by SocialAgenda Media
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.
MARCIA KADANOFF, CMO at Bislr:
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.
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.
SHARON DREW MORGEN:
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.
SHARON DREW MORGEN:
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.
SHARON DREW MORGEN:
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!
SHARON DREW MORGEN:
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.
In our previous article on Mobile Mania, Marketing’s Gold Rush to Mobile: Tips and Trends, we uncovered some strategic insights about the future of mobile marketing. In this article our experts talk tactics, pointing directly at concerns and offering possible solutions for marketers who want to collect Mobile treasure but avoid sinking the company’s ship trying to get it.
Martina Dodić, Marketing Manager at Infobip:
Our role is specific here, as we are a technology company. We facilitate the implementation of mobile engagement strategies for companies, by building globally reliable and easily applicable cloud-based mobile communication channels. On top of that, we constantly add new ingredients and opportunities for optimisation of mobile engagement strategies – location, context-based insight, and database cleaning.
There are a lot of discussions about mobile engagement going on, but there is no magic formula that could guide companies through this major shift to mobile. The matter of turning the huge potential of mobile into tangible business gains is all but easy. It requires careful planning and what works for one business doesn’t necessarily work for another.
Joe Luthy, Marketing Director at LogiGear Corporation:
We don’t innovate as quickly as I’d like to see but that’s due to resource limitations. What we’ll be doing next year is making better utilization of the technology to serve our customers with what they are looking for in the right format a greater percentage of the time.
Mayank Mehta, VP Product at Capriza:
Our innovation, in the short-term, will be operational – getting access to business-critical data from our phones and managing campaigns from any device. In terms of customer-facing marketing innovations on mobile, we expect to use our very product (the lightweight apps, which we call “zapps”, that you can create with our Designer) as an asset to be shared via SMS, Twitter, Facebook and email on a mobile device. We haven’t yet cracked the code on how to leverage that asset, but we are enjoying the challenge of figuring it out.
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, therefore 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 do one specific workflow. The result will be more productive marketers, which benefits everyone.
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.
Relevance is the cornerstone of any success in marketing, and today it’s reach that gives you relevance. Mobile is what gives the greatest – and the most relevant – reach, thanks to a paradigm shift in communications and content consumption. Catching the eye of the consumer is becoming increasingly difficult, but the fine line between immediate and intrusive remains. That’s where a well-known and popular channel comes in.
SMS is seeing a constant upward trend thanks to its immediacy and familiarity, and we give our clients detailed information and best practices on how to harness the potential of SMS in mobile marketing, in addition to world-leading connection quality and coverage.
The majority of app developers are focused solely on the device without going to the next step and assuring a completely separate experience from the traditional desktop. Our app development business is built around delivering what the customer wants, but we coach them on taking a longer view and helping them go beyond just the mobile app.
Zhen Wu, President & Chief Operating Officer at Flashtotalk, LLC:
Marketing companies have a tough job since most consumers have multiple screens and multiple OS versions. The key is to create an environment that’s all encompassing to create a captured audience such as Apple, Inc. I see Samsung is starting to do a good job following suit.
As a provisioning company, our goal is to provide consumers the freedom to choose the best wireless carrier with their current device. We provide a solution for our customers to take advantage of lower monthly bills so they can keep their device and switch the carrier.
Satish Shetty, Founder & CEO at Codeproof Technologies Inc:
Business is concerned with corporate data leakage. Due to the BYOD (bring your own devices) trend, employees are accessing corporate applications (emails, specifications, customer data, designs etc.) on his/her personal un-secured mobile devices. Codeproof is focused on solving BYOD security by offering our cloud based mobile security software to businesses.
To create and monitor many of our most complex marketing campaigns requires that we be able to access web applications from our mobile device. Some systems do offer mobile apps, but often, those apps are insufficient. Thankfully, we “eat our own dog food” and have actually created apps for the marketing team using the Capriza Designer. That being said, there are certain workflows we have yet to mobilize.
Katie Meurin, Director of Marketing at Zco:
Customer loyalty rewards programs are popping up everywhere and with good reason – they are working. Consumers want to feel connected to the brands with which they engage. The problem with customer loyalty programs is that they can be difficult to organize and maintain. We’ve seen it firsthand at Zco – companies lose the initiative because of outdated POS systems or because it requires too much employee bandwidth to maintain – and then they call us. Creating a good loyalty program that allows the consumer to interact with the brand through an app synced with a POS system can and is having enormous benefits for brands. It’s a cool factor that differentiates, makes buying easier and creates buzz about your brand. You want your mobile marketing efforts to be cool. SMS messaging campaigns – not cool, branded reward program apps – cool!
Patrick Denney, Chief Mobile Architect at Headspring Mobile:
I think it’s less about what challenges, and more about what opportunities. With mobile devices we can understand where customers shop, where they live, estimate their socioeconomic status, number of children, what the weather is like where they are, etc. and provide an ideal environment for target marketing. Apps like RetailMeNot have been doing this using GPS location for a while but with the introduction of such technologies as iBeacon I see this being taken to another level altogether. Big brother IS watching, all consumers can do is sit back and enjoy the ride.
From this standpoint our needs are pretty basic, we make sure that the key information from the applications we use on a daily basis are available via a mobile device. That means being able to retrieve information from our CRM systems in a device friendly format with the ability to print reports and docs remotely.
We are using mobile applications to improve the functionality of internal tools, and relevant updates are delivered to these applications through our own push notifications service. Also, our teams are frequently using our global SMS messaging network to increase efficiency and speed up processes in situations when e-mail communication is not enough, and when voice calls would be too expensive.
Firstly, we’ve tested our own mobile application development technology for optimizing specific workflows. Secondly, we experimented with mobile advertising but found that the conversions were too low quality for us to continue to invest in that channel. Thirdly, we optimize every landing page for use on any mobile device in order to drive as high a conversion rate as possible from all platforms. Finally, we engage in three major social channels (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook) from our mobile devices in order to ensure a quick turn around time.
I really enjoy using Meeting Mapper – its an app that integrates with Salesforce and helps us keep track of the meetings we have – who attends, what stance everyone holds, that sort of thing – but it’s very visual and I can be taking notes on 5 different people from an iPad and the notes will go right into each of their Salesforce records with the push of one button. If I were to go into each record I’d have 25% of the information and it would take me double the time to enter it all.
We have been using tools like LinkedIn’s CardMunch and CardCam to quickly scan in business cards for prospects and drop them into Salesforce.
I’d say market over saturation. When mobile was just for the early adopters it was easy to gain traction, just post an app on the app store and you’re done. Now we see people paying money to be displayed inside of a more popular app to promote their free app! Gaining traction is all about being unique at this stage of the game (or apparently having a photo app, every time I think photo apps are done, another one pops up in the top 10).
A major infrastructure issue in mobility is content. Many enterprise applications and websites are not ready for mobile. There has been drastic improvement in the last few years but not enough. In developing countries Internet is not reliable and this is still a major infrastructure issue for mobility growth since so many cloud based apps rely on Internet availability.
The biggest issue marketers face is not on their end: mobile devices are highly fragmented regarding screen sizes, processor power, but also usage preferences and familiarity with mobile technology. This often calls for extensive research and development of mobile-ready sites and apps, which in the end cannot yield the expected results.
The answer to this is going for a cross-platform solution that offers the same user experience on all devices, all networks and with all demographics. So far there is only one – SMS, and it’s unlikely it will soon be supplanted.
Of course, SMS cannot offer the same rich experience as other mobile channels, but it greatly increases the reach of any marketing effort, as well as adds a mobile dimension to even the most conservatively planned campaigns.
As I mentioned above, it’s very difficult to access desktop web applications from a mobile device, but we’re working to address that for marketers.
The big issue right now is the platform fragmentation. Developing an app is the simple part, assuring it works as expected for the majority of users is the difficult part. Users aren’t tolerant of apps that seem slow, or freeze. The unfortunate part is that it may be the fault of the device. Avoiding these issues requires thorough testing, and too many app developers don’t test thoroughly enough.
In short, test and analyze everything especially at the campaign level. We’re B2B and recognize that our audience spends a lot of time on the desktop. But is that where they are checking and reading their email? Probably less than we think. I constantly have to reinforce that to my team when they are creating campaigns.
Capriza has developed a mobility solution that enables non-technical marketers to create mobile apps for various workflows that are typically only done from a desktop. For example, Marketo users can create an app that displays the analytics for a particular set of emails or an app for viewing new lead information. The key is that there’s no coding required to create an app, so either a marketer alone or a marketer and a friend in IT can have an HTML5 app up and running in just minutes.
We’re custom developers – so the credit all goes to our clients. They think it, we build it. That being said, we’ve built several branded apps that aid marketers in driving revenue for their businesses including:
SMS is our primary area of expertise and as we’re acutely aware of its potential in mobile marketing, we’ve developed a specialized solution aimed at marketers looking for a convenient and effective tool. Infobip Campaign Manager offers four different kinds of campaigns that enable greater consumer engagement and insight.
Coupons, Sweepstakes, Broadcast and Polls each have their own target audience, impact and purpose, and between them effectively cover all the corners of SMS marketing. The solution’s tagline, Mobile marketing can be easy, came naturally as that’s just what Campaign Manager brings to the table.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.