What B2B marketing leaders think about brand, performance, team and personal reputation

This post originally appeared on the BDB blog but has been edited for the Marketing Assassin site.

The latest B2B Leaders report published by B2B Marketing at the end of 2013 provides some useful insights into the thoughts of senior marketers and their views on brand, performance, team and personal reputation management.

The B2B Leaders report, an online survey of 100 marketing leaders, involved marketing directors, heads of marketing and marketing with an average 15 years experience, reporting into board or leadership teams and controlling £188m of accumulated marketing spend.

Headline takeaways

1. Brand

Responding to questions around how they rate their rate their brand relative to the competition, 80% thought their organisational brand is clearly defined and 72% thought it was clearly differentiated from competitors. That said, less than 50% thought marketing gets the resource it needs

It seems brand is recognised as critical to long term business success from this survey. There are concerns about the support required to implement meaningful marketing though with more than half querying the resource and budget commitment.

2. Performance

Getting an uplift in budget means come delivering a tangible return. At the opposite ends of the spectrum, 6% said they could judge ROI all of the time and only 17% said rarely. So must could measure something.

But to be better respected, B2B marketers need to become more adept and more proficient in setting goal based objectives for every single activity and in evaluating achievement with appropriate tools.

3. Team

Commenting on how they ensure their team was comprised with the right set of skills, 79% of respondents said their team had skills gaps, but only 26% said all the team had a structured development training programme in place.

If marketers are not making time for training in the latest advances in marketing best practice, creativity and technology it is perhaps no surprise that teams are ill-equipped to master modern marketing. This then has an obvious knock-on effect to performance and marketing ROI.

4. Personal reputation 

Assessing their own personal reputation, 93% admitted they saw room for personal improvement.

Good B2B marketing leaders acknowledge areas for development of their teams and themselves, and recognise the importance of spending time on maximising harmony within teams towards the achievement of common goals. Reading between the lines, it’s undeniable that the skills and attributes of a modern B2B marketing leader are evolving, with facilitation, influencing and collaboration becoming ever more important.

Summary

As B2B Marketing editor-in-chief Joel Harrison comments, a perfect storm of the “post credit crunch economic strife of the last five years” coupled with a rising tide of technological advances and a need to return to true customer centric positioning has driven significant organisational change. This arguable affects the marketing function as much as any other area.

Understanding your operating environment, your customers and your ability to service them efficiently, profitably and knowledgably remain the underlying and enduring marketing challenges most businesses face.

Is this reflected in your business? How do you tackle some of the issues posed in this research?

 

Selling B2B digital marketing to the C-suite

Need to get buy in to resource and investment in digital marketing? Keep reading to learn five ways to get the investment you need.

 

Whether it is ‘intangibles’ like up front strategy, planning and goal setting or ‘tangibles’ like websites, blogs, email systems, databases, social media accounts and more, you need to be able to bring your colleagues with you.

Arguing the case for an investment in digital marketing involves an understanding of the rules and vocabulary of the boardroom.

You have a digital footprint

Everything you and your business does online helps create a digital footprint which has immediate and far-reaching implications on your brand. Customers can make a spontaneous first impression of your capability and credibility so it is important to get it right. With some customers the impression made, the quality of presentation and substance of the content are so fundamental that poor first impressions rule you out for life.

The ability to track and trace

Encouragingly, digital marketing can be tracked in much more thorough ways than other more traditional techniques. An investment in overt migration of traffic towards websites, landing pages and other content hubs is a smart move and getting a view of impressions, clicks and visits helps to establish what works, what is valued and what is not. With the advent of the download, customers are now prepared to exchange contact data in exchange for worthwhile content that will aid their understanding of a given topic or help them in their role.

So, is it any wonder that if you don’t have a strategy that illustrates where you are, where you want to be and how you are going to get there, then when you ask for investment, senior managers appear reluctant?

The benefits of a digital strategy for a business are straight forward and clear:

  • It can deliver immediate, measurable return on investment.
  • It provides a consistent platform for brand communications and amplification in the most important, growing and innovating area of modern business.

Five things to remember when convincing senior and financial management about digital investment

1. Remember, they need your expertise

It’s not that the boardroom is hostile to the concept of digital marketing. A lack of confidence and lack of knowledge probably makes your board nervous. From their kids spending all their time on Facebook, to complicated smartphones to the rise of app culture, the value to B2B isn’t always easy to draw.

It’s your responsibility to bring them up to speed and always make recommendations with the company’s best interests at heart. Simple quick wins might involve internal training, shadowing on projects and visits to conferences and exhibitions to immerse in the industry. This will help you understand issues, trends and fuel strategic thinking.

2. Understand the language of finance

Those empowered with rubber-stamping business investment are invariably concerned about risk, return, cost and savings. With accountancy at their core, their perspective is the removal of excess expense. Consequently, unsubstantiated trends and crazes, new platforms – anything without a reasoned and robust strategy behind them – are not going to get financial backing.

3. Make attribution your friend

Marketing is all too often viewed as an extravagant overhead in many companies and is constantly under scrutiny. Finance Directors can be uncomfortable with marketing campaigns that cannot be measured, partly because of the rather mystical approach to attribution and the squabble that often takes place between marketing and sales teams.

But explaining the principles of media attribution models and the move away from ‘last click wins’ models can really help foster an understanding and buy-in to digital marketing expenditure. It can also help you explain the value of activities which are likely to be more effective in brand building and demand generation than traditional approaches.

4. Paint a picture of an improved future

Or so you might think. Try to build a compelling argument that makes the case for investment in marketing activity based on generating leads (risk), reports greater visibility of results (return), automating previously manual tasks (cost), delivers service at a reduced cost (save). It doesn’t have to be immediate – future time and resource cost savings are as powerful as real time ones.

5. Paint a picture of a future without it

Demonstrate, especially drawing on big industry trends and the activities of your primary competitors how not investing will actually have a devastating effect on the long term profitability of the business.

What challenges do you face in requesting (more) digital marketing investment? Share your challenges and tips below.

 

 

Download the new 440 page Brilliant B2B Digital Marketing eBook from Amazon today – for Kindle and Kindle apps for all devices and computers. 

 

Image credit: Telegraph blog

Social media is dead. Long live social media ROI.

I’m giving a conference presentation on social media use in b2b marketing and PR today. (Doesn’t stop a guy blogging though!)

This great deck from Stefanos Karagos backs up a lot of what I’m going to be talking about in terms of planning out social media use in the same way you would with any other marketing activity, setting objectives and KPIs on which to judge success. Firming up your audience, the content that is going to engage them and the platforms and tools to deliver it.

But hang on, what’s the return? Find out more in here. Illuminating and interesting stuff.


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Marketing Metrics 6: Trade shows

Attending trade shows is one of the most expensive activities in a marketing plan. How do you ensure they provide return?

Trade show organisers have probably had to work harder than anyone else during the recession. The expenditure in this area is often the first thing scrapped in a marketing budget review as extravagant. This isn’t a surprise given most companies attending trade shows fail to manage their attendance properly from the outset. They are not ruthless about why they are attending and what they want to get out of the show. Going because you always have is a poor approach to marketing and business.

But done well, with appropriate consideration given to pre-event traffic generation, trade shows can be your most profitable marketing mix tool. Why? The lion’s share of your new business still comes through word of mouth, endorsement and personal selling, so it makes sense to be right in the heart of any gathering of your clients and customers.

I tackled this very issue in a recent post following my experience at the Total Packaging show in Birmingham.

From a metrics perspective, there is a lot that you can do to measure the effectiveness of attending an exhibition. Working through the following thought process throws up things to consider and the metrics to be employed to measure them. In these recessionary times, I’ve deliberately kept to the tangible lead generation focused activities.

1. Why, what, who? Start at the planning phase, and decide what you are exhibiting, why and to who? If you haven’t got a credible reason to exhibit and/or nothing new to promote, don’t.

2. Focus on ‘new’. Make a maximum of three key messages the core part of all pre-show and show communication. The rules of high impact PR apply throughout, so ‘new’ always works best and attracts the most interest. Demonstration and presentation are fantastic ways of getting ‘new’ across. This could be product, service, data or insight related. And ‘new’ doesn’t have to mean available – a measurable metric might be to take a set number of enquiries, even orders for a previewed/future product or service.

3. Calculate Total Project Cost. Price up space and stand costs, design & logistics costs, hospitality, literature, email/advertising costs, hotels, lost sales force productivity through being taken off the road and management time.

4. Apply a Cost Per Enquiry. Having a Total Project Cost will allow you to start to consider cost per enquiry and allows you to start to work out how many enquiries (and convertible orders) are required to cover the investment of attending.

5. Set enquiry/order targets. Plug in your rough order value and calculate how many orders will be needed to cover this cost and then ideally turn a profit.

6. Set specific enquiry targets. With all the previous steps completed, you’ll be able to allocate enquiry targets against the cost of attending, per product/service line exhibited, per sector and per sales rep. This gives you a minimum of four ways to set lead generation metrics, and informs what you should do next to promote your attendance at the show, to who, and by who.

7. Agree pre show marketing targets. Allocate enquiries to each element of pre-show marketing (personal sales call, invite, email, visit to site, online registration). Offer customers pre-registration. Stage an event or give a presentation within the trade show and use the sign up to this as a metric. Set up a daily blog/email summary/Twitter feed from the show and measure engagement. Twitter hashtagging is fantastic for events. Above all, set up a specific Internet landing page and employ Google Analytics to give you a thorough assessment of this. Any advertising and literature should cite all contact points.

8. The intangible. Some times it is important to attend a trade show to build or protect profile and reputation. In this instance, arrange meetings with trade publishers and editors in advance and set a metric on that, reviewable 3 months and 6 months after the show in terms of PR coverage.

This is by no means an exhaustive list but it will give your trade show planning greater clarity and focus.

Image Beacon Alliance

Marketing Metrics 4: Achieving ROI from direct marketing – it’s in the design and delivery

Direct marketing, when well designed, expertly written, highly targeted, clear in proposition and well implemented can engage customers and transform the sales and marketing success of a business.

Too often though it is done badly. Direct mail, as most recipients view DM, is the bane of most people’s lives, and the very worst, intrusive antidote to good honest permission marketing. And email has taken this on immeasurably.

Direct marketing can and is implemented well. I receive mailers from TM Lewin about specials on shirts (incidentally they have a nifty YouTube channel) and Amazon’s ‘Recommendations’ emails based on my transactional and browsing behaviour. I’m on the Volkswagon mailing list because I bought a Polo five years ago – the last mailer was a beautiful piece in the style of a VW dashboard. And other businesses are using DM techniques to personally encourage browsers to take their abandoned baskets to checkout status, with some success.

What is clear to me as I consider this blog series on metrics in the core elements of the marketing mix, is the requirement to target a segment, understand an unmet need and deliver a compelling (and for you, profitable) proposition that entices and engages them to act.

Achieving ROI from direct marketing really is in the design and delivery. Sure, the usual rules apply in terms of activating specific landing pages, phone numbers, email addresses, voucher codes, limited time offers and social media pages to monitor response. But getting response is the objective. Here’s how to transform ‘junk mail into conversion mail’.

  1. Take time to target
  2. Think about your audience and get tone of voice right
  3. Highlight the ‘call to action immediately’ and prominently – you have 3-5 seconds, even assuming the recipient is remotely interested
  4. Don’t clutter your communication – stick to one single message
  5. Have an equal balance between design and copy
  6. Make the most of the senses if relevant – smell, touch, taste
  7. Dont’s trick recipients into opening your mail – this will only damage your reputation and your brand in the long term.
  8. Make sure you test and learn – make subtle changes in campaign creative or message and gauge response.

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Marketing Metrics 1: Why measure?

With the post Principles of Marketing 13: Evaluation becoming the most read blog post on this site in the last nine months, I figured it was time to explode the subject in more detail with a series of blog posts dedicated to measuring marketing effectiveness

This is an area where marketers often struggle and is a primary reason for marketing not being taken seriously at board level in many businesses. A strong correlation needs to be made between marketing investment and return. And it’s no surprise that companies that do well also integrate marketing into their business development and sales strategies.

Whilst online marketing provides a level of traffic and conversion evaluation, more traditional approaches along with the latest viral and digital techniques are more difficult to quantify in terms of ROI. The explosion in the popularity and ease of networking and sharing content online adds to the problem.

Just how do you possibly track back brand awareness, brand and market share, and return in investment to these activities?

Blog posts upcoming include advertising offline, advertising online, direct mail, exhibitions, conferences, websites / blogs, emarketing, social media – Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook, brand / brand value and financial ROI.

B2B Marketing Principles 9: ROI unmeasured despite being a primary driver

Do you measure return on investment (ROI)? For all the talk of measurement and evaluation, ROI is proven to be the only credible barometer of marketing success but is rarely done well.

Being able to attribute sales to specific promotional activity is critical whether you have a large marketing budget or a small one. Why? Simple. Spending on activities that make little impact and conversely not spending sufficiently on activities that could reap dividends ultimately risks the long term profitability of your business.

But where do you start? The good news is that even the most basic elements of the marketing mix such as advertising, direct marketing and PR can be tracked with varying degrees of accuracy. Advertising can be evaluated against reader enquiry, direct marketing against post card, email and telephone response, PR against advertising equivalent value (AEV) and any onward PR – for example, from regional to national or local press to headline news.

Taking it to a second level, specific telephone numbers, email addresses, post boxes and website landing pages can be deployed inexpensively to support the evaluation of these marketing methods.

But only when you utilise digital marketing do you bring your marketing to life.

Advances in website, email and advertisement design mean you can run alternate versions of your website, ensure recipient mailing lists receive different versions of email messages, and run different advertisement designs on different websites. This allows you to constantly innovate, test, see what works, continue to gain permission and get a greater insight into what your customers and prospects are really interested in.

And you now use more sophisticated ‘attribution’ models and software to track even more accurately which activities really impact the sale. This becomes more important if you operate a multi strand, multi channel marketing program where customers could come into contact with you because of in-store promotion, online and trade press advertising, after receiving direct or email marketing, by searching for you on the Internet or because they read a feature about you. These products help you allocate the percentage of a sale to each element that supported the sale, and provides you with a more comprehensive view of what worked, rather than simply allocating the sale to the last element or using an ‘average’ score.

If you’re interested in attribution modelling, check this blog which was inspired by the Econsultancy session on attribution at TFM&A 2010.

There will also be an entire blog series on the topic of return on investment and evaluation in April as this topic is amongst the most read on The Marketing Assassin blog since the blog launched in June 2009.

My final observation. The best investment you can make in good marketing is not cost, but rather your time. If you are going to spend ANY money on marketing and promotion, ensure you have set objectives in place from the outset. Objectives act as your safety net. When adhered to, they drive activity selection and give you a benchmark to evaluate success against.

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