Mid-Year Review: How are Your Marketing $$ Being Allocated by Audience?

As I discussed in my last blog, Mid-Year Review: How are Your Marketing $$ Being Allocated There are two ways to evaluate your marketing spend.  We typically see a disproportionate amount of spend in two areas, segment and audience. I discussed marketing spend by segment in my last blog, now let’s discuss by audience. 

Audience

When we evaluate marketing leaders spend by audience, we also see a disproportionate amount of spend.  We typically see:

  • 70% of the dollars/resources being spent at the user level

  • 20% at the influencer level (director/vice president)

  • 10% at the decision maker level (the person that actually has the purse strings to approve your product/services)

     

If these numbers look familiar in your marketing department and the company’s not hitting its growth numbers you have to ask yourself, what kind of changes do I need to make?   Clearly, all three levels are important.  However, some tweaking may need to be done to gain the growth your company needs.

The greatest return on investment for a marketing leader is to focus more of the marketing spend and resources on the retention side of the equation as well as find ways to engage the decision maker level in a meaningful way.  The tangible results will be increased growth, retention, loyalty and reference-ability. 

With these results, the CEO will gladly give you a true seat at the executive table because you are focused on the business and driving results.   Wishing you great success in the 2nd half of the calendar year!

 

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Mid-Year Review: How are Your Marketing $$ Being Allocated?

Chief Executive Officers think that their marketing leaders are focused too much on the creative “arty” side of marketing vs. the business helping the company drive results according to a study by the Fournaise Group.  We are fast approaching the mid-point of the calendar year where companies start scrutinizing budgets and resources if they are not achieving their planned growth.    As marketing leaders, this is the perfect time for you to be proactive and evaluate the results your team has delivered and how you may want to re-allocate the precious resources and budget you have to achieve greater results.

As you begin to review your marketing budget, take a look at how your dollars are being allocated.  After speaking with various marketing leaders, I have found the spend disproportionate in two areas:

1.       Segment

2.       Audience

Segment

If you look at your marketing spend, what is the segment that is getting most of the dollars?  Is it acquisition of new clients or retention of existing clients?  I find that most organizations get more excited about winning a new client than retaining an existing client.

When I do assessments on marketing spend I find that on average 60% of the marketing spend is on acquisition of new clients and 40% is on retention.  I would argue that it should be reversed to be successful.  Sixty-percent of the marketing spend should be focused on retaining your current clients.  It’s been documented thousands of times, that the cost to win a new client is more expensive/costly than retaining an existing client, yet when it comes to where the marketing dollars lie. It’s no wonder organizations are still trying to figure out retention and loyalty!

Ask yourself, who would the CFO be more pleased with, the person that brought it in a new deal at low margins and leveraged numerous resources to win or the person that renewed a client at high margins that used fewer resources?

In my next blog I’ll talk about Mid-Year Review:  How marketing $$ should be allocated by audience.

 

 

 

 

 

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Achieving Client Loyalty in B2B World Event Summary

Earlier this spring, Kim Hammond (from QTS) and I had the opportunity to present at the Loyalty 360 Engagement Expo.  The audience was highly engaged as we talked about some of the common challenges organizations face Achieving Client Advocacy in the B2B World.  The top five challenges discussed were:

1)       Being focused on the wrong customers

2)       Being focused on the wrong level within accounts

3)       Disproportionate marketing spend

4)       Retention

5)       Profitable growth

As we shared there, building true advocacy comes from engaging your most important accounts at the decision-maker level in a meaningful way.  Market leaders must consider the opportunity of shifting their marketing spend to 60% on retention and 40% on acquisition.  In most organization, the reverse is the case.  In addition, investing 35% at the decision-maker level of the most important accounts will provide marketing leaders the desired retention and profitable growth.

I was energized by Loyalty’s research that came out in 2012 for marketers.  Their research shows the top two objectives for marketers in 2012 are, 1) customer retention, and 2) profitable revenue.  This reinforces what the IBM CEO and Fournaise Marketing Group studies said, which basically came down to marketing leaders need to be focused on the business, not the brand.  They need to focus on building the ROI if they want to earn a true seat at the C-suite table.

Cheers to a sustainable, predictable and profitable 2012 for all marketing leaders!

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Achieving Client Advocacy in the B2B World

This week in Orlando, Kim Hammond (from QTS) and I had the opportunity to present at the Loyalty 360 Engagement Expo.  The audience was highly engaged as we talked about some of the common challenges organizations face Achieving Client Advocacy in the B2B World.  The top five challenges discussed were:

1)       Being focused on the wrong customers

2)       Being focused on the wrong level within accounts

3)       Disproportionate marketing spend

4)       Retention

5)       Profitable growth

As we shared there, building true advocacy comes from engaging your most important accounts at the decision-maker level in a meaningful way.  Market leaders must consider the opportunity of shifting their marketing spend to 60% on retention and 40% on acquisition.  In most organization, the reverse is the case.  In addition, investing 35% at the decision-maker level of the most important accounts will provide marketing leaders the desired retention and profitable growth.

I was energized by Loyalty’s research that came out in 2012 for marketers.  Their research shows the top two objectives for marketers in 2012 are, 1) customer retention, and 2) profitable revenue.  This reinforces what the IBM CEO and Fournaise Marketing Group studies said, which basically came down to marketing leaders need to be focused on the business, not the brand.  They need to focus on building the ROI if they want to earn a true seat at the C-suite table.

Cheers to a sustainable, predictable and profitable 2012 for all marketing leaders!

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Ground Hog's Day

Every year at this time, you hear all of the hoopla around one of Pennsylvania's most recognized residents - Punxsutawney Phil. I always end up laughing as my mind then shifts to Bill Murray's classic performance in the movie Ground hog's Day. We all know the premise: a guy gets to "re-do" the same day over and over and over again, but discovering little nuances and trying new things along the way, in order to get to the outcome he really desires (to get the girl).ground hog

In business, wouldn't it be great if we had that ability? Not to 'get the girl', but to be able to see every possible angle before we execute. Every strategy, every sales call, every marketing campaign, all fully vetted through numerous attempts of trial and error. Well, of course we can't really do that. Not exactly anyway. But, we do have some terrific  'guidance' tools at our disposal: personal experience and the collective experience of our customers.

When setting strategy, designing a marketing program or campaign, or virtually anything else, our own personal experience can be a directional guide - allowing us to move generally in the right direction. By leveraging the collective experience of others - our peers and most importantly, our customers, we can fine-tune our direction, exacting a path to success. The experience of the collective is akin to the trial and error in Ground hog's Day, only we didn't have to experience it ourselves. Customers will (in one form or another) tell us everything we need to know. We just need to provide a forum to enable us to listen.

Sometimes in business it feels like many companies are caught in the same loop - making similar mistakes over and over again. Progress and growth have slowed, and there can be a sense of frustration. Organizations that actively engage and listen to their customers (or collective) are breaking out of these never-ending loops and are thriving. What path is your company on? Start your journey by answering this question: "Are you actively listening or are you living in your own Ground hog's Day???"

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Driving Exponential Growth with your Existing Customers

Gary Vastola, Vice President of Field Marketing & Service Support from Xerox and I participated in a Whale Hunters Expert Series call last week. The call and discussion was focused around the common challenges companies faced as they closed out 2011; flat sales, retention, and customer satisfaction issues. growth

As we kick off the New Year companies want to turn the tide towards exponential growth.  The quickest way to achieve exponential growth is by focusing on your most important customers at a decision maker level.  That sounds so simple but so many companies become distracted trying to do that with all their existing customers. The truth is that all customers are all not worthy of that type of attention and resources.  As we all know, if you don’t prioritize your efforts than the efforts get diluted and so do the results.

Once you have focused on your most important customers at a decision maker level, the next question is what do you do with them?  The days of “howdy calls” are over.  You remember those days, an executive comes in to visit one of your important customers and basically the executive takes them to breakfast, lunch or dinner or meets in their office to introduce themselves and talk about sports and something else that is meaningless.  The executive leaves and the customer executive is thinking nice guy, but I don’t have time to waste doing that again. One way to engage your decision makers in a meaningful valuable way is through an Executive Sponsor Program (ESP).  An ESP is that one on one relationship (executive to executive) that is outside of any sales transaction.  When launched well, the results are undeniable.  

 

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Achieving Inaugural Customer Advisory Council Success

 Are you on the “right stack” of mail?   Stack of Mail

When you are doing something new, you fall into the classic “you don’t know, what you don’t know”.

 When you are planning your inaugural Customer Advisory Council you need to ask yourself….are we on the right “stack of mail”?  To set a Customer Advisory Council up for success long term you need to be focused on three main things:

  1. Business Alignment – Alignment surrounding the priorities, content, members and outcomes gets the team focused around driving the results you desire.
  2. Sponsorship – Who is your overall program sponsor?  If you don’t have one, you need to find one or you will not be able to keep the council headed in the right direction over the long-term.
  3. Insight Execution – Gaining the right insight and executing on this insight is vital to success.  Insight execution is a lot like strategic planning.  You have to decide and communicate what you will and won’t do back to your members as well as internally within the company.  

I have observed several organizations spend valuable time, money and resources focused treating this like a trade show event.  They are more interested in the “glitz and glamour” then on making sure they have the foundation build for long term success.  Three of the most common pitfalls when setting up an inaugural Advisory Council are:

  1. Finest Resort– Selecting a fabulous location is great to get your members to the first meeting, but it won’t keep them coming back.  You have to set the right environment in the inaugural meeting and execute on what you heard to keep them coming back.  There is no need to spend $450/night for a hotel room.
  2. A/V and Travel companies- A successful Advisory Council meeting does take a lot of work, however, hiring an A/V company and/or a travel company to manage 14-16 people is not necessary.   If you plan for enough in advance, you will have the resources to handle the logistics for the meeting.  Your most strategic customers don’t want a production.  They want an intimate environment with you.
  3. Expensive Gifts– Buying your customers expensive gifts is not necessary.  Companies waste so much time here.  Your most strategic customers aren’t coming for the gift or a fancy glass name plate.  They are coming to spend time with your executives to learn and share insight.

When you stay on the right “stack of mail” and focus on building internal alignment, sponsorship and insight execution you will set your council long term for success.

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2012 Planning - A Golden Opportunity

Have you ever experienced a “moment of fame” when everything you need for your business to succeed comes together perfectly?   It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s “golden!” 
What if you were able to take those “moments of fame” and make them a consistent practice within your organization?  Customer Engagement Programs provide the opportunity to do just that.

Recently, my client experienced one of those moments.  After conducting an Advisory Council meeting with the decision makers of his most strategic customers, he gained invaluable insight into the market, learning what his customers need, and what they are looking for from his organization.

As a member of the executive team, he walked into a strategic planning meeting with the CEO and his peers, armed with information no one else had—even better, it was validated by his most strategic customers:

  • Sunset a core product in mid-term development – a savings of $8 dollars in future development, marketing, sales, and service, not to mention resources that can be devoted to high impact products.
  • Eliminate a new solution from the product roadmap – a total savings of $3 dollars, six months in development and valuable resources.
  • Get positioned to make an acquisition – of an innovative services company.

Gaining insight from your top customers provides a tremendous amount of confidence to participate in your organization’s planning process.  Sharing this information among the leadership team was a “moment of fame” for my client.  His CEO responded, “I’m so impressed by your knowledge this early in our planning process.  You are months ahead of your peers.”

When it comes to internal planning make no mistake—you are competing with your peers for resources and dollars to make the best decisions for the organization.  As you prepare for 2012, part of your plan should include gaining market insight at a decision maker level with your most strategic customers. 

In Sean Geehan’s book, The B2B Executive Playbook, he explains in detail how the market can provide insight, and help validate the following four areas (see diagram below):

  • vennYour “Exploit Solutions” – those areas that align to your business model and for which you have a core competency – in other words, what you do well.
  • Where you should “Evolve” – the market is telling you they want something that is in your core competency, but it is not part of your business model today. 
  • What you should “Acquire” – the market is telling you they want something that would fit into your business model, but you don’t have a core competency for it.  This is an opportunity to gain additional insight for potential companies to acquire.
  • Areas to “Evaluate” – this is something that is part of your business model and it is a core competency, but the market is not willing or interested in buying it.  This is an area you should look to eliminate or sunset the solution or product.

Validate Your Plan with Your Most Important Customers

My client learned that the best way to capture the areas outlined above was through his Advisory Council.  The value of a well-managed Advisory Council is that they can help you capture strategy, marketing, sales, service, product, and merger/acquisition information all at the same time.   

At their inaugural Council meeting, members were presented three specific initiatives for feedback.  The first was a legacy product they had for years—a “me too” in the market. The second was a new product they were getting pressure from sales to develop.  And finally, the third was to look at potential acquisition targets that would fit their business model, but for which they did not currently have a core competency.

The result of the feedback is what my client shared with his leadership team outlined in the beginning of this article.  And it saved his company over $10 million … all from listening to his customers.

Make 2012 a great year by seizing your Golden Opportunity.  Engage the decision makers of your most strategic customers to gain valuable market insight to help drive your strategic planning.

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The Fuel of Innovation

Recently, I attended the annual ISBM Members Meeting at Penn State University. ISBM is short for the Institute for the Study of Business Markets and is a center of excellence in Penn State University's Smeal College of Business Administration. They are comprised of a global network of researchers, educators and day-to-day practitioners in the field of business-to-business marketing, and led by Executive Director Ralph Olivia. Their mission is to expand the research and teaching of business-to-business marketing and sales in academia and to improve the overall practice of business-to-business marketing and sales in the industry.
head cogs
This year's meeting was themed, "Reinventing Innovation: Driving Growth Beyond the Product" in Business Markets. Ralph and his team assembled an outstanding agenda that included speakers from Wesco, USG, Lord, and United Technologies to discuss innovation, value creation, driving growth, and best practices.  I was particularly intrigued, and energized by, the first keynote speaker Larry Keeley, President & Co-Founder of Doblin, Inc. (a Chicago-based think tank). Larry's discussion focused on INNOVATION FUNDAMENTALS (how innovation drives growth), which talked about the need and the process to driving organic growth. It was an outstanding (and highly entertaining) presentation, followed by many questions from the audience.

Larry's key take-away was that innovation is the key driver of growth. Companies that are able to simultaneously innovate across multiple "innovation types" will develop offerings that are more difficult to copy and that generate higher returns. Those innovation types can be grouped into a logical framework comprised of 4 key areas: Finance, Process, Offering, and Delivery. Within each key area, are the more detailed, structural drivers known as the "Ten Types of Innovation":

  1. Business Model
  2. Networking
  3. Enabling Process
  4. Core Process
  5. Product Performance
  6. Product System
  7. Service
  8. Channel
  9. Brand
  10. Customer Experience

Mr. Keeley provided detailed explanations along with excellent examples, to drive home his theme that these methods should be engrained in your culture to best position your organization to develop the next "Innovation Frontiers." The closing stressed three things organizations "must do":

  1. Systematically develop sophisticated offerings (using at least 6 of the 10 Types of Innovation)
  2. Identify "what's coming next" 
  3. Reinvent your enterprise so innovation is "not optional" - engraining these concepts into your cultural DNA

The second "must do" is by far the most challenging and the one many companies struggle with. Essentially, it is the fuel that will propel the vehicle. So how do you do this - and not just once, but consistently and iteratively? It's a tough task but, in my experience, the companies that excel in this area, are the companies that have a methodology and consistent process to gather, synthesize, and act on CUSTOMER INPUT.

You can have an outstanding business model, established processes, world-class product development, great channels, and strong brand but still miss the mark by a mile without customer input (can you say "New Coke"?!). Do you want to consistently create true market alignment with the most impact?

  • Leverage the voice of the customer
  • Obtain your customer's input EARLY AND OFTEN 

Your customers are on the cutting edge of their respective industries, and will gladly lead you to "what's coming next" - provided you ask. You'll also find that, as you deliver on their inputs, you will move up the value curve and become positioned as a trusted advisor.

I enthusiastically agree with Larry as he has described engraining the innovation types into your corporate culture. Additionally, you need to engrain the concept of regular customer dialog and input. So, how do we do this? What are the best ways to obtain customer input and feedback? There are numerous methods but you must start with the foundation that this WILL NOT be a one-time "event". It needs to be an on-going, committed conversation with your customers. Create a regular forum, along with a sense of "community" that includes internal resources and customers, and you will have the "fuel" to take your innovation vehicle and your company, anywhere you want!


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Is your Customer Advisory Council Yielding the Results it Should?

 

As a business leader, how do you know if your Customer Advisory Council is yielding you the strategic results it should?   
High Yield StocksStocks

An Advisory Council is a huge opportunity to gain insight on your strategic, marketing, sales, services, product and merger/acquisition opportunities.  This insight when executed properly yields companies Sustainable, Predictable, Profitable Growth.

If you are not getting this level of insight and results, you need to look at how you started the process.  I recently observed an advisory council meeting where the executives felt that their advisory council meetings were getting stale.   We did an assessment and discovered several things:Stocks

  • Internal Alignment – Executive internal alignment was lacking. The Executives each had different ideas of why they had an advisory council and the results it should yield.  The result was the executives treated this like an event that happens twice a year
  • Company Priorities - When we evaluated this meeting as well as went back to their first meeting, we identified that the agenda’s never tied back to the company priorities.
  • Decision Maker Mix - They had technical and business leaders on their council – The decisions will always go to the lowest common denominator, which in their case went to technical discussions.

Based on what we identified, it was not surprising that the executives felt the advisory council was getting stale.     They were completely missing a huge opportunity to help them continue to transform their business to achieve the high growth they desire.

First of all, the executive team needs to understand the value that a decision maker council can have on your business.  Once you have alignment there, you need to look your planning process.   The executive team should look at their business priorities and align the agenda to drive outcomes that fit into those priorities.   Finally, once you have alignment, you have mapped this to your company priorities, it will become very clear who would be the right type of decision maker on your council.

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