Ready to Lead with Content?

If you’re researching how a content marketing program can build your brand, generate demand for your solutions, and equip your sales force for consultative selling, read my 10-part series:

Then take a look at these case studies, which demonstrate how a content marketing program can be structured to take B2B marketing to a new, modern level.

When you’re ready to discuss how it can benefit your business, let’s talk:

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Content Marketing at Vantiv 2011-2014

After developing robust Content Marketing at ADP and Convergys, I developed my most successful thought leadership program for Vantiv.  Like the others, it centered around primary research on customer experience within the industry – in this case payments.  A thought leadership program builds the brand, positions the company as a “value-added” consultative provider, generates substantial inbound leads, and provides the sales team with substantive content for client/prospect conversations.

Vantiv Insights Series 2011-2014
Download Award-Winning Vantiv Insights White Papers 2014

In February 2012 I selected Mercator Advisory Group to help me conduct primary research on customer experience with payments in the U.S. We asked a representative sample of U.S. consumers about how they currently make payment at point of sale and how they expect to do so in the future. Based on this data we developed the Vantiv Insights Series, including quarterly campaigns and tools to help merchants and providers identify areas of opportunity in payments. All this information is available at Vantiv.com/research, with registration required so that Vantiv can nurture, collect and funnel leads to Sales.

Program Goals:
> Improve Vantiv’s brand awareness
> Position Vantiv as an industry thought leader
> Generate qualified leads and start client conversations that lead to contracts
> Provide the Sales force with high-quality content that becomes integral to the Sales process and corporate messaging

Each January we repeat the consumer research, reiterating some questions and asking about new trends.  In 2013 and 2014 we added additional research, surveying merchants about their payments needs and collecting data on how third-party providers serve them.  We also conduct in-depth qualitative interviews with industry executives to gauge how they interpret changes and trends.  The result is a 360o data-driven view of the payments ecosystem and how it is evolving.  The content developed from this research has proved to be valuable to Vantiv’s target markets, and the program is showing a 1000% ROI.

Key Campaigns:  

Vantiv MontageSelected Results From Vantiv Insights Series (Year 3)

  • Marketing Qualified Leads: 37,195 (biz users)
  • Total Successful Leads: 2,193 (completed form)
  • Newly Acquired: 903 (not invited–found us)
  • Total Opportunities: 1,576 (from MQL)
  • Revenue Pipeline Created: > $6M
  • Plus brand-building impacts from social media, PR and media coverage
  • *Not including all the Sales-generated opportunities in which Vantiv Insights content played a part (>$30M)
  • Average annual program costs = $600k with Revenue =>$6M* = 1000+% ROI

This program is repeatable and can be effective in any B2B industry. If you’re interested in learning more, let’s talk!  

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Content Marketing at Convergys 2007-2010

Content Marketing has been an area of significant focus in my roles since 2005. At ADP, Convergys, and Vantiv I developed successful thought leadership campaigns centered around primary research on customer experience within each industry.  A thought leadership program positions the company as a “value-added” consultative provider, serves as content for multi-channel marketing campaigns, and provides the sales team with substantive content for client/prospect conversations.

Convergys Scorecard Series 2007-2010
Download the award-winning Convergys 2010 Scorecard Series White Papers

At Convergys I led a thought leadership program designed around primary research on customer experience with contact centers.  By triangulating the perspectives of customers, employees, and companies we were able to identify trends and disconnects. Our annual primary research, the Scorecard Series, encompassed:

  • More than 3,000 large-company customers in the U.S. and U.K.
  • More than 1,500 large-company employees
  • More than 125 senior executives in
  • 9 key industries, including Financial Services, Telecom, and Technology

The surveys asked customers about recent experiences with large companies, then asked employees about the customer experiences they provided. Finally, executives were asked to evaluate how well they thought their companies delivered the experiences their customers expected.

Download Convergys 2009 Scorecard Series White Papers

The Convergys Scorecard Series provided decision makers with a unique view of the marketplace, how that marketplace was changing, and how they and their companies could respond. Some of the themes explored in the 2010 Scorecard Series webinars, white papers, and eNewsletters were as follows:

  • The New Recessionary Consumer
  • The Deepening Demographic Divide
  • Executive Perspectives on Customer Experience
  • Employee Perspectives on Customer Service
  • Understanding Loyalty  and Cultivating Super Loyalty

CVG Scorecard Samples

Selected Results From Convergys Scorecard Series (Year 3)

  • Lead Generation – Funneled >1000 qualified leads to the sales force in 2010
  • Revenue – Directly contributed to the signing of Microsoft, United Health Group and Dell contracts worth >$239M (TCV)
  • More than 200 industry-specific presentations of the research findings to clients and prospects, including: AT&T, Barclays, Bank of America, CIGNA, Cisco, Citi, Comcast, Dell, EMC, GE, Home Depot, Honda, Kroger, Lenovo, Microsoft, O2, Orange, Sprint, TWC, T-Mobile, UHG, and Wellpoint
  • More than 30 client-requested presentations of specific topics from the research findings, including:
    • Financial Services (Key Bank, HSBC and BofA)
    • Credit Cards (AmEx, Mastercard, Citi, and BarclayCard UK)
    • Technology (Microsoft, CISCO and Dell)
    • Satellite/Cable TV (C5 Cable Summit, T-Mobile and Comcast)
    • Healthcare (Walgreens)
  • Brand Enhancement – In addition to dozens of articles in national and trade publications, Convergys’ research was featured in prominent textbooks (Kotler) and in the Harvard Business Review.

This program is repeatable and can be effective in any B2B industry. If you’re interested in learning more, let’s talk!  

.

 

Posted in B2B Marketing, Content Marketing, Customer Behavior, Customer Experience, Customer Experience Research, Digital Marketing, Thought Leadership, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Forbes Has It Right

Jayson DeMers’ recent contribution to Forbes, “The Top 7 Online Marketing Trends Dominating 2014,” covers a lot of the themes I’ve been writing about.  If you like what Jayson has to say about Content Marketing, Image-Centric Content, and Simplicity, then take a look at “Be a Thought Leader” and “Create a Robust Content Marketing Program.”

Prediction #1: Content Marketing
Will Be Bigger Than Ever

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Be an Agent For Change

Steps Nine & Ten of Ten Steps To Marketing Relevance
Be the one singing Marketing’s praises — and leaning forward

Step nine in this series is really self-help advice…. Sing Your Own Praises. As we discussed in the previous post, many executives need continuous reminders that Marketing has changed. They will persist in thinking of it as an “arts and crafts” cost center (one that can be downsized when needed). Your job is to throw proof points at that wall until something sticks. And you should take the opportunity to build your own internal brand at the same time.

Here are a few helpful quotes about how to build your brand by Patty Azzarello, Technology CEO, consultant, and author:

  • Identify your Ruthless Priorities…those few things that you refuse to put at risk….initiatives or tasks that support what matters most to the business.
  • Communicate your Ruthless Priorities over and over and over again…Unless you are completely sick and tired of talking about your message, you aren’t even close to getting your audience to accept it.
  • You can get away with not achieving everything if you deliver remarkable results on a few key things.   If you are known for delivering where it matters, you’ll have a lot of power.

That leads to step ten: Be an Agent For Change. There are a lot of reasons to keep improving, and if positive words don’t make the point, try these from General Eric Shinseki, “If you dislike change, you’re going to dislike irrelevance even more.”

But let’s conclude on a positive note. With today’s modern marketing tools and techniques, you have lots of avenues to relevance. Make them your ruthless priorities, lean forward as an agent for change, and demonstrate that you’ve got what it takes!

agent for change sticky notes

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Measure, Test, Analyze, Rinse and Repeat

Step Eight of Ten Steps To Marketing Relevance
Learn from experience, and share the lessons

In our last installment, we discussed steps to integrate a Marketing Automation System (MAS) with the Sales process.  To get your company to see the value of your marketing process, you will need to conduct continuous grass-roots training.  But your executives need a different type of evangelism: data.  The good news is… with a MAS, you can prove ROI like never before.

You don’t always get much time to make your point, so do it as effectively and rapidly as possible by speaking in numbers, the language executives understand.  And it helps to have an elevator pitch as well.  When I’m trying to get an executive’s attention, I say, “Did you know that marketing-generated leads have an 88% close rate once they are converted to an opportunity?  That’s 18% higher than any other lead source, including our traditional referral leads.”  That usually gets their attention!

Then be prepared to dig into the data with them, emphasizing that marketing and sales are all part of an integrated revenue-producing pipeline.  As with any audience, pictures help.  Here are a few generated by Marketo.  The left shows channel ROI on an investment-to-success grid.  The right shows a customer sales journey (each interaction leading to the win).  Of course, you’ll need all the supporting data at hand, but don’t underestimate the value of good graphics.

Measure Test Analyze Report

As with Sales evangelism, you’ll need to continuously remind management of Marketing’s worth.  Unfortunately, many are old-school and think of Marketing as an “arts and crafts” cost center.  You can change their mind by continuously measuring, testing, analyzing and reporting on Marketing’s value.  Get your data and get going!

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Are Brands Dying?

Do you agree that Brands are rapidly losing value in our information society?  In the February 17 issues of The New Yorker, Financial Page contributor James Surowiecki’ writes, in his article, “Twilight of the Brands,” about the theories of Itamar Simonson.  In his book, “Absolute Value,” Simonson postulates that brands used to serve the purpose of helping us to choose a product or service when we had no information.  Now, the Internet and social media have given us a wealth of information to aide our every purchase decision.

According to Surowiecki and Simonson, “If you’re making a better product, you can still charge more, but if your product is much like that of your competitors, your price needs to be similar too.  That’s the clearest indication that the economic value of brands– traditionally assessed by the premium a company could charge–is waning.”  They conclude by stating that a company is now only as good as their last product and brands have never been more fragile.

Hold on now… I would argue that Brands still retain their original function — at least for certain types of companies.   The B2B service companies I’ve worked for, many of whom go to market through independent sales organizations, resellers, dealers and other channel partners, need a strong reputation/brand in order to gain any recognition and rise above the competition. In a commodity business, the brand may be the only thing that allows a company to charge more than the lowest price.

There are, of course, many ways to build a B2B brand — and content marketing that demonstrates thought leadership is one of the most effective (see my previous blogs).  But not supporting your brand is like asking for a level playing field.  Wouldn’t you rather have the advantage of a reputation for being a trusted advisor?  Wouldn’t you rather charge a premium for that expertise?  I believe that smart B2B companies understand that brands still serve as proxies for quality.  Do you agree?

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Integrating With the Sales Process

Step Seven of Ten Steps To Marketing Relevance
Your MAS must be linked to your CRM and other sales tools – and your sales force must understand how it all works

In our last discussion, we discussed the value of implementing a marketing automation system (MAS).  But like any tool, a MAS only works well if used well.  In order to reach the goal of continuous revenue performance management (a Marketo term), your company’s management and sales force must understand and embrace the system’s functionality.

Here is Forrester’s view of the marketing maturity journey, which shows how marketing and sales evolve together.Forrester's Mktg Maturity Model

To get to the Predictor stage (or continuous RPM), I recommend the following integration
stages:

  • Stage 1 – Make the Business Case      
    • Leadership – Sell the vision/future state with a scenario-based story (describe how a customer might find, connect with and purchase from your company through the tool)
    • IT – Work through processes, procedures, charters, documentation, approval tiers, security certification, risk & compliance, etc.
  • Stage 2 – Start Contributing
    • Provide email marketing, landing pages, forms, campaign design, SFDC tools, lead nurturing, reporting/analytics, automated campaigns, etc… the word will spread
    • Make sure all Marketing staff understands and are singing off the same sheet
  • Stage 3 – Evangelize
    • Provide reps with grass-roots training on why marketing-sourced leads are valuable and how to work them with the integrated MAS/SFDC tools
    • Provide sales leadership with staff and account-level activity reports
    • Provide executives with performance overviews & metrics
  • Stage 4 – Prioritize
    • Figure out how to manage all the work you’ve created for yourself!

Actually, the evangelism never really ends.  There are always new people joining the company, and salespeople who haven’t taken time for training.  Keep explaining how the MAS and CRM work together – and how it helps them win.  Tell scenario-based stories, show the tools in action, get tactical, present the numbers … the goal is to get Sales to
see Marketing as part of their pipeline – the partner that is sending them highly-qualified leads and equipping them to close the deals.  Only when Sales and Marketing hold hands does the whole process come together.

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Implementing a Marketing Automation System

Step Six of Ten Steps To Marketing Relevance
MAS are critical for generating leads, measuring productivity, and demonstrating value

In the first five installments of this series, we covered structure, content and channels.  Now let’s talk technology…. specifically marketing automation systems (MAS).  These new tools, including Marketo, Eloqua, Silverpop and others, are a game changer.  Having implemented all three, I can tell you that they go a long way towards making Marketing a science rather than an art.

At it’s core, a MAS is an email tool.  But it’s so much more:

  • a lead management and nurturing sysytem
  • a campaign landing page development tool
  • a CRM (i.e. Salesforce.com) utility
  • an analytics and reporting tool
  • a way to prove ROI

At my current company, we use Marketo for all these things and have effectively created a continuous pipeline from inbound lead though the sales process and beyond.  Marketo provided this “marketing maturity journey” slide, which corresponds to our experience pretty well.  Like many companies our size, we’ve mostly transitioned out of traditional marketing, have implemented and integrated demand generation systems, and are working daily to integrate sales and marketing efforts.

Marketing Maturity Journey

With a MAS, all stages of the funnel are measureable, and management begins to depend on those numbers — and see Marketing’s contribution. Getting to the nirvana of a continuous RPM system is going to take time while all the old dogs learn new tricks.  But the journey is as important as the destination.

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The Age of the Customer

I recently listened to a Forrester webinar, and wanted to share these two slides from it…

First, we’ve all heard this, but the landscape has changed shape with the digital revolution.  Now it really is all about the customer.
A new era - ForresterSecond, marketing’s role has become increasingly about embracing the new paradigm, using digital channels to break through the clutter, understanding customers better via their data trails, and transforming the customer experience on a transaction-level basis.
4Mktg Imperatives - ForresterThe age of the customer has transformed Marketing out of necessity – and vice versa.

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