BMA – Marketing Technology

Interesting event – though the topic was centered on marketing technology, the conversation ultimately started and ended with “people and process.”  :-)

The tools will fail without right skills and process

Technology roadmap starts with defining capabilities for the future; what capabilities are important for your business?

Excellent way to find a collection of capabilities is to look at the categories of martech chart.

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Company needs to define what capabilities it wants to achieve and what approach it plans to take: “Best of breed?” “Platform?”

There are a few platforms that probably have technology for any capabilities combination. If the company already using a particular platform, it is wise to check if needed capability is available as part of the platform before purchasing and integrating another tool.

Implementation is just the beginning

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Interesting: companies often setup an “Eloqua shop” in a low-cost location, from another side, advantages of maintaining high level of expertise in-house are also gaining recognition. Typically, company’s employees want leading-edge skills.  However, alignment and executive support are critical.

Don’t underestimate the cost of change

The most difficult is to decide which capabilities are important for the company.  The discussion should be not “should we bring this vendor today…?” but “do we want to develop this capability…?”

Book – The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future

book.pngVery thought-provoking book, which is trying to understand future based on current technological (and societal) changes.

One of the profound statements is that we, humans, will be endless newbies of our technology – everything is outdated before it can be mastered.

I was wondering, is it frustrating or liberating?  From one side, we will never have a chance to truly master our tools, from another side, the most important what we  will need to master is the definition of outcome.  The objective is not a superb PPT, but a communication of an idea; not using every feature of a new phone, but finding a way how the new device can make life (work? play?) better.  How?  It will change with every upgrade…

  1. Becoming: Moving from fixed products to always upgrading services and subscriptions
  2. Cognifying: Making everything much smarter using cheap powerful AI that we get from the cloud
  3. Flowing: Depending on unstoppable streams in real-time for everything
  4. Screening: Turning all surfaces into screens
  5. Accessing: Shifting society from one where we own assets, to one where instead we will have access to services at all times.
  6. Sharing: Collaboration at mass-scale. Kelly writes, “On my imaginary Sharing Meter Index we are still at 2 out of 10.”
  7. Filtering: Harnessing intense personalization in order to anticipate our desires
  8. Remixing: Unbundling existing products into their most primitive parts and then recombine in all possible ways
  9. Interacting: Immersing ourselves inside our computers to maximize their engagement
  10. Tracking: Employing total surveillance for the benefit of citizens and consumers
  11. Questioning: Promoting good questions are far more valuable than good answers
  12. Beginning: Constructing a planetary system connecting all humans and machines into a global matrix

Conveniently from Wikipedia

One of interesting concepts is “cognifying.”  The author compares the process with adding electricity to existing tools and processes years before.  Adding AI to known tasks to make them more effective and efficient will propel many future startups to business success.

“You will be paid in the future based on how well you work with robots.”

This point makes complete sense.  However..  humanity still has not figured out how to work well with fellow humans:-)

Interesting example – Baxter Robot.  This robot is created to work well with humans and to be trained rather than programmed.  Baxter is more understandable for humans, and designed to sense humans in its surrounding and not to harm them. Baxter is not as a high-precision performer as specialized industrial robots, but it is relatively inexpensive and very flexible.   Would Baxter be our future colleague in decades to come?  For some people it is already a reality.:-)

BMA – Innovation Day @ Adobe

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“Vision without execution is hallucination”

Adobe realized that many profitable inventions came from determined employees who persisted despite management.

innovator.pngThe biggest mistake a company can make is not poorly executing a new product idea, but executing a wrong product idea.  How to assure that more product ideas are right?  Invest into an innovation process within the company; create a program to generate innovators, rather than innovations.

Kickbox program:

  • does not attempt to change the organization
  • teaches the organization how to use initiative
  • explains that “you may not get fired” while pursuing innovation:-)

The approach assumes that established organizations most likely won’t support innovation.  As a result; a specific approach to “corporate innovation” need to be designed.

Adobe VP of Creativity was not initially successful in encouraging innovation, then, he received a recommendation to think about company’s innovation system as a product (as he was very successful in creating and bringing successful products to the market).  Interesting, this approach is very consistent with “thinking in new boxes” concept.

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Kickbox program:

  • The program starts with 2-day workshop, which everybody in the organization can attend.  The company is looking for outliers, and expects 1 hit product for 1000 kickboxes.
  • The red kickbox includes instruction on innovation process and prepaid $1,000 credit card.  The money planned to be used to test the idea with the potential customers before even telling management about the idea.
  • Why not give employees 10% time, etc. to pursue innovation?   The main objective of the program is to teach employees how to innovate, how to navigate corporate environment and how to “sell” the idea to management and recruit coworkers to help on initial stages of the project.
  • There are no reviews or follow up: “…people are bold and crazy when we are not looking…”  This program is highest rated employee training program.
  • Next step is a blue box, given by a real manager in the organization who is willing to fund the next level of testing.

Adobe open-sourced the program, which is now translated into many different languages.

Ah – I wish this program was available 15 years ago…  As most of my career was built “under the table” in a variety of large organizations.  I understand the benefit of learning how to sell projects to coworkers and management very well😉

Content Marketing

Content marketing approach can switch from “thinly veiled sales materials” that are highly branded to lightly branded materials.  It requires a change of thinking like a marketer to thinking like a publisher (thinking how to give people something worth subscribing to).

Speaker recommended a spectacular keynote by Andrew Davis.

If you are a marketer who is doubting the benefit of a newsletter (and its lead generating capability), you will love ideas and arguments in the presentation!

Andrew gives three recommendations for content marketers:

  • discover your niche
  • exploit content holes
  • make an appointment with your audience

Andrew also emphasizes the difference between “branded content” and “content brand.”

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Six Flags – VR Rollercoaster

 

Six Flags was the first company to use VR in parks.  The additional equipment slowed the lines to the rides (insignificantly) and additional cleaning service needed to be added (as head sets are cleaned after each use.

Interesting: it is possible to try Samsung VR sets in Samsung stores without purchasing.  As the technology is new, Six Flags rides help popularizing the experience and technology.

negroni.pngCompari – success with an approach not used in the industry

Compari, an established brand of alcoholic beverage wanted to expand its customer base.  As an organization had limited marketing budgets, marketers used charitable donations as an approach to increase brand awareness.

Compari is a part of a drink popular among bartenders, which allows creativity in the process of creation of the drink – Negroni. The company sponsors “Negroni week,” during which time bartenders can select a charity of their choice, and Compari will donate portion of proceeds from Compari sales into that charity.  As bartenders are very involved in the community, they are free to select the charity dear to their customers’ hearts and promote Negroni week in their bar.

Charitable approach has been used successfully by other brands (shoes – Toms, and eyeglasses – Warby Parker), but have not been tried in the alcoholic beverages industry before Compari’s campaign.

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Adobe Content marketing fact:

Individuals consuming evergreen content generated by company’s subject matter experts are 178% more likely to convert.  

Also, employee’s using social media seem to be more effective in promoting company’s content than the company itself.

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Wow…

BMA – Becoming a Better B2B Brand

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“if you are not a brand, you are a commodity.”  Interesting – most of the top valued b-to-b brands in Forbes 2016 list are technology companies.  Top three brands overall, consumer brands, are also technology companies.  Could it be that brand make the most difference in technology?  From another side, Apple is a technology that might qualify for fashion😉

Interesting – discussion during the event generally suggested that for a startup the product is a brand until probably $100 million in revenue.  Small organizations can take more risk around their brand and experiment.

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Fantastic example of b-to-b brand promotion – a very niche product, precision driving technology for large tracks. is promoted by a fascinating video.

Even more interesting, the explanation how the promotion was made is as fascinating as the promotion itself:-)  The “complete story” or a commercial for a b-to-b product…  has over a million views!

I am also lucky to work for a company that aligns its futuristic brand… with the future itself in a very interesting way, by partnership with the latest Star Trek Movie.

Who knew b-to-b marketing can be so much fun:-)

BMA – Business-to-Business Marketing Conference

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The main thread connecting presentations and research discussed during the conference was, maybe not surprisingly, business value.

We need to be business leaders with marketing expertise.  This is what senior leadership is expecting from us.

If we are serious about growth, we need to use business verbiage.  Get insights!  “Wow, we got so many data points!” is not useful for business.

Business aspect of marketing is gaining more attention in industry surveys, including BMA survey and also recent Forrester research The Evolved CMO 2016.

Importance to communicate in business terms, evaluate program benefits in business metrics, and concentrate on business growth in general was highlighted by Juniper, Hallmark, and other presenters of the conference.

BMA survey indicates that marketers in growing companies work more closely with other business functions.  Higher revenue companies are also more likely to see marketing as a competitive advantage.

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This data corresponds with Forrester research:

After years of aspiring to be treated as more than functional experts, CMOs are finally proving their business chops. They are moving beyond brand, communications, and marketing execution to better quantify the impact of marketing’s work in business terms. Tasked with delivering against profit-and-loss metrics, our survey results show that CMOs are increasingly partnering with their peers to drive business and brand results.

Juniper: marketing shifted its mind to have clear ROI goal (10x for each campaign) and was able to exceed it, what allowed marketing function to be considered as a strategic player at the executive level.

STIR LLC Asenzya case study: “You have to bring it back to ROI.”

Hallmark: started an idea as a pilot with a “minimal viable product” brutally prioritized to bare-bones to demonstrate business benefit.

Interesting: in the startup world of Silicon Valley, CMO is becoming Chief Revenue Officer with the success metrics of SQLs rather than MQLs.

Another curious trend: many CEO wants to see more detailed metrics (insights), though not a “data dump in Excel,” as “51% increase” without a context is not useful.

Juniper

Several years ago marketing was concentrating on brand and events. Now marketing has strategic seat at the CEO table and reports ROI.

Interesting: Matt Hurley pointed out that “what” to measure is important for metrics-driven organization.  What not to measure is the most important, as “data is everywhere.”

Juniper used 5 step process in its transformation.

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2014 was the first year when everything could be tracked to a specific campaign and calculation of ROI became possible.

Juniper-2.pngWeb is now all about demand generation.

Organizational transformation combined 5 independent departments into one.  Marketing also invested into marketing automation and moved to Cloud. The changes resulted in mismatch of skills in the organization.  Juniper used both hiring from outside and internal training; eventually, company formed global demand center.

Juniper-3.pngBefore considering any campaign Juniper asks: “Do we have a story that connects to the customer? Can we link the results to the campaign?  Can we get 10x ROI?”
Any asset created is placed into its best customer journey spot.

As Juniper works with partners, it also provides partners with an easy way to run their own campaigns and measures use of the tools.

ZenDesk

Interesting: ZenDesk combines planned strategic moves with an entrepreneurial opportunism.  The company is executing its plan to move to the enterprise customers from its traditional SMB market, but it is ready to pivot into a profitable direction.

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ZenDesk did not plan to move to government area, but an opportunity presented itself.  A concern related to Net Neutrality sparked public call to send letters to FCC.  Many people did contact FCC and complained, what created a need to manage these complaints. FCC chose ZenDesk as the organization needed an easy to use solution fast.

Relate.pngZenDesk evaluates every opportunity as a one-off or as a discovery of a new target market. Company adjusts it targets, but stays very focused.

Differences between SMB and Enterprise: typical SMB process goes though finding ZenDesk via search, starting trial, and converting to a paying customer; enterprise customers need to research the solution first, typically already have something in place, and might want “whitepapers to download” and can use additional encouragement from sales organization.

Current website is targeted to SMB, though the company has a page for enterprise (which I did not find).

Successful enterprise customer: a person with a desire for change:-)

Interesting: ZenDesk created a content resource Relate about customer support and engaging with customers in general.  Related does not have any company-related calls to actions.  I am not quite clear how it can be connected to business benefit (visit history? retargeting?)

STIR LLC – Asenzya Case Study

Integrated Inbound Marketing.  “You have to bring it back to ROI.”

A new management wanted to reinvigorate a small business – an established producer of food seasonings.  Inbound marketing has been integrated with everything else.

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Strategic approach (ROI), narrow targeting.  The agency used “staged web site launch due to limited resources.”  The site includes whitepaper download… Beer Whitepaper 😉  and series of campaigns leading to whitepaper download.

Asenzya.pngIntegrated inbound: “Every word you publish should take keyword strategy into consideration.”  PR is an excellent component for integrated inbound approach.

Asenzya promise to its target audience: “work with us, we will make you more successful.”

Hallmark

Hallmark created a new product allowing call-center customer-facing employees to send personal cards to customers through a very simple process.

Interesting: the program has not been initially approved by the corporate decision makers, what encouraged local division to conduct a pilot with a carefully selected partner to demonstrate business benefit of the new offering.

To do that, the organization had to prioritize a “minimally viable products,” and remove any electronic cards from the pilot.  The idea of a “Pilot” in itself helped with adoption of the approach later.

Recommendations:

  • always start with a pilot and expand it later
  • find a passionate partner for your pilot

People are still interested in human connection. Millenials survey: if you had a problem, would you want to connect with the company on social media or talk with an individual?  99% would prefer talking with an individual

Customer Care Solutions – Hallmark 1:1 contact.

86% of customers who received cards gave the company highest ranking possible (utility company). 

Excellent conference!  Yes, marketers do need to be business people with marketing expertise.

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Book – Platform Revolution

platform-revolution.pngPlatform Revolution book gives an excellent analysis of the Platform as a new business model and its influence on other businesses and society in general.

Platforms, in general, “eat pipelines” – traditional organization of the business, where a product is designed, created, and later offered to the consumer.  Platforms are not limited by the constraints of creating or owning physical goods, what allows exponential growth of the business.  Platforms exist to facilitate an exchange of “value units” by providing the place for the exchange.

Value unit –  The most basic item of value that may be exchanged by users on a platform—for example, a photo on Instagram, a video on YouTube, a craft product on Etsy, or a freelance project on Upwork. When a value unit is spreadable, it can be easily distributed by users both on and off the platform, thereby helping to fuel viral growth.

Comparing to pipelines, networks have “chicken and an egg” problem – attracting consumers and producers to the network.  Network can generate value only when both parties joined the network in comparable proportion.  Platform needs to resolve curation issue to keep productive balance.  (Examples: Quora started with staff asking questions and curating conversations, what later moved to algorithm/community curation.  Dating platforms trying to attract women (men will come if women are there), and carefully match profiles to assure that the most attractive women do not receive too many unsuitable requests and leave).

Networks need to manage 4 types of relationships:

  • Consumer to Consumer
  • Producer to Producer
  • Consumer to Produces
  • Producer to Consumer

Network effects can be positive and negative.  Positive (typical understanding of network effect – the more participants are involved into the network, the more value for each participant).  Negative network effects can be an excessive possibility of an undesirable interaction  – in the example of dating networks,  too many poorly matched inquiries resulting in too high rejection rate.

Platforms would not be subject to classic Porter competitive forces approach.

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As buyers and suppliers become platform participants, a coopetition  is a likely outcome.

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However, network owners need to assure that producers do not create platform extensions limiting innovation of other producers.  Platform owners also try to prevent “multihoming” to discourage simultaneous use of competing platforms.

Multihoming – The phenomenon of users engaging in similar types of interaction on more than one platform. A freelance professional who presents his credentials on two or more service marketing platforms, a music fan who downloads, stores, and shares tunes on more than one music site, and a driver who solicits rides through both Uber and Lyft all illustrate the phenomenon of multihoming. Platform businesses seek to discourage multihoming, since it facilitates switching—the abandonment by users of one platform in favor of another.

Interesting – authors suggest that in platform business marketing needs to be baked into the product.  Traditional pipelines could create a product completely independently from marketing.  It makes sense, but wouldn’t any product benefit from “baked-in marketing?”  ;-)

Book – Essentialism

esentialismOne of the curious discoveries I made while listening to the book was that “companies are people too” in their tendency to lack focus.

Straddling – keeping existing strategy intact while trying simultaneously adopt a strategy of a competitor.  This position is not sustainable as there is no trade off with other positions. Trade off represents an opportunity.

Example: a traditional airline is trying to copy discounter airline approach for a specific market without changing its operational cost structure.  The approach did not work, as the efficiency of a discounter airline was based on optimization of the entire operation. 

Interesting concept: similarly to “Minimal Viable Product,” any initiative can have a “Minimal Viable Progress.”

From the perspective of leadership, the author recommends leading a team on a principle of “less but better,” bringing right people through hiring process even if it takes longer, and clarifying roles in a team.

Ha!  I think I am somewhat close to the underlining principles:-)    Though there is always a room for improvement.