. And Corporate Visions found that only 13% of sellers believe product-or-company focused presentations are the most impactful.
We need to give our salespeople nuggets of insight that position both the brand, and the seller, as a helpful resource who understands the challenges facing our buyers. Package research findings into sales enablement content, and work with sales to speak to the findings, and their implications, when talking to prospects.
“If you don’t have anything interesting to say as a brand, you’re just a product.” - Spencer Baim
- Boost PR coverage and media relations
It can be impossible to grab the attention of a journalist. Every day they’re inundated with pitches. Tens, sometimes hundreds, of emails make their way into the inboxes of reporters daily.
They’re all sent by companies trying to edge their way into a news story. A new product announcement! An acquisition! A new executive hire!
Tom Brokaw says journalism is all about storytelling.
Think about this the next time you set out to earn press coverage. What is the story? Why does it matter? Is it timely? Who does it impact, and how?
Surveys give you a chance to elicit data that tells, from a statistically sound sample, what attitudes, successes, failures, outlooks, and challenges exist among your community of customers and prospects.
If the findings are timely, and in-line with what your media targets typically write about, it can give journalists the opportunity to write about something new and fresh.
When pitching to the media, you may offer an exclusive interview to top targets with your company’s CEO. In addition, consider submitting a guest post with your take on the findings and how it impacts the industry at-large.
- Improve SEO / traffic
I recommend sending the results of your surveys around to friendly bloggers, and industry partners. Their owned media properties (blogs, newsletters, social channels etc.) are likely hungry for more content. You’d be hard pressed to get them to share your product-related content, but research insights are useful to their audience as well.
Be sure to provide them with key summaries, highlighted findings, and the link to the full report, gated or not. Your goal here is two-fold:
- Backlinks (for increased SEO and traffic)
- Surveys and research findings allow you the rare opportunity for other people to quote your content.
You can also consider paid syndication options to increase the exposure of your piece.
- Capture Emails and Fill the Top Of the Funnel
The age-old question for marketers seems to be, “to gate or not to gate?”
Should you put a lead capture form in front of a research study?
The answer will differ for every company. If you’ve got very little un-gated content, gate your report. But, it’s time to start repurposing those research insights into smaller, un-gated pieces such as blog posts, infographics, Podcasts, or key summaries in PDF format. All of these need to drive traffic back to that gated piece.
Generally, I recommend gating content when it is highly unique, valuable, engaging content. If you’ve fielded a one-of-a-kind industry survey providing truly useful findings, in my opinion, it’s more than fair to ask for an email address in exchange for the download.
The benefits of un-gating your research (giving access to it without asking for an email, job title, or any information) is the potential that it will be accessed and seen by more people. For this to work, you need the ability to capture leads later, either in other assets, or by driving traffic from your report to a gated piece, such as a webinar or demo request. The tolerance is up to you.
DON’T create a survey for the sake of creating a survey. Find a new angle on a topic that has not been illuminated before. The best research reports take a fresh approach and reveal new insights, instead of regurgitating existing information.
DO your homework and learn if there is already an abundance of research available on a specific topic. If so, find your unique angle.
If your product is truly meeting an unmet need and you’ve got a unique way of solving a problem, you have something of value to add to your industry. Establish your authority and find your voice!
I hope this has encouraged you to give surveys a try in your marketing mix.
If you need help moving a project like this across the finish line, I recommend partnering with organizations like ResearchScape to design questionnaires, collect results, and help you analyze the data.
My friend Samantha Stone, founder of the Marketing Advisory Network, recently published a compelling study on B2B sales and marketing collaboration (no registration to download.) From an industry survey, the study examined an unhealthy tension between these two groups, a concept Samantha describes as "so common we almost accept it as inevitable."
While there are myriad tools, processes, and trainings that can improve many of the problem areas outlined in the study, one in particular stands out to me as... shockingly... easy to implement.
It's cost-effective, doesn't require much time or an investment in technology, and really only requires us to change some basic behavior in order to execute:
Direct marketing interaction with buyers.
Revolutionary, I know. In the report, Samantha found that sharing the interaction with customers leads to real results.
Marketers at organizations that exceed revenue goals are 2X as likely to participate in customer and prospect meetings as those that miss revenue goals.
She writes "the most successful organizations have broken down the unspoken barrier between marketing and buyers. Often, the gap is caused by a combination of too busy marketers who feel no time exists to speak with buyers, and a resistant sales team who wants to "protect" their account. The result is a lack of engagement and insight."
What to listen for:
I was very glad at the opportunity to contribute to the report. Inside, I share a list of things to listen for when marketers join sales calls, including:
- what topics, pain points, and pressures are top-of-mind (this is great fodder for new content topics).
- what questions buyers have during their purchase process (and what your reps can and can not answer).
- what sales methodologies and tools are working (and which are being ignored).
- what sales enablement materials your team is missing.
- if your marketing messaging is resonating as intended.
- how targeted and qualified your leads really are.
Other key findings:
From a survey of 123 B2B organizations spanning business services, high tech, and other industries, Samantha learned:
- 67% of respondents do NOT reward sales teams for supporting marketing objectives (although most report marketing objectives align to greater business goals)
- 57% of organizations report that less than 85% of leads delivered by marketing are followed up by sales
- Organizations that exceeded revenue goals in the last 12 months are 3X as likely than those who miss revenue goals to have marketing own pipeline acceleration, not just lead generation.
- When asked to rate marketing’s value to sales in the past 12 months, nearly 50% of sales respondents reported significant improvement, while less than 20% of marketers agreed.
- The biggest opportunity for common ground (lead followup) is a missed opportunity. Less than 20% of marketers indicated that sales followed up on 95%+ leads delivered by marketing. But sales thinks they are doing a much better job, 50% of respondents in sales reported that 95%+ of sales leads delivered are followed up with.
The study was conducted by Samantha Stone of the Marketing Advisory Network and sponsored by QuotaFactory.
Or: The Exploitation of Feminism by Advertising Here’s what we know: For years women have been objectified in advertising. Watch any of the many videos from Jean Kilbourne’s Killing us Softly series for a litany of examples over the past 40 years. (And these hilarious vintage examples.)
“Ads sell more than products. They sell values, they sell images, they sell concepts of love and sexuality, of success and perhaps most important, of normalcy. To a great extend they tell us who we are and who we should be.” - Jean Kilbourne
It has led to widespread body image issues, eating disorders, a culture of violence against women, and a media standard in which body types that do not meet these unrealistic standards are marginalized and embedded into our collective psyche as “normal.”
There has been progress.
Since efforts from initiatives such as Killing Us Softly, more of the world has become generally aware of the impact of this unrealistic body image on women, girls, and the male-identifying members of their lives who interact with them.
We see semblances of progress in the recent decision from London to ban negative body image in ads, (thanks Sadiq Khan) or companies like Aerie removing retouching from ads, and with sites like Modcloth supporting the Truth in Advertising Act.
But wait, before you burn your bra and start claiming the end of the glass ceiling, or the long awaited demise of the sexist norms in capitalism and business, something still just isn’t sitting with me quite right.
I’ve been noticing a new category of campaigns and ads that, on the surface, celebrate this sudden new narrative in our culture about the power of a woman (like that was ever really a new revelation.)
Let’s not forget the liberation from sexist labels in business that will come from a good clean head of hair:
And how much better I'll be at pay negotiation if I'm not sweating.
This actually does nothing to close the wage gap, Secret. I’m sure it wins you some good press and your ad agency some awards. Secret’s parent company P&G has an executive team that is 75% male (a stat they win awards for.) And it continues to try and change the world (oh, and sell more laundry detergent) with its #sharetheload campaign in India:
I watch these commercials… and though at first I’m encouraged, by second 27 there’s that shiny end package shot of deodorant or a razor blade or whatever else it’s meant for me to buy.
In the end, I’m just infuriated. We don’t need to be pandered to. Are we really fooled by faux-feminist marketing?
Marketers, stop trying to make a buck on the backs of women working to change the narrative of women in the workforce.
The struggle of pay inequality, workplace sexual harassment and other forms of gender discrimination is not just another trend to exploit in order to gain eyeballs. As much as I appreciate the intention, at the end of the day these companies are still trying to use this narrative to achieve one common goal: Sell more shit. They've lost sight of a very simple truth -
Women are not a commodity.
I should start by saying, I have spent the majority of my marketing career promoting marketing tools and technology. Don't get me wrong, they're great. At a high level, tech has forever changed the game of marketing - for the better I believe.
But with such a massive and onerous landscape of marketing tools available, it is easy to get caught up in buying tools and tech, before strategy. That is also the fastest and most expensive way to fail.
Tools don't come with a strategy. Tools help to accelerate your efforts.
I came across a post today from help desk company Groove that presented three excellent things that really matter for content marketing, before tools are even considered:
- Deep, deep customer development.
- Publishing valuable, interesting and useful content as soon as you possibly can.
- Work as hard to promote your content as you do to produce it.
Simple, effective, true. Don't write a word until you take the time to understand your buyers. Publish quick, make it useful, and don't forget to invest time and resources in great promotion.
In his open letter to B2B marketers, Carlos Hidalgo points out that only 22% of companies are successful with content marketing. Yeah, 22%.
This stuff really isn't rocket science. Those three points are simple tenants that companies of every size can (and should) follow.
Note: Try Cabinet M to organize, discover, and share your marketing tech stack.