The One Thing Keeping Enterprise Marketing Organizations from Real Impact (and How to Address It)

In the last decade, Marketing Technology (MarTech) has proved to be a powerful integrating force within B2B enterprise marketing groups. But counteracting that strength is a powerful and persistent weakness.

Since joining The Pedowitz Group, and in my own B2B marketing strategy consulting practice beforehand, I have rarely encountered a large organization that doesn’t have a SILO problem. As companies grow through M&A, each acquired company brings its own MarTech, data, staff and processes. Few enterprises are good at assimilation, so the silos persist, and gaps often deepen–especially if the leadership in the acquired company is strong.

Business units are generally organized around product lines, and business unit leaders are incented to defend that territory, staff and budget. To ensure that revenue increases year-over-year, they allow rogue marketing groups within the units to bombard customers with emails. These groups are often called Field Support or Sales Enablement, each has access to a detached email program, and their messages are all about product announcements and promotions. The end result is the same for the customer – dozens if not hundreds of irrelevant emails from the same company each year. Many opt out. Few buy more.

Most leaders conceptually understand that silos and rogue marketing are counterproductive for the long-term, but from a practical standpoint each is OK with doing whatever meets their unit’s immediate need for leads. It’s all about keeping their funnel filled. Customer experience then suffers, as does cross-sell, retention and life-time value. I could write for days about the opportunity cost of silos. But how can an enterprise address this problem? Follow these three steps…

Change the Model

As TPG’s Debbie QaQish points out in her blog, TPG ONE™: A New Approach to the Customer Journey, “It’s time for B2B marketers to reimagine the funnel. Rather than a funnel that ends with delivering an MQL to sales, the customer engagement economy now requires a holistic view of the customer journey or customer lifecycle. Rather than marketing and the rest of the company working in silos across the customer’s journey, there needs to be a highly coordinated effort.”

Put another way, sales funnels are vertical like silos. What these companies need is a horizontal model, bridging the silos. Business units must stop propping up their own growth at the expense of the overall customer relationship. The longer leadership waits to introduce that new horizontal model, the more opportunity is lost.

Relentlessly Enforce

Silos will persist if leadership continues to give a wink-and-nod to rogue behavior in the name of short-term revenue gains. C-level leaders must relentlessly enforce a new cross-silo business model until it become a way of life. Consistent and persistent communication about integration must be part of every leader’s job.

Executives often choose to jump-start such a change by bringing in a marketing consultancy like mine. Such groups have the outside perspective to see the silos and recommend ways to bridge them. Changes can be technical, process-driven, or organizational. Then best-practices can be overlayed. Here again, leadership must enforce and reinforce to make sure the beauty isn’t only skin-deep.

Don’t Look Back

Leaders, as new managers join your company, there will be a tendency to back-slide into territory-defending postures. Don’t let this happen. Silos are the one thing keeping your marketing organization from real impact. And poor customer experience is the one thing keeping your enterprise from maximizing each client’s life-time value.

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Feast or Famine in the Marketing Automation Space?

Feast or Famine in the Marketing Automation Space?

The power of Marketing Automation can be mighty, which is why I was sorry to see the announcement that Adobe is purchasing Marketo. There are many advantages to the acquisition, as described by Trevor Parsell on LinkedIn. But it will require Enterprise customers to eat a full-course meal when they might be better served with a la carte ordering.

This merger does what most do – it will stifle continued innovation from the industry leader and it take away customer choice. Marketo has been setting the pace since 2006, and now all that energy will go towards integration with Adobe’s Marketing Cloud. Or at least the appearance on it. Then, as that integration proceeds, consumers will no longer have the same choice to “build or buy” in the Marketing Automation Space (MAS).

As a Marketing Strategist, I have helped a number of large enterprises spec and purchase a new MarTech stack. At the outset I advise that there are really two choices: Build your own best-in-class SaaS stack with Marketo at the center or purchase a Marketing Cloud from SalesForce (Pardot), Oracle (Eloqua), IBM (Silverpop), or Adobe.

As you might expect, MAS providers are good at Marketing. Up until now, Adobe’s Marketing Cloud was composed to more than nine programs presented with a slick integration story that makes it hard to tell which program does what. Their MAS portion required a purchase of Adobe Audience Manager, Target, Experience Manager, Campaigns, Analytics, and Core Services. More modules if you want social and media integration. Think all that is cheaper than one Marketo purchase? Nope. I did the apples-to-apples due diligence two years ago for Fiserv, and the Cloud license is always more expensive. And more convoluted.

Because the Cloud-provider wants you to buy their whole suite, they make it expensive and difficult to integrate with the SaaS you already have. And very difficult to establish API connections and map data. Suddenly the purchaser finds out that they are facing a long, complicated implementation that requires expensive Professional Services help for a year or more. (Longer if the provider can arrange to get bogged down). But it’s easier to go through your company’s Procurement and Security labyrinth just one time, so you choke down the check.

Rather than buying a full-course meal, I have always recommended a la carte MAS. Marketo has established robust API’s with many other best-in-class MarTech SaaS (and there are many). So you can keep what you have and then add what you want when you are ready to digest it. Just what you can chew.

Sadly, now enterprises will only have a choice of Clouds. Adobe will likely chop up Marketo’s functionality into modules to sell separately (which makes apples-to-apples pricing comparisons almost impossible) and build-your-own MarTech stacks will become too difficult for large enterprises. I’m sure all those best-in-class SaaS vendors who get referral business by being part of the Marketo Premier Partner Program are seeing their futures fade.

I’m not saying Adobe’s Cloud isn’t good, or that change is bad – just saying that choice is better.

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Marketing Insanity

A quote widely attributed to Albert Einstein reads, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” This is increasingly true in B2B Marketing, where the pace of change has accelerated exponentially in the last decade. Instead of thinking in terms of start-and-stop projects, we now recognize that data is always flowing, and our work is never done – or shouldn’t be.

CMO Priorities 2018This graph from The CMO Survey 2018 shows that CMOs (at least the ones who answer surveys) are aware of their moving targets. They are focused on continuously improving at least five major marketing categories: talent, process integration, organizational alignment, technology, and data. Let’s look into their thinking.

  • Talent: Increasingly, companies are hiring for specific technology expertise. A social media manager might be hired for Hootsuite skills, then need to master Buffer, Oktopost or whatever’s next. These workers need time to learn new programs – and to cross-train on systems already in use. Otherwise organizations can fall behind or be left in a lurch when employees depart.
  • Integration: Every enterprise has silos, either divisionally or departmentally. Progressive companies are increasingly taking steps to build connectors – because systems need to share data, processes need to deliver the right information, and workers need to connect in relevant ways. Integration is never as easy as it sounds, and never complete.
  • Organizational Alignment: Business units often go to market in silos, sometimes on different platforms. Units A & B might both be targeting the same market using different email tools. Outcomes might include SPAM violations, poor customer experience, and the opportunity cost of not sharing data. Organizational coordination is critical to the successful use of all resources. Plus, over time it delivers a full view of customer experience, the extended pipeline, and cross-unit revenue.
  • Technology: The MarTech ecosystem is doubling every year, with over 7000 active SaaS solutions in 47 categories. Last year’s best-practice leaders may not be this year’s, and each of the marketing clouds have strong and weak points. Selecting and purchasing modern tools requires ongoing due diligence and the acumen to achieve internal buy-in.
  • Data & Content: Databases and content libraries also need constant attention. We all know data must be shared, augmented, tested, and analyzed for critical insights. Likewise, content can quickly become out-of-date, portions may be off-brand or off-message, and most needs alignment to a persona journey or selling stage. Your organization should be constantly auditing, culling and analyzing to make sure that relevant, personalized content is part of the customer experience.

You may be thinking that relentless forward movement takes an insane amount of work. Perhaps, but it would be more insane to keep marketing the old way. Plus we’ve got a lot at stake. Proving to the organization that Marketing is progressive and contributing is critical. Executives may still have the impression that Marketing is project-based arts&crafts. They need to understand that we’ve got insanity down to a science!

Posted in B2B Marketing, Customer Experience, Digital Marketing, Employee Experience, Social Media CRM, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

An Open Letter To My Network

Networking Is About Paying It Forward

Most of the time we live in our busy work worlds, sometimes forgetting that people have lives outside the office. Occasionally we remember to reach out to those we work with, as suggested by nice articles like Forbes’ Three Ways To Pay It Forward At the Office. But what about those colleagues between roles – those out there networking? Meeting them for coffee might be your best way to pay your good fortune forward.

Out here on the networking circuit, we attend events or meet colleagues for coffee, looking for ways to support each other’s careers. We hope we can help, and that someone will be there for us one day. And we realize that you can make a lot happen with good will and small efforts. Sometimes all it takes it to circulate a resume or make an introduction.

LinkedIn is the modern incarnation of the coffee chat. But generally we use it to share best practices and successes. Today I’m going to take a chance and hope that LinkedIn is also a way to ask for career assistance. I am hoping that you, my LinkedIn network, will pay it forward today.

I took a break from corporate marketing to spend the last two years consulting. But I find I miss collaborating with teams to build effective programs and staying to see the impact. So I am seeking a full-time B2B marketing leadership role where I can exercise my full range of B2B marketing skills. Location can be anywhere – I reside in Atlanta but am available to relocate and/or travel.

If you should know of any such opportunities, please take a few minutes to help make connections. Or if you see an opportunity to share my credentials, a resume and related documents are available for download at

Networking is about helping and getting help. Thank you, LinkedIn network, for your support – I hope to return many favors. In the meantime let’s all, “Keep Calm & Pay It Forward” to colleagues around us in the office and out in the coffee shops.

Lorena Harris
LinkedIn Profile
Downloadable Resume

Posted in B2B Marketing, Content Marketing, Customer Experience, Customer Loyalty, Digital Marketing, Financial Services, Marketing Automation, Thought Leadership | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

FinTech Leaders Share Vision

This week leaders from the payments industry gathered in Atlanta for the Electronic Transactions Association’s TRANSACT Tech ATL. To start the day, panel discussions explored topics such as using technology and partnerships to expand market reach. If you’re a payments enthusiast and missed the event, here are some key takeaways:

  • Payments has traditionally been about scale, reliability and exception management. Now it’s also about wrapping value around the transactions. –David Mangum, President / COO, Global Payments
  • Merchant acquiring is no longer just about transaction processing. To get that business, providers must deliver SaaS solutions that include gateway, settlement, and vertical integrations. –Afshin Yazdian, President, Priority Payment Systems
  • ISVs are developing SaaS for countless niche markets and PayFacs are offering merchant-aggregating platforms. But to be effective, these platforms must also include frictionless boarding, fast activation and ease of use. –Adam Bloomston, CEO/CFO, Payscape
  • Few providers have the scale to bring it all together for the mass market. To do so with the required speed, partners will need to co-create smarter, faster, and easier-to-use SECURE solutions. –Joe Mach, President North Americas, Verifone
  • Solutions can also be “service stacks” co-created via partnerships, but those stacks must be seamless. And the partners must share/analyze data across all parts of the customer experience in order to constantly improve the journey. –Drago Dzerve, VP Product Management, Verifone
  • ISV’s developing new solutions may want to include predictable fixed-rate payment plans. Payments is now less about the interchange and more about securing a place in the active ecosystem. –David McDonald, SVP, Global Products, Elavon
  • Whether you build, buy or partner, don’t be afraid to be disruptive! –Chris Bucolo, ControlScan

Another point of discussion was near-and-dear to my interests. MarTech and CRM systems now collect massive amounts of data about customer touchpoints – from email opens to ad clicks to social media engagement. Clearly payments data includes much more information about transactions. Could we marry those data streams to see the customer journey from consideration to transaction? “It’s a discussion we’ve been having for years,” says Drago Dzerve of Verifone, “The sticking point has always been about a unique customer identifier to connect the data. Now phone numbers are becoming an increasingly viable connector.” Seem worthy of more discussion.

TRANSACT Tech ATL was buzzing with energy. The key message from these FinTech leaders…there’s much more to come. Stay tuned!

Author’s note: This blog is based on my notes and observations. Apologies for any mis-interpretations or attributions. Feel free to respond with amendments. –Lorena Harris


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What’s a CMO to Do?

marketing_technology_landscape_2018_slideAccording to Scott Brinker at, the average enterprise today now uses over 1000 cloud services. MarTech presents the largest menu of vendor options. As of April 2018, over 7000 active MarTech solutions are available in 47 categories. That’s 700% growth in the last four years!

Funding is stronger than ever, predicted consolidation has failed to materialize, and only about 5% have dropped out. So the mad proliferation looks to continue. It’s a daunting landscape for any company wanting to construct a MarTech stack. Within the six major categores, every sub-specialty contains dozens of choices, all of which require due diligence to understand if and how they would fit together.

What’s a CMO to do? Get help!

As I wrote in a previous blog, for there to be optimal outcomes, MarTech stacks must share data and capabilities across business units. Management must sponsor, support and invest in cross-silo governance. And someone must be responsible for integrated content, messaging and corporate point of view. The CMO is ultimately responsible, but bandwidth is often an issue. Many companies are hiring “conductors” to make sure all the parts come together.

With so many choices and so little time for due diligence, hiring a silo-bridging integration expert is smart. The opportunity is too big to leave to chance.

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B2B Marketing’s Fault Lines

Ten years ago a seismic shift rocked the B2B Marketing community. Marketing Automation Systems (MAS) began cracking our foundations. Suddenly they were “on the radar” of every marketing executive, becoming required learning. Within a few years investments in MarTech were happening across corporate America.

I would argue that another smaller shock wave has followed the initial quake. As companies embraced MarTech, their expectations and requirements for Marketing staff also changed.

  • Before MAS – Companies expected arts and crafts and impressions
  • After MAS – Companies expect science – measurable tactics generating trackable leads
  • Before MAS – Marketing leaders were generalists with broad B2B experience
  • After MAS – Marketing leaders are specializing by technology and building teams with specific expertise (content experts, digital technicians, data analysts, etc.)

Consider these “Head of” titles I found on the job boards this weekend: Head of Brand Marketing… Digital Marketing… Acquisition Marketing… Content Marketing… Event… Performance… Growth… Customer Experience…Sales Enablement… Industry… Category… Product… Head of etc.  When I talk to some of these hiring managers, they tell me they want “someone who knows ____ like the back of their hand.”

Clearly, technology-enabled silos are forming inside B2B Marketing. Soon we will all need to be a perfect fit for our next job – the right industry, the right product knowledge, the right technology expertise, the right location/price/profile. We’ll have careers in silos.

The problem we are facing, I fear, is that silos lead to canyons. Integration will become more difficult as leaders build out specific skill areas. As I wrote in a previous blog, companies are now seeing the need to hire integration consultants to build bridges across all their silos. Ironically, the silos are forming around the MarTech that was supposed to integrate us.

To quote myself, “How does an organization get its orchestra to make beautiful music? A conductor.” The Chief Marketing Officer, when there is one, should lead the effort to integrate and bridge silos, but cannot be the only person who sees the big picture. Marketing leaders must resist the pressures to become so tightly focused that they can’t adapt to daily shock waves or prepare for the next seismic shift.

I’m huge fan of MAS and would never want to roll it back. But before we all get so specialized we can’t diversify, let’s mix a bit of that art back in with the science.

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Content Contentment

What to Do If You’re Not Content With Your Content

Growing companies accumulate a lot of content – good, bad and ugly. Marketing generates everything from short-form materials such as blogs, posts, and web copy to long-format content such as white papers and eBooks. And don’t forget all the collateral and presentations generated out of Sales.

Content libraries need regular attention. Content can quickly become out-of-date, portions may be off-brand or off-message, and most needs alignment to a persona journey or selling stage. But your staff is busy with new projects and doesn’t have the bandwidth to audit, cull and refresh your content library. That means good content is going to waste, bad content is still in circulation, and your customers are not getting what they need when they need it. If that sounds familiar, you clearly need a content strategy.Whether you hire someone full-time or select a contractor, these are the important tasks your content specialist should tackle.

  • Undertake an audit of existing assets in all formats
  • Group assets based on products, messages and targets
  • Evaluate and sort into “keep/discard/refresh” categories
  • Improve descriptions, gating and tagging of content to be kept
  • Work with digital teams to remove/replace content to be discarded
  • Prepare a roadmap for processing of content to be refreshed or created
  • Align existing and planned content to persona journeys and/or selling stages
  • Interview internal SMEs for context on rewrites and new assets
  • Rewrite content as needed, using key words to support optimization
  • Work with internal teams to develop new content as required
  • Work with digital teams to deploy content in accordance with plans
  • Improve tracking to map content consumption, score for qualification and hand off to Sales
  • Coordinate with Marketing & Sales stakeholders to maximize content usage
  • Equip your internal resources to continue best practices.

If you’re not content with your content, make it a priority. You could have the best MarTech stack in the world, but without relevant content and messaging, the leads won’t flow.  An effective demand-generation engine needs constant care and content feeding.

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Content Across the Ages

In his recent MarketingProfs article, “The Brand-Content Preferences of Different Age Groups,” Ayaz Nanji examines HubSpot survey data and concludes that every age segment has different content preferences. Seems we all consider videos “the most memorable type of brand content.” But other channels have more divided loyalties.The MarketingProfs and HubSpot articles point out age differences in preference for “long-form” versus “short-form” formats. Long-form content (articles, research reports, and ebooks) are more popular with older segments. Short-form content (Social posts, games, infographics, podcasts and blogs) are all more popular with younger segments. But remember, correlation does not equal causation. Therefore it would be unwise to develop content-delivery plans around one variable such as age.

To be effective, your company’s personas should be constructed from diverse data sources. But even then, it may be necessary to satisfy content needs across generations and job titles. For example, decision-makers (perhaps older) may ask influencers (perhaps younger) to do initial due diligence. Or for a substantial technology purchase, a company may form a buying committee with five or more members. Each may have different information and channel preferences – and require personalized web content, SEM Ads, landing page content, nurturing emails, event content, etc.

  • Profile #1: Decision-Maker/Sponsor – seeking proof of thought leadership and value
  • Profile #2: Initiator/Champion – seeking solutions to pain points
  • Profile #3: Influencers/Researchers – seeking comparisons and proof points
  • Profile #4: Ratifiers/Approvers – seeking technical and security data
  • Profile #5: Operations/Users – seeking training and support materials

Effective personas blend information about roles, motivations, pain points, information needs, channel preferences and more – glued together with historical data and experience. And even if personas are robust and effective today, they may need tweaking tomorrow.

The take-away: Consider all data (in whatever format you prefer), but think about your buyer personas holistically. Build your persona journeys based on multi-factor analysis and consider the information needs of buying groups. Then create and deliver your content across the ages.

Posted in B2B Marketing, Channel Preference, Content Marketing, Customer Behavior, Customer Experience, Customer Experience Research, Customer Segmentation, Digital Marketing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Make Beautiful Music with Venn Marketing

Recently I spoke with the leader of PayPal’s Global Lifecycle Services (GLS) group, Matt Cammack. Last year he accepted the ambitious task of integrating PayPal’s global marketing teams in order to create more unified customer experiences. Once he described the plan – delivering best-in-class capabilities and operations across audience management, content management, customer decisioning, cross-channel execution and workflow – I could only say, “Wow, that makes perfect sense.” Every enterprise should be doing that.

That old People/Process/Technology Venn diagram may be cliché, but it still speaks. In 2018 most Marketing groups have all the ingredients for successful lifecycle marketing. Integrated MarTech, CRM and Engagement Tools provide a view of all touchpoints and levers to pull to improve them. Marketing teams are more skilled at using channels and tools than ever before. And processes are being refocused around SLAs and ROI. What is missing in the middle? Governance.

Every enterprise has silos. An ambitious company that will take steps to build bridges. But for there to be positive outcomes, management must sponsor, support and invest in cross-silo governance. People have to know that cooperation is critical. Process development needs to focus on coordinated end-user experiences. The technology stack must share data and capabilities across business units. AND someone must be responsible for integrated content, messaging and corporate point of view.

How does an organization get its orchestra to make beautiful music? A conductor. Consider your company…couldn’t we all use more cooperation, coordination and integration? Maybe it’s time to make a deliberate investment in “Venn Marketing”.

Venn Mktg

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