The Mountaintop Insights, Inspiration and Perspective for Enlightened Marketers

December 31, 2010

Embracing Social Change in 2011

It seems predictive posts are all the rage right now so in my own mad style, I’ve taken a look at the tea leaves in order to share some “Sensei-riffic” (trademarking in the works) predictions for marketing, social, and the relationship between customers and brands. So rather than give you the usual obvious predictions, I am going to take a step towards the ledge and peer into the darkness. The signs I see  herald tremendous change that is just off the radar.

So sit back, relax, and prepare to have your liberal marketing senses offended while enjoying or becoming outraged at this rum-nog fueled post! Cheers!

Prediction 1: Social CRM will be a huge failure.

Why? Because you cannot quantify an emotional human relationship no matter how hard you try. The quest to do so has begun anew with sCRM. To be clear its predecessor CRM is about numbers, not people. What other system does that to people? Right! The prison system!

The same people who created CRM are now pushing sCRM. Same shit, different steaming pile. CRM completely dehumanized the customer by reducing the relationship to math. Next it is horribly lop-sided designed to deliver insight into how to get more money from a customer, not how to build a better, mutually beneficial relationship. Does it actually benefit the customer in any way?

Maybe we should call it CWM (Customer Wallet Management), how about CMM (Customer    Money Management) or even CDM (Customer Decision Management) because it has nothing to do with actual customer benefit. Call me jaded but every company that has a CRM profile on me uses it to try and get more money from me with no clue on how to actually gain my trust.

Is sCRM the second coming? Not in my books. All we have done is given marketers yet another source to gather data to try and soak more money from our customers without working on the actual customer relationship. Still waiting for a company to actually put the R in CRM or sCRM for that matter.

My prediction, it won’t amount to much and most of the companies offering an sCRM solution will be snapped by bigger CRM players as “just another feature” while the ones that stay on their own will go stale. Its a great idea with the same poor execution that CRM enjoys.

Prediction 2: Customer Loyalty, not Customer Acquisition will Become the Big Social Play for Smart Companies.

The greatest mystery to me is why almost every company (B2b and B2C inclusively) focus social marketing on new customer acquisition. Is it that old human failing that we ignore the ones who love us? That we barely appreciate those in our lives every day? Maybe its casual indifference or perhaps something far more mercenary… Whatever it is, we have been ignoring those most important to us. Maybe we are just too dense to realize we are risking our current relationships for the potential of a couple new ones? Like the man who wakes up one morning to find his wife has left him after years of passive neglect.

I live by some simple rules and one of them is “you dance with the ones that brung ya”.  It may be my bumpkin simplicity talking, but the first people we should be investing in are our employees and customers – these are the ones that “brung us to the dance”. So what happens when you ignore the ones that love you and step out to find others? You make an ass of yourself in the international media, lose your endorsements, your fortune and your game.

Looking at how social networks actually work, I am shocked how many companies remain clueless to the value of social solutions for their customers and employees.

Here is the relationship chain I have identified…

  1. Happy employees deliver better customer/social experiences.
  2. These better experiences create happier customers, in turn appreciating employees more.
  3. Happy customers spend more, are more loyal and will defend your brand.
  4. Happy customers are in the public social networks where positive brand experiences spread very quickly.
  5. Happy customers and happy employees are the best brand ambassadors and will actively engage in thousands of conversations in blogs, FaceBook, Twitter and other “traditional” social platforms like kitchen tables, events and cafes.
  6. The actions of your brand ambassadors attract new customers!! Because everyone who hears the stories wants to be with a company that appreciates them! Go figure.

So why oh why are we focusing on acquisition? As for the execution of a social solution for customers and employees all I can say is make them feel two things: appreciated and exclusive. This is the gas in the social engine.

Do yourself a favor at your next marketing strategy meeting and ask “Are we ignoring the ones who brung us to the dance?” and see where it goes.

My prediction is the next big social play will be private communities for employees and customers; perhaps even allowing them to (god forbid) intermingle. These communities must focus on delivering a positive customer and employee experience to thrive. Don’t be a Tiger.

Prediction 3: The Rise of Social Risk Manager and Social Experience Designer as Specialized Marketing Roles

So now that we have literally millions of so called “Social Media Experts” to set-up our Twitter accounts and FaceBook pages, we need to look at more specialized positions past the technology. My prediction is that two roles will emerge for mid and large size enterprise: A Social Risk Manager and a Social Experience Designer. Let’s throw some lose definitions behind these two roles.

Social Risk Manager: A strategic and tactical position serving to homogenize PR, legal, strategy, and operations into one accountable role. Custodian of the Social Policy and Social Risk Mitigation Strategy, adviser to PR and Social team on risk management techniques/training, and “eye in the sky” on emerging issues/trends that affect the business and the industry. Throw in a healthy does of analysis to continually adapt the strategy too.

Social Experience Designer: Again a strategic and tactical role integrating the brand/communications strategy to ensure a consistently positive customer experience in the social channels. Social has been largely “by the seat of your pants” execution with little strategy or rationale, so this role is meant to make Social make sense to the customer. The social experience is designed to utilize the unique factors of the social channels to build the positive perception of the brand in the same way you would design a retail interior or website.

Prediction 4: The Employee Revolution

One of my first posts ever was about the Relationship Revolution over at So we have seen a customer revolution via Social Media, now I predict a social uprising within the enterprise. Why? One simple powerful goal:  Improving the Employee Experience. A couple factors at play here…

  1. GenY employees are less loyal, so to retain them you need to understand and engage them in different ways.
  2. An employee experience, much like a customer experience, is based on how you engage with them and the experience you design that must be consistent across the company, but diverse enough to promote individuality – be that cultural, gender, social, tribal, regional, etc…
  3. Allow employees to socialize on topics other than the company! For the love of Pete, when will we learn that we are not the center of their universe? Let them engage on anything they want and let them know its okay to do so.
  4. Global competition means keeping talent. Being social with employees let’s you understand emerging needs and issues before they go too far. Plus Social Media has made it way too easy for your employees to get poached; Linked In is crawling with recruiters as is Twitter…

Prediction 5: The Awakening that Social Media is NOT a Big Deal, but Social Relationships ARE

No I am not trying to grab attention by being a contrarian, but I think many people just don’t understand the real drivers behind the rise of the big social media platforms; that being the rise of social relationships. The basis of every good, long lasting relationship for any human being is communication. Communication or our drive to communicate is like a river… its fluidity is its strength allowing it find the easiest course to continue its way to the ocean. In much the same way human communication is fluid finding the easiest route or channel to enable two or more people to socialize.

So now let me connect the dots on this prediction. Social Media is both the channel and the technology that enables it. The success of a particular social platform is based on its ability to enable its participants to communicate easily and quickly while delivering small, measurable improvements to enhance the experience. The companies that deliver this technology are madly looking for ways to monetize these channels driven by the fear that the competition will outmaneuver them. They are currently adding layers of complexity not just in the technology and interface, but to the communication process itself. They are also enabling “intrusive” communication from corporations looking to reach the participants.

As the channel becomes more complex and more difficult for simple, uninterrupted  social relationships to work, human communication will begin to look for a better channel. Let me be very clear here…

It is the company that invests in the social relationship, not the social media channel, that will achieve long term success. Its what i refer to as a socially dominant brand trait. More here on the struggle for existence and social traits.

Prediction 6: The Real Role for Social Media is Lead Nurturing

In the same way you can’t use one tool to build a house, you can’t use one channel to take a net new prospect and drive that relationship through to a sale; especially in B2B marketing.

Lead Nurturing is the art of the relationship and is a long play. Its the same space in time as that point between the first couple dates and moving in together. It takes investment, patience, understanding and time. Has there ever been a role more suited to Social Media?

My experience leads me to believe this is the advantage in turning quantity of leads into quantity and quality of leads. The big challenge? Marketing and sales must work together for it to work.

Of course, once this realization has sunk in, you can actually begin to target your social at specific audiences and behavioral types – greatly increasing the power of your social marketing to engage and accelerate sales efforts.

Do you have a lead nurturing strategy yet or is your social strategy doing everything for everyone?

Prediction 7: The Rise of Mobile Marketing

This is a big one and is by far the most exciting communication tsunami coming our way. I have always said that when we looked at social marketing, we were looking at the south end of the horse walking north by focusing on web-based social.

Think about it for a minute. All of the emerging nations (Brazil, China, India, Africa, etc) are bypassing laptops/pcs and going straight to mobile. The magnitude of these market behemoths and how global companies market to these unique populations will end some brand empires and give rise to new ones.

Take India as an example, it is it is projected that India will have 1.159 billion mobile subscribers by 2013 effectively passing China as the #1 mobile market in the world.

How does this impact our ability to compete in these markets? Check out this cool review of Indian and Chinese markets

If you haven’t started giving serious consideration to the importance of mobile marketing (whether you are B2B or B2C) what exactly are you waiting for?

First movers always, always, always get the market advantage.

Prediction 8: Social ROI Measurement is a Waste of Time

I have watched for about 2 years as marketers focus more and more on measuring customer relationships; social or otherwise. Then it came to me recently… ROI measurement is the equivalent of marketing masturbation – We do it to pleasure ourselves. Don’t get me wrong, we should measure our success along the way, but I have seen this grow into a very unhealthy obsession for many marketers. Is it because we find solace in numbers? Or maybe we can manufacture success in the absence of real proof…

Every time I speak with senior execs it always boils down to one thing: Is what you are doing generating profitable revenue? Its another strong argument for marketing and sales alignment to measure the customer life-cycle from first contact to sale.

It seems to be an inferiority complex we can’t shake as marketers. We constantly try to prove to the rest of the enterprise that we do matter to more than just ourselves. The obsession has to stop. It takes valuable resources away from activities such as lead nurturing that drives profitable revenue and delivers constant touch with a potential customer.

My prediction is that most marketers will continue to go overboard on ROI measurement endlessly because its their comfort zone. We will continue to measure things that don’t matter and report on things that have no bearing to the bottom line.

The marketers that can align with sales and keep delivering simple, bottom line-focused analysis will win the day.

Prediction 9: The Beginning of the Great Social Mergers

You can almost feel it in the air. Some big mergers are coming. There are some real hungry large companies out there looking to get into the social scene in a big way. Meanwhile we have some high potential targets that are not big enough to survive on their own for an extended period, but not small enough to die out quickly.

The Hunters: Apple, MSN, Google and FaceBook.

The Prey: Four Square, MySpace, Twitter, Second Life and a dozen smaller social platforms.

The Dark Horses: Linked In and Skype and other indirect social platforms like Ebay/Kijiji and CraigsList.

Apple: Apple needs a viable social platform past its devices. I don’t know that Ping has any merit for them, but a social platform like MySpace makes a great fit to continue to dominate consumer demand for music. Four Square might be of interest as well as this geo-social application gives Apple reach into retailers and their quest for mobile marketing dominance on the iPhone and iPad. Of course this all depends on whether Jobs can get over himself…

FaceBook: Is Facebook reaching the point where an acquisition of a smaller, niche player makes sense? Maybe an acquisition to build out its business offering? This is where I see something like Second Life really giving huge depth to Facebook for both consumers and business. Skype would be a very cool addition to the consumer side giving the ability for real “face time” via video. Lastly, buying out Zynga might be an excellent strategic move as well, but the relationship is dodgey already. Social gaming is a huge part of FaceBook’s future to be sure.

MSN: MSN needs a better social footprint for sure. Bing is not a social platform and their deal with FaceBook is simply a strategic alliance. They need to get into the scene. For them Twitter, Linked In and Four Square make excellent targets and integrate well with their business and consumer offerings. With Windows on mobile devices now, perhaps a stronger relationship with FaceBook is in the works. Who knows.

Google: Google is a fascinating and dangerous company in my mind. They already own You Tube, Buzz is a failure, and its easier to acquire a smaller player than try to risk failure again with an in-house project. I really see Twitter being a nice fit with Google. Its adds great depth and power to Google’s already dominant search and would really put Bing on its heels. Any of the Dark Horses like Skype,  Ebay/Kijiji or CraigsList would also be a very interesting for Google to expand/consolidate its reach.

Prediction 10: No One, and I Mean No One, Understands What Influence is or How to Measure it.

If there is one thing Klout and Fast Company’s Influence Project showed us its that no company understands human influence at all. Let’s be honest with ourselves… number of Tweets/followers does not an influencer make. But this hasn’t stopped the bandwagoners from jumping on it early as a possible solution- how many bot owners do you think take advantage of Klout Klub in Vegas?

To me, Klout is an ingenious social game that uses heavy game mechanics to feed two human addictions: acquiring  prestige and competing vs. friends/peers. The result? A compulsive need to constantly check and improve your score by ramping up your Tweets to an obnoxious level fueled by a fear of being beaten by a friend or peer.

Can't stop Tweeting, Klout'll eat me.

For such a simple word, Influence is potentially one of the most complex human conditions that exists today.  I lamented this complexity recently…. To me, everybody has an “InQ” or Influence Quotient; that is the first layer of Influence complexity, but that is the simplest thing to understand and what Klout and Fast Company based their rudimentary assumptions on. But your InQ is affected by dozens of other layers and types of influence that nobody even talks about or gives any credit to; the most powerful of which is Situational Influence – a topic I intend to explore in an upcoming article.

Want to begin to measure influence? How about giving every person a trust rating that is voted on by their friends and peers? Make the trust button come with a string attached which forces the person who hits the button to say WHY they trust that person. FaceBook “Like” is wishy-washy and any bot can have 500 tweets a day with 1500 people, but trust is a serious commitment. Trust is the root of true influence.

So my 10th and final prediction is that Influence measurement is the holy grail and anyone saying they have THE way to measure it is selling you something. Sure, maybe that makes me a Klown, but nobody listens to me anyway, my Klout score is too low…

Thus ends my rambling end to a new beginning in 2011. Enjoy it, become outraged, or whatever you choose to do. I’m cool with it and wish all of you immense success in 2011 and beyond.

Cheers and beers!

Jeff – Sensei

August 7, 2010

Optimizing the Enterprise Website for Demand Generation – Turning Traffic into Revenue

I wanted to share a technique my firm has used for the past decade to drive substantial improvement in converting website traffic into revenue. We have been able to prove this prospect engagement process out over a variety of different industries in both B2B and B2C enterprises. We developed this approach to solve a huge issue every single company we met struggled with: Lots of traffic – very little conversion.

Here is just a little example of some of the results our clients have been able to achieve using this approach are:

80% increase in qualified leads through the web globally (measured by calls to live sales agents). The only thing we measured was calls and inquiries to live agents so that it was directly linked to sales and not “false positives” like website registrations and other questionable lead gen measurements. The process we deployed involved 12 unique global sites in 7 different languages and ended up representing 50% of the total qualified sales leads globally and at a cost of 15% of the total marketing spend for lead gen.

$200K revenue in first quarter from zero revenue the year before (measured by web orders). Focused on three key audiences instead of 10 and designed the entire site around an option-based engagement process. Other results when combined with SEO/SEM were a 300% increase in traffic and a max of 4 clicks to delivering customer fulfillment.

So how did we manage to achieve this?

Well, its a synchronization of several factors that is all based on a single, ultra-powerful principle for human relationships: Everyone, without exception, makes decisions based on emotion which is then justified by logic.

Once you understand (and accept) this principle, you need to begin to develop ways to reach your customers emotionally on both a conscious and subconscious level. As human beings, we are constantly being emotionally influenced at a subconscious level by everything and everyone around us and our brains are designed to process this information subconsciously so as not to overwhelm us. The result is a complex set of behaviors, perceptions and belief systems that governs our decisions on a constant basis- all governed by emotions and justified by logic.

So now that we have identified what to do (and why to do it), let me share the “how to do it”  in 3 straight forward steps and lets start with a visual to help understand what it looks like.

(Click to enlarge the image if its difficult to read)

Allow me to briefly explain the example above. This is based on a Fortune 500 client we worked with in the US  financial services sector in partnership with an ad agency to target 4 distinct consumer segments.

  • We identified 3 unique pathways that meet the need of all 4 segments and aligned both the emotional process and logical process with their potential emotional states represented by the Caution – Comfort – Trust along the top of the diagram.
  • The demand generation process took the form of a Flash-based interactive presentation that used audio/video to engage the audience. This was embedded on the home page and targeted at specific segments.
  • They entered the process depending on their emotional state (caution, comfort or trust) which was aligned with corresponding logical milestones of: interest – propensity to buy – buy.
  • The process was designed in two seamlessly integrated layers: the emotional layer and the logical layer that advanced them through the engagement process in a natural, familiar and simple way to the end result of some form of commitment (the blue calls to action).
  • The graphics, audio/video and content were also designed to advance the audience through different emotional states by using imagery and wording that focused on building ongoing rapport and reinforced each step in front of it.
  • The calls to action were designed specifically to present 3 options each corresponding to 3 commitment behaviors from “Do-it-yourselfers” to “Do it for me” to “I need time but I will be back”.
  • Regardless of the commitment, the customer was given valuable take-aways such as a retirement vision document or a retirement plan document. By giving away value without asking for commitment, we actually greatly improved engagement. At every step it was on their terms.

Using this example, here is a simple and high level way for you to begin to leverage this technique for your enterprise website. In fact, it is possible to deploy several of these demand gen processes throughout an enterprise site; each one potentially targeting a different stage of emotional commitment or different product or service.

Step 1: Understand the customer’s emotional and logical decision making process.

  • This is a research based approach and relies on both internal knowledge of your market, but also customer research to identify emotional triggers and processes for each segment you are going to target. It doesn’t require extensive research, but for this to work, you need to understand the emotional needs of your customers.
  • Once you have identified emotional needs, preferences and how emotions affect their decisions, you need to map it out and overlay the logical validation (selling) process over it to form a framework. This can be a linear process, a closed loop, or any other various processes that fit the needs of your customers; not you. Very important point.


Step 2: Design the content, imagery, and engagement process to meet emotional need

  • Create a design plan for the process that maps out and evolves the emotional experience as they progress through your framework including:
    • Emotional architecture and triggers
    • Delivery method – Flash, mobile, html, web application, etc…
    • Engagement method – guided tour, do it yourself, interview style, quiz/game show style, etc…
    • Content – A/V, imagery, messaging and copy
  • The obvious story boarding and audience testing should be done.
  • Compare the testing results back to your research and key assumptions on emotional need and fulfillment. Identify gaps in the process and adapt to create an end-to-end experience


Step 3: Integrate the demand generation process into the corporate website and other engagement tactics.

  • This is probably the most difficult part, making sure its integrated properly into your website, marketing tactics and channels (social media, email, events, retail, etc..) and sales (live agents, experts, lead capture, etc.)
  • The key is to not over complicate things by trying to do too much for too many people.
    • Focus on a specific audience and a specific ask; wrap the entire demand gen process around that
    • Embed the beginning of the process on the home page as a feature and create “doorways” from other parts of the website that correspond to different emotional states (caution – comfort – trust)
    • Integrate other ways for them to develop a relationship with your brand into the process so that if they leave prematurely or have preferences for continued dialogue they can continue easily; this includes linking to your customer communities, social media, email, retail channels and events primarily.
    • Integrate with your sales, retail and relationship development services to allow immediate follow-through for potential customers.
    • Filling out a form or buying online just does not satisfy many people and does nothing for emotional fulfillment. It is an option and should be included, but always allow for human-to-human contact with your brand.
    • Give them plenty of take-aways and the ability to share it with others. Also allow them to come back to the point they left; never make them go through it again. Simple functions like “remember me” or profiles are an easy way to deliver on this.
    • Most importantly, allow them to come and go as they please – soft sell throughout and present options to commit in simple ways.


Want to try this? Start small and build on your successes

If this is something you want to try then I encourage you to start small for the first couple tries. Focus it on a single audience you know well and a single product or service you want to drive demand on. Keep the process manageable and the implementation simple; tie it to one sales channel, 2 tactics, and access only from the home page.

As you get more comfortable build it out to include several other related products (a great way to market to current customers by the way) or to another similar audience. Just make sure you don’t rush ahead and try to do too much. The secret to this working is the ability to keep it simple for the customer and focused on their needs.

Measurement is key and we have always kept that dead simple as well. The easiest measurement is traffic through the demand generation process and commitment stats (online, retail, and sales). Tracking back to sales and revenue is vital and this will ensure senior executives continue to support the program. The great thing here is that Social Media becomes an integral part of ongoing prospect nurturing and becomes much easier to track and measure actual revenue against.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and connect with anyone who is looking to try it. I’m always willing to give advice and help others use what our clients have used so successfully over the past ten years.


Jeff – Sensei

July 1, 2010

The 5 Keys to Successful Online Demand Generation

Filed under: Customer Experience,Demand Generation — Jeff @ 3:26 pm

It is good to hear senior marketing people beginning to talk turkey about online demand generation now that some of the luster and magic has worn off of social media. And while both customer behavior and online tactics have evolved, the essence of good online demand generation has stayed the same for the past decade; and really its boils down to 5 key factors to sustainable success online.

Before we get into the 5 keys, let’s first reach an understanding on what online demand generation really is.

First, this is well beyond generating a “lead” through a form or SEO/SEM tactics, although these may form a piece of the overall process. The way I like to describe it is this…

“From the point of first contact to the last time they (the customer) touches your online presence, you have created a defensible brand position in their mind for your product or service that leads directly or indirectly to self-qualified prospects for long term customer relationships and near term revenue.”

The art of generating demand, particularly in an ever increasing complex and noisy digital marketplace, requires an increasingly simple and targeted approach.

1. Create a Consistently Positive Customer-centric Experience

Nothing will kill demand faster than a negative or roller coaster customer experience. As human beings, we love positive experiences; even Goth kids like to feel good by pretending to feel depressed – and acceptance within the experience is part of that positive experience.

A positive customer experience is actually quite easy to design once we understand and align with what customers need.

  • Be customer-centric by removing all the brand ego from your site and replace it with a deep understanding of your customer. This is far more impressive and memorable than your hype.
  • Let others praise you, don’t praise yourself. The absolute most trusted opinion on you comes from your customers. Put them at the fore front of your marketing and ensure the praise/testimonials align with what your prospective customers are looking for. And don’t fabricate it, someone will eventually find out.
  • Help them feel good about their decision to use you. This is the vital acceptance part of the experience where you prove not only that you are on of them, but also that by aligning with you they will gain acceptance of their peers and seniors.


2. Keep it Simple – Keep it Focused

Simplicity is an enabler and focus ensures you only reach the right people with the right message. But simplicity and focus need to go well beyond this for demand generation to work effectively and efficiently.

Simplify your experience and the corporate website. The greatest results my clients have eve had happened when they simplified their website and focused on a few specific target markets.

  • Strip out the content and sections that don’t add value
  • Don’t say it in ten words when 5 will do.
  • Convert content for key ideas and solutions into visuals; a large portion of the population relies on visualization as their key internal processing factor.
  • Focus the website on the target market only; leave doorways for others to find their way (partners, investors, current customers) to their own portals.


3. Embed a Custom Demand Generation Process

I can’t express how much of a difference this can make to a demand generation program and it has two critical elements.

  1. The overall demand generation process needs to be designed to target specific groups of prospects. This means aligning with how they will experience your brand, not how you want them to experience it. So many times, the approach is so generic it fails to stand out or resonate with anyone.
  2. Embed a custom demand generation process on your corporate website. This is probably the #1 failing of most large companies online and represents the biggest opportunity to turn traffic into revenue.  A website demand gen process has these critical elements:
    • It aligns with the customer decision making process
    • It engages and enables progressive decision-making on every page
    • It appeals to a target prospect regardless of where they are in their decision-making process.
    • It enables options for follow-up immediately and down the road.
    • It feels natural and builds confidence/trust as they go through it.

4. Play the Long Game

So many companies are driven by short term goals that they forget about the huge potential of the long game. In my experience only a fraction of prospects actually buy on our terms, i.e. immediately or within a quarter, the majority however, buy on their own terms which can be anywhere from 3-24 months. It amazes me how many companies do not focus on long term nurturing especially now that social media has made it so damn easy.

Playing the long game is easy, but it takes patience and the right strategy. To do this, you need to create a program that is easily sustainable while treating everyone equally. Social media plays a critical role at this point for “on demand” brand fulfillment as does your integration with more traditional marketing tactics such as events which allow prospects to meet and build real life relationships.

I have always though of this is the art of business romance. Treat it like you are wooing a potential mate or a thousand as the case may be… Pay them enough attention to keep their interest but not enough that you will be perceived to be needy or inefficient with your resources.

5. Integrate Seamlessly Within the Greater Customer Experience

Nothing stands alone anymore, not even the much ballyhooed social media channel. Online is only one part of the greater customer experience. The greater customer experience covers every customer touch point and includes indirect touches such as referrals or social media conversations not controlled or influenced by your company.

I have always looked at the integration of online demand generation with the greater experience like Swiss cheese. You need to perforate your demand generation experience model to allow prospects to pop in and out of different channels easily and without diminishing the experience.

Here are a couple simple guidelines to follow to more easily integrate your online demand generation program with other channels:

  • Make the website the hub of your communications; everything leads to it and it leads to everything.
  • Cross promote content and channels. Most ad agencies fall down on this big time but tying your online and social elements to tv, radio and print campaigns (and vice versa) is critical.
  • Tracking and measurement needs to be adapted to look at the whole picture, not just web.
  • Adapt the program regularly to adjust for change in customer need or preferences.


Applying this Approach to Your Company

I am fond of a crawl-walk-run approach on new things. Get one aspect right, then move on to the next element and keep integrating them together. The rewards of this approach can materialize quite quickly, especially if you have a wide net pulling traffic into your website.

A recent client success of mine used just two pieces of this approach (number 1 and 3) and experienced a significant increase in all key metrics as well as a substantial increase in online revenue. They have now begun to work on rule number 2 and expanding the program to other divisions of their business.

If you have become frustrated with the results of your current approach or are looking for something to help you stand out from the crowd, give a couple of these rules a try. Just remember to keep whatever you do simple and manageable.

I enjoy hearing your thoughts on this and look forward to your comments.


Jeff – Sensei

April 14, 2010

Demand Generation and Social Media for B2B Enterprise

I had an interesting conversation with one of my clients last night and it is one, not just myself, but every consultant and marketing executive has been thinking about since Social Media has become the craze. How do we get the leads?

And by leads, we are talking qualified expressions of interest in doing business with you leads.

What is the Role of Social Media in a Demand Generation Program?

The first part of the challenge is that we are looking at Social Media to deliver leads, and while this can happen, it is more likely that social media is an integrated part of an ongoing demand generation program working at the beginning of the cycle and supporting throughout.

The pivotal role of Social Media for Demand Generation is to attract and engage influencers, not decision-makers. To do this, you need to:

  • Research your target markets and understand their current needs and issues
  • Create an editorial schedule that accomplishes two things:
    • Discusses the issues/needs
    • Discusses the solutions to those issues and needs
  • Do it without shamelessly promoting yourself. It’s not about you.
  • The rest of the best practices around Social Media engagement apply


How do we Integrate Social Media into Demand Generation?

Integration requires an understanding of the Demand Generation process and the decision-making process of the influencer community you are targeting. Some critical things to remember:

  1. Align the Demand Generation process with the decision-making process
  2. Ensure your content is available in many forms (pod casts, pdfs, videos, webinars, presentations, etc.) to appeal to many personal preferences for acquiring knowledge
  3. Create a “Swiss cheese” type model of engagement allowing them to pop in and out of the process or different media options anytime, anywhere while staying within an overall demand generation framework.
  4. This is a marathon not a sprint. Think long term, but plan by quarter. A huge mistake is to think that these people are ready to buy based on your quarterly financial schedule. The Social Media component allows continual engagement so that when they are ready (6, 9, or 18 months down the road) you are still engaged and top of mind.

The Social Media Take-away for Influencers

The net result of the social media component within demand generation should be to build rapport, confidence and comfort in your audience. Comfort that allows them to begin to take further steps within the Demand Generation process. This will often lead them to commitment for additional steps such as attending events or webinars, signing up for newsletters, or booking  1on1 calls or meetings with your experts or Account Executives.

Emotional Stages of Commitment

Finally, your Demand Generation program should be walking them through 4 key areas of emotional commitment, each stage built by a combination of marketing tactics and personal interactions with your people.

  • Rapport – Your ability to quickly engage in a meaningful way that meets their immediate needs
  • Confidence – Increasing credibility through timely, relevant, valuable content and dialogue. Prove you know what you are talking about.
  • Comfort – Increasing seriousness in commitment to not just the process, but the relationship
  • Trust – You become a confidante and information, insights, and perspective become freely shared

Done right, Social Media becomes a lynch pin in not just ongoing intellectual engagement but also to gauge audience receptivity to your brand and their emotional attachment to your people.

This is where the rubber meets the road on developing long term, meaningful relationships that turn into customers.

Agree? Disagree? Think I’m a lunatic?

Let me know. I love the discussions and look forward to the journey of discovery with you!


Jeff – Sensei

March 8, 2010

Appealing to Human Values in B2B Marketing – Part 1 of 3 on Online Demand Generation

I have been working with large enterprise for the past 12 years primarily focused on Demand Generation, online Demand Generation to be precise. It took until until last year for one of what I consider to be, the last stones to fall into place on my holistic approach to this art form. Just 11 years to learn that lesson… not bad!

The lesson has to do with people and the conflict of personal and corporate values.

Who are We Marketing to?

I think many of us always tend to think about industries, positions, company types when we think of B2B targeting for our demand generation efforts. In my mind, this misses a crucial element in not only the messaging but the demand generation process which is the person we want to engage. So the first part of my realization is that no matter what, we are always selling or marketing to people, not businesses. A lot of you are saying, “yes, and???” because that’s not really something that’s rare knowledge. But here is where I followed the rabbit down the hole.

How Does this Make a Difference in Marketing?

Human beings are complex creatures, constantly processing tons of information every hour of every day to make decisions and stay within the boundaries of our own rules, society’s rules and the rules of the companies we work for. But what happens when a person has two conflicting set of values, say their personal values and the values of the corporation they are working for? Who wins the values conflict?

The answer depends on who you are targeting and how willing they are to compromise themselves and/or the companies they represent. So how do we market to someone who already has two sets of values in conflict? Are we going to push our own values on them to introduce a third factor in the conflict?

Understanding and Overcoming Values Conflict

A values conflict can be tricky depending on the type of person you are dealing with; some will be absolutely unwilling to compromise others will be very willing to compromise. Compromise could be personal compromise (based on the strength of the relationship you create) or corporate compromise where they are willing to bend rules to do business with you. Either way, there are several proven ways to improve your effectiveness.

  1. Play the horse, not the course. Focus on improving your attractiveness to certain types of people, not companies. A example of this is to be able to easily engage CFOs and COOs, instead of just appealing to an industry or sector.
  2. Align your values with the person. You can’t lose in this situation if you align to them instead of the brand they work for. Most times you will hit key values they both share anyway, but aligning to personal enables better engagement of the individual.
  3. Focus on them, not you. Make sure your approach is customer-centric, not about you. Do your research and make sure you know what they want for their business and themselves.
  4. Identify and Provide Solutions for Value-based Objections. This is probably the toughest one as it requires deep understanding of the customer’s values struggle. The best advice is to create scenarios that call values into question and create messaging, content and processes to overcome these with minimal to moderate compromise of personal values.

Much of this can be woven into your corporate websites, online content and digital presentations. Even corporate videos can be aligned to use this approach by using specific types of individuals and talk tracks to get the point across.

Closing with a Story

One of my fist clients and now a dear friend had a values struggle when I first met her. I was introduced to her by a colleague for a website RFP she was managing. While I came well regarded, my little company did not come near to meeting the requirements of this particular RFP. Her company absolutely forbid doing business with small companies as they were deemd unreliable from a delivery and service standpoint; a value her company held dear – reliable service and quality deliverbales.

As we talked and I got to know her and she began to understand me, a values struggle became clearly evident for her (although I didn’t recognize it at the time).  For her, my approach was very different. I asked good questions, I listened intently, I was available at all hours of the night, I clarified things for her that needed to be clarified, and I quickly developed top of mind presence with her when it came to thinking about this project.

Her struggle came to a head when I submitted my proposal versus all of the other large vendors. Mine was 3 pages plus an exec summary of one page; all the others gave 20-30 page proposals full of rhetoric. She told me later that it was at that point she knew I had won her business, that I understood her so well that I could articulate a solution for her in 3 pages.

But the struggle she went through was intense and the final decision called on her to question the values of her company or rather the rules formulated from the values of her company and make a decision based on her own set of values. The project was a great success for her and 10 years later we are still solid friends.

Has it always turned out this way? No. But it has given my little firm the advantage many times and won us some great client relationships – relationships that last into today and hopefully many, many years into the future.

Disagree with me? Let me know; I love good debates and would like to hear other stories that support or debunk my theories.


Jeff – Sensei

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