#C2C16 in a (sassy) nutshell

This was my first time at Demand Gen Report’s annual B2B marketing conference – Content2Conversion – and it probably will not be my last. I’ve never written a post-event blog post because I’ve never felt I had enough good things to say. In true form, I naturally have a bit of sass to bestow upon them, but for the most part it’s good stuff. Here we go:

Interactive sessions are a great way to benchmark where you stand in the marketing evolution hierarchy (i.e. who sucks worse than you).

Day 1 of the conference consisted of workshops presented by DemandGen Report’s partners (vendors). Because Demand Gem Report makes a business out of publishing content of interest, they were well in-tune with their audience and succeeded in giving us a variety of sessions which all seemed topically relevant. In fact, I had trouble selecting a session, but in the end I settled for Televerde’s session on integrating digital, nurture and human touch. Nothing they said was earth-shattering or new. In fact, the most earth-shattering part of the session for me was that when the room was shown a slide of very basic and standard funnel benchmark metrics and asked who measures each stage of the funnel against those benchmarks today – I was the ONLY person who raised my hand! (#wtfmoment)

Though perhaps not intended, the speakers managed to incite enough interest and questions that the audience became actively engaged and we all were not only asking questions, but we were answering each others. This interaction made the session more rich and beneficial to all. It also reminded me that there are many many marketers still looking in the window or barely crossing the threshold of what I would consider to be the most fundamental of demand gen marketing practices, such as funnel definition, management & measurement; persona segmentation, integrated automated multi-touch campaigns, lead nurture, and lead scoring (so many blog topics!!) If you have a good handle on these things, well done! You may not be as behind as you think you are.

Marketers are both the puppets and puppeteers of buzz words (#ABM)

This is the part of my post where I say #ABM. Any presenter who didn’t at least mention ‘Account-Based Marketing’ missed the memo that this is a mysterious concept you must embrace (or pretend to). During my networking adventures I took every opportunity to throw out this buzz word and see how people responded and ask them what it means. Interestingly (and surprisingly) I found myself identifying most closely with the sales folks at this event. Why? Because to them our recent obsession with ABM is irritatingly laughable. ACCOUNT-BASED MARKETING IS NOT NEW. It’s what sales has been doing for years and what any marketer worth their salt and properly aligned to sales should have been doing, too.

Marketers, you’ve all been puppet-mastered into salivating at any vendor who uses this term. Don’t you know when you’re being marketed to? Whoever started this bandwagon in motion was brilliant because now any vendor willing to sacrifice a little dignity to exploit this buzz word  is making bank on essentially re-branding what all marketers should already be doing.

Killer keynotes make a conference – David Meerman Scott and Tim Riesterer KILLED it.

I won’t lie, one reason I was very much motivated to come to this conference was to hear David Meerman Scott speak. I was sure he’d be as dynamic a speaker as he is a writer, and he did not disappoint. He taught us:

  • Content is not its own thing that is created just because. It should be designed for both marketing and for sales, and more importantly, should be so timely and relevant that it is REAL TIME. In fact, he says companies that do this well hire journalists to create content (it was at this point in the program Donald Trump was mentioned – we can’t deny he does real-time marketing very very well).
  • Make your information free. There’s been a lot of talk about whether or not to gate content. Mr. Scott says no…or at least, not right away. He actually poses an interesting suggestion, which I’d like to see play out in practice: Don’t gate your content that you publish online – offer a link to something else within your content, and gate that. I like this idea, but to pull it off marketers will have to exercise some discipline and resist the temptation to post all their content online, which also has implications for SEO.
  • Be human. B2B does not equal boring. Every B2B company I have ever worked for would disagree. They put great effort into being boring. I 100% agree that B2B marketing is about marketing and selling to people, and more and more people are buying for business like they buy for themselves. The influencers may not be kids and the co-decider may not be a spouse, but the same rules apply. If you don’t think people’s personal preferences and emotions play a role in the B2B buying process you haven’t been a B2B buyer. It’s harder to choose a data vendor that makes everyone in your business family happy than it is to buy a family car. I think in our hearts we all know this, but somehow we still suck at wiping out the corporate bullshit speak and talking like a human.

Tim Riesterer, from Corporate Visions, applied scientific and academic structure to messaging concepts which really are common sense, and he did so in a most entertaining way. I am admittedly a psychology geek and according to Tim, so are 85% of marketers. But I think even the unenlightened 15% of marketers in the room would agree that Tim’s insights were on-point to both excite and incite. His main message: Your biggest competitor in a deal is not the other company, but the status quo – the choice to do nothing. This takes a little extra thought and creativity in your approach to messaging, but it’s nothing off-the-handle. Demand Gen report sums it up beautifully, so you can read more here.

This nutshell is getting long, so I’ll wrap up with this:

Almost everything we know about marketing is common sense. That’s why you frequently hear the joke ‘everyone is a marketer.’ What makes a marketer great is the ability to ACT on common sense in an effective and efficient way, MEASURE the results, and ADJUST. Sounds obvious and maybe a little boring, right? It a skill. And not an easy one.

Some marketing teams have it down, but following this conference I sense that many of you do not. That’s okay, it means you have a good reason to have a job. I hope you’re making a sincere effort to put into practice the things you’ve learned. The trick is to take one leg of the journey at a time. You know point A (where you are) and you know point B (where everyone says you should be going). If you can’t find your way without a map, there are plenty experts that can help get you from A to B, but my advise to you is don’t close your eyes and just let someone drive you there. To be a good marketer you have to learn how to navigate new routes, so let the experts guide and teach you, because point B will never stop changing. The good news is you will never stop learning, which means more conferences (hopefully with as much sun and booze as #C2c16).

 

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An open letter to Oracle: You conquered Eloqua and broke it, and I don’t forgive you

Dear Oracle,

I think everyone will agree that when England plopped their flag on American soil people suffered. They expected the natives who were already there to be grateful to the English for bringing them ‘civilized society’ and pretty bells and whistles. In reality, what they did was impose rules that belittled the natives and took away their voice, and gave them a bunch of shit they didn’t need (including diseases like chicken pox, cholera, whooping-cough and syphilis, by the way).

In the last few years you’ve been plopping your flag all over marketing tech soil and acting like we should be thankful, but some of us are suffering. You probably think we should appreciate that we have easy access to a broader ‘civilized’ society of options to fill our marketing tech stack. And you probably expect us to be excited about the investments you’re making to bring us new bells and whistles. In theory, we also benefit from the protection and cost savings that comes with giving our allegiance to a single large entity.

All these things could be great, except they’re not. I don’t care about a one-stop shop for my tech stack. I want the best and I’ll get it from 10 different vendors if that’s what it takes. Your civilized rules belittle your customers, eliminate transparency and take away our voice. I was one of thousands, now I’m one of hundreds of thousands and it’s clear you don’t care about me. My husband knows more about Eloqua from listening to me talk about it over dinner for the last 8 years than your ‘help desk’ knows about it. Your huge society is riddled with diseases, which you’ve passed around to IT departments, HR departments, and now you’ve passed them on to marketing departments.

Your colonization of marketing technology has benefited you more than your people. Do the laws of the land protect the poor people who suffer? No! We pay our dues to the governing body and hope they put it toward good use. The new immigrants to your marketing tech environment might think you’re great, but as a native, I know better. You broke Eloqua physically and spiritually.

Eloqua used to be a partner. They were committed to the success of their customers. Now I feel like we’re just a number – one more insignificant customer you’re amassing in your pursuit of world domination. When Eloqua doesn’t work properly (which happens a LOT nowadays), you have three ways of handling it:

  1. act like the customer doesn’t know what they’re talking about (which probably works with 80% of them, because they don’t know what they’re talking about);
  2. make them jump through hoops of internal troubleshooting and documentation until they either give up or do all the work for you (lucky for me I have a team of in-house experts, but those who don’t must default to #1);
  3. categorically deny there is a problem (until it’s fixed and then act like you proactively identified a problem and solved it before anyone suffered…well done, you).

Eloqua used to be transparent. When something went wrong, which happened a lot less but did happen, they told us about it. We got updates and were told the cause once resolved. Oracle’s policy seems to be: ignore, deny, deny, fix it (maybe), deny, ignore.  

Eloqua used to work. I may have subtly alluded to this already, but as a SaaS application, Eloqua is going down hill. I don’t think a week goes by where we’re not impacted by some minor bug. And we have had 5 significant system function failures in the last 18 months. Prior to your conquering of Eloqua I can only think of 2 major issues in 6 years. What happened? Did you grow your empire too fast and now you don’t have enough food to go around, so you’re allowing some of us to starve? I’m a highly advanced high-tech marketer and I WANT the best and newest bells and whistles. But more than that, I want the most fundamental of marketing automation functions to WORK. And it’s a god-damned shame that I have to spend my time fighting fires for the most basic functionality rather than trying out new automation tech features.

Eloqua used to be the best. It wasn’t for everyone – it was for those who wanted to be the best. Anyone who has attended an Oracle marketing event in the last couple of years will probably agree that Eloqua is no longer focused on those that want to be the best – it’s about those who want to pay the most. I used to learn something and be inspired at Eloqua conferences. I would get the chance to learn from people who were doing things I hadn’t thought of, yet. Yes, there were newbie-level sessions as well, but where Eloqua really shined was in its ability to bring in thought leaders who were on the cutting edge of marketing tech and methodologies. Now, it’s all about the novice users and getting people to go broader rather than deeper into the Oracle tech. I could have given every presentation I saw at the last MME conference on-the-spot, with my eyes closed, while standing in a yoga tree-pose.

In summary: Eloqua used to be great. Obviously you recognized this fact, because you bought it. But then you broke it and its greatness is deteriorating. I cannot forgive the shortcomings that now exist in the application and the customer service experience. The policies, attitude, and technical shortcomings you’ve imposed upon Eloqua and its customers are ruining Eloqua for me and I’d encourage you to have a look back on what Eloqua used to be and take steps to fix it.

Love,
The Sassy Marketer

P.S. Some comedic relief:

UPDATE

I think it’s worth sharing that Eloqua/Oracle has reached out to understand and address these concerns, and while I think they have a lot of work to do to bring back the old Eloqua pizzaz I believe they’re committed to refocusing on the customer. I give credit where it’s due. Shoutout to @joe_kilduff

3 Tips for One-Size-Fits-Most Marketing

If you saw this title and thought to yourself “ooOoo that sounds great! How do I do that?” then I have two things to say to you:

1. You will find this post disappointing because this is not an instruction guide for mediocre marketers, but I highly suggest you read on

2. To quote one of my favorite Disney movie characters,“BAD LLAMA!” You should never be excited at the prospect of One-Size-Fits-Most Marketing. That strategy is for losers. And if you disagree then I suggest you cry on the inside like a winner. (Ok, just kidding…but bonus points if you can name that movie).

I did promise to offer 3 tips for those interested in doing One-Size-Fits-Most Marketing, and here they are:

  1. Don’t do it.
  2. Don’t even think about it.
  3. If you’re doing it, or thinking about it….stop.

Unless you sell to a completely homogenous group of identical robots void of independent thought….If this is your buyer, by all means carry on.

For the rest of you, here is a word cloud that explains just a handful of reasons why One-Size-Fits-Most Marketing doesn’t work:*

Some of the words listed above are not only reasons why not to do One-Size-Fits-Most Marketing, but they are better, more strategic alternatives. The reason they’re both is because of that pesky word up there that says “competition.

I guarantee your competitors are using technology to execute personalized, targeted marketing programs. And if they are, and you’re not, they’re better than you. As a marketer, that’s not acceptable. We marketers must be better than our competition, just as the businesses we serve and the products we market must be.

It would be cruel of me to suggest what you should not do without making recommendations for what you should do instead, so…

3 Tips for NOT doing One-Size-Fits-Most Marketing

  1. Personalize the experience.
    Persona Definition + Content + Technology = Personalization
    Whether your audience is engaging out in web-land, on your website, via email or through third party partners, if you can clearly define who your audience is and what the right message is for each of them there are technologies that can find and target them. To start, try using a content matrix to map your buyer to your content. Here’s how.
    Want to know more about how personalized content targeting works? This blog does a pretty good job of explaining it.
  2. Don’t put all of your eggs in one channel basket.
    Just as one message does not suit all audiences, neither does one channel/tactic. The biggest trap marketers fall into is believing they can rely on email to reach their entire audience. This is a myth. And if you believe in it you’re probably missing a LOT of potentially great customers. No one channel can reach all, or even the majority, of your audience so you must extend your channel reach.Here’s an oldie but a goodie from Hubspot that talks more about multi-channel marketing (yes, 1 year is ‘old’ in the high-tech marketing blog world).
  3. React to your audience’s reactions (AKA Trigger Marketing)
    If you got engaged in the era of facebook and made your new relationship status ‘facebook official’ then you no doubt found yourself being presented with ads touting all manner of wedding paraphernalia. Happy coincidence? Nope. That’s smart, timely, trigger-based marketing. The web is flush with info about each and every one of us, and smart marketers use this information to trigger personalized content (ref: tip #1). It’s the same principle that Amazon and Netflix employ when they present you with those nifty suggestions that say “if you liked X, then you may like Y and Z.” You can apply this to all sorts of things, such as content consumption, to help you offer up the right message at the right time via the right channels (ref: tip #2). Here’s a good resource from Eloqua to help get you thinking about some trigger-based programs that may be of value to your business.

And finally, I leave you with this:

And old classic:

“Do not address your readers as though they were gathered together in a stadium. When people read your copy, they are alone. Pretend you are writing to each of them a letter on behalf of your client.”
~ David Olgilvy

Combined with modern insight:

Innovation needs to be part of your culture. Consumers are transforming faster than we are, and if we don’t catch up, we’re in trouble.
~Ian Schafer

Together these show that some marketing principles never die…they just evolve, as must we all.

* I created this lovely word cloud using a nifty web tool called Wordle.

Originally posted on LinkedIn – Feb 3, 2015