Which mantra gets you up in the morning and through your day as a marketer? There are classics like:

“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits them and sells itself.” ~ Peter F. Drucker.
“What really decides consumers to buy or not to buy is the content of your advertising, not its form.” ~ David Ogilvy.
“Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department.” ~ David Packard
“Business has only two functions – marketing and innovation.”  ~ Milan Kundera
“Content is King!” ~ Bill Gates.

Or are you “down” with a less certain Information Age style exhortation:

“A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter—and getting smarter faster than most companies.” ~ Levine, Locke, Searls and Weinberger.

Either way, we can all use inspiration as we seek to create, consume, coordinate and measure our valiant efforts to market into a world moving faster and to customers becoming smarter than ever. So we’ve designed a unique process that will help you to generate demand in the right way, and also gathered a baker’s dozen (and three more) experts to answer the cheeky but realistic question:

SocialAgenda Media: What things should you consider so your 2014 lead generation campaigns are less likely to suck?   😉

Miles Barry, Head of Marketing at MDSL:
(MDSL creates world-leading expense and lifecycle management solutions).

1. Don’t under-estimate the power of PR, particularly when it’s supported by clear metrics for measuring its effectiveness.
2. As above – thorough follow-up is everything, in order to demonstrate ROI and compare campaigns’ effectiveness.
3. Know which analysts are tracking your business and how they see the future for the markets in which you operate – i.e. what will they be telling your customers to watch for next year? Work with Product Development to make sure the new trends, where possible, are on your roadmap and communicate that back to the analysts. If that sounds like: “Tell them what you’re going to tell them; tell them it; then tell them what you told them”, then so be it.
4. Content programs are labor-intensive, resource-hungry and high maintenance. Don’t underestimate the resources required, and budget accordingly.
5. Video is increasingly prominent in B2B lead-gen but expensive to produce, maintain and display online. Plan and budget accordingly.
6. Marketing and lead-gen is becoming increasingly spread (thinly, some might argue) over multiple channels and media. Don’t underestimate the resources required to coordinate what can become a series of disparate projects and ensure a consistent message and image is projected across them all.
7. When someone suggests “re-doing the website”, quietly arrange for them to disappear (joke).

Tyler Reed, Manager, Demand Generation & CRM at Control4:
(Control4 builds one-remote, home automation solutions and products).

8. More videos.
9. Landing page creative refresh.
10. Use current customers to produce low effort content.
11. Refine our targeting messages.
12. Optimize and test everything. Landing pages, emails, PPC campaigns, SEO, social, everything!

Sarah Noel, Product Marketing Manager at Flexera Software:
(Flexera enables companies to get more value from their applications).

13. Market research into target markets in which we are trying to grow our business before doing any lead generation activities to them.
14. Do activities that drive leads of a high quality rather than high quantities of leads
15. Don’t go with the hype!  Social media may have a huge audience but it may not be the audience after which we should go.
16. Continue to localise in the international markets to ensure we are “localising” the content we are producing, not just translating it.
17. Work with consultants for very specific markets in which we operate (i.e. Japan and China). Local knowledge is key and you can’t expect to market to these countries unless you have knowledge from people who are in country.
18. More lead nurturing campaigns for non-English speaking countries.
19. Make sure our websites, emails, etc. are mobile-friendly.
20. Continue to produce content that shows we are thought leaders and trusted advisors.  Try to ensure we are telling a story when we talk to our audience.
21. Be unique!  Do something different that makes you stand out from the crowd!  (In a good way, of course…)

Nate Pruitt, Senior Director, Demand Generation at Shoretel:
(Shoretel’s solutions, whether on-site or in the cloud, exploit the power of IP with unified communication tools).

22. If you focus on keywords, content, and conversion – you have a winner.
23. If you are talking about list rentals, 3rd party telemarketing, buyer personas, and outbound email campaigns – you suck :)

Jeff Asada, VP of Business Development at Viscira:
(Viscira is a leading provider of interactive, new-media communication and technology solutions for the life sciences industry).
Jeff’s answers reflect the movie theme questions that were asked during his interview for the Demand Generation on the big screen: Tragedies, Blockbusters, Mysteries & Horrors article.

24. No “Boiler Room”:  Do your homework with the financials, forecasts and projections and align marketing activities to this.
25. Find your inner “Nemo”:  Dream and think big, and comprehend the value of taking risks and placing bets where they make sense.
26. No I in team…play like “Hoosiers”:  Understand your internal team dynamics, sales and marketing cohesion is critical for success.
27. “A Few Good Men” challenges us to test for the truth, and doing so for any campaign allows us to pivot towards future success.
28. Forrest Gump made the most of his timing:  As marketers, we should try our best to take advantage of today’s convergence of media and make the next campaign better than a box of chocolates.

Susan Vitale, Chief Marketing Officer at iCIMS:
(iCIMS is a leading provider of software-as-a-service talent acquisition solutions).

29. Plan, plan, and plan:  If you are planning more activity during the current month, you need more people on your team. It’s so important to pre-plan. Alloting more time for campaign creation, more time can be focused on optimization and analysis.
30. Consider a multi-touch, repetitive content approach:  Are you echoing your messaging across channels? Research shows that prospects who don’t convert the first time may convert the second, third, or fourth time they see your ads. By implementing a multi-touch, repetitive content strategy across the board, you are engaging in nurture tactics without even intending to (or maybe it is intentional). You may gain more leads that you would have lost otherwise
31. Budget time & funds to test:  When planning your budgets, make sure to include a pocket of funds and a timeline for exploring new tactics and vendors. Online Demand Generation options evolve at a very rapid place. Be sure to put some time and money aside to identify the new vehicles that may become integral to your company’s success moving forward. Be sure to have a means to evaluate testing spend and quickly pivot from techniques that are not effective — but do give your team a runway to try some approaches that are unproven.
32. Get rid of dead weight:  If you want campaign success, go back to the failure analysis. Don’t work with a vendor just because there could be some brand potential. Brand should always be a consideration, but there are so many ways to spend and there may be a better place to invest. Eliminate the vendors/campaigns that aren’t working. Ensure that standard reports are issued so everyone on your team is on the same page regarding what is driving performance and what isn’t.
33. Process simplification: Sometimes firms are so focused on bigger and better things that they neglect standardizing and simplifying everyday processes that staff must go through to get a campaign live and functional. Eliminate the ineffective processes/red tape, etc. and simplify the path towards success.
34. Make sure Sales is onboard:  It’s one thing to bring in leads from a campaign that your team puts together, but it’s a whole other ball park to get those leads to convert. Make sure the Sales staff is trained on the marketing material so they can more effectively and efficiently reduce the time to convert.

Jay Millard, COO, Amadeus Consulting:
(Amadeus Consulting is a company that builds custom technology solutions for their customers).

35. You achieve what your plan dictates:  In the absence of a true measurable lead plan, you will have uncertain results.  Have a plan, take action, and be ready to adjust.  These plans aren’t static; they operate in the environment of the real world.  Changing course is acceptable when not done recklessly in the absence of a plan.  When you adapt for a purpose because you understand both what you intended to happen and what actually happened, your course correction is not only purposeful…it will likely ensure your success.

John Sarich, Vice President of Strategy, VUE Software:
(VUE Software is a software solutions for the Insurance Industry).

36. Get aligned with what is happening in your market, industry, and customers.
37. What specifically is your value proposition?
38. Determine the “why buy now” for each and every product or service you offer, and get that into all of your content.
39. Develop an overarching theme for your marketing initiatives and use that theme in all messaging.
40. Make all messaging relevant to each specific market segment in which you operate.
41. Make certain that sales management is on-board with the entire go-to-market strategy.

Trish Stromberg, Vice President of Demand Generation at Infinisource:
(Infinisource is a leader in workforce management, HR, benefits administration & payroll processing solutions).

42. Create content, but not just any content:  Ensure it is engaging, but most importantly that it provides true insight that the customer wants.
43. Mobile:  Ensure your campaigns are all mobile friendly.

Meagen Eisenberg, Vice President of Demand Generation at DocuSign:
(DocuSign is a provider of cloud-based electronic signature technology that facilitates exchanges of contracts, tax documents and legal materials).

44. Better segmentation for better targeting.  Collect the right information on the lead at the form or list acquisition.  You need personal and company information.
45. What technologies can you leverage so that you better target your communications when leads come in?  At DocuSign, we leverage Eloqua, Demandbase and Mintigo to capture the information we need to better message.  We use Eloqua as our marketing database to capture and normalize the data, such as title to a certain department use case.  Demandbase provides us with the company information through a real-time API call – no need to ask for any location or company info, such as revenue, size of company, industry, country, state, zip, etc.  Only need to ask for personal information on your form.  And we use Mintigo to better understand our existing customer DNA across different segments as well as better score with more information.
46. Better lead scoring.  Implement a model that has two points to reference – a letter for firmographic info and a number for engagement.  Both of those are important pieces of information to deliver to sales to make them more efficient and effective.  Ex. A1 – they meet our target criteria and they are engaged with us on our website, email or within the product.  Prepare to tweak the model based on learnings.
47. ROI model to show and learn from what marketing campaigns are working and what are not.
48. Partner with your sales team.  They are in hand-to-hand combat and have a lot of good insights into what is working and what is not.  Solicit their feedback and improve your programs.
49. Monitor conversions closely.  What types of leads convert?  Build that back into your lead scoring model.
50. Be creative.  Don’t forget the Art in Art & Science.  Channels are crowded.  Find new channels or be very creative in how you get targets to engage.
51. Add social where you can to expand your reach and peer referral capabilities.  Example, make sure all whitepapers, webinars, blogs, posts, etc. can be tweeted, liked, +1, posted, etc.

Umesh Malhotra, Director of Demand Generation at Arena Solutions:
(Arena provides affordable product lifecycle management (PLM) for manufacturers of all sizes).

As Director of Demand Generation, I would do the following:

52. Measure the ROI of all marketing campaigns launched in past quarters.
53. How many of the leads converted into customers?
54. If any marketing campaign was a pricey spend but didn’t convert into a customer, that’s OK. As long as the lead has converted into a medium-to-high opportunity stuck in the pipeline and waiting to convert into a sale.
55. Eliminate campaigns that didn’t work and are not working.
56. Campaigns that are working, increase spend to generate more leads.
57. Experiment with campaigns that were never experimented in the history of the company.
58. Promote campaigns in places where majority of your audience hangs out the most (Sites, articles, events, etc.).

Heidi Bullock, Senior Director Marketing at Marketo:
(Marketo provides easy and powerful marketing automation software with everything a marketer needs: email, social, analytics, lead management, and more).

59. Make sure you are communicating the right message at the right time:  To do this, one critical step is to map content to the buying cycle.  There is awareness, evaluation, and purchase.  Your buyer needs different types of content depending on where they are in this process.  Think about looking at the assets you already have and identify where there are gaps.
60. Segmenting so people get the right message for them:  This can always be refined, updated, and optimized.
61. Running multi-channel campaigns:  Today’s consumers move seamlessly across digital and offline channels, and in general, will access information in whatever way is easiest for them (web, mobile, tablets).  Run campaigns that have a consistent message but engage users in different ways.  For example, if you have a product launch, consider announcing it with a press release, engage your audience with an email campaign and a complementary webinar series, use a referral campaign to drive additional engagement, and promote on social.
62. Testing and really doing something with the data to inform your campaigns: Every business is different – you need to test and optimize for your business and audience.
63. Nurture/scoring:  Get these components right.  The majority of those you engage are not ready to buy immediately – they require nurturing.  Nurturing can shorten the buying cycle significantly when done well.  If you need new ideas, consider the 4-1-1 rule.  This is where you run four entertaining content pieces (or educational), followed by a soft promotion (attend a webinar), then a harder promotion (sign up for a demo).
64. Lead scoring is another area to focus on and continue to optimize.
65. And lastly, try something new!  It is important to test different programs and channels.  Keep testing assumptions – things can change!

Randy Littleson, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Flexera Software:
(Flexera provides software licensing management, software compliance, installation and application packaging solutions).

66. As noted previously, we need to do more around content tied to various personas – speak more personally to each persona rather than generally.  We need to get more proactive in leveraging the really strong reporting we have today to fine-tune our decisions.  We need to increase the integration across all of our campaign elements so we have more things “rowing in the same direction” and working to support each other rather than disparate efforts.  We need to conduct more direct research with our market on their preferences and buying process – we rely on too much indirect information today.

Brent Baker, Key Account Manager (former Marcom Manager), Swagelok Northwest (US):
(Swagelok is the home of the unique “One Swagelok” business model, which includes a network of more than 200 exclusive authorized sales and service centers in more than 70 countries).

In order to develop programs that don’t suck the following questions need to be answered:

67. What’s important to the business?
68. What lead generation activities are you good at?
69. What lead generation activities are you bad at?
70. How well do you know your customers?
71. How well do you know your sales team?

Alice Lankester, CMO at Friend2Friend:
(Friend 1Frind is a company that engages fans with brands on social since 2007).

72. Most important, never, ever ignore the mobile experience! On Facebook mobile now represents more than 40 percent of all Facebook’s ad revenue for the most recent quarter, and Zuckerberg indicates he expected mobile revenue to exceed desktop “soon.”  On LinkedIn, mobile now accounts for 38% of all traffic, and Weiner indicates he expects that to be close to 50% in 2014.
73. Any brand that isn’t studying behavior on mobile is putting itself in a dark room, with a blindfold on. Everything that a consumer does in a brand’s digital presence should be studied for mobile habits. Tablet? Mobile? Which mobile phone? Is the same user visiting on desktop or mobile, or both, and when? Every brand owner should study the whole consumer journey on mobile, from start to finish. No point in the journey should lie un-inspected on mobile.

Marcia Kadanoff, CMO at Bislr:
(Bislr is a provider of the intelligent marketing OS for marketing automation, content management, and real-time analytics).

Content marketing is the fuel that fires all lead generation campaigns.  What this means for you is that in 2014 you’ll want to:

74. Create fewer pieces of content but really make sure they get noticed, using a combination of email (the backbone of every lead nurturing program) but also social media.  If your marketing automation program cannot support integrated flows like this, consider replacing it with one that can.
75. Make every piece of content you create arresting in terms of its visual content.  Visuals light up the part of the brain that is more emotional and less logical … giving your brand a distinct advantage.  We like to think that business buyers are (always) rational but the fact of the matter is that B2B buyers are people, not job titles.
76. Walk a mile in the buyer’s shoes.  What content do they need to get to be able to understand the issues in your category and buy with confidence? Forget about self-serving content that talks about you.  Instead, create content that speaks to the benefits of your product in a way that is unique to your brand and also resonates with your prospective buyer.
77. Optimize your lead generation programs not just for conversion but also for mobile viewing using responsive design.  I cannot tell you how important this is.  Already some brands are seeing 50% of their opens and click throughs for emailing happen on email.  In 2014, we expect this number to go up to 60-70%.

Jim Van Meer, Creative Director, Global Industry Services at the American Petroleum Institute:
(API Global represents all of America’s oil and natural gas industry).

78. Insist on quality:  There’s already too much crap in the world. No need to add more.
79. Reach higher:  The low-hanging fruit will always be there, but don’t ignore them. And, be willing to reach higher and go after markets you may never have considered.
80. Let the creative be creative:  Coming from the creative side, I can say that the more creative the campaign, the better the leads. Let the creative people do what they do best. They’ll appreciate you more and they’ll do better work for you, which will give you better results.
81. Use common sense:  The answer to effective marketing is not found in a database. It’s found in the real world, populated by real people with real lives, real problems, and real thoughts. Use your common sense when you generate leads. Address your audience as if they were sitting right next to you.
82. Look at the big picture:  Yeah, yeah, yeah, the creative group is out of control, the product engineers insist the technical data be a major feature, and the bean counters are raising fiery hoops for you to jump through. That’s what’s called a normal day at work. But don’t give up. Plow ahead, but don’t look down the road – look over the horizon. Over the horizon is where you can stand and see the big picture. You’ll know it once you’ve crested the hill. Once you see the big picture, you’ll see a campaign that doesn’t suck.

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Also read:


What’s the most frightening thing about this time of year? Is it ghouls, goblins and Halloween? Rich food and relatives? Another year having raced by? No, it’s budgeting time for businesses. So before you head into the boardroom with your wish list, decide whether you’re going to be like former President, George W. Bush who said, ”It’s clearly a budget. It’s got lots of numbers in it.” Or will you be cynical like Scott Adams’ cartoon character Dilbert? “Never base your budget requests on realistic assumptions, as this could lead to a decrease in your funding.”

Or will you be philosophical like Jackie Mason, who said, “I have enough money to last me the rest of my life, unless I buy something.”

I’m betting you’re reading this because you are diligent and can use some wise advice from our virtual panel of marketing experts.

We asked them what should every demand generation manager do before the next budgeting cycle so they look brilliant during the boardroom presentation (besides adding our integrated LeadGen Journalism process to your marketing program  😉 ).  Here are their answers:

NATE PRUITT, Senior Director, Demand Generation at Shoretel:

1. Fully understand what it means to be an inbound marketer.  
2. Marketers need to educate senior executives on how to make the transition from old outbound tactics to content marketing and 100% focus on inbound.
3. It doesn’t happen overnight, but the vision of how to do it needs to be clearly outlined.  
4. Once the “flywheel” gets going, it’s amazing how much you can lower your CPA rates and turn the company into a predictable revenue machine.

MEAGEN EISENBERG, Vice President of Demand Generation at DocuSign:

5. Measure effectiveness of all spend:  Draw a quadrant out on a slide and place the programs within the quadrant based on ROI, awareness.  If they are not in the leaders’ quadrant showing enough return, axe the program.  Show the programs being cut and those that you will double down on.  Having command line item by line item on what is working to drive revenue and what is not is very strong when asking for budget.
6. Show three budget options – Flat, Increase, Decrease from prior budget cycle – and what you will be able to deliver with each.
7. Bucket by Acquire, Keep and Grow:  These decisions are all-important for marketing and the company to be effective in demand gen.  When you are asked to start cutting, even if by line item, stop the conversation and ask:  “Do you want me to spend less on acquiring customers, keeping or growing existing ones?  You tell me which bucket, and I will use my expertise and metrics to decide which line items to cut”.


 SUSAN VITALE, Chief Marketing Officer at iCIMS:

8. Analyze failure: More often than not, demand generation leaders are too focused on the next best thing without looking at the past. The key to future success is clear failure analysis. If you don’t know how you have failed, then you won’t be able to dodge those same pitfalls. Analyze and report back. Give your budget proposal a spine with data to support your claims.
9. Identify leaky “success” buckets: Straightforward failures are easy to fix, but successful campaigns need to be analyzed as well. More often than not, demand generation managers are happy with initial ROI successes. They need to start looking at a longer time periods to see if it is consistently successful rather than just assuming it is, based on the initial numbers. Managers might be missing out on campaigns that could perform even better by not identifying areas of lead drop off somewhere in the sales cycle.
10. Know your benchmarks: It is amazing how often this is overlooked. Data means nothing without historical or industry data to compare against. Show off your success through comparison.
11. Audience is everything: As marketers, deep down we know what “knowing your audience” means. Well the same applies here – remember your audiences and to whom you are talking. If you want a plan approved or quick feedback, provide the feedback they want to hear. What does your budget proposal mean to them – not in dollars spent, but in dollars gained. How will your presentation benefit the company as a whole?
12. Enlist the troops: You’re not alone. If your staff is held to a portion of the team goal, enlist their help. While the Demand Gen Manager is the leader, it takes a team to get there. Have them pull the numbers you need and help create your proposal. This will help you build a better story to present with the ability to compile more data points in less time and your team will feel involved in the longer-term strategy goals. (You just renewed their engagement levels.)

JAY MILLARD,Chief Operating Officer at Amadeus Consulting:

13. Demonstrate they have a clear content and lead generation strategy.
14. Focus on measurement through the funnel and maintaining seamless tracking of the client experience.
15. Connect customer acquisition efforts to the actual sale.
16. Measure ROI.
17. Have an intelligent forecast for expectations.
18. Own outcomes.

JOHN SARICH, Vice President Corporate Strategy at VUE Software:

19. Know the strategic direction of the business.
20. Get into the financial #’s and get detailed metrics on the value of each and every marketing initiative.
21. Drive for perfection.
22. Intimately know how each of your top competitors is doing. Are you beating them or losing to them? Is their business growing faster/slower than yours? What are the win-loss #’s for each deal that you won or lost?
23. Know what marketing campaigns worked and why, what campaigns didn’t measure up and why.
24. Decide what you are going to different in the New Year.
25. Plan how you will achieve the pipeline goals for the New Year.

UMESH MALHOTRA, Director of Demand Generation at Arena Solutions:

26. Share campaign metrics that cost the least and converted the most, campaigns with the highest ROI.
27. Show the value of opportunities created in the pipeline, which are rated with a higher chance of converting next quarter.
28. Use quarterly lead growth percentage to show the trend.
29. Compare the budget planned with the budget used. Was the entire budget used? Do we need an increased budget? If yes – why?
30. Change campaigns that worked to top gear and multiply spend on those specific campaigns.

ALICE LANKESTER, CMO at Friend2Friend:

31. Defend the budgets assigned to social and mobile: US consumers’ enthusiasm for social media is showing no signs of relenting, and time spent online continues to increase.  Social is no longer just Facebook and Twitter. For brands looking to drive awareness, it’s a social patchwork of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, What’s App, SnapChat, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube and more — each with its own zeitgeist and rules of engagement. So marketers must first defend the budgets assigned to social and mobile and over traditional media and explain why assignments are made.
32. Look for ways to bridge audiences across social experiences:  Marketers should work to understand where their social audiences are most likely to be found and focus their efforts accordingly, and then looking for ways to bridge audiences across social experiences. It’s not only possible, but also highly effective to fuse experiences from myriad platforms together. When brands let each social platform do what it does best (cool mobile photos – Instagram; inspirational ideas in photos – Pinterest; shareable “as it happens” life content – Twitter; in-depth social conversations – Facebook and LinkedIn), and then work to allow sharing of the results across channels, the social impact is maximized. Just because the social fan base is hanging out in different places, doesn’t mean brands can’t build effective campaign bridges between those fragmented audiences.

Understanding, and showing, how the social ecosystem works for a brand’s specific audience will both look brilliant, and be actionable too.


33. Change your metrics focusing on opportunities cost. Measure an opportunity cost and percent of opportunities created – not just number of leads or cost per lead generated.
34. Create a “do not nurture” control group that is truly representative – this is the single best way we know of to answer the question – what difference does lead nurturing make?
35. Stop arguing about attribution and hunker down on position-based attribution.  Showcase what marketing activities contributed to the most opportunities at first touch, at last touch.  How many marketing touches (on average) were required to get to a close/won opportunity?  What kinds of activities were these?
36. Simplify your lingo. Forget about Chinese food. Terms like “TOFU” and “MOFU” make sense to a technical demand gen leader but don’t link marketing activities to either revenue or opportunity created.  They have no place in the boardroom.

HEIDI BULLOCK,Senior Director Marketing at Marketo:

37. Tie your programs and initiatives to the key business goals and objectives for the coming year.  Identify the outcomes you expect to come from this investment.  For example, if I am given ‘x’% more increase in budget, I will be able to deliver ‘y’ results. It is critical for marketers to begin to talk about investment, as opposed to cost.  Your job is to grow the business, not be a cost center.
38. Create a content map that supports the yearly initiatives: This should include a mix of thought leadership pieces and product-specific content.
39. Illustrate how your plan supports the goals/initiatives:  Show, which channels and content are best for top of funnel, mid funnel, bottom funnel.
40. Identify what you are going to do differently in the coming year:  For instance, identify programs, etc. you would not run again.  Identify areas you would spend less on.  It is important to be critical of programs or initiatives that did not perform and learn from them.
41. Show how you measure your programs and overall progress.

JIM VAN MEER, Creative Director, API:

42. Do your homework:  Make sure you have the facts and figures you need before you start.
43. Don’t sweat the small stuff:  Picayune items and the number of decimal points may interest the bean counters, but the executives making the call want the 50,000-foot level presentation.
44. Be short and sweet: Don’t waste time getting to the crux of the matter. You need X amount of money to accomplish X amount of work, which will give X amount of results. Tie the results into dollars and watch their eyes light up.
45. Answer the six basic questions the board has before they have a chance to ask them:  Who, what, where, when, how and why?
46. No fear: You’ll never get to where you need to go if you fear what someone might say, do or think. You have to do what’s right, and if you do what’s right, what’s there to fear?

SARAH NOEL, Product Marketing Manager at Flexera Software:

47. Show that your plans have the ability to produce clear results on each and every activity. SHOW THE ROI!
48. Show a clear understanding of the target audience and how you’ll reach them at the right time with the right message.
49. Show how much revenue marketing has contributed to the company’s annual revenue figures.
50. For those organizations where it’s important, give a clear insight into % increase in market share.

MILES BARRY, Head of Marketing at MDSL:

51. Show that marketing contribution is tangible: Have at least one copper-bottomed example of how a marketing programs or campaign generated tangible, measurable new business. Make sure Sales agree with your analysis.
52. Know your figures and have a clear understanding of the marketing budget, classified under specific headings (Events, SEO, Website Development, PR etc.) and separate activities. This will allow you to refute claims that “the marketing budget is out of control”, “marketing spend has risen disproportionately since last year” etc. by demonstrating clearly which sectors have increased or decreased and, by referring to specific sales achievements, why. Make sure “Business travel” (other than for trade shows, etc.) has been removed from the marketing budget.

RANDY LITTLESON, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Flexera Software:

53. Make sure you are 100% aligned with sales on who you wake up every day targeting.
54. Make reporting relevant to the audience:  If the boardroom is your audience, speak in terms of pipeline, bookings and ROI.  While clicks, leads, etc. are all important “top of funnel” metrics for marketing to understand and pay attention to, it’s all about revenue growth in the boardroom and ROI.  What works – Know what works (based on ROI and bookings generated).  Understand which programs are working and which one’s aren’t and have plans to shift investment accordingly.
55. Understand the relationship between awareness and demand generation: There are reasons to invest in some less performing campaigns from a direct measurement of ROI if you can show they increase awareness based on other metrics.
56. Understand your mix of investment in People vs. Programs compared to industry norms.  Demonstrate that you can deliver results in an efficient manner.
57. Marketing is still a bit of a mystery to many in the boardroom – especially to those who don’t come from a marketing background.  Don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees – demonstrate that marketing is contributing to the top-level metrics (bookings/revenue) in a cost-effective (ROI) way.  Don’t get bogged down in a lot of details that the board isn’t worried about – that’s your job to manage and they expect that.

So, it’s budgeting time. Just how much marketing ROI, sales leads, conversions, content and tracking is enough and what should it all cost? Sleep on it, but don’t lose sleep over it.  😉

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Also read:


Want proof marketing is at least as much an art as a science? We asked 9 successful Marketing and Sales executives the same question and got answers that inspire possibilities more than certainties. First, consider and answer the question yourself. Second, check the integrated demand generation process flow we’ve designed for you and download the presentation to learn about our LeadGen Journalism as a new demandgen method… And then read on and enjoy the nine other ways of seeing it offered here in the article.

SocialAgenda Media: If you were given 90 days to penetrate your sales channel, based on everything you’ve learned from your current company and activities in the market, what steps would you undertake?

Meagen Eisenberg, Vice President of Demand Generation at DocuSign:

  • I’d partner with sales to agree on a lead scoring model, buyer’s journey, the communications necessary for each stage, and understanding the gates to get the buyer through and tools needed for success.
  • It’s important to understand your lead process from marketing to sales – including collection, qualification, and conversion.
  • I’d be sure to optimize the website for lead conversion.
  • Aggregate, create and curate ToFu (top of the funnel) content – webinars, whitepapers, case studies, etc.  Figure out how to attract, engage and convert with it.
  • Get your automation platform up and running (if not) to better target and deploy nurture programs.

Umesh Malhotra, Director of Demand Generation at Arena Solutions:

  • Each audience behaves and reacts differently to every marketing campaign. So as a B2B Marketer, one must continue using different channels that have worked and experiment ones that have not worked.
  • Keeping ROI in check, launching more programs in a quarter will help in conversions since not all campaigns are a hit. Whitepapers, webinars, blogs, social media, cold calling, etc are just some of the basic programs one must implement but the bigger and most important piece is nurturing that lead which majority don’t implement in their plan.

Heidi Bullock, Senior Director Marketing at Marketo:

At the highest level, I would focus on these 5 key steps:

  • UNDERSTAND: The first step is to understand the buyer and the respective pain points – create messaging that addresses the pain points – then figure out the right mix of channels.  Creating buyer personas can be very helpful for this exercise.
  • DRIVE AWARENESS/BRAND PREFERENCE: Next, figure out a good strategy to drive awareness and create a relationship with the potential buyer – so they have a fondness towards your company/brand.  Ask yourself, how can I help?  This is done by focusing on early stage content such as thought leadership ebooks, blog pieces, visual content, or digestible assets like cheat sheets and getting them out to your audience.
  • BUILD THE DATABASE: Now that you have the content, get it out there.  Develop a multi-channel strategy that leverages this content.  It is important to test the channels that are the most effective for your business, but I have seen great success with inbound tactics (ex: blog – using opt-in for updates and SlideShare) and on the paid side PPC can still be quite effective. The objective is to bring in as many interested people as possible that map to your target buyer profile.
  • ENGAGE/DEVELOP/NUTURE/SCORE: Clearly, the majority of buyers you engage are not ready to purchase your product – it is essential to have a solid lead scoring and nurturing program in place.
  • ACCELERATORS: Accelerator campaigns can be used to move leads through the funnel faster by sending purposeful content at the right time. The objective behind this type of campaign is to give your leads a reason to act now.  These types of campaigns can be effective if used at the right time, sparingly.  For example, if you need an extra push at the beginning of a quarter to help create pipeline, this approach can help.


Michelle Denogean, VP, Marketing & Business Operations at Edmunds.com:

We sell advertising and subscriptions to partners who want access to our customers/audience.  With that said, I would recommend the following:

  • Do research to understand your customers/partners unmet needs. This should be more than just a survey, but should also include ethnographic research to understand the problems that they face.
  • Build a strong relationship with your prospective customers/partners. Offer them a taste of the value you can offer before they sign up.
  • Align your KPIs (key performance indicators) with your clients KPIs and measure your product performance/pricing accordingly.

Susan Enns, B2B Sales Coach and Author, B2B Sales Connections:

My activities would be to implement a DRIP Marketing Plan.

  • Define my target market and create a list of potential prospects.
  • Obtain the correct and complete contact information for the Key Decision Maker (KDM) within each target company.
  • Execute a first contact plan for the KDM using a diversified prospecting approach including email, telephone, and other prospecting techniques that prove successful following lead generation tracking.
  • When first contact is made, execute a pre-qualifying plan designed to answer 3 basic questions: Is this really a prospect?  If so, are they a prospect today?  If they’re not a prospect today, then when might they be?
  • If the prospect passes all pre-qualifying criteria, open the sales process.  If not, file in the CRM system until the prospects buying cycle determines further sales contact.

Brent Baker, Senior Account Manager, Swagelok Northwest (US):

  • Have each salesman segment customers and train them on the customer’s buying cycle.
  • Data mine CRM for customer trends and opportunities and develop business goals.
  • Initiate marketing automation per customer segment.
  • Instruct sales team to target decision makers at top tier customers.
  • Develop metrics relating to goals, measure, and adjust.

Sharon Drew Morgen, Founder, Buying Facilitation®, represented by the SocialAgenda Media’s speakers bureau:

Using Buying Facilitation®, I could do it in 10 days, not 90:

  • Stop selling; selling doesn’t cause buying. Facilitate change management; i.e., enter as a change facilitator, not a solution provider.
  • Help the gatekeeper determine how to enlist all of the buying decision team on the first call.
  • Have her set up a meeting with all decision team members for second call.
  • Have decision team figure out the criteria they need to meet to manage change.

Dave Scholten, Commercial Segment Manager at Gordon Food Service:

  • Research the sales channel opportunities.
  • Introduce yourself.
  • Offer relevant exclusive insights that can lead to support services and sales.

Sam Adler, Director Demand Generation, Zuora:

  • It depends on the size of the target company. Let’s say it’s an enterprise level account. Typically there’s an outbound approach involving an inside sales rep sending out introductory emails and following up with voice mails to get in touch with the right person. That’s a process in and of itself. Once you’ve made the right connection, and typically that also involves getting the right referral from other people they might know, for instance someone they’re connected to on LinkedIn to get a conversation going.
  • Once you’ve got someone to talk to then you’ve got to figure out what the issues are and figure out the right content and the right messages for them at the right time for where they are in the process. You need to get an understanding of their pain points and then send content and have conversations that show them you have a solution that meets their needs.
  • So for that 90 day period our cycle would be getting into the account, followed by an account executive who would take the consultative approach I just described using a system we call the “9 Keys to Success” which is on our website. It is a roadmap for how our target industry and our solutions fit together.

So, if YOU were given 90 days to penetrate your sales channel, based on everything you’ve learned from your current company and activities in the market, what steps would you undertake?

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Also read:


Marketers value all the insights that we gather and publish, yet this article is one of the invaluable ones. Experts we invited to this conversation offer their most interesting strategies for creating a high volume of sales-ready leads, share how they execute and measure demand generation campaigns, reveal their approaches to lead nurturing and how they plan, implement, document, test and measure content creation. And they said you couldn’t have it all. This article is our Holiday gift to you… Happy All Year! :-) We invite you to check the integrated demand generation process flow we’ve designed for you and download the presentation to learn about our LeadGen Journalism… and then enjoy the article.

The expert elves are:

Miles Barry, Head of Marketing at MDSL, creator of world-leading expense and lifecycle management solutions.

Alice Lankester, CMO at Friend2Friend, a company engaging fans with brands on social since 2007.

Marcia Kadanoff, CMO at Bislr, pronounced “Biz-ler” – provider of the intelligent marketing OS for marketing automation, content management, and real-time analytics.

Jim Van Meer, Creative Director, Global Industry Services at the American Petroleum Institute. API Global represents all of America’s oil and natural gas industry.

SocialAgenda Media: What are the most interesting strategies you have seen implemented by other marketers or applied in your own organization for creating a high volume of sales-ready leads? 

Alice Lankester:

Our company is focused on deploying engagement apps (digital experiences that invite consumers — and their friends — into a social relationship with a brand) on social platforms, primarily LinkedIn and Facebook. So the strategies we see work well involve a focus on deep social integration.

Creating leads through social requires that brands offer fans and followers decent incentives to ‘opt in’ — and that means offering something of real value in the experience.  Such as: traditional contests/sweepstakes; voting on interesting content; offering personalized, engaging, and entertaining content and experiences based on the visitor’s social profile; inviting visitors to contribute brand-related shareable content; and offering access to unique and exclusive offers not found elsewhere.  Further qualification can come through asking visitors to answer questions to refine their answers, and so contribute to a deeper level of insight into the visitor’s area of interest, but caution should be applied to make all experiences quick, simple and friction-free.

Finally, all these social experiences must be accompanied by social sharing mechanisms that encourage visitors to share their action, and invite connections in their own network to participate too.  This helps amplify the reach of a deployment through earned media. Ideally, the sharing experiences should reflect positively on the participant — to further encourage the sharing — giving visitors something to ‘say’ that informs and/or entertains their personal network.

Marcia Kadanoff:

We are working with more and more organizations that sell software as service and/or mobile applications and need a way to monetize the installed base of trial customers.  These are companies that do not need to build or buy a database of potential buyers – they already have a sizeable database.  What they often lack is the ability to tie relevant trial behaviors – say that happen in the cloud or on the mobile device inside an application – to lead nurturing. Also social intelligence that tells them something about their customers in trial – outside the narrow confines of the trial experience at their company, so they have a better idea of the psychographics / interests of their customers.

Some of the most interesting strategies we are seeing are marketers who are asking the question – if I have 3-5 free trial accounts at a company email address… how can I leverage into a business-to-business sale without having to sell to each individual as a prosumer.  The difference in the types of revenues you can command can be dramatic.  Prosumers are willing to pay $4 – 19/month when buying for themselves at work. Business-to-business buyers – on the other hand – are willing to pay much more than this.  This puts a new twist on the idea of “account based selling.” It’s not only for companies that sell on an enterprise model.  A strategy where you roll up accounts and aggregate them at the account level can be a valuable augment for any and all customers that sell on a SaaS model.

Miles Barry:

Our website (currently under reconstruction, so don’t judge us by it) remains a primary source of new business enquiries, supported by an active SEO program against nominated keywords.

A central part of this rests on adding new content in order to drive return visits and boost our profile in the search engines. This takes the form of an active news release program and a growing blog readership, supported by our presence on Twitter and LinkedIn. As a pure B2B player, we have a presence on Facebook but do not actively promote it.

We drive additional sales leads through our webinar program, promoted primarily through direct email marketing, which has the twin benefits of attracting new prospects and providing new content for the website.

We put significant effort into tracking visitor traffic across our website and capturing details of visitors downloading or accessing content (such as past webinars), in order to provide prospects for the sales teams and future email marketing campaigns.

Our analyst program also plays a major part in our business development program.

Jim Van Meer:

The top strategy I employ in our marketing communications is striking an emotional nerve. My job is to get leads to stop, look, listen and buy. That’s accomplished by taking what is usually technical and mundane information and turning it into arresting copy and design. We are all, in one way or another, driven by our emotions. If I can get a person to invest their emotional self into the benefits of our product lines, I have acquired not only a customer, but an ally as well.

SocialAgenda Media: What qualitative and quantitative insights can you offer to advanced marketers in terms of executing demand generation campaigns, calculating ROI and measuring the impact of sophisticated nurturing sequences? What best practices are you planning to implement next year to enhance your lead nurturing programs? 

Marcia Kadanoff:

First, know what your baseline programs are – those that generate the lion’s share of your opportunities, not leads.  Work backwards from opportunities created, not leads.

Second, set up testing on top of these baseline opportunities.  To hijack the immortal words of Alex Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross – always be testing – or ABT.  Always be testing some new form of lead generation that looks promising and may deliver incremental value over the old. Again, you are going to want to measure the results in terms of the opportunities that are created, not the number of leads generated nor the cost-per-lead, metrics that are becoming increasingly irrelevant.  Not all leads are equally likely to result in an opportunity – as your sales force defines it – and to stay aligned with sales you must look at your marketing activity through an opportunity lens.

This year, we are seeing a lot of interest among B2B marketers in Twitter lead cards and LinkedIn sponsored posts, both of which can deliver more opportunities at a lower cost-per-lead than Google Adwords.  If I was sitting at Google, I’d be afraid, very afraid.  B2B marketers spend more on lead generation than almost any other audience, with the possible exception of ecommerce buyers.

Third, make a resolution to make 2014 the year you link your marketing activities to actual revenue by putting in place programs to calculate ROI, cLTV, and Customer Satisfaction for each opportunity that ends up closing. To link this back to marketing activities, you need to make a decision on attribution models and our customers tell us that the boat has already sailed on this issue … in favor of position-based attribution models. With this kind of attribution, you give the first touch 40% credit for revenue, the last touch 40% and everything in between 20%.  This works out well in practice – because you can answer commonsensical questions like:

  • What marketing activity generated this opportunity in the first place?
  • How many touches does it take to turn a lead into an opportunity?
  • What did the very last touch before we were able to close the sale look like and who made it – was it sales or was it marketing?

Fourth and final, take a good hard look at your lead nurturing campaigns and ask yourself whether you’ve fallen into the trap of doing too much of the same old thing.

Lead nurturing campaigns are notoriously hard to measure.  The right way to measure them is to pull together a ‘no touch’ control group that is statistically equivalent to the prospects you are nurturing.  The problem is that most companies we work with – no matter how big – are unwilling to set up this kind of control group for fear that it will have a negative impact on revenue.

At the same time, we think many lead nurturing campaigns could benefit from less attention to the science side of marketing and more creativity. In particular, we think 2014 is the year that we’ll see B2B marketers executing more multi-channel campaigns, where they go beyond email to integrate Twitter, LinkedIn, and possibly Facebook in with their lead nurturing campaigns.

Oh yes.  You asked about quantitative insight. Only about 40% of companies are taking advantage of lead scoring and we think this is too bad. Lead scoring ensures you prioritize leads that are a better fit for your company to sell to and/or are more ready to buy for more immediate handling by your sales team. If you are not utilizing lead scoring, you aren’t taking full advantage of what marketing automation products like Bislr bring to the party.  We think the low incidence here is because many marketers don’t understand lead scoring and cannot explain lead scoring to their counterparts in sales.  So what we’ve done with our lead scoring is to make it visual, more intuitive, and hopefully something that a marketing leader can feel comfortable going hands on with, say in a meeting with their sales leaders, to adjust how leads get scored in real time.

Miles Barry: 

Build a good relationship with Sales, to be able to insist your sales team provide detailed feedback on qualified leads and follow-up. Self-evidently, if a major new contract can be tracked back to a prospect who first encountered our solution via a webinar, then the business case for investing further in the program is already made.

Invest in a professional CRM system and licenses for all users (sales and marketing). Ensure the cost of licenses does not preclude widespread use across the business. Ensure you have adequate internal resources to apply widespread tracking across all parts of the process, to provide comprehensive campaign reporting.

In another business, we once used a sophisticated internal tracking system, supported by a range of Freephone direct response telephone numbers, to track the response to individual press campaigns and (in some cases) advertisements. Doing so allowed us to direct specific products and messages in specific media to different segments of our target audience; it also allowed us to demonstrate we could reduce the cost of sale by over 100% by moving the campaign online.

Next year we will re-launch the website with more powerful visitor and page-tracking analytics, to allow us to start to use the same targeting methodology to direct specific pages to particular visitors, according to their current behavior and past history.

Jim Van Meer:

Because our lead generation is based on marketplace demand, we meet one-on-one with our customers on a regular basis, mainly through committees. Our business is a very personal business, so measuring ROI in a traditional sense is hard to accomplish. What we have found, though, is that by closely monitoring our social media platforms we can extrapolate ROI by using analytical data to make the person-to-person connection we strive for. Once we know how our social media is trending, we can further tweak our messaging and nurture our lead generation, so by the end of a campaign we can look back and evaluate our ROI on a realistic basis. We then take that info and incorporate it into our next campaign, so in essence we are sometimes doubling or tripling our original ROI.

Alice Lankester:

Because we focus on social, the quantitative, and qualitative, measurements we look at are primarily related to engagement.  Engagement at its best opens up the potential of a shared and “human” social experience between a brand and its consumers. When marketing on social, brands need to remember that platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn are not broadcasting services. They are about the social community and the conversation. They are about connecting people together. And for brands, they’re about forging connections between brands and those people.  So measuring that engagement is critical.

The measurements we look at include: increases in ‘PTAT’ (Facebook’s engagement measure); increases in followers and group membership (LinkedIn); numbers of shares, comments, likes; and amount of content contributed. Today on Facebook, the average user has around 300 friends, adding up to over 140 billion total friend connections worldwide, and those users also have an increasing number of brands as friends too — on average 29 per Facebook user. So when someone shares an experience with his or her network, that amplifies brand reach significantly — making sharing on social a critical quantitative ROI measure.

Further, on Facebook and LinkedIn, those shares can be amplified by a brand using Sponsored Posts and Sponsored Updates, both of those media buys reliably show positive results, especially on mobile platforms where an increasing number of social visitors participate.

SocialAgenda Media: Marketers have realized content is the backbone for their entire marketing strategy whether it be SEO, social media, email marketing, webinars, etc. Content marketing has moved from buzz term to long-term strategy. For next year, how will your content strategy be planned, implemented, documented, tested and measured across your organization – in-house and among outsourced teams?

Miles Barry: 

We realized some time ago that a static website (i.e. one on which the content does not change) is a dead website. A lot of our current and future effort will go into generating new content and seeking to make it relevant for our different target audiences. A key goal for next year will be to develop more video content, to drive increased engagement.

Alice Lankester:

Marketers regularly cite challenges around producing enough engaging content.  So our advice to clients when they are planning content strategy is to think about how social can help actually build and contribute brand-related content — content that maps back to a broader brand-aligned story.

Done right, engagement apps can create ways brands can invite their social fan base to create snackable, sharable content that is perfect for kicking off a content engagement relationship between brand and consumer, as well as for filling out the content calendar to keep the drumbeat going.  Engagement apps provide a critical function, by helping insert a brand message into the news feed — where social conversations occur. They provide the mechanisms that encourage consumers to both create content themselves, and share that content among their own network.
Some ways that marketers can use social engagement apps to create this snackable social content include: challenging audiences to answer, and share, questions about the brand in return for prizes or glory; inviting social audiences to ‘vote’ on brand-related content, which could be as simple as a t-shirt design, or as important as a magazine cover photo; or asking social audiences to contribute photos, videos or stories on a brand-related theme, all of which can become sharable content in their own right.

Jim Van Meer:

Our content strategy is planned both internally and externally. We run lean and mean, so some of our content is generated in-house while some specific campaigns are generated by our agency. We bridge the gap between the two by creating branding guidelines that furnish not only the look and feel, but the tone and voice of our campaigns as well. While our research methodology may be limited by resources, we can always measure success by the sales results we see. Some of our product line content strategies are planned at the end of the year for next year’s campaign, then tweaked throughout the campaign, while others are done in a more “drive-by” style, where strategy is formed in a 10-minute hallway meeting and then implemented. It’s not that we don’t put thought and effort into our strategy; it’s just that we know our business so well we can hit the target quickly and effectively. We don’t rely on reams of analysis reports that no one really wants to wade through anyway. Many times it’s gut extinct that leads us to our content decisions. We know our markets, we know what they want, and we know what makes them react. We give them useful and pertinent content, and they reward us with increased sales, likes and interaction.

Marcia Kadanoff:

Content marketing is going in house rapidly – almost all forms  – with the possible exception of video.  As a former agency principal – of the fastest growing content marketing agency in SF – I can tell you that this is not a good thing.  I don’t agree with one of my colleagues who said that this is “content marketing in the age of crap”.  But I do think that a lot of the content marketing companies are doing is completely self-serving and does not deserve to see the light of day.

When you plan your content marketing, sketch out the day-in-the-life of your prototypical buyer (persona’s are great for this – BTW) and then ask yourself how your buyer will collect and collate the information they need to make an informed buying decision.  If you do this, you will quickly find that there are holes in the content available to the buyer, holes that your company can fill uniquely.  But notice.  This perspective doesn’t start by building a list of content you’d like to create.  It starts by figuring out the gaps in the content available to the buyer – content that answers their questions.

One new form of content marketing we expect to see a lot of next year: interactive infographics.  Infographics are a great form of content because they are so visual and get a lot more sharing than your typical eBook – say.  That said, so many companies are doing low-end infographics, it may be hard for your company to make a difference here.  So consider doing one that collects information from the prospect and puts their data into context.   The give:get ratio here is such that you are giving something to the prospect they value and therefore can get personal information back that you can leverage by building additional content and programs that matter.

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Also read:

How can we, marketers, become more helpful to Sales? Steve Jobs said, “You’ve go to start with the customer experience and work back to the technology, not the other way around.” According to Sirius Decisions, 70% of the B2B buying process is done before the buyer engages with sales. This belies the notion that Sales is the “front line” in the selling experience. It’s marketing that is creating 70% of the customer experience. Can we rephrase Job’s quote and use what we know to support the selling “technologies”? Our virtual panel for this article come from the sales side and gives us some insights into how our selling partners see our complex marketing processes. We took a few steps to simplify decentralized marketing activities with the integrated demand generation process flow we’ve designed for you. Please download the presentation to learn about our LeadGen Journalism and  enjoy our panel that consists of:

Michelle Denogean, VP, Marketing & Business Operations at Edmunds.com, America’s online resource for automotive information.

Sharon Drew Morgen, visionary behind Buying Facilitation®. Author of over 600 articles and 6 books on Collaborative Decision Making including the classic “Dirty Little Secrets.” Sharon is speaker represented by the SocialAgenda Media Speakers Bureau.

Susan Enns, B2B Sales Coach and Author, B2B Sales Connections, a resource for anyone involved in B2B selling.

Dave Scholten, Commercial Segment Manager at Gordon Food Service, the largest privately held foodservice distributor in North America. and operated foodservice distributor in North America.

Brent Baker,  Key Account Manager (former Marcom Manager), Swagelok Northwest (US), home of the unique “One Swagelok” business model, which includes a network of more than 200 exclusive authorized sales and service centers in more than 70 countries.

SocialAgenda Media: “The key is not to call the decision maker. The key is to have the decision maker call you”, said Jeffrey Gitomer. What demand generation practices have you adopted to simplify the hunting game for your sales team and get a steady inflow of inbound calls from your prospects?  


No matter what we do as sales professionals, the bottom line is the prospect buys on his or her own time frame, not ours. Therefore, the key to marketing and sales in today’s world is to create a very simple and repeatable process that anyone can implement to stay in touch with prospects so that you always stay “top of mind”.

At B2B Sales Connections, we use, as well as recommend to our clients, a system we call DRIP Marketing – Directed Relationship Intervention Prospecting Marketing.  DRIP Marketing ensures that you stay in frequent contact in order to build a relationship with the prospect over time so when he/she is ready to buy, they will think of you first.  It’s like every contact is a drip of water.  On its own, it doesn’t amount to much, but over time, each drip can add up to a very large pool.


Our core customers (consumers) get our content and services for free. Our sales team is focused on acquiring partners who would like to sell products to our customers. In this regard, all of our customer-facing marketing efforts help warm the doorknobs for our partners. We do a lot of direct response advertising to acquire customers / traffic. This includes paid search affiliate marketing, content syndication, display and video advertising, etc. However, since we sell advertising ourselves, those B2B relationships do not require B2B campaigns. We deal will a finite number of clients and have had direct relationships with all of them (both client and their agencies) for years. We do advertise B2B for our dealer subscription business via print, events, email, etc. However, here we also acquire business primarily through existing relationships in the automotive industry.


I think that this is really where becoming a thought leader and a partner with your customers can be a real benefit. You need to gain a lot of trust in a supplier in order for them to “call you” when they have a need to find a solution to a problem. Thought partnership allows you to listen to understand their needs, and provide helpful information to build trust.


We aim to manage our brand and its voice because it represents who we are, and what we stand for. Generally speaking, that method allows interested parties to call us if they are interested.


I don’t look at sales as a hunting game. I don’t think this way at all. My model Buying Facilitation® teaches buyers how to gather their buying decision team — all of the folks who will touch the ultimate solution and need to buy in to change. The sales model is merely a solution placement model and ignores the internal, systemic, change management issues buyers must address (that are not solution related) before they can buy because otherwise they will disrupt the system. 80% of all prospects will buy a solution from a different vendor – within 2 years of a seller’s call. That’s the time it takes them (using their own change management strategy) to align the buying decision team. And the time it takes them to align the buying decision team is the length of the buying decision/solution purchase. Selling DOES NOT cause buying.

SocialAgenda Media: “Always be closing…That doesn’t mean you’re always closing the deal, but it does mean that you need to be always closing on the next step in the process,” said Shane Gibson. How is closing reflected in each step of your lead generation and nurturing process? 


We believe strongly in relationship sales. As such, we treat each communication as a way to help our partners and potential partners further their own KPIs, thus reinforcing the value of our products.


Every step in the marketing and sales process should be designed to obtain mutual agreement with the prospect on the next step to take place, and more importantly when that step will take place.  For example, for an email newsletter, there should be mutual agreement on what content it will contain and how often the newsletter will be sent.

In situations where direct sales contact is involved, the sales staff should be trained on the proper techniques on how to work with the prospect to determine the next step in sales process, when is the best time for it to happen, and whose responsibility it is to ensure it is completed.  You also need to track and manage this in a properly designed CRM system that is organized by the date of next sales contact, not an alphabetically organized glorified phone book like most sales organizations use.

I go into great detail on how to do all of this in my book “Action Plan for Sales Success”, but suffice it to say for our purposes here, the key is for the sales representative to control the sales process so that he or she helps the customer to buy on their own terms.  As my mentor taught me, the only sale you need to make today is the next step in the process.  Take care of that and your sales production will take care of itself.


In order to get to this point you need to be very knowledgeable about your customers, and understand their buying cycle. When you can map these things out, you can organize your marketing efforts to provide customers what they need at each point in their buying cycle. We use Foresters 4 stage buying cycle (Discover, Explore, Buy, Engage), and try to use our knowledge of the customer to map out experiences that move the customer along through this cycle. CRM is a great tool to track these experiences, measure your customer touch points, and develop metrics.


Our goal in all interactions is to remember that we are a sales company. We spend our time and efforts in pursuing a relationship of trust, and offer insights and support services to help our customers.


I do not have a lead generation or nurturing process. And I don’t teach closing. I teach buyers how to buy. I teach buyers how to manage the change that must happen off-line, outside of the purview of the sales folks; a buying decision is a change management problem, not a solution choice problem.

SocialAgenda Media: “You don’t close a sale, you open a relationship if you want to build a long-term, successful enterprise”, said Patricia Fripp. What have you learned from your initiatives toward building relationships and trust with your prospects in a way that contributes to your long-term success? 


Relationships and trust are everything in our business. Our goal is to not only make car buying easy for our customers, but to also make it easy for our partners by bridging the trust gap between both constituents.


I define trust as a prospect’s belief that you will do exactly what you say you will do, when you say you will do it.  Based on my experience and simply put, if a prospect doesn’t trust you, he will not buy from you.

The challenge is that often we need to open sales opportunities with prospects that have never heard of us before, let alone trust us enough to buy from us.  Therefore, the key question is how can we as sales professionals systematically build trust into the relationship throughout the sales process so that the prospect eventually feels comfortable enough to buy from us.  In my opinion, one of the best ways to do this is through the effective use of customer testimonials.


While one sale is important, a repeat sale, and a continued relationship leads to being the trusted source of subject matter expertise, and more sales.


This is absolutely true, and only the businesses that live this will survive in this day and age. We consider prospects anyone in the Discover stage, which is the phase where they understand they have a need before ever even contacting you. It is very important to create a digital presence that is frequently refreshed with useful content. It is probably one of the hardest things for companies to do, but the ones who do it well become trusted advisors for customers.


I don’t try to build relationships. I enter into rapport by helping them facilitate their buy in and change management. I earn their trust and relationship because we avoid any systemic disruption and get the appropriate buy in quickly. We close in 1/8 the time sales does. Sales merely closes the low hanging fruit.

SocialAgenda Media: When visibility to your buyers’ strategies is limited how do you help your sales team gather accurate insights to address prospect pain points and help them make more educated buying decisions?


To me, the best way I can help my sales team, and those of our clients, is through their training and coaching.  Often our visibility with buyers is limited not because they are not interested, but because we are not interesting enough.  This holds true throughout the entire marketing and sales process.

When we can teach our teams to ask better questions, they achieve better results.  I go into great detail on how to create questions to uncover prospect pain points, both known and unknown, in my book, “Action Plan for Sales Success” because I think this is truly the key to sales success.  The right questions create value and differentiate you from the competition.  The close starts here.  As I have said many times, the better the fact find, the happier the customer, the better the pay check!


There is no pain. If prospects had real pain they would have fixed it already. They have work arounds.


The process of data gathering and interpretation is very important, and then taking that to relevant exclusive helpful insights. We have to earn trust prior to offering the insights.

We are big believers in understanding our customers and partners. We do a lot of research, quantitative and qualitative, as well as hold “immersion” meetings to understand their business objectives. Surveys, ethnographic research (client ride alongs) and client immersion meetings where we ask them a few big questions and let them present their answers. No sales pitch, just listening. We believe fully in getting our boots on and having everyone get out and understand our customers and partners — not just the sales team, everyone.

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As much as it’s wise and wonderful to “stop and smell the roses”, as the end of fiscal year approaches many companies realize it’s just as valuable to return to a careful examination of “What are we really doing, where are we going and why?” along with considering whether all functions are aligned to handle the heat of the coming year. For B2B organizations Marketing-Sales being in alignment is mission critical. A major benefit of strong marketing-sales alignment is that you are able to develop stronger and more meaningful content. Content is becoming companies’ most valuable sales rep. To empower your prospects and help them to choose your solution you need to build an infrastructure to reach and engage your audiences with relevant and personalized content. In this article our virtual panel of experts from various industries takes us into the nuts and bolts of marketing their businesses and deliver details and insights guaranteed to teach or remind you about something critical for your own continued marketing artistry. Check the integrated demand generation process flow we’ve designed for you and download the presentation to learn about our LeadGen Journalism as a new demandgen method…  Then read our interviews with experts  to learn about methods and tools other companies use for testing and optimizing their engagement and sales processes, and how they handle their cross-team priorities.

Participants in this conversation:

Jay Millard, COO, Amadeus Consulting, a company that builds custom technology solutions for their customers.

Randy Littleson, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Flexera Software, a company that provides software licensing management, software compliance, installation and application packaging solutions.

John Sarich, Vice President of Strategy, VUE Software, software solutions for the Insurance Industry.

Joseph Lininger, Senior Vice President, Marketing at Guardian Protection Services, a security company dedicated to life safety and protection of properties.

Coleen Reardon, Director of Marketing, Deer Valley Resort, a resort known for revolutionizing ski area service and hosting corporate teams.

SocialAgenda Media:According to a recent Harvard Business Review article, 60 percent of buying decisions are completed before prospects engage with a supplier’s sales representatives. What strategies and tactics do you utilize and what processes do you have in place to empower your prospects and help them to choose your solution?

John Sarich: We have an overriding strategy in place that initial customer contact happens via our website. Of course, we do plug in personal contacts that occur at a trade event or in the normal course of business, but our primary objective is to make that first impression via our website and our web content. We only sell, by the way, to insurance organizations in all segments of insurance (property & casualty, life & annuities, and health) so we are pure B2B and focused on one major industry. All of our marketing is aimed at delivering our message, emphasizing thought leadership, and providing a prospect with actionable options and information. We utilize SEO and Web metrics that enable us to understand a visitor’s role / persona, type and size of organization, and use that information in the course of follow-up via inside sales. Our initial goal is to develop a marketing qualified lead for sales that can be turned into a sales qualified lead.

Joseph Lininger: We make sure that we engage our prospects from the very first touch point and we strive to supply them with up to date information in order to help them make educated buying decisions. We are continually surveying in order to find out what are the most asked questions, what information the public wants and/or needs in order to make a buying decision. Being seen as a trusted resource for industry related information positions us as a logical choice when the buying decision occurs.

Jay Millard:  We are a services company, so this question is a bit different for us than a product company.  However, we offer two clear avenues.  One is a very quick and easy user experience online to expedite interaction with one of our employees.  We focus on speed to human interaction, and minimizing the instances someone would reach out and not make connection with a team member.  Our second approach as a services company is a thoughtful information architecture of our primary site which is augmented by a strategic content distribution strategy. We have a significant number of client success stories that are segmented by client type, technology, business need, and several other categories, so for the more thorough advance scout we employ a strategic content strategy that empowers a prospect to reinforce their choice with the reference guide from other people like them.  Through blogs, case studies, videos, and other online content, we organize a very robust and comprehensive approach to storytelling which reinforces our key distinction points.

Randy Littleson: We’re big believers in this statistic.  We agree with sales on the target buyer personas then marketing conducts research on where these personas “hang out” to discuss these topics and where they go to get their information as they research.  We then create content – most of it NOT pitching our products but educating the market on issues, best practices, etc. – and distribute it into these locations.  This takes the form of YouTube videos, white papers posted to LinkedIn, our own blogs, etc.

Coleen Reardon: Winter is by far the busiest season at Deer Valley, therefore the majority of our marketing efforts focus on promoting destination ski vacations, both domestically and internationally.  Our season begins in December and runs through the second week in April, but our winter marketing push begins August.  We have learned from our research that our guest’s decision regarding choosing a destination takes place well in advance of the actual booking, as much as four months prior, with the actual booking taking place an average of 30 to 45 days prior to arrival.  Our marketing efforts include a mix of traditional public relations, social media strategies that include Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram along with print, direct mail, digital and email campaigns, all aimed at gaining the attention of potential first time visitors as well as return guests during their planning cycle.  We also focus heavily on educating our outside sales force including tour operators and travel agents on our products beginning in late summer so that they can, in turn, easily sell the Deer Valley vacation experience.

Various closing tools and offers are made available to our Vacation Planners in our Reservations department.  Research we conduct also told us that 80% of our visitors who call our Reservations center first went to our website to research their lodging options.  A major focus for the Marketing department is to work with IT to build a website that allows our guests to book their entire vacation online.  Currently about 12% of our visitors book online and we would like to see that number in the 30% range.  As you might imagine, a ski vacation is a very complex booking typically beginning with a lodging decision involving many types of condominium style accommodation options.  We have made great strides with our website and guests are now able to book their lodging, lift tickets and ski rentals online and also make evening dining reservations.  Our future plans include adding ski school products in the next two years.  It is also exceedingly important for us to keep our website content and look and feel current and inviting as it is the call to action for all of our efforts.

Packaging of products (lodging, lift and dining) to affect bookings during need periods is an important tool for our Vacation Planners and offers us great promotional value in selling our destination, whether on the web or in person.  We believe that all of the efforts above really contribute in meaningful ways towards influencing a guest to select Deer Valley.  The number of impressions a guest experiences across mediums during their vacation planning contributes greatly to both influencing them to select Deer Valley and also to hopefully validate their decision once it’s made.

SocialAgenda Media:For companies, content is becoming their most valuable sales rep. What methods and tools do you use for testing and optimizing your engagement and sales processes from the prospect’s first contact with your content, to closed sales?

Randy Littleson: We measure.  We have a pretty extensive set of reports that measure the marketing qualified leads (MQLs) we produce from all our campaigns and content, how much pipeline we can attribute to them (both sourced and influenced) and the bookings that result from them.  We also analyze keyword searches that bring traffic to our website and blogs and then increase content based on popular terms.

Jay Millard: We typically employ A/B testing approaches where two different models for communicating a message are employed and compared.  We measure a wide variety of user experience analytics, which we watch through an online dashboard we designed for our team.  We also customize a version of this platform for clients we support.  Based upon the more effective option, we focus on enhancing the more successful approach. So in a sense, we let our clients “vote” every day.

John Sarich: We view content as king and strive to keep our content current, topical, and directed at articulating business problems and solutions to those problems. We also pride ourselves on thought leadership and are regularly cited in trade publications. Our people author numerous by-lined articles on various issues in the industry, and we have enormous credibility with our clients and prospects. We repurpose that content via Twitter, Facebook, Linked In and other social media sites which gains us more mentions at a personal level for our audience.

Coleen Reardon: Content is definitely king.  We are in the process of adding to our staff a Content Coordinator who will provide fresh, current, engaging and fun content for our social efforts as well as consistent copy and messaging throughout the various departments in the Marketing division.  Tracking, although a real challenge for all marketing efforts, is becoming much more sophisticated.  We are currently able to track our specific campaigns via digital efforts utilizing Google commerce.  The tracking is based on the lodging packages (i.e. a guest goes to our site from our digital efforts and purchases the package promoted) which we can track from web visit to conversion.  We are in the process of implementing a better tracking process through funneling the guest information and their behavior on the web so that we can begin tracking conversion no matter what product our guests purchase.

Our CRM company is able to track our email and direct mail campaigns to conversion utilizing a test group to validate the information.  They have added Social CRM tracking and reporting to their product mix this year and we will be testing the program this coming season.

Joseph Lininger: Our business intelligence and CRM solutions allow us to follow each prospect from inquiry to closed sale. We segment each promotion and content channel in order to track performance. Over time we have been able to project certain KPI criteria that we use for testing and optimizing each new content channel and publication.

SocialAgenda Media: Each organization must measure how well different pieces of content perform across various channels, for each vertical, for various buying personas and revise their plans accordingly. What metrics and analytics tools do you use to optimize audience engagement and how?  

Coleen Reardon: Content for the various channels needs to be consistent but also tweaked so that it is appropriate for the specific audiences.  Monthly reports are run for all of the social media mediums we currently implement.  Our goal is to see an increase in participants and engagement as a result of hiring a Content Coordinator.  Being able to monitor our guests engagement while on property will also help us to quickly resolve service issues in the moment, thereby hopefully lessening negative comments on sites such as Trip Advisor and Yelp and also on comment cards submitted by the guest.

Jay Millard: We have built a proprietary tool (we are of course a technology solutions company).  We segment campaigns when we create them and even use a variety of tracking coding for different content types.  We capture key data in the online path a prospect takes, and we auto upload all prospect data pre-segmented for this analysis into our customer relationship management tool.  Then via the integration to our proprietary tool, we output the data into decision tools. Phone data is also managed the same way incorporating dynamically generated phone numbers.

Randy Littleson: As mentioned above, we’re not very good yet at persona-based content – we prioritize and hit the biggest one’s – but certainly don’t to all of them yet with specialized content.  It’s a goal to improve here.   We do have a very detailed set of reports though that analyze campaigns and content for leads, pipeline and bookings – factoring in ROI based on bookings/spend.

Joseph Lininger: We use a myriad of tools to optimize audience engagement – from Google Analytics to proprietary onsite tracking scripts. Social tracking tools like HootSuite Pro, Facebook Insights and others.

John Sarich: We first look to see what content is being accessed and downloaded. We also look at the use and value of microsites, as well as roles and scoring of individual visitors. We use Pardot, Google, and other tools to quantify our web marketing efforts.

SocialAgenda Media:What challenges do companies confront today while establishing infrastructure to reach and engage their audiences with relevant and personalized content, and how does your company solve those challenges?

Randy Littleson: For us, targeting by persona at various stages of the sales cycle is very tough given the amount of specialized content relative to our resources.  Our best approach to dealing with this is prioritization – we can’t do everything, so we focus on that which is highest priority based on impact.  Another challenge we have is engaging the entire company – all our thought leaders – in contributing to our efforts.  What we’ve found works here is some awareness of the results and recognition for those who are our biggest supporters.  The third big challenge is reporting.  We’ve invested heavily in a reporting infrastructure to monitor our results, but it’s a continuous effort to get the team to adhere to standards that support consistent reporting and to invest the time in using the insights gleaned from the reports to make continuous improvements.  We have quarterly business reviews and other training mechanisms to keep this front and center for our people.

John Sarich: Probably the biggest challenge is to completely understand your customers, your competitors, and your position in the market. Again, in the B2B world, many people think that social media and personalized content is verboten. After all, in a B2C context we understand the personal aspect. However, in B2B, ultimately it is a people to people business. And, if I am selling to a business, on a personal level I want to be visible and helpful to the key decision makers. In times past, that was the purpose of belonging to a golf club – so you could develop and nurture business relationships. All social media has done is to modernize that same relationship and make it available 24/7 and not just at the golf club. So now there are tweets, forwarding items of interest via email, belonging to various interest groups, and other aspects to cultivating that important business relationship.

Joseph Lininger:  The initial buy-in on the real value of content marketing as a long term customer acquisition/nurturing channel was one of the biggest challenges. Once a value could be associated with the initiative the next hurdle was staffing appropriately and attracting the highest level of talent.  Finally, and probably the greatest challenge (which never ends) is analyzing the engagement of our audience — testing new topics and initiatives and coming up with new ideas for engagement channels, creative, etc.

Coleen Reardon: Things change so quickly that it is difficult to stay current regarding the latest and greatest in social mediums and digital offerings.  Attending seminars, research, reading articles and engaging with peers are all helpful in becoming educated. Deciding which social media and web efforts to embrace, we try to determine which efforts will be most meaningful to our guests. Staff resource is a real issue.  Information moves quickly and you need a staff member on it at all times.

Jay Millard: It is getting relatively easy for companies employing sophisticated marketing techniques (usually leveraging agencies) to convey substance, without necessarily having true organizational capability to deliver on their promises.  So in other words, there can be a lot of noise in the social conversation, muddied by those without genuine value being commingled with those with great value.  The good news is this issue puts the utmost pressure on our team to demonstrate clearer evidence of our promises and to focus on distinction.  Our content and value communication through multiple channels is focused on storytelling through the lens of our clients’ success using our services.  We provide clear proof of our abilities, in a real world context, told from the perspective of our clients.

SocialAgenda Media: What main processes do you have in place to ensure that your content team is aligned with and serves the needs of your sales team?

Randy Littleson: We have a regular process to ensure that sales/marketing are aligned on our market segmentation – which companies, personas and levels are we targeting – to ensure that we’re all focused on the same companies/individuals.  This keeps our campaigns and content focused.  We have a service level agreement (SLA) with our sales team holding marketing accountable to MQL delivery and sales to follow-up.  Marketing also participates in regional sales team quarterly business reviews (QBR) where alignment is also discussed.

Jay Millard: We have what we call a daily scrum where for 15 minutes our entire marketing and sales team get together to focus on our messaging strategies and our current cross-team priorities.  We all stay current, and on message.

Joseph Lininger:  Among processes that we have in place to ensure that our content team serves the needs of our sales team are weekly status meetings with both sales and marketing representatives to affirm alignment on current projects, quarterly goal setting meetings with sales and marketing executives and required feedback from field and inside sales representatives.

John Sarich: This may be the single most important question. Marketing-Sales alignment is mission critical. No organization can excel if the marketing function is disparate from the sales function. You have to understand, you have ONE team and that team requires various skills and talents in marketing as well as various skills and talents in sales. Sales goals are marketing goals. Any marketing organization that does not incorporate the annual sales goal/objective in bright lights and make it ever present is not going to be successful. A very key aspect of aligning sales and marketing is to make sure that marketing people accompany sales executives on actual sales calls and client calls. Another aspect is to verify business trends via sales debriefs, and customer feedback. A major benefit of strong marketing-sales alignment is that you are able to develop stronger and more meaningful content.

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There’s little need to cite statistics. They all point to the fact that “Going Mobile” is the new gold rush for marketers. Leave wherever you call home and “git” out to Mobile-fornia where market share is just laying around for the taking. And a rush it is! eMarketer estimated our mobile ad spending would surge 75% this year.

There might be a couple of lessons for marketers in the history of the gold rush that erupted after carpenter John Sutter’s find in 1848. It produced the largest mass migration in US history, set off an influx of immigrants from around the world, and…in the hysteria, more merchants got rich than miners! At the heart of the boom an egg cost the equivalent of $25 today, a pound of coffee $100 and a pair of boots $2500! Phil Armour got rich operating the sluices that controlled the flow of water. John Studebaker made a fortune he later turned into automobiles, selling wheelbarrows. Henry Wells and John Fargo did OK starting a bank. A guy named Levi Strauss created a dynasty providing strong denim work pants to the miners. Prospectors overran John Sutter’s land, his mill went bankrupt and his discovery of gold wound up ruining his life. You can create your own analogies from these historic reminders.

We gathered a group of experts to tell us what the future of the Mobile Industry can look like, what trends we can expect to see in mobile services and what are the best opportunities for marketers:

Patrick Denney, Chief Mobile Architect at Headspring Mobile, a company that provides custom business application consulting and development to those looking for the best in the business.

Martina Dodić, Marketing Manager at Infobip, a company that offers mobile services to a range of clients, from mobile operators and service providers, to enterprises, financial institutions and public sector organizations.

Joe Luthy, Marketing Director at LogiGear Corporation, a company that provides software testing services, test automation, and QA training to Fortune 500 companies.

Mayank Mehta, VP Product at Capriza. Their mobility virtualization platform enables enterprises to rapidly extend business-critical applications to modern devices for customers, partners, and employees.

Katie Meurin, Director of Marketing at Zco. Clients hire Zco to build their mobile apps.

Satish Shetty, Founder & CEO at Codeproof Technologies Inc, a leading platform provider of true SaaS, cloud based BYOD security.

Zhen Wu, President & Chief Operating Officer at Flashtotalk, LLC, a leading CDMA wireless phone provisioning solutions provider.

SocialAgenda Media: What market trends in mobile services do you see, what changes do you predict as a result and what opportunities will these changes present to marketers?


We see more and more customers looking for alternatives to traditional mobile application development. Yes, some mobile apps need to be very robust and complex, requiring a highly-skilled iOS and/or Android developer (e.g. 3D product demos, interactive e-books, etc.) but for the transactional, work-specific tasks that burden many marketers like invoices, approvals, vendor/partner management, etc., we see that the market is heading in the direction of lightweight, transactional apps that provide one specific workflow. The result is higher productivity for marketers.

Additionally, I see greater adoption of consumer apps for corporate marketing use (e.g. Instagram), which I expect to raise the quality of B2B marketing technologies in the long term as marketers grow even more accustomed to the beautiful, easy-to-use nature of consumer apps.


BYOD Security and Mobile Device Management (MDM) market will grow exponentially in 2014. As a result more people will use smartphones in business and vice versa.


I feel like in 2012 businesses were all TALKING about mobilizing – but the majority were waiting to see how it all played out.  Now that there are more businesses like Starbucks and Cumberland Farms using apps and sharing their successes, we’re seeing mobilizing hit a tipping point and the masses are moving forward with it. CMOs know just as well as CTOs that mobilizing is crucial. Don’t wait for IT to drive these efforts – take the lead.


I see a shift away from the MDM trend and more toward MAM solutions as BYOD gains traction. People hate having their enterprise spy on them on their personal devices. This will provide opportunities for other 3rd-party vendors to gain market traction against giants like Airwatch, which have centered their platform on device control instead of application control.


  • Postpaid premium carriers continue to increase network speed and create more device and functionality dependency.  Marketers will continue to unveil cutting edge devices to solidify this dependency and encourage the addiction for the latest and the coolest device.  The birth of a handset leasing and financing model has already increased the speed of handset obsolescence as well as serving to fill the digital divide caused by financing inadequacy.
  • Continued 4g LTE deployment makes the 3G network obsolete for premium carriers thus making room for MVNOs.  This creates a huge opportunity for recycled devices to be reused across different networks.  This phenomenon creates an opportunity for Flashing and Unlocking vendors like Flashtotalk, LLC.
  • T-Mobile’s lead in creating a non-contract, non-carrier dependent model will continue to be welcomed in the US.  We will start to see the migration to prepaid network operators as they provide much more reasonable monthly charges.  As this grows, consumers will demand the use of their current device and find ways to use them on non-native carriers. CPE/BYOD enabling Marketers like Flashtotalk who provides professional Flashing/Unlocking (provisioning) services will be even more in demand.  Flashtotalk has been a leading provisioning service provider for the last 7 years; we are able to flash over 800 models that include 3G and LTE models.  We are the preferred flashing service provider for several national and regional carriers. The US wireless scene will soon follow the European model to be majority non-contract based.  Network operators will have to compete on the economics of airtime and data.  This will end the pricing fix on major carriers and stimulate real competition.  In the end, consumers win.
  • Smaller screens will have more relevance than larger screens for entertainment, news and communication.  The availability of mobile Internet in vehicles and app based vehicular operations will revolutionize the wireless industry even more along with the 5G network.
  • Handset recycling will be an even bigger global operation since internationally, due to economic conditions; some older network standards still exist.
  • Enterprise systems increasing demand for BYOD and data security.


What I see as a significant trend is that the mobile device is becoming the entry point to the Internet. This changes many of the accepted marketing dynamics and especially the purchasing decision cycles. For marketers this presents both the challenge and opportunity of a short AIDA cycle.


Mobile computing will continue its rise towards global dominance and marketing on mobile devices, smartphones and tablets will continue to follow suit. It’s going to be interesting and exciting to watch just what the new developments will be, but for our forecast we’ll stick to three things we do best.

Push notifications

As far as engagement tools go, few offer so many opportunities as push notifications. Smartphone penetration will continue to grow, and is well above 50% in several developed markets, lending even more relevance to push technology, which is flexible, unintrusive and offers excellent geolocation features, which makes a huge difference in this So-Lo-Mo world.

Mobile payments

It’s not exactly a mobile marketing tool, but the m-payments trend will continue to spread, especially direct mobile billing (a.k.a. carrier billing), which enables payments to be charged directly to a mobile account. With mobile and social gaming trends increasingly growing in the mobile space as well, m-payments are an excellent way for content providers to monetise their offering, both online and on mobile.

Mobile couponing

Everybody loves free stuff, and mobile coupons can influence an impulsive buy, either in brick-and-mortar, or e-commerce, or especially m-commerce. Discount coupons delivered by SMS require little investment and can yield great returns, especially if combined with the geolocation features of push notifications to increase foot traffic in stores and sales.

SocialAgenda Media: What do marketers need to take into consideration while developing a cohesive mobile marketing strategy?


I can only speak to the app/software side of mobile marketing, but if you’re building a consumer-facing app don’t waste your money on one that your clients won’t use. Don’t build an app just to build an app. Make sure you’re considering what’s in it for them – not for you. Try to take advantage of smartphone capabilities that aren’t as easily available in a mobile web experience – push notifications, geo–targeting, app store point of sale, gamification, taking and sharing pictures, elegant user interfaces, offline functionality etc.


Marketers need to start by knowing their audience and finding out where that audience operates on mobile. Then they should start building a marketing strategy. In the B2B world, it might not make sense to invest in Instagram whereas buying mobile ad placement on a particular website might be the best investment. Whatever you do, make sure your website and the content on it is mobile-optimized so that users on any device can enjoy your wonderful copy.


Marketers need to pay attention to OS platforms and OS Versions.  Also be attentive with the device life cycle.  Most marketing schemes are mobile app based uni-directional ad campaigns; consumers who are savvy with mobile technology would be more attracted to bi-directional, participatory ad campaigns where they can give their own input and feedback.

Also, consumers are much more conscious today about Carbon Footprint, sustainable living, recycle, reduce & reuse, choices, freedom and having a global solution.


Have you ever watched a child with a hammer? To them everything looks like a nail. We all have that perspective to a degree. The focus is the customer, then the message and finally the medium. A mobile strategy is only as good as your understanding of the customer and the message delivered via the right medium.


All the precepts of marketing apply in mobile as well, but knowing the mobile channels is a prerequisite: mobile website vs. a mobile app, how to use SMS combined with other channels, etc. For example, a link included in an SMS message needs to lead to a mobile or a responsive website in order to make the experience smooth and enjoyable.

In other words, when talking about KYC, C stands for both customer and channel. Not only is mobile relatively new, it is also quite divergent and each element can be used individually, but when combined the impact is much greater. Knowing how and when, and for what purpose to use the elements of mobile is the key to a cohesive mobile marketing strategy. While it might seem a daunting task, it’s actually quite intuitive and the technology itself is flexible enough to allow for inspired solutions.


The technology. Don’t try to directly translate your paper or web marketing campaign to mobile, you’ll fail and waste tons of money. Use the technological advantages, like geolocational awareness, to only target your ideal prospects.

SocialAgenda Media: What insights into the future of mobile marketing would you need to gather for a more effective successful mobile marketing plan 2014?


My team would benefit from knowing how best to surface the right content at the right time to potential customers using their mobile devices. That means gathering data on the best type of content for mobile (e-book, article, infographic) as well as the highest-converting channels for disseminating that content.


I’d keep a close eye on Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and what Apple is doing with iBeacon. It is a much more efficient way to track consumer habits and provide target marketing over technologies like GPS and NFC.


I am constantly looking at the mobile/desktop consumption. The better I understand this the more effective my marketing promotions will be.

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Check the integrated demand generation process flow we’ve designed for you and download the presentation to learn about our LeadGen Journalism as a new demandgen method.

Also read:

Our article Marketing to the Internal Audience – From Low ROI To Cost-Effective Corporate Training offered insights to how Corporate Training is and is not serving Marketing’s internal constituencies like Sales and IT. Continuing the interview with our panel of experts we ask them about managing the information flow, improving the attractiveness of their products, and how they make learning entertaining. If you’re operating in a crowded market and challenged by customers to prove ROI prior to product delivery, you might gain from the way Trainers are using personalization to maximize value. We also find out how they believe their marketplace will change in 2014.

SocialAgenda Media: To deal with the challenge of providing cost-effective training that supports corporate goals, many companies are turning to external providers to fill the resource gap and manage the information flow. What should service providers do to increase the attractiveness of their offers and value of their services? 

Margaret Maat, Owner & Managing Partner, Forward Focus Coaching & Consulting: As one of those external providers, Forward Focus customizes all off-the-shelf learning activities to the organization, using information gathered in interviews with key organizational leaders. Using a very efficient design process, we can design activities specifically for each client at a cost-effective rate. Another key is flexibility. We listen carefully to client needs to make sure our pricing and service offerings meet the business objectives of the organization. We offer a variety of delivery media, including webinars. We use post-training application activities to reinforce learning and ensure learning is being effectively applied back in the workplace setting.

Roberta Nedry, Founder and President, Hospitality Excellence: We offer industry and geographic customization and internal marketing components and have had tremendous success with that approach. We advocate culture and experience impacts rather than just focusing on behavior. It is also essential to delegate authority to people according to their responsibility in the experience chain and empower them to deliver touch points that will exceed customer expectations.

Bob Longo, Owner, Bob Longo Consulting: Investigate and understand the company’s culture and methods.  Too many contractors try to give all-encompassing sessions without customizing to the specific needs of the client.

Daniel Tobin, Vice President of Design and Development, American Management Association: If a company is turning to an external service provider to meet the challenge of providing cost-effective training, it is almost always because the internal training group has failed in its mission.  As an external service provider, it should be important to find out why the internal training group failed and why the company is seeking external help.  To be truly effective as an external provider, one should learn as much about the company as possible and focus efforts on providing company-specific training that the company will recognize as being immediately relevant to its goals and strategies.  This may mean customizing content for the company through the development of company-specific models, case studies, and examples.  The service provider should also recognize that the views of company challenges and problems given by those who have hired them might not be the same views held by those who attend the training programs.

Karen Grosz, Owner/President, Canvas Creek Team Building: I can only tell you what I have done.  I make a video proposal that incorporates the mission and goals of the company, and here is the really interesting thing, since I began doing that, I have actually told more companies our process is not the right process for them.   I can do that because by digging in, by committing to fully understating their goals, not just wanting their cash to flow my way, I have more confidence as a provider and thereby can offer better results.

Suman Nair, Managing Director, Atiitya Trg & HR Consultants:

a) Service providers should be made part of some of the organizational conversations for them to be aligned to business realities. I have been engaging owners of L&D companies to be part of organizations; I have supported two organizations by being available one day of the week to help in their Leadership Development. This provides an opportunity to exchange knowledge and to pool intelligence in the given subject area.

b) We should scope our work to include longer supply chains rather than just training delivery. This can include end-to-end service from training need identification to monitoring training effectiveness.

c) We MUST keep learning in order to provide the best service.

d) There has to be a centralized certifying body for facilitators, at least those who facilitate Leadership learning.

Bob DeGroot, Founder of Sales Training International: Service providers need to become content experts representing “Ideal” practices, not just the industry’s “Best” practices. For example, let’s say an industry “best” practice in sales is to offer a discount on the second rejection. Just because a “Best” practice is a discount, doesn’t mean that in an ideal world that’s what you’d want to do or that it would even measure up to the client company’s values.

When a supplier can demonstrate through logic how they can help the customer meet one or more of their four business needs (increased profits, lower costs, enhanced image and lessened vulnerabilities), and can then wrap the logic with emotion (all buying decisions use emotional energy to overcome inertia), then the value and attractiveness of the service goes up.

Carol Leaman, CEO at Axonify Inc.: Service providers need to be thinking about making the learning experience highly personal, short, targeted and fun.

SocialAgenda Media: Considering the volume of information training attendees need to digest, do you (or your clients) assure that your training events not only offer educational content but also provide entertainment value? If so, how and why?

Margaret Maat: Entertainment is essential to effective learning in today’s work environment. We now have research in the neurosciences to confirm that “getting the brain’s attention” is the first step in any effective communication. Thus, starting off a learning activity with humor, a story or some other entertaining event is more likely to result in actual learning. Of course, entertainment is only part of the process. It is also important to provide engaging content and to include activities that require use of motor skills (speaking, writing, taking action) to make sure the learning sticks. And then engage in follow-up activities after training so that learners “do” the behavior change at least 21 times to make it a habit.

So we use videos, stories, metaphors, and other entertaining activities throughout our training. An example was the time we used 3D glasses so that attendees could get a point about 3D leadership vision. We showed pictures of company employees that took on three dimensions when viewed through the glasses. Employees took the glasses back to their work area to remind them of the key points.

Suman Nair: Yes, more than entertainment, it is about creating a joyful experience. Hence all our workshops or learning experiences are based on application. Any concept they learn, they also practice during the class either through dialogue, trialogue, role-play, case study, presentation, business simulation or a simple game. We also use a lot of visuals the learners create during the class. I have used storytelling, poem writing, tabloids, etc. to reinforce learning. Use of experience based or application based learning helps in retention and recall of a particular concept. I also encourage them to maintain a ‘cheat sheet’, which is an assimilation document. This helps them to recall a concept and learning when they actually need to use it.

Carol Leaman: We employ a variety of game mechanics, gamification of content, rewards and social elements that motivate employees to want to learn, make the experience fun, satisfy social needs to contribute and be recognized, and give them clear data that shows their growth in knowledge and success.  All of that is accomplished while actually delivering learning, the most important objective.

Bill Stinnett: Relatable and credible might be better words than entertaining. We find that an audience of seasoned sales professionals can be very discriminating, and they can tell in a matter of minutes whether a speaker has ever walked a mile in their shoes. Every person who leads one of our workshops has a proven track record in sales and marketing and is a leader that sales teams can relate to and want to learn from.

Bob Longo: Not only does training have to grab attention, but you have to address the “why am I in this training” question.  An attendee must be clear on how they will benefit from the training.  One way to do this is to let participants direct the flow of important information.  A good trainer should ask many questions, chances are the audience knows the answers already and just needs a guide to get there.  Additional information needs to be split into two classes, nice to know and need to know.  Nice to know should be accessible as reference.  The need to know has to be developed in class.

Bob DeGroot: Certainly the volume of information requires some time to digest. The Ebbinghaus “forgetting curve” is proof of that. In addition to structuring the training using basic Accelerated Learning methods, the single most effective way to mitigate this curve is to use application driven “peer-to-peer” coaching assignments during the training event. Entertainment of the light distraction type that does not involve intense learning is positive for learning events. However, in so far as entertainment goes, the big change I’ve seen over the past 15 years is that unless spouses and family are included, the entertainment component of events is way less important than comfort and brevity.

Roberta Nedry: Engagement value is more important that entertainment value. Entertainment value can be used to help engagement occur but best motive is helping employees feel they have an important role and are contributing to the big picture. Employees want to feel they can have a real impact, that they are listened to and that they are learning things–that’s what attracts and breeds top performers.

SocialAgenda Media: What is your approach to licensing training content vs. developing 100% of it in house? What successes have you (or your clients) had? What failures have you learned from?

Suman Nair: In our work with our clients, we use content developed 100% by us. Licensed material we use is mostly for registered simulations. Our clients prefer material developed by us 100% as it is built around their specific requirements. There will be a time in India when the content or the framework will be registered and licensed. Having said that, learning is always influenced by the skills and insights of the facilitator.

Carol Leaman: We do not license training content.  Our customers develop their own content in the form of highly targeted questions in the topic areas most important to them.  Often they are product, procedure or policy specific, which makes the information much more targeted and proprietary to their employees.  We have yet to have a failure.  Our clients absolutely love the ease of content creation, the specific way they can address learning needs by topic, location job title and employee, the complete lack of friction they get from employees in terms of using it, and the chance to deliver a really positive experience to everyone that has measurable results.

Bob Longo: I believe there needs to be a mixture of both.  The best are comprehensive programs that allow for tailoring and real examples e.g. DDI.  The worst are programs that treat every company as the same.

Bob DeGroot: Unless training is a full-service company core competency or the course cannot be acquired elsewhere, it is usually better to buy or license and then customize if needed. The trainers themselves often have higher credibility if they are employees of the company. Even then, outsourcing the design and development for a specialized training is often the better way to go. There are some instances where I’ve recommended that the client hire a person to do tasks that could be done at a fraction of the cost of an outsource situation.

Everyone has experienced the agony of homemade training done by a good person who has no training in adult learning. If it’s going to be done in-house then one should at least hire competent professionals to do it.

Roberta Nedry: Clients need to license training content from experts and those who have experience, skills and solid track records to support the content being delivered. We are experts in our field of Guest Experience Management, Hospitality Training, Customer/Guest Service and Service Excellence and create all our own content. We are influenced by some of the original experience thought leaders like Walt Disney and James Gilmore (The Experience Economy).

We also use organizational management techniques of connecting profitability, service and loyalty. Our success has been to see complete culture changes in our client organizations and to see employee perceptions go from negative to positive and become truly motivated teams. Employee retention improves, customer loyalty builds, customer reviews and referrals increase, and positive organizational change takes place. And, of course, profitability and the bottom line increase!  Where we see failure is when leadership in our client companies does not remain focused on being leaders and role models to and for employees. Employees will treat others the way they are treated. If they feel management does not care, they will not care as much either. We constantly evaluate good, positive and indifferent strategies in our clients and try to guide them to the positive experiences that will benefit everyone in the organization and in turn, their customers. It must go in that order to be the biggest success.

SocialAgenda Media: What training areas are you focusing on for 2014? What primary formats will you be using and why?

Margaret Maat: Our clients are requesting more webinars and fewer classroom trainings. Due to cost considerations, we are using more conference calls for learning activities. Other clients are purchasing classroom training from us, but in conjunction with one-on-one coaching for senior leaders to maximize impact.

Suman Nair: 2014 will have more long-term interventions because organizations are more willing to invest in them. These interventions will be long-term engagements, where the chain runs from identifying the needs to impact on business delivery. There will be more interfaces between organizations and consultants. There will be scientific ways to establish individual development needs. The use of psychometric tools to enhance individual development will be increased. I see a reduction in two-day seminars. Skill development will be more half-day workshops with intermediate gaps that allow them to practice what they have learned, come back, review and further scale up.

Retreats will definitely increase with work stress becoming more acute. Individuals will be willing to spend on their own development without waiting to be sponsored by organizations. The focus on self-awareness or spiritual learning will increase.

Bill Stinnett: Sales Excellence has always taken the approach of custom-tailoring every workshop specifically for our clients; we rarely, if ever, deliver anything “off the shelf”. We can create an effective training program that takes place in a half day, one day, two days or even spread out over a year through our self-paced, one-on-one coaching programs. We are currently working on a new LMS platform that will launch in 2014 that will make it even easier to learn from a tablet or smartphone.

Bob Longo: Return to basic selling skills. Evaluations, self-assessments and field observations will determine individual needs.  From there format will be decided based on group or individual needs.

Bob DeGroot: In 2008 we completed the transition to a virtual business. We went from 30 employees to 0, from 7,000 sq. ft. of office and classrooms to no offices or classrooms. We outsourced almost everything. Our clients find us online, use our free diagnostics to find out what they need, take the needed courses online, and use the coaching guides we supply free to monitor and refine the skills.

With this virtual company “work from anywhere” business model, we put our offices on our boat and took 2.5 years to complete the GreatLoop where we circumnavigated the eastern USA. We’re back now for a couple of years to restructure our volumes of sales content into Apps for the next generations who prefer just in time learning.

Roberta Nedry: We offer a variety of onsite programs, which are very effective, based on the emotional connection we make with participants and the engaging style of our workshops. Our content is very customized so we can deliver anything from a few hours to half day to full days and series, which build on stages of skill development. We also offer online programs which reinforce the onsite training and can serve as easy access refreshers and orientations 24 hours a day. We are planning to do more videos and publications based on client demand in 2014.

SocialAgenda Media: What have been your most successful demand generation and sales strategies in 2013 for acquiring clients for your training programs?

Carol Leaman: We have a very rigorous direct sales process that involves campaigns, social media, inside sales, PR and direct sales.

Roberta Nedry: We write articles that are published around the world which generate tremendous interest and leads based on our content, style and methodology. We offer follow up and refresher courses to our existing clients as part of our partnership and commitment to ensuring their long-term success. We help evolve existing clients into other strategies and skills that will build on exceptional service delivery and maximizing the experience. Our existing clients and relationships also send us a lot of referrals and we have tremendous loyalty with our own customer universe.

Since we deployed our unique 3D Service™ Methodology as a successful business strategy for both internal and external service delivery in all industries, we are seeing more client interest for newer programs such as employee recognition, service evaluation and design (like mystery shopping but with implementation of results), and comprehensive service initiatives.

Bill Stinnett:  Certainly we invest in our marketing efforts and we employ the same sales strategies we teach in our workshops, but over the years our greatest technique in generating demand has been to delight our clients. We get a great deal of business from client referrals as well as from workshop participants who move to another company and tell their sales leaders about the effectiveness of our programs. You can’t pay for better marketing than that!

Bob DeGroot:  Organic search engine placement and client referrals take care of 98% of our new business. Our clients self-select by having to include search terms that indicate they want an online solution. That way, we don’t spend time having to convince them that’s the way to go. We’re averaging around 400 course completions each month, which interestingly enough is down from where we started this year due to the gridlock in congress. Once they repair themselves and our clients stop postponing, we should see that number return to its former lofty level.

Suman Nair: In our experience business growth in the last 10 years has been by references and repeats. Our investment in media or employment of business development gave us lesser returns in the past years. Now the market seems to be matured to consider Training vendors as Business partners and not individual freelance service providers.

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Check the integrated demand generation process flow we’ve designed for you and download the presentation to learn about our LeadGen Journalism as a new demandgen method.

Also read:

Just Who Needs Training in American Companies?
(Spoiler Alert! It’s NOT just the “Workers”)

One of the biggest challenges for marketing is creating cooperative teamwork between marketing and other departments, especially in the traditionally uneasy partnership with Sales and, as technology increasingly becomes a part of marketing, IT departments. According to the American Society for Training and Development, U.S. firms spent about $175 billion on employee learning in 2012 (a lot of that on sales) and the rate of spending continues to grow at a double-digit rate. But some research suggests that current training programs only result in a 10% ROI.

This article shifts the focus toward understanding the disconnect happening in corporate training today. We gathered 9 experts, trainers and training consultants, and asked them how businesses are and aren’t getting their money’s worth training their employees.

The virtual panelists are:

Margaret Maat, Owner & Managing Partner at Forward Focus Coaching & Consulting, a change management company that assists clients in making the internal human resource related changes needed to execute on their external business strategies and goals.

Carol Leaman,  CEO at Axonify Inc., a company that delivers personalized, bite-sized targeted learning in a fun, effective way that makes it stick. Carol, in 2010, was named Canada’s Leading Female Hi-Tech Entrepreneur.

Suman Nair, Breakthrough Coach and Managing Director, Atiitya Trg & HR Consultants, author of the Zen of Facilitation.

Roberta Nedry, Founder and President of Hospitality Excellence, Inc., has spent her career exploring guest experience management, training techniques and impact, and exceptional service. She’s now sharing her passion on her blog.

Bill Stinnett, Founder and President, Sales Excellence, Inc. Bill is a highly sought after speaker, coach, and consultant on the subject of maximizing sales and marketing productivity and performance. He’s the author of two best-selling books: Think Like Your Customer, and Selling Results!

Robert DeGroot, a consultant, trainer, researcher, author, hypnotherapist and counselor. He is the founder of Sales Training International.

Daniel R. Tobin, Ph.D., Corporate Learning Strategist, is currently Vice President of Design and Development for the American Management Association in New York, NY.  Dan has extensive experience in management development, executive education, sales and sales support training and technical education. He’s written 5 books. Noted for his practical approaches and his sense of humor, Dan is a popular speaker and seminar/workshop leader.

Bob Longo, Bob Longo Consulting, helping companies maximize return from their employees by helping them do their jobs better. For Bob it’s all about Making Learning Possible.

Karen Grosz, Owner/President, Canvas Creek Team Building®, a company with a unique approach to accomplishing unity in a team – from corporate training to couples’ date night!

SocialAgenda Media: In today’s corporate environment, proper training and development is required to keep employees on the cutting edge of industry knowledge and practice. Many corporate training departments struggle with this. How do you (or your clients) manage to keep up with the rate at which information and technologies are changing?

Carol Leaman: Our clients keep up with rapidly changing information through the way we deliver learning on our platform.  It’s bite-sized, continuous, personalized to the demonstrated knowledge (or knowledge gap) of the employee, and engaging.  Since employees are typically using it every day, the content can be changed dynamically and instantly as operational information changes so the next time the employee logs on, the new information is presented immediately. Our platform works on any technology – mobile, tablet, laptop, point of sale… whatever is accessible to the employee.  We make it a highly targeted (in terms of the content) and easily accessible experience to keep employees on top of everything they need to know to do their jobs well.

Margaret Maat: My advice would be to focus less on training classes and more on creating a learning environment.  Recruit people who love to learn and reward them for doing so. As much as possible, integrate learning into workplace activity. This requires intentional design of learning activities and ensuring that those activities are directly relevant to day-to-day work tasks.

Karen Grosz: The focus should be on true analysis of needs and sticking to the mission of the business, not listening to hype.  Often technology is like a shiny object distracting people, but focusing on the mission negates the temptation.

Bob DeGroot: Not falling too far behind rather than staying on the cutting edge is more the norm. A huge number of companies do only the minimum training required by law. They are easy to spot. They have no meeting rooms or classrooms in their facilities. They don’t have a “learning” vibe, just a “git ‘er done” high stress energy. Training is not mentioned on the VIP tour and being sent to the training department is a “toe-tag” assignment where you’re dead on arrival.

Some companies are so heavily regulated (pharmaceuticals, chemicals, transportation, etc.) that they have become very sophisticated in managing the learning functions. And, because they are required to do so much training, they are leading the charge for finding ways to do the training better, quicker, cheaper. For example, to keep costs down, delivery platforms are changing rapidly from classroom to eLearning and mLearning + coaching. No one does more training than the military and so who developed SCORM? Yep, the military. Now Tin-Can API is available for mLearning devices.

Bob Longo: This is typified by the acceleration of computer program releases, much of which happens via update.  In this specific scenario, the users are often ahead of training.  Google offers so many options for self-teaching that the training department becomes secondary.  In other, less dramatic examples, it is imperative for training to “stay in touch”, doing surveys, needs assessments and absolutely getting out to where the work is being done.

Dan Tobin: As training director for a number of high-tech companies during my career, my strategy for keeping up with the ever-increasing rate at which information and technologies keep changing is to form alliances with the parts of the organization where new information is generated, e.g., product management, strategic planning, competitive analysis groups, etc.  When one of these partners identifies information that is needed by employees, we look at two basic items: first, what information do they need and, second, what is the best way of providing that information.

For the first question, what information is needed, the answer can be anything from “they need to be aware that this is happening, or that a competitor is coming out with a new product, to “they need in-depth training on how to sell or service our new product.”  The training group does not always have to create a new training program for every change or new bit of information — sometimes it is enough to point employees to a web page that contains the information or to a competitor’s website to view a new competitive product.  The role of the training group should be to keep up with all of these changes and to make recommendations on the best delivery method for the information.  When new skills are needed, the training group can work with the relevant groups within the company to create and provide the training.

By forming alliances and using a real or virtual advisory group, the training group can keep up with the flow of information and create the relevant methods to deliver information and/or skills to the right employees.

SocialAgenda Media: How do you ensure that training and development is cost-effective yet still supports corporate needs?

Margaret Maat: When needs assessment is done effectively and identifies the most critical competencies required for job success, we find that the training and development is cost-effective. Sometimes companies go to a lot of trouble to identify every job skill when, in fact, there are a few job skills which, if implemented, translate into greater value for the individual and the organization. By focusing on these “leverage” skills, there is no question about the value proposition. We are very strategic about who to involve in the needs assessment process to ensure that the critical competencies identified are those which are most likely to support the business/organizational goals.

Roberta Nedry: A red carpet attitude starts at the top. Leadership and role-modeled behavior at every level is critical to ensuring training and development is effective. Accountability for actions desired from training and development is also essential to supporting corporate needs. We say, “People do what is expected when it is inspected!”  How internal employees are treated is how employees will treat customers. The internal social network supports that.  It’s critical to understand what experience management is all about BEFORE implementing technologies so that training is cost effective and yields maximum impact.

Suman Nair: The effectiveness of Training & Development is currently being monitored from the learners’ awareness and readiness perspective. Although clients want to link learning to business outcome, the commitment needed to define the linkage needs a stronger approach. The shift has not yet translated to rigorously monitoring behaviors after the training delivery. In my own experience, the number of meetings held before the workshop is more than the number and amount of concern shown after the workshop to assure effectiveness.

SocialAgenda Media: What in your opinion should organizations do to get more value out of their spending?

Margaret Maat: Organizations can be more intentional about integrating learning and development into the Talent Review process. For instance, one of our clients asked us to design a Talent Review scoring process that takes into consideration, not only competencies, but also results. When a performance measurement falls below a certain threshold on the employee’s scorecard, the employee is required to complete a learning activity related to that measurement. Employees can also complete additional self-directed learning activities to improve skill sets related to the Talent Review scores. The employee’s supervisor monitors all learning activities. The supervisor becomes a learning coach, so to speak. Learning activities are considered complete, not when the learning facilitator says that the assignment has been turned in, but when the supervisor/learning coach says that the behavior is now being demonstrated in the workplace setting.

Suman Nair: Some things they can do:

a) Study the strengths, skills and behavior required for the job in the given context. Facilitate enhancing these strengths while also focusing on developing areas that need to be developed for the role.
b) Allow the person to choose his/her preferred style/mode of learning. Classroom learning may not fit all.
c) Develop a definite plan for the individual and create actions which are monitored by the reporting Manager (who best knows what the job requires) and supported/facilitated by the HR/T&D team.
d) Create context for the employees to teach back to others what they have learned, which helps them better assimilate their own learning.
e) Learning progress is incorporated into reviews to assist a faster and happier learning experience.
f) Reward demonstration of new learning.
g) Pick a learning theme every year that supports the cultural values of the organization.

Roberta Nedry: Start at the top and focus on training perception as opposed to just behavior. Once learning and development activities take place, a structure must be in place to reinforce what has been learned. Many organizations do training as a 1-2 times a year activity and neglect the day-to-day integration to keep what was learned constant and consistent. When we deliver our training and experience management programs, we work with clients to set up this structure before the training along with leadership training so that maximum value can be achieved.

Bob Longo: Promote a culture of training and continuous improvement.  Everyone should be thinking and talking about how to improve. Training has to become part of a personal developmental program, part of “how do I advance” and not a way to take a break from work.

Bill Stinnett: The real challenge of sales training is to enable and empower learners to go out and apply what they have learned. We believe strongly in the power of ongoing training reinforcement and always recommend supporting any onsite workshop with ongoing review and reinforcement. We also work with management to reinforce the application of new ideas and approaches.  This is the best way to ensure maximum value from an investment in training.

Carol Leaman: Organizations need to better understand how humans actually learn – it’s a continuous process that needs to be personalized to the individual based on demonstrated knowledge or knowledge gaps.  The day of the one-time event, where a company brings a group of employees into a classroom, are gone.  No one remembers anything, and the entire investment goes to waste. Delivering a daily, short burst of information maps to our cognitive architecture is best, especially when combined with the spacing effect and retrieval practice (two core, brain science-based, ways we remember).  Using SaaS and cloud technology to deliver an on-demand, at-the-point-of-need experience to individual employees is highly cost effective compared to any other form of learning.

Karen Grosz: We say ‘we begin with a blank canvas to get your people on the same page.’ I think that is a step that is often skipped. Organizations throw training at the wall, hoping it will stick and finding it fell flat on the floor because they move so quickly. People need a moment to change gears, to get out of the day-to-day tasks and into the opportunity to absorb new ideas.  We like to be the leadoff activity for ongoing change.  Our process gives teams an opportunity to create something unusual that they are proud of.  This opens them up to listening, to accepting change, and being ready to really implement the training they are taking part in.

Bob DeGroot: From what I’ve seen, most training managers are doing a very good job holding costs in line with expected outcomes. More use of e/mLearning will continue to lower costs. For example E-Learning E-Zine reports that today eLearning is $56.2 billion and is expected to grow to $107 billion by 2015. That could mean that money spent on travel and classrooms may decrease and the younger generations learn using their preferred methods. 10 years ago we kept our classrooms full and instructors constantly on the road. Today we don’t have classrooms or instructors.

Dan Tobin: Twenty years ago, I asserted that at least half of corporate expenditures on training programs were wasted because what employees learned was never applied to the employees’ work to make a positive difference in business results.  As a corporate training director, I have always used three basic measures for any learning initiative I undertake:  Relevance, Value-Added, and Quality (RVQ).  Training content is Relevant if the employee can start using it immediately upon the completion of the training.  Training content is Value-Added if employees can use it to add value to their work in order to better achieve or exceed individual, team, or corporate goals by improving productivity, reducing waste, accelerating progress, lowering costs, providing better customer service, etc.  Training program Quality refers to the quality of the training materials, instructors, etc. — all those things that are generally measured on end-of-course “smile sheets.”

The focus of every corporate learning initiative has to be on the corporation’s business goals and strategies.  Unless the training group can make this connection, the program should not be undertaken.

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Check the integrated demand generation process flow we’ve designed for you and download the presentation to learn about our LeadGen Journalism as a new demandgen method.

Also read: