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!

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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.

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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. 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.” 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 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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