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 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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Marketing Megatrends for 2018 – A Lot to Digest

According to Matthew Sweezey’s 11/29/17 article in MarketingProfs, we can expect “Five Marketing Megatrends for 2018”. I’ve digested and summarized those megatrends below. But are these attainable for companies without mega-budgets? Let’s examine:

  1. Context Replaces Advertising as a Growth Lever
    Paraphrase: One-way, outbound advertising messages should be replaced with contextual conversations. Example: Airbnb successfully engaged with Craigslist users who were looking to rent or lease a room. Rather than just targeting, they worked to build a native experience. Realistic? Yes, if you can identify your niche, become an active member of it, showing your value in context.
  2. Purpose Becomes the Heart of Marketing
    Paraphrase: Companies should support the interests of stakeholders such as employees and communities. Example: Outdoor gear-maker Cotopaxi supports farmers in its supply chain because its consumers are keen on sustainability. Realistic? Depends. If you’re a mega-company you can create your own foundation. If you’re a start-up, the appropriate cause or level of support might not be so clear. Either way, research is required to determine what will resonate with your stakeholders.
  3. Public Relations Gets Participatory
    Paraphrase: Companies should drive engagement with articles as a way to break through and change the narrative. Example: In the case above, Cotopaxi should provide outdoor gear enthusiasts with a forum to participate in sustainability efforts. Realistic? Yes, every company can encourage some level of participation as part of its online and offline PR, etc.
  4. Chatbots Take Over
    Paraphrase: Companies should give online visitors every opportunity to chat, as today’s customers much prefer texting to speaking. Example: Go to any SaaS site. Realistic? Depends. It’s important to invest in the tools and channels your segments prefer.
  5. Automation 2.0 Will Be on The Rise
    Paraphrase: Companies will benefit from having dozens of integrated databases that automate customer interactions. Further Translation: Rather than just automating email campaigns from a Marketing Automation system, companies should integrate the many SaaS handling other touchpoints. So a multi-channel campaign could be fed by data from web content management tools, social selling tools, social media tools, event management tools, and ERPs tracking subscriptions/payables/etcetera. Realistic? It’s going to cost you. I’ve watched companies large and small constantly trying to connect technology across silos. Doesn’t mean it’s not an admirable goal, but like Atlanta roadwork, it’s never done.

I won’t argue that these marketing “megatrends” are desirable – I’m simply wondering whether all are realistic 2018 goals. Seems reasonable for mega-companies and start-ups alike to budget amply for contextual marketing and participatory forums. But the technology-stack-data-integration issue is an ongoing business challenge. According to MarTechToday, “The Marketing Technology Landscape has now reached nearly 5,000 vendors” (as of May 2017) and grew by 40 percent in the previous year (just try to see the attached chart). That’s a lot of integration and automation for companies to digest in 2018. Think of it as a meta-issue, not a megatrend, and budget accordingly over time. Take bites you can digest and work your other channels.

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Game-Changing Payments Are Speeding Into View

Big changes are happening in payments these days. Two are game changers: Blockchain for B2B payments and the RTP network for P2P payments. Both involve newer, faster rails for money movement.

For years the payment card ecosystem in the United States has been fine-tuning its technology so that consumers can quickly pay merchants, banks and processors. Businesses, on the other hand, have had clunky tools for paying each other (especially across borders). And consumers had few ways to quickly swap digital payments. Now those lagging systems are catching up thanks to new money movement rails.

Coindesk.com describes the B2B innovations like so, “Visa has rolled out the first, pilot phase of its blockchain-based business-to-business payments service, B2B Connect…Visa plans to use the platform to (streamline) cross-border payments by facilitating direct payments between institutions.” PYMNTS.com adds, “Visa’s solution uses distributed ledger technology that leverages Visa’s existing global network of issuers to create private, permissioned networks that digitize the assets issued by members of that network.” In other words, shared secure real-time cloud banking will soon be available to businesses globally. Adios paper checks.

At the same time, new real-time money movement networks are emerging for Person-to-Person (P2P) payments. The Clearing House, a business founded in 1974 primarily to process checks between institutions, never really broke the overnight speed barrier. Now, as PYMTS.com reports, “RTP, the name for a new “Real-Time Payments” system set up by The Clearing House…is up and running.” ACI Worldwide and the Zelle Network has also recently tested a real-time P2P solution, and Apple has a slick new P2P payment feature in iOS 11. Now money can move between people (via their banks) in mere seconds. You can get paid back for that pizza.

Clearly the U.S. is catching up the world, which has decades of experience with cross-border and P2P money movement. All this gives businesses and consumers more payment choices – rather than keeping all the options in the control of institutions who’d rather hold money overnight. For the time being, money will still move along rails controlled by card issuers, processors and other intermediaries, but at least it will happen much faster. Plus, with all the changes speeding into view, one can now see a future where traditional card networks and their many hangers-on are disintermediated. Imagine paying quickly and efficiently without interchange fees flying in every direction! New high-speed rails are making it happen.

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Dear Marketing Leaders, Use It or Lose It

As we near the end of 2017, many publicly-held companies will be examining budget usage against performance. At this time of year, Marketing leaders often become concerned that their unused budget will be pulled back to improve year-end financials – and not reallocated the following year. It’s “use it or lose it” time.

Are there goals on your 2017 plan that have not progressed sufficiently? It’s time to jump-start those and show significant progress by fourth quarter so you’ll have a case for keeping (or even expanding) that budget. Consider bringing me in as a consultant to partner with your teams. I’ll get stalled projects back in motion – and do some of the heavy-lifting that no one has had time for.

Jump-start Your 2017 Marketing

As a 25-year B2B Marketing Executive with broad experience and deep digital expertise, there are many ways I can help you meet your 2017 goals:

  • Justifying that Marketing Technology purchase before year-end
  • Taking inventory of your web content and gated materials
  • Refreshing customer-facing web pages or campaign landing pages
  • Writing key pieces of content – from white papers, to blogs, to website copy
  • Analyzing touchpoint data for segment patterns
  • Designing lifecycle interactions for key personas
  • Preparing sales-enablement collateral or training materials
  • Coordinating between business unit marketing teams for maximum year-end data integration.

Dear Marketing Leaders, call me today (before your consulting budget gets frozen) and together we’ll make sure you gain ground rather than lose budget. Let’s make it happen!

Lorena Harris, 513-658-2488

 

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Something I’ve Never Done Before

Today I’m doing something new – asking for my network’s assistance. Please reach out if you know of a company who needs a B2B Marketing Leader with these qualifications. 

  • Experienced Marketing leader, with expertise in modern marketing disciplines, seeking a senior B2B marketing role
  • Industry Experience: Financial Services, Payments, Telecom, Outsourcing, Payroll, Technology, SaaS, Digital Services
  • Areas of expertise: Digital Marketing, Content Marketing, Demand Generation, CRM/Marketing Automation, Product Marketing, Sales Enablement, Marketing Operations, Marketing Research, Brand Strategy, PR/Communications, Customer Experience
  • Adept at marketing portfolios with a mix of software and services to segments across the board
  • Recent VP-level Marketing positions in the FinTech industry: Fiserv, First Data, and Vantiv. Preceded by BPO management roles: ADP, Convergys, and Donnelley.
  • Duke MBA – earned after ten years in the workforce
  • International business experience – Europe, China, India
  • Builder of high-performing teams and champion of game-changing marketing strategies
  • Agency/creative background – strong writing and presentation skills
  • Currently in Atlanta but available to relocate and/or travel
  • Available immediately for full-time or consulting work.

I’m grateful for any ideas or leads you can offer.

Lorena Harris
513-658-2488
lorenaharris@icloud.com
LinkedIn Profile
Downloadable Resume
Blog

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The Marketing Forest, Trees, and Me

Published on LinkedIn March 17, 2017

forestpathcolor

Do you know of a B2B company that really needs help with demand generation? How about one that wants to build its brand position as a trusted partner? Or maybe one that needs marketing and sales integration to maximize revenue? They all do, right? But recognizing the need is the easy part.

Having worked for a number of large B2B solutions companies, I can vouch that they all need help across the brand-demand-deliver spectrum. So many are siloed, having grown from acquisition. They might have developed shared services groups, but in most cases, those teams are scrambling to fulfill internal orders. No one at corporate or in the business units has bandwidth to take a strategic look at the big picture. Much less design, socialize and implement a plan.

That’s where I come in. I call myself a “Marketing Integration Consultant,” which means I design custom strategic marketing integration plans, then help make them happen.

Each strategic plan is custom, depending on the company’s culture and resources. Some need a new vocabulary and exposure to best practices. Others need a new technology stack. Some need help building a bridge between marketing and sales. They all need someone who can “see the forest for the trees.”

Using my keen outside-in vision, I interview stakeholders until the patterns and gaps emerge – then build a plan that addresses them. Here’s a look at some of the ways I’ve recently helped FinTech companies:

  • Assessing Marketing processes, tools, resources and data integration
  • Improving demand generation through content and thought leadership development
  • Mapping customer touchpoints and designing lifecycle interactions for key personas
  • Developing engagement plans that address new-net, cross-sell, and retention goals
  • Designing marketing automation-to-CRM system integration and functionality
  • Liaising with Sales to maximize adopting of the enhanced prospect/client pipeline
  • Leading integration initiatives and reporting on key effectiveness metrics
  • Serving as a vision setter and change agent.

If you know of a B2B player who needs a strategic marketing integration plan – focused or comprehensive – give me a shout. I’ll help them see the forest, trees, and long-term revenue.

Lorena Harris, 513-658-2488, lorenaharris@icloud.com, Downloadable Resume Here.

 

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The Story I’m Sticking To

Published on LinkedIn September 16, 2016

Demand-Gen Engine

For years I’ve been drawing this “demand-gen engine” diagram on white boards across America’s FinTech companies. It always makes perfect sense to the viewers — they say, “Exactly, we should be doing that!” But I’ve rarely seen a company that does it all. Some are good at inbound content marketing, but don’t get the leads into the sales process well. Others are focused on selling their latest product upgrade rather than serving clients throughout their lifecycles. Some are still stuck in “arts and crafts” tactical production mode. What do all these companies have in common? They are filled with smart Marketers who understand the concept, but lack the bandwidth to move it forward.

To achieve the vision, it’s critical that a Marketing leader is dedicated to integration. So whether I’m employed or consulting, I keep this model in mind. I focus on socializing and synthesizing across Marketing, Sales, and Business Unit Sales Enablement teams. Assessment, roadmaps, retooling, content strategies, and analysis all require relentless attention. Someone needs to keep their eyes on the prize. That’s me…that’s my story…and I’m sticking to it!

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Silos, Sticks and Carrots

Published on LinkedIn January 21, 2017

silos

How many times have you heard the word “silos” at work? As in, “They’re in their own silo,” or “This company has too many silos.” If that’s a common term, mostly likely your company has grown through acquisition. Then the enterprise didn’t do a complete job of wresting control into corporate shared services like Marketing, HR, and Legal. The acquired business units just kept doing things their way, sometimes to the point of keeping their previous brand alive. In these cases, the “brand police” can try to monitor and enforce overt violations. But what about things like “tone” and “message”… is it okay to let the business units talk to their target markets their way? Yes and no. Yes, the marketing/sales techniques used to reach key segments should be highly targeted. But no, the tone of marketing messages should reinforce the official corporate brand and voice. Otherwise brand integrity becomes diluted, and customers become confused.

Time to bring out the sticks and carrots. First, make sure your shared service marketing groups are not actually fulfilling the off-brand materials for the business units. It’s not unusual for Digital or Creative Services to get a work request and just do it. If an audit proves that’s happening, offer assistance. Also make sure the business units are not working with outside agencies who don’t comply to the brand guidelines – maybe even hosting assets on outside servers. Again, offer to help them integrate. But what can be done if compliance doesn’t come? Slowing or stopping their corporate services will just create more of the behavior – maybe even give them justification for building out their rouge marketing teams. The answer has to come from the top. Corporate executives must align and agree – then sponsor change management. They might use carrots and sticks, but the message must be clear, “We are one company. Get it together.” When silos collapse at the top levels, they crumble down through the organization. So if your company has too many silos – and you see opportunities – communicate up. You might get some carrots.

 

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