ANA – Marketing Leadership for the Driverless World


Why marketing?  Shouldn’t “driverless car” live in a technology universe?  If “driverless car” is left in the technology domain, it may never roll into the human world in its most helpful (and profitable) form. Marketers should shift the focus from the tech to the customer, and define business models of the future.

Do we need to buy a “driverless car?”  Maybe not…  Maybe the “car” is not necessary, and the concept of “mobility” eliminates (or includes) the concept of a “car?”

If we have a driverless vehicle for a limited use, what would be the ideal customer, who can instantly appreciate its benefit?  Driverless cars were tested in retirement communities.  “Mobility” opened new opportunities for residents to visit places, which were not accessible before.  The demand always existed, and now the technology offered a very valuable service.

The most interesting concept, from my perspective, is the question Sudha asked about the “Driverless World:” OK, the mobility can be available, but which business would want to pay for it?  Maybe, a shopping center?  These experiments are already underway…

The session took the audience on a wonderful trip into the future; the future of business.

ANA – Integrating AI/Machine Learning/Predictive Technologies into your Marketing Stack

Ah, marketers’ infatuation with AI!  But…  who can blame us when the same obsession can be observed in almost every industry and corner of the business world.  Though, all of us are still trying to figure out how to make it work – for our business.

Kevin Liu, Director of Marketing Operations at MongoDB, shared his experience with a couple of interesting (and now well-known) tools.

Kevin uses Lattice to improve lead scoring, which was previously set up in Eloqua in a traditional way.  Conversion increased dramatically after the switch.

MongoDB recreates scoring models every 6 to 12 months and employes several models: regional and market-specific.  A wonderful aspect of Lattice – no charge per scoring model, which allows flexibility and experimentation.


Kevin also uses Conversica, which is loved by reps!

An interesting aspect: MongoDB uses Conversica to manage the lead volume.  Depending on the workload of the SDR team, Conversica gets either more or less leads.

Webinar and White Paper leads are typically channeled to Conversica, as the leads are not as active, and few sales reps have the patience to go through all 8-touch process with this type of leads.  Conversica is happy to help!

Book – The Age of Agile

book.PNGI picked up the book thinking the volume will answer my doubts about common implementations of the agile process…  (Are waterfall stages called “sprints” really “agile”?)  The book answered a more fundamental question: what is an agile mindset?  No, it is not the form, or name, or roles, or meeting types.  It is a collection of small groups solving a puzzle of delighting the customer – one completed project at a time.

The book is trying to tackle a critical challenge: how a company should be organized in a modern environment?  The company needs to succeed in the VUKA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world; what gives the organization the best chance?

The challenge businesses face would not decrease, but is expected to accelerate with time.

rate of reture.PNG

Steven Danning suggests that a new management approach – agile – is the only known answer management should consider.  Even if the approach came from management-suspicious IT, it places the customer in the center and arms teams closest to the customer with the power to find and solve customer’s problems.  The approach works in tiny startups and large multinational corporations if it is supported by the organizational leadership and culture.

Interesting: it is not unusual for an organization starting its agile journey to struggle with “done” concept.   The project is “done,” when it is fully functional, can be used by the customer, and not a completed stage of a much larger undertaking.

Remarkably, the agile approach is good for customers (as the customer in the center), good for the employee engagement (as employees have the authority to solve customer problems and see the fruits of their work), and also good for employees as people (no “emergencies” devouring evenings and weekends).  And – this approach also makes (and keeps) the organization profitable.

The names of the teams,  meetings, and tasks can be anything we want 🙂


ANA – Closed-Loop Customer Discovery

We may not think too much about the concept of an industry survey.  We might think more about an incentive to encourage a customer or a prospect to share with a marketer his infinite wisdom in the area where the marketer should know everything.  Somehow, the most important insight tend to escape the marketer, and, if found, is valuable to other potential customers.  Though we may not think holistically (or even long enough?) about an industry survey unless we are lucky to stop by a marketing event, hear interesting ideas, and start asking questions…

Closed-Loop Customer Discovery: Converges Demand Gen, Market Research & Thought Leadership


Another typical marketing approach: a survey might be intriguing for a person who is filling it out because he will get the aggregated report with answers of his colleagues and competitors.  Aha – this is a great opportunity to satisfy natural curiosity and…  generate some materials for marketer’s next demand gen program…  and never share with the product organization.

Closed-Loop Customer Discovery Center is based on understanding customer pain points, providing an assessment with a response immediately valuable for the responder.  This “evolved” assessment can be valuable for the responder again when he reaches the next milestone in his organization’s business journey.  This thought process not only satisfies prospect’s immediate interest and generates materials for the next thought leadership masterpiece, but also contributes to product ideas and gives sales insight.

Results can be rather remarkable.


SAP example of Analytics STrategy Assessment and the link to take the assessment.

book.pngThe cooperation and coordination between all involved groups are critical for the project.  The questions must be found on the intersection of customer pain points and the company’s product; the answers should provide value for the person who filled out the survey…  potentially, multiple times.

More information can be found in Adrian’s book, The 24-Hour Customer: New Rules for Winning in a Time-Starved, Always-Connected Economy, which is now on my reading list 🙂

Excellent event!


ANA – Building Your ABM Marketing-to-Sales Playbook

laurie.pngThis was one of the most practical events I can remember.   My colleagues in the audience were as impressed and took notes 🙂

Laurie Beasley gave us an overview of a “Meeting Maker” campaign, several versions marketers can consider, and shared nuances of the “craft.”

The audience debated (sometimes passionately) typical assumptions, which may change with time.

Some of the most curious discussion points:

Young people do not open direct mail!  Yes, they do…  15 – 35 years old is the most attentive audience.

“Stick DM into a box…  the more it looks like an Amazon box… the better!

Phone touch is the most productive.

Trend – Marketing is reporting to sales.  Cisco just hired a person on top of CMO to be the head of marketing and sales.

Brief for the campaign…  sometimes not very useful if filled out by marketing.  Sales information is much more useful.  Tip – start from sales and validate with marketing.

Premium use: are you worrying that people respond because they just want the premium?  No need to worry (based on experience).

Best performing gift in Asia – crystal wine glasses (selling software).

Cost per demo: $1K – $2K

If your offer cannot be communicated in 10 words – scrap it.

Campaigns that do not run well are run by inside sales.  If needed, pick just a rep or two.

Even if we do not believe that anybody is answering their phones…  average response rate on tele-prospecting is going up!





Excellent presentation!

Book – Blue Ocean Shift


Excellent book!  As the Blue Ocean Strategy volume before it, the book is full of interesting examples.  This book also describes the process a company can use to shift its business to a “blue ocean” of customer value and reduced competition.

Blue Ocean Shift is possible in a variety of business areas (b-to-b and b-to-c), nonprofits, and even government institutions.


Examples of Blue Ocean Shift in different industries:

Citizen M hotel: a hotel targeted to a specific segment of travelers with a unique balance of services and price to delight its customers.






actifry.PNGActifry: how to create a better fryer?  Frying requires oil and customers perceived fried products as unhealthy; plus the danger of hot oil and oil disposal. Actifry created a new market and held market leadership thanks to timely secured patents.

maestro.pngMaestro for the masses: expansion of classical music to a new audience (people who normally do not listen to classical music); inclusion more accessible pieces into concerts and moving concerts to stadiums, which can accommodate a larger audience.

Malaysia‘s Community Rehabilitation Program: the program reduced the cost of isolating petty criminals (re-purposed unused military bases), isolated petty criminals from hardened criminals, and transferred the program to the rehabilitation objective rather than incarceration.  The prisoners had more contact with their families, learned marketable skills, and earned money during their incarceration.  The recidivism rate is a fraction of a “typical” prison system while costs are lower.

Excellent book!

Book – The Culture Code


This is one of the best books about the organizational culture I enjoyed.  Fascinating stories and useful examples expand the topic into a world of human nature.

The book starts with a “marshmallow challenge” highlighting the success of kindergarteners compared to business students and CEOs.  “Kindergartners succeed not because they are smarter, but because they work in a smarter way.”  Business students are engaged in status management, what distracts their attention from the task.

Culture is a set of living relationships working towards a shared goal. It’s not something you are. It’s something you do.”

The doing of culture is synthesized in three critical skills.

  1. Build safety—“explores how signals of connection generate bonds of belonging and identity.”
  2. Share vulnerability—“explains how habits of mutual risk drive trusting cooperation.”
  3. Establish purpose—“tells how narratives create shared goals and values.”
New York Journal of Books

The book includes many examples of experiments and successful/unsuccessful cultures.

  • In a rainy day, a stranger is asking a person to borrow his/her cell phone.  If the stranger starts with “I am so sorry about the rain…” the probability to receive the phone increases over 400%.  The phrase suggests that it is a safe place to connect.
  • A call center (one of “the best companies to work for” in India) wanted to increase retention. A group of new employees received an additional hour of onboarding where they could connect with the company as individuals.  Employees in this group also received a sweatshirt not only with the company logo, but also with the employee name next to the logo.  This group was less likely to leave the company months after the onboarding they could not always recall.
  • Another call center hoped to increase productivity.  The group of employees was contacting university alumni and asking for donations.  The typical rejection rate was over 90%; the work was tedious.  The productivity increased (in the number of calls completed and $$ collected) after the employees heard from the students who benefited from their efforts.  The experiment started with a letter from a student describing how the scholarship changed his life and proceeded with 5 minutes meetings with other students, who received the scholarship.
  • Two different types of objectives require different approaches: a culture built for efficiency and a culture built for creativity.
    • Efficiency (restaurant) implies a clear set of “rules of thumb,” where each person knows what the correct “answer” is, and each person empowered to take needed actions.
    • Creativity (Disney, Pixar) requires a collaborative organization, which encourages to “create something new” and assumes multiple iterations of the process.  (Disney studio has been reorganized to achieve better results with the same employees, who discovered that their rules of engagement changed.)

Team performance is driven by 5 measurable factors:

  1. Everyone in the group talks and listens in a roughly equal measure, keeping contributions short
  2. Members maintain a high level of eye-contact and their conversations and gestures are energetic
  3. Members communicate directly to one another, not just with the team leader
  4. Members carry on back-channel or side conversations within the team
  5. Members periodically break, go explore outside the team and bring information back to share with the others