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

Marketing Operations in the Silicon Valley: Addressing CMO Challenges

By Adrian Carol Ott

CMOs of large Silicon Valley companies are confronted with significant challenges including:
  • Globalization: Synchonizing messaging and market activity across continents.
  • ROI: Faced with a maturing technology industry, CEO's are demanding greater ROI on their marketing invesments.

  • New Marketing Technology: The advent of new technologies has enabled unprecedented interactive dialogs with customers. New technologies must be implemented.

  • Stakeholder Agreement: Coordination with regional marketing groups, and stakeholders in product business units and sales constitutes a major task.

Marketing Operations Emerges

As a result of these demands and others, many Silicon Valley CMOs have commissioned a marketing operations organization to tackle these challenges. Originally designated to create metrics and dashboards for accountability, leading companies are increasingly treating marketing operations as a key foundation to the marketing function.

"Marketing operations ensures marketing is run as a business," states a VP of Marketing Operations at a major Silicon Valley firm, "We strive to enable the marketing organization to be streamlined in day-to-day processes so they have time to think, focus on the customer and to innovate."(1)

In many business-to-business focused firms in the Silicon Valley, marketing operations is combined with the sales operation function to promote integration of the two groups. Although organizationally integrated, the purpose of marketing operations as we will describe in this article remains the same.

Introducing the 5Ts of Marketing Operations

Based on our work with clients, and in our research, we have found that marketing operations is an emerging dimension to the marketing mix. Enabled by new processes and technology, it goes beyond the 4Ps (i.e. Product, Price, Place, Promotion), and 3Cs (i.e. Customers, Competitors, Corporation (2)), to fully round out the marketing mix. The 5Ts of Marketing Operations™ are:
  • Total Strategy
  • Techniques & Processes
  • Tracking & Predictive Modeling
  • Technology
  • Talent

By approaching marketing operations across these dimensions, CMOs have an integrated approach to enable marketing worldwide. Let’s describe the 5Ts in more detail:

Total Strategy: This area involves strategy development in the product portfolio. It is not uncommon for large high-tech companies to have seventy-five or more products in their portfolios, some have hundreds. Managing investments and priorities across the portfolio is paramount.

Techniques & Processes: How should information flow most effectively across the marketing organization worldwide? How do we make decisions? What are our governance processes? What is our roadmap for marketing processes next year? in 3 years?

Tracking and Predictive Modeling: How do we make marketing more accountable? How do we measure campaigns and ensure better predictability of outcomes?

Technology: How do we implement technology across the globe to enable effective customer dialog, demand generation and measurement? What are the business requirements for IT? How does technology support the marketing and sales process roadmap for the next 3 years?

Talent: How do we ensure our marketing personnel are trained and enabled to work with new marketing technologies and processes? How can we enable them to make the right decisions based on analytics and campaign scorecards?

The Future of Marketing and the 5Ts

The 5Ts have a deep and significant impact on customer relationships. For example, by implementing integrated technology for demand generation and customer database access, regional marketing personnel can now build innovative campaigns on top of a marketing operations infrastructure. By tracking the success of a campaign, companies will realize better customer targeting and ROI; they learn from prior successes and failures.

The 5Ts add a critical foundation to the marketing function enabling marketing operations to support Silicon Valley CMOs to tackling contemporary challenges and to integrate with sales operations. It is dramatically transforming the marketing function and is changing how marketing will be conducted in the future.

© 2007 Exponential Edge Inc., All Rights Reserved

The Author: Adrian Carol Ott is CEO of Exponential Edge Inc, a strategy consultancy that assists global corporations to grow and innovate through market assessment, go-to-market planning, and strategic partnering. She also serves as Chair of the Harvard Business School N. California Alumni Marketing and Sales Roundtable. The Roundtable is a forum that explores issues and trends faced by senior executives in the Silicon Valley and Bay Area Business Community.

(1) HBS N. CA Marketing & Sales Roundtable, "Marketing Operations: How It Will Transform Marketing Forever", Panel Discussion with VP's of Marketing Operations from Symantec, Cisco, BEA, and a consumer packaged goods expert, June 20, 2006
(2) It is recognized that the 3Cs have been used in other forms and described in different ways. For example, we have heard "Communication" used as a "C". Our description is what appears to be most consistent in literature based on the author's research. Other forms could be substituted for the 3C's and have the same effect. The goal is to avoid debate on this element in this article as it would take it away from the central topic.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Turn Your Competitors into Allies

By Shel Horowitz

1. Get to know the other people in your niche. When you notice a new arrival in the marketplace--or if you enter a market new to you--pick up the phone and get acquainted. Become active in trade associations in your industry, and in your geographic area (for example, Chamber of Commerce, neighborhood business association). Participate in Internet discussion groups with others in your own or closely related fields. Talk shop, discuss approaches to problems, let each other know about events or opportunities of interest. Know each company's Unique Selling Proposition (USP)--the key reason why it makes sense to do business with that company--and that way, you'll know when and where to refer accounts that aren't quite right for you.

2. Market together, cooperatively. I remember a wonderful newspaper co-op ad from all my local florists, who teamed up just before Mother's Day. The headline: "You wouldn't buy your groceries from a florist! So, why buy your plants from a grocer?" The ad copy emphasized higher plant quality, expert knowledge, and various other benefits, and then listed full contact info for 11 different flower shops.

By joining forces, the consortium could afford a big, noticeable ad. An ad one-eleventh the size would have been easy to ignore, but this one filled a quarter-page (in a large-format newspaper) and demanded to be noticed.

Another example: in publishing, many small presses will include a flier for a complementary book from another publisher as they ship out orders; for the very low cost of printing and mailing the fliers, participating publishers get to reach an entirely new audience. Sometimes, publishers will even sell a bundle consisting of their own and other firms' books, gathered together at a value price.

It's not just small companies doing this, either. Some of the largest and most fiercely competitive corporations in the world engage in joint ventures regularly. The first car I ever bought new was a 1988 Chevrolet Nova, which was essentially identical to the Toyota Corolla. Built by Chevrolet to Toyota's specification, it was a marvelous car, and about $2000 less than the same car with the Toyota nameplate. Fifteen years after production ended, I still see a lot of them on the road. Similarly, the popular Ford Escort wagon was really a Mazda, etc., etc.

Think about the package delivery business. FedEx and the United States Postal Service have a very interesting arrangement; the USPS subcontracts intercity air transportation of Express Mail and Priority Mail to FedEx, which gets a substantial new revenue stream and utilizes otherwise wasted air freight capacity. And meanwhile, FedEx has installed thousands of drop boxes at post offices around the country, thus helping its consumers avoid pick-up charges and making shipping with the company incredibly convenient.

For service businesses, sometimes your biggest competitor is not another company, but the idea of doing it yourself. Certainly, this is true in my business. Most people believe they can write well--and few of them understand the difference between putting sentences together on paper to convey information--something most people can actually do themselves--and writing materials with a sharply defined focus and a powerful call to action, or a news hook. Only a very small percentage of businesses ever hire outside professional copywriters. Large firms hire this skill internally, and many small firms use their own (untrained) marketing departments.

In my business, two of the largest revenue streams are marketing copywriting and resume writing. On the resume side, our "market share" went down sharply after large numbers of people started having access to PCs and laser printers, and it went down dramatically again after Microsoft started bundling a resume template in Microsoft Word. During the boom times when companies would hire any warm body, people could get by with that approach. But now, in a leaner economy, many of our resume clients bring a document they created in this template--because it hasn't been landing job interviews. We can easily see why these self-written resumes haven't been working; they don't properly highlight the client's strengths or minimize weaknesses, the format may not be appropriate, and the writers haven't focused their resume on their target market: people who hire employees with a particular skill set.

3. Refer business to each other. Typically, you will each have areas of specialization that you do better than others. So if you get an inquiry from someone best served by your competitor, you satisfy the customer by playing matchmaker. And your competitors will do the same for you. I have some competitors--and complementary businesses--with whom I pay or charge a referral commission, and others where we simply pass appropriate clients to each other.

My business started primarily as a typing service, but very quickly, I branched out into writing resumes and marketing materials. I joined a local association of secretarial services, and because people knew my specialties, I got a lot of resume work through referrals.

At the same time, after my first two tape-transcription assignments, I decided I really disliked that part of the business and began referring those jobs out to other services.

This cooperation always had three winners: the client, of course, who got the best providers for the services they needed; but also my competitors and me: we didn't let the things we disliked get in the way of doing what we enjoyed and excelled at, yet we were able to keep our clients happy when they requested those services.

Here's another one of my "competitors," Wendy Kurtz, MBA, APR, CPRC, president of the PR firm Elizabeth Charles & Associates , talking about how this works for her:

I disagree with the premise that there are only two types: winners and losers. All too often, we as professionals tend to overlook the basic concept we learned in childhood, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." I have found that some of my best referrals have come from vendors and those competitors with whom I maintain a sense of "we're in this together," rather than "we're out to beat each other to the top."

4. Subcontract with each other. If one of you has too much work and the other has too little, doesn't it make sense to work with a professional that you trust and even it all out?

5. Create temporary joint ventures, where each of you is a partner. After all, if fierce competitors like Apple and IBM could join together (with Motorola as a third partner) to develop the Power PC chip architecture, surely you and your competitors can put aside your differences. These could be equal or weighted partnerships.

6. In some cases, if you work so well together, and enjoy advantages of scale, increased buying power, and so forth--and your corporate cultures harmonize well with each other--a permanent merger or acquisition may even make sense.

7. Be there if your competitors fold; if you've maintained strong positive relations, if you've cooperated on several projects, if your competitor leaves the business, *you* will get the referrals.

In the earliest days of my business, one of my competitors called me up and asked me if I needed any office supplies; he wanted to place an order with a large mail-order wholesaler and didn't have enough to make the minimum. That phone call has saved me thousands of dollars, because I wasn't aware of this very inexpensive supplier. I not only added my order to his, but for the past 20 years I've ordered from that company--at a deep discount over anything I could find locally.

And yes, this competitor later moved out of the area. He was one of several who sent all their clients to me when they closed their shops.

I got the initial call--and the later referrals--because we were on friendly terms and had often sent each other clients.

Excerpted from Shel Horowitz's Apex Award winning sixth book Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Marketing Disruptive Innovations to Consumers: Myths vs. Realities

[ ... a Chasm Institute perspective ]

The boundaries between high-tech and the consumer have shifted. The next 2 to 5 years will increasingly blur this boundary further, making it essential for today’s marketers to more deeply understand the rules of the game.

It is no longer “business to business = high-tech” and “business to consumer = low-tech.”

Competitive worldwide markets clearly require smarter approaches for savvy companies seeking to introduce a “consumer” high-tech product. And the good news is that key success patterns are emerging and becoming more predictable, based on our Chasm Institute client strategy sessions and workshops during the past 10+ years.

In this overview, we describe four myths and realities that must be considered, for the successful marketing of disruptive technology into consumer markets.

These are as follows:

(1) Consumers and Disruptive Innovations –
This Can Be Done

· Myth: Consumers will not buy disruptive innovations.
· Reality: Certain consumers will buy disruptive innovations, but the motivation and economic model must be right.
· Lesson: Target wealthy consumers, or less affluent but highly-motivated early adopters (think MP3 players). In either case, you need to win over Technology Enthusiasts who will give your product a strong early endorsement.

Examples: early stage PC’s, home theatres, digital cameras, wireless home networking.


(2) Cross the Chasm with Consumer Products – by Not Focusing on the Consumer

· Myth: There’s no such thing as Crossing the Chasm with consumer products.
· Reality: Best to first Cross the Chasm with a business use for your consumer product, then do the same with consumers.
· Lesson: Find a business application for your consumer product first, if at all possible.

Examples: the true commercialization of mobile phones started with sales professionals; the true commercialization of HDTV’s started with sports bars, trade show booths, corporate lobbies.


(3) Completing the Whole Product is a Big Deal

· Myth: First one to market always wins.
· Reality: First one to market with the whole product wins.
· Lesson: Just because you have a cool technology, is no guarantee of market success – until you’ve nailed the entire “minimum viable” whole solution. And yes, this includes that pesky ecosystem.

Example: iPods (whole product included hardware, “look & feel”, industrial design, packaging, channel strategy, “out-of-box-experience”, pricing, iTunes music downloading system, branding, messaging – yes, even the billboards!)


(4) Market Leadership can be Fleeting: ... don’t think you ever “own” the market – you’re only renting !

· Myth: I can always leverage leadership from a previous paradigm to win in the future.
· Reality: Few companies can break the stronghold of their past, without a clear + disciplined “renewal strategy”.
· Lesson: Just because you’re a leader in one paradigm, is no guarantee for success in the next paradigm. You have to fight just as hard, if not harder, to win the next wave of adoption.

Examples: Sony Walkman losing to Apple’s iPOD (2000’s), Motorola losing to Nokia in mobile phones (1990’s), Kodak losing to Canon/Sony in digital cameras (2000’s), Nokia at risk of losing to Samsung / LG / Motorola (2000’s).


About the Authors:

Mark Cavender
and Michael Eckhardt
Managing Directors at Chasm Institute LLC

Mark Cavender is Founder and Managing Director of Chasm Institute. An accomplished teacher and workshop leader, he also serves as a senior instructor. With over 15 years of experience in enterprise software, Mark has a unique blend of strategic and tactical marketing skills coupled with a strong background in software sales.

Mark has worked with numerous leading enterprise software and telecommunications companies such as Acterna, Business Objects, Hyperion, Lawson Software, Microsoft, Nextel, Nokia and SunGard as well as growing firms such as Docent, iManage, and Logility. He has also done joint strategy work with IBM and their key enterprise software business partners.

Prior to founding Chasm Institute, Mark spent 9 years as a Managing Director with The Chasm Group and four years with Oracle Corporation, most recently as Director of Marketing, Financial Applications. Before joining Oracle, he was Marketing Manager with J.D. Edwards & Co. He has also held various sales and marketing management positions with GEAC (formerly Dun & Bradstreet Software / McCormack & Dodge), and Ceridian (formerly The Service Bureau Company).

Mark holds an MBA in marketing from the University of North Texas and a BS in general business from John Brown University.



Michael T. Eckhardt, Managing Director of Chasm Institute LLC, is a veteran of Hewlett-Packard, PepsiCo Inc., and Price Waterhouse. A graduate of Harvard Business School and Wall Street Journal Award Winner, Michael is a recognized expert in delivering market strategy workshops for high-tech executives and product teams.

Michael has 20 years of deep expertise in strategic marketing and high-tech market development. He provides clients in the U.S., Europe, and Pacific Rim with strategy workshops & tools for gaining and sustaining market leadership positions in highly-competitive marketplaces. He was first named a Senior Affiliate of the Chasm Group in 1994.

Michael's client base includes Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard’s printer business, Intel Corporation, AT&T Wireless, Agilent Technologies, Philips Medical Systems, Autodesk, LMC Data Systems, and Mentor Graphics.
Prior to Chasm Group, Michael directed Hewlett-Packard's market-focus consulting group. His work with HP frequently contributed to its business units generating profitable growth from key product lines, and increasing the market acceptance of new products. He provided HP product divisions, including the market-leading LaserJet® and DeskJet® printer businesses, with 3 priorities: market strategy workshops, customer needs analysis, and competitive intelligence training.


Everybody LOVES a Juicy Story

readership is declining rapidly
There was a time when email newsletters were a novelty. Even the quirky, semi-professional email newsletters got read. In fact, small- to midsize businesses had an advantage. When the company had something useful to say, provided information that could not be found anywhere else, and spoke honestly to customers without all the self-promoting hype, their email newsletters developed a loyal audience. Email newsletters were inexpensive and a great way to reach customers and build relationships.

Then large corporations with big budgets flooded cyberspace with enewsletters that were little more than thinly disguised self-promotional vehicles. People stopped reading and believing the hype. Today, even the most honest, promotion-free enewsletter can get deleted or tagged as SPAM before it has a chance to build up readership.

So how can we get prospects and customers to read enewsletters? How do we grab their interest and let them know we truly feel their pain and have a solution that addresses their problems? Simple. Write fiction stories about the drama that goes on in their day-to-day professional world.

Not a case study or an application story --- been there. Tried that. Those real-life stories are good marketing tools, but not unique enough to make our customers' customers drop everything to read the next issue of an enewsletter. No, we want to write juicy fiction stories that are real "page turners.” Evocative dramas that leave you hungry for more. Think daytime soaps with a twist.

We have the perfect client test case
This client provides litigation support services to Bay Area law firms. The target audience for its enewsletter is primarily paralegals and documentation managers working in high-pressure law firms. Both male and female, aged 25-55, they are very organized and professional. But sometimes, it seems that no matter how good they are, they aren’t as good as the lawyers they serve. Many complain that they feel like they’re always at the bottom of the hill when the crap rolls down. Plus everyone’s always in a hurry. The stress is almost too much too take.

And while many of them say they have no time to read our client's enewsletters no matter valuable the information, they continue to sign up. The enewsletter, sent quarterly to 2,000 people, scores an amazing 35% open rate, of which 15% click through. So we know somehow these paralegals MAKE time for good information. And we're betting a good, juicy story will be exactly what we need to cut through the marketing clutter and increase the number of subscribers so that we can justify increasing frequency.

Think Boston Legal with a twist
See, there’s this paralegal whose work is never good enough for her boss.
And there’s office romance. And intrigue. And backstabbing. And offers to join a new firm. Just like Boston Legal or other popular law shows that come and go, the strength of the characters will pull them in and makes them want to read more. And woven in the drama will be mentions of our client’s solutions that help solve the paralegal's problems. But nothing obvious, of course.

The research is already done

Over the last year we've written dozens of case studies from interviews with paralegals and the client's account managers. We know what goes on in the law firms.
When my senior writer and I pooled our notes, I realized we had a great story platform. Now all we have to do is convince our client this is a good idea. That might not be easy.

"You've spent so much time helping us transition from our folksy logo to a more sophisticated image. How will running a fictional serial in our newsletter support our new marketing direction?" asks the client.

Good point. This isn't something one of the big national firms would do. But we have a hunch that paralegals will be grateful for a little entertainment and levity in their high-pressure, buttoned-up jobs. As they read the stories, they'll know that San Francisco Legal feels their pain and understands the pressure they're under. Plus it will get their newsletter opened and read, building a loyal audience.

"But what about ROI?"
Well, we know the audience is so limited in what they can say and do in their profession, they crave a little entertainment and notice anything out of the ordinary.
For example, a colorful "Going Green" flyer adorned with cute little tree frogs cost $800 to produce and brought in $2,000 worth of new business for the client. And an exhibit graphic we produced starring a sressed-out paralegal was a showstopper. Plus, the cost of producing content for the enewsletter won't go up since both of c3PR's senior writers are closet novelists who will jump at the chance to get paid to practice their passion. They'll make sure every story's just outrageous enough to be a little beyond believable so no one's offended. And we'll provide open, read, click-thru, forward-to-a-friend and new subscriber statistics to track the results of every issue.

Curious about how Polly Paralegal fends off the advances of Larry Lawyer and convinces Amy Account Manager from the Legal Services Firm to do the job in half the time? Or how Nancy NewEmployee is sleeping her way to the top? It’s all in the next exciting edition, so subscribe to today. You won’t want to miss an issue!

Mar Junge is the principal of c3PR and a closet novelist. Her first novel for the Young Adult market, Gypspy Blood, has been accepted as one of five to be reviewed by Author Barbara Shoup at the Pacific Coast Children's Writers Workshop in August. (But she's not quitting her day job just yet.) We'll know by mid June whether the client will let us test this idea in their enewsletter. If you'd like to read the first exciting installment, email and she'll send you the link. If this client doesn't go for it, maybe we'll launch our own enewsletter telling stories about what really goes on in a P.R. firm. Think it would be juicier than what goes on in a law firm? If you're a fiction writer too, maybe this can be a group effort!

Letting Your Freak Flag Fly

Your Best, Longest Lasting Customers Relate to You Personally

If it’s true that our goal is about causing a memorable experience that’s worth telling your friends about and worth having over and over again (preferably for years on end) then we should be looking at who’s achieving that rare level of consumer attention and then holding on to it over the long haul.

I don’t believe that a better example can be found than the Days of Our Lives.

For over 38 years now ‘Days’ has maintained an iron grip on millions of viewer’s weekdays – five days a week. If they miss it, they record it and watch it the next day lest they miss a critical twist or turn. The converted presumably talk about it over dinner with their families and on the phone to far-away relatives.

Of course, with such a long run ‘Days’ must lose a significant number of viewers to defectors (to other daytime shows), people’s schedule changes, and of course death. They lose their actors, writers, and directors to the very same forces. So everything’s changing – the consumer, the product, the times. And of course ‘Days’ has had its ups and downs – from being the number one daytime show to near-cancellation several times. But we must agree that the level of devotion to that brand over such a long period is something to which we all aspire.

So what is it that keeps viewers so rapt over the course of decades, generation after generation? I submit that it’s simply that viewers quickly develop a personal connection with the characters. We identify with their trials and tribulations, with their loves and losses, with their smallness and transformations. There are characters we love and characters we hate – or rather love to hate – and we’re engaged by our own emotional journeys.

For decades, we’re aghast at the manipulative sisters-in-law and thrilled with daring of cheating husbands and business leaders. Depending on our estimation of our own moral history, we judge or excuse the character’s personal flaws and failings. We organize our own view of ourselves around their powerful, yet pedestrian stories. Our own story is experienced alongside and in relation to the one we see on T.V.

Get Naked

As marketers, how can we engage our customers like this? After all, we’re not T.V. writers, or actors! And we’re selling widgets that aren’t nearly as sexy as Hope or Shawn!

Blogging is clearly a beginning. We’re seeing a lengthening toe of personality beginning to come out from behind the corporate veil. But the vast majority of company blogs today are mainly just dozens of versions of the sales-pitch done in casual, everyman language. If we see anything personal, it’s a family vacation shot or a baby picture that feel like a premeditated shot at giving us warm-fuzzies. We may like our own kids, and thus have a flicker of identification with our hosts. But there are a lot of parents out there, and your kids aren’t going to hold my attention for long.

What attracts and holds attention are our authentic stories. It’s not the pretty parts, but the nasty parts that we appreciate. It’s the struggle, the embarrassment, the failure, and the drama that makes us squirm – and pay attention.

Why is Donald Trump famous? There are plenty of successful real estate investors out there, but Trump has bad hair, went broke, had a nasty divorce, got a trophy wife, and has a massive ego – all of which we love and hate and understand about him. The other real estate investors all did that stuff, too… but they hide it. Trump has made all those things his calling cards. They mystify us and keep us talking and watching.

We’re all striving to create richer relationships with our customers and clients. We want to engage them with our brands, and keep them coming back for more. But no matter what we sell, our customers ‘get it’ pretty quick. We run out of new stuff to say. Pretty soon, we begin to try to ‘connect’ with press releases and new ad campaigns.

But what’s interesting to people, in the long run, is people. It’s identifying with our dreams, successes, failures, and striving. Our stories. And, as entrepreneurs, we’re hardly lacking in this kind of material.

We just need to have the guts to show it.
Landon Ray is founder and CEO of MoonRay, which provides a CRM tool for small and medium business with a direct-marketing mindset.

Web 2.0 Makes You ReThink the Basics

As Marketers we are taught to use the standard model of "Acquisition, Retention and Growth" as a frame work. When working with Web 2.0 initiatives, I have found it necessary to re-think the basics to fully take advantage of the possibilities of both the technology and new marketing approaches. The new model I have been evolving and using "Attract, Engage and Extend" has proved to be very useful in the strategy and planning of multiple web-based programs and initiatives.

Attract - customers with compelling and relevant content, resources and tools. Loyalty is fleeting and we can no longer count on "acquiring" customers.

Engage - customers in an ongoing dialog with your company and when appropriate - with each other. Social media and community tools empower us to have that conversation with our customers - and as marketers we need to be prepared to fully engage.

Extend – content beyond the site through syndication/ RSS, viral or pass-along tactics, access or download content to multiple devices, integrate with offline marketing and activities.

For example - I have used this framework to plan the requirements of a website - grouping the desired features, functionality and content depending on rather they contribute to Attracting or Engaging customers or helping to Extend beyond the website. I have also used the same framework to plan web based campaigns and to prioritize marketing activities.

A very simple idea - but useful.

Karen O'Brien is a Principal, Interactive Services with Crimson Consulting

Honey Pot Marketing

If you are a small consultant or a niche business, it is not always easy (or even possible) to target a prospect base. This is especially the problem if you are targeting startups even before they have public records, as is the case for our business naming services. We don’t know where the next person or small team is that is seeking a name for their new company. Many don’t even know that naming agencies like ours exist, or they have been scared off by the prices at the famous branding agencies.

So how can we reach them? Marketing 101 has told us to focus our efforts on our key target audience. Yet we don’t know who they are, or where they are, or even what management titles to track down.

But when the police (real or virtual) want to catch the bad guys, and they don’t know where they are, or what name they are using nowadays, what do they do? They put out the honey pots and attract the bears instead of chasing them all over the woods. They don’t know which honey pot will work, so they make a variety of them and spread them around in the areas where the bears are purported to exist, and they wait. (Did they learn this trick from the porno guys themselves?)

So what if we made a great honey pot on the internet and waited for them to come to us? Not enough. You can’t just put out the pot - you have to have some sweet smelling honey too. You need to offer them something tasty… some online resources, books, information, advice, testimonials, references or articles. You may even have to dish it up in different spoonful sizes, because when you target the little bears, the big bears might show up too! And suddenly you have corporate accounts that were looking for your niche services to solve a problem in their department or division as well.

The internet forest is very large, and even with pay per lick (I mean click), many will not find you. So what if you put out some more honey pots? Some with just basic information to interest them and point them to my main honey pot? Some with a taste of the honey to keep them going? Some that are more personal so they may want to meet me and have me show them the route to the honey and the process for making it? And you tell the ranger guides (search engines) about these honey pots too, in case that is all they have to offer some wandering bears picnicking in that neck of the woods?

Of course you will discover it is real work putting out all these little honey pots, and the bigger honey people will loose interest as it takes too many corporate meetings to plan them all and they want to go home at 6 pm. But you are an entrepreneur like many of your prospective clients, so you put out a honey pot every time you can find a spot and some time and some spare honey to taste. For example, I have a number of personal websites, as well as one for every eBook I have published, and many others pointing to our main site.

And you can also find me on LinkedIn, MySpace, UC Extension, etc., all with a pointer to the main honey pot.

When you have honey pots spread all over the internet, you will never again sing:

Home alone, lost on the internet.

Making “Solutions” into More than Marketing Spiel

Technology vendors are promoting solutions, rather than products, to their enterprise customers. Most do so as a reaction to commoditization and falling margins. A few, as a proactive step to differentiate and increase the value they deliver. Of course, other industries and consumer-oriented companies are turning to solutions too. (Just look at Wells Fargo’s new Home Improvement Program, designed to combat the commoditization of equity financing.) Many principles of successful solutions are common across industries, but we’ll address the problem children first: Most technology-based “solutions” are no more than re-positioned products with a services pitch tacked on. Many others start with lofty ideas, then fall down in execution.

What’s a Solution?

Sales and marketing people frequently use the words “solution” and “product” interchangeably, obscuring (intentionally?) a very real distinction. Products supply a specific set of functionality. Solutions address customers’ broader objectives – ones that often have a direct impact on business success. That means solutions are more complex, and require a larger investment and broader skill-set to take to market, deploy, and operate.




One or more products or services

Integrated blend of products, services, and expertise

Type of Need Addressed

Specific requirement - the need to perform a particular task

Strategic imperative – the driver that causes the customer to allocate budget

Success Factors to Achieving Benefits

- Rich feature set

- Reliable performance

- Rapid deployment
- Simple, low-cost maintenance

- Integration (not joint marketing) among components

- Clearly defined roles among solution participants

- Adaptability of solution to evolving needs
- Broad changes in buyer organizations’ behavior

Differentiating between products and solutions

Roles in the Solution Stack

To assess realistically the required investment and likely returns of offering a solution, companies must first determine what role they would play within a solution ecosystem. A company's role within the solution stack determines key decisions about product development, sales capabilities, and alliance strategy. The participants in a complete solution are:

  • Orchestrators: Experts in the customers’ most critical needs, they determine what comprises the solution. Often, orchestrators own the core intellectual property or expertise to meet the customers’ needs. Orchestrators also typically lead the customer relationship.
  • Completers: Offer niche products that are critical to the success of the overall solution.
  • Complementors: Enhance the effectiveness, efficiency, or attractiveness of the solution, but are not critical to delivering on its core promise.
  • Delivery experts: Make the solution easier to adopt and more usable for end-customers.

The orchestration role is the most alluring. To execute it successfully, however, requires significant investment and a broad set of competencies, so its also the riskiest. While its common for a single company to play more than one role, solutions invariably involve inter-company collaboration.

Achieving Success with Solutions

When an organization decides to orchestrate a solution, it must be ready to commit resources from multiple disciplines. Ignoring any one area almost certainly means the solution will fail to reach its full potential for revenue and account penetration.

  1. Select the right use-case and decision-makers. Existing customers are an indispensable source of input at this stage.
  2. Determine which capabilities are critical, and how to make the solution most readily adoptable by customers
  3. Form the required alliances, starting with Completers, then Delivery Experts, and finally Complementors.
  4. Determine and articulate the concrete value of the complete solution. Quantify it!
  5. Assess and, if necessary, enhance sales channel skills to execute a solution selling approach
  6. Go to market in phases to balance investment and return
  7. Expect a learning curve and actively manage the solution’s evolution

Solutions are not a panacea for invigorating revenue growth or raising margins. Nonetheless, organizations that are able to identify the right role within a solution and effectively execute on each stage of solution development can create significant benefits and opportunities for their business:

  • Attention of new, often more powerful, buyers and decision-makers within customer accounts
  • Entree into new accounts, including expansion into larger enterprises with higher budgets
  • Ability to command higher average sale price and deal size
  • Higher services revenues associated with the product, and increased interest from delivery partners who expand market reach
  • Position as a "trusted partner" to customers

About the Author:
Lilia Shirman is the Managing Principal of The Shirman Group, which helps technology companies identify and pursue new sources of revenue and growth. Shirman Group clients are multi-billion dollar companies including BEA Systems and Computer Associates, mid-size vendors like Borland and Intervoice, and some early-stage ventures. Lilia's mission is to help clients broaden their reach to new industries, buyers, alliances, and geographies, and to foster collaborative execution within each client’s organization. "The Shirman Group provided us with expertise and craftsmanship of work that's hard to match," said Vadim Rosenberg, Director of Telecommunications Marketing at Wily. "I would readily recommend Lilia's services to anyone looking to strengthen strategic alliances or improve marketing effectiveness," said Mercedes Ellison, VP of global partner sales at Hyperion. You can find us on-line at

Going beyond Language; Using Word of Mouth and other High Context Strategies to Connect with Today’s Cross-Cultural Consumer

Marketing to the multicultural market today is no longer just a matter of language. Cross-cultural marketing today requires an understanding of the different values and behaviors indoctrinated by cultural influence and how these variables affect cultures. In order to connect with these “New Consumer”, marketers must understand the drivers and motivators that are fueling this mindset and develop campaigns that transcend culture. Multicultural strategy must go beyond adaptation and translation, beyond in-language marketing to marketing in-culture and in-context to deliver meaning and connect with the diverse multicultural audience.

Word-of-mouth, influencer marketing and experiential marketing, these are the strategies generating buzz in the marketplace today, so how can we use these effectively in the multicultural marketplace?

The dimensions of culture in the marketplace easily lend themselves to many of these principles:

“Beyond Guanxi”; Influencer Marketing

In collective societies Community outreach is the cornerstone of any marketing program allowing us to connect with influential community leaders as catalysts to target brand-loyal audiences. Once enrolled, these “Ambassadors” can then exert their own influence within their own social circles.

“Try it you’ll like it”; Experiential and Event Marketing

In high context cultures, providing an experience model that will get people talking is not the only goal. Sampling and Edutainment events are some of the best ways to reach out to a community that may not relate to the brand in the same cultural context:

"If you're an immigrant who doesn't speak English or doesn't own a washing machine, you must show them how Tide meshes into their lives. Allow consumers to see, touch, smell and use the product with in-store demos or at community events. They love to test products. Offer them coupons . . . Don't describe to them how to use it in an instruction book or print ad."
Bill Imada, president of the AAAF and chairman/CEO of IW Group.

“Correr la Voz” or “And she told two friends”; Using Word-of-Mouth

High context cultures such as Latinos, rely on word-of-mouth and familial or peer endorsement to gain knowledge on products and services. Collective communities place a strong focus on interpersonal relationships, therefore using Community and Amistad (Friendship) Networks and connecting with the extended family model which often includes close friends and colleagues can all be effective strategies for creating word-of-mouth, developing brand awareness and promoting endorsement.

These and other high context strategies allow us to use the language of cultural identity in order to connect directly with today’s multidimensional consumer regardless of language or acculturation level.

Integration? Strategy? Let's Face It: Marketing Needs a New MO

We salivate over the promise and vision of Integrated Marketing yet few of us truly understand it and even establishing a common definition is a struggle.

We long for a seat at the decision-making table yet, in many organizations, Marketing has evolved into a low-stature mouthpiece and "cost center" that contributes little to the enterprise strategy and is treated as a necessary evil.

Our power is further usurped as increasingly more organizations turn over responsibility for vital functions that were once the domain of Marketing to other departments: product management, the sales pipeline, customer experience management.

Many of us are working in Marketing departments that spend most of the time fighting fires and kissing up to CEOs, for fear that our corporate survival depends on such compliant behavior.

We've often settled for reactive, chaotic, dysfunctional work environments where we operate more like order takers at McDonalds and company mouthpieces (spin doctors) than real change facilitators and difference-makers in our organizations.

How many of us are really happy in our positions today, spending precious little time on strategy and customer-facing activates, operating with few resources and facing expectations that are growing geometrically?

Let's face it: If we want to realize the vision of Integrated Marketing and Strategic Marketing, of a more collaborative and enjoyable work environment, of more stature and influence in our organizations, we need to let go of the old. Marketing needs a new MO.

And we have that new MO right in front of us, if we're not afraid to embrace it. It's called Marketing Operations.

Admired technology companies (like Adobe, Symantec and Seagate) are leveraging Marketing Operations to improve performance and demonstrate Return on Marketing as they refine their Marketing organizations using an operational focus.

Marketing Operations is an emerging discipline that increases efficiency and drives consistent results in complex Marketing organizations. It builds a foundation for excellence by reinforcing Marketing strategy with processes, technology, guidance and metrics. It creates both the infrastructure and ecosystem for individuals and teams to make informed decisions about Marketing mix investment, gain committed buy-in from stakeholders both inside and outside Marketing, collaborate synergistically across functions, optimize resources, and operate with discipline and accountability.

Organizations that embrace Marketing Operations are being viewed throughout the enterprise as profit (not cost) centers and fully accountable businesses. Marketing executives with the foresight to build a Marketing Operations function in their organizations are blessed with an operational partner, similar to the COO/CEO relationship. Directors and managers gain an invaluable resource to help them get the most out of their Marketing programs, make course corrections and learn from their experience. Even the most inexperienced professionals gain by being part of a learning-oriented environment where they develop fundamental skills to operate effectively, stay accountable, and benefit from Marketing Operations-driven improvement programs, such as new competency development.

Marketing Operations is all about a new MO for Marketing. In fact, it’s fair to say that the abbreviation for Marketing Operations (MO) is an apt descriptor of its potential impact in organizations. Marketing Operations is poised to literally change the modus operandi (MO) of Marketing.

And a new MO for Marketing in organizations is great news for all of us. We won’t be such an easy target come budget cut time. The average CMO tenure won’t continue to drop to embarrassing levels (less than 23 months at last count). Employees won’t be so motivated to jump ship, taking their valuable, but siloed, institutional knowledge with them.

So whether you’re a Marketing executive, middle manager or early-career specialist, it’s definitely in your best interest to become a passionate advocate of Marketing Operations.

Embracing Marketing Operations is a win-win for everyone, but bringing its benefits into your Marketing function is an evolutionary process. MO is both a serious commitment and a great opportunity. Like all change initiatives, it requires careful and comprehensive thought and exacting implementation. Key players in Marketing and other cross-functional organizations, such as sales and product development, need to be invited into the process early on and need to stay involved to achieve stakeholder ownership and buy-in.

The effort, however, yields impressive rewards. Marketing Operations has the power to re-position and re-energize a company’s Marketing function, moving it past stubborn barriers to unprecedented levels of performance and success. MO creates the type of Marketing organization where individuals and teams are empowered to do their best work and a culture of accountability leads to better results. This in turn raises the stature of Marketing in enterprise.

Leveraging the discipline and rewards of an MO approach places Marketing in the perfect position to influence strategic decisions and help increase corporate revenue, decrease costs, and sustain high levels of customer and employee satisfaction. Bottom line, embracing MO should be a no-brainer for every Marketing professional, from the most senior Marketing executive to the new junior staffer. If your organization has not yet embraced MO, you have the opportunity to seize leadership, increasing your value to your organization. If your organization is already leveraging MO, you can work to ensure its continued success. Either way, Marketing Operations enables you to help yourself.