Content Marketing, Customer Experience, Event Marketing, Interactive Marketing, Marketing, Marketing Automation, Marketing ROI, Online Marketing, Sales, Social Media

Marketing Activity Grid, explained (I): Introduction

Great plan!Last week at the B2B Marketing Forum in Utrecht, I shared the Marketing Activity Grid as part of my presentation. I got a number of requests to elaborate, so I am writing a couple of posts on the topic.

In this first piece, I will go in to the Grid’s background. Before I do though, let’s agree on a clear starting point: the goal of marketing.

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Blogging, Brand Management, Content Marketing, Event Marketing, Marcom, Marketing Automation, Marketing ROI, Online Marketing, Sales, Social Media, Stories, Webcast

The Perfect B2B Content Mix

MixerI don’t think business-to-business communications as a discipline was ever as exciting and challenging as it is today. The convergence of available platforms, data and social media effectively provides marketers with endless opportunities to find prospective buyers among both suspects and customers.

At the same time, traditional ways of informing, engaging and transacting with customers are being scrutinized. The overhead of traditional PR, direct marketing, events and retail drives a tremendous shift towards online and mobile engagement models.

We all know this.

The Shortest List
But it’s hard to find the right path in this landscape of endless possibilities, isn’t it? Which mix of vehicles, assets, platforms, programs – owned or sponsored – will generate the optimum stream of inbound contacts? I find that in todays online conversation, a million writers (usually agency reps or consultants) will tell you about the many millions of different things you can do to find and engage your audience; nowhere will you find a discrete list of stuff you can’t do without – a minimal set of things that should get you where you need to be.

So here is the list of things you cannot do without in your 2014 enterprise marketing mix:

For influencers, main objectives: education, value and timely interaction

  1. Solution-level blogs
  2. Solution-level webinars
  3. Relevant customer case studies (PDF, YouTube, SlideShare)
  4. Whitepapers
  5. Landing pages aggregating this content around specific topics
  6. Online testing, demonstration, comparison and/or ROI calculation capabilities
  7. Events (3rd party for suspects, owned for customers and prospects) to enable influencers to discover the offering and meet the vendor team.
  8. Database and telemarketing

For decision makers, main objectives: credibility and buy-in

  1. Thought leadership blogs and videos
  2. Branded editorial content integrated into relevant online and offline titles
  3. Events (3rd party for suspects, owned for customers and prospects, and to facilitate the prospect-customer conversation).
  4. Account strategy, access and relationship management at the C-level (a C-level program can never be marketing-only. It needs to be a joined effort with the sales leadership).

All of this has to be (a) continuously fuelled with crisp, audience-based content, (b) optimised for search and (c) 100% Social, Local and Mobile.

That’s it.

Content Marketing, Interactive Marketing, Marketing Automation, Marketing ROI, Online Marketing, Sales

The Real Cost of Marketing Automation (Pizza Anyone?)

We had a good number of conversations this week on online marketing and the merits of marketing automation. Within the teams here in Europe and the US, but also with our marketing agency, our through-channel marketing agency, and – last but not least – our marketing automation agency. The latter started with a quote from Forrester Research: “[We] found that most companies cited as great case studies by vendors are still at Level 1 Level 2 of Forrester‘s Marketing Automation Maturity Model.” Some quote.

Expensive email blasters
In a November 2010 blog post, Forrester’s Jeff Ernst – the principal analyst responsible for this particular piece of research – states that “too many companies have invested in marketing automation platforms, only to use them as expensive email blasters.” In the April 2011 report B2B marketers must better prepare for marketing automation, he cautions that “Small businesses with simple requirements can receive a lot of value within days by implementing basic features and may not ever need to do more. But for larger companies that serve sophisticated buyer needs, it takes time to build a revenue engine that produces a steady supply of qualified sales opportunities, and getting an email campaign out the door in three days does not ensure that you are on a path to achieving that bigger vision.”

Without having access to the actual Marketing Automation Maturity Model – with Sinterklaas and Christmas just around the corner, spending $499 on aging research papers may not be the most opportunistic of choices – one can guess that it’ll start with manually sending emails into low quality, poorly segmented databases, with zero business impact, and end up with nurturing, scoring, integrated communications based on deep knowledge of your buyer’s journey, with all the targeted segmenting, nurturing, scoring and integration between marketing automation and sales CRM that you can wish for – where the marketing system unilaterally sets the business strategy, aligns sales and marketing once and for all, and wins marketing prizes. Amen.

3 Traps
Ernst identifies 3 traps, around process, content, and skills, which keep companies from getting beyond this “batch ‘n’ blast” level of maturity. They’ll never reap the true benefits of marketing automation, but get stuck in the middle between a great vision, sophisticated platform and expert vendor support on the one side, and bloated budgets, frustrated marketers and low quality databases on the other. And the quality of leads generated and qualified by marketing is – and will be – questioned by sales.

Ernst indeed warns CMOs (ordinary marketers should pay attention, too) that the following success factors are critical, if they expect ROI from their investment in marketing automation (source: Christine Thompson, Success Factors for Marketing Automation):

  • A defined lead management process (agreed to by sales and marketing);
  • A content strategy that supports buyers’ needs (not the marketer’s convenience), throughout the buyer’s journey — for each buyer role;
  • Access to good contact data (up-to-date contact info for the buyer roles most likely to respond favourably);
  • Access to the skills and budget needed to keep the marketing automation platform running smoothly.

Medieval cobblestones
My take: Without these factors in place, buying an advanced marketing automation platform and expect the ill-prepared marketing manager to benefit from it, is like buying a brand new Ferrari F1 race car, give it to a pizza delivery guy in Rome (with fuel and a full, retained pit crew of course), and tell him he’ll deliver pizza’s across town a 1,000 times faster (and much hotter too). All technical reports, all sports analysts, and all Ferrari fans would agree that that’s a terrific investment, because pizza’s are usually cold on delivery, there simply isn’t a better F1 race car around, and the mechanics will make sure it runs to its full capacity. Of course some of the preconditions to use the car proficiently – like a F1 Super License, access to the Autodrome Nationale Monza race track, some level of racing expertise, and a very wealthy sponsor – wouldn’t have made it into the purchase decision conversation. And hence our poor pizza delivery guy races the streets of Rome at 500+ mph, crashes his racehorse into the Fontane di Trevi, all hot pizza’s drown, and the good people of Rome starve, yet again. Stuck in the middle between a great vision and lots of medieval cobblestones.

Must be a hard game
Forrester’s Marketing Automation Maturity Model was first introduced in 2008. 3 years later, even great case study type companies still haven’t been able to make it past levels 1 and 2. You figure it out.

Pizza, anyone?

Brand Management, Communicatie, Competitive Strategy, Content Marketing, Online Marketing, Social Media

The Corporate Website is Dead, Continued

Friday Marketing Musings, 28 January 2011

I received some feedback and questions after my post “The Corporate Website is Dead“. So here’s a short overview of where I think corporations will be taking their online presence over the next two years.

I. The sole purpose of the corporate website is sustained brand equity. To showcast and archive corporate stories.

II. Information about products (product marketing, specs, features, price, services & support, where to buy) will move into the social community.

Some implications:

A. N=1.

B. Big, multi-level, content-heavy, pleasing-all-audiences websites will be replaced by dynamic corporate storyboards designed to inspire very specific audiences. It’s 99% storytelling, and 1% social contact information to enable real conversations in Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and whatever is the next social fling.

C. All available content will have to be (re-)designed to serve the social realm.

D. No more pushing. The only way content will be accepted, is as part of a meaningful conversation. Harass marketing (sending emails into databases, cold calling on innocent people, even push chat) can not last. The whole concept of permission marketing will become obsolete. So don’t worry about cookie legislation – it doesn’t matter.

E. All widgets will go away. Only content that is genuinely integrated, will be accepted by the target audience. Many companies are pulling social conversations into their corporate websites. Forget about it – for real value, people will look elsewhere.

F. The full potential of video has not been explored yet. We will see live streams, augmented realities, dynamic, interactive video. This will change our perception of reality.

G. Competition will have to be redefined, simply because in a more integrated world, comparing alternatives will not be straightforward at all. Consumers will buy access to meaningful interactions, not just products.

H. Social Search is just another way of saying that people point people to meaningful content and connections. Like in the old days. To keep up, search marketing and Marketing Automation systems will first become super sophisticated, then obsolete and eventually banned by governments (not just the dictatorial ones).


Blogging, Brand Management, Content Marketing, Event Marketing, Interactive Marketing, Online events, Online Marketing, Social Media

How to brief a B2B blog?

Friday Marketing Musings, 14 January 2011

Many companies have a hard time managing their blogs. You can tell by just clicking through any corporate website’s blogger section. They’re all too often not updated frequently, killed by too much “editorial guidance”, not engaging, and too inside-out in their content. Nevertheless, as I wrote last week, you don’t need much more in the online universe than a Twitter stream, some strong blogs, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles to create a rich brand experience. So I just wanted to share some considerations around blogs, and how to keep them adding value to your marketing and communications setup.

Two new European NetApp blogs
Over the last 3 weeks, we launched two new blogs for NetApp in EMEA. John Rollason’s “JR’s IT Pad” will be providing European storage industry insights, targeting analysts, press, partners and competition. Tim Waldron’s “Tim’s Tales” will be more about bridging the gap between business and technical functions within (prospective) customer audiences DMU’s, covering new technology concepts, European customer implementations, storage and data management innovations. John runs Product, Solutions and Alliances marketing for EMEA; Tim is a Business Solutions Architect in our GEO. It took them about 2 minutes to figure out the Typepad Blog Content Management System, so don’t be put off by any concerns there.

Example: NetApp @ Cisco Live Europe 2011
As a side note: Both bogs will be vital in the communications strategy around our Golden Sponsorship for Cisco Live Europe 2011 (London, 31 Jan – 3 Feb 2011). I spent some time this week creating our Virtual Booth for that event in the INXPO virtual event platform the organisation provides as part of the sponsorship agreement. If you can’t travel to London, you can gain complementary acces to our virtual booth here. It holds an event blog, Social Media streams, all kinds of premium content, a live chat box, and a API integration into Facebook Live Stream. Check out the booth during the event, and let me know what you think by sending me a DM in Twitter. Our event hashtag for Twitter is #NetAppCiscoLive (general event hashtag: #CLEU), if you want to keep track early February.

John will be talking to press, analysts and customers during the event, and sharing his insights on his blog. Tim will be part of the stand staff, and reporting on his blog whenever he has some time off from booth duty. We’ll equip him with a flipcam, a photo camera and a notebook to share whatever he thinks is worth sharing. Also, Tim and Paul Sudlow (EMEA Alliances Technical Lead) will be on the panel of an Ask the Expert live webcast that we will be hosting from the show floor. Again, our Virtual Booth is the place to be if you’re interested.

Blogger tactics
The Cisco Live Europe 2011 tactic is a good example of how corporate blogs should be positioned in the market place: avoid overlap in content, create an editorial calendar in support of major marketing communications milestones (product launches, programs, campaigns, events, channel activity), and integrate all blogs with all relevant social media streams you run out there. The blogger team should become a highly skilled team of defenders, strategists, attackers, strikers, thought leaders and educators, finding ever new ways of communicating corporate messaging to relevant audiences, referring to people and content within the corporate domain.


Interactive Marketing, Marcom, Online Marketing, Social Media

The Corporate Website is Dead

Friday Marketing Musings, 7 January 2010

Blogging is dead, Email is dead, Pay-per-Click is dead, hell: even TechCrunch recently got reported dead. If you haven’t announced anything dead over the last days, you’re just not much of a marketing guru. Don’t we all like to play Nietzsche’s Zarathustra – God is dead! -, just to show our authority and insight into the inner workings of our industries? So let me add another one: the corporate website, as we know it, is dead.

Let’s be fair: outside of e-commerce focused web property, corporate websites are obsolete. Who needs them? Did you recently browse through one, looking for anything other than contact information? I bet you didn’t, and neither did I. You usually already know all the relevant updates in there just by being on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and reading a couple of blogs, don’t you?

Looking at it from a vendor’s perspective: in owned media, some profiles, a Twitter account and a good mix of corporate blogs is all you need to come up with a solid communications strategy and deep audience reach. The rest is up to the people updating the streams with fresh content.

The best corporate citizen spends time representing the company out there, in social space, referring prospects, customers, partners and investors to content and contacts within the company. Nobody has time to go browsing a complete website anyway. My goodness, it’s like reading War & Peace. On paper!

Corporate websites truly are the dinosaurs of the digital age, the fossils of the future, they’re the thing your grand father is still well able to keep up with, they’re the … the… Well, they’re just dead as a doornail! Bury them, dance on their graves, and make sure to tweet while at it!

Rather than on platforms, brand experiences will be created in interaction. Alas, communications will be social only.


Bureau, Interactive Marketing, Online events, Online Marketing, Social Media, Webcast

Social Media in B2B – Wie het weet mag het zeggen!

[tweetmeme source= ‘henniphof’ only_single=false]Dit is aan de hand met Social Media: Iedereen heeft ‘t erover, weinigen doen het, een enkeling snapt hoe het werkt, en past die inzichten toe op een manier die ook inderdaad waarde toevoegt aan de marketingstrategie. Niet alleen Felipo vraagt zich dus af waar hij moet beginnen. Die vraag proberen wij de komende dagen te beantwoorden.

Ik schrijf dit in de Thalys van Amsterdam naar Brussel, waar een tweedaagse marketingbijeenkomst met het voltallige Europese team zal plaatsvinden. We werken al weken aan onze presentaties, breakout sessies en workshops. Zoals gebruikelijk dient zich ook een aantal Amerikanen aan, waaronder onze nieuwe Chief Marketing Officer Christine Heckart. Iedereen ziet reikhalzend uit naar haar eerste beslissingen. Waar komt de focus te liggen? Hoe denkt ze over de Geo’s EMEA en AsiaPac? Waar gaat ze investeren? Vanavond uit eten in Brussel – wellicht de kans een vraag (of 37) te stellen…

Om een begin van een antwoord op de SoMe-vraag te formuleren, staat morgenmiddag volledig in het teken van online marketing en Social Media. Onze Senior VP of Interactive Marketing spreekt. Onze corporate SoMe-specialist spreekt ook. En we hebben het Engelse bureau voor interactive marketing Blue Barracuda uitgenodigd een voordracht te verzorgen over de stand van zaken rond interactive marketing en SoMe in B2B. Wat zijn de voorwaarden voor een succesvolle strategie, welke voorbeelden zijn navolgenswaard, welke valkuilen dienen te worden vermeden? Hun ‘Big Fish’ Martin Talks heeft zijn huiswerk goed gedaan en opent naar verwachting de ogen van de aanwezige Field Marketing Managers.

Martins inleiding wordt vervolgens in 4 parallelsessies uitgewerkt, voor de volgende Europese marketingprogramma’s en campagne’s:

1. NetApp Storage Efficiency campagne. Doel: Meer, nieuwe doelgroepen, intensiever betrekken in een campagne voor eindgebruikers.

2. NetApp Tech OnTap e-mailnieuwsbrief. Doel: Nieuwe abonnees werven, bestaande abonnees activeren, nieuwsbrief beter localiseren (relevanter maken voor lokale doelgroepen), en gebruiken om meer traffic te genereren voor lokale sales- en marketing activiteiten.

3. NetApp TechTalk live webcastprogramma. Doel: Registraties, deelname en response op opvolgactiviteiten vergroten. Doelgroepen betrekken bij de content.

4. NetApp Innovation EMEA customer event series. Doel: Registraties, deelname en response op opvolgactiviteiten vergroten. Gedurende evenementen bezoekers inschakelen om over het evenement en de content te communiceren. Elke groep presenteert in de plenaire sessie, waarna een Committee van Wijzen het programma aanwijst waarmee op korte termijn zal worden begonnen.

Dan weten we waar we staan en wat we aan Social Media gaan doen.