14 Articles Every CMO Should Read

A couple weeks ago I wrote a post “The Myth that Marketing Automation Reveals Buyers’ Journeys” that explained there was increasing consensus among analysts, academics and consultants about changes in the buyer’s journey and the mandate for vendors to adapt to those changes in order to grow. Consolidating the research in one place demonstrates the flood of voices urging vendors to align with the customer, break down silos and bridge marketing and sales departments. Below is a collection of reading materials every marketing executive should sift through. Customer Centricity • A study by Booz & Company found that companies that offered valuable customization in a cost-effective way outperformed their peers in revenue growth two-to-one and had profit margins 5 to 10 percent higher than competitors. • A Forrester report on content marketing emphasized that the right content “requires a deep understanding of the buyers, their information needs, and their content sourcing preferences.” • An article in the International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management recommends an approach where “all business processes and all individuals are focused on identifying and meeting the needs of the customer.“ • Forrester has published a wealth of research aligned with the recommendations we give at New Business Strategies, including reports like “Transform To An Experience-Driven Organization” and “Become Customer-Centric, Service-Focused, And Automated.” • Forrester analyst Ronald Rogowski wrote a post urging readers to improve the digital customer experience. Forrester has also written reports about webinars, social media and other aspects of marketing and how to align them with the buyer’s journey. Marketing & sales alignmentHubSpot wrote a good post about overcoming the blame game between marketing and sales with open communication and more accountability. • One of my own blogs last year offers three metrics to measure the degree of sales and marketing alignment within your organization. • A report by Oracle says the friction between marketing and sales has gotten “cliché” and found that a lack of communication was at its heart. • Research by CSO Insights and IDC have identified four problems with a lack of marketing and sales alignment: longer sales cycles, missed quotas, lower productivity and less sales efficiency. (source) • A study by The Red Herring found that sales and marketing alignment was ranked a nine or ten on an importance scale of 10. (source) Breaking down silos • According to an article in HBR, executives identify silos as the top inhibitor of innovation, but silos can only be overcome if executives can embrace change. • Businessweek provided an overview of silos and some common approaches to overcoming them. • Forrester’s 2012 Tech Marketing Planning Guidance noted that marketing hasn’t made the drastic changes that are needed, because each year’s plan is based on last year’s marketing strategy. • IBM’s 2012 State of Marketing Survey called upon marketers to expand our role in the customer experience and break down silos.

Buyer 3.0 (a.k.a. What Social Tells You About Buyers)

The klaxons are ringing in corporate halls. To use an old praise, someone “moved the cheese”.  Marketing programs are struggling to consistently produce qualified leads that convert; prospect conversations are more challenging; customer co-creation expectations are wreaking havoc on product roadmaps; and customer service has lost control as customers turn to social media and peer-groups for help.   What’s happening?  The adoption of social technologies moved the “cheese” and heralded in the arrival of Buyer 3.0.  

How CMOs can use Social Tactics to Outsell Sales

I'm presenting a session about embracing Buyers’ Journey during DemandCon, taking place in San Francisco during March 5-7, 2012. Click through to see more details...  

Big Thinkers, Wine, Lithium and the Perils of Social Change

The catalyst was a book launch of Lithium's  chief scientist Dr. Michael Wu.   The location was the Prospect Restaurant in San Francisco's trendy south of Market.  Invited was a veritable 'whos who' of social media bloggers and big thinkers. Walking to dinner after flying in from Austin, TX and being up since 2am, I thought this could be a great experience or one very long night if the room was full of people talking about social marketing tactics. I was hoping for the former as I wanted to share my experiences around the Buyers' Journey with others.  

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

The Buyers' Journey methodology we developed and help companies implement was born from my days as a serial CMO.   There just had to be a better way to drive Marketing ROI and pipeline.  The principles of customer centric marketing, integrated marketing and so on do little to dramatically 'move the needle' on understanding how B2B buyers purchase in the social era. These marketing principles are much like sales training, another artifact of yesteryear.  Do more of what 'appears' to work without really understanding the 'whys' and 'hows'.  The Buyers' Journey came out of trying to understand, from the prospects' and customers' perspective, how their approach to buying a piece of software, equipment or technology service had changed and why.  

The ROI of Booth Babes?

Last week’s Dreamforce conference was one of those ‘must be there’ events.  Boasting a recording breaking audience, it was a who’s who of speakers, celebrities, attendees, and exhibitors.  The thrill of seeing MC Hammer and Will.i.am up close and personal was only trumpeted by Neil Young's live interview about how his new company is using Saleforce.com’s software to bring innovative new music products to market. The Cloud Expo exhibit floor housed over 375 exhibitors ranging from innovative start-ups like Optify to behemoths like Accenture and IBM.   With an attendee to exhibitor ratio of 120 to 1, exhibitors varied in their creativity to get you to stop and hear their pitch.  IBM offered sparkly balls and nifty Watson t-shirts, someone was giving out lighted red-rimmed “sunglasses”, chocolate (my primary food group) abounded, and enough pens where handed out to ensure there will be no shortage of writing instruments for the next millennium.  All was for the taking if you agreed to have your badge scanned.  Based on the constant crowd in the exhibit hall, the takers abound.  

Customer Acquisition is a Myth

The economy is working on rebounding and companies are gearing up.  Pipelines and revenues are heading north and hiring along with it.  But something in this rebound is different. For new sales hires, the expectation is that they join with a solid book of business and a pipeline already in hand; even for companies where the ramp time for sales people to achieve repeatable revenue productivity is six to nine months.  Same goes for marketers. Regardless of the market’s or company’s maturity or readiness the expectation of newly hired marketing leaders is that they produce a significant uptick in pipelines in 60 to 90 days, regardless of the capabilities or competence of marketing or sales. For many new hires, these are unrealistic and unachievable expectations.  Nevertheless, the message is loud and clear – growth comes only from net new customer acquisition.  

Defining Sales & Marketing Optimization

The need to do more with less, faster has brought sales and marketing to figure out how to work better together.   There is antidotal evidence that over one-third of all B2B companies starting talking about improving their sales and marketing alignment in the middle of last year.  Most of the talk is around lead management - how to get more leads and sales to follow them up.  And there are the inevitable side conversations about marketing or sales leadership and if it is time for a change. These are all good conversations as it means people are open-minded to change on some level.  

Musing with Marketo

Over the past months I've gotten to know the folks at Marketo and their concept of revenue cycle optimization.  At a high level, it's about tightening the processes and feedback loops in attracting, acquiring, collecting and expanding sales opportunities.  Marketo delivers automation technology for the attracting and acquiring part of the process or more commonly known as "the funnel and pipeline".   Higher quality leads from marketing, and more of them, translates into more sales to 'ideal' target customers.  Lead generation and lead management is largely the result of an engine. The more finely-tuned an engine is, and fed with high quality fuel, the better the engine will perform.    

Doing Double Time

Aligning Sales and Marketing is on the top of every CEO's list.  The state of the economy demands it, competitiveness requires it, and employees expect a healthy, collaborative company culture.   Alignment is achieved through culture, process and technology.  Much progress has been made in the last area - technology - with automated lead management and marketing automation systems.  Yet technology is not the cure all, you still need to transform your culture and processes.