Google+ The Marketing Survivalist: 2010

Why I love legal and branding teams

I spend a significant amount of my time writing materials and designing various programs for technology companies. I’ve been doing this for 20+ years and have worked with legal and branding teams that apply a whole new meaning to the word “review cycle.” My former colleagues at Microsoft know exactly what I am talking about.

I’ve also designed programs e.g. channel programs, referral programs, etc, that required extensive legal review and approval before they were ready for prime-time. Everything from contracts, to program guidelines to marketing materials needs to be reviewed with a fine-tooth comb lest I bring the entire company to its knees by implying something is required when it’s not legally allowed to do so, or inadvertently using the word “will” instead of “may.”

But I’m not complaining. In fact, the legal and branding reviews are one of my favorite parts of the process. Don’t get me wrong. I love the initial stages where I can unleash the creative left-side of my brain, dream about the possibilities of the program, and come up with all kinds of creative phrases that sell.

But after a few rounds of that stage with the project owners, it’s refreshing to tuck away the creative and deal with the rules put forth by legal and branding.

You see, legal and branding are not usually ambiguous about what they will and won’t accept. In most companies, branding even goes so far as to lay it all out in a branding guidelines document. (If they don’t, they should) Legal may be a little less formal, but after a couple edit rounds you get a feel for what their risk tolerance is – where they will want attribution, where they require written vs email or verbal permissions, what implied promises they are comfortable with, etc.

Perhaps I love this stage of the editing process because it’s so predictable. When they say “I don’t like the way that’s phrased” they usually have a solid reason why. It’s not up to me to guess at what they like and what they don’t like. Contrast this with the creative phase where you are usually working with other creative people who have something in mind but may only “know it when they see it.”

Finally, like most marketers who are honest with themselves, I live for approval of my work. That may be the ultimate reason I find this phase immensely gratifying. Legal and branding people are some of my best supporters. They love people who understand and appreciate their contribution to the marketing process. They are elated when somebody takes the time to review their guidelines or gets to know what they look for in a document or program. Among the truths I’ve discovered about marketing over the years - it never hurts to have the legal and branding teams in your corner. Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

eMail Marketing – subject line length

As the saying goes, “there’s nothing as constant as change” especially in marketing. Every now and then I have an epiphany and realize that I am blindly following a rule that I learned in the distant past. (In marketing the distant past is anything longer than six months ago.)

Some rules are made to be broken – or at least tested. Subject line length for your email marketing campaigns is one of them.

I Googled “subject line length” just to be sure the “experts” were still saying what I thought they were saying. Sure enough, most of them repeat the mantra “shorter is better.” 50 characters or less seems to be the common wisdom.

However, a few mavericks are starting to test longer subject lines, around 80 characters in length with some success. Certainly, they continue to put the most critical words up front in case the subject line is truncated in the receiver’s inbox. But, sometimes saying just a bit more in the subject line can impact the open rate.

Seems to be worth a try. Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

Cold Marketing - doesn't work any better than cold calling

I think I’m the first to use this phrase – cold marketing. At least, I know the first time I heard it was when I said it to another marketer to try to explain why they were having problems with their email marketing.

Cold calling can be challenging because people are busy and they don’t want to take the time to listen on the phone to a sales person they don’t know, from a company they don’t know, who is trying to sell them something they probably don’t need.

The theory of email marketing, and direct mail, is that it’s less intrusive. You get more than the six seconds that a caller gives you on the phone because simply reading your email isn’t a tacit commitment on their part. Sometimes, in email, you may even get up to 30 seconds to state your point and get the prospect engaged. That’s the theory at least.

It may have worked in the old days (Ten years ago?) when very few companies did email marketing so their was less competition for attention. And, Blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media sites weren’t clamoring for attention and clogging up the inbox.

Now, people are getting hundreds of email every day. Most executives I know start their day out with an “email triage” session where they delete everything that is unnecessary. That even includes information from vendors whose lists they opted in to.

If your email campaigns are bringing in a dismal response, ask yourself if you are cold marketing. Do your prospects know you, your company or the value of the product or service that you are offering?

If not, the solution is an old-fashioned one. Message counts, as always, but so does consistency in your marketing. You need to build up your awareness in your market through a consistent message and regular targeted marketing programs. That takes time, effort and planning. Without it, even the best “campaigns” can fall flat. Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

Cold Calling? – Something’s Not Working Right

Cold Calling? – Something’s Not Working Right

Cold calling is one of those topics that gets a lot of responses when posted in the forums. Generally, people are divided into two camps:

1. Those who hate it either because they hate to do it or they see it as an exercise in futility.

2. Those who swear they built their career on it.

For clarity, I think it is important to define cold calling as making calls to a list that you have no reason to believe is aware of your company or products. Follow up calls to people who stopped by your trade show booth are not cold calls in my book. (Although they may feel like it to the person making the calls!)

I will admit that there are times when cold calling is a necessity. For example, when you are a sales rep in a new industry or business with very little marketing support. Sometimes you just have to pick up the phone and do what needs to be done. Although, in those cases, I’d encourage you to make your “cold” calls as warm as possible by targeting prospects and doing some research ahead of time.

That said, in a well-established business with a formal marketing department, true cold calling could be a sign that something is wrong with your marketing programs. Possible root causes for the need to cold call could be:

1. You are not conducting campaigns that bring in a significant number of inquiries. I would not build my marketing plan around trade shows and the like as they are expensive and the number of qualified leads is often low. However, these kinds of campaigns that generate a large number of unqualified responses can be the foundation for other marketing programs.

2. You are not building your database. Maybe you are doing the aforementioned types of campaigns but these inquiries are not going into your database for future campaigns. Your Inside Sales team calls them, perhaps up to three times, and if they do not get a response, they go into a desk drawer and never see the light of day again.

3. You are not nurturing your database. If you are putting these inquiries into the database but not reconnecting with additional campaigns, that is little better than putting the list in the desk drawer. Consistency is also key. One additional campaign does not make up a nurture program.

If you are doing all three of these things, your lead generation efforts should be improving. Of course, there are still times when picking up the phone is necessary. For example, a new rep needs to build a pipeline as quickly as possible and might not have much to start with. But, having done all three steps, the marketing team should be able to hand this rep a list of likely suspects that gives them a much higher chance of quickly building a pipeline than if they opened up the phone book and started dialing. Digg Technorati Delicious StumbleUpon Reddit BlinkList Furl Mixx Facebook Google Bookmark Yahoo

Can you outsource all of marketing?

Let the record show that I was a fan of outsourcing marketing long before I started freelancing. The question was always how much of it you could outsource. I have outsourced bits and pieces of marketing, such as collateral creation, in the past, but I usually maintained control of demand creation and other programs in-house.

For the last several months, I have been on the other side of the fence creating everything from complete campaigns to specific materials for my clients. I have concluded that technology companies can outsource most of their marketing, however there are a few tips that I thought I would share:

Choose a vendor that understands your business. If you want to keep your costs low and accelerate your marketing programs, it helps to have someone who does not need much training. Both my agency partner and I have a long history of working with companies like SAP and Microsoft. We can talk to a Subject Matter Expert (SME) and quickly translate their technology perspectives into language that makes sense to the average buyer. It takes more than just marketing knowledge to do that.

Experience matters. We hear about this happening all the time in business consulting. The firm convinces the client that they have vast amounts of experience in the business but once the contract is signed, all they see is junior level people. Of course, this helps the agency keep their costs down and, presumably, keep their fees low. However, it can raise the handholding you need to do. If you plan to outsource most of your marketing, you may be better off working with an agency that does not need as much support.

Keep someone on staff and accountable. Even if you outsource all of your marketing, the agency will need someone to be their main contact in-house. This individual can be instrumental in helping the agency understand the priorities of the company and develop the right contacts with SMEs, executives and salespeople. Having someone on staff with a marketing title, preferably someone with some credibility within the organization, can be important to project success.

All the best!

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

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