Google+ The Marketing Survivalist: June 2009

Are You an Insecure Marketer – Part 2

My recent post Are You An Insecure Marketer? continues to be one of the most read of all my posts. I got a couple of comments on the post and a few more when I posed the question on LinkedIn. There were some great discussions and I encourage you to check out the responses on LinkedIn.

Search LinkedIn Answers for the words "Are you an insecure marketer" and you should be able to easily find it. For some strange reason, I don't seem to be able to get a direct url that works.

Some of the most thoughtful responses were from Marketing Managers who had reported at one time or another to both great managers and horrible ones. Who hasn’t been on both sides of that coin?

There is no doubt that horrible managers can undermine your sense of self-worth in a myriad of ways. However, even after years of poor management, these marketing professionals found their self-confidence was quickly healed by having an opportunity to work for some really great managers.

But, how often do these true gems of marketing management come along? And, do you really want to leave yourself at the mercy of whomever you are reporting to?

Years ago I spent a lot of time listening to Zig Ziglar while I drove around Chicago for my first real sales job. He had a saying that stuck with me. (At least I think it was Zig. This was a couple of decades ago!)

“If it’s to be, it’s up to me.”

If your self-confidence is being undermined by a poor manager, you need to find ways to build it up instead of waiting for a new manager to come along. I’m not suggesting that you switch jobs. Although, I do suggest that gearing up to switch can be a real morale booster.

For some more thoughts read Now is a Great Time to be Looking for a New Job.

A great book about taking personal responsibility is QBQ (The Question Behind the Question). You can easily finish this book on your next flight, but I think you’ll want to keep it around for a quick "pick me up."

Another great morale booster is to work on your online brand. Build your LinkedIn profile. Answer questions on LinkedIn and start building your “expert in…” status. Ask for references. Engage in discussions on marketing blogs. Build your own blog if you have the time and inclination.

After you’ve been active in the online marketing community for awhile, Google your name to check your online relevance. Then Google your manager’s name. In my experience, horrible managers are almost never digitally relevant. I have no idea why. Maybe it’s because they are so inwardly focused. The next time your horrible manager is tearing down your self-esteem you can remind yourself how irrelevant they are - at least digitally.

The point is, don’t let your self-confidence be dependent on someone else. Find your own ways to build it regardless of who you work for.

All the best!

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The Question of Marketing Compensation

In all my writing about metrics, I don’t think I’ve touched on the question of compensation for marketers.

Should you tie a marketer’s compensation directly to sales? Or, should it be based on some other sort of performance metric?

I’m of the belief that marketers, especially those who are charged with delivering qualified leads to sales, need to have some skin in the game. That said, I think revenue goals are a little too removed for them to connect with.

I’ve seen plenty of marketing teams that had nice big chunks of incentive pay waiting for them if sales reached its quota. There was no doubt that these marketers could influence revenues by driving opportunities to sales. Unfortunately, in almost all cases, the incentive payments were not a motivator for these marketers. Two main reasons were:

Time - There was too much of a time lapse between generating the opportunities and the closing of the deals. This is probably an unflattering analogy, but for those of you who have ever trained an animal you know that there has to be very little time between the behavior you want and the reward. Of course most marketers are smarter than the family dog, but if you delay their reward by a period of months or even years, the motivation is going to be diminished.

Control – There’s a feeling of lack of control as well. After all, once the marketer generates the leads there is no guarantee that the sales team will actually follow up. And, if they do, how does the marketer know they can actually sell?

This lack of control also points out one of the big challenges that arise from tying a marketer’s compensation to sales. If they generate the required number of qualified leads and sales still doesn’t make its goal, a resentment can start to build.

I would recommend putting all marketers on an incentive pay plan. In fact, I’d probably make incentives a larger part of the plan than most marketers are traditionally comfortable with.

I would tie this incentive pay to the metrics that lead to sales and that marketing has some control over.

The % of qualified leads generated is the most directly linked to sales but one in which marketing has control over. This metric requires that you have defined what a qualified lead is and have worked with sales leadership to determine the number of qualified leads required. For more on this see The Heart of a Ferengi.

If you based marketing’s incentive plan on nothing more than this metric, I think you’d be doing well.

To keep your marketing team from overspending, you might also consider incenting them on reaching a cost per qualified lead benchmark. This goal will keep them focused on one of the key principles of creating a successful marketing plan – stop doing what doesn’t work.

Unfortunately, this metric loses its meaning if your marketing team is also responsible for awareness marketing like trade publication advertising. Or, if for political reasons, marketing is forced to continue investing in campaigns such as a major trade show that has abysmal returns but that the company feels “we need to be at.”

This issue of incenting marketing can bring out opinions in even the most reserved of people. There are plenty of people whom I respect and admire who completely disagree with me. Usually, they want sales to be the one and only metric.

Then again, there are marketers who abhor the idea of being on any sort of incentive plan. Even great marketers who almost always reach their goals sometimes balk at an incentive plan because it’s not the way they were designed. They will do the best they can regardless of how you pay them. (I have to admit that I don’t completely understand this line of thinking. Some of us are just fundamentally “coin operated.”)

So what’s your opinion? Should marketing be on incentive comp plans the same way that sales is? If so, what would you base them on?

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12 Steps to Dumping Your Marketing Department - Step 2 Build your online presence

This is Step 2 for sales people who need to take their destiny into their own hands by taking responsibility for filling their pipeline. Step 1 was Target Your Market. This is a critical step and you should reread this post if you haven’t taken this step yet.

Step 2 – Start Building Your Online Presence

In a worst case scenario, your company is doing little to establish itself as a thought leader or even an expert in your target market. That’s OK. Those of you who have been successful in selling know the kind of influence a qualified sales person can have on a buyer.

Step 2 is to begin to build your own online presence as someone your potential customers want to consult with before they make a purchase.

I know there are lots of networking sites that sales people can belong to, but unless your target market is other sales people, you should start with LinkedIn. I’ve heard (but never seen it in print) that LinkedIn claims to have executives from every fortune 500 company as members. True or not, I don’t think there’s another networking site that is more widely accepted by the business community than LinkedIn.

Most of you probably have a LinkedIn profile already. If you don’t, that’s your assignment for this week. For those of you that do, here are a few next steps you should take:

Expand your network. We’ll be using LinkedIn in some of the future steps and it’s critical that your network is as wide as possible. (Keep it real though. Connecting simply for the sake of building your number of connections will diminish the value of LinkedIn.) Here are some sources for connections:

Current customers – Link to everyone you can think of within your current customer base. Especially those customers who are within your target market.
Colleagues - Link to as many people within your company as you can.
Prospects – This one you have to sort of feel, but if you have a prospect who is a big LinkedIn advocate, you should send an invitation to connect when you think the timing is right.
Vendors – Sales people don’t work as often with vendors as marketers do, but if there are vendors, e.g. sales trainers, that you’ve worked with they can be another good source for network connections.
Friends – Don’t forget your friends. If you still keep in touch with childhood friends or college buddies, by all means add them. They can widen your network significantly if they work in other industries.
LinkedIn suggestions - In the upper right hand corner of your LinkedIn homepage, LinkedIn will offer suggestions for people you may know. I look at these almost every time I log in as LinkedIn does a great job of reminding me who I know - and forgot about.
Let LinkedIn search your Outlook files - LinkedIn can also search your Outlook files for additional connections. Chances are good that it will suggest a few great connections that you hadn't thought of.
Join a group – Do a search for groups that your target market might belong to. Or, as you expand your network, look at their profiles to see what groups they belong to.

Start a group – If you can’t find a group to join, start a group and invite your contacts to join. Remember, I’m talking about groups that are of interest to your target market. (Specifically, the one you defined in Step 1) While it’s fun to join groups that other sales people belong to, these won’t be useful to you as you try to build your opportunities.

Build expert status. Once you start a group or join an existing group, build expert status by answering questions from group members. People who ask questions can rate the answers. If they rate your response as “best” that will show up in your profile for others to see.

That’s enough on LinkedIn for this week. Just like in Step 1 where you defined your target market, building your LinkedIn profile is a critical step to take. We will revist LinkedIn again in future steps.

Next Step – Figure out where your market hangs out. In the meantime, get that LinkedIn profile started and join The Sales and Marketing Connection Group on LinkedIn.

Happy Selling!

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If I Had 100K – My Response

No one took me up on the Friday Dilemma If I Had 100K. Perhaps the thought of only having 100K to spend on marketing was too miserable to even consider. However, it’s not that uncommon for a high-tech start-up.

I thought I’d share my take.

In this scenario, a start-up company with a “killer app” is just entering the market. The founder of the company is not a marketer and is wondering if he should hire someone or maybe outsource marketing completely. He has set aside 100K for marketing in this first year and he’s asking you, as a marketing expert, what he should do.

For me, there are several things that stand out about this scenario:

- The founder of the company thinks he has the next “killer app.” That tells me that this is probably something he wants to market to early adopters. There’s also a good chance that this group of early adopters is tech-savvy. That’s not always the case, but if you’re marketing a new type of software app, your early adopters often are.

- This founder is also very realistic about what he can expect from his 100K this year. Obviously, he doesn’t want to waste the 100K, but he knows he’s building a foundation for years two and three.

The marketing expectations for this business are a little different than what you would expect from marketing for a more established B2B company with a sales team that needs marketing support.

Because the target market of early adopters is likely to be easy to reach via social media, this is one situation where I think it makes sense to start there. In addition, the potential killer-app status of this product, makes it a likely opportunity to reach social media influencers such as bloggers who might be open to spreading the word.

One small caveat to the social media recommendation. He needs to make sure that he includes traditional web based marketing like a website in his plans. This may or may not be the same vendor that handles his other social media marketing requirements.

I would tell the founder of this organization to reach out to someone who can help him put together a social media marketing plan. His options could include independent social media specialists to companies like HubSpot that provide a variety of social media (or what they call inbound marketing) services. Even if the founder is social media savvy, it helps to have a marketing specialist put together a plan.

He should talk to several vendors, get several proposals, and work with the ones who he feels understands his situation best and he feels most comfortable with. He won’t be able to do everything for 100K, but he can make a decent dent. However, the skills sets and approaches are likely to vary widely. He should give this careful consideration before he starts signing contracts.

In this case, I would also suggest that he hire an intern to help him manage the work with the vendors. There's always going to be a lot of miscellaneous legwork that he shouldn't have to be personally bothered with. A smart, eager intern can handle a lot more than most people think.

I like the idea of an intern in this situation because chances are that someone that young will be involved already in social media in a big way. Although I’ve always liked hiring interns outside of marketing (English or journalism majors, for example) this is a situation where I’d suggest sticking with marketing. Hopefully, he can find a great intern that he’s comfortable turning the marketing over to in years two and three.

Since he’ll have an intern who is still in learning mode, a key criteria for any social media vendor(s) that he works with would be that they allow this company to learn from them.

If his eyes are glazing over by this point I would suggest that he spend a little bit of money up front hiring a marketing expert to pull the plan together for him. (Sorry if that sounded a bit too self-promoting but by the time I’ve reached this point the founder of the company has started to doze off a bit.)

Anyone see this scenario differently?

Melissa Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

What's in a Name?

Instead of a Friday Dilemma this week, I’m going to throw out a question for discussion. It’s one that I know a lot of you care about.

In marketing, does your title matter?

For example, in some organizations, you can’t be a manager unless you manage people. These companies will use titles like “marketing specialist” for individuals that have been running marketing for years, but don’t manage people. Other organizations feel that manager signifies your autonomy in a role and your ability to make crucial decisions. “Promotion” to the role of manager should not be reliant on actually managing people.

Some organizations try to have parity between their marketing roles and their sales roles. They reason that if marketing is to function effectively when they work with sales they need to be seen as equals and not underlings. Other organizations have no problem with marketing being seen as underlings and may even have marketing report into the sales managers.

Within one organization I know well, the role of Product Manager was very high profile. They had a lot of clout in the organization but were also held to very high standards. Unfortunately, Product Marketing came to be seen as a lesser role. That is, until someone in a position of power figured it out and turned almost everyone into a Product Manager – even those with no direct link to a specific product.

I worked with another organization where almost everyone I met was a VP – some of them even fit the title.

So what’s your take? Does title matter?

Melissa Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

A Nice Touch

A lot is written about how to network with your network. One way is to get off on the right foot.

A couple of the large ERP vendors that I have worked with recently went through lay offs in their sales and marketing departments and I am getting a lot of requests to connect. Don’t get me wrong, I love the requests to connect and I always want to know who is looking. You never know when I’ll run across something that might be right for someone in my network.

That said, a lot of people I’ve known for years, but haven’t spoken to in awhile, are sending me the standard, “Since you’re a person I trust…” message from LinkedIn. I suspect that this is due in part to the way LinkedIn allows you to search former colleagues and then send an invitation to connect en masse.

However, I’d always encourage people who want to really network to search the list of former colleagues on LinkedIn, write their names down, and then send them an individual message that shows your personality. You can even send the same “individual” message to all of the people you want to connect with. They’ll never know, but it will feel more like a real connection.

All the best! (Especially to those of you who are searching for new positions.)

Melissa Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

Building an Opt-in List

We’re lucky enough in the US not to have to have our prospects opt-in before we can send them an email. Or, are we really all that lucky? Not having laws as stringent as those in other parts of the world has allowed many marketers to get a little careless.

Hopefully, you know that having permission to market to someone (an opt-in) is a lot more effective than not having permission. But, how do you build a decent opt-in list?

I was creating my own list of ways to expand your opt-in database when one of Kathleen Gage’s emails popped up in my inbox. (I’ve always liked the old saying, “When the student is ready the teacher will come.” )

I thought I’d share her quick video with you. It has some great ideas.

Build an opt-in list with survey information

All the best!

Melissa Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

No One Cares About Customer Loyalty Anymore

OK, I get it. No one cares about customer loyalty.

I got so few readers to my recent posts The Trials of the Customer Loyalty Specialist and Customer Loyalty By The Numbers that they don’t even show up in my Google Analytics reports.

And, only one reader so far has answered the poll question “Do You Have a Customer Loyalty Specialist or Manager in Your Organization?” Their answer was No.

While I wouldn’t call a poll of my readership scientific, the lack of interest in that topic is somewhat surprising – especially given the cost of acquiring new customers vs selling additional products to the ones you have.

Maybe this isn’t so surprising. Stories abound about B2B companies using entry level support specialists who barely understand their product let along how business really works. Don’t you love it when you can hear the pages of a manual rustling in the background while you’re explaining your problem?

Other companies are employing off-shore support specialists that have trouble with the language. I don’t necessarily have a problem with using off-shore support, but lowest cost isn’t always the only criteria for choosing a business partner that will have a significant impact on your company's reputation.

Then there are the websites that were clearly built by people who never spoke to a real customer. The writers are drinking too much of their own kool-aid and the navigation stinks.

Is it me, or is there an overwhelming lack of concern for the customer experience?

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12 Steps to Dumping Your Marketing Department

Not all sales people are lucky enough to work with great marketing teams. What’s a great marketing team? It is one that gives sales the opportunities and supporting materials they need to exceed their quota. All else is optional—at least from the point of view of a sales person.

Unfortunately, for some of you in sales, qualified lead generation is hit or miss. For others, the closest thing you’ve seen to a lead is a stack of business cards from the last trade show.

Normally, this blog focuses on bridging the gap between sales and marketing. But what do you do if the divide is too wide, or you’re not getting the support you need to effect change? In this series of posts, I’m going to speak directly to those sales people who have decided they need to take their destiny into their own hands.

Of course, I’m not in favor of dumping the marketing department. Hopefully, you can get your own marketing team to step up their game when they see you taking action. And, even if you have a great marketing team, these 12 steps will only complement their efforts.

Step 1 – Target Your Market

If your marketing department or company hasn’t narrowed down your target market from “anyone who wants to buy our product” to something more manageable, you need to do this yourself.

You need to decide what types and size of businesses that are most likely to buy your product from you. Here are some things to consider:

Product fit – It makes no sense to try to sell into a market, even one flush with funds, if the product doesn’t fit.

Your background - If you have a particular expertise in a key market, and it’s one that the product fits, I would spend the bulk of my efforts in that market. Every one of the 12 steps that I’m going to give you should be applied to this market. For every other market, your approach should be reactive. That is, if marketing hands you a “lead” go ahead and qualify it, but be very selective about which leads outside of your core market you spend your time on.

Company support – We’ve already established that marketing isn’t sending you qualified opportunities on a regular basis. However, they may have other supporting materials that can you count on. If there are brochures, case studies, white papers, presentations and other materials that you can take advantage of, this is a plus.

I can’t stress enough how important it is that you take this first step. Success of each additional step I’ll explain in the weeks ahead is dependent on this. Make it your goal this week to define your target customer.

Step 2 is going to focus on building your brand. In the meantime, remember to join The Sales and Marketing Connection group on LinkedIn.

Happy Selling!

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Is Twitter Dead?

This article my Mike Elgan on Datamation described my experience with Twitter to a “T”. Who Killed Twitter? I was one of the many who signed on to Twitter, used it for a bit, became disillusioned and completely quit using it.

As some of you may have noticed, I’ve reconnected my blog to Twitter, so I guess I’m back on. However, I would still say that I am among the skeptics.

That said, I have started following a couple of companies on Twitter. For example, I am now following LawsonPartners to find out how my friend and former colleague Marie McCarthy is using Twitter to stay in touch with Lawson’s channel partners.

Skeptic and all, I’m eager to see where the business community is going to take Twitter now that the initial shine has worn off.

If any of you know of other examples, let me know.

Melissa Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

The Sales & Marketing Connection Now On LinkedIn

As readers of my blog know, one of my favorite topics is bridging the divide between sales and marketing. To further the discussion, I've started a new group on LinkedIn called The Sales & Marketing Connection.

For those of you who are new to Groups on LinkedIn, the easiest way to find a Group is to use the drop down search box to search for the name of the Group. If you type in The Sales & Marketing Connection, you should be able to find it.

Let's take the discussion to a whole new level though the power of LinkedIn.

See you there!

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Deep Inside Every Sales Person is the Heart of a Ferengi

Enough is Never Enough
Ferengi Rules of Acquisition #97

Ask any sales person how many leads they need and they’ll probably tell you something like, “Enough to make my quota!”

It’s a no lose proposition for them. If they make their quota, it’s due to their fantastic selling skills. If they don’t make their quota, it’s because they didn’t get enough leads from marketing.

So how do you take back some control over your relationship with sales? It’s a fairly simple equation. You can make it more or less complicated depending on your sales process, but in its simplest form it looks like this:

Monthly Sales Quota in Dollars = X
Average Sales Price = Y
# of Sales Needed = X/Y
% Close Ratio of Qualified Leads = Z
# of Qualified Leads Needed Each Month to Hit Quota = (X/Y)/Z
# of leads that sales can be counted on to bring in = W
(through things like referral selling and networking opportunities)
# of leads marketing needs to generate = (X/Y)/Z – W

Here an example using real numbers.

If a sales person has a quota of $100,000 for the month and the average selling price is $25,000, they need 4 sales to reach their quota. (1000,000/25,000) If their close rate on qualified leads is 25%, they will need 16 qualified leads to reach quota. (4/.25) If they can bring in 2 qualified leads every month on their own, that means that marketing needs to bring in 14 qualified leads. Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

Do You Use Appointment Setting?

A question was recently asked about using “appointment setting” in the B2B Lead Generation Roundtable group on Linked In. I thought I’d share my experiences and see what you think as well.

For those of you not familiar with this approach, it’s basically a telemarketing approach that focuses on setting appointments with prospects who are interested in speaking to a salesperson from your company.

Here’s what I see as the pros and cons.

(These specifically relate to the vendors I’ve looked at. You will want to check these out for anyone that you consider using.)
• The vendors I’ve used for appointment setting are very good at what they do. They met their promises and stuck to the parameters we gave them.
• You can use a targeted list. Either one supplied by you or one supplied by the appointment setting organization.
• You can set parameters such as “only VP and above.”

• The prospects are not “qualified” leads. They are simply prospects who are open to an appointment. For that reason, I would suggest limiting appointments to only those companies where the sales person wants a “foot in the door.”
• Also, if marketing is going to budget for appointment setting, and the leads are not technically qualified, your KPI performance can take a hit.
• Since the leads are not qualified, you may want to consider only setting appointments with leads that are within driving distance. Or, for the very coveted accounts, set a parameter that says you’ll put a sales person on a plane for an appointment, but only if the title of the person they will be meeting with is VP or above.
• In my experience, there are some stringent rules for contact with the prospect such as not being able to call and qualify them ahead of time. You should make sure that you and your sales team are comfortable with the rules before you sign the contract.

Like all things, I think appointment setting is worth investigating. If you think it might work for you, set up a pilot and then be sure to do a thorough debrief. Remember to involve sales in this debrief as they will be the ones to tell you whether these appointments were worth their effort.

All the best!

Melissa Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

Customer Loyalty By The Numbers

Last Tuesday, I wrote the Trials of the Customer Loyalty Specialist. This was a fairly light post about the difficult job of a Customer Loyalty Specialist where I said that you need to determine how the leadership of the company defines customer loyalty. It’s likely that, no matter what platitudes they give about “superior customer service”, they have revenue as the ultimate benchmark for success. That’s what they get paid to measure.

Good friend and former colleague, Mike Frichol, has been writing a series of posts in his blog about calculating Lifetime Customer Value. In simplest terms, this is the value of the customer to the company in monetary terms over the lifetime of the company’s relationship with that customer.

If you find yourself in a position of Customer Loyalty Specialist, Lifetime Customer Value is a calculation you will want to get familiar with. LCV helps define the value of customer loyalty and, therefore, the value of the Customer Loyalty Specialist. The last thing you want to be in right now is a position where the value can’t be defined. If you can define the value of your role in hard dollars, all the better.

It will also give you a concrete estimate of the value of customer loyalty that you can use with the executives to gain their commitment. As I pointed out yesterday, sometimes tough decisions need to be made. Taking a look at these decisions and their impact on customer loyalty in dollar terms can help you build your case.

If Lifetime Customer Value is something you are interested in learning more about, I encourage you to read Mike’s blog The Marketing Melange. But, fair warning, Mike goes pretty deep into the matter and it’s going to take more brain cells than your average post. That said, I reported to Mike for several years when he and I worked together at Microsoft. I encourage you to ask questions. He is a great teacher.

Melissa Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

Friday Dilemma - If I Had 100K

In today’s scenario, a friend of yours is an entrepreneur in a high tech start-up company.
He has a brilliant product – perhaps even the next “killer app.” The past year was spent on development and testing. Now he’s ready to go to market.

Over coffee, he tells you that he knows that he needs someone to launch the product, generate leads, talk to the press among other things. He know that’s typically the responsibility of marketing, but that’s about all he knows about marketing.

He has some funding (thank goodness!) but it’s not much. He estimates that he can afford to sink about 100K this year into marketing. He thinks he’s being realistic by not expecting too much of a return on the marketing investment in the first year. Afterall, it makes sense that even marketing needs to ramp up by creating the website, product brochures and other materials before they can start generating leads. He confides that he hopes that it’s realistic to assume that marketing will pay for itself in year 2 and 3.

His first question to you is “who much does it cost to hire a marketing professional?”

You tell him that that you get what you pay for when you hire marketing staff. Someone with limited experience, but with a marketing degree, could be had for about 30-40K a year in your region. A more seasoned marketer could easily cost you 60-70K a year. A real pro…well more than he has in his budget this year.

He’s given this considerable thought and has decided he has a couple of options:

1. He could hire a full-time marketer. He can obviously only afford one. If he hires someone with less experience, he’ll have money left over for programs, but will a newbie be able to get the job done? If he hires someone with more experience, they will take up more of his budget, but maybe they will be more effective and self-sufficient. Is it a worthwhile trade-off?
2. He’s also heard of companies that outsource their marketing. If he follows this route, does he still need someone on staff to manage it? Does he outsource all of it, or a part of it?

You are happily employed and wouldn’t dream of going to work for his start-up. However, you want to point your friend in the right direction. What do you tell him? Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

Now is a Great Time to be Looking for a New Job

Many of the 90% of you that are still employed are probably thinking,

“I’m going to do everything I can to hold on to the job I still have.”

Fear is a great motivator, but is it really a strong foundation on which to build a career? And, does it allow you to give your best effort to your current employer?

Right now is a great time to be looking for a new position. Notice I said “looking” and not “leaving.” Those are two entirely different things.

When you start looking for a new and better opportunity, even in the middle of a recession, some positive things can start to happen for both you and your employer.

You update your resume. As marketers, we understand the importance of strong collateral that effectively sells the benefits of our product. It amazes me when I hear from marketers that haven’t updated the brochure for what should be their favorite product – themselves.

Unfortunately, things look like they’ll get worse before they get better and some of you will find yourselves looking for your next opportunity when you didn’t expect to. If you haven’t updated your personal brochure lately, “Get’r done.”

You start thinking about your impact. To build a strong resume you have to show compelling value. If you aren’t already measuring your performance in metrics that relate to the bottom-line, start doing it now.

For marketers responsible for demand generation it’s easy to find metrics that link to revenue. These should be metrics like:

• Percent of qualified lead generation goals met

• Improvement in qualified lead generation performance over prior years

• Improvement in cost of qualified leads

You can also include accomplishments that highlight improvements such as “established a lead nurturing program that cut marketing costs by X% and improved qualified lead performance by X%.

Those of you who are further removed from sales still need to find ways to measure your performance in ways that show a positive impact on the company’s objectives. Avoid the marketing speak and pretend you are explaining your value to a CEO who really doesn't understand marketing.

If you aren’t making an impact or aren’t measuring your impact, do it now. You’ll find that creating a compelling resume is easier, and you’ll have metrics that you can use to prove your worth to your current employer.

You look for ways to develop your skills. As you look for interesting opportunities, you will notice new skills that are being required by employers. Don’t know much about email marketing, social media or “Web 2.0?” It’s time to expand your skill set. Once again you’ll not only improve your opportunities, but your value to your current employer as well.

But, what if your employer is one of the many who have eliminated discretionary training budgets?

This isn’t about waiting for your employer to spoon feed career development to you. It’s about taking control of your own destiny. A year’s premium membership to Marketing Profs is around $249 and gets you all of their resources including free access to their webinars.

If that’s still outside your personal budget, read my post on taking advantage of free educational resources on the net. No Training Budget? No Problem!

You start thinking about possible references. Who would be willing to provide a reference for you on LinkedIn? If your list is short, you might want to think about your interactions with your colleagues. Are you improving their professional lives or detracting?

Marketers with a lot of internal fans are usually the last to go. But, if you find yourself looking, these are also the people who are likely to be the most benefit in your job search. Start developing those relationships now.

You build your network. I can usually tell when someone has been laid off because I will get a request to connect on LinkedIn quickly followed by a request to write a reference.

I have no problem helping former colleagues who unexpectedly find themselves looking for a new position. I love to write references for those whose work I respect and admire. However, I think it’s easier to build a strong network if you work on it while you are employed.

You start assisting your network. I’ll bet you have a lot of friends who are on the market for a new job. If you are looking while you are still employed, you start to notice opportunities that your friends and former colleagues might be interested in. Take the time to pass these on. Next to providing a reference before it is requested, this is one of the most thoughtful things you can do for someone who has suddenly lost their job.

These things don’t automatically happen. It takes some deliberate effort and a commitment to be ready when opportunity knocks. But, looking while you are still employed is not about finding something new. It’s about taking personal responsibility for your own career path and your own value to an employer. This is true whether it’s your current employer or a future one.

All the best!

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Cold Calling - A Desperate Cry for Help

It seems that no one in sales is ever ambivalent about cold calling. They either love it or hate it. They either swear by it or think it’s a total waste of time. I’ll admit to being in the latter camp.

Not too long ago, Doyle Slayton ran a post on called Compelling Argument Against Cold Calling. As of right now, he’s up to 57 comments and they keep coming in. Amazingly, many of them seem to be in favor of cold calling. Perhaps that shouldn't be a surprise as so many sales people were brought up on the power of cold calling. It’s hard to give up what you've been taught works – even with no evidence to support that it works for you.

In his post he reprints with permission an article by Jeremy Miller that describes cold calling as an “act of frivolity.” From a marketing standpoint, I consider it a desperate cry for help from your sales team.

Chances are, if your sales team is cold calling, they aren’t getting what they need from marketing. Most of them probably hate cold calling and, who do you think they’re blaming for making them do it? (hint: In sales, it’s always safer to blame marketing than it is to blame your boss.)

So, if your sales people are telling you that they're cold calling, that’s one more sign that you need better alignment with sales. I've added a category called the Sales and Marketing Connection to this blog. Click on that category for ideas on how you can bridge the gap between these two roles.

All the best!

Melissa Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

The Trials of the Customer Loyalty Specialist

With the economy’s small glimmers of hope sometimes seeming like nothing more than an oasis on the horizon, many companies are starting to turn inward toward their existing customer base. Yes, we all know the mantra, “It’s more expensive to bring in a new customer than to keep an existing one.” However, going out and getting the new ones is more fun, so many of us haven’t paid a lot of attention to the base.

Some companies even go so far as to hire (often from internal ranks) someone for the role of Customer Loyalty Specialist. If you’re one of these people and you’re in an organization that has traditionally revered new customers and celebrated the “big deal” then you have your work cut out for you.

I have two suggestions that may make your life a bit easier.

Define Success
Like all areas of marketing and sales, you need to define how you will be measured so you will recognize success when it happens. Is it customer sat ratings? Repeat business? For those of you in the software business, is it percent of customers on maintenance plans? Referrals from customers? Number of customers willing to be references?

Chances are the executives of the company are most interested in revenue. But, the danger in leaving it at that is that your Customer Loyalty Specialist ends up as nothing more than a glorified Existing Customer Sales rep. If all you do is carry a quota for repeat business, customers will see through your agenda fairly quickly and it will do little to improve loyalty.

You need to take it to the next level and decide what metrics actually help drive revenue. For example, in many businesses, more satisfied customers are likely to bring in more repeat business and referrals. Therefore, customer sat ratings make sense as a metric for the customer loyalty initiative.

But, driving sat ratings is something the Customer Loyalty Specialists can’t do on their own. It takes commitment from the entire organization, and that leads to the next suggestion.

Executive Buy-In
Customer Loyalty programs will not work without executive buy-in. For example, if you’re trying to drive customer sat numbers you need executives that will back you when you need to address the short-comings of the company. These executives need to agree to standards of conduct for interactions with customers, and if anyone in the company treats the customer in a sub-standard way, they need to hold them accountable. (This isn’t about the customer always being right. It’s more about treating the customer with dignity and doing what you promised.)

Of course, the executives of the company will be interested in the bottom-line numbers as well as top-line revenue. They may not have an attitude of “we’ll do whatever it takes to make it right” because that isn’t always possible or economically feasible. Sometimes, you have to admit it’s not a good customer/vendor relationship and even “fire” your customer.

But, on the other hand, the executives can’t cower behind the front line Loyalty Specialists either. When the company needs to admit that they messed up, or a tough message needs to be shared with a customer, the executives should take center stage.

It can be tough to get executive buy-in, but it’s absolutely necessary. To ensure this happens, keep the execs involved at every step in the process. Bring them into the discussion on how sat should be measured. Document your customer loyalty plans and keep them in front of company executives. Hold regular briefings so that you can share the successes and discuss the obstacles. And, of course, measure everything.

Discussion Question:
Here’s a final question for my readers. Earlier, I cautioned you against measuring this role only in terms of revenue. However, do you believe that the Customer Loyalty Specialist should carry a quota, or should the Customer Loyalty Specialist role be separate from the role of an installed base sales person?

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6 Steps for Sales and Marketing Alignment

I’ve talked many times about ways to bring sales and marketing into alignment. Let me take it one step further and outline what the steps are. Of course, there is more to marketing than just aligning with sales. However, if you don’t have these bases covered, your marketing (and your daily enjoyment of your profession) will suffer.

Step 1: Agree on what a qualified lead looks like.

Step 2: Set metrics for the number of qualified leads that need to be generated.

Step 3: Gain agreement from sales, and especially sales management, on the level of lead follow up that can be expected. That is, if marketing sends leads to sales that meet the definition of qualified, sales will follow up within a specified timeframe.

Step 4: Put together a consistent, solid marketing plan that will allow you to reach your goals. This is obviously a much more complex discussion than can be covered in one step, but for the purposes of an alignment discussion, this is sufficient.

Step 5: Measure your marketing efforts and report on the numbers. Sales is always under the microscope. Marketing should be too.

Step 6: Do regular debriefs on the qualified leads generated so you know whether you are truly generating qualified leads as agreed and so that you know whether sales is following up as agreed.

Although not necessarily part of the sales and marketing alignment, it makes sense to give another nod to a solid nurturing program. If you are only giving qualified leads to sales, you need to do something with the other leads that didn’t quite meet the definition. A nurturing program can help you capitalize on these leads and turn them into future opportunities for far less than it costs you to generate them the first time around. Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

Is Viral Marketing Infecting Your Internal Customer?

Continuing my rant against starting with social media and other fun stuff, I want to caution you to think about how your extracurricular activities look to your internal customers – your sales people.

While I worked for Lawson Software, they produced a series of cute little vignettes about a character (a mascot of sorts) names Lars Lawson. These videos poked gentle fun at our competition.

The videos did pretty well on YouTube, but I don’t know that the company was ever able to tie these back to actual inquiries, market recognition, sales or anything measurable that could be linked to the bottomline.

Nevertheless, I didn’t see a problem with Lawson’s creation of these videos because they didn’t take away from any of the programs being run by my team. (My team was responsible for driving lead generation in North America.) They were extremely well done and we could use these to add interest to our campaigns as appropriate. Since my team had nothing to do with the creation of the videos, it didn’t take away from the effort or dollars we put into driving lead generation for our sales team.

Contrast that with a smaller company where marketing is understaffed and underbudgeted. The marketing managers in these organizations fall in love with social media and begin twittering, blogging and looking for ways to go viral. All the while, their lead generation lags behind and their sales team becomes increasingly skeptical of marketing's competence.

My point is that those of you who are responsible for lead generation should make sure that your marketing plans have a solid traditional foundation for lead generation before you start experimenting with social media.

Once you have the foundation in place, then you can start playing around with social media. It’s like having desert, but you have to eat your vegetables first.

If you decide to start experimenting with social media even while your lead generation goals aren’t being met I'd suggest you experiment quietly. Don’t expect the sales team to be impressed with your latest use of Twitter if you haven’t passed them a decent lead in awhile.

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Friday Dilemma - Is Marketing Responsible for Individual Territory Performance?

It’s been awhile since I posted a Friday Dilemma, but I think I have a good one for you today. Those of you who have been in marketing management have surely been in this situation a time or two.

In today’s scenario, you are a marketing manager responsible for generating qualified leads for a team of 6 sales people in the US. Each of these sales people has an assigned territory based on geography – Northeast, Southeast, North Central, South Central, Pacific Northwest and Southwest. Each of the sales people has been with the company a number of years and has a relatively successful track record. (If they didn’t, they wouldn’t still be with this company.) Each territory carries the same quota.

Because there isn’t a significant difference in the messaging you use for buyers in different parts of the country, the campaigns you run are all nationwide in scope. The buyers in each region receive the same mailers, email campaigns, webinar invitations etc.

This year, lead generation in the Northeast, North Central, and Pacific Northwest is doing fairly well. It’s down from last year, but staying within sight of goal. The sales people in these regions have been happy with the quality of the leads as well.

The Southwest is outperforming goal and because of this performance, you are actually at 110% of your overall lead generation numbers for the year.

On the other hand, the South Central and Southeast regions are struggling. Lead generation is about a quarter of agreed upon goals. Again, the same marketing programs are being run in these regions, but for some reason, they just aren’t pulling the same level of responses as they are in other regions.

The salespeople in the South Central and Southeast regions are desperate. They are calling you every week with requests to run special programs for their region alone. Or, if you can’t do that, they want you to teach them how to run their own campaigns. They’ve even resorted to cold calling despite not having any success with it in the past.

First, I think the larger question needs to be asked. Is marketing responsible for the performance of individual territories? Should this marketer feel accountable for the lead generation goals and quota attainment of each sales person?

Whether you decide that the marketer is or is not responsible, I think we can all feel for the sales people in the territories that are underperforming. How do you respond to them? Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

The Truth Behind Social Media Enthusiasts

A friends sent me this one and it's just too good not to pass along. Social Media T-Shirt.

I predict that this will be a big hit at the next Web 2.0 Conference. Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

Real Value for Real People

In my last post, Why Don’t Corporate Blogs work? I said that for a blog to be successful you needed to provide real value for real people. In a blogging sense, I would define value as something your prospect can use and that he or she wants.

As an expert in your field, you should be able to provide information that will be useful to prospects. Tips, ideas, information that is relevant to their daily lives are all great examples. (Just be sure to stay on theme!)

If you are not the expert but are still responsible for the blog, be sure that you’re reaching out to the real theme experts in your organization before posting. If you are new to the business, but a decent writer, you can even be your own organization’s blog ghost-writer. Experts love it when you can make them look like experts. If you’re like me and you like helping other people reach their goals, it can be very rewarding.

If you are the expert, I think you will agree that a lot of us are way too close to what we do. We think we know what our prospect wants, but do we really? There are two fairly simple ways to find out what topics your audience will be interested in.

The audience for my blog is fellow marketers (and sometimes sales people) so I get a lot of my ideas from questions that I read on the marketing and sales forums. By reading the forums regularly, I get a feel for which questions are on the minds of potential readers and I try to make these central themes for my posts.

If your audience is other types of business people look for the forums that pertain to them. Back when I was marketing software to manufacturers I spent a lot of time on IT forums that manufacturers belonged to. I could see the kinds of questions they asked each other and got a feel for the types of issues they might be interested in hearing from me about.

Stats from Your Own Blog
If you have been blogging for awhile, be sure you pay attention to which posts get the most attention. Comments are one thing but readership and length of time on the posts are also critical. Write more posts around those topics that draw well so that you can expand your readership. Every now and then, you can test out new subjects to see if these draw readers in as well as your old standbys.

If it’s not obvious, I’m currently testing blogging as a subject. It’s not a scientific test by any means, especially since I’ve been posting more frequently since I became a marketing consultant. Still my readership should give me some indication if the topic is of interest to other marketers.

On a final note, there are a lot of tools you can use to analyze your blog stats. I just use Google Analytics. It’s easy, free and gives me what I need.
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Why Don't Corporate Blogs Work?

I feel like I’m on a roll disparaging social media and blogging. A blog is an odd place to do that, don’t you think? I even do some ghost-writing for a blog for another company. In fact, I believe social media and blogging is a viable component of a good marketing plan. (Not the foundation though!)

That said, do Corporate Blogs work?

I think it’s safe to say that more than a few corporate bloggers are becoming a bit disillusioned. They spend a lot of time and effort on their posts, but they never get comments and very few readers. They are beginning to question whether or not it is worth it and their blog is being shoved to the bottom of their vast list of priorities.

So what’s the problem? I think there are two reasons corporate blogs are so often a disappointment.

Unrealistic Expectations and Poorly Defined Reasons for Blogging These two reasons are so intertwined that I will treat them as one.

If you ask a new blogger their reason for blogging it will probably be something like “To have a dialogue with my customers.” That sounds like it came right out of the “Blogging For Fun and Profit” brochure. (I don’t know if one exists, but if it did, it would probably have that quote in it.) Some may even have a few metrics in mind like number of readers, time spent on the site, and number of comments.

There are blogs that get an amazing number of comments. For example, Doyle Slayton’s usually has a lively discussion going within minutes of anything he posts. But this blog is a different breed than the average corporate blog. Blogging is part of Doyle’s profession. The same can’t be said for the average corporate blogger.

Earlier, I said that blogging is a viable component of a good marketing plan. If the number of readers, time spent on the site and number of comments aren’t good metrics, what are?

I suggest thinking of blogging as a means to an end and not an end in itself. For example, blogging is very useful as a tool for nurturing leads. You can plan posts as part of your lead nurturing campaigns or use them ad hoc to augment the planned campaign content.

Your sales team can also use blog posts to keep the dialogue moving forward with their current prospects. Great blog posts give prospects valuable insights and establish your organization as an expert in the field.

Which leads me to the second reason. Many of the corporate blog posts just aren’t that valuable to the reader.

Self Serving Corporate Blogs
There are two types of self-serving corporate blogs. First is the one that serves the blogger’s ego. (Is that too harsh?) These blogs are easily recognizable because they focus on the blogger himself. On the surface it may look like it’s on theme because it’s about something the reader should care about e.g. an industry conference. But, when you take a step back you realize that it’s really about the blogger’s experience at the event and offers no real value to the reader.

The second type of self-serving blog is the corporate brochure blog. You get about as much out of these blogs as you do a product brochure. Whereas in the first type of self-serving blog, there is too much of the blogger’s personality, the second type is usually impersonal and dry as dust. And, again, no real value for the reader.

The Magic Formula
OK, I lied. There is no magic formula, but there is a key ingredient that should be obvious by now. Every blog post has to have value for your reader. Real value for real people.

The people you’re trying to reach have more to do than sit around reading your blog. Even if they do happen to hit on it while reading their email and drinking their first cup of coffee, without real value for them, they won’t stay.
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Are You an Insecure Marketer?

Insecurity can be one of the biggest threats to a marketing career. Insecure marketers can also create real headaches for their managers and hamper the achievements of the entire team.

It’s easy to recognize the insecure marketer by a couple of tell-tale traits. Unfortunately, the individual with the insecurity is usually the last to know. See if any of these fit your profile or that of someone you know.

Never asks questions
This marketer will accept any assignment and assure you that he or she understands it completely. They are afraid to ask questions because they are afraid if they do they will show what they don’t know and that you and others will assume they are incompetent.

Never asks for assistance
Not only do they not ask for assistance from their boss, they don’t ask for assistance from their co-workers either. I have seen many examples where insecure, and somewhat overworked, marketers refused to ask for assistance from other marketers who were between major projects. I know the assistance would gladly have been given, but the insecure marketer was afraid of having to share the glory as well.

Doesn’t work well with vendors
If the insecure marketer is a manager, chances are they will have very few vendors. As one marketing manager once told me, “If we hire outside, they will think that we can’t do the work.” He was basically a staff on one for a $100M organization so his statement bordered on the absurd. It also showed some real insecurity.

Not open to ideas from others outside of marketing
The insecure marketer will immediately dismiss ideas from others – especially sales. They will roll their eyes and say things like, “They just don’t understand marketing.”

Skips the debrief stage of most campaigns
Lastly, the insecure marketer will usually skip the debrief stage of their campaigns. If the campaign didn’t work as well as expected, they won’t take the time to dissect what went well and what could be done better next time. If they are required to complete a debrief, they will do it in a vacuum without any inut from others involved in the campaign or with insights to share.

Managing a new, inexperienced marketer is easy compared to managing an insecure marketer. Even the seasoned ones can be a nightmare as they relive the same year of their careers over and over. Their professional skills never get any better and, their people skills seem to get worse as they get more and more insecure over the years as their careers fail to meet their expectations.

So what do you think? Can a manager help an insecure marketer overcome their issues? Or, is their a point of no return when you just have to say, “We have a job to do” and replace the individual with someone who is more eager to learn and participate as part of the team?

Melissa Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

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