Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Company size isn't relevant to technology needs.

It’s well known that cloud computing is a disruptive technology. Cloud has lowered the barrier to entry for many businesses, which has in turn made many small businesses or start-ups become formidable competitors to traditional big business. The worldwide business environment has forever changed.

Have you adjusted your B2B technology marketing efforts to align with this shift?

In today’s environment we have many small companies dealing with big data now.  For example when Instragram was sold, they had 13 employees and 9 investors. They would show up as a company of less than 50 employees on many lists, but they were acquired by Facebook for $1Billion. Many traditional technology marketers might have overlooked a company like this based on their company size.
So what about looking at revenue instead of number of employees? Same concept applies. Twitter for example had over 25 million users in 2010, yet operated at a loss for most of that year

Yes, we know not every start up or SMB will be acquired for $1B or have a planned $1B IPO, but the business environment has changed and our marketing tactics need to re-align.  The take away is: Company size isn’t relevant to technology needs. 2 other powerful data points from a great SAP Slide Share:

"40% of companies at the top of the Fortune 500 in 2000 were off the list in 2010"

“Only 7% of Gen Y works for a Fortune 500 company as startups dominate the workforce for this demographic” (also worth noting “Gen Y will form 75% of the workforce by 2025” – see the trend here?)

Growth is more rapid than ever before. Groupon, I know they are not what they use to be but consider this, reached a $1.3B evaluation in the first 17 months. That’s fast. How many times did you adjust the target list of accounts (or campaign filters) in the past 17 months, once, maybe? 

Are you missing your opportunity to get in with a smaller business that has big technology needs because you evaluate opportunity by the wrong metric?

How should B2B technology marketers re-align?

1) Marketers should rely on digital footprints, and marketing automation systems to help identify who is worthy of sales follow up, not an outdated company size filters or rules. Don’t filter out prospects by a pre-determined and potentially irrelevant filter sets.

2) Speak to your audience clearly, and directly. Produce content that addresses the pain points of users. In a noisy world people are not going to engage with content that doesn’t help them. Keep it clear, concise and helpful. Through this content, you will only attract relevant prospects.

*Disclaimer - of course there are very few absolutes in the world, so yes there are some exceptions here like end user focused technologies. However the general idea is that there are many small companies in need of big computing power. Don’t overlook them.

Friday, October 18, 2013

FAQ Series: What types of assets are users viewing at each stage of the buyer journey?

A frequently asked question that came up again at a recent client meeting was “what types of assets are users viewing at each stage of the buyer journey”

There are several reports available that provide deeper insight on this – TechTarget Media Consumption here. DemandGen also has a similar report here. Beyond that Annuitas Group also published a similar report about how to bridge the gap of getting users from the top of funnel to the end here.

However to simplify, my brief thoughts on this are:

With the ease of access to information that the web and mobile provides, users can enter the funnel at any time. It’s no longer linear. There are several published articles on this already but I like this one by Nichole Kelly as she uses the visual of a Neural Network rather than a funnel.

The buyer journey is complex and the path is subject to changing direction as they digest information. As users research, new questions come up and pain points or goals of the solution they are looking for can change. This changes the type of content they look for.

This becomes exceptionally clear when you look at a real user journey from start to finish. I have worked to produce visualizations of real users navigating through the buy cycle. These visualizations show where companies have a sales win and then look back through the content consumption of all users at that account from start to finish in the buy cycle.  What is obvious in these exercises is that users are engaging with content that would often be labeled typical “awareness stage” content even in the late stages of the buy cycle. 

Below is a simplified real account journey of an account that purchased from a client (client info removed for privacy concerns). You can see below their interactions cover everything from Editorial articles, to live chats, through to custom live events. Editorial articles are typically something that would be labeled awareness content yet this account still viewed almost 50 articles of this type in the month prior to purchasing. This content consumption pattern process isn't a linear process with users consuming only Awareness -> Consideration -> Decision Stage content. The better indicator of buy stage is overall volume of topically relevant content consumed, and other triggers like how many from a buying team are involved, buyer personas factors, etc. Yes content type can be considered but it’s not the primary or only indicator. Identifying the buy stage is a about looking at a blend of aspects rather than looking for one singular asset interaction.

So to get back to the question was “what types of assets are users viewing at each stage of the buyer journey”. I think it’s clear that users view all types of assets during the buy cycle. The better question would be to ask, do you have the right content, in the right place, at the right time?

Here are 3 steps you can take to help have the right content, in the right place, at the right time:

1 – Focus on producing content of value. As explained in the book Youtility content must help users with their problem. (Forget product sell sheets; focus on the users pain points)
2 – Identify the buyer personas that apply to your solutions buying teams. Tailor content to each personas unique needs
3 – Conduct a content analysis to find gaps, and then fill them.

So while yes generally speaking assets like eGuides tend to be early stage, and assets like vendor comparisons tend to be late stage, this isn’t an absolute. The better approach is to do the content audit, then fill gaps based on priorities. From there use analytics and other nurturing data to identify where the users/accounts are in the buy cycle based on overall consumption patterns.

Friday, October 11, 2013

In Content Marketing Karma is a Bitch…

I was at the park the other day and overheard one dad talking to another saying: “Karma is a bitch. What you put out into the world, is what you get back.”

As I have recently finished reading Youtility, I immediately thought of content marketing here. If you produce self-serving content, content that isn’t truly helpful or useful, you are not going to get anything good out of your content marketing efforts.

In your content marketing, practice good karma. Make your content something valuable and you will get something valuable in return.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

4 World Wide Marketing Fundamentals and How to Target Your World Wide Marketing

Technology has made our world smaller. It's easier than ever before to engage with people on a worldwide level. Because of this, technology companies need to adapt their marketing strategies based on growth markets. These growth markets are the low hanging fruit for marketers. Today's marketers need to be agile in their strategies.

Before we dive into where the low hanging fruit is, lets set the table with 4 world wide marketing fundamentals:

1) Know your Target Audiences – Do you have the ability to sell solutions in every country? Do you have local/regional sales or support people? Identify which countries/regions you can support and target those as primary focuses.

2) Media Type – It has been proven that different countries have different content type preferences. After identifying the countries/regions you are targeting, build a content marketing strategy to support that. Understanding that a Case Study for example will excel in the UK, but likely see just average performance in the United States is fundamental. For more of these content insights read this study. A universal truth in content marketing is keeping content focused on buyer pain points - more education, less product pitch. This will be successful in any region/country.

3) Translation vs.  Localization – In some countries you can get away with simply localizing content (IE – adapting parts of it to fit the region or country) however in other places you need to translate (IE English language content won’t perform well in Germany, Japan, etc.). Adjust content marketing strategies to factor in which regions/countries need translation vs. localization.

4) Understanding the Marketing Laws – It’s important to know how privacy laws and users expectations differ from country to country so you can stay compliant. While laws are one thing, being mindful of user’s expectations is equally important; after all as Seth Godin says “The essential truth is that spam is always in the eye of the recipient.

These are the basic fundamentals you must understand before perusing your worldwide marketing strategy. If you have already addressed the above elements, a quick and easy way to ramp the worldwide marketing investments is to go after the low hanging fruit.

The Low Hanging Fruit:
Different countries and regions have different economic outlooks and growth rates. These growth rates/outlooks as well as the current technology infrastructures impact what they are investing in and the priority levels for those investments. To maximize your marketing ROI you should look for regions/countries that are investing heaviest in your technology area and add or increase marketing efforts there.

Some examples of low hanging fruit coming out of the TechTarget IT Priorities Audience Survey:

90% of respondents in ANZ believe the recession is no longer in effect vs. LATAM where 
40%+ are still feeling the effects of the recession

Mobility is a top area of investment for ANZ with 43% of respondents investing against it, yet compare that again with LATAM and Compliance is the number area of investment.

If you are a MDM vendor and you don't have ANZ as a priority region for growth, you are likely missing out on low hanging fruit. Studies like this can be help you narrow down on where the best places to invest are. Use your partners and other resources like this to help identify and map your strategy. 
To take a slightly less direct view, but still insightful – this chart highlighted in Michael Brenner’s blog post shows “Global Economic Indicators suggest a massive increase in China, India as US and Europe continue to decline as a % of global GDP. Key Consideration: there will be tremendous business impact from the economic growth in China, India and other countries like Brazil and Russia. Is your organization ready?”
What does all this mean?
As Marketers – we all need to think globally.  For example, I have heard of marketers looking to limit efforts in India because of the number of consultants in that region. Yet this is a country with explosive growth, why limit explosive growth?  The success of our organizations depends on thinking globally.  We need to be mindful of regions with explosive growth and not limit our growth in those areas.  Cloud technology is all about being able to scale rapidly in times of need, as marketers we need to adjust our marketing strategies to be “cloud” like in this way.