Did you notice the rules of marketing have changed?

If you’re like many of us who have been around for a while (I’m pushing four decades as a marketer), you’ve noticed that the old standbys aren’t working as well as they used to. Somewhere along the line, the web changed things.

In the old days, when you wanted to market a product or service, you took out your wallet and set about interrupting people you thought might be interested by running ads in the magazines, radio stations or TV shows where you thought they might be. Well, targets, er people have gotten a lot better at ignoring your interruptions.

This old school style of marketing still works. But less well than it used to. Today, buyers more often than not, aren’t waiting to be interrupted, but are out looking for your product or service. The question is, will you be found?

Being something of an autodidact, a couple of months ago I started researching the literature as they say, and I found quite a bit about the topic, and as is often the case, a book title often crystalizes a new model for thinking about this problem. It turns out that the traditional marketing methods that are declining in effectiveness are called “Outbound Marketing.” This is, as you’d expect, in contrast to the new approach, “Inbound Marketing.”

If you feel like you’d like to do some catch-up on understanding all these changes and how they should impact your marketing thinking, I recommend a couple of books:

Inbound Marketing, Get Found using Google, Social Media and Blogs, by Brian Halligan and Darmesh Shah. (who’ve built a business helping companies get good at it).

The New Rules of Marketing and PR, by David Meerman Scott

Report Finds Social Media Engagement Drives Revenue

The more deeply a company engages with social media, the more likely the company is to increase revenue, says a research study conducted by Altimeter and Wetpaint. Titled “The World’s Most Valuable Brands: Who’s Most Engaged‚” the report ranks the Top 100 global brands in terms of their social media participation. The report claims to show a statistically significant correlation between higher social media engagement yielding higher company revenue.

We found the researchers methodology illuminating. In our experience, many companies are using social media but few of them are quantifying their efforts or directly measuring ROI. Most companies don’t even know what social media success looks like.

Altimeter and Wetpaint set out a way to quantify a company’s social media marketing efforts by evaluating 40 different attributes. The resulting metric is called “engagement.”

What they found is:

  • Financial performance correlates with engagement. Companies that are deeper and more broadly engaged with social media outperform their competition in revenue and profits. For example, the study found that the most socially engaged companies typically enjoyed revenue growth of 18% on average over the last 12 months, while the laggards saw revenues fall 6%.
  • Engagement differs by industry. Not surprisingly, technology and media companies are most engaged with social channels while financial service firms are among the lowest.
  • The researchers are quick to point out that their findings are correlations, not direct cause and effect. However, it’s quite clear there is a strong relationship between a company’s social engagement and its financial success.

You can download the 19-page report showing their methodology and full list of 100 companies they evaluated.

 

Why Discipline is Critical for Successful Demand Generation

 

At a recent PWB staff meeting, we sidetracked, as we often do, into a discussion of what makes for a successful demand generation program. It dawned on me that a common characteristic was various forms of discipline, so here are some thoughts on the disciplines of successful demand generation.

A Disciplined Point of View

First and foremost, successful demand generation require one to take and maintain a point of view that looks at the whole marketing and sales process, not just individual efforts or programs. Look at how it all fits together (or doesn’t) from the customer’s point of view, and in terms of your goal.

The Discipline to Work Together

Many companies have serious discontinuity between marketing and sales. Often they don’t ever talk, let alone work cooperatively. Demand Generation requires mutual respect and a disciplined commitment to work together to achieve common goals. Sometimes this can be solved structurally, by having both functions report to the same person.

The Discipline to Test

The secret to success is often just to stop doing things that don‚Äôt work, or as we say here at PWB, “stop doing stupid stuff!” This easier said than done, as many companies can’t tell what things in their program are stupid. Sometimes they’re just standing too close to see it (which is where PWB’s outside perspective can help a lot). Sometimes it’s because there are too many variables. It takes discipline to stop doing the things we’ve always done even though they’re outlived their usefulness. It takes discipline to focus on one variable at a time so you can determine its impact. You have to be willing to fail to be willing to test, and then be willing to pay attention and act on the results of the test.

The Discipline to Make the Results Visible

I had the privilege of working in an organization with a very well developed and disciplined demand generation process. I was responsible for the entire marketing and sales effort, so I could control the whole process — from spot TV buys to telesales commission systems. At the time I didn’t like it, but hindsight showed me the value. We had quarterly Board Meetings were I had to stand up, share what we did that quarter, and show how it compared to plan. Having those facts out there for God and everyone to see was a big motivating factor for me and my team. It also made it possible for a bunch of smart people to see the whole process, and help me improve it. What you measure, you motivate!