Cross Posting: Are you “Content Marketing,” or Just “Marketing?”

As part of my newest role working with the Gabriel Marketing Group on marketing strategy projects I put together my first blog post this past week.  With so much discussion about Content Marketing today I have noticed the beginnings of a schism in the definitions. Some folks are beginning to push the higher ideal of “tell your story, and they will come” as the only true definition of content marketing. Read my full post here:


Moving Towards Agile Marketing, One Step at at Time

Can Marketing run an Agile Process like software development?

This was a question I pondered a year or so ago when I started building my team at Percussion. I had heard of a few other folks using Agile principles to run their marketing team and I found that fascinating. As a tech-head at heart, the concept of a daily stand-up, stories, backlogs etc made a lot of sense to me. I marked it down in my personal backlog in my head as something to consider for the future.

And now, the item finally made it off the backlog list and into a sprint.

Today's Marketing Top 5 Board

One side benefit of the office renovation we just completed is massive whiteboard walls throughout the office. While part of my marketing team sits arm in arm on the sales floor, the other half now sits in area on the north side of the kitchen that I call “Marketing North.” And they have one of the big whiteboard walls.

(And those of you who know me well, know how much I love me some whiteboard!)

To help keep track of team activities and increase transparency with the rest of the org, we recently started posting each of our “Top 5s” to the board. These are the five things we expect to accomplish that week. Every Monday, we will move the completed items to the “Accomplished” list and then carryover/add to it for that week. The expectation is there will always be between 4 and 6 items on the board for each person.

This coming week we are kicking off the “Monday Stand Up” where we each go through out items and add/subtract/complete. Not sure yet if we will move to a daily stand-up, will see how it goes. We are also adding a backlog list of things that are in our queue but not yet made it to the action board.  As with any story board, we need to be sure that we mix in strategic activity and not just tactical execution. The good news is that the ideas are already flowing on a solution.

The best part of the new program? Even though we haven’t formally told anybody about it in the office, we are already getting feedback from people about how helpful it is to know what we are up to.

Stay tuned as we make progress toward becoming Agile Marketers!


Marketing Themes for 2012: Be Different-Do Different

Hard to imagine that 2012 is almost upon us. My kids are on high alert though because Christmas and Hanukkah are almost here. A sure sign that the New Year is nigh!

This is my third “look ahead” blog post since I started focusing on this blog a few years back.  In 2010 my key message was “Focus, Focus, Focus” in 2011, it was “Align your activity with the current business objectives.” Both of those are as valid today as they were then.

My theme for 2012? “In order to Be Different, you have to DO different. “

I currently work in a very crowded technology market space.  So crowded that an industry watcher recently penned the blog post we have all thought about. In the post they grabbed 10 tag lines from vendors attending a show to highlight how similar they were. My company was one of the offending parties.

But we are going through a transformation, both for our business, our product set, our competitive set, and for the market overall.  And that requires renewed focus on actually being different.  A few weeks back over lunch with an industry insider I was previewing some of our upcoming design directions.  I explained how we were trying to change how we are viewed in the market…”  He gracefully cut me off with a short “Remember what Yoda said?”

“Do or Do Not, There is no Try”


I decided we needed to stop talking about how we are going to change, or how we are going to be different, we actually have to DO different.

I came home that night and challenged my team with that message. When exploring two options, or paths or directions, err on the side of changing the game.

Not that we should do different just for the sake of it, We need to use this strategy as a weapon, and as a guidepost for our planning and decision making process, and most of all, our design approach.

You can see this vision in action with the current design styling on our web site, or the graphics we used at the booth during the show. (I can promise that we definitely looked and sounded different at that show!)

Now surely we will get a few things wrong but as long as we are pushing the envelope, and not just doing something because it’s “the safe approach” then I am ok with it.

We are blessed with a truly differentiated product in the marketplace. It’s time for our activities to reflect that differentiation.


Google+ Has a Problem

I have noted a few new interesting features in Facebook the last few days. The most obvious were the running “ticker” on the right that shows activity, and the ability to create groups and share updates by group rather than globally.

If that sounds awfully familiar it’s because sharing by group was one of the most highly touted advantages to Google+ when it first came out.

And that is why Google+ has a problem,.

See, I am not on Google+ yet. I haven’t even sniffed it. I have a stack of invites, and I surely have been keeping up on what other people are doing with it, but I haven’t bothered to log in myself and create an account. Now I am sure Google doesn’t much care if I am there or not, but I know they care if people LIKE me are. I am an unabashed fast follower. I wasn’t the first to Facebook, or Twitter, or Foursquare or, or, or… I stay up on the trends but prefer to let others go through the pain of figuring out new things and then I jump in. And every time I feel that urge to jump on the latest and the greatest I consider all the hours I would have wasted on technologies we don’t even remember.

So Google+ was intriguing, and the hype was overwhelming, but I didn’t see any need to jump. Why? Two reasons: First, not enough of my social network jumped there and simultaneously LEFT “FaceLinTwit” so I didn’t feel like I was missing anything by not jumping in.

And second, Google+ doesn’t (yet) appear to fill a big hole in the social opportunity. When MySpace was cool I ignored Facebook because I couldn’t customize my page to my hearts content. But then when I struggled for awhile trying to figure out how to customize my MySpace page, I came to appreciate the simplicity of the Facebook experience. Well that, and pretty much all of my friends showed up.

So this s the crux of the problem for Google. The one feature that everyone I know raved about in Google+ was the ability to create groups of people and limit how you share information. Like many of you, I keep a pretty tight distinction between how I use Facebook (personal only) and LinkedIn (work). The notion that I could start to blur that distinction was pretty appealing.

But when you have 500 million members, and an army of developers working day and night on your platform, your competition needs more than a feature gap to make any real headway. They need an opportunity gap that can’t be easily structured using existing platforms.

Trust me, I have absolutely no doubt that somebody WILL displace Facebook at some point in the future,. The web continues to evolve rapidly, our interests and tastes change. It’s only a matter of time and it may yet be Google+, they are surely motivated. In the meantime, I am off to figure out how to create groups of my friends in Facebook.

Read more about the new Facebook features

Read more about the Google+ Launch







Time for Marketers to Get Smart About Pipeline (Again!)

Peter Burris of Forrester Research just posted an interesting bit of research about how marketers need to do a better job of connecting how marketing activity translates into pipeline. If you have Forrester access you can read the document here.

Here are a couple of the main points from their study:

  • Marketing is the source of 27% of the pipeline on average
  • Size of company doesn’t appear to have a big impact on the average
  • Services companies are closer to 20% of the pipeline
  • 75% do some “qualification” of leads, but most are not yet systematically “nurturing”

What’s new here is the updated data from Forrester’s own research of around 140 tech marketing folks across both services and software companies of all sizes. But is it really shocking that only 27% of leads are marketing sourced? In some ways, I am more surprised that it’s that high.

This leads to a number of follow on questions for me. What is the “right” number after all?  Or, what is the expectation of the business on what marketing should deliver? Or what does the sales side think of that 27% number, and the quality of those leads?

I have considered the following variables when measuring pipeline contribution:

  • Overall Pipeline Contribution: I have personally used 25% minimum as a rough guide, 40% as a goal.
  • Return on demand gen spending: 10x is the trendy figure for software companies based on contribution margin. So for every $1 spent on demand gen programs (taking out awareness activities) I want to generate $10 in revenue.
  • Pipeline Velocity: The speed at which marketing leads moving through the pipeline, and how long a marketing lead needs to be nurtured before it becomes viable.
  • Stage Management: While revenue is the ultimate measure, how far marketing leads make it through the pipeline is an important gauge of lead quality.
  • Efficient use of Capital: If cold calling efforts generate opportunities at a cost of $300 per opportunity, my marketing activities need to either improve that $300, or be less expensive to ensure the best use of capital.

To me, percent of pipeline is interesting and certainly screams value, but it is only one of the critical success factors. For instance one of my teams was able to contribute 60% of the opportunities in pipeline at a services company. But in reality those were smaller deals that took a long time to close and created a distraction for the sales team, reducing their ability to source new, high value deals from their networks. Understanding the full picture allowed us to recalibrate our strategy.

In addition the scale of the opportunity matters. If your $500,000 marketing program generates the required 10x return of $5M in revenue for a $1B company, don’t expect the senior execs to shower you with affection. At the company party they will just sort of nod their head and be happy you aren’t wasting their money. Then they will go chase down the hot new sales person who has a $20M quota and be sure that salesperson has everything they need to be successful.

The point is, the percentages matter, of course.  But what really matters is being able to show an effective contribution to the businesses overall goals. Understanding capital efficiencies, and a deep understanding of how to connect activity to what matters to the business are the metrics that matter most in your organization.

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Cross Posting from Blog

Since I joined Percussion back in March and started taking the lead on our corporate time to post here has been in short supply. I have had the opportunity to tackle a couple of interesting ideas for the Percussion blog so I thought I would recap two of them here.  Enjoy!

The Rise of the App-Centric Web

I had read an article in about how Apps were going to kill the web and Google. I thought that seemed a bit too salacious. I don’t disagree that the App-based approach to the online world will be transformational. I take issue with the notion that this is the end of Google. Lets not forget that are responsible for the Android platform which certainly is a fast follower to the iApp approach. I have seen numerous other articles on the “App-Internet” as well, will be an interesting trend to watch as it develops.

Search is Dead—Long Live Search, or is it?

Working now for a web content management company, I felt compelled to weigh in on the uproar over the recent Google algorithm change and its potential impact on marketers.  My basic point is that how we think of our websites is actually changing, which will impact how we view search as a tactic.  We are rapidly moving to a world where the company website is no longer the center of the digital universe for that company and what happens in the “edge” of the community is vastly more important.

Wikinomics, MacroWikinomics and WikiRevolutions

Just back from the Gartner Portals and Collaboration Conference this past week in LA. It was a very interesting show with a broad range of content topics covered. Lovely hotel the JW Marriott at LA Live (yes, an iron and more washcloths than I could possibly use.) and the lobby was bustling with activity on the night Lady Gaga was playing at the Staples Center.  People watching at its finest!

Don Tapscott, accomplished author of numerous titles, but perhaps best known more recently for “Wikinomics” was the keynote address at the end of the show. His talk was fascinating on many levels, though it was clear that 60 minutes just wasn’t enough. I felt like he could have gone for 2 solid hours.

Tapscott shared some vivid stories of how the face of revolution changed dramatically in Northern Egypt through the use of social tools. Though careful to state that social media did not cause the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen, rather it was the foundation upon which revolution was spread.  This is truly crowdsourcing revolution, or “WikiRevolutions” as one slide was titled.

He told the story of how people on the ground in Tunisia who were getting fired on by government snipers were able to use social tools to triangulate the coordinates of the snipers and communicate those locations to revolutionary forces who were able to take out the snipers. And this was perhaps the most vivid example of how Digital Natives (he considers himself a Digital Immigrant incidentally) adapt technology for their own needs in powerful and unpredicted ways.  I am pretty sure there isn’t an app for that.

These kinds of behaviors that are ingrained in the current generation entering the workforce have wide ranging implications for all manners of corporations and managers. Tapscott shared how one government agency turned off access to Facebook and a 27 year old worker was quoted as saying “That is the single most demoralizing thing that they could have done.”

This is not a community to force fit into the structures and constraints of yesterday. This is a community to empower with tools and open-ness that will challenge all of us to think very differently. As marketers we need to understand the new rules of engagement. One that is defined by the terms Context, Community, Engagement and Open. How do we provide freedom to address our community of buyers to create a community around our products, allow them to engage with them in new and interesting ways and then step back and listen?

I am personally more energized than ever to explore these new channels and new opportunities. Tapscott shared this quote near the beginning of the talk:

“The future is not something to be predicted. The future should be achieved.”

Let’s go achieve our future together.