BMA Conference – Marketing Transformation

post.pngIs b-to-b marketing moving to post modern era?


  • pre modern: magic, superstition
  • modern: industrial revolution, constant change in the pursuit of progress
  • post modern: all logic is confining… constant change is status quo


  • pre modern: magical, great leaps of faith
  • modern: scientific, constant change in pursuit of progress; technology and analytics
  • post modern: rejection of Spock’s logic and earning for Kirk’s passion; Spock + Kirk, or Mad man + Mad Scientist


The result is “post modern magic” – a combination of emotions and measurement.

Examples of the approach – “a field trip to Mars” – a new technology is presented in a very inspiring way, in a very “human” application, easy to understand and connect.

Another example “be the bean” – demonstration of food processing equipment from “the point of view” of a bean in full-blown virtual reality experience.  The effort generated 50% of the demand gen goal.

Advertising Age described the campaign in more details.

“From a visual standpoint, this is so radically different from anything in the market, in the competitive set and at Pack Expo,” Mr. Ruby said. “They gave us permission to let this be awesome. We were allowed to be proud and go bold.”

Ms. Funk added, “Our industry tends to be very conservative and not highly creative when it comes to marketing. In the trade pubs, the ads are kind of catalog-like — a lot of stainless steel equipment and pictures of food processed in that equipment. We really wanted to step outside the box with this campaign.”

Next presentation continued the topic of brands capitalizing on human needs and connecting these needs to brand’s positioning.

Norton (digital security) – RFID-Blocking Jeans and Blazer

Volvo (safety) – Life Paint designed to help cyclists to be noticed on the road

“Marketing as a service – marketing so good, people will pay for it”

I think ABM presentation can also be connected to post modern marketing.  We, as an industry, measured results, and discovered that our efforts are not that effective.  We also discovered that we can generate interest from the prospects that are not targeted by sales.  ABM is solving this problem: it connects sales and marketing (defining accounts targeted), it measures marketing outcomes and business outcomes (rather than activity metrics), from another side, it does pay attention to the activity in general for the targeted accounts and uses combination of marketing tactics, often designed to inspire target audience, in concert.

Marketing is definitely changing, change is constant, and our “target audience” are “feeling machines” rather than rational beings that we sometimes tend to believe🙂

SiriusDecisions – Establishing Channel Excellence

Excellent event!  New to channel marketing, I hoped to learn a few interesting points about the field; the event showed that channel marketing is a sophisticated discipline with unique nuances and tools to address them.


SiriusDecisions organize channel activities into Channel Program Model – an excellent framework to approach channel marketing.

Interesting: as the question about not having access to partner data arose, two solutions were recommended:

  • create tools that gather data
  • create process that encourages partners to provide data


Channel activities also need to include understanding what kind of partners are the most beneficial, developing partner personas, and aligning organizational activities based on Partner’s Journey Stages.

Partners are not entities, they are numerous personas, and it is important to adjust on-boarding to fit specific persona.

Another interesting point is that working with partners requires continuous evangelizing within the company (30% of time); as the entire organization is not dealing with partners on daily basis, a reminder about partner needs is critical for the program success.

Marketers promoting partner programs typically talk about the product; it is important to explain the benefit of the engagement for the partner. Ease of doing business with the organization is very important for partners. 

Sometimes, partners are considered ineffective, but in reality:

  • partners have not been properly trained
  • partners were not enabled
  • organization has wrong type of partners

If you have 10,000 partners, but they are not right type of partners, you don’t have partners

Organizations need to understand what kind of partners they need, as resources can be devoted to wrong kind of partners.

Excellent event!

Book – Small Data

small-data.pngFantastic book!  At the time of universal preoccupation with Big Data, the book demonstrates the need of understanding the consumer on a human level.  Though Big Data can typically answer the question “what,” it can never explain “why” without the help of additional insight.

The most striking example was a bank facing increased customer churn.  As the bank was preparing to send retention letters to customers, the organization discovered that the most important factor in the phenomenon was not dissatisfaction with the services: customers were going through divorce and had to shift funds.

The author also describes differences in perceptions, aspirations, and the methods of achieving these aspirations in different cultures.  The most exciting part – the research is not targeted for purely scientific understanding, it helps companies to achieve business success by helping their customers find something what can make them feel better.

The book is highly entertaining and would be interesting not only for marketers… but the marketers will probably find it the most useful.

Book – Make It Stick

Make-it-Stick.pngThis very enjoyable book gave me a different perspective than its primary purpose.

As I was educated in the former Soviet Union, study techniques were taught early, and the educational system was based on frequent concept tests.  Mnemonic rules were also known, but not used as much, as concepts rather than memorization was a base of education.  Math was considered easy and foreign languages were considered hard (can you imagine just sitting and memorizing words rather than learning a concept and applying it…?)  :-)   Re-reading text multiple times was not recommended and highlighting in a book was strictly prohibited.

What I did not realize,  is that I was lucky to go through that system (admittedly, kicking and screaming as a child), which allowed me to take a rational approach to learning later. However, I was very surprised when my colleagues seem to struggle more.

Once I hired a very curious person, who needed to learn one of the company’s systems.  I assumed that after reading the manual, this person would come up with a few little test projects to practice the knowledge in different aspects of the system.  It did not happen..  The person was waiting for a task to be assigned.

Now I understand why.  I gave the practice tasks and the person achieved mastery of the system very fast, but why I needed to give the practice tasks was a mystery to me…  Wouldn’t it be more fun to work on little tests of your own choice?  This person just did not know how.  I need to remember that and structure presentation of educational materials in the most reasonable form.

Another interesting concept: frequent switching between different jobs involved in the integrated process helps employees understand the entire process.  As we might assume that employees would try to understand “the large picture” intuitively, this type of training needs to be built into the overall function of the organization.

Excellent book!  It gave me more appreciation of little bothersome tests I disliked as a child decades ago😉

BMA – Content Strategy For B-to-B Web Site Transformation

Excellent event!  Though web content and content marketing seem to be a cozy and familiar topic, the presentation was packed with new perspectives and explanation of familiar concepts.

pic.pngInteresting: Sirius Decisions observe a tendency to re-silo within marketing organizations (due to technical complexity) after some time of integration efforts.  

Marketing content lives in different “places.”  Some organizations try to do “too much” – have content for each persona for each stage of the sales cycle.

Sometimes web sites is a place of “asset chaos – no cohesive understanding of what content assets are on the site, how they are performing, and how they are supporting audiences and objectives.”


Web content strategy is part of your content in general and it is completely dependent on other aspects of the business – embrace the dependency!


Audience prioritization: one company had literally 5,000 independent web sites to address virtually the same audience (IT), because business stakeholders could not agree.

Messaging framework: sometimes, getting the web site right is the forcing function to create messaging framework, as it does not exist.

Content: “Smaller amount better”  – how much content do you need?  Probably less than you have today.


Note – the impactful content asset types are considered in different stages of the sales cycle – sales presentation is the most impactful, but is is used at a very specific time.


Two best slides separating formats and channels, what is often confused in the industry.


Targeting: tricky to do, and even trickier to do with too many personas. “Where is the most important place to start?”

Interesting: when companies do technology audit, they are more likely not to add, but to remove technologies.

Excellent presentation!

Book – The Coaching Habit

Coaching-Habit.pngVery useful book!  The author suggests that we rush into an advice too quickly, don’t have enough time for what, ultimately, is more effective – coaching.  Luckily, there is a coaching method that is reasonably fast and simple (though not easy), and this method is based on asking questions rather than giving answers.  Considering that giving answers is a…  habit; we can form a different habit of asking questions.

Another interesting concept is a difference between coaching for performance and coaching for development.

The book recommends several questions to ask as part of the coaching approach:

  • What’s on your mind?

The question can lead to issues around Projects, People, or Patterns (habitual behaviors of the person who is answering the question).

  • And what else?

This question allows to deepen the understanding of the problem and avoid a temptation to immediately give advice.

  • What’s the real challenge here for you?

This question brings focus to the situation that might be moving to a very general conversation.

  • But what do you really want?

A person might not be able to answer immediately; the question allows to understand “a need behind a want.”

  • What do you want from me?

The question allows understanding the issue better before jumping into the advice. Might use “Out of curiosity…”,   “Just so I know…”, “To help me understand better…”

  • If you’re saying yes to this, what are you saying no to?

This is “strategic question,” as a decision to devote resources to one initiative need to also reduce resources to other initiatives.

  • What was most useful for you?

A “learning question” – allows reflecting and finding the most useful information from the conversation.

I think at least some of the questions can be used for project conversations as successfully.  No matter the improvement objective, a good question will help understand the situation and perspective of the other person better… and avoid jumping into “advice mode.”

More interesting materials at Coaching Habits Videos

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.


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


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…?”