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Memories – History of Disruptive B2B Innovations

Sorry, if I am getting emotional in this post… After far more than 1.000 posts, there must be one that is more personal than the rest of this blog: Memories.

I haven’t been alive 1851. Well, I am not alone on that one, right…?! No, I haven’t changed the world.
Obviously. Many of the companies on this infographic could not make this happen…

However, in 1999 something happened that I did not expect those days, or when I started my career in the B2B marketing and media world. It was disruptive in my B2B marketing life. Ok, I admit it was no innovation…, maybe some tiny idea and thoughts were those days. It was a milestone for me personally. And a tipping point in my business experience…

Getting an award is something that gives people a career kick. No Grammy. No Oscar. No… whatever. Having an award from the company that is mentioned at the beginning of this chart is something special to me, especially when you were young, inexperienced but eager to become better and better in business. When United Buisness Media bought CMP in 1999, I achieved a Salesperson of the Year award from CMP. Big emotions, big memories, I can tell you…

Seeing JESS3 and Eloqua mention CMP in their history of disruptive B2B Technolgy Innovations infographic brought back these long forgotten memories. I haven’t seen anyone mention CMP for years…

This infographic is not only rewarding the importance of content marketing, it also shows that content marketing will remain to be relevant and thrilling in the future. However, it might shift more and more from text to audio-visual touchpoints? We will see…

PS: Thanks to Mai Nguyen to ping this through to me…

Marketing automation – A sleeping lead generation star…?

Although companies get flooded with information concerning the benefits of marketing automation, the topic is still “not self-explanatory” to most marketers. The majority of B2B companies understand the general benefit in principle. Nevertheless, only a few are using marketing automation yet (7-10%). It seems that marketing automation is a sleeping star…

Still, the market for marketing automation is growing as you can figure out from the numbers below. Not surprising. The solution providersfor marketing automation proclaim an increase in lead generation and explain companies how easy it is to manage the sales lead funnel. And generating leads is what drives the B2B world around…

The annuitas Group just recently published some statistics from numerous sources that summarize the marketing automation market and published an interesting infographic.

– 110 vendors are seeling products and solutions in the marketing automation space
– 81% of best-in-class companies see the benefit in closing deals faster
– 76% of marketing decision makers see generation of high-qualified leads as the biggest challenge
– 64% of them have neither an internal nor external process to manage marketing automation
– 36% use marketing automation for lead nurturing
– 451% increase in qualified leads get businesses that use marketing automation for lead nurturing
– 47% more closed werde generated via lead nurturing generiert
– 10% use marketing automation to follow up later in the buying cycle

Spot On!
The statistics illustrate the power of marketing automation and what it could do to lead generation. However, when companies use marketing automation, only 25% use the full potential of marketing automation. It has become a “must have” in the marketing departments, at least of enterprises. If small and medium-sized companies use marketing automation or their a pre-sales/telemarketing to leverage their marketing and thus sales potential would be an eye-opening statistic in these terms. In many cases, time and resources hinder most companies from diving deeper into the potential of marketing automation and thus their brand content, the context in which it appears, and the community that talks about their business, products and services. The approach that I came across the last three years was an outsourced solution to service providers like agencies, publishers or software providers. And the main challenge of lead generation and nurturing is to align marketing, sales and customer service for a more efficient web strategy.

Would you agree that marketing automation is still a sleeping marketing star for lead generation…?

What is Social Media? – Famous quotes from the istrategyconference Amsterdam

After the first day of the istrategyconference in Amsterdam, I briefly wanted to share some insights in how Twitter caught some famous quotes about “What is Social Media?”. The people who brought these quotes up in their presentations, or the people that (re-)tweeted those might forgive me if I am not quoting and linking back to every single tweet, or Twitter account where it came form.

Why I am not quoting? Apart from having to listen to Power Point presentations, the challenge for presenters and moderators is to attract the attention of a crowd. And for the audience it is becoming more and more some massive workload to do multitasking, and participating an offline event in a 2.0 manner. A thought I have explored in a German post, and definitely need to translate when I find the time for it.

“Sometimes it makes you mad to listen to speakers and keynotes, write tweets, and respond to mails and Facebook at the same time. Not to mention blogging… How do you handle this?” A question I asked my friends on Facebook today. And I know from studies that multitasking is becoming more difficult the older we get, and that we are only able to do maximum two things at the same time. I don’t know how you see this but participation 2.0 is nearly impossible if you want to be share the way people would love you to do it.

This is just a random collection of different quotes that shows how Social Media was defined at the conference. Maybe you add some more quotes…?!

“Social Media is like sand: you can play with it and have fun but sometimes it gets into your underwear and becomes very annoying.”

“Social Media is like gardening: the real hard work starts after the seeding and planting.”

“Social Media is like … a dance with the right music (content) and partner (fan). It never needs to end!”

“Social Media is like an icecream, it’s delicious, everybody wants it, but it melts if you are too slow.”

“Social Media is like teen sex. Everybody wants to do it. Nobody knows how. When it’s finally done its a surprise it’s not better.”

Spot On!
In the B2B SocialMedia panel, which I had the honor to moderate and talk to Ed Bezooijen (Citrix), Paul Dunay (Networked Insights) and Menno Lijkendijk (Milestone Marketing) I also mentioned a quote that I think is going to be the main challenge for B2B marketers in the future. The relationship of content, distribution and perception which was (and in my eyes still is) the advantage of publishers to other content producers and curators. Publishers have all three of these as main pillars of their business…

“Content = King – Context = Queen – Community = The Empire”

If you see it different, tell me. If you like it, do so. If you want to add something, go ahead…

PS: THX to a great team from istrategyconference in Amsterdam for the good organization and the diner yesterday night.

News Update – Best of the Day

Marketers see many studies like one of the Morgan Stanley reports which state that there are more social network users than email users. And especially in the B2B sphere the research makes clear that 80% of business buyers today say that they find their vendors as opposed to vendors finding them. Tony Sambito writes advices that compasnies and brands plan for the Social Buyer before it is too late. I absolutely agree with him…

Business decision makers often ask me how much I think Social Media goals have to be linked to business goals to drive success. A new report, “The State of Social Media in Credit Unions: Opportunities and Challenges,” from 187 credit unions of varying size and composition across the United States and Canada now allows some insights in that question. According to the study, companies using Social Media with more than two years of experience are the most likely to report success (57%), while those that have three months or less are least likely (17%).

Still thinking what will be the Social Media trends for this summer? Tim Gray has an answer for you. Find the 5 trends that he advices to watch out for. Location based topics, group buying, “swiming in the stream” (social stream), social search and mobile. Don’t know if this is really social only but still good in terms of your web-strategy.

News Update – Best of the Day

Some day sago, I have written about the changing atmosphere since social media monitoring companies are moving into the CRM sector. Andrew Hunt discusses the issue if “Sales is killing Social Media?” and explains how B2B sales is changing from both sides: Customer are at least “spectators” according to a Forrester study. The question is when companies are changing their sales process to a “listen and engage” model for the old “speak and push” format, where he refers to an interesting insight from OgilvyOne about the future of selling.

A recent Penn State research claims that updates on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other real-time content sites could be worth more than 30 million USD a day, or nearly 10.9 billion dollars a year, to advertisers. The study was based on separating duplicate searches from unique search terms. Then, the research determined the value of the real-time search terms by using Google Adwords Traffic Estimator.

Start the day with a smile and don’t invest in the wrong portfolio… Nice commercial from Invesco.

News Update – Best of the Day

In the US, almost 80% of children between the ages of 0 and 5 use the Internet on (at least) a weekly basis. This is the results from a report by Joan Ganz Cooney Center and Sesame Workshop. The report, assembling data of seven studies, also illustrates the increasing parallel consumption of different formats of media at the same time. Some key findings: 60% of kids under the age three watch video online, 47% is the amount television accounts for those using all formats of media and 36% of kids between 2 and 11 use internet and TV simultaneously. It is also interesting to see how the use of mobile phones is on the rise in the young age target group. Of children ages 6 to 11, 20% own cell phones,
compared with less than 12% five years ago.

Stop talking to your mobile, talk to me! This could be the message that arises from a post that Rohit Bargava posted under the title “Overtweeting: Are We Becoming Socially Antisocial?”. And I think this is a valid question to ask ourselves these days: Is social media becoming a conversation killer and going against the odds of the Cluetrain Manifesto? I would say: No! It will just take some time to find the right balance. Let the hype period move on. Let people understand that the world is changing. Then we are becoming Socially Social. It is just a matter of accepting that the world is changing, that technology will become our bred and butter, and that we see how much more we could participate in information around people we know. Agree?

Old school versus new school. This was the motto when Mike Ferry met Matthew Ferrara at the Coldwell Banker Generation Blue Conference where they had an intense debate if “social media is stupid”…

Study: Search and Social amplify purchase decisions

One thing leads to another. Today we could transfer this quote to: One search leads to another social activity, and vice versa. And this interconnection of web-strategy tactics amplifies the user’s purchase decisions.

A new study from GroupM and comScore states that 40% of consumers who search for products to purchase are taking a social activity as a next step to finalize their buying decision. And the activity can be seen from the other direction as well: 46% of consumers who use social media are searching for products to expand the basis on a product range to take a decision.

58% of users begin their journey to purchase with search. Company websites come in at 24% and social media by 18%. The opinion of “friends” on the purchase decision is highly rated in social networks and cannot be underestimated these days from brands and retailers any longer.

The study reveals interesting insights in the time period that make the essential change in the buying decision process. The “late kick” comes 30 days prior to purchase when brands and companies have to engage with their audience – and can leave search tactics behind. A difficult topic to handle in the B2C industry but for B2B very helpful.

“There are still many brands who haven’t figured out why they’re in social media. We still talk to brands that are trying to determine if they should be in social media. The data suggests the two most important subsets in social are user reviews and category blogs, rather than sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.” Chris Copeland, CEO, GroupM Search

Some important findings on how social and search are linked together…
– 86% see search engines important in buying decisions – Consumers use search in buying cycle as a pricing tool (research products and select purchase location)
– 45% use search throughout the buying cycle
– 26% use search at the beginning of their research and shopping process
– Social is essential in the consideration process
– 30% use social media to create a shopping short-list
– 28% say social media has a valuable impact in creating awareness for brands and products

Spot On!
The study shows the impact that the combination of social and search have on the purchase decision. The challenge for companies will be to understand in which way to balance their tactics between search and social in reference to seasonal sales timing, marketing opportunities while not destroying maximum margin, and customer loyalty programs to amplify brand buzz. Another study by econsultancy also illustrates how undervalued social media and search are from a sales perspective. The study says that Social Media “gets eight times less credit for its direct contribution to sales than it should” and “Generic SEO gets credited for 14 times less sales than it deserves”.

What comes first when you take buying decisions? Search or Social? And how does it amplify your buying process? Interested in your thoughts…

Evolution by Revolution – a phrase or a case?

CFalk / pixelio.de

Yesterday, I came across a good post by Adam Singer that inspired me (as well as his comment to my comment) to finally explore a bit on the phrase: “evolution by revolution”. I don’t know whether this phrase is new, or invented by me but I would love to claim it as my invention. And as Google did not have any results on the phrase for me, I herewith put my trademark behind the phrase – maybe to make a case… “evolution by revolution”.

The phrase is one of these thesis I use for educational courses to discuss and leverage a modern social web world approach with C-level management teams in Europe. I have used it in many seminar or webinars when I was talking about the change management challenges that the Social Web, Social Networks and Social Media bring to live these days.

In the past of human kind, revolutions were often a way for the lower class or segments/departments in an organization to state their case. For them, the challenge to be heard, to get access to the higher education, to have enough food or to benefit from any other kind of wellness or upper (business) lifestyle was often only accessable by a revolution. Revolutions cost money. Revolutions are tough. Revolutions sometimes make sacrifices. Revolutions change habits, perspectives and … business objectives. And revolutions always happened publicly – via newspapers, magazines or even flyers in the streets.

Today revolutions spread faster. In our social web world today, the traditional print media opportunities are added (or replaced?) by new media formats that every individual can use to state their case. And sometimes it “pisses people off” as Adam would have put it. But it makes the case of the unhappy, unsatisfied and underdogs. Suddenly, somebody writes something that is not mainstream, not the evolution strategy of the leadership but becomes the new revolutionary fruits of growth for the management if these people listen, communicate and collaborate, if they pay attention – whether it be the clients, the partners or even employees that start the revolution.

Their voice might be found on all kinds of platforms, in a tiny revolutionary statement in a blog post, a comment in a LinkedIn group (think about the impact for B2B business) or in a Facebook fanpage. Think about it! No! Think about it! Rest…

Some companies put all their PR & marketing budgets in the effciency of search marketing but then forget about the power of blog posts, and what it could do to them. They don’t think of it as negative cases. Think positive! Think ahead! Think about how to leverage the power of social options!

Spot On!
This modern world of communication is all about humans – the past, the present and the future. Evolution follows every revolution (…in my eyes). Consumer or end user buzz for positive and negative business impact always starts an evolution whilst being embraced as revolution first. It changes the mindset. And evolutions can be positive and negative. It needs to be seen as a turn around opportunity, as a business review option, and as a way to think ahead to prevent revolutions.

“Evolution by Revolution” is a (business) challenge – not a phrase! C-level management should forget that… That’s my case!

What’s yours on this topic…?

The way to the real-time future of marketing mix

When you hear the term “marketing mix”, what do you think…? Pause! Think… Pause!

Does that sound familiar to you? For some of you it might. To others it blurs as they follow the hypes as new marketing topics that are shouting at them. Or did you listen to their silent tones? Isn’t it better to varify and understand the client before start creating a new marketing-mix.

Watching the latest videos on your Youtube channel, talking to “friends” on Facebook or following the latest conversations on Twitter is one thing. Drawing conclusions out of these conversations on the social web world is another. And taking actions like evaluating adwords versus email versus social network marketing or blogs versus micro-blogs) for your marketing mix afterwards is a third step.

Conclusions might also be that marketers realize that B2B people still read print preferably to online or love real face-to-face conversations. They might find out that these business decision makers think twice before they engage in conversations. Reasons might be social media guidelines or policies. Steps are needed (like social media monitoring) before you start understanding your own marketing mix could pay out (i.e. online and offline focus groups).

Other marketing opportunities have never died although social media still hypes. And there is a reason why the “marketing mix” phrase was created by Neil Borden some years ago. Not only as it is an easy to understand phrase. More as we use it in our daily business as marketers without even noticing anymore. It is in our DNA. It is a necessity. Will it ever be removed? I doubt it…

Isn’t it interesting that we never had something like “The ultimate approach to market your products and services”?

Obviously, there is none. In over 50 years nobody found one. Why that is? Well, the world is driven by human beings and their attitudes to become familiar and aware of new things is a dynamic process. Some people adapt quick, other slower. They prefer to get informed via paper. Some like online (via publisher platforms, social networks or blogs). Some still stay offline (as they are often on planes or trains). Others record TV news programs and watch them on-demand with their iPads. And then others use mobile readers or apps to stay up to date with their favorite brands.

Seeing the social hypes in our business world from an outside perspective, I sometimes get the feeling that marketers have to refocus on where users are in their “adaption of technology evolution”. And not invest all their money in one horse race. Or to use another business anology from a tactical HR point of view: Never let the whole sales team be on the same flight.

Where is the difference in marketing?
Is there one? If all your marketing budget goes on airport billboards and then an oil crisis comes up, the invest equals zero in terms of earn out. Or if you buy just one ad in a service provider catalogue on the web but the world uses Google and cannot find the provider in the first ten results, the budget might be wasted.

Some companies think investing in Twitter or Facebook saves their brands awareness in the future but forget that these sites go down once in a while. And then the data is gone or not accessible. Lucky are those who can be approached from other access points then – be it via a phone call (at most companies I am searching hours for a phone number), at an event promoted with social media maybe, at their corporate website, or the self-hosted community that is not on the popular social networks.

The cocktail of having different access points available, and those interacting with each other, is the marketing mix of the future. Although they might have a single target or focus the are aiming at, the marketing mix should be aligned to one common strategy: Engage the client.

Spot on!
As we are automizing our marketing more and more, we always have to keep an eye open which tools and trends are coming up. As technology evolves quite quickly, human beings tend to forget that they need to adapt their marketing mix accordingly. Having said that it does not mean they have to switch their marketing mix approach immediately. Watch out for the tipping point when your power buyers, your brand vangelists, start using different technology. This is the time when the “adaption of technology evolution” happens…

Just a reminder… – The web is people

Sometimes you come across videos that people don’t know, need to watch and need to LISTEN to. Although this has quite a past already, Jay Rosen of New York University and PressThink still gives the right approach for business decision makers -no matter if B2B or B2C- to understand what the web is…

“The Web is people. That’s what the web is. (…) The web is people connected by computers.” He describes the origins of the World Wide Web. This excerpt was taken from a Carnegie Council panel on April 3, 2008. In my eyes you don’t even have to see the full video, audio, and report. Just watch these minutes and there is enough to think about…