The Marketing Forest, Trees, and Me

Published on LinkedIn March 17, 2017


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,, Downloadable Resume Here.


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

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!

Posted in B2B Marketing, Content Marketing, Customer Experience, Digital Marketing, Marketing Automation | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Silos, Sticks and Carrots

Published on LinkedIn January 21, 2017


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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Personas Backwards and Forwards

Published on LinkedIn October 30, 2016

persona committee

The longer I navigate large B2B companies, the more I observe the same marketing projects being kicked-off over and over again. New people come in looking for something to champion within that magical first ninety days. After identifying an area of opportunity – say a shortage of buyer personas – the next step is to form a task force and kick off with a large helping of goal-setting, resource-finding and timeline-plotting. But then schedules and priorities get in the way, and it can take weeks, perhaps months, to learn that the files from a similar effort two years ago have been sitting on the server.

Now I’m not saying that such kick-off zeal is misplaced. I’ve done it myself many times in an effort to show value.  I’m just sayin’ that it’s advantageous to work backwards and forwards. After all, building on the shoulders of giants (even if they are co-workers) gives you a better view. So look for previous work (maybe product managers have created user personas) and review previous research (many companies do customer experience surveys). Mine your CRM and marketing automation systems to see what they can tell you via activity histories. THEN, start working forward. Consider internal and external interviews, explicit home-page surveys, and implicit activity-based persona building. Perhaps your inside sales team, customer support group or IVR system can gather useful information. Why not include the people who ran the last project?

As you think backwards and forwards, don’t forget to ask yourself how your work will be most useful. Can you deliver the concepts to the right people right when they need it? Will your personas constantly inform content writers, media buyers, event managers and campaign leaders as they do their work? Not if they’re sitting on a server somewhere. So look before you leap. By demonstrating an ability to synthesize and build on institutional knowledge you will improve your project’s effectiveness and your own reputation.

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The Marketing Automation Paradox

Published on LinkedIn June 11, 2016


In his recent MarketingProfs article, Andrew Davies describes the paradox of marketing automation.  On one hand, these systems allow Marketers to nurture prospects and clients through longer lifecycles and larger revenue streams.  On the other hand, he points out, marketing automation isn’t cheaper. It “means having to bring on more—not less—staff. As well as a marketing manager, a database manager, a demand-gen exec, and a content strategist, you will most likely need a marketing technologist who is able to help you get the most out of your new system.”

Plus, as I like to point out, “you need to have something to say” – good content ready to address key buyer personas and resonate with your ideal customers. And a corporate “point of view” that makes your interpretation that much more valuable. In other words, it all has to come together. The data must clearly define key segments, the content must speak to them, and the technology must be configured to orchestrate the relationship. Not as easy as “plug-and-play,” but worth it once the it does all start working together. Then the marketing-to-sales funnel will fill with qualified leads and continuous opportunities for satisfying customers. No paradox there.

Posted in B2B Marketing, Content Marketing, Customer Segmentation, Marketing Automation, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Distracted By Bright Shiny Objects

Published on LinkedIn April 15, 2016

Adobe 2016 Digital Trends Infographic2

This Adobe 2016 Digital Trends Infographic poses some interesting questions. Consider a few key data points from it:

  • 90% of the 7k executives surveyed say Data-Driven Marketing is the top strategic priority for 2016
  • 46% think Strategic Thinking is the key element of Marketing success, but only 37% see Data as the key
  • 51% consider Mobile applications a top strategic priority, but only 18% see Marketing Automation as an area needing attention.

Wait…what? If data-driven insights are so critical, why prioritize hard-to-measure concepts like Strategic Thinking? Why not improve usage of the Marketing Automation tools that will enable data collection, analysis, and digital targeting? Maybe because Marketing people are often distracted by the next bright shiny object.

As this infographic reveals between the lines, we Marketing leaders should listen to ourselves. Digital marketing got us a seat at the table, now let’s focus on serving up some good data.

Posted in B2B Marketing, Customer Experience Research, Digital Marketing, Marketing Automation, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Going “New-School” with Omnichannel Marketing

Published on LinkedIn March 4, 2016

Customer Experience

Don’t miss this Omnicommerce Article about the challenges Marketing leaders have faced in moving from “old-school” to modern marketing.

Last century we Marketing types used multichannel tactics all at once to saturate a market – TV, radio, print, billboards, etc. Then, as digital and social media expanded the channel options, we worked to create consistent messaging across them all. Author Vebeka Guess writes that with cross-channel marketing, “…whether your Web page is viewed from a desktop, laptop, mobile device, mobile app, or even in-store screens and kiosks, your message, look and feel are consistent and easily recognized.”

Now, with omnichannel marketing, we are interacting with customers throughout their entire lifecycle, across channels and through conversations. By understanding the customer’s total experience and making it seamless, Marketers can, as Guess concludes, “…create the dynamic, satisfying experience that today’s technology-driven customer expects.” In summary, evolving toward omnichannel Marketing requires both data-based knowledge of today’s consumers and “new-school” thinking. Better study up!

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M-Commerce: Fact or Friction?

Published on LinkedIn on April 6, 2017


A recent article in Forbes, intended to help small-to-mid-sized merchants (SMBs) understand the potential of mobile payments (a.k.a. m-commerce), caught my attention with its preamble. The author wrote, “Many managers see the emergence of paying for goods and services via a mobile phone as a mere technological evolution…first customers used checks, then cards, now it´s m-payments. Others acknowledge its transformational impact on society and economic activity in general, but believe it will not affect their industry…Still others think that, by the time it becomes a widespread reality, they will be retired.”

I’ve been writing about mobile payments marketing since 2011, when the payments industry was trying to convince itself that the m-commerce wave was building. At that time, most of my colleagues at the large merchant acquirers wanted (and still want) to believe that m-commerce will always be another form of card payment, processing on the same rails with the same formulas and fees. But other colleagues saw m-commerce as a way to derail that system and cut out the cards. (Those people mostly defected to startups.)

The fact is, it’s all about friction. In order for m-payments in any format to become widely used, there need to be less friction for merchants and consumers. Using your phone, watch or tattoo at point-of-sale must be easier and more rewarding than pulling out your wallet.

If you’re reading this, you probably understand the SMB’s dilemma…invest now in the equipment, time and training to be m-commerce ready. Or wait until your customers demand it (by voting with their feet.) Never mind all the ancillary benefits and costs described in this Forbes article and endless others. SMBs will only convert if there’s less friction on the selling-side, and consumers will only make them if there’s less on the buying-side.

Marketers in the card-backed payment processors would have SMBs believe that they are already behind the curve. The October 2015 EMV deadline was celebrated as a tipping point because SMBs would have another reason to go mobile. But fear of liability for fraud didn’t scare as many as predicted. (Chip-card authorization speeds didn’t help.) Neither did countless campaigns promoting the benefits of customer data and loyalty programs. The fact is, no amount of marketing will convince the SMB until m-commerce is just easier.

So what’s a provider to do? Think like a small merchant and customer. Patronize SMBs and try paying with your phone. Ask questions and observe the friction in the process. Stop trying to think inside the rails and think about the possibilities. That’s always been the path to change.

Posted in B2B Marketing, Customer Experience, Financial Services, Payments | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

FinTech Companies Struggle For the Right Message To Market

Published on LinkedIn February 11, 2017


FinTech is tough – seems everybody wants a share of technology-enabled financial services. In the Atlanta metro-area alone, a 2016 report by the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) identified more than 100 established firms, with more start-ups joining this space every year. Here’s a snapshot of Georgia “FinTech Corridor” (a.k.a. Atlanta’s “Transaction Alley”) from the report. That’s a deep pool of marketing dollars, but also a muddy one.

In such a crowded environment, differentiation is more critical than ever. These 100 companies – and more than 1300 worldwide – are competing to capture the same markets using three-pronged marketing strategies: Business-to-Corporation (B2B), Business-to-Consumer (B2C) and Business-to-Partner (B2P). While the messages to each market and segment within may be quite different, the difference between the many FinTech providers may not be clear to targets. Messages get muddied and mixed.

So what approach should FinTech’s take? It depends, of course. In the B2B space FinTechs may be marketing to businesses ranging in size from giant global corporations down to small neighborhood merchants. So marketing messages might range from “Optimize Regulatory Compliance” to “Simplify Your Business.”

To the point, here’s just a few of FinTech payment players concurrently trying to capture SMB Merchants with the “Simplicity” message:

  • Square – Originator of the simple “one fee-fits-all” message
  • Amazon – “Online transactions made simple and secure”
  • Intuit – “Payment processing the way it should be – fast and easy”
  • Sage – “Simple Payment Processing”
  • – Simple, Secure Online Payment Processing
  • and – ‘nuff said

Clearly, deep due diligence is required to:

  • Understand the many market variables
  • Identify key markets/personas
  • Select channels that can reach them
  • Craft messages/value propositions that will resonate
  • Deliver the right message at the right time to the right person

In such a competitive and growing space, FinTech providers have a tough time differentiating their solutions to their markets. Many providers, from start-ups to established global corporations have difficulty seeing out from their own silos. A marketing partner with deep-industry expertise is often required to help them identify and execute on viable go-to-market approaches.

The opportunity cost of not getting it right…not getting a fair share of the pie. Georgia FinTech companies alone report >$72B annually. Obviously FinTech is a massive market, but the waters are often muddy. Our advice to FinTech players old and new: Get your share of revenue by doing deep due diligence with a connected partner who can help you get crystal clear with your marketing.

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So Many Payment Players – Good Graph!

The payments landscape has changed so much since I started covering it in 2011. I’ve seen many graphics with logos in quadrants, and they only represent a moment in time. But this one from BI Intelligence is not bad if you’re trying to understand established players as of mid 2016.

payments ecosystem infographic BI Intel

Posted in Brands, Financial Services, Payments, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment