Book – Measure What Matters

Most people understand the need for objectives and some measurement of success. However, many of us experienced goal-setting exercises in a variety of companies, which, sometimes, made goals even more difficult to understand after they were set.

The book, and a companion site with useful and concise resources, give an excellent guidance on organizational goal setting and measurement of success.

I loved the idea of understandable goals, which could be distilled to the short list hanging in the company’s bathroom. The inspirational stories in the book were encouraging and uplifting; if a tiny startup can use the approach to clarify its direction, everybody can. And – based on the experience of other companies – the process is challenging enough and may not be done right from the first attempt. This is OK. This might be the first objective 🙂

Some simple tests to see if your OKRs are good:
— If you wrote them down in five minutes, they probably aren’t good. Think.
— If your objective doesn’t fit on one line, it probably isn’t crisp enough.
— If your KRs are expressed in team-internal terms (“Launch Foo 4.1”), they probably aren’t good. What matters isn’t the launch, but its impact. Why is Foo 4.1 important? Better: “Launch Foo 4.1 to improve sign-ups by 25 percent.” Or simply: “Improve sign-ups by 25 percent.”
— Use real dates. If every key result happens on the last day of the quarter, you likely don’t have a real plan.
— Make sure your key results are measurable: It must be possible to objectively assign a grade at the end of the quarter. “Improve sign-ups” isn’t a good key result. Better: “Improve daily sign-ups by 25 percent by May 1.”
— Make sure the metrics are unambiguous. If you say “1 million users,” is that all-time users or seven-day actives?
— If there are important activities on your team (or a significant fraction of its effort) that aren’t covered by
OKRs, add more.
— For larger groups, make OKRs hierarchical—have high level ones for the entire team, more detailed ones for subteams. Make sure that the “horizontal” OKRs (projects that need multiple teams to contribute) have supporting key results in each subteam.

OKRs and KPIs

OKRs have a soul and directionality to them. Your objective is what you want to accomplish. Your key results are how you get there. Since KPIs are measures, they make great key results. For example, a museum collects data on the number of visitors and number of donors and those serve as some of its KPIs. This museum in particular has an objective to: make the museum more relevant to the community. A good pair of key results would be: grow number of monthly visitors from the local area 30% by next quarter and host 2 community events focused on attracting local donors. Both KRs happen to incorporate the museum’s KPIs.

There is no competition, KPIs and OKRs complement each other. They both have their place in a wellfunctioning organization.

SiriusDecisions – Demand Creation Planning

SiriusDecisions is passionately helping marketers to prepare for 2019 with a few materials some of us find absolutely irresistible.

Marketers sometimes confuse programs with delivery mechanisms. A website or a content syndication effort are examples of delivery mechanisms, which support marketing programs. Delivery mechanisms include digital and non-digital channels (events, DM, etc.). I guess as we observe specialization of the marketing function, we also see a “merge” of digital and traditional delivery mechanisms into each demand-related family.

Interesting: as field marketing specializations persist, the definition of “what each function does” clarifies. Demand Marketing is probably no longer expects to evolve into ABM, but the definition of “Defined Demand Marketing” is definitely evolving. Some companies are starting to separate the roles, but may not yet fully separate the accounts.

SiriusDecisions recommend approaching marketing technologies selection from the perspective of business needs, rather than a specific task. Many technologies have overlapping capabilities, and business objectives consideration could help companies to find the best tool for the task and future needs.

Sample campaign performance report

Webinars, Webinars…

On24 runs a wonderful series of webinars on… how to run webinars. The insight is very useful and typically comes from companies, which are advanced webinar users (and religiously measure the success of their efforts).

How Ericsson is Growing Global Engagement Through Digital Events

  • Ericsson runs over 150 webinars a year; the number of webinars grows about 25% every year
  • Every campaign has a webinar component
  • Ericsson has webinar series specifically for analysts
  • Every physical event has a digital component
    • Challenge is packaging the event materials to be easily digested online
    • Many customers who attend physical events share video recording with colleagues (easiest way to share)
    • Physical events can be also used to prepare a “package” for a certain customer (ABM)
  • Video gets more engagement (no video needed if it is “just me talking,” the video is used when a piece of equipment, etc. could be demonstrated.
    • Ericsson partnered with a video production company
  • Webinars released just on-demand get slightly less attendance; attendees typically would like to ask questions
  • ABM: production webinars dedicated to specific accounts
    • Plan to expend this practice to additional accounts
    • 80% educational, 20% sales
    • Typically producing the webinar together with the customer
      • The customer sends invitations
      • Only employees of the target company can attend
    • This type of webinars get the most engagement
  • The best option for increased engagement: have 2 people to present as a dialog. This approach is less formal and usually preferred by the audience
  • Recommendation to experiment constantly around webinar content and delivery

Lessons from 1,000 webinars – Informa

Informa runs over 1,000 webinars a year in a very organized program (outgrew Excel as a program management tool).

  • 6 – 8 weeks cycle
  • Webinar registrations:
    • Majority of webinar registrants are coming from email
    • On24 promotes registration for the next webinar during the live event
    • On24 successfully tried LinkedIn for webinar registrations (less than $40 per registrant)
  • Case studies are a popular content type (strong registration)
  • Informa is seeing growth in a discussion-based webinars
  • Polls tip: if you can do a poll, where the audience will most likely answer a question in a certain way, and later in your presentation, you could show that this approach is wrong, it is a very powerful tool
  • Twitting during the live webinar brings additional registrants
  • Pre-recorded webinar:
    • polling is not possible
    • but a good option for multiple presenters with busy schedules
  • Webinar engagement correlates with a higher lead acceptance by sales (On24 data)

Expanding webinar program globally – Invidia

  • Nail down your process before global expansion
    • centralized calendar
    • process with clear timelines
    • central location with support materials
    • Templetize… everything!
    • Perfect the process and then share with regions
  • Regional events might require an additional week of preparation (translations, etc.)
  • Train one regional group at a time, and move to the next group when the first one is comfortable
  • Internal newsletter “Webinar Wednesday” – bi-weekly communication sent to the group of people interested in webinars in addition to Slack channel update
    • webinar best practices
    • tool changes
    • program update

How SFDC uses webinars

  • Why webinars are successful:
    • People are more comfortable providing their information in exchange for attending a webinar (information is valuable and they are accustomed to “register” for events)
    • Sales are more likely to follow up on webinar leads than some other type of leads (webinar attendees spent time listening to the company’s content)
  • SFDC uses a Webinar Brief, which is required 5-6 weeks in advance but promotes webinars only about 15 days in advance
  • Master webinar calendar is shared through the entire organization
  • Speakers are encouraged to promote webinars to their contacts
  • Sales are encouraged to promote webinars (marketing and sales promotional emails are used)

Book – This is Marketing

seth.pngSeth Godin summarizes many known (and loved) marketing concepts in his new book.  It is difficult to say which one of his books is my favorite, and a couple of books might be needed to make sure a new idea is firmly planted in my understanding.

The latest illustration of frequency concept is very vivid: don’t change your ads when you are tired of them, don’t change your ads when your coworkers are tired of them, don’t change your ads when your friends are tired of them, change your ads when your accountant is tired of them.

The most interesting (and new for me) idea in the book is Minimum Viable Market or a minimum viable audience. As Minimum Viable Product is a well-known concept, Minimum Viable Market should probably be considered at the same time.

Stake out the smallest market you can imagine. The smallest market that can sustain you, the smallest market you can adequately serve. This goes against everything you learned in capitalism school, but in fact, it’s the simplest way to matter.

When you have your eyes firmly focused on the minimum viable audience, you will double down on all the changes you seek to make. Your quality, your story and your impact will all get better.

And then, ironically enough, the word will spread.

ANA – Breaking through with your CFO

event.pngWhile trying to connect with sales and negotiating with IT, marketers also need to convince a CFO that the dream initiative makes sense.  Based on the conversation at the last ANA Business Marketing event, the interest from finance is increasing.  Anecdotally, a financial representative is more likely to be present on a QBR an agency presents to the company this year compared to previous years.  Depending on the company size, it might be a CFO or another representative from Finance.  The question is the same: marketers need to present the case to the financial function of the company, and this function becomes more and more involved.

One of the first recommendations is actually “connecting” with the CFO, scheduling regular meetings, and learning CFO’s understanding (or misunderstanding) of marketing.  The conversation during the event suggested that this misunderstanding might be unexpected, and needs to be clarified first.

SiriusDecisions addressed a similar topic in its Think Like a CFO to Prove the Impact of Customer Engagement webcast.  During this presentation, a SiriusDecisions CFO explained marketers “how to speak his language,” and also gave a few very practical tips for justifying customer engagement initiatives.

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Data is important for CFOs; smaller organizations, which may not have access to data science resources, could reduce the cost of the analysis by partnering with local universities.

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SiriusDecision webcast is an excellent example of a framework to use and a case study presented by the CFO himself 🙂

Book – The DevOps Handbook

devops.pngTrying to understand better the concept of DevOps, I picked up the DevOps Handbook with the hope that my marketing curiosity would not be lost in a very technical text.  I was lucky.  The book is technical enough to keep the concepts real, but the main idea is communicated very clearly for a non-technical reader (or, in my case, listener).

DevOps is not a passing fad; it is a new way of thinking about software development, which is beneficial for companies’ bottom line and also personal lives of their employees.  DevOps is closer related to “process” than “code,” but anything touching the code needs to fit seamlessly into the process.

The book explains “shift left” known in the cybersecurity industry, which incorporates security earlier in the development cycle to speed up the creation of applications with “built-in” security thinking.

The book helps a marketer to appreciate the complexity and challenges of his target audience, and, hopefully, understand this audience a little better.

Book – HBR’s 10 Must-Reads 2019

hbr.pngHBR’s 10 Must-Reads seem to be part of holidays; it is thoughtful and entertaining.  The book format encourages to read not only articles which catch attention but also ones that seem less interesting and could be skipped on the website.  Very often, those “less interesting” articles happen to be the most insightful.

This year a couple of unexpected articles were particularly eye-opening (from my perspective 🙂 ).

Artificial Intelligence for the Real World puts in perspective the excitement generated around AI.  AI might be debated and discussed, but the practical applications may not yet be defined, or practical enough, or rather limited (based on my observation).  From another side, futurists are expecting AI to make a business impact somewhat similar to electricity.  As at one point of human history many known products became “electric,” many know products and processes are expected to become “smart” in the near future.  The article shows a practical route to the future “smart” world.

The Problem

Cognitive tecnologies are increasingly being used to solve business proglems, but many of the most ambitious AI projects encounter setbacks or fail.

The Approach

Companies should take an incremental rather than a transformative approach and focus on augmenting rather than replacing human capabilities.

Three types of AI:

  • Robotics process automation
    • “RPA is more advanced than earlier business-process automation tools, because the “robots” (that is, code on a server) act like a human inputting and consuming information from multiple IT systems.”
  • Cognitive insight
    • “This type of projects uses algorithms to detect patterns in vast volumes of data and interpret their meaning.”
  • Cognitive engagement
    • “Projects that engage employees and customers using natural language processing chatbots, intelligent agents, and machine learning.”

Interesting: based on the article, we are more likely to get an AI help in doing our jobs rather than to be replaced by AI, which is “smart enough” to do our jobs completely.

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Why Do We Undervalue Competent Management?  explains the value of competent management for the organization and difficulties of copying this seemingly obvious approach.

Interesting: managers overestimate the quality of management in their companies.

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Quality of management also varies across – and within – countries.  Below image represents US (blue) in comparison to worldwide (grey).

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Wouldn’t it be nice to work for a company located on the right side of the chart?  🙂