Putting a Band-Aid on a bloody nose

Band-AidA phenomenon of our culture is the miracle cure that is the band-aid (the universal recognition of the Band-Aid brand itself is a quite impressive phenomenon, but that’s off-point). You know what I’m talking about, right? It doesn’t matter if the malady is a scratch, a bruise, or a bump on the head, a band-aid will probably cure it…if you’re under the age of 10. Then we get smart and grow out of that delusion…right?

I’m not so sure.

I don’t think the need for a psychological quick fix ever leaves us, it just manifests itself in other ways. We’re all guilty from time to time of looking for a quick fix to a problem that’s either to complicated or too time consuming to really resolve the right way. I’ve done it. You’ve done it. We’ve all done it. We’re human.

Sometimes being human can lead you to make dumb decisions. Sometimes to be a good marketer you need to be better than just human.

Scenario: You are a marketer (naturally). You are running a series of web ads promoting a new product. After a week you’re only at 30% of your expected conversion rate. What do you do?

  1. Immediately replace all the ads with a different one
  2. Evaluate where your traffic was coming from and where the ads were not being as successful, look for opportunities to change placement, and introduce another version to A/B test, then monitor closely & adjust as necessary
  3. Conclude no one wants your new product and discontinue it (and fire anyone involved in its inception)
  4. Decide web ads don’t work, defund it as a channel in your marketing mix and go buy a prospect list to spam instead

If you picked 1: I’m disappointed in you but not surprised. You need to learn to balance decisiveness and patience, grasshopper. Many people don’t do this because they simply don’t have the time. It’s faster to just make a switch and see if it works. I get it. We’re all busy, but taking the time to do it right will usually return better results than doing it quickly.

If you picked 2: You get a gold star (or a cookie…I’d prefer a cookie). Take the time to diagnose the problem, let the data tell the story and guide your decision, approach the solution strategically, and then you set yourself up to be agile and adjust for success.

If you picked 3: You have no business being a marketer. Maybe look for a job in rough construction, or audition for The Apprentice (is that show still on?)

Ido-it-right-or-not-at-all-652595f you picked 4: You’re worse than the 3-selectors. They’re obviously nuts, but you’re just sane enough that in the minds of many (who don’t think about it too hard) this is a reasonable option. I’d call this putting a band-aid on a nosebleed. Most people will realize it’s not quite right but if you put it on tight enough it will stop the blood from pouring out…at least for a little bit.

My point: if you believe that what you’re doing matters, do the right thing, not the fast thing. Don’t have time? Do fewer things better than a lot of things half-assed. And if what you’re doing doesn’t matter enough to do it right, then don’t do it at all (and I suggest rethinking what the hell you’re doing).

Semantics: Demand Gen vs. Customer Marketing

Demand Gen vs Customer Marketing

In my last post I talked about the difference between Lead Generation and Demand Generation, and the fact that there is a difference. But what about customer marketing?

If lead gen is the process of generating new leads, and demand gen is the process of getting those leads to demand your products/services and ultimately buy (become a customer), then is customer marketing the third step? I say no…not really.

While it is important that you apply demand generation methodologies to nurture and convert the leads you generate, who says demand generation is exclusively a process for leads? You can (and should) apply demand gen techniques to your customers (we call that ‘cross sell/upsell’). After all, aren’t your customers some of your best potential buyers? You might even consider them low hanging fruit…yet somehow so many marketers wait for the fruit to fall off the tree instead of grabbing it when it’s ripe or, ever worse, they pick it too early. *sigh*

Now, I am not suggesting that you just swoop up your customer list and plop it into your latest and greatest demand gen campaign and call it a day. That would be easy, I’ll admit, but it won’t be nearly as effective (resist the urge….seriously). Think quality over quantity. You need to speak to your customers differently. Acknowledge them as the fantastic customers that they are and leverage your existing relationship to show how you can continue to help them.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, there’s another layer to customer marketing that goes above and beyond good demand gen, and that is good customer satisfaction. I can tell you as a customer myself that when I get marketing messages from a company I’m not feeling the love for, I get cranky. I expect you to know that I’m not happy with you right now and that trying to sell me your newest widget is just going to piss me off more. As a marketer you might say ‘that’s not fair, I can’t control whether the customer is happy or not,” and to that I say two things:

  1. Stop making excuses. True, many elements of the customer experience are out of your hands, but some things are within your grasp of control and so you should be doing everything in your power to improve that experience. Don’t just chalk it up for what it is and add to the bad experience by doing your own thing in a vacuum.
  2. If you can’t change/influence reality, then you need to at least be aware of it. With all the technology out there today, you should be able to find a way to identify the happy customers from the not happy ones. Someone at your company knows who is happy and who isn’t – find out who those people are and find a systematic way to harness that information to inform on your marketing activities. It can be as simple as a field in your CRM that captures the NPS, or other satisfaction score, and passes that data to your marketing automation system.

I’m not under any delusion that tracking customer satisfaction is easy…it’s not. But it is important, and if you’re going to be marketing to your customers, you HAVE to figure it out. OncNutshelle you do, you will open yourself up to a rich pool of opportunities.

In a nutshell:

  • Demand gen applies to both leads and customers
  • Don’t market to your customers in the same way you market to leads
  • Only satisfied customers will accept being marketed to (and by the way make great advocates, which SiriusDecisions says will drive demand gen)
  • Satisfied customers can be your best ‘leads’ for new sales opportunities
  • There’s no excuse for bad customer marketing
  • There should be technology & processes in place to keep customer-touching groups in sync and customer data accessible so it can be leveraged appropriately

Is your marketing automation system just an expensive stand mixer?

Is your marketing automation system just an expensive stand mixer?

Imagine that you’re a successful five-star restaurant owner (congratulations!), but you do not currently serve dessert (gasp!). You realize that in order to compete and continue to be successful you need to serve dessert, so you do a little research and find that every one of your competitors with great desserts has a stand mixer, so you go out and get the best stand mixer money can buy. You give it to your cooks and say ‘make me five-star desserts!’

What do you think would happen? Do you think you would get a five-star dessert? Probably not. You’ve got a skilled team, so you’d probably get something passable as a dessert, but it will probably be 2 stars ☆☆…maybe 3. ☆☆☆

But why not five? That stand mixer is the BEST. You paid a small fortune for it, so why can’t it produce amazing desserts?

Because that stand mixer, as great as it may be, is just a stand mixer – a tool. It’s a powerful tool, and a worthwhile investment to be sure, but just buying a tool is not enough. The same goes for a marketing automation system. It is not magic, it is a tool that can help you make many masterful desserts, but it requires a skilled pastry chef (or team of chefs) with great recipes, and it requires investment in ingredients, attachments, cleaning and maintenance to really add value to your kitchen.

So let’s break it down:

A skilled pastry chef
You can’t just plop your line cooks, or even your head chef in front of a stand mixer and expect them to make a masterpiece. And you can’t throw your demand, field, or product marketers in front of a complex automation tool and expect them to produce great results. A marketing operations or automation expert, like a pastry chef, has a specialized skill set that takes knowledge and experience to master.

Great recipes
This is the foundation of any chef’s skill set, and the best practices your ops expert brings to the table are foundational to the successful use of your automation system. These best practices define the processes that determine how your automation system functions – how it processes data, scores leads, passes them to sales, sends emails, reports on result, etc. And just as food tastes, trends, and techniques change, so do automation trends, so invest in ongoing training for your pasty chef so that existing recipes can be fine-tuned and new recipes can be learned.

There are many ingredients that go into a great dessert, and without them the stand mixer is a useless vessel mixing air to no end. Your automation system is useless without inputs like data, assets and workflows. And the supply of these must be never-ending because they’re use is limited – one set of ingredients can only produce so many desserts before you must put more ingredients into the mixer and start again to create another great delicacy.

Stand mixers are one of the most robust and versatile tools in the kitchen, yet many people don’t use them to their full potential. Most people know how to use the mixer attachment, which comes standard, but did you know that with the right attachments you can roll and cut pasta, juice fruits and veggies, grind meat, knead bread dough, slice, dice, and more? Your automation system is a robust tool and with the right attachments you’d be amazed at what you can do, from lead scoring to third party integrations toclosed-loop reporting. Some of these great features come standard, and some cost extra, but you should explore your options to make the most of your investment.

Cleaning & Maintenance
I hope you will agree that cleanliness is absolutely necessary in a kitchen. You must keep your mixer clean to avoid contamination that could affect the quality and safety of the food, and if it gets too dirty it can even impact the functionality of the mixer itself (ew!). While not a safety issue, the cleanliness of your automation system certainly is critical for quality and functionality of your system. Cleaning needs to be performed regularly in order to ensure that the old ingredients, like bad data and expired workflows, are washed away.

And voila! You have the foundation for many five-star desserts…I mean, successful marketing programs to come. ☆☆☆☆☆


Originally posted on LinkedIn – November 11, 2014