Great social media resource - Marketing in the Groundswell

I just read a great little book called Marketing in the Groundswell, by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff. I want to emphasize that it’s a little book. 119 pages, to be exact. And each page is tiny. You would think a book that small wouldn’t have enough meaningful content to be really valuable, but this one does. It’s chock full of interesting ideas and case studies about current social marketing trends.

The “groundswell” as the authors define it, is “a social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other instead of from companies.” This trend scares most marketers, because if people don’t need companies to get the things they need anymore, they certainly won’t need marketers either. The authors take a very practical approach to soothing overwrought marketers, including suggesting vendors to help get you started with groundswell marketing, outlining typical costs and ROIs for each approach, and suggesting where you might want to start. It’s a very helpful little book, and I highly recommend it to anyone still sitting on the sidelines of social media.

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What does media and technology convergence mean for marketing?

I went to the Future of Media conference at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business today. It was a fascinating discussion among people on all sides of the media industry, about the changes currently underway in the media space. Some of my key takeaways were:

  • Content has now officially won out over distribution as the most powerful element in the media mix
  • Media brands that were initially tied to amateur-generated content (e.g. YouTube, Facebook) are now carrying so much professionally-generated content they have become primary sources for professional news.
  • Given the explosion in the volume of content due to the popularity of user-generated content, audiences are having a harder and harder time finding the information they want and can trust, thus there is an important role for aggregators/editors as well as creators of content going forward. One of the great lines from David Cohn, founder of spot.us was that “you can be a linker or a thinker, and either path can be successful in the new media.”
  • Quality will remain the key differentiator of content going forward. As the content explosion continues and audiences become more and more overwhelmed by the volume, they will learn to associate certain media brands with quality content, and gravitate to those brands, leaving the unknown or lesser brands behind.
  • Following the current period of chaos and displacement, marketers can expect a whole new world of opportunity in media going forward. That new world will be populated by content developed and edited in both old and new media industries. And it will be powered by the convergence of diverse technologies that we today associate with disparate platforms: broadcast and cable TV, online streaming video, gaming, mobile applications, etc.
  • I’m ready for the new world. Are you?

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    What is the next great marketing trend?

    Over the years, I’ve learned that marketers love to reinvent themselves. This is how brand marketers became direct marketers, and direct marketers became digital marketers and digital marketers became social marketers. We ride the waves of opportunity that cross through the marketing space, and push ourselves to continue to grow and change with the opportunities that surround us. Sure, some marketers stick to their knitting and remain in the space they started in. But many of us seek out change and find ourselves looking for that next great opportunity to expand our skill set. It is in our DNA to do so.

    I may be premature on this one, but I’m already starting to wonder what the next great trend might be in the marketing space. It seems to me that everyone who is going to adopt social marketing has already jumped on that bandwagon. There are some marketers who are not going social, but not many, based on my informal study of this question. Of course, those who have embraced social marketing will continue to progress and grow their skills in this area over the next few years. But the time will come when another new type of marketing seems more relevant and influential than the old types of marketing, and thousands of marketers will shift their careers once again.

    Thinking about this, I have searched the web to try to anticipate what trend will be next. My search wasn’t comprehensive, of course, but as far as I can tell, the only trend currently on the horizon is a back-to-basics movement that is re-emphasizing traditional marketing skills like closed-loop direct marketing, rather than developing any new style of marketing. I suspect this trend got its start in tight budgets caused by the struggling economy, but it also seems to be driven by recent improvements in marketing automation that codify traditional marketing skills. This is not the most exciting trend I have seen in my career, to be sure, but I suppose it demonstrates the value of those traditional marketing skills we picked up years ago, gives us the opportunity to refresh our traditional marketing skill set, and leverages a lot of the technology skills we have picked up in recent years, so it’s not all bad either. There is still room for personal and career growth in this environment, and just when you start to think you are bored with it, I’m sure another type of “new marketing” will surface, and we will be off and running again, just like in the go-go days.

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    Great Free Resource - The Essential Marketing Automation Handbook

    I recently attended Dreamforce, the Salesforce.com conference in San Francisco, and dropped by the MarketingGenius booth on the expo floor. After speaking to a great sales rep, Brandon Binder, I found myself in the posession of an equally great marketing resource to take home with me. It is called The Essential Marketing Automation Handbook, by Ardath Albee, and you can download it here. This 48 page handbook details everything you would need to know to upgrade your marketing process to produce better results. It includes chapters on how to implement lead scoring, how to nurture leads by mapping content to buying stages, and how to optimize your lead nurturing strategies so that they accelerate leads through the pipeline to a closed sale. It doesn’t recommend or even discuss any particular product that might help you do these things, just lays out the conceptual framework for why you should do them, and how to go about doing them. Very helpful. While most tradeshow handouts go in the trash pretty quickly in my experience, I’m hanging on to this one.

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    New Model for Marketing Measurement

    A few days ago, I posted about the marketing automation recommendations from the Raab Associates report Lead Management: Get Started with a New Strategy for Buyer-Centric Marketing and Selling. Another nugget from that report was their 4-pronged model for marketing measurement, which, if fully implemented, would enable marketers to measure their results more comprehensively than most do today, including both their “old” and “new” media. Raab Associates suggest metrics in the following four areas:

  • Operational - these are metrics that track whether your campaign resulted in the desired behavior or not. Some examples are email open rates, online ad-to-landing page click through rates, and print ad-to-800 number call in rates. These metrics would typically be used by marketing to dissect individual program successes and failures, and to generate learnings that will improve later programs.
  • Funnel - these are metrics that track the progress of prospects through the sales process. They typically are tied to CRM stages, and track first how many prospects moved from one stage to the next, and second how quickly they did so. These metrics would be used both by sales and marketing to determine what the pipeline looks like at any given point in time and to create forecasts for future sales.
  • Engagement - these are metrics that track the investment that prospects are making in their relationship with the company. For example, opening an email is a very basic level of engagment, but downloading a white paper, sitting through an online demo or recorded webinar represents a much higher level of investment, and might indicate a greater propensity to buy. These metrics would typically be used for lead scoring, sales prioritization, and by individual sales reps to determine how to approach the prospect.
  • Financial - these metrics require matching marketing costs to business results to calculate, for instance, ROI, cost-per-lead, cost-per-sale. Many firms struggle to do this, but it’s imperative that they persevere and find a way. Otherwise, marketing and executive leadership will never be able to make smart decisions about whether and how to invest scarce resources in the marketing effort.
  • We are quickly approaching the end of the year, and I know many marketers will soon be thinking about their new year’s resolutions. For those marketers seeking improved performance in 2010, upgrading their measurement capabilities might be a great place to start.

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    4 ‘Must Have’ Technologies for Marketers

    I recently came across an interesting white paper, written by Raab Associates, called Lead Management: Get Started with a New Strategy for Buyer-Centric Marketing and Selling. The title oversells the content a bit, but there were a few interesting takeaways for me. One was that there are 4 technologies that marketers will need to be successful. These are technologies that enable marketers to:

  • Recognize individuals from their target market across time and channels, whether the individual has self-identified or not. Once the marketer can recognize these individuals, they need to aggregate information about each individual into a database that gradually produces a complete picture of the prospects activities and interests.
  • Record a concise profile of each individual from the database, and use that profile to drive messaging rules. Without this step, many marketers will get bogged down by the volume of raw data, and won’t be able to develop a coherent marketing strategy for these individuals.
  • React to the individual’s profile at any point in time, and present messages that are appropriate to that situation. So, for example, if the individual is in the awareness building stage, present information about what the class of product does and how it might benefit them. If the individual is in the decision stage, present information about what makes your product unique and show how it compares to the alternatives.
  • Refer the individaul to human agents wherever appropriate throughout the nurturing process. This referral can be into any contact center or channel, and can be either inbound or outbound, but it must ensure that the human agent has all the profile information available to them prior to the contact to be able to best serve the individual’s needs.
  • Marketing automation technology is a fast-evolving space, and the service providers in this space are all over the map in terms of what they provide and how they provide it. I’m hoping that Raab Associates’ classification of needs in this way will help service providers to articulate their particular approach, and will also help marketers to better define their requirements.

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    The Time has Come for Marketing Automation

    Last week I spent some time in the Expo at Dreamforce, salesforce.com’s annual event in San Francisco. As a marketer, I found I was drawn to the booths that had anything to do with marketing, sales or both sales and marketing. An observation I made as I toured the expo, is that marketing automation has finally arrived.

    I have been aware of marketing automation software and SAAS for years. I’ve even bought marketing automation software and SAAS for various employers. However, it always seemed like my employers thought this purchase was just my preferred way of working, rather than the right way to manage marketing programs. I’m always happy to be accommodated, but nowhere near as happy as when I see that I’m surrounded by true believers. Last week at Dreamforce, I was surrounded by true believers. It seemed like everyone at the show believed that marketing automation was a “must have” and not just a “nice to have” anymore.

    There were so many great providers of marketing automation at Dreamforce, it would be hard to list them all, but here are links to some of my favorites:

    Eloqua
    Genius.com
    MarketBright
    Treehouse Interactive
    Marketo

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    Salesforce.com entering social media space

    Last week, I attended salesforce.com’s annual Dreamforce conference in San Francisco. It was a great event, with all sorts of exciting announcements and fun activities. One I found to be most interesting was salesforce’s announcement that they would be entering the social media space, with their new product named Chatter. CEO Marc Benioff described Chatter as Facebook for the enterprise, a tool that will enable co-workers to network and collaborate in whole new ways. In addition to bringing people together, Chatter will also bring other workplace entities (e.g. projects, content, plans, etc.) to collaborate along with the people. With Chatter, employees can follow and easily interact with members of their workgroup, their cross-functional project team, influential peers around the company, or key executives; they can also follow and provide inputs into various projects, content, strategies and reports as they evolve and are updated by others around the company.

    Facebook’s astounding growth would indicate that there was an unmet need for social interaction services. That need is certainly just as high within the enterprise as outside it. Motivated employees always want to be better informed about things that are going on around the company, and Chatter will be a great tool for feeding that hunger. Salesforce’s timing is great too, because millions of working adults are already familiar with social media, and so adoption should be quick and easy wherever the service is acquired. My question is how many companies will consider a service like Chatter to be a “must have” vs. a “nice to have” in this economy. But the experts keep saying that our economy has turned the corner, so salesforce’s timing may turn out to be great in that respect too. For companies that do adopt, I’m guessing that effective use of Chatter will quickly become a performance criteria, just as effective use of social media in general is starting to become a key hiring criteria, at least for marketers (see post on that topic below).

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    The buzz about Web 3.0

    I recently was a guest at a really interesting meeting of a new consulting firm. We talked about cloud computing and Web 3.0 and various other ‘hot’ technology topics. Since the participants were at various levels of understanding of these technologies prior to the meeting, they assembled a reading list for those who were less experienced to come up to speed. Among the readings was a guest blog post on TechCrunchIT written by Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce.com. It characterized the evolution of the web this way:

  • Web 1.0 allowed everyone to transact, by taking away the cost and access barriers to certain types of transactions that were previously somewhat exclusive and expensive, for example trades at a brokerage house, purchases at an auction etc.
  • Web 2.0 allowed everyone to participate, by taking away the cost barriers to publication and geographical and timing barriers to making personal connections. As a result of Web 2.0, pretty much anyone can blog, wiki, network, etc., largely for free.
  • Web 3.0 allows everyone to innovate, by taking away the technology and capital barriers to creation of digital applications. As a result of Web 3.0, pretty much anyone can inexpensively create an application for their own purposes, to share with others or to sell for a profit. No more waiting for the big software company to solve your problem; you can solve it yourself cheaply and easily.
  • As a non-techologist, I am particularly excited about Web 3.0. Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 gave me faster, better, cheaper ways to do things I was already able to do on my own without the web. Taken to its logical conclusion, Web 3.0 will expand my skill set, and the skill set of many people who are much more creative than I, to do things that were well beyond our reach in the past. That’s worth all the buzz that technology marketers are creating about it.

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    New model for hiring great marketers

    I recently received a promotional offer from HubSpot to download an exerpt from a book called Inbound Marketing, by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah. It was an interesting excerpt, in that it suggested we need to jettison our old criteria for hiring marketers, and adopt a whole new approach to staffing. I have been around long enough that I tend to grimace at “whole new world” propositions, but this one, like the one I wrote about immediately below, had some merit. Their idea is that going forward, we will need to hire for the following characteristics:

  • Digital Citizens: people who really understand and use all types of digital media, both on a personal and a professional level; people who enjoy the concept of interacting with diverse groups of people in a virtual space.
  • Analtycal Chops: people who measure everything and are always looking for ways to produce measurably better performance in their marketing programs.
  • Web Reach: people who bring to your team a digital “rolodex” like a salespeople used to bring a physical rolodex to the job. The more people who follow or friend your candidate through social media, they more they can get your message out to your target market.
  • Content Creators: people who can create such remarkable content that it will spread virally throughout various social media.
  • I agree with the authors that a person with these capabilities would be a fabulous asset to most modern marketing teams. And I find it intriguing to think that I would score my candidates on the basis of each of these criteria to determine the best person for the job. What do you think?

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