Insights

Rebuilding the view of the customer for the experiential shift

Glen DrummondGlen Drummond, Chief Innovation Officer, Quarry

Rebuilding the view of the customer for the experiential shift

“Product-focus” is increasingly contrasted (unfavorably) with “customer- focus.” So is this a bad time to be a “Product Marketer?”  No, “product marketers” are responsible for targeting insight. And so they can set the stage for differentiating customer experiences through the depth and quality of that insight.   But there is a proviso:  Segmentation frameworks that were optimized for product-centric marketing are not good vessels for the kind of insight that leads to experiential differentiation.

“Segmentation frameworks are technology.  Specifically, they are “conceptual infrastructure.”  Like other infrastructure technology, they often operate unnoticed … until something breaks.    Like other infrastructure technology, they are subject to occasional obsolescence.   And the trend of customer experience to become a major differentiation factor across many industries means there is a wave of such obsolescence underway.”

Watch Glen’s presentation here

 

Product Marketing as Architects of Growth

Bruce WarrenBruce Warren, SVP Product Marketing, VisionCritical

Product Marketing is undervalued in many organizations today, but this is not a fault of management. Rather, it reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the value the function brings. It is only by clearly defining and articulating the role and how it can contribute to profitable growth that this can be overcome. The presentation covers the key challenges and opportunities of establishing Product Marketing at B2B technology companies.

Big Idea:

“Product Marketers should think about their role in two key areas: 1. “Product” focused work (market requirements, buyer personas, competitive intelligence, pricing & packaging, etc.) and 2. “Marketing” focused work (product/solution positioning, marketing planning, Public Relations and Analyst Relations support, sales tools and collateral, etc.). Getting the balance right for your organization’s needs is key to driving the value of the PMM function at your company both for individual contributors and managers.”

Watch Bruce’s presentation here

The Bold Re-invention of B2B Marketing at IBM

Mei BurginMei Burgin, Cloud Marketing Leader, IBM North America

B2B buying behavior has evolved. To engage and attract clients today, we need a new marketing approach that revolves around the buyer.

We must use data—at every stage of the process—to see, understand, and respond to the needs of our buyers. We must dramatically shift:

  • From product-focused to buyer-centric
  • From push marketing to inbound, digital engagement
  • From imprecise segmentation to buyer cohorts

To this end, IBM has spearheaded the “New Work of Marketing” initiative. Mei Burgin discussed key learnings so far, surrounding “Diamond Teams”, Activation, Culture Change and their 26-Step Operating Model.

Watch Mei’s presentation here

Product Marketing to Empowered Customers

Jonathan Grieb

Jonathan Grieb , Practice Leader

CEB

The buying environment is changing: customers have more information sources and are more empowered than ever to make decisions about their problems, potential solutions and your offerings. The result is a disturbing trend towards commoditization, where customers are no longer willing to pay for the differences in performance. CEB shares how winning suppliers challenge their customers with new ideas about their business and employ modern marketing strategies that re-frame how customers assign value to those differences.

We’ve included a link to Jonathan’s video presentation.

Product Marketing as Architects of Growth at Influitive

Richard WeissRichard Weiss, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Influitive

At the end of the day your customers are people. As Product Marketers we have to stop thinking about them as logos and learn to build lasting relationships that are give and take to get to know them on a 1-to-1 level. When you do, you reap the rewards. They become a part of your marketing stack and in indispensable resource.

Big Idea: “Build a relationship with your customer that goes beyond the transaction and you’ll be paid back in dividends.”

Watch Richard’s presentation here

Sorting out Product Management & Product Marketing

Jeff Lash

Jeff Lash, Group Director, Go-to-Market

SiriusDecisions

The relationship between Product Marketing and Product Management can sometimes be strained, contentious or non-existent. There is often confusion or conflict about roles and responsibilities and highly-charged opinions about how the functions should work together. However, in high performing organizations, there is close collaboration between Product Marketing and Product Management. The presentation explored the best practices for both functions, including roles and responsibilities, activities to promote interlock and the evolution of each role.

Insight:

“Just as important as clear responsibilities is the recognition of how the two functions need to interlock throughout the entire innovation, go-to-market and product life cycle process. Even when one role takes the lead on a specific activity or deliverable, they cannot complete it in isolation or just throw things over the wall to each other. High performing product organizations recognize the importance of both roles and structure their processes to ensure alignment.”

We’ve included a link to Jeff’s video presentation.

Rethink Product Marketing. Hint: It’s not Marcom!

Jon Gatrell

Jon Gatrell, Instructor
Pragmatic Marketing Inc.

The market is moving too fast for legacy methods and processes in Product Marketing.  With buyers, users and markets evolving, the strategic planning and delivery models for marketers need to change.  This presentation provides a starting point to start thinking agile and changing the planning process for marketing teams.

Insight:
“Knowing your market and applying market driving priorities are critical to positioning your business and products for market leadership.”

We’ve included a link to Jon’s video presentation.

There Is More Than One B2B Buyer’s Journey

To help our clients understand their buyers, SiriusDecisions conducts significant and objective primary research. One of the most interesting discoveries revealed via our most recent b-to-b buying study is that there is not one buyer’s journey. In fact, there are three common, distinct scenarios of buying behavior that we isolated. It’s important to know which buying scenario that an offering or campaign is associated with in order to align go-to-market strategies to how b-to-b buyers buy.

Buying Spectrum

Buying Scenario: Committee

This is a highly complex purchasing process; the buying decision is phased, structured and hierarchical. This scenario is typically associated with large buying entities, most commonly organizations with $1B or more in annual revenue, and representative of offering types with price ranges in the hundreds of thousands to more than $1 million. The length of the buying cycle clusters around six months; however, we observed many instances of the purchasing decision lasting longer – as much as a year or more to make a decision to buy (licensed members can read the brief “The SiriusDecisions Buying Decision Process Framework”). In a committee scenario, our study showed  that six to 10 individuals were involved in the decision to purchase across multiple departments or functions (buying centers). The committee buying scenario requires the highest level of interaction between the buying entity and the provider organization to facilitate a decision to purchase an offering (licensed members can read the brief “The SiriusDecisions Buying Interaction Model”). We observed, on average, approximately 18 interactions (nine non-human intereactions and nine human-to-human interactions) occurring in this type of scenario.

Buying Scenario

Buying Scenario: Consensus

Consensus was the most common buying scenario that SiriusDecisions observed across all organizational size dimensions. Consensus is a team-based buying scenario where multiple people are involved across the organization. The typical price range for an offering in this scenario was $50-500MM USD (with longer tails for billion-plus for organizations with more than $500MM in revenue, and longer tails for under $50MM for emerging organizations [under $50MM in revenue]). In this buying scenario, the decision is horizontal and canvasses multiple departments or functions. It is not as complex as the committee buying decision because does not go to a senior level executive team, but it is still moderately complex as consensual decisionmaking is much harder to facilitate, given there are so many dynamics given the involvement of multiple buyer personas that must be influenced and informed in order to attain the vote to purchase the offering. We observed, on average, approximately 14 (seven non-human interactions and seven human-to-human interactions) occurring in this type of scenario.

Buying Scenario: Independent

This is a simple buying scenario where one or just a couple of people were involved in the decision to purchase, and the decision was easier to facilitate than committee or consensus decisions. The decision to purchase is made by one or two buyer personas and does not go either horizontal (consensus) or vertical (committee); the decision remains in a specific function or department. Thus, because the purchase is independent of the consensual voting or formal committee approval-type dynamics and there is no need to gain consensus represented by the other buying scenarios, the decision can be made independently or in isolation. It’s important to not confuse this scenario with transactional or e-commerce purchases. While the independent scenario is most related to those types of purchasing methods, our research has identified offerings purchased over the Internet in the other buying scenarios as well. This buying scenario is the least complex, as there is less impact from internal influencers and the provider only has to inform and persuade one or two key buyer personas. This makes it much easier to devise messaging, content and campaigns. The independent buying scenario requires the least amount of interaction between the buying entity and the provider organization to facilitate a decision to purchase an offering. We observed, on average, approximately 12 interactions (six non-human interactions and six human-to-human interactions) occurring in this type of scenario.

The 2015 SiriusDecisions B-to-B Buying Study reports observations from studying the recent b-to-b buying decisions of over 1,300 b-to-b executives across North America and Europe. For more information on the reports (available to members of the SiriusDecisions portfolio marketing research and advisory service), download the brochure. For members of the portfolio marketing service, click here to read the full research brief with deeper data and insights.

Why Marketing Should Go Agile

Marketing has changed more in the last five to seven years than at any other time during my career. The pace of change has quickened, there is more direct pressure for marketing to demonstrate its contribution to the bottom line, many more channels of communication are available to reach increasingly fragmented audiences, and all of this must be done with scarce and expensive talent and resources.

Despite all this change, many of the core processes of marketing remain unchanged. We still spend time writing thick marketing plans, constructing yearly budgets, launching big-bang ad campaigns and targeting broad audiences (instead of having conversations with people).

Some marketers, including myself, are taking a different approach—one based on agile development. Software developers faced a similar crisis in 2001. They were pressured to get more done with scarce resources, and to adapt rapidly to change. They responded with a set of principles and a methodology called agile development, and it has transformed software programming.  I believe that we can apply many of the same principles and methods to marketing and transform our discipline.

What Is Agile Marketing?

Agile marketing is an iterative and experimental approach to marketing that values adaptability and responsiveness to change over long-term planning. It also values individuals and two-way marketing interactions, as well as collaboration among the various marketing disciplines. There are six core values of agile marketing.

Responding to change over following a plan. It’s not that agile marketers don’t do any planning; they do. However, they put a premium on adapting and responding to the marketplace through constant adjustments to their plans and priorities on a weekly or biweekly basis—rather than an annual or semiannual planning cycle.

Rapid iterations over big-bang campaigns. Few marketing campaigns can get it exactly right the first time, and there is also value in speed to market. Agile marketing recognizes this and values an iterative approach. It encourages marketers to try something out quickly and fine-tune it as they go, rather than putting all of their energies and dollars behind a big-bang campaign.

Testing and data over opinions. If you’re iterating, how do you know something is working or not working? Data makes the difference.

Individuals and interactions over one-size-fits-all. Agile marketers realize that there isn’t just a market for a product, but many individuals who make individual buying decisions. Buyers make their decisions as the result of conversations, not through traditional one-way advertising. Agile marketers seek to foster those conversations, and provide an individualized buying experience. Think of how Amazon customizes its recommendations to your unique purchase history;
this is an example of individuals and interactions.

Collaboration over silos and hierarchy. In this era of specialization, it is tempting to organize marketing departments around skill sets: PR, advertising, social media, etc. But to the buyer, the product or the company is the product or the company, regardless of the medium used for communication. Collaboration is necessary to ensure not only consistency of message, but also a user experience that is consistent and pleasing. Teams that collaborate also get more done.

Agile marketing is a mindset: Marketers who practice agile marketing put the customer experience at the center of everything they do. They focus on solving buyer problems and the buyer’s journey, not on selling and the sales cycle.

Lastly, agile marketing is about aligning marketing with the business and sales goals of the organization, getting stuff done quickly and documenting the results with transparency and accountability.

Planning for Change

How do you “plan for change”?  How do you organize your marketing team to respond to new demands when you don’t know what those demands might be, or how you’ll address them?

The first step is to admit that your priorities will be in a state of constant change and to throw out those tools that give a false sense of security about the amount of control you have over that change. Throw out yearly marketing plans, yearly marketing budgets and rigid organizational charts. Instead, revise your priorities, including how you spend both your time and your budget, on a regular, frequent schedule: at least once per month, and if you’re really ambitious, once every two weeks.

Second, make it someone’s job to rapidly respond to changes and opportunities in the market. Depending on the size of your organization, create a team, assign a person or make it 50 percent of someone’s job to respond in real time (somewhere less than 24 hours, perhaps less than 4 hours) to particular kinds of opportunities such as competitive threats, newsjacking and brand-damaging events.

Scrum

Scrum is a formal methodology that can help you revise your priorities. Agile marketers use it to manage their work, just as agile development teams use scrum to manage software development. It’s beyond the scope of this article to cover everything you need to know about scrum, and many of the readers of Pragmatic Marketer are very familiar with both agile and scrum. Instead, let me outline the basics of scrum, and discuss how scrum for marketing is somewhat different than scrum for software development.

Scrum starts with the marketing backlog, which is basically the list of all the potential activities that marketing could do. The marketing backlog can be seen as the “wish list,” although it should be cleaned up and prioritized over time.

Unlike scrum for agile software development, most marketers do not write user stories. Instead, they break tasks down into manageable chunks that are typically half a day to 1 week in size, describing what’s to be done, who the audience is, what the desired outcome is and how success will be measured.

At the sprint planning session, the marketing team meets with executive management and sales for 30-60 minutes to hear about the current business and sales priorities, adding any new items that come up into the marketing backlog. The team then prioritizes work off the marketing backlog, accepting enough work to fill the length of the sprint (usually 2-4 weeks of work).

Although scrum as practiced by developers requires assigning each item story points (a measure of the complexity of the task), I find that marketing teams tend to keep it simple, deciding for each task whether it is a half-day, full-day, half-week or full-week task.  Anything that is bigger or longer than a week’s worth of work should be broken down into smaller tasks.

Once the team has 2-4 weeks’ worth of prioritized activities, they go to work. This 2-4 week period of getting things done is known as the sprint.

One of the most important rituals of scrum is known as the daily standup. Every day, or at least 3 times per week, the team meets for no more than 15 minutes. Each person on the team answers three questions:

  • What work did I complete yesterday?
  • What am I working on today?
  • What issues, if any, are blocking me and preventing me from moving forward?

When the sprint is finished, the sprint review is held. Executive management and sales are invited, and the marketing team reviews the results of the sprint. For software developers, the sprint review is a time to demo working software. For marketers, new marketing materials are handed out or shown, new websites are demonstrated and the results of any mini-campaigns are shared. The sprint review provides a degree of accountability and transparency that is sometimes lacking in marketing. It answers the question, “What do you guys in marketing do anyway?”

The sprint retrospective is a short internal meeting of the marketing team to talk about what worked and what didn’t work during the last sprint. It allows for adjustments to the process and methodologies used by the team over time.

Who Is Practicing Agile Marketing?

Jascha Kaykas-Wolff is one of the early adopters of agile marketing. He has used the methodology at companies as diverse as Webtrends, Involver, MindJet and his current company, BitTorrents, where he is chief marketing officer. You can read some of his posts on agile marketing at marketingiteration.com. Jascha credits agile marketing with helping him to create an agile culture:

Agile processes and tools are actually install mechanisms for culture. By requesting people to work together in certain ways, track specific metrics and check in with each other at specified intervals, companies can put in place the building blocks for people to interact in positive, productive ways.

EMC is also an early adopter of agile marketing. You can read about their success with agile marketing at Scott Brinker’s Chief Marketing Technologist blog, www.chiefmartec.com as well as watch a video of David Quinn, EMC’s senior director of corporate marketing, presenting to the Agile Marketing Meetup group in Boston on YouTube.

Quinn credits agile marketing with changing how EMC launches new products and interacts with the business groups. It not only has helped the marketing team with time management (and eliminated those long “coordination” meetings), but also provided greater accountability and transparency.

Lastly, I should mention Frank Days, whose blog Tangyslice.com has been a source of inspiration for me. He has implemented agile marketing at Novell and Correlsense, and his approach to agile marketing is refreshingly pragmatic. He likes agile marketing because it helps him get better results, plain and simple.

Jim Ewel is a startup CEO and blogger on the topic of agile marketing.  He is currently the CEO of InDemand Interpreting, which provides language-interpreting services to hospitals, clinics and physician practices nationwide. Previously, he was the CEO of Adometry and GoAhead Software. Earlier in his career, he was a VP of server marketing at Microsoft. You can read more about agile marketing at his blog, AgileMarketing.net. – See more at: http://pragmaticmarketing.com/resources/why-marketing-should-go-agile#sthash.3BfWS6o3.dpuf