Friday, June 8, 2007

Marketing Thought - Blog Becomes Permanent

At the request of several people, we will continue to host this blog to give marketing thought leaders a place to share their ideas. If you have already posted, your rights will just continue. If you want to post an idea of your own, request an invitation from We are looking forward to hearing about your ideas.

Karen O'Brien - SVAMA's Marketing Thought Leader of the Year

Karen O'Brien, Principal of Interactive Marketing at Crimson Consulting took first place in SVAMA's search for "Marketing Thought Leader of the Year." Karen was selected from a group of marketers who submitted their ideas to a new blog set up just for this purpose.

I first met Karen during this past year when she spoke at a workshop for SVAMA. Out of all the events that I have attended over the past few months, this one stands out for a couple of reasons. The room was so full that we had to squeeze people into the room. I also remember the feedback from the attendees - even after an extended time in a crowded room, they wanted to stay and hear more from Karen. I certainly can understand why as she is clearly an expert in all of the various nuances of Web 2.0 and filled her discussion with useful and actionable information.

When we last corresponded via email Karen told me, "I'm still in shock." I guess I can understand that initial reaction given the quality of other articles submitted. However, her very simple idea to use Web 2.0 to "Attract," "Engage," and "Extend" was compelling and on target. Judges selected Karen's article Web 2.0 Makes You Rethink the Basics from a short list of finalists and announced it at SVAMA's Marketing Thought conference last week.

The other finalists were . . .

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Marketing Thought - A Great Success

Just for those of you who missed it - what a terrific day of networking and learning! Some of our profession's best minds were on hand to share their talents and wisdom. The networking was enhanced by the number of marketing vendors who were on hand to show off their products and services. Andy Sernovitz and Guy Kawasaki stayed after the program to mingle and sign books.

A big thanks to the many people who made this possible and particularly Robert Jacobs who had the vision for this program and Angi Roberts who managed the details.

SVAMA's meetings have received very high "Stay Informed!" ratings all year long - Net Promoter Scores between the low 40s and high 50s. This meeting was over the top with respect to both information and connections.

The organization is about to begin a new year and we hope to involve you in our activities. I can't count how many times I have talked about helping marketers Stay Connected! and Stay Informed! over the past year or so, but it's true. Everyone at SVAMA is involved for the same reasons that you should be involved. We want to meet you and learn from you. If you haven't had a chance to check us out, meet us at our next meeting.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

2007 Marketing Thought Winners

Congratulations to the winners in SVAMA's Marketing Thought publishing contest in alphabetical order . . .

  • Mark Cavender and Michael Eckhardt from Chasm Institute, LLC for "Marketing Disruptive Innovations to Consumers: Myths vs Realities"
  • Mar Junge from 3cPR for "Everybody LOVES a Juicy Story"
  • Karen O'Brien from Crimson Consulting for "Web 2.0 Makes you ReThink the Basics"
I am looking forward to greeting all of you at the conference. Thank you for being marketing thought leaders.

Gene Hall

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

"Mobilizing Advocates Online to Drive Dramatic Growth"

Copyright, Zuberance, Inc., 2007

Nearly every company has a cadre of "Advocates" -- highly influential customers and other VIPs who are very willing to freely and pro-actively evangelize your company, product, service, brand, or even an idea or cause to family members, friends, colleagues, and millions online. Advocates are your most valuable constituency and a "Volunteer Salesforce" that -- properly orchestrated -- will:

  • Generate thousands of highly qualified sales leads (customer evangelists generate more than 85% of qualified sales leads, Bain & Co. says)
  • Grow your revenues up to 4X faster than competitors, according to the London School of Economics
  • Defend you from your detractors, proven to detract from growth

Goal of All Marketing: Advocacy

Authentic advocacy is the goal for all marketing. Not awareness. Not customer satisfaction. Not even loyalty, if that term even exists any longer in a world of disposable brands and relationships.

If you can create a thriving community of people who are willing to freely and pro-actively advocate you, your product, your company to receptive audiences, you will be very successful.

Of course, advocacy is easier to create when you have a cool product like an iPod that people naturally want to tell others about. But you don't need to have a sexy new MP3 player to benefit from advocacy. In fact, nearly every company including B2B firms and yes, even small unknown software companies, can benefit from advocacy. Put simply, there are two keys to advocacy:

  1. Create an experience that your customers, partners, and others want to evangelize (We call this "organic advocacy.") This is the foundation for advocacy.
  2. Enable your advocates to share their enthusiasm for your company or product by making it easy for them to tell others. This requires a systematic approach to advocacy. And, please, do not even think about paying your advocates. Real advocacy cannot be manufactured or faked. It can only be earned.

Needed: A Systematic Approach

For years, marketers have been aware of the value of activating their word of mouth (WOM) advocates. What's been missing is a systematic approach to mobilizing advocates that enables marketers to find advocates, mobilize them, and reliably track the business results of advoacy. This is exactly the breakthrough marketing and idea that Zuberance provides. We've created a methodology and set of on-demand software services that enable marketers to:

  1. Identify and qualify your advocates
  2. Mobilize your advocates
  3. Track the business results of advocacy

1. Identify and Qualify Your Advocates

Net Promoter (R) surveys are a way to start identifying and qualifying your advocates. Co-created by our business partner Satmetrix Systems, Inc. and loyalty guru Fred Reichheld, Net Promoter asks the "ultimate customer loyalty question": On a scale of 0-10, how likely would you be to be recommend our (company, product, service, brand) to others? "Promoters" rate themselves 9 or 10 (extremely likely to recommend) while "Detractors" rate themselves 0-6. The percentage difference between Promoters and Detractors is your Net Promoter Score (P-D=NPS.) Visit for more info. While Net Promoter is a simple and powerful metric, not all Promoters are equal. Some Promoters have greater influence than others over purchase decisions and perceptions and are more willing to pro-actively influence others. So you need to go beyond a Net Promoter survey to identify and qualify your advocates. The Zuberance software product identifies and qualifies your advocates for you, integrating survey techniques, web analytics, and data analysis.

2. Mobilize Your Advocates

By now, everyone is familiar with "Tell A Friend" forms and referral programs that pay or provide perks for referring prospects. As my teenage daughter would say (now say this with a teenage smerk on your face:) "Dad, that is soooo lame." If you are a high tech or B2B marketer, you also know how difficult it is to get customers to approve case studies. (I was reminded of this when I watched a marketing manager break down in tears of frustration on a recent Friday afternoon. After we talked her back in from the ledge, we assured her it wasn't her fault that she couldn't get a case study approved. ) Many B2B customers are simply unwilling or unable to participate in these testimonials. It's time for a more creative approach: link your pre-qualified advocates with prospects and others online in opt-in, permission-based dialogues that occur where, when, and how advocates and prospects want to have these conversations. The Zuberance system does this automatically and matches relevant advocates with audiences. ("We call this Match.Com meets WOM Marketing.")

3. Track Business Results

2-4-6-8, what do we advocate? Metrics! Metrics! Metrics! (We just love to crunch that data.) Word of Mouth metrics. That's the "Holy Grail of Marketing," isn't it? Or is the Holy Grail finding a hotel room in Manhattan with hot water and no carpet stains for under $600 a night? Anyway, here's how we track the business results of advocacy. When someone registers as an advocate on the Zuberance system, we track their advocacy activities (number of posts, number of interactions, number of leads generated, number of leads closed.) We also give you loads of community metrics (size, number, activities, influence, advocacy scores, etc.) all in a customizable dashboard with widgets. It's kind of like strapping an EKG to your advocates. Spooky, eh? No, it's metrics. And we love metrics.

If you're not mobilizing your advocates, you're not taking advantage of the world's most effective and inexpensive form of marketing. Creating and implemented a systematic approach to advocacy will fuel your growth and enhance your competitive advantage. So what are you waiting for?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Making Lead Nurturing Part of Every Strategy

When I first got into the demand generation business 10 years ago we were happy if a person accurately completed our form. A completed form equaled a lead. If the name was associated with a targeted company or carried an impressive title, we thought we had struck gold. We were all thrilled. When the boss passed us in the hall, we would be the first to say… "Guess who responded to our offer? Mr. Nifty from Big Target USA!"

Our happiness was often short lived, however, because once this precious lead was passed over to Sales it was anybody's guess if it would actually amount to anything. The expectation of Sales was that a lead was "someone ready to buy." The expectation of Marketing was a lead was "someone who, with nurturing, could possibly buy." Hence a rift was created. Sales wanted sales leads. Marketing was delivering marketing leads.

How do we bridge the gulf? By doing proper lead nurturing. By following these guiding concepts we can build relationships with prospects that stand a better chance of them buying-- and ultimately making for more satisfied and engaged customers in 2007 and beyond:

Step One: Understand where they are in the process
Every customer or prospect with whom you engage is at some point of the customer-purchase funnel. Recognition of the phases within the funnel is a good place to start. The phases include:

· Awareness

· Consideration

· Preference

· Purchase

· Loyalty

The challenge is to create a climate of true lead nurturing that aligns with this funnel and encourages a buying cycle. For each of our organizations this is slightly different. Working with Sales -- and directly with customers -- is the shortest route to finding out exactly what that funnel looks like from the buyer's perspective. It can be a very eye-opening experience.

Once we have identified the steps and roadblocks within each of the phases a customer has to go through to actually buy our products or services, we can begin to build the right communications scenario for delivery at the most optimal time. Typically this means a series of letters, emails, articles, buying tools and even webcasts timed across a sales cycle.

It is often the case that your target will need to "sell" the idea internally to others in his or her organization or even, in the case of a consumer, to someone else in their family. Arm them with the right tools. Entice and excite them with meaningful information that addresses their issues over time.

During the Consideration phase, the issue of cost savings often enters the decision-making process. That's a good time for sending an ROI calculator along with a case study. As they move towards the Preference phase, a competitive analysis would be ideal.

By taking the time to better understand customers' motivations and internal obstacles -- and their place in the funnel -- it can be much easier to move people forward toward a positive purchase decision.

Step Two: Develop and stick to a nurturing plan
Clients too often go to market without having a nurturing plan in place. Their expectation is that a mere ad will result in people knocking on their door immediately. We all know it takes eight to nine touches for people to actually "get" you. Your ability to have a continuing, integrated marketing approach -- whether you're a little guy or a big guy -- is where you'll make a real difference.

The key is thinking long term and making efforts to avoid the traditional trap: taking a so-called warm lead and entering them into the black hole of a Sales or Callback database, only to lose the personal connection by burying them in collateral.

A good nurturing plan should call for repeat, targeted outreach, making sure the customer sees a different side of you every time. Rather than just blanketing them with your latest white paper and walking away, think about what comes next. What knowledge do you want them to have or which change do you expect them to think about after having read the paper? Follow up with a handwritten letter or card. Do a small amount of tailored, digital printing to address a finite set of concerns or motivations. After they get their second card, keep in mind what you'd like them to be thinking at that next point in the process. And it may take some time. Even if you have to compress a sales cycle due to time or budget constraints remember there's no shortcut to reaching the bottom of the funnel.

Making it all work for you
Like any successful endeavor, the bottom line to a good nurturing effort is having a mindset that these campaigns are longer-term commitments. And remember you're not the only marketing voice out there. Many of us in the end are going after pretty finite markets filled with exhausted buyers being hit by the same competition over and over again. The key to succeeding is to have a better plan than anyone else's-- you'll stand a much better chance at landing Mr. Nifty, as well as connecting your Sales and Marketing teams in more meaningful ways than ever before.

Freda Byrne is an Account Exeuctive at Groove 11, Groove 11 is an experiential creative agency that helps clients develop the full emotional potential of their brands. The company provides strategy on branding, product launches, integrated marketing, and corporate identity, and draws on the award-winning talents of its teams to execute programs via event and trade show production, interactive media design, executive presentations, online advertising, and affinity Web sites to build truly comprehensive, novel and immersive brand experiences.

Clients include Cisco Systems, Diageo, Sun Microsystems, Flax Art & Design, Clinique, and the Napa Valley Vintners Association. Based in San Rafael, Calif., Groove 11 can be found online at

Marketing Leadership: Five Steps to Move Forward

Linda Popky, L2M Associates

Two weeks ago I asked where is the marketing leadership ? I firmly believe that global marketing leadership can be driven by us here in Silicon Valley. Here are five steps to move the process forward:

  1. Elevate the right exemplars.

From the earliest recorded time through the Greek and Roman empires to the present, societies have looked to their exemplars—their leaders—to set the stage for how entities and individuals should act. It is the exemplars that provide the example for what is rewarded, what is tolerated, and what is punished. As human beings, we focus on behavior rather than pronouncements, knowing that actions really do speak louder than words.

As marketers, we run the risk of letting the leadership process happen haphazardly, or worse yet, of elevating the wrong exemplars. Instead, we must specifically decide who deserves to be elevated as our models. We need to be clear about which behaviors we want to emulate and what type of leadership we intend to endorse. Nature abhors a vacuum. If we don’t choose the right leaders, they will be chosen for us and we will then live with the consequences.

  1. Stand up and be counted.

As marketing leaders, we need to take leadership positions on key issues that affect our area, our industries, our profession. We need to drive the responsible use of marketing techniques and technologies through our organizations and beyond. We need to ensure our organizations understand the strategic importance of marketing as a discipline to their success, and that they are aware of the critical impact a strong team of marketing talent (or lack thereof) may have on their future. To quote the Talmud, If not me, than whom? If not now, then when?

  1. Be ahead of the curve.

It’s easy to jump on a bandwagon, but harder to stand up for an issue that may not yet be mainstream, or may even actually be unpopular. We have the power to raise awareness and to create attention—that’s what we do so well. We need to do that early, rather than follow others’ leads. Today the buzz is around clean tech, climate change, sustainability. These are all noble and good causes, but they are not the only areas that need our attention. How can the discipline of marketing, with all its techniques and technology, programs and processes, drive the next big thing—rather than be driven by it?

  1. Mentor others.

A good mentor can not only open doors for a marketing employee, but can teach them how to navigate a complex organization, give them insights that would take years to develop on their own, or help them develop critical influence and negotiation skills. We have all been guided through the years by a series of mentors and leaders, some more than others. We need to ensure we are providing that same level of guidance—and more—for young professionals as they enter our sphere of influence. They may live in the world of Web 2.0, but we’ve survived the school of hard knocks. The experiences and expertise we can share are invaluable

  1. Consider the greater good.

New marketing techniques and technologies are introduced almost on a daily basis—some have even been highlighted in other entries in this blog. We need to be sure we understand the consequences of each of these tools that we are so ready to unleash to the world. How will they be used and how might they be misused? How can they be engaged to effect positive change, on a global as well as a local basis? When there are negative impacts, how do we mitigate them? What is our role and how do we embrace it?

Where is the Marketing Leadership? It is here, within each and every one of us, if we choose to take on the challenge. We are what, how and where we do marketing. We have met the future and it is us. How will we handle this responsibility?

Linda Popky is the President of L2M Associates, a Redwood City, California-based strategic marketing company that helps organizations dramatically improve their return on investment on marketing programs, processes and people. Learn more about how to leverage your marketing investment by visiting her website at, or contacting her at