Cloud Leadership Series Wrap-Up

In other news, Ness Software Product Labs recently wrapped up a series of Executive Events focused on Cloud strategies for ISVs. The events, both in person and online, sparked some great discussions on what was really going on with the Cloud today, and where there are near term opportunities. You can read my wrap up of the events on the Ness Software Product Labs blog here: Its Cloudy Out There: Looking Out for Some Sunshine.

 

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Personalized Subject Lines In Emails: Hot Trend, Or Just Plain Annoying?

I found this blog post from AG Salesworks pretty interesting. You can read it directly, but the upshot is their data suggests an improvement in sales-led email campaigns when using a deeply personalized subject line such as: “Attention Jim: Final Follow-up” or “Re: lead generation strategies.”

In fact we were debating using this very approach in an email campaign just 2 weeks ago. Our consensus in a survey of 3 (hardly statistically accurate!) was that this approach is more annoying to us. As if the sender is trying to trick us into viewing their message. So while it works to stop me long enough to review the message, I was more annoyed and less likely to respond when I realized I had been duped.

But then again, I NEVER respond to direct email from people I don’t already know. And I do mean NEVER. If something looks interesting that I see in an email I will go research it separately and check them out in my network first. (Though I do look for good ideas on how to craft emails, or for what NOT to do!!)

Since I am fond of saying that there is no such thing as the “average” web surfer, I will expand that to include there is no such thing as the average email responder either. As a result, I can’t generalized my personal bias to serve as a proxy for the whole.

So what do you think? Do email open rates go up but conversions go down when using the construct? Are these “tricky” subject lines annoying or successful? Tell me what you think!

@ajdun

An Update on 2010 Marketing Themes: Segmentation Rules

My post on my 2010 marketing themes and strategies from early January continues to be one of the more popular articles in the past few weeks, which has me scratching my head a bit. After all, its the end of February, shouldn’t you have already figured out your theme for 2010?

At the same time, we should always test our assumptions and make changes as market dynamics shift. In fact in the last 6 weeks I have decided we will make an even greater commitment to segmentation. I realigned our telesales teams to better support this and make sure the front-end of the funnel pushes the right kinds of opportunities out the other end to improve our close ratios.

The other thing it does is helps our brand awareness activities. I have said to all who will listen that I can’t build awareness across the whole country (Superbowl ad anyone?!). It takes too much time, too much money, and wont be particularly relevant to the vast majority of the people we touch.  But give me 500 or so top targets and we can build awareness right THERE.  It’s really much easier.  It’s much more focused and in the end, marketing, telesales, and direct sales wind up in perfect alignment.

As Bob Riazzi, the incoming President of Reachforce put it in his 2010 kick off blog post: “But sheer numbers alone aren’t the answer.  Filling your marketing database gaps with the right, most relevant contacts will be critical for success.”

I couldn’t agree more.

The Theme for 2010: Focus Focus Focus

As you would expect, these first few weeks of the year are incredibly hectic. Everyone is back in the office, budgeting is complete (mostly), plans are drafted, and there is a hyper focus on Q1. Get off to a great start and the year is made, get off to a poor start and it’s going to be a struggle.

Inspired by my good friend over at FirstPersonPR who writes this week about how to apply her budget learnings from 2009 in 2010, I will take a few minutes to outline three themes I expect to incorporate in our marketing strategy this coming year.

  1. Focus on Opportunity Cost: There is an innumerable amount of things we could do. They are all good ideas. But even after adjusting for the available budget, there still are too many to do. And every one we do means there is something else we can’t do. I expect to pick just a few threads and line up all of our resources behind those things to have a meaningful impact.  That will mean we leave some great ideas on the table of course.  But we have already started the “good ideas” list of things that we don’t want to lose sight of.
  2. Focus on Segmentation: Demand generation is a much more complex game in 2010 than ever before. Instead of casting our net wide, we need to segment even deeper, with a tighter and crisper message. And we will align our incentives with those goals to ensure everyone is pulling in the same direction.
  3. Focus on Innovation: The founders of HubSpot were kind enough to give us a copy of their new book “Inbound Marketing” and I just started skimming through it. So far, it’s pretty good, and if you read my post on “the four walls theory” you know I am a proponent. Our challenge for this year will be to innovate and experiment further with Inbound within the context of points #1 and #2 above.

What are you going to be focused on in 2010? If your CEO asked you to distill your strategy into just three words what would you say? For me it’s clear: Focus, Focus, Focus.

Happy New Year!

@ajdun

Take Aways from Marketing Sherpa B2B Summit

Getting ready to head home from the Sherpa B2B Summit tonight. Want to thank the team at MarketingSherpa for inviting me to speak. I enjoyed it immensely and it seemed like my talk went over well.  As I have said before, in addition to picking up great topics and lessons from the presenters, I really appreciate the time just to think about marketing topics. I usually come home with a long list of great ideas, hopefully we can actually execute some of them.

So in no particular order here are some my takeaways/ideas/thoughts from the event.

Chairs: I have been to numerous shows, and usually the table + chair set up is more fitting of a high school classroom. Kudos to the Westin for having good space and comfy chairs. Having spent over 40 hours on a plane in the last week or so, I was happy for that!

Grasshopper Viral Video: This was a cool viral campaign. See the details here and the video here

http://grasshopper.com/5000/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6MhAwQ64c0

I thought it was Kind of similar to some recent ads on TV celebrating the small businesses that drive the economy. While this video is extremely cool, seems a bit disconnected from the promise of the brand.

Conversions: Big topic of the conference centered on conversions, using SEO and PPC specifically to drive business opportunities. Some great stories on how people blew up their sites to focus on search leads with amazing results.

Hubspot: Much thanks to Mike and the team for a nice dinner out.  Some of things they themselves are doing with video is very cool and they have a great spirit. Definitely worth taking a look at their service.

Lead Scoring: We have only started the lead scoring process because volume is low, but we need to get serious. Some companies are doing some amazingly advanced things to score leads into the nurture funnel vs the sales funnel.  Emily Salus of Collabnet told a great story on their effort. A good interview on the topic with her can be found on the Smashmouth Marketing Blog.

I especially liked the idea that students get a -500 on a +100 scale. Competitors get -250. They stay in the system though so they can track what they do, but they never make it to sales. Love it.

Facebook for B2B, yes or no? Lots of discussion about if Facebook is really a viable channel for B2B. A few companies (including me) are very skeptical. Yet there are a few really strong examples of companies taking their “Fans” and turning that into business.  I posted the question to my FB network and right now its running 5-1 against.  For us, it’s likely going to help us more on recruiting, but time will tell.

If you are interested in the notes that MarketingSherpa took and the slides from the event (including mine) you can link to them here:

http://www.marketingsherpa.com/B2BMarketingSummit09Slides/index.html

http://www.marketingsherpa.com/B2BSummitwhiteboard/b2b09.html

And I you want to review the Tweets from the event search on #sherpab2b09.

See you in Boston in two weeks!

Every Dollar Counts, Twice

With vacation and business travel it has been difficult to post to the blog regularly, however a 15 hour flight to Mumbai gives you ample time to reflect (and sleep, and watch a movie or two…!)

This week I will be presenting at MarketingSherpa’s B2B forum a case study on how to do more with less. I will post the slides through SlideShare after the event but a quick preview.

In today’s economy, it’s ever more important to think about the opportunity cost of all of our investments in marketing. A quick reminder in case it has been awhile since you took an economics class: for every dollar you spend, or good you make, there is something else you can’t buy or a good you cannot make as a result. This good or service that is foregone represents the opportunity cost of your investment.  In marketing that simply means that ever dollar counts twice: once for the activity we are going to run, and the second time for the activity we can’t do as a result.

When budgets are flush this math is less important. But in times like these, it’s extraordinarily critical. And it often leads to planning paralysis because we have so many great ideas on what to do, we get overwhelmed by what we can’t do.  In that moment of indecision crucial time is lost.

One way my team helps break through this is by looking for ways we can “force multiply” our spending. This means we try to run programs that have multiple threads attached to them. For example rather than doing your own podcast, partner with a publication to run the podcast and secure a lead guarantee and name generation campaign to help feed the top end of the funnel.

When you start stringing some of these multi-threaded concepts tighter into a campaign you can stretch your dollars dramatically even without a huge staff to execute on multiple fronts.  Look for more details and results of how we did this at Ness soon.

I am also interested in how YOU have done managed your opportunity costs as well.  Send me your ideas  by commenting here or to my Twitter account @ajdun and I will happily share your ideas with my MarketingSherpa audience.

MarketingSherpa’s B2B Marketing Summit

I have spent the last few days jamming on my presentation for the upcoming Marketing Sherpa B2B event in San Francisco and Boston.  I am trying to avoid doing bulleted slides (so BORING!), but its harder than it looks.

I am calling this talk: “How to market when every dollar counts–Twice.”  The thrust of the presentation is centered on how we do more with less, while avoiding the natural paralysis that arises when budgets shrink and the need to focus goes up.  I haven’t been blessed with massive budgets in my career so instead I have tried to look for creative ways to make budget dollars go farther.  This presentation is a compilation of my best thinking on this topic, and a case study on our recent agile development campaign.

And for good measure, I am throwing in a few words on good ‘ol micro economic opportunity cost theory just to see if people are awake in the back of the room.  Can’t wait to see the Twitter chatter when I get to THAT point in the presentation!

Speaking of Twitter, the coordinators published the event hashtag this week.  You can follow the proceedings using #sherpab2b09. And as the event draws closer I intend to capture some of your best ideas for cost effective marketing concepts and posting them here and republishing them over Twitter.  But don’t be shy, you can start now.

See you in San Francisco, or Boston.