**After a long hiatus to get some work things under control and have a baby, the Chasing Marketing blog is making a comeback!**

When I work with B2B Enterprise companies, I often find that they are very uncomfortable with social media as a marketing tool.  Working with social media is often buried as a PR task if it is used at all.  And when we start talking about using it for marketing purposes, I get a lot of push back.  The reason is often that they don’t think their customers are using social media or they can’t clearly justify the spend with ROI.  The underlying cause, though, is usually always a lack of understanding and therefore comfort with social media and how to use it.

I read a great article in Forbes recently that talked about how social media is becoming more mainstream for Enterprise companies.

It’s no longer about early adoption. The social enterprise is here. You’re now competing with companies that are collaborating on sales opportunities, tracking their brand on Twitter and Facebook and delighting clients through social customer service. They’re also building loyal communities of customers and empowering them as a marketing force. Mobile, social and the cloud are essential business technologies.
The Social Enterprise Becomes a Reality, Forbes 4/23/2012

As your executives become more comfortable with social media, corporate resistance to social marketing tactics should become less of an issue.  And B2B marketers who don’t jump on this bandwagon could miss a big bet.  The window of opportunity is opening up.  Marketing can become the hero for finding successful social marketing tactics that drive awareness, leads and ultimately, business.  And not taking advantage of this opportunity could have some big downsides.  Your competitors could easily jump ahead and make you into a social follower instead of a social leader in your industry.  This can lead to losing more business to the competition which will ultimately make you look like an unsuccessful marketer.

How can you become more comfortable with social media?  For starters, get out there yourself.  Get to know the channels and how they are being used today.  Start monitoring how and where topics related to your company’s products and services are being discussed.  Once you get more comfortable, how to jump in as an active participant to drive awareness and leads for your company will quickly become clearer.

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I was just reading an article from MarketingProfs about how small companies can topple the Goliaths in their industry.  Large companies often have a lot more resources and budget in marketing to really make an impact in the marketplace (although I know a lot of you out there will disagree!).  However, these same advantages can often be a disadvantage because the larger budgets come with more bureaucracy.  The environment is such today that it is relatively easy for a small company to come in and quickly unseat a giant through a variety of online efforts.  And it can be hard for a large company to decide to move quickly enough to react to this.

So what can you do to ensure you stay nimble?  First and foremost, don’t get too comfortable with any marketing techniques.  Make sure you are going to marketing conferences, tracking marketing experts through social media and keeping a close eye on your small competitors as well as your large ones.  Social media is one of those areas where many large companies have been very hesitant to go, but small companies can easily get out there in social media for very little cost and make a big splash.  If you aren’t keeping up on the latest in marketing, you’d easily miss this trend.

Secondly, don’t plan your marketing year out too far in advance.  You can allocate your budget among the different tactics, but leave the topics for your campaigns flexible.  Plan once a quarter if not once a month for your upcoming campaign topics.  This forces you to keep looking at what your customers want rather than plan out according to your internal product development path or sales goals.

And finally, enable local offices to do their own marketing.  Setup plug and play campaigns and the tools to execute them.  And then let your local offices decide which campaigns to run and when.  They are closer to your customers than you are sitting in your corporate office.  They know their marketplace and the competition.  And same goes if you use channel partners, as well.  Focus on enabling instead of doing it for them.

The right people are key when building a demand gen team – especially when you are building it for a large global firm.  Debbie Qaqish has done a lot of work in this arena around the concept of revenue marketers.  You can read her full whitepaper on it here.

However, if you are just getting started building your global demand gen team, you may not have the luxury of hiring more people until you can prove the value of demand gen to your senior management team and budget committee.  You should still bring in an expert, whether it’s one new hire in-house or a consultancy.  And your team won’t be at peak efficiency until you do have all the right skills in place.  But I can tell you from experience that it is possible to largely build a demand gen team within a traditional global marketing department.  Here are my five tips for doing just that:

  1. Put the right infrastructure in place.  One of the biggest barriers to change management is just having the right tools in place to keep the intended change on track.  You are going to need a single CRM that brings visibility across the organization, as well as a single marketing automation tool.  You may also need a data warehouse and/or a business intelligence tool, especially if you have a lot of other disparate data sources you are trying to bring together.
  2. Build templates across all of your marketing channels and share these out.  This will ensure that some of the demand generation best practices, such as always having a call-to-action, will always find their way into marketing pieces since there will be a placeholder for them.
  3. Create standard metrics that all marketing departments are measuring.  They may all use different strategies and tactics to get there, but make sure the goals are the same.  These are very different goals from your traditional marketing goals, so it will reinforce the vision for where you want them to go.
  4. Create a place to share best practices.  Trust me – everyone will want to share their successes when they can show revenue from a campaign.  This repository will do two things – it will show other non-believers that it really is working and it will serve as campaign templates for others to use so everyone isn’t reinventing the wheel for every campaign.
  5. Finally, educate your teams.  You can insource or outsource this.  What happens when you start educating your team, both on the tools and demand generation best practices, is that the demand gen stars will start rising to the top.  They may not be the heads of the marketing department or your webmasters or anyone you would have expected.  But these are the people that will make your demand gen team shine – get them moved into the right roles and you will really start driving demand gen across your entire organization.

When it reports earnings on Tuesday, [Wal-Mart] is widely expected to post its second straight year of declining domestic same-store sales.

Wal-Mart’s struggles are the result of a misstep: To jump-start lethargic growth and counter the rise of competitors such as cheap-chic rival Target Corp., executives veered away from the winning formula of late founder Sam Walton to provide “every day low prices” to the American working class. Wal-Mart, the world’s biggest retailer by sales, instead raised prices on some items while promoting deals on others.

Company executives acknowledge having miscalculated and are adjusting their strategy again. The big question is how quickly the mammoth chain can turn itself around.
“Wal-Mart Tries to Recapture Mr. Sam’s Winning Formula,” WSJ, February 22, 2011

That’s an expensive lesson for a B2C giant.  But one that applies just as well to the B2B marketplace.  It’s risky business to try to significantly change your image to capture a different end of the vertical you are in.  It usually takes a separate brand to do this.  You can’t just start charging more for the same stuff or putting fancier stuff in your stores and expect the same people to buy it.  Interestingly, in fixing their mistake, Wal-Mart risks losing more customers because it had started attracting a few higher-end customers.

The big lesson in this for you B2B big global firms is to know who your customers are and cater to them. A good place to start in this exercise is to develop personas.  Personas include those traits of a typical member of your target audience.  It is built as if it were one person – their title, age, sex, motivations, likes and dislikes.  A typical B2B company will develop 5-7 of these that are representative of about 80% of your audience.  You then use these every time to create content, develop new products, and generate new messages.  Everything should fit those personas and be personalized to them.

If you don’t have personas in place today, go have a chat with your sales team and get these started.  It will take a few hours to develop them but the payoff will be huge down the road.

Any large company who has ever implemented a marketing automation (MA) system knows that you go from 0 to 60 in about 2 seconds in terms of the amount of data you start collecting on your clients and prospects.  It’s overwhelming.  And before you know it, you are completely paralyzed by all the data – it becomes meaningless to you.  That’s about the point you start wondering if you just wasted a ton of money on a really expensive version of an email marketing tool.

Well, the good news is there are a few things you can do to avoid the analysis paralysis and start making sense of all this data.  The first thing you can do is to take advantage of the automation part of that marketing automation tool you have.  One way to automate data is through lead scoring.  Figure out what those key pages on your site are or some key downloads you have.  When people visit those pages or download those assets, use that as an input to your lead score to figure out when they are ready for the next step in your sales cycle.  Another way to automate is to put people into campaigns or nurture programs based on what they are doing.  Think of the “if you like this, you might try…” feature you often see on B2C websites.

Another tactic you can try is limiting the metrics you look at, but measuring and looking at them consistently.  We challenge our clients to start out by picking the five best metrics that represent their goals.  For example, if one of your marketing goals is to generate better quality leads for the sales team, you might measure conversion rates of your leads through the sales funnel to see if they improve.  Most marketing automation and CRM systems will let you setup dashboards to keep track of these metrics easily.

A slightly more drastic measure, but one that you will find yourself in need of doing eventually, is setting up a business intelligence tool.  I have yet to find a MA tool or CRM that is capable of handling the complex matrixed reporting that large global companies tend to require.  At some point, although it might not be right out of the gate when you implement your MA or CRM, you will find that you need to move up to a BI tool to set up the reports you need to monitor the mass amount of data you are collecting.

Change is tough and stressful.  That shouldn’t be news to anyone, right?  And implementing a new marketing infrastructure, a CRM system, or new marketing processes to generate revenue are all pretty big changes.  So why is it that change management isn’t the first and biggest imperative for any project like this?  Well, because that would require, er, well, Change!  That’s not how most big technology or strategy projects are approached.  The whole “If you build it they will come” mentality abounds.

If we stop and think for a few minutes, though, you know that they won’t come.  Even if you make it a “top-down initiative” or involve everyone in the specs so it’s exactly what they want.  Why is that?  According to Switch authors Chip and Dan Heath, it’s not because people don’t want to change, it’s that they don’t have a clear path, an emotional tie and environmental reinforcements.  They argue that the logical side of a person’s brain is like a rider and the emotional side an elephant.  The rider will over analyze everything, but he can’t get the elephant to move in a direction the elephant just doesn’t want to do.  So you need to make a clear, simple argument for change that appeals to the rider while giving the elephant a good emotional tie to the change.  And all the while, you have to provide  the right environmental stimuli to make sure that the rider and elephant stay on track.

I’d recommend a full read of the book, as it gives a lot of great insight on how to do all of this with good examples along the way.  But here are a few thoughts I’ll provide for you very specific to a marketing automation or CRM implementation that might help your project today:

  1. Create clear, concise definitions of things like “leads,” “contacts” and “accounts.”  For example, in my days as a marketing ops director, I used to use “leads are a response to a marketing campaign.”  Of course, then you need to define a marketing campaign 🙂
  2. Create clear goals and outcomes that people can work towards and get excited about.  Generate $20M in marketing-influenced revenue is a clear goal that people can measure and work towards.  And if you can start showing progress toward this goal, people will get excited about getting there.
  3. Find examples and hold them up for the world to see.  In a large company, there are usually pockets that are ahead of others – that business unit you acquired that has already implemented their CRM or the marketing department that has been running some successful campaigns.  Find these examples and replicate them.
  4. Celebrate success and move past failures.  So many times we get caught up in what didn’t work and fail to recognize that doing so just provides reinforcement to the troops that the project will ultimately fail.
  5. Take a few small risks.  Let your teams try some new tactics and be okay with failing.  Don’t get caught like a deer in the headlights just because you don’t fully understand the tactic yet.  Just keep it under the radar.  For instance, one that I know always trips up marketing teams is implementing lead scoring.  Especially for large companies, they start thinking about all the stuff they don’t know instead of just trying something and seeing what works.  They don’t even have to show the lead score to anyone – just create the program, turn it on, and start measuring so you can see if you are even on track with your score.  You’ll learn a lot whether your program succeeds or fails.

The world of marketing is moving at the “speed of light” as Paul Greenberg would say.  Most of us feel like we are dogs chasing cars in the world of marketing today.  I own two greyhounds and as long as those cars were going 40 mph or less, they’d catch those cars.  But most of us aren’t greyhounds.  We feel more like the little toy poodle that wouldn’t have a chance against a slow-moving bicycle. My goal is to help change all the toy poodles of the world into sleek, fast-moving greyhounds.

Large, global firms have particular challenges in adapting to new marketing strategies.  Organizational structures and the challenges of working with many divisions, products and countries all work against a fluid and dynamic strategy.  But marketers today, especially in the biggest of firms, don’t have the luxury of taking their time to adapt.  The longer you wait, the more exponentially behind you will fall.  In a B2B services firm, the risk is greatest.  B2B services firms generally have very long, relationship-driven sales cycles.  The buying decision being made today has been in the works for anywhere from 6-24 months.  If you haven’t been engaging with them on their own turf in the social world, providing timely nurture information, and tracking their behavior for the past two years, you don’t have a shot at that sale.  So the efforts that you are putting off today to upgrade your marketing strategy is affecting you for years to come.

So where do you start?  I’d like to recommend a few good reads for any large company considering upgrading their marketing infrastructure and strategy as a starting point:

  1. CRM at the Speed of Light, Paul Greenberg – this is a hefty read but worthy of some attention for you operational folks who are trying to figure out your sales and marketing infrastructure.
  2. Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, Chip Heath and Dan Heath – MUST READ for anyone making a significant organizational change to figure out how to make it stick.
  3. There is No Secret Sauce: A Strategic Guide to Social Media, Adam Metz – if you haven’t stuck your foot into the social waters yet, this is a great place to start.  You’re going to have to go there sometime – might as well start now!  I work with the author of this book – he’s super smart and I’m more than happy to make an introduction.