27 Sep

“Marketing” has a brand problem

The role of “marketing” is one of those subjects that often raises as many questions as answers. Now if people don’t excactly know what it is that you should be delivering, it is pretty easy to not deliver to a CEO’s expectations.
(I wrote about a related issue, how marketing is rated within an organisation, here in response to an Accenture report with some interesting findings)

THis is obvious from the fact that Marketing Executives have some of the shortest tenures in business.

Eric Kintz from HP (who has one of the most poetic titles I have seen for a while by the way: “Vice President of Global Marketing Strategy & Excellence”) writes an interesting article on the subject; “What is Marketing responsible for?”

My blogging friends over at Marketing Profs sent me an advance copy of their new book “Marketing Champions” (Wiley Editions) and I like their thinking. Their main argument is that CMOs have to a great extent failed so far to draw the linkage between marketing and the harvesting of cash flow.

They have developed a hierarchy of cash flow responsibilities that I resonate with at a high level. In their pyramid model, the responsibilities gradually build in their relevance to cash flow.

Level 1: Communications
Level 2: Lead Generation
Level 3: Revenue

Level 4: profits
Level 5: Customer equity
(customer acquisition, customer profitability and customer retention)

There are not many companies I know where Marketing is responsible for all of the above.

If you would describe these responsibilities to someone and asked who was responsible, you might hear “the CEO” or “The Sales and Marketing Manager” but not “Marketing”.

Not that Marketing couldn’t do it. The problem is much more difficult. The problem is that the brand “Marketing” is not associated with it. “Marketing” is associated with communications, advertising, spending money.

And I doubt we can convince people otherwise. We can’t re-position marketing.

Time to re-brand. A new term, a new concept. Let’s get to work!

24 Sep

Selection of marketing news and articles – my clippings

I have been reading a broad range of online marketing publications for some time now. Whenever I come across something really interesting I collect these as clippings which I now want to publish.

Because I continually update this file and because everyone is already drowning in email, I’ve decided to publish this as an RSS feed.

Don’t worry if you are not familiar with RSS; just follow instructions below. (BTW: For those not familiar with RSS, its worth having a look at this excellent introducion as it will change the way you will consume and publish information in the future)

Option 1: If you normally use Google as your search engine, simply click on this button. Add to Google

Option 2: If you are an experienced user of RSS, simply subscribe to the feed here

20 Sep

Tweaking a website rather than re-building

It wasn’t my idea, but I am happy to promote it. We need people who can “tweak” websites in this world. The idea is that many websites could significantly improve their performance without being re-built from scratch. Small changes to design, layout, content that can improve the websites performance. In the same way cars can be tuned. read the post on it here
Why stop at websites? Why shouldn’t we have a “tweaking” service for other marketing activities?

  • You have a lead generation program. What if you had someone come in who didn’t want to take the lead generation project over, but who simply tweaked it. Got another 10% performance out of the program.
  • A sales pitch that has been used for years, got reviewed and tweaked to get another 10% performance.
  • Tweak an email newsletter (content, layout, call to action) and get another 10% performance.

Have you got some more “tweak” ideas?

19 Sep

Nice case study on b2b marketing – audio presentations

MarketingSherpa posted a good little case study on the use of powerpoint style presentations with audio which caught my attention. A bit low-tech, was my first reaction. What about webinars? Isn’t this a bit old fashioned? Really doesn’t matter of course. The only thing that matters is whether it works.

In this case study the audience was the scientific community who are very knowledge oriented so whitepapers and brochures were tools of choice.

The marketing team decided to test a new format — an audio + PowerPoint-style presentation they called ‘On Demand Training.’

The idea was fairly simple. They’d put together a set of slides, perhaps 10 or so, and post these on the site along with an audio feed to talk viewers through the presentation. The tech required less bandwidth for a typical webinar (which some prospects in China and Eastern Europe may still have problems with.) Prospects could click to listen and view any particular slide or sit back and hear the entire presentation in order.

They tested the results and…

Turns out 30% of prospects in the scientific community prefer audio-enhanced PowerPoint-style decks to white papers, brochures, Web pages and webinars.

The article goes into some more detail on the “how to” which you can read here , but I’ve been thinking about why they would work so well. Here are a few thoughts:

  1. Education – a presentation is a really traditional way of educating and for most a much more engaging interaction than reading a paper
  2. Control -rather than a webinar or podcast, the presentation allows you to skip around the pages. This is the age of customer control, so that’s right on the money.
  3. Human – a person, a human voice. We are people after all, and we still prefer dealing with other people over web pages.

Do you have any experience with this?

12 Sep

Just accept it; you’ve got no option

I recently tried to sign up for an online banking service with the National Australia Bank. As expected, I was asked to read an agreement, scroll through it and click the “I accept” button at the bottom.

So I scrolled, and scrolled, and scrolled….the “agreement” is the equivalent of 29 pages A4, or almost 12,000 words. They have no expectation that people will read this, it’s just to cover their butts.

I’ve got a new tagline for them “Trust us, we’re a Bank”.

PS: Someone else posted on this issue not too long but I can’t remember for the life of me who it was; credit for the original observation to whomever it was..)

11 Sep

Presentation tips from McKinsey’s Gene Zelazny

Presenting in person is an activity that is probably not getting the airplay it deserves in today’s sales and marketing environment. The focus is squarly on what the internet and technology is doing/can do for us, which is logical considering the impact it is having, the exciting new ideas around and the need to navigate our way through this maze of new “stuff”.

But presentations are still at the core of what we do. We present as sales people, as marketing managers, as entrepeneurs, CEO’s, teachers.
Not only that, it is often the real pointy end.It is where marketing results are presented (and sold), where prospects are won over, where banks give loans, where students either engage or switch off.

Two people, Gene Zelazny and Cliff Atkinson have really focused my mind on the essence of good presenting. Here is my take out, but make sure you read the interview and have a look at the web presentation by Cliff.( UPDATE: Michael McLaughlin sent me this link to this interview with  Cliff. Thanks Michael)

1. Write down what you want peolple to do at the end of the presentation. Setting a goal like this will ensure that you stay focused.

2. Start with the key messages you want to communicate before you start creating anything.(From the interview with Gene):

McLaughlin: When you review a presentation, what is the most common piece of advice you provide to improve its quality?

Zelazny: I ask this question: what would you say and show if you had only two minutes of your audience’s time?

3. Create a script of your presentation to guide your story. You are telling a story not presenting facts.

4. Use visuals aids as aids, not the focus of your presentation. The presenter is the focus.

5. Stop thinking about yourself; put yourself in the seats of the audience members.(That line could go into any article on marketing or sales)

05 Sep

Steve Irwin and the brand Australia

I don’t think most people here in Australia know exactly how big Steve Irwin was overseas. Or the influence he had over the brand “Australia”.

He told a story of Australia that people wanted to hear; a beautiful, wild, dangerous place full of 5 meter crocs, snakes spiders and sharks. Never mind the fact that 90% of us live in urban centres more akin to San Francisco than the wild west…He told the story of the fearless man who would struggle with the wild animals but never hurt them.
I read a recent story that illustrated how well he understood the power of this branding; a group of people up north (where the crocs live) proposed to introduce big game safari’s; i.e. overseas visitors coming here and shoot crocs and other wild life for $15k a pop.

He invited a very senior member of the adminstration for a weekend away in the bush and explained that this would destroy the brand Australia overseas and significantly impact tourism in its wake.(The one he helped build).

Tourism is one of Australia’s most important industries. It accounts for 5.7 per cent of total employment, contributes $73 billion to consumption per annum and is worth more than 11 per cent of total exports. Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Big game hunting never went ahead and I doubt it ever will now.

01 Sep

Maglite LED – Advertising that tells you nothing

I read a full page ad in a local magazine on the introduction of a new Maglite LED. It didn’t tell me what LED is. It didn’t tell me why it is better, or what it does different from my current Maglite…It told me nothing of any value.

I’m curious. So I go to the maglite website to find out more….yes, a link on the homepage to the a feature page “Maglite LED Technology”…click through and there is an announcement. I have struck out anything that tells me nothing…

Dear Maglite.com Visitor:

Thank you for your interest in Mag Instrument and its products. We are pleased to report that Mag will soon be adding MAG-LED™ flashlights to its product line.

If these products have been a long time coming, it’s because the MAG-LED™ Technology has taken a long time to develop to the point where it is feasible to make an LED flashlight that meets Mag Instrument’s high standards of quality, durability, style and function.

Now, after years of research & development, testing and refinement, Mag Instrument is committed to introducing, in early 2006,(note “is committed to” rather than “will”)a line of MAG-LED™ flashlights. Like Mag’s incandescent-lamp flashlights, these newest members of the Maglite® flashlight family will have the style, performance, benefits and features that both professionals and consumers have come to expect from a Maglite® flashlight, including the fact that they are built for a lifetime of service. The Maglite® design tradition will be instantly recognizable in them, and they will offer the beam-focusing capability that has always been a feature of Mag® flashlights, AND MORE!

Again, thank you for your interest in Mag Instrument and its products. We look forward to the rollout of the MAG-LED™ flashlights in the near future.

The Maglite Team

I still don’t know what it is…