Anyone that took a marketing class in college was taught about the 4 P’s of marketing (product, price, place, promotion). And although the fundamental concepts are still valid, they just seem too out-of-date to teach without a lot of interpretation or translation for modern times. So I’d like to propose an update while sticking with the same letter “P” so we can still call it the “4 P’s of Marketing”.
There is one question that haunts every experienced marketing executive as it relates to spending money on demand generation: what is the optimal mix of demand gen marketing campaigns and if we have extra money to spend, where should we spend it and why? Lots of advanced marketing tools are available and new ones are released all the time. But none that I’ve seen exactly answer these questions and the reason is because optimizing your mix demand generation activities is just as difficult as optimizing your mix of personal investments (ie – stocks, bonds, real estate, CD’s, etc). So why not steal a concept from the investing world and apply it to marketing? I’m talking about Portfolio Theory.
Regardless of your ideal mix of demand generation programs, I’m willing to bet that most of them are designed to bring prospects to your website in the hopes of later converting them to a paying customer. It doesn’t matter if your solution is hardware or software and it doesn’t matter if your sales model is zero touch or requires full-blown field sales reps. The path to prospect conversion surely passes through your website at least 90% of the time.
If you agree, then also realize that even a perfect mix of demand generation programs can be totally destroyed if your website doesn’t do an effective job of facilitating conversion. In this context I’m using the word “conversion” in a generic sense because for some companies that might mean the prospect downloads a free trial while for other companies it might mean filling out a contact request form. But in all cases, I’m referring to the final desired action a prospect could take from the website along their path to becoming a paid customer.
Market leaders almost never compare themselves to competitors publicly because it gives their competitors legitimacy and potentially shows nervousness about them. But what if you’re #2, #3 or worse in your market in terms of market share or some other important attribute? Is it OK to compare yourself publicly to the market leader? If so, how direct or inflammatory should you be? Let’s explore further.
Wow has the world of marketing changed with the introduction of social media, marketing automation and other digital capabilities. Not only is the way we “do” marketing different but the organizational structure and roles are different. Just a decade ago, mid-sized and larger companies organized their marketing department along the lines of advertising, PR, partner marketing and product marketing. Now we see Internet marketing, inbound marketing, social media marketing, content marketing and marketing automation functions. Is PR dead, by the way? (see related article titled “PR is Dead – Or Is It?”).
Business prospects are now accustomed to taking themselves through 60% of the sales journey (see related article titled “Prospects Take Themselves Through 60% of the Sales Journey“) but at some point they commonly need a legitimate interaction with the company. Videos are more personal and engaging than white papers and case studies and they are certainly are an important asset for customer acquisition. But what else can you do for those prospects that want more interaction than a video but less than a phone call. Invite them to a webinar (aka webcast).
Webinars are very easy to host using one of many online web services and invitations can be sent via email blast (you do have a database of prospect emails, right?) and promoted via social media (you do have a social media community, right?. The problem that is most commonly encountered is low attendance. Hosting the webinar involves mostly fixed costs, which means you will spend roughly the same whether you have 5 attendees or 105. Said a different way, your resulting cost per lead for each event is directly affected by the number of attendees you can gain.
Thanks to HubSpot for this valuable explanation of what co-marketing is and what some of the common forms are (article here). One of my blog categories is devoted to business development (BD). BD relationships can take on many different forms but often involve some form of co-marketing as part of the partnership. Startups and early stage companies often don’t have the budget, brand recognition and marketing capabilities of their new-found strategic alliance partners. In these cases, co-marketing can be one of the best value drivers of the relationship.
Here are some of my personal recommendations for optimizing co-marketing opportunities:
If you’ve seen my bio or LinkedIn profile, you’ll know I’ve served three stints as a CMO and roughly half of my professional career has been spent in a marketing role. But even with my admitted biases towards the marketing trade, I still must push on this one. I find a lot of startups that only want to initially load up on developers and maybe a couple of sales reps. But I contend that a marketing professional absolutely, positively should be one of your first 10 employees. You don’t need to start with a VP but you also shouldn’t cop out with a marketing intern or junior rookie with only 2 years of experience.
The PR industry that is focused on high tech has been going through a continual transformation since the early 2000’s when the Internet started taking center stage for publicity. I find a lot of startups concluding they don’t really need it since they can use social media channels instead. When they answer my questions about what they are using social media for, I usually tell them “that’s PR”. But there’s more to it than that. Let’s explore further.
Every company needs giveaway promo items but how much should you spend and on what type of items? It’s a real bummer to order 1,000 of something only to find out it didn’t have the effect you were thinking. Remember, just because you think something is cool or useful doesn’t mean everyone else will. These things are very individualistic and a lot of stuff gets thrown straight into the trash after you walk away. But one good thing about promotional items compared to printed material is they last forever, or I guess until you change your logo or tagline.
Thanks to some contributions from my long-time promo items rep from Standing Ovations, Don Nichols, below is a list of some things to think about when deciding which promo items you should carry.
The social media marketing team at CA Technologies put together a series of videos as internal training exercises for the global sales and marketing team. Then they posted it on YouTube for others to benefit from. They are fairly helpful for those trying to figure out how to get started with social media given the explosion of choices and uses.
- The Social Jungle: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JxyKMl71ryI (36 min)
- Twitter: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWU0PosizeU (38 min)
- LinkedIn: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JaG5QFL73I (28 min)
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I’ve written about how prospects take themselves through 60% of the sales journey (see related article titled “Prospects Take Themselves Through 60% of the Sales Journey“) and have challenged readers to make sure their website is enabling sales (see related article titled “Is Your Website Enabling Sales?”). For either of these concepts to be successful, the quality of your marketing content is key. Violating one or more fundamental quality rules could easily cause the prospect to disqualify you from their consideration list without you ever knowing why or having a chance to talk to them.
You’ll hear phrases like inbound marketing, digital marketing and Internet marketing used somewhat interchangeably. What is all this newfangled stuff? Prospects commonly take themselves through 60% or more of the sales journey (see related article titled “Prospects Take Themselves Through 60% of the Sales Journey“) and this “newfangled stuff” is what helps them find you and learn as much as needed about you.
Check out my other blog posts related to marketing here.
Customers of all types have an unbelievable amount of information with which to use to decide if they want to buy your product – and all without ever having to talk to your sales staff. In fact, their typical disdain for interacting with sales people is part of what drives this behavior. The other parts are efficiency (at least they assume it will be more efficient) and the opportunity to get more educated before making a decision. So what can you do about this phenomenon? Let’s explore.
Regardless of your sales model, your website should be the #1 asset when it comes to enabling sales. It is commonly reported that prospects these days take themselves through 60% or more of the sales journey on their own (see related article titled “Prospects Take Themselves Through 60% of the Sales Journey“). And this is for moderately complex offerings that require interaction with a sales person at some point. E-commerce offerings obviously allow prospects to go completely through the sales and fulfillment cycle on their own. But in either case, your website plays a critical role in optimizing sales.
Sales reps are fairly expensive resources on average and field sales reps are very expensive. If your website doesn’t give prospects the information they need to determine if your offering is a fit for their needs, they will either bail out and search elsewhere or if you’re lucky they will proactively reach out to you with questions. But that requires involvement from your expensive sales resources. Instead, make sure your website has the appropriate content, navigation and functionality to get these same prospects all the information they need for their investigation so they can naturally engage you in the next step of the process. This might mean requesting contact from a sales person but depending on your business model it could also mean clicking to download a free trial or buying via e-commerce.
I don’t know who came up with this analogy but I’d love to thank him/her because it’s a perfect way to think about your offering and its value proposition. Is it a vitamin? In other words, does it create an opportunity for some improvement? Or is it an aspirin? In other words, does it solve a problem?
Both might sound like beneficial offerings, and they are. But there’s actually a big difference when it comes to buyer behaviors. Imagine you have $2 to spend and, for some reason, you need to spend it today. Someone presents you with a vitamin and an aspirin and they each cost, you guessed it, $2. Which do you choose? Well, if you don’t have a headache or other body pain, then you’ll probably go for the vitamin because of its preventative health benefits. But if you have even a slight headache you’ll take the aspirin without even thinking about it. I know, you could substitute a cancer prevention pill for the vitamin and even someone with a headache might go for preventative medicine. But are you offering a cancer prevention pill?
The textbook definition of Half Life is “the time required for something to fall to half of its initial value. The term is mostly commonly associated with the behavior of atoms in a radioactive substance and how radioactive the substance is over periods of time. But I’d like to use it in connection with today’s social media marketing channel Twitter.
When you tweet about something, the message is sent at the speed of light to your list of followers wherever they are. If they happen to be logged into their Twitter account or some other Twitter reader, you have a decent chance they will see your tweet right away. But if they aren’t, then the more time that goes by and the larger the list of others they follow on Twitter, the lower the odds they will ever see your tweet. So this can leave you with a very short half-life on your tweets – maybe just minutes and commonly just hours. Keep that in mind when deciding which marketing channel(s) to use for your various news updates and campaigns. In fact, most marketing activities utilize multiple channels anyway (website, PR, Facebook page, blog, etc) – each with different half-life characteristics.
Some things that can enhance the half-life of your tweets:
It’s totally understandable that you will have some duplicated content on both your main website and your Facebook page. But please don’t have your Facebook page simply become a second website. Your Facebook page is for recruiting and developing a community of interested followers. It’s an opportunity for you to connect with them directly and for your followers to connect with each other. So make that its primary purpose both in layout, content and administered use. And cherish the relief from not having to always replicate your various website edits and content updates/additions onto your Facebook page.
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“The way you convey the material is great and the examples you give makes things clear.” (startup founder)
I have a lot of pet peeves with business development, having run the function for multiple companies. This one in particular relates to how, too often, a PR-related effort is disguised as business development (BD). An example might be a company that uses the BD team to get a mostly-meaningless MOU with another company just for the purpose of creating a press release that can be posted on the website. Or maybe your BD team got you into some meaningless partner program that cost $5K to play but you have no real intention of doing much with it. It’s not that the resulting press release has no value. But the effort should be recognized as a marketing effort or something you’re doing to facilitate fund raising. It’s just that your BD rep is the best one to deploy in order to secure the relationship compared to someone responsible for marketing. Let’s explore further.