Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Align Marketing & Sales. Build Customer Communities.

bigstock_target_customers_-_red_target_5693274

Today’s savvy marketers know that consumers want to have access to information 24/7 to help them navigate the maze of purchase choices. Content marketing – the creation, curation and distribution of relevant information to attract and retain customers – has emerged as a key component in marketing strategies with the aim of building communities of engaged customers and contributing to the achievement of sales targets.

But how effective has content marketing been in generating quality sales leads? To what extent is content marketing contributing to business development goals and revenues?

Just over half — 51% — of marketers told Forrester Research their content marketing efforts are only somewhat effective in delivering business value; 27% rated the strategy as “neutral”; 6% said it was somewhat ineffective at delivering value; 1% said it was not effective at all.

Providing more engaging, relevant content could possibly lead to an improvement in these results.

However, I believe that for content marketing to be effective, Marketing and Sales have to be aligned on the definition of the customers they target, on how prospects will be engaged and converted to customers and on key performance indicators.

Aligning Marketing and Sales

  • Defining qualified leads

Generating a targeted number of sales leads from content marketing activities is not an indication that Marketing is effective or contributing to business success. What really counts is whether leads will generate sufficient revenues to achieve sales targets.  Effective content marketing strategies build engaged communities of prospective and loyal customers who have the potential to generate new business that meets or surpasses sales targets.  Therefore, Marketing and Sales must have a clear and common definition of a “qualified lead.”  A “qualified lead” ought to be defined in relation to current and anticipated customer needs and the short to long-term revenue potential of the lead in relation to Sales’ targets. It is the responsibility of Marketing to ensure that content material provides relevant information, engages interest and prompts responses from consumers who will be considered as qualified leads.

  • Managing the pipeline

The aim of pipeline management is to ensure that business development opportunities are optimized, target customer populations are reached and that qualified sales leads are generated and nurtured. This means that Marketing’s plans must be timed and managed in tandem with Sales’ capacity to follow-up on qualified leads to avoid clogging the pipeline.

Important planning activities should include agreement on data capture from engagement tactics, screening criteria to identify qualified leads and the content material that will be distributed at various stages of the customer journey.   Both Sales and Marketing must work with a common data base, marketing automation or CRM system and agree on how interactions with potential and current customers will be interpreted in relation to needs anticipation and their place on the customer journey.

  • Moving from content to conversion

Mapping appropriate content, its format and delivery to the various stages of the customer journey increases the likelihood of sales conversion.  To do this, there has to be an understanding of how the target customer populations access and use content resources.

More importantly, Marketing and Sales must agree on a clearly defined business process for lead capture and determine the points at which Marketing refers qualified leads to Sales.  Incentive compensation for referrals and conversions should also be integrated in the business process.

The table below presents high-level suggestions on the mapping of content to the stages of the customer journey.

journey

Measuring content marketing effectiveness

Today’s marketing technology tools make it possible for marketers to identify and contact anyone who shows an interest in digitally delivered content.  Under pressure to prove ROI, marketers devise tactics that are intended to create and build engagement.  The download of an eBook, the posting of a favourable comment or interactions of any kind should not be interpreted as readiness to purchase and are not the best indicators of content marketing effectiveness.

Quantitative and qualitative engagement metrics and qualified lead ratios are better indicators of content marketing effectiveness. 

  1. Community engagement and advocacy metrics –

The ratio of visitor engagements to social media impressions and/or visits to web sites indicates if the content marketing material has been effective in creating awareness and purchase consideration. Engagements include the number of clicks on social media posts and click throughs to other web pages, retweets, shares, comments and direct inquiries.

Customers, who are brand advocates, are loyal, repeat buyers, influence others to purchase and are considered a trusted source by their peers.

Advocacy is a very important qualitative and quantitative metric.  Qualitative, because it involves observing what customers are saying about the product and the brand in on-line posts, discussions and various social media.  The number of shares, followers and discussions initiated provides quantitative data on brand advocacy.

  1. Lead generation metrics –

Key lead generation metrics should focus on qualified leads as defined by Sales and Marketing.

Leads should be qualified using the data captured through engagement tactics.  As explained earlier, leads should be qualified and categorized according to revenue potential and needs anticipation.

Cost per qualified lead and cost per sales appointment are two metrics that indicate the return on the investment in content marketing.  They are calculated by dividing the number of qualified leads or sales appointments by the content marketing budget for lead generation or engagement tactics.

 See the BIG picture. 

The consistent measurement and analysis of results over an extended period of time provide benchmarks and trends that indicate the effectiveness of content marketing and the value it contributes to the business.  Content marketing effectiveness should ultimately be determined by the positive correlation between the number of leads generated and the number of new customers acquired.

Focus on what’s important.

It is important to carefully assess the results obtained.  For example, declining ratios may indicate that marketing activities are ineffective for all or some segments in the qualified lead population.  This calls for corrective action, adjustments or changes in strategy and tactics.

Finally, the on-going investment of time and budgets required to profitably sustain engagement and loyalty of new customers must be assessed in order to justify repeat investment in content marketing.

 

Related posts:

3 Mistakes e-mail marketers make and how to avoid them

These 3 KPIs may get your marketing budget approved

3 Ways to measure engagement ROI

 

Camille Isaacs-Morell develops performance-driven marketing strategies that produce measurable results in the areas of brand awareness, new business leads and sales. 

She currently seeks opportunities to contribute to the success of business-to-business enterprises and non-profit organizations in a senior leadership role with direct responsibility for developing the marketing strategy to support business development and stakeholder engagement.

www.camilleisaacsmorell.com  

See the BIG picture. Focus on what’s important.

 

Delegate-741x480

“Check, double check and check again.”   This was possibly the best advice I received early in my career.

I followed through on my boss’ advice. I believe that this was the reason why it was noted on my performance evaluation that I was action-oriented and reliable without supervision.

In later years I realized that the checking, double checking and checking again advice wasn’t going to work for me or for the people I was leading.

During my very first role as a people manager, I understood that there is a fine line between being an effective leader and being a micro-manager.

Effective leaders know that they are ultimately accountable for the mandate that they have been given to deliver through the people they lead.

Micro-managers, in their zeal to produce results, get overly involved in the work of the people they lead.  These managers don’t confidently delegate and set expectations.  And when they do, they obsessively check, double check and check again on the work of their people, instead of letting their people, who are responsible for operations, implementation and deliverables, do the required checking.

I believe that micro-managers act the way they do mainly for the following reasons –

  • The fear of failure, which leads to the need to control other people’s actions
  • They don’t know how to manage any other way
  • They have an “agenda,” a personal need they want to fulfill

Here are 3 tips on how managers can avoid micro-managing, or can take to stop micro-managing and 3 tips on how employees can avoid being micro-managed.

 

The fear of failure and the need to control

For the manager –

  1. Gain clarity on the mandate you’ve been given. This means –
    • Identify the resources required – hire the right, competent people, ask for budgets
    • Set realistic expectations with your senior leadership and the people you lead on deliverables
    • Establish a formal schedule of checkpoints and accountabilities

For those being managed –

  1. Communicate confidentially with your manager to uncover the root cause of the fear of failure. This means –
    • Reassure your manager of your commitment and that you have his/her back
    • Mutually agree on how you will be accountable

 

Not knowing how to manage any other way

For the manager –

  1. Be courageous. Take feedback from your people and other managers seriously and seek ways to improve the situation.  This means –
    • Seeking mentorship and coaching from experienced, respected professionals you trust and who can help you to develop an effective leadership style.
    • Open communication in a dedicated forum (e.g. team meeting, off-site retreat) to discuss the mandated goals of the team and how team members will be empowered, engaged and held accountable.

For those being managed –

  1. Reduce your manager’s need to micro-manage. This means –
    • Proactively support your manager by honouring reporting commitments
    • Avoid surprises by forewarning your manager of possible delays and problems, and coming with suggestions for precautionary, preventive or risk reduction actions

 

The personal agenda or need the manager wants to fulfill

For the manager –

  1. Empowerment and accountability are essential for leadership success, regardless of what your personal agenda or motivation may be. Remember –
    • The mark of a great leader is the capacity to inspire and work with and through other people to achieve goals.

For those being managed –

  1. Find a way to see your manager’s “big picture” of what he or she is working towards. Observe and ask yourself a few questions –
    • What’s his or her motivation?
    • Who does he or she network with?
    • What’s his/her vision of the future role of the department or his/her leadership?

 

Important considerations

Managing people is not for everybody.  Managers who find it difficult to delegate and are caught in the micro-management trap should consider alternative leadership roles, such as an internal consultant, technical expert or advisor, and make an outstanding contribution to corporate objectives.

Moving on is an option for employees who are being micro-managed.   If excessive time and effort have to be invested in trying to understand and work with a micro-manager to the detriment of job satisfaction, engagement and optimal performance, the employee should decide whether to stay or to leave.

 

www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

Leadership Heart

 

There are numerous definitions of “leadership.”  No matter how you look at it, leadership is really about inspiring people to achieve goals.

It takes effective leadership to successfully achieve goals, regardless of whether they are tied to revenues and profits, a desired future state of a country, implementing a new programme or promoting a cause.

Then there is the eternally debated question – “Are leaders born or made?”

While I won’t attempt to definitively answer this question, I do know that there are some people for whom inspiring others to achieve goals comes naturally.  There are others who, with coaching and formal training, perform remarkably well as strong, successful leaders.

Having served in formal leadership positions in the corporate world and in voluntary and not-for-profit organizations, I am convinced that a key determinant of success is the personal motivation to lead.

Those who aspire to leadership positions must really want to lead and must be highly motivated to achieve goals through and with the people they lead.

To determine their level of personal motivation, aspiring leaders and experienced leaders considering a new mandate, should be able to answer these two questions –

  1. Do you love power more than you care about people?
  2. Is competing for the position more important than your commitment to the cause / vision / goals of the position?

 

Leaders must love people more than power.

 They must be more committed to the cause than to competition.

 

Nothing is wrong with aspiring to positions of power.

In a civilized society, positions of power – whether corporate, social or political – provide opportunities for leaders to influence and create change that ultimately benefits people.  Good, ethical leaders should be motivated to aspire to positions of power because of the opportunity it affords them to help people.

Aspiring to positions of power involves competition.  Competing for a position of power should really be a healthy activity, giving aspiring candidates the opportunity to demonstrate why they should be selected to lead.

When competing against other candidates, a truly authentic leader should be able to

  • Clearly articulate his/her understanding of the vision of the future state he/she expects to create;
  • How he/she will inspire and engage others in the creation of the vision; and
  • How people will benefit from his/her leadership.

 

It’s not just about getting the leadership title,

it’s about being committed to the cause.

 

As the saying goes, “Once you’re in, you’re in.” 

Once a leader is in place, success will be largely dependent on several leadership traits.  For me, the most important is courage, both inner courage and outer courage.

Inner courage is the unwavering commitment to personal values and integrity, including the ability to honestly decide if the leadership position is the right fit and in the best interest of all concerned.

Public courage is about being prepared to make tough calls, unpopular decisions and persistent commitment, even in the face of scathing and unfair criticism.

Above all, at the heart of effective leadership is the desire and motivation to serve.  Although leaders serve by inspiring people to achieve goals, outstanding leaders always see the big picture of the overarching benefits of achieving the goals.

More important than focusing on the position of power and the process to get there, is that every aspiring leader must be even more committed to the sustainable success of the organization, people and country they intend to lead.

 

See the BIG picture.  Focus on what’s important.

www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

@Camille21162

Camille Isaacs-Morell is a proven marketing strategy and business development enabler who thrives when leading in contexts of transformation and change.  She enthusiastically seeks her next leadership challenge.

Camille was motivated to write this post in the aftermath of the Brexit campaign and the US Republican and Democratic Parties’ National Conventions.

valueprop

One of the hardest things I had to do early in my marketing career was develop a compelling and unique value proposition for the group benefits plans offered by the insurance company where I worked.

In a price-sensitive, highly competitive market, we repeatedly asked ourselves how we could demonstrate and differentiate our solutions and services.

Our business strategy team agreed that when compared to our competitors’ capabilities, we offered superior customized solutions, outstanding customer service and integrated solutions.

My marketing colleagues and I decided that none of these capabilities could be used in our value proposition.  Not only were these capabilities becoming buzz words, but we realised also, that since benefits plans are tailored to the specific needs of our plan sponsor clients, customization was the expected norm as was outstanding customer service.  Furthermore, with clients using the services of multiple providers, it was also expected that our benefits administration systems should be interoperable and capable of being integrated with other systems.

We understood that to be meaningful, our value proposition had to speak to a critical customer need and had to be perceived as a bonus beyond the price paid for our solutions and services.

Multiple stakeholders.  Multiple motivations and priorities.

Staying away from buzzwords was hard enough.  What was even harder was crafting a compelling value proposition that worked for several stakeholders  – the benefits plan advisor who negotiated the best plan with the insurance company on behalf of the employer/plan sponsor client, the plan sponsor’s finance and human resources leadership teams, people managers and employees.

All of these stakeholders had different motivations and priorities.  Not all of them were decision-makers.  Some were influencers and others were the end-users.  All of them were going to be influenced by the value proposition at some point during the marketing, pre- and post-sales cycle.

Five steps to create a multi-stakeholder value proposition

Our marketing team did eventually define a compelling, overarching value proposition that worked really well for all stakeholders.  Here is a five-step process, which I believe can guide the development of a value proposition for multiple stakeholders –

  1. Identify stakeholders and their role in the purchase process
  2. Define the pain points/key issue, usually related to their mandate
  3. Identify the solution benefits each stakeholder requires
  4. Determine how value is created for each stakeholder
  5. Identify a common theme on how value is created for all stakeholders, develop a value proposition statement that reflects the theme and stands out from the competition.

The BIG picture – finding the common theme

Identifying how value is created for each stakeholder should always lead to a value proposition that is based on an overarching theme that resonates with all stakeholders and that can be expressed from several angles.  For example, “wellness” as the overarching theme can be expressed in terms of financial and physical wellness.  Financial wellness resonates with the CFO and benefits advisor, and physical wellness appeals to the CHRO and employees.

Focus on what’s important – finding the tipping point for each stakeholder

To bring the value proposition to life, it is important to identify the tipping point for each stakeholder audience, and then clearly state the way value is created without diluting the overarching value proposition.  For example, the CFO decision maker will almost certainly select the benefits plan that is affordable and contributes to financial success.  Therefore, in the marketing pitch to the CFO, the benefits and outcomes of the “wellness” value proposition should be explained in financial terms, demonstrating how investing in employee wellness will produce a positive ROI that translates to fewer or lower claims experience and higher workforce productivity.

A final word

In addition to using the 5-step approach outlined above, it’s important to bear in mind the following tips, when determining how to bring the value proposition to life –

  1. Understand the current and long-term bias of the organization – e.g. cost avoidance, risk management etc.
  2. Have the prospective client define what success looks like
  3. Build momentum through communication tactics targeting the decision-makers prior to the final sales pitch

 

See the BIG picture. Focus on what’s important.

http://www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

@Camille21162

stand out from the crowd

This year, the world’s largest multi-cultural event will take place in Brazil.  The Summer Olympic Games bring together athletes from many nations.  When the events end, the athletes return to their countries of origin… Well, not quite!  You only have to look at the multi-ethnic face of Team Canada to see that Canada is not the country of origin of many of our athletes.  The multi-ethnic profile of the team mirrors the multi-cultural mix of our country and so many other countries of the world.

Changing demographics in Canada and the emergence of potentially lucrative ethnic markets have brought attention, effort and investment in marketing to ethnic groups, with varying degrees of success.   “Multi-cultural marketing” may be a buzz word for some, or may mean big business for others.  To be successful, marketers should embrace fundamental truths, which, when understood, will dispel some persistent misconceptions and support successful multi-cultural marketing strategies.

3 Myths and 3 fundamental truths

Myth #1 – Ethnic groups are “one big happy family.” 

Fundamental truth #1 – There are sub-groups and cultural differences within ethnic groups.

For example, there are linguistic and cultural differences among Africans, people of colour from the Caribbean and African-Americans.  However, I often wonder what ROI has been achieved on Canada Post’s full-page ads in the Community Contact newspaper for MoneyGram transfers to Africa.  Community Contact is a Montreal-based newspaper that caters primarily to Black Anglophones of Caribbean origin, many of whom are avid cricket fans.  I was quite surprised a few years ago, when Canada Post did not chose to advertise its promotion of the World Cup of Cricket in the Community Contact newspaper, but continued to advertise MoneyGram transfers to Africa – a service used primarily by Québec’s African community, which does not comprise the majority of the newspaper’s readers.  This example illustrates that Canada Post, like many marketers, don’t understand that there are linguistic and cultural sub-groups in ethnic communities with different lifestyles and interests.

Myth #2 – Ethnic consumers always identify with their cultural heritage. 

Fundamental truth #2 – Ethnicity does not always play into consumer choices.  Members of Canada’s various ethnic and cultural groups generally feel a sense of belonging to Canada. 

An Ethnic Diversity Survey conducted by Statistics Canada indicated that half of the population identifies with their ethnic or cultural group.  The study also found that ethnic attachments persist, but weaken over several generations and Canadian identity increases with the number of generations a person’s family had lived in Canada.

It is important for marketers to understand the conditions in which ethnicity and cultural affiliations become relevant to consumer engagement and purchase behaviour.

I do believe that strong ethnic attachments emerge under certain conditions, such as international competitions and cultural and sporting events.  For example, the stellar performance of the Jamaican Olympic team in the track events elicited strong ethnic and cultural affiliations among second and third generation Canadians of Jamaican heritage.

Myth #3 – To appeal to ethnic groups, marketing efforts should be focused only on ethnic products.

Fundamental Truth #3 –There is a higher demand by ethnic groups for some non-ethnic products than among the general population. 

An Environics Multicultural Imperative study found that recent immigrant and second generation members of visible minority groups are highly educated, are interested in status symbols, recognition and appearance and are likely to own their own homes within the first six years of living in Canada.

For this reason, marketers in the banking, retail and home improvement sectors should pay particular attention to ethnic consumers.  It is important to understand when and where to invest in marketing activities geared to this audience and build worthwhile relationships without alienating non-ethnic clients.

That saidthere are needs that are specific to ethnic markets that are not being met through the mainstream supply chain.  A good example is beauty products, particularly hair and skin care products specific to the needs of ethnic groups, are not widely available in the major retail stores… I can personally say that this is my biggest frustration living in Canada!  With the new immigrant and ethnic populations growing at a rate faster than non-visible minority groups in Canada, retail marketers should consider ethnic products as potentially lucrative contributors to their product line-ups.

The BIG picture

Accepting these fundamental truths, I believe, is an essential step in the right direction for successful multi-cultural marketing.  But this is not enough.   Although some marketers may consider multi-cultural marketing as a branch or special practice of mainstream marketing, multi-cultural marketing will play an increasingly important role in understanding overall consumer trends in Canada.   

Statistics Canada predicts that by 2031, roughly one in every three people in the labor force could be foreign born.   The presence, needs and influence of these consumers cannot be ignored, and will have to be addressed in demand surveys and other market research activities, now and in future years.   Multi-cultural marketing in Canada will have to be integrated in the marketing plan of every business that intends to be sustainably successful.  This, in my view, is the BIG picture.

Consider the following areas to focus on:

  • Get to know more about ethnic and cultural communities– not just demographic profiles but also research consumer patterns and purchase motivations and how they differ from those of the general population.  (Be aware that most of the available research is on economic and sociological subjects with generalized conclusions and therefore must be read with caution as the disparities in economic and social conditions among ethnic groups could be misleading to marketers.)
  • Poll customers purchasing ethnic products– ‘Did you find what you were looking for?’ ‘If not, can we order for you?’
  • Faith-based centres, ethnic/cultural associations, particularly among the older generation, are important centres of community life and open the door for local marketing activitiessuch as the promotion of services that are discounted when bought/subscribed to by groups.
  • In marketing research surveys,integrate questions that will provide information relating to cultural differences (e.g. alcohol consumption, recreation, consumer purchases).
  • Acknowledge the Canadian identityof ethnic target market segments, while respecting their cultural values and differences in a positive way.

A final word

There is a growing body of research and resources to support multi-cultural marketing.   There may be other resources available.  Your comments and suggestions are welcome.

www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

See the BIG picture. Focus on what’s important.

This is an updated version of an earlier post.  Although the post was written 4 years ago, the myths about multicultural marketing still persist.

@Camille21162

In the nearly five months since the start of 2016, I have opted-out of as many e-mail marketing subscriptions. When I opted in, I was pretty sure that I knew what I signed up for – quality, relevan…

Source: 3 Mistakes e-Mail Marketers Make and How to Avoid Them

E-mail to read in an envelope with an arrow

In the nearly five months since the start of 2016, I have opted-out of as many e-mail marketing subscriptions.

When I opted in, I was pretty sure that I knew what I signed up for – quality, relevant information and marketing resources.  Knowing that at some point I would have to make a purchase decision, I realized that opting-in meant receiving frequent, scheduled e-mails and a few telephone calls from the senders.

But each time I clicked “unsubscribe”, I knew I was doing the right thing.

Experts in e-mail marketing advise marketers to have a robust subscription strategy, segment subscribers according to their needs, provide relevant, useful information and build interaction through strong calls to action.  While it was clear that the e-mailers carefully planned their subscription and content strategies with the intention of using best practice guidelines, they repeatedly committed some fatal errors that just killed my interest in being a subscriber to their e-mail list.

  • Although interesting information was being provided, it wasn’t what was initially expected.
  • The constant upfront sales pitches were overwhelming and untimely.
  • There was no perceived value in some of the calls to action, particularly those which didn’t ask for a purchase.

Here are three mistakes that result from badly used email marketing guidelines:

1.  Sending useful information – but it’s not mapped to the subscriber’s stage in the customer journey.

The classic purchase funnel is used to identify the various stages of the customer journey from awareness, to consideration, preference and then to the purchase decision.  To be effective, e-mail marketing must provide content that is correlated to the customer’s needs and stage in the journey towards the purchase decision.

Consider the following model that maps the customer journey to e-mail content

Customer Journey & Content Map CroppedCustomer Journey & Content Map – Camille Isaacs-Morell 2016©

2.  Having a good initial opt-in strategy – but it fails to build engagement momentum over time

The key to building a robust list of subscribers is to have an opt-in strategy that targets the right subscribers.  Astute marketers know that targeting the right subscribers starts with gathering contact details from various sources which are likely to include prospective clients e.g. industry association member lists, event attendees, direct business contacts – and launching engagement tactics to incite interest – e.g. special offers, landing pages, retargeted digital advertising, SEO… etc.

The mistake that many marketers make is to jump too quickly to make a sales pitch. 

When a subscriber opts-in, it is generally a sign that the initial e-mail has engaged their interest.  Throughout the customer’s journey, there must be on-going tactics to validate needs and purchase intentions.  In this way the engagement momentum can be sustained, increased and propelled toward the purchase decision.

Consider the following ways to build engagement momentum:

  • Ask for feedback – typically at the consideration phase – on the white paper, solution options or other resources offered to the subscriber
  • Request confirmation of the kind of information the subscriber would like to receive in the future – educational material, research results, product-specific material, etc.
  • Most importantly, segment subscribers according to the feedback received and tailor content and frequency of distribution accordingly.

 

3.  There is a call to action – not necessarily to purchase – but subscribers don’t see what’s in it for them

After opting in, subscribers want value for their response to calls to action. When calls to action solicit information prior to a purchase decision, a mutual exchange of benefits has to take place.

It’s important to understand that e-mail marketing campaigns are most vulnerable to subscriber opt-outs when a call to action appears to benefit the vendor more than the subscriber.  Some real turn-offs include –

  • Long surveys – even with an incentive and a promise to send the subscriber the results
  • Asking for too much information – what’s the motive for gathering additional information?
  • Forms are not mobile-friendly – time consuming and frustrating to complete

Is the call to action intended to get feedback? Is it to gauge interest and engagement?  Is the call to action a precursor to the ask for business?

The answers to all of these questions should drive the content of the e-mail, ensuring that the subscriber understands the vendor’s intention and has all the information required first before being asked to take action.

Let the subscriber derive value from the information provided with the option to follow through with the call to action.

 The BIG picture

E-mail marketing will continue to be an important source of business lead generation and revenues.  While there is ample evidence to prove this, it is important to remember that e-mail connects people.  Building relationships is a natural result of connecting people, who have many and varied needs.

Focus on what’s important

It’s important to gain insights into subscribers’ needs throughout the journey to the purchase decision.  Tailoring content, timing e-mail distribution and providing value throughout the campaign are important tactics that marketers should focus on to prevent well-intentioned strategies from being derailed.

@Camille21162

www.camilleisaacsmorell.com

See the BIG picture.   Focus on what’s important