You know that you need lots of assets to support your demand generation efforts, but now you are facing the challenge of creating those assets with limited time, budget and staff.  This task can seem daunting, but a few basic principals will help you accelerate your production of new assets such as white papers, webinars, videos and case studies to support your lead generation and nurturing plans.

First, viewing the content (i.e., headline, key messages, detail) as separate from the format (e.g., white paper, webinar) will help you create two distinct workstreams that can feed each other.  Subject matter experts are needed to create the content.  But once the content is created and approved, publishing the content in a variety of formats and channels should be under the complete control of the marketing team.  Creative teams, agencies and contractors can be used to manage the formatting and publishing.

Second, one piece of content can and should be published in a variety of formats.  No need to look at one whitepaper or one webinar as its own distinct project.  One piece of content should be the scope of the project, with many assets that come out of that.  Re-purpose that whitepaper into a webinar, podcast, blog postings and newsletter article.

Finally, don’t constrain yourself to a single workstream managed by a single team.  Hire dedicated or contract writers to help create a constant stream of content.  Use your own creative team as well as agencies and contractors to create the assets.  You should have one person or small team managing the strategy for the assets, but many people can be involved in the creation to help you accelerate your results.

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After a successful first half of her day and a good break, Janet is ready to tackle the tasks ahead of her.  At 1 pm, Janet reviews the latest campaign metrics.  She notices that one of her campaigns is not getting good response rates.  She calls the campaign manager into her office to brainstorm getting this campaign back on track.  It is determined that the messaging and offers should be tweaked.  The campaign manager goes off to make the changes and they agree to discuss the results in a few days.

Next she takes a look at the lead scoring results.  She notices many leads in “hot” status.  A quick look in the CRM shows that many of these leads have not been followed-up on by the lead qualification team.  She heads over to talk to the lead of that team.  The conversation is easy because the teams are in close alignment on strategy and incentives.  Everyone is working towards the same goals.  She determines that the issue is around having too many leads in hot status, but when the lead qual team follows up, not many are converting.  She discusses with her Marketing Automation administrator some changes she wants to make to the lead scoring criteria.  The changes will be made by the end of the day and they can review the results in a few days again to see if it helps.

At 3 pm, Janet interviews a couple of candidates for her team.  She is looking for a business analyst who can help with reporting and data quality.  This will be a key role to keep her team supplied with the right information and prospect data to be effective in their campaign efforts.  She is looking for someone who can not only crunch the numbers but also analyze the results and bring suggestions to the table.  She also wants someone who is familiar with data best practices that can keep their database clean and complete.

At the end of the day, Janet looks back at her dashboard to find some campaigns that are working well.  She shoots off some meeting invitations to business leaders to discuss how she might be able to replicate these campaigns with their content.  She updates the campaign calendar based on her earlier strategy discussions and shuts down her computer for the night.  She’s now off to watch her son’s soccer game secure in the knowledge that her marketing department is an effective and efficient piece of the company’s revenue engine.

Janet gets to the office around 7 am because she likes to work early to avoid interruptions and be done with work at a reasonable time so she can spend more time with her family.  However, her CFO feels the same way, so this morning she is accosted with questions as soon as she walks in about the effectiveness of her marketing spend.  Fortunately, Janet has this information readily on hand because she has a marketing dashboard that gives her real-time information about closed-loop marketing ROI.  She can tell the CFO exactly how much she has spent and what she has in both closed won and anticipated revenue for the month, quarter and year.

At 9 am, Janet has a meeting scheduled with her CMO to talk about the marketing strategy for the next quarter.  She walks in with information about what has been working for them and what hasn’t.  She also has some ideas about what they could try because she has been quietly testing out new strategies for the past few months and has information about what might work.  The meeting concludes promptly at 9:30 with a clear vision of the strategy for the next quarter and buy-in from the CMO.

At 10 am, Janet chairs a staff meeting where the Revenue Marketing team reports out on the status of current campaign projects.  With simple workflow tools and project dashboards, Janet can clearly see where everything stands and get tasks at risk of slipping back on track.  Everyone on her team has clear roles and understands how they are evaluating campaigns against revenue.

At 11 am, Janet sits down to review the latest content pieces the team has developed.  She has clearly defined personas and buy cycles for her prospects, so she knows what content will be effective in each stage of the decision process for each type of prospect.  That makes her job in editing the content easy.

At noon, she finally gets a break before gearing up for the second half of her day…

I have a picture sitting on my desk with the quote “Success is a journey, not the destination.”  It’s a good mantra for revenue marketers.  I always tell large companies that implementing a marketing automation system and processes for the first time is at least a 3 year journey before you are really going to feel comfortable that you know what you are doing.  Setting up a revenue marketing team isn’t easy and it isn’t just a set of to-do items you can mark off.

There are four basic steps to becoming a revenue marketing team:

  1. Figure out your strategy and get the right processes in place.
  2. Get the right technology in place to support those processes.
  3. Get the right people in place to support both the processes and technology.
  4. Continual improvement.

While the first three steps are by no means easy, it seems to be that last step that is the big gotcha.  Once you slog through many months of strategy and process meetings, documentation, a big technology implementation and a big disruption in your department by either a people shake-up or some serious retraining, it’s really hard not to just sit back and relax.  But in reality, that’s when all the really hard work sets in.

Being a revenue marketer is all about measuring and improving through a series of iterations.  You will constantly be on the lookout for new ideas and testing out new channels and messages.  You will build out countless nurture, drip and multichannel marketing programs.  You will work tirelessly on your inbound marketing channels to drive traffic and build your house list.  There are incremental achievements that you can point to along the way to show the success of what you are doing.  But there is no end point.  There is no point you can reach where you can say “I have built a revenue marketing team and I am done.”

So here’s to all the revenue marketers out there who will work tirelessly for a successful marketing campaign, only to work harder to improve it the next time.  While your journey will never be done, you can also take solace in knowing that you will always continue to make a difference with the work you do.

If you knew in advance that your campaign would bomb, you’d never run it, right?  If you are a traditional marketer, you probably know how to evaluate which publications to run an ad in or whether an event is useful to attend.  And you evaluate these things up front before ever investing the resources or money in them.  The same should be true of your lead generation campaigns.

The difference with lead generation campaigns is that you should have a much more specific goal in mind, such as generating a certain number of leads or revenue from the campaign.  The best way to figure this out is by modeling based on past history.  If you’ve done campaigns long enough, you should know your average conversion rates.  But even if you don’t have past history to draw from, there are enough baseline metrics out there for B2B firms, you should be able to find a reasonable set of metrics to model your campaign.

At it’s simplest, here’s what a model might look like to determine the expected revenue of a campaign:

# Inquiries x % Conversion to Opportunities x % Close Rate x Average Deal Size = Expected Revenue

You may also need to add in information about channel performance and number of targets to figure out how many inquiries to expect.  If you tend to market to a lead throughout the sales cycle, these numbers will generally be reflected in your conversion rates, so you are really looking for number of inquiries that this specific campaign might generate.  If this campaign is meant to be one that pushes people through the pipeline, maybe you are more concerned about increasing the conversion rate or speeding cycle time.  Even if you don’t have numbers, you can model out what it might look like if you increase the conversion rate from a marketing qualified lead to a sales qualified lead by even 1%.

If you don’t have a past history, at least create a model with some conservative numbers to track against.  Once you do this a couple of times, you will have that history, but you need to see if your assumptions are reasonable.  So start making some assumptions to test.  Bottom line – never run a campaign at all before you at least take the time to see if it can theoretically meet your goals.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) implementation projects are generally big hairy beasts that take a long time.  Especially if you are a large global firm with lots of business units that need to cooperate to figure out a data structure that works.  So it’s not surprising that the marketing department, tiring of waiting for all the business units to duke it out on CRM, is often tempted to go around them and setup a Marketing Automation (MA) system on their own.  Most MA vendors have a cloud-based option for their software today, so marketing can get this done without IT and without sales, which means they can get it up and running very quickly.  But there are a few issues with this that you need to be aware of up front so you can address them.

Problem #1: MA systems do not manage leads.
MA systems are meant for the marketing department to use.  They have the ability to score and route leads, nurture leads, and notify people of leads.  But leads don’t live in MA systems.  MA systems track contacts and activity on contacts.  When there is sufficient activity to call a contact a “lead,” that lead needs a new place to live where the sales team can view and track its progress and ideally turn it into an opportunity.  Salespeople don’t log into your MA system, nor do you want them to.  Even if they did, there is no easy place for them to find their leads.

Problem #2: MA systems do not track campaigns.
The second issue is that MA systems don’t have a strong concept of campaigns.  They have silos of activities and programs.  But a true concept of a campaign with several parts that can easily be tracked together with a full lifecycle of contacts, leads, and closed won sales just isn’t there.  Some MA systems have tried to implement pieces of this but with little success.  The MA system is really meant to be the execution engine, not the tracking mechanism.

Problem #3: MA reporting is limited.
MA systems are going to report on contacts and activity.  It will not let you easily report on lead progress, revenue segmented by your critical criteria and multi-channel campaigns.  Some MA systems have tried to incorporate some of these pieces, however I have not yet seen anything that comes close to the type of reporting that an enterprise firm needs.

Problem #4: Data has to be refreshed manually.
Another issue is that your data will only be updated when either you upload new data, or your customer fills out a form.  Your salespeople will not be able to update contact information.  You likely also have many other systems and departments, such as accounting, that might have updated data.  All of this information would have to be ported manually into the MA system and data priority would need to be managed manually.

So now that you know the problems, what are the possible solutions?  Integrating a CRM to your MA system is obviously the best choice.  To get robust reporting and segmentation, you should also integrate your other systems (ideally into your CRM or data warehouse as the data master).  If this just isn’t an option or your CRM implementation is taking a painfully long time, there are plug-ins out there that you can setup to temporarily manage your leads and reporting.  Just keep in mind that you will still have some of these limitations until you get your CRM up and running.

I was in Chicago yesterday for the @Marketo #rocktherev Revenue Rockstar tour with TPG’s own Lady Qaqish, @revenuemarketer Debbie Qaqish, and Marketo’s Jon Miller (@jonmiller2).  I have to say it was a fantastic event!  I usually can’t stand sitting through three hours of PPT presentations, but this was different.  The content was really meaty and kept my attention.  Make sure you check it out at a city near you if you haven’t already (click here for the complete list).

For those of you who can’t make it, I wanted to share a brief recap of some of the highlights.  As I said, there were some dense presentations here, so I’ll break it up into a few parts.  I actually want to start with the case studies, as those were the coolest part to really see this stuff in action.  The first case study was from Ken Moorhead (@kenmoorhead) and Isaac Pellerin (@theisaacfix) of Compendium, who have been Marketo users since October of 2010.  That’s no typo – I mean 2010.  And they are already a case study because they’ve managed to accelerate their adoption so quickly.  They started where the majority of B2B companies are today – no consistent infrastructure, no process, very little in terms of metrics.  And to date (6 months!), they’ve managed to put into place a great process, metrics, and some great campaigns that are driving leads.  Some of the highlights of the presentation and my follow-up conversation with these guys:

  • Their motto was to ask forgiveness, not permission.  That’s how they’ve managed to push through some change so quickly.  They have also not been afraid to take some risks and make mistakes along the way to learn some valuable lessons.
  • They clearly defined their “quest” up front – to drive revenue growth.  They understood that there needed to be a single shared goal with sales and marketing and worked together to do that.
  • They started simple and built out.  And they are still building out – their journey is by no means over.
  • They think that one of the big mistakes is visualizing the buy cycle like a funnel that people naturally fall through or you push them through (they had a great graphic with a plunger at the top of the funnel here).  So instead, they visualize this as stair steps that you need to help people climb.  Great insight!

The second case study was from Marketo’s own Jon Miller.  These guys are really drinking their own Kool-Aid here.  They are one of the fastest growing SaaS companies out there and have a really highly efficient revenue engine.  They skew their spend towards marketing to make their sales team super-efficient (i.e., their sales team is only following-up on pre-qualified leads most of the time).  And this makes their revenue efficiency much better than others in their industry.

Jon has a physics background, so he loves numbers and formulas.  And has done some cool stuff with this.  He has dug into his marketing more than just how many leads and cost per lead.  He actually goes to the level of profitability so he can understand even when a tactic might cost more, it may still be better than other tactics because it converts quicker and uses less of a salesperson’s time.  You should see all the fun charts and graphs he has to show his executive team.  His goal is to make sure his board doesn’t look at him as the “arts and crafts guy” but rather as a contributing member driving revenue.  We can all get behind that!  Oh, and one more thing, everyone (everyone!) on his marketing team carries a revenue goal.  Great things to aspire to, and thanks for the inspiration, Jon!

In part 2 of this recap, I’ll cover the other great presentations.