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  • HITEC Special: Revenue Strategy: Not Just a Fancy New Name for Revenue Management

    By Cindy Estis Green. A strategic view of revenue calls for proactive business mix planning and decision-making around deployed resources, well beyond reacting to what comes over the transom. Excerpt from the 2018 HITEC Bytes Special Report.

Three Proven Practices to Overcome MarTech Failure

visionedge marketing ·27 July 2018
How organizations approach their MarTech differs among various organizations. The 16thannual 16th annual Marketing Performance Management (MPM) benchmark study found that the group known as the Value Creators (those that earn 90 or greater grade by the C-Suite) are far more likely to have a strategic Marketing Ops function. A number of characteristics distinguish this Best-in-Class (BIC) from their colleagues named the Sales Enablers and Campaign Producers (the group earning 80-89 and the group earning 79 or less named the Campaign Producers respectively). The Marketing Ops role is present in 82% of the Value Creators organizations compared to only 54% of Campaign Producers who have this role.One of the primary responsibilities among Marketing Ops among Value Creators is Technology and Automation. In fact, it is the second primary responsibility after Marketing Performance Management of the Marketing Ops function for Value Creators.In 2018, Scott Brinker of Chiefmartec.com shared his Marketing Technology Landscape, which identified 6,829 solutions offered by 6,242 unique companies. Econsultancy found that that 51% of organizations use 21 or more MarTech solutions. MarTech still accounts for as much as 20% or more of the Marketing budget. As the MarTech landscape continues to expand, it will become increasingly important for Marketing organizations to be able to successfully implement and deploy the technology. And yet, a good portion of MarTech remains shelf ware.In our work, we have found four major causes contributing to both low MPM scores and unsuccessful MarTech implementations:Automating outdated/flawed processesClinging to metrics that don't matter to the businessNot aligned with the top line business goalsNot adapting to changes rapidly enoughOur findings reflect the findings of other experts. Buyers often fall into the trap of thinking that software will solve their problems, when software is just one tool. Ignoring the necessary upfront work on processes, metrics, and change management will lead to MarTech failure and, ultimately, to low ROI.The Success Behind the MarTech of the Best in ClassWhat can we learn from the BIC groups who are successfully implementing MarTech and earning the high marks from the C-Suite? Our conversations with these organizations reveals that in some way they all leverage three proven practices.Proven Practice 1 : Define Your ProcessesMarketing runs on processes: planning processes, reporting processes, customer journey mapping, content creation processes, opportunity management processes, etc. However, if your current processes are not effective or efficient, then automating them with a workflow application won't improve anything. You'll just get faster at following a bad process.Make sure all of your processes are defined and documented before you implement, configure or deploy any technology. Before you implement a workflow application, map and process-engineer issues.The same applies to Marketing planning and Marketing dashboard applications. It's hard to create the right dashboard if you're not reporting on the right metrics and measures. A Marketing plan that is accurately aligned with the business will achieve high marks from the C-Suite.Proven Practice 2: Know the Problem You Are Trying to SolveOften, it's a lack of change management that robs you of ROI. People cling to the old methods when implementing a new system, and then when those methods continue to fail, they blame the new system.Be clear about the problem you are trying to solve, solve it, and then automate it. The old adage applies: "What you put in is what you get out." Your Marketing plan should be outcome-based and customer-centric before you try to upload it into the application. The same applies to alignment, accountability, and analytics initiatives.Proven Practice 3: Support the ChangeIt is imperative to allocate sufficient resources for the change management issues related to new processes, metrics, alignment and accountability. Otherwise you'll remain as ineffective and inefficient as before.Most companies we talk with don't have the bandwidth or the expertise to commit internal resources to the implementation of new technology. Expertise reduces the time any task takes, and time is a component of ROI, so they engage external resources to help. Regardless of the provider type you choose (a MarTech vendor's consulting/customer success group, a MarTech vendor partner or an independent Marketing firm), they should have plenty of years of experience re-engineering the relevant Marketing processes, creating metrics that matter, assembling actionable dashboards, guiding change management, etc. They should also have proven methodologies, tools and templates to speed the accomplishment of your goals, and of course, they should have solid, world-class customer references.Considering a MarTech implementation and want to learn more about proven practices to make it run smoothly? Schedule a complimentary 20-minute conversation with Laura today.

How To Use Customer Insights To Spur Growth

visionedge marketing ·28 May 2018
After years of focusing on controlling costs, growth has moved to the top of the priority list for many companies. In a survey of 1,600 senior executives by KPMG, 96% indicated that their companies are "are in the midst of business transformation planning or execution." Business transformations are challenging. A McKinsey study found that just 26% of respondents who said, "the transformations they're most familiar with have been very or completely successful at both improving performance and equipping the organization to sustain improvements over time." While many organizations strive for transformation, few succeed.Why? While there are many underlying reasons, organizational complexity is considered the biggest barrier to to successful transformation. Companies set on tackling transformations should do four things to break down this barrier:Excel at the basics: Create clear stretch targets and define a clear structure.Break down the change process: Instead of focusing on one large goal, chunk into clearly defined smaller initiatives that can be celebrated.Exhibit strong leadership to maintain the energy for change.Build a culture to support, and the capabilities to drive, continuous improvement.When it comes to business transformations of any type, C-Suite leaders often need the Marketing team to step up. To help with these initiatives, CEOs expect their Marketing leaders to:Drive revenue growthOwn the customer experienceDig in to data-based insights and operate in real timeMaster metrics that matterWith this emphasis on growth, Marketing organization's must address its processes, systems and tools, data and analytics, alignment, and accountability. At a minimum, a Marketing organization focused on growth needs three primary capabilities:A data-driven, customer-centric culture along with the processes for transforming data into insights.The systems and tools to maintain consistent implementation of processes and driving effectiveness and efficiency to deliver on growth.A culture of performance management and measurement.With Data You Can Navigate Your Growth Strategy We live in the "Age of the Customer," where "empowered customers are shaping business strategy." As a result, creating a growth strategy has become more complex. Customer insights are mission critical to develop and navigate your strategy. The sheer volume of data presents both more opportunities and challenges than ever before.Being able to derive valuable insights from the data is what sets Marketing organizations who thrive apart from the rest of the pack. Business leaders depend on the insights derived from this data to make strategic decisions. Marketing is in the ideal position to enable the customer-centric organization and to decipher the data.Once the data is captured and organized, Marketers who want to earn a seat at the table in influence decision should analyze the data designed to identify at least four dimensions:Segment/categories and product opportunities for growthExisting and potential customers to engage and motivateWhat materials and assets, such as content, messaging, and positioning, should be brought into playHow and when these assets should be distributed and through channels, influencers, and partnersEssentially, as Marketers, you need to understand how to effectively use data to support upstream decisionsas well as to sync your content to your customer's buying process.While a great deal of data can be captured from digital platforms, marketing automation systems, customer relationship management systems, and other technologies, you still have to reach out and connect directly with customers to gather competitive market intelligence.Four foundational initiatives that support this type of intelligence include:Customer and technical advisory boardsMarket and customer segmentationPersona developmentCustomer journey and experience mappingMany of these efforts take good-old-fashioned market research.As you've probably surmised, your Marketing team's data fluency will directly affect its credibility and influence. Therefore, your organization's ability to effectively impact customer acquisition and retention requires strong data-onboarding capabilities.Take Time to Do the Analytics RightMany of the companies we work with operate with limited resources. It is common for organizations to face time or talent shortages when it comes to obtaining data, applying analytics, and deducing the insights to make appropriate customer, market, and product decisions. Nevertheless, there is value in taking the time to make these decisions as accurately as possible because they affect the acceleration of customers' brand preference, product adoption, and share of wallet, which in turn impact market traction, penetration, and growth.Building these capabilities requires mobilizing the Marketing organization and investing differently - all while maintaining current performance. This is no small task. However, this is why companies bring in outside experts. Using their honed expertise, consultants from the outside looking in are able to:Transfer skillsAccelerate momentum andEnsure that lessons learned are documented.Whether your organization decides to reach for help or go at it alone, these resources can help your team to gain the insights to drive decisions designed to accelerate growth:Read our How-To Guides. In particular, we recommend The Role of Leadership Councils in Creating Marketing Centers of Excellence and Intuition To Wisdom: Transforming Data Into Models and Actionable Insights.Listen to educational recordings. An excellent place to begin is with How to Make Marketing More Relevant to the C-Suite and the Creation, Care and Feeding of an Analytics Center of Excellence.Read the case studies in the analytics section. These can be great inspiration to learn how a little help allowed companies to make it all happen. We suggest starting with these two:Conducting Primary Research to Explore New Market OpportunitiesCustomer and Market Data Provide Sales and Marketing Direction
Article by Laura Patterson

How to Save a Year of Research for Your Account-Based Marketing?

visionedge marketing · 9 April 2018
We've enjoyed the privilege of being engaged with a number of our customers for nearly two decades and last year were fortunate to add new projects and new customers. Our 2017 target for the number of new customers was significant, so, with all the rage about Account Based Marketing (ABM), we decided to experiment with the concept. Being a data-driven organization, our first action was to conduct research on the topic as well as to dig into our own data to understand the best way to deploy ABM for our company. And being a metrics-based organization, we wanted to establish specific measures of success, key performance targets, and a quantifiable outcome. While we work with firms of all types in all industries around the world, for this experiment we focused on our sweet spot of mid-Market global US-based B2B companies. Over the course of 2017 we put our ABM strategy and plan into place. As many of you begin to deploy ABM, we thought our processes and lessons learned might serve you well as you embark on your 2018 ABM efforts. We'd welcome your comments and suggestions.For those of you still coming up to speed with the concept, ABM is a strategic approach for connecting and engaging with a clearly defined set of target accounts. Personalization is a key component of ABM. This wasn't new to many of us at VisionEdge Marketing. Earlier in our careers, all of us were responsible for what in those days we called target-account or strategic-account Marketing, which has morphed into what today is known as Account-Based Marketing (ABM).How did this year long ABM adventure start?As with all well-planned initiatives, we began by gaining insight into what the effort would entail. Taking our own counsel to seek third-party expertise to develop skills in new areas, in 2016 we attended a FlipMyFunnel gathering to learn the nuances of today's ABM. Then we had the opportunity to connect with long-time associate Jon Miller, who is now at the helm of Engagio. Using guidance and best practices from these experts and others, we designed our ABM strategy and program.The first step was to decide who we wanted to engage with, and our strategy. We set aside the first quarter of 2017 for this phase. During this time frame, we selected 533 companies along with their C-level and Marketing executive members that we believed could benefit the most from our expertise in customer insights, competitive intelligence, marketing analytics, marketing alignment, marketing accountability, and marketing processes. We then built a database for this group and found emails, LinkedIn (LI) profiles, mailing addresses, and phone numbers for each of the contacts. We conducted further research to find and identify primary triggers and personas.We used the triggers as the basis for our strategy and messaging. We set performance targets for both response rates (such as open and click through rates), conversion-to-conversation rates, as well as request for proposal and proposal-to-close rates and total net new customers.The second step was development and execution. In the second quarter we designed our ABM playbook which included a first half and second half of the year series of "plays" by persona and company. The Ascend2 study found that ABM is more effective when messages and content are personalized. We followed suit and personalized and customized each message.The first half of the year playbook consisted of a series of 6 persona based emails to be distributed every week starting mid-April through until Memorial Day weekend. We are avid fans of Co-Scheduler's headline analyzerand the email tester and employed both of these tools. White papers, case studies, and educational content were offered in each email, tailored to the persona and the trigger.Everyone who opened more than one email received a personal follow-up call during the first two weeks of June. We made our response rates targets but the conversion rates were below expectation.We took a step back in the summer and revised our second half of the year's plays based on what we learned. We refined our areas of focus and messaging. We expanded our touches and channels. In the second half, we doubled- down on a list of 34 companies each with four personas.We designed a series of eight touches and incorporated social, video, and direct mail into the mix. This phase began with a personal LinkedIn (LI) invites and a personal custom video email. Then using the Enthusem platform we created a short personal direct mail for everyone on the list that also included a video that addresses alignment and accountability. This touch was followed with a personal email that included a link to a longer-version video focused on the topics of alignment and accountability (you can also see this video on our website). We gave email a break and moved to direct messaging on Twitter followed by a personal phone call. We anticipated that this phone call might result in leaving a voice mail and had specific messages for each person.We immediately followed all voice mail messages with an email that included a link to our explainer video (professionally produced). We ended the plays with a final LI message and final email message.How to Learn from Our Year-Long ABM ExperimentHere's the top three things we learned from this experiment that you might find helpful as you plan yours.Our targets aren't as active on certain social media platforms as we'd like to believe. While everyone on our list has a LI account, 82% had less than 100 connections and weren't involved in any groups. Only 3% had personal Twitter accounts.People movement presents a challenge. There were personnel changes weekly with nearly a third (28%) of the contacts having changed from the start of the initiative to the final touch. While we kept the database up to date and reinitiated touches for the new people, new people were focused on navigating their organizations and team. We attempted to follow people we connected with to their new organizations, but they too were focused on integrating into their new roles and organization.Return on Energy is low. Since this was our first formal attempt at ABM, we approached it as an experiment intentionally keeping the "sample" size manageable. And because it was an experiment, many of the steps were manual. The energy to personalize and customize messages was extensive, especially when the time to generate results is taken into account. This is not unusual. According toFlipMyFunnel, time to generate results is the number one challenge associated with ABM.Are you experimenting with ABM? We'd love to hear your own thoughts and takeaways. Share with us in the comments.
Article by Laura Patterson

What is the Expected ROI for Your Marketing Plan? And How to Do It

visionedge marketing · 5 March 2018
Determine your Marketing plan's ROI by arming your team with data related to finding, keeping and growing the value of customers.Start with these five easy steps:Identify the cost of everything in your marketing plan. Don't forget to factor in labor costs associated with each vehicle and program. If you don't know the labor costs, ask your finance team for an average hourly rate. Itemize each vehicle and program's cost and sum the total. This should add up to your total marketing budget.Determine the number of expected qualified engagement opportunities for each vehicle and program. For example, how many existing or prospective qualified attendees are expected to come to the trade show and/or webinar? How many qualified existing subscribers are reading the newsletter and/or email? If you can't quantify the expected engagement for a vehicle (some vehicles are in support of the overall program, but can't be easily quantified), use "0" and include its cost in the Marketing Plan ROI equation.Indicate the expected number of qualified new opportunities from existing AND prospective customers generated for each vehicle, program and the overall plan by using historical data, benchmark data or your best estimate,Gather the following information to do the calculation:Qualified Opportunity-to-Proposal %Proposal to Closed Deal %Average Order ValueApply the following formula:Total Number of Qualified Engagement Opportunities for all programs X Expected ResponseRate for all programs = Opportunities Generated Per YearOpportunities Generated/Year X Lead to Proposal %Number of Proposals X Average Close RateNumber of Closed Opportunities X Average Order Value = Expected RevenueExpected Revenue - Total Marketing Plan Cost = Marketing Plan ROIYou can use this same formula as a quick way to determine whether it makes sense to implement a program. This approach requires that you have an opportunity performance target in mind before you initiate any program.

Why Does Good Strategy Matter To The Bottom Line?

visionedge marketing · 6 December 2017
Strategy is fundamental to the success and sustainability of all organizations. It is about seizing opportunities and knowing which not to pursue, all while mitigating risk. Develop a Marketing strategy that stands the best chance of delivering on your current and FUTURE performance, productivity, and profit targets. A good strategy is designed to drive long-term growth and profit. Creating a strategy requires understanding your company, industry, customers, and competition. Members of the C-Suite recognize the value of developing and executing on a strategy and market performance.The business environment is fluid with technological, social, and political change occurring with increased frequency. Successful businesses realize that achieving growth while adapting to the rate of change and staying in tune with the market requires staying strategically nimble. There is no mistaking the growth mandate facing the C-Suite. The CMO Council and Deloitte study found that 70% of CEOs expect CMOs to lead this effort. Yet according the study, just 1 in 6 of the 200 participating CMOs reported spending a lot of their time teaming with leadership executives on global business and strategy. As a Marketing leader, if you're not participating in the conversation about strategy, you're not filling the requirements of your role.Strategy: The Most Important Choice Your Business Will Ever MakeStrategy is fundamental to the success and sustainability of all organizations. It is about seizing opportunities and knowing which not to pursue, all while mitigating risk. Develop a Marketing strategy that stands the best chance of delivering on your current and FUTURE performance, productivity, and profit targets. A good strategy is designed to drive long-term growth and profit. Creating a strategy requires understanding your company, industry, customers, and competition. Members of the C-Suite recognize the value of developing and executing on a strategy and market performance.The business environment is fluid with technological, social, and political change occurring with increased frequency. Successful businesses realize that achieving growth while adapting to the rate of change and staying in tune with the market requires staying strategically nimble. There is no mistaking the growth mandate facing the C-Suite. The CMO Council and Deloitte study found that 70% of CEOs expect CMOs to lead this effort. Yet according the study, just 1 in 6 of the 200 participating CMOs reported spending a lot of their time teaming with leadership executives on global business and strategy. As a Marketing leader, if you're not participating in the conversation about strategy, you're not filling the requirements of your role.Strategy: The Most Important Choice Your Business Will Ever MakeEntrepreneurial resource Gaeblersuggests good business strategy should inspire company expansion and enable you to explore business opportunities outside of your standard business practice. Customer insights,competitive intelligence, market research, and a clear understanding of your ecosystem, are all important considerations in strategy development. Armed with insights from your research, experience and expertise in the market and with your customers, you can explore new ideas for your company that enable you to find, keep, and grow the value of your customers and maintain or increase your competitive advantage.Your strategy is the backdrop against which you determine which opportunities to pursue - or just as importantly, which not to pursue; which operations to develop or streamline; and what skills your organization needs. Organizations develop strategies designed to protect and/or gain market share and to identify the opportunities that will yield the greatest return. Formulation of your strategy requires you to be acutely aware of, and prepared for, changing customer needs and potential shifts in your market.For most organizations, resources are finite. Your strategy dictates what resources, offers/services, operations, and capabilities are needed. When well-formulated, your strategy is an engine for increased productivity. Without clarity of strategy, your team is at risk of aimlessly moving from one activity to another.How to Bring Your Strategy to LifeA common output of your strategy is a strategic plan. Typically, a strategic plan outlines how the strategy will be achieved and specifies how desired results are expected to be achieved. These are often referred to as the strategic initiatives. The strategic initiatives are the basis for your organizations business outcomes.The plan clarifies the vision and increases the alignment across the organization. It serves as the reference point for decision making and the foundation for each of your functions' outcome-based measurable plan. It is our belief that a strategic plan is one of the most valuable efforts and assets for every organization. Your strategic plan focuses on your future. It is about what you will proactively do to create, deploy and measure your success.The Roadmap to the Best Strategic PlanIn the mid-1990's, Arthur Andersen conducted a survey which found that companies with a written strategic plan had 63% higher revenue growth and 100% more profit than those companies without a plan. A more current study by The Alternative Board (TAB) reported that three-quarters of the businesses surveyed believe that a written strategic plan causes their business to perform at a higher level. Ready to start planning? Check out our two-day interactive session Planning for Profitability workshop to develop your strategic plan.
Article by Laura Patterson

When Is It Time To Embark On Repositioning?

visionedge marketing ·24 November 2017
In 1969, Jack Trout introduced the idea of market positioning in a paper published by Industrial Marketing Magazine. Later, along with colleague Al Ries, he popularized the concept with their bestselling book under the title, Positioning - The Battle for Your Mind (1981). Since then, we've all come to accept that proper positioning improves your probability of success.A 2015 study by Carat found that 41% of people are overwhelmed by the volume of information and choice. Numerous factors influence our decisions, such as prior experience and personal relevance. Positioning is about influencing choice. It is about making the choice of your company, brand, and solutions easier. This is why brand preference is an important Marketing metric. It provides an indicator of your competitiveness.Positioning takes a significant amount of investment over a long period. The basic premise of a positioning strategy is that meanings, associations, and words resonate with customers. Armed with data from customer research, you can understand how to best connect your company and product with your customers and build a strategy that helps customers make the connection between what they value and the promise you deliver.The purpose of positioning is to:solidify the identity of your company, and its products or services, in a unique space within the minds of your prospective and existing customersset your company apart from the competitive set, andpositively influence the way your target market perceives your company and its productsAs the competitive environment heats up and new technologies and methodologies come into play, it may be necessary to revisit your positioning.Change is the Tell-tale Sign You Need to Initiate RepositioningPay attention when you begin to see or make changes. In some instances the change may be external, something that is occurring in the market that is outside of your control. Policy and regulations are obvious changes but many changes are not so blatant. You may not know what has changed but you see the result in changes to your rate of growth in the category compared to the category. Or you may see it reflected in number of sales and the average value of sales. For example, slumping sales in a growing category should sound the alarm. This was the case for one of our customers. They weren't maintaining market traction for a premier product. Repositioning the product was "instrumental to driving record sales." Change in the types of customers buying your product is another indicator of an external affect. All of these are market signals that you need to adapt to competitive forces or changing customer requirements.In other instances the changes may be internal. For instance, when you are making deliberate changes to your company (often a result of M&A) or its business model. Or, when you want to intentionally change the customers and/or markets you serve. For example, if you're a technology company that positions your offer to IT managers, you may need to revisit your positioning if your strategy is to connect with CTOs. Or, when you are successfully releasing new products regularly to the market. Often this indicates that your business is evolving and your original positioning strategy may no longer tell the complete or accurate story.The Critical First Step for Successful RepositioningOften companies think that modifying their tactics, such as redoing their website, will be enough. However, when the target market and existing customers no longer know what you're offering and your value proposition, then all the tactics in the world won't matter. It's time to revisit your positioning. Step back and consider what your new place in the market is and whether that's what you want it to be. If not, bite the bulletYour first step is to have clarity about who your company is, what is wants to achieve, and how you want customers to perceive you. What is your band mission and vision? A brand mission is the one thing you set out to do with your business. Write it down.Then you need data to understand to what degree the market perceives you in this light, how you compare to your competition within the content of your vision, and what your customers want and need. You can do this by talking with your customer advisory board, market partners, reviewing customer feedback (call center, help desk data), analyzing customer sentiment (for example through social media) and conducting primary research. Remember to include your employees in this investigative process. If necessary, seek outside expertise for this type of work. It's important to study both your customers as well as your competition and understand their positioning. The last thing you want to do is try to take a position that a competitor already owns.Use your brand mission, vision, and your data to formulate a new brand strategy and plan to connect and engage with customers and influence choice.Next Steps and Proof PointRead the Case Study: Repositioning Product for a More Strategic Marketing Approach to see how Catapult Systems, with an increase in competition from other online and electronic survey instruments, moved from a feature/benefit message of "better, faster, cheaper" to a strategic, value-based message that branded and positioned their product ultimately leading to record sales and media attention.
Article by Laura Patterson

How to Better Utilize Data and Analytics

visionedge marketing · 9 November 2017
Yet another study, this one by PAN Communications, continues to lament the challenge Marketing organizations face for measuring success. This particular study found that "76% of marketers are lacking the confidence to measure the success of their content programs." Despite this statistic, every CMO we've worked with admits how important it is to be able to select the right metrics and to measure and report on Marketing's value and contribution. In an age where data and tools are plentiful, why does this challenge persist? That seems to be a multi-million-dollar question. Some data suggests that Marketers are increasing their budget on data and analytics by as much as 49%! Expect your leadership team to ask the proverbial questions, "What did we get for this investment? How do we use this data?" This article offers two areas to guide your successful use of data and analytics.Before we launch into the steps, let's take a moment to review the usage of analytics in business. As you can see, the fundamental business purpose of the data analytics insights process has remained fairly consistent for over 30 years - enable smarter decisions and drive/improve performance.Despite the increasing amount of data and tools, or maybe because of them, Marketers still struggle to make their data relevant to the C-Suite. You may recall that as a result of VisionEdge Marketing's research since 2001 we are now able to classify Marketing organizations into three primary personas: Value Creators (those who earn the highest marks from the C-Suite), Sales Enablers (the middle of the pack) and Campaign Producers (the laggards). All these groups need to improve the ability to use Marketing's data to improve performance and make Marketing's data relevant to the business.Are you prepared to make your data more relevant?The key to making your data relevant is to use it to answer questions that matter to the business decision makers. In conversations over the years with members of the C-Suite, we've learned that nearly everyone wants to know the answers to these five questions:Which markets and segments to pursue? How to gain access?How to best acquire new customers? How to keep existing customers?Which existing markets and customers should we grow?What new products should we develop? How do we accelerate adoption?Which channels create the greatest response lift and engagement?You'll need to dig into your customer data, structured and unstructured, possibly gather additional data using primary research, and talk with your customer advisory boards.The answers to these questions will lay the ground work for your personas, messaging, content, and channel decisions.Want to improve your performance management? Start here.With integrated analytics and the right tools, such as a dashboard, showcasing the ROI of Marketing has become more achievable. Even so, this continues to be a struggle for many teams. Performance management is about far more than today's ROI on a campaign. It entails being able todemonstrate your contribution and impact to the business outcomesset performance targets, andselect the right metricsA conversation with your leadership team that encompasses the questions below will help you achieve the above goals, including fine tuning your metrics.What are the quantifiable customer-centric business outcomes we need to achieve?Which of these do you expect Marketing to impact?How will you know that Marketing accomplished each outcome?Next StepsRead the case study Customer and Market Data Provide Marketing and Sales Direction to see how VisionEdge Marketing enabled a Marketing team to gain scientific data and metrics related to buying criteria and how their company and the competition stacked up to that criteria. Our customer says: "We are using this kind of data to help identify new business opportunities and reduce our sales cycle."

Are You Ready To Make The Shift To A.I.? (Part Two)

visionedge marketing · 1 November 2017
This is the second part of a two-part series. See our first section Should You Use A.I. in Your Marketing?. According to BPMonline Insights, nearly 40% of companies struggle to convert data into actionable insight. We know from our research, and that of others, that there is increased pressure on Marketing to measure its contribution and optimize investment and decisions. Adam Berke, president and CMO of AdRoll recently echoed our mantra, "marketers need to look for smarter and more sophisticated ways to connect their activities to actual business metrics." Plus, the demand for predictive performance analytics is rising, as organizations try to anticipate future business scenarios with in-depth analytics of past and present performance data. According to the latest CMOSurvey.org study, spending on analytics is expected to increase from 5.5% of Marketing budgets to 18.1% in the next three years.In Part 1 Should You Use A.I. in Your Marketing?, we briefly outlined the value of Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) for Marketing and some initial steps you can take to prepare you and your team. Artificial Intelligence allows you to understand the data generated by customer and prospect interactions so you can develop and implement more effective Marketing strategies and programs, improve your Marketing performance, and outperform your competition.The ultimate power of A.I. is to be able to drive better decisions through the intelligent use of data. In the words of Tomer Naveh, CTO of Albert, "data is unquestionably the domain of A.I." Thank goodness, because as of last count, we are creating 2.5. quintillions of data daily! It's no wonder organizations feel crushed by the deluge of data.Intelligent tools enable you to swiftly react to market changes, optimize mix models, and improve your processes, especially those that affect customer buying patterns. However, before you succumb to the lure of the latest artificial intelligence shiny new tools, be sure your data and analytics skills are up to snuff. According to research by the CMO Council, marketers are far less data-savvy than they may think. In their study, the CMO Council and RedPoint Global claim "They [marketers] don't know what data they have at their disposal, and they don't know how to use it. While today's omnichannel customers are more connected than ever before, organizations are failing to keep pace with customer expectations for frictionless experiences, despite the multitude of data, analytics and engagement systems in place." Tools are not the issue. According to the CMO Council, over the past five years, 42% of marketers have installed more than ten solutions across marketing, data, analytics or customer engagement technologies.Four steps to take before trying to apply A.I. to your data:Build your data and analytics skills. Data is the DNA of Marketing. Regardless of role, every marketer needs a solid base in data. Whether your hire it or outsource it, you need strong data and analytics skills to address the increasing need to generate insights from the constantly increasing volume of the data and the expanding number of measures and metrics being used to assess and drive Marketing performance. The CMO Council laments that Marketing analytics -- measuring and analyzing marketplace activity and marketing performance to improve decision-making -- are employed for 37.5 % of business decisions, but less than 2% firms say they have the right people in place to leverage the information.Create a Data Management strategy and a consistent set of standards. The purpose of data is to facilitate decisions. Therefore, you need clarity around which decisions are applicable for A.I.. Then you can build your data management strategy to address how data will be acquired, prepared and normalized. You will want to define how models will be developed, tested, and deployed.Fix your data silos. For any tool to be properly deployed to help you transform data into insights, the systems that house your data need to be connected. It's difficult to create seamless customer experience when data is siloed.Establish an analytics center of excellence (CoE). Your analytics center of excellence is comprised of a team of business and technical professionals who enable the ability to drive best practices around methodologies, tools, models, and techniques. The objective of any CoE is to improve effectiveness and gain efficiency across to the different business units.Remember the end goal is to be able to extract patterns from data so you can make intelligent and actionable decisions and improve operational excellence.Is A.I. the next norm for strategic Best-In-Class Marketing Organizations? Only time will tell. In the meantime, stay tuned for continued insights and tips from our experts. Subscribe to our blog for instant updates and check out our How Data Moves You from One-Size Fits All to Segmentation-Based Marketing recording.

Should You Use A.I. in Your Marketing? (Part One)

visionedge marketing ·25 October 2017
In the words of author Malcolm Gladwell, A.I. is reaching a tipping point, "that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire." According to data from CB Insights, the number of companies and the amount of funding funneling into A.I.-based companies continues to rise. International Data Corporation (IDC) forecasts a 54% growth in Marketing spend on AI software over the next four years, from $360 million in 2016 to more than $2 billion in 2020. Why? Efficiency and transparency are the promise of A.I. - where a machine takes over a repetitive but vital task.What tasks? A.I. is being used by Marketing both behind the scenes and on center stage. A.I. and Machine Learning (ML) are already mainstays within the realm of customer experience. Chatbots are replacing face-to-face interactions in brick-and-mortar stores. Most of us are familiar with the data-fueled algorithms used by Amazon, Netflix and other to make personalized recommendations based on prior purchasing behavior. Behind the scenes, A.I. supports data analysis and automation. It won't be long before we can use A.I. and ML to support A/B testing experiments. A.I. can be applied to support media purchases, program analysis to enable faster course corrections, mix planning and predictive modeling.Before worrying about being replaced by a machine, it behooves us to realize that there are important and valuable uses for AI in Marketing that allows Marketers to be less stuck in the weeds and to play a more strategic role.How To Truly Utilize the Power of A.I.So far, Marketing organizations are experimenting with using A.I. on programmatic issues. The challenge today for most Marketing organizations isn't accessing data as much as it is interpreting and using it. It is a tragedy when Marketing doesn't use its data well, or worse, uses data incorrectly. The volume and constant flow of data is bringing many of us to our knees, actually increasing the analysis-paralysis syndrome. Gleaning information and identifying patterns is increasingly more challenging for the human brain. Before long we will reach the point when the value of the insights fails to increase in proportion to effort and investment.There is a true opportunity for Marketing to use A.I. to help identify patterns in data and guide better Marketing decisions and performance. A.I. and ML enables Marketing to uncover rich and new insights worthy of action - accurately and quickly. It will still require us to take these insights and apply our experience and expertise to make wise and meaningful business decisions about customers, markets, and services/solutions. This is the real power of A.I. - supporting strategic direction.Three actions every Marketing organization can do to tap A.I.:Take an integrated approach. There is tremendous power in being able to quickly understand the relationship between all the channels, touch points, and content, and sequence them to create a whole that is greater than the individual parts. This is the domain of A.I.Inventory your repetitive tasks. The immediate value of A.I. is the ability to automate repetitive administrative tasks that sap Marketing's time and energy. Determine how much time each task takes. Decide if some of these tasks are candidates for A.I.Establish performance parameters. On the performance management front, machine learning can help quickly detect when performance is outside of acceptable parameters and help reduce the increasing Marketing Performance gap.Understanding and harnessing A.I. and ML isn't something Marketing is going to do overnight. To be effective, we need to do more than beat the drum. We need to get smart about A.I. and how to use it to drive better decisions. Watch for Are You Ready To Make The Shift to A.I.? on our MeasureUp blog.In the meantime, everyone in Marketing needs to understand the fundamentals of A.I. and how we can use it, for example to improve customer experience, Marketing processes, Marketing performance management, and Marketing data management. For me, that means turning to trusted resources to come up to speed. For example, I'm checking out the latest book by my friend and colleague, Jim Sterne's: Artificial Intelligence for Marketing: Practical Applications. Have some other resources and books to recommend? Hope you'll post and share them in the comments.
Article by Laura Patterson

The Marketing Ops Audit: Why It Matters And How To Do It Well

visionedge marketing ·29 September 2017
Marketing Operations (Marketing Ops) is a well-established function. Whether performed by one person in a small company or a large team in a billion-dollar business, it is present in 70% of Marketing organizations overall and in 82% of Best-in-Class (BIC) Marketing organizations. Best-in-Class Marketing organizations are those that earn 90 or greater out of 100 from the C-Suite for their ability to prove their value, contribution, and impact to the business. These are the Value Creators. Sales Enablers are the middle of the pack, and Campaign Producers the back of the pack.Marketing Operations: Is It Worth the Money?Before we can answer what is different about the Marketing Ops of the BIC, we must first define the term Marketing Ops. We define Marketing Ops as the function in the Marketing organization that develops and manages the processes, technology, and talent that allows Marketing to efficiently scale with quality and consistency.The purpose of the function is to facilitate the running of Marketing and serve as the hub for operational excellence. Marketing Ops supports and empowers effective planning, alignment, systems, tools, measurement, and communication processes across Marketing's functional areas, and with stakeholders in other groups, e.g. Sales and Finance, to improve and prove Marketing's true value to the business.Marketing runs on processes: Planning processes, reporting processes, customer journey mapping, content creation processes, opportunity management processes, and so on. If your current Marketing processes are not effective or efficient, then automating them with a Marketing workflow application won't improve anything. You'll only be faster at following a bad process. For the Best-in-Class, their Marketing Ops serves as the central nervous system for both process and performance management.What Is Unique About Marketing Ops Among the Best-in-Class?For the past several years, the results of the Marketing Performance Management (MPM) Benchmark study research has consistently revealed that the breadth of the Marketing Ops function is different among the Value Creators. Marketing Ops among the BIC have double the responsibilities of the Sales Enablers, the group that received the next best scores from the C-Suite for being able to prove Marketing's value, impact and contribution to the business.It's not only that the Marketing Ops of BIC organization have more responsibilities, there is a wide performance gap, greater than 40%, in five areas. The Marketing Ops of the BIC are considerably better at (in order of greatest gap):Strategic PlanningCampaign Analysis and ReportingAnalytics and Predictive ModelingBenchmarkingMPM Measurement and ReportingFor BIC organizations, Marketing Ops serves as this central nervous system, facilitating the planning, performance management, resource management, and systems/tools and workflow to support the entire customer experience. Within the BIC, Marketing Operations focuses on how to insure Marketing drives business initiatives forward and creates value for both customers and the enterprise. These Marketing Ops teams develop and implement the processes, systems, tools and skills necessary to link Marketing to business outcomes. Marketing Ops also tracks and reports results, and suggests improvement. In short, Marketing Operations helps run the Marketing function as a fully-accountable business by building the processes and managing the systems needed to implement MPM.How to Develop an Agile Marketing OrganizationIf you want to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your Marketing and don't have a dedicated Marketing Ops function, consider making it a priority. If you have a Marketing Ops function encourage the function to concentrate its efforts on facilitating your agility. The Marketing Ops of the BIC focus on agility. These Marketing Ops teams recognize how critical it is for the Marketing organization to be able to nimbly respond to changing customer behavior, market conditions and business direction to improve market share and/or customer value.Marketing Ops for the BIC organizations help develop five critical traits of an Agile Marketing organizationRapid decision-making and executionA high-performance cultureAbility to access the right information at the right timeAccountability and credibilityTeams that can flexCreate or revisit your Marketing Ops function's charter. Insure that at a minimum your Marketing Ops encompasses these nine areas of focus:Defining strategy and aligning initiatives, metrics, people and tasks with the firm's business outcomesDeveloping and implementing metrics, infrastructure, and business processesDefining and managing systems and toolsEstablishing and communicating best practicesManaging the budget and budgeting processDeploying technology to support performance measurement and reportingWorking with the Marketing leadership team in the development of Marketing plansSupporting personnel ensure team is focused on and measuring their contribution to Marketing objectives, strategies, programs and activitiesMonitoring and reporting on Marketing's progress against performance targets and detecting gaps and problems.How does your Marketing Ops stack up?

Five Critical Steps To Ensuring Finance's Support Of Your Budget

visionedge marketing ·14 September 2017
Speak the Right Language to Gain Your CFO's SupportAs CFO's become more responsible for activities such as prioritizing company resources, developing and communicating the company strategy, making IT decisions, and implementing performance programs, marketers will need to better quantify and measure the value of marketing programs. Without a doubt with the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) accounting standards, more financial influence and control over marketing is on the way. More and more CFOs are participating in developing and driving organic growth strategies.Collaboration is Critical to Marketing's SuccessTo respond to today's fast-changing market environment, organizations need high levels of collaboration and trust between finance and marketing With the CFO and the CMO both in pursuit of growth, it will be imperative for marketers and finance to establish high levels of collaboration and trust. Marketers can take the lead by improving their ability to "speak the business." How?Use these Five Tips to Forge a Stronger Alliance with Your CFO1. Start with alignment. Having a clear line of sight between marketing initiatives and the business enables marketers to make both strategic and tactical decisions regarding customers, channels, touch points, and content investments. Alignment is the gateway to understanding what data you will need, what analytics to apply, and what metrics need to populate your dashboard. The key is for marketing and finance to work together to define performance metrics that contribute to the enterprise's strategic objectives.2. Select relevant metrics. A study by CFO.com found that CMOs report sharing marketing information with their CFOs than CFOs report receiving. In that same study, most CFOs believed that marketing could have a positive impact on profitability but 40% of them didn't know if CMOs were even trying to do so. This gap can be closed by picking t metrics that enable you to know what is and isn't working and that demonstrate Marketing's value to the business. You want metrics that help you make investment decisions and appropriate course corrections; not metrics that are easy to collect or "cool."3. Build business acumen. Marketers with business acumen understand that they are they are using company funds to make investments on behalf of the company. Best-in-class marketers build business acumen and customer intelligence so they can create value for customers and the company. Think beyond this quarter's "leads" or this year's integrated marketing campaigns and content. Understand your customers' journey and help your company validate, penetrate, and dominate markets.4. Embrace data, analytics, and modeling to facilitate market, customer, and product innovation, and competitive move decisions. The explosion of big data and advanced analytics creates a daunting task for CMOs to collect, manage, and turn data into meaningful intelligence. It behooves Marketing to work closely with CFOs who are now playing a much larger role ensuring that the structures and investments are in place to maximize the organization's enterprise-wide analytics capability.5. Take a portfolio management approach. Most CFOs' understand the concept of portfolio management. Marketers are in essence portfolio managers. Your portfolio is comprised of a mix of emerging customers and markets, and goals such as retaining and/or profitably growing a set of customers and markets. Build a marketing plan that represents this portfolio mix and how you are allocating the funds across each component. Clarify how the investments are intended to contribute to the business, and then develop a dashboard that monitors and communicates marketing's portfolio investment performance.Forging an explicit collaborative alliance with finance is critical to Marketing's success. Finance is not an adversary. Seek to create an ongoing collaborative relationship with the CFO and the finance team.
Article by Laura Patterson

Be Fanatical About Service Quality (and Why It Matters)

visionedge marketing ·13 September 2017
I have been fortunate in my career to benefit from a number of remarkable mentors. My first professional job was in a financial services organization working for Dwight Prade. It was Dwight who bestowed upon me the title "Customer Relationship Manager." This was long before the era of CRM systems. Because switching providers in our industry was relatively easy, Dwight emphasized the importance of keeping and growing the value of customers. He was the first to expose me to the fundamental concepts and measures of customer satisfaction, customer lifetime value, customer loyalty and advocacy, share of wallet and product adoption rate. Dwight was adamant about customer service quality and experience, long before these were the buzzwords of today. He understood the power of customer referrals. A primary value he expected all of his team to follow was that every problem or request from a customer was worthy of our attention and resolution.A few companies later I joined the Motorola Semiconductor business. Gary Daniels was a mentor to me through most of my 14-year tenure. I know I've shared various Gary Daniels' stories with many of you, including the one about phone messages. Some of you may remember the days before voicemail. Gary could not tolerate a ringing phone. If someone wasn't at their desk and you heard a ringing phone you were expected to answer it. In those days, we had notepads for taking phone messages. Being in Sales and Marketing, it was common to find a hefty pile of phone message slips waiting for you. Gary's rule was "return all phone messages by the end of the business day." Gary used to say, "it is a small world, today the person who is a supplier may be your customer tomorrow, the customer today may be your boss tomorrow." He was very reluctant to install voicemail. He did so with the conditions that your phone could never go to voicemail if you were at your desk, and that the rule of returning calls by the end of the business day still applied. How many of us violate this "rule" today and are lax about returning phone calls?Both Dwight and Gary were what may be deemed today as fanatics about customer service quality and experience. Both believed that you only have one chance to make a first impression and that every touch was a moment of truth. Both believed that customer retention was critical to long-term success. Recent customer retention research conducted by Ascarza, Neslin, Netzer, Anderson, Fader, Gupta, Hardie, Lemmens, Libai, Neal, Provost, and Schrift revealed that "85% of customers report that companies could do more to retain them. While a majority of top executives report that customer retention is a priority within their organization, 49% admit to being unhappy with their ability to support their retention goals."This study examined whether companies should use RISK (determined by scoring models that rank customers based on their likelihood to defect) or LIFT (whom the impact of the intervention is highest, regardless of their intrinsic propensity to churn) to determine which customers to target in order to reduce churn and improve retention. They found that Lift is more effective.Here's the rub: churn might be less of an issue and customer experience might be better if companies were fanatical about service quality. A key example is just being able to reach a person or have a problem quickly resolved. With the advent of automated voice response many companies have forgotten the power of the human touch. In some companies, I never reach a real person unless I select the sales or billing option. More and more companies are encouraging you to use their website for support rather than talking with a person. My long-time associate Richard Hatheway lamented over several poor customer service experiences in his recent LinkedIn article, Customer Service Isn't.It seems the more we focus and complicate a process, the worse it becomes. And I fear this is playing out in regards to customer experience. Gary and Dwight instinctively knew what Valerie Zeithaml, A. Parasuraman and Leonard Berry learned in their research on what customers use when evaluating service quality. They shared the results in their book, "Delivering Quality Service, " first published in 1990. Zeithaml, Parasuraman and Berry identified five dimensions valued by customers from what they referred to as their SERVQUAL research:TANGIBLES: Appearance of physical facilities, equipment, personnel, and communication materialsRELIABILITY: Ability to perform the promised service dependably and accuratelyRESPONSIVENESS: Willingness to help customers and provide prompt serviceASSURANCE: Knowledge and courtesy of employees and their ability to convey trust and confidenceEMPATHY: Caring, individualized attention the firm provides its customersThe SERVQUAL research showed the dimensions' importance to each other by asking customers to assign 100 points across all five dimensions. The two most important dimensions are reliability and responsiveness accounting for over 50% of how customers evaluate service quality.As organizations increase the use of artificial intelligence (computer systems performing tasks that normally require human intelligence), machine learning (giving machines access to data and let them learn for themselves) and/or self-service to support customer service, we should remember that while computers and machines can work 24/7 and don't require time off or benefits, one of Gary's adages still rings true: "people do business with people." The time when companies who have quality people providing quality experiences will have a competitive advantage may not be far off.SummaryWhile it is worthwhile to map the customer experience, conduct voice of customer research, and establish customer advisory boards, it is important to master the basics of customer service. Reliability, responsiveness and empathy will go a long way toward keeping and growing the value of your customers.Are you ready to have an organization full of service fanatics? We can help you get there. Contact us to schedule a complimentary, no-obligation conversation.

How To Tell If Your Marketing Is Optimized For Performance

visionedge marketing ·24 August 2017
Frederick Winslow Taylor is credited with starting the Scientific Management movement. He and his associates studied how work was performed. They examined how the performance of work affected worker productivity. In his book, "The Principles of Scientific Management," published in 1911, Taylor discussed his philosophy based on the belief that making people work as hard as they could was not as efficient as optimizing the way the work was done. While a lot has happened in the past 100+ years, many of the performance management systems have remained fundamentally the same, despite the increased complexity of work and the volume of performance data.Frederick Winslow Taylor is credited with starting the Scientific Management movement. He and his associates studied how work was performed. They examined how the performance of work affected worker productivity. In his book, "The Principles of Scientific Management," published in 1911, Taylor discussed his philosophy based on the belief that making people work as hard as they could was not as efficient as optimizing the way the work was done. While a lot has happened in the past 100+ years, many of the performance management systems have remained fundamentally the same, despite the increased complexity of work and the volume of performance data.Industry Trend: Forward-Looking Marketing EvaluationPerformance management practices are shifting from backward-looking, activity-based evaluations (how much work is delivered on time) to fact-based performance evaluations that link the work of marketers to their impact on the business. While this is a worthwhile shift, it only works if each person understands how their work ties directly to a business outcome. However, some experts in the organizational development field suggest that KPIs now actually account for less than 5% of how employee performance is evaluated.Work by Ernest O'Boyle Jr. and Herman Aguinis concluded that the top five percent of workers in most companies outperform average workers by 400%! The sample curve emerging from this research suggests that 10-20% of employees, at most, make an outsized contribution. Cinching the link between performance and rewards such as autonomy, mastery, and purpose are more likely to motivate individuals to strive for excellence, build their capabilities, and stretch their skills.Performance management uses performance measures and standards to achieve desired results. It is a forward-looking, continuous process. There are at least two elements needed to be successful at a performance-based approach to Marketing management.1. You must set the right type of performance targets for every Marketing program. A performance target represents a commitment to achieve a specific and higher quality or level of performance, over a specified time frame. It is used to evaluate performance achieved compared to performance expected. Marketers that utilize performance management best practices intelligently set performance targets that are relevant to the organization's objectives and outcomes. Well-designed performance targets are:Tied directly to outcomesClear and measurableDirectionalDesigned to improve resultsAvoid inward-looking targets for Marketing. Inward-looking targets are where Marketing is answerable to their own organization while the outward looking targets are focused on how effective Marketing is finding, keeping and growing the value of customers and the business.Marketing drives the demand-side of the business. Therefore, performance targets should reflect these aspects of Marketing. A performance target is about taking your performance to the next level. You want to set a target that demonstrates improvement but not one that sets you or your team up to fail. We suspect you're thinking everyone sets targets. Setting relevant performance targets is both art and science, and therefore challenging.2. A method to track, measure, manage and report on performance. Someone on your team, ideally your Marketing Operations function, gathers the data needed to analyze the actual performance and construct actionable dashboards. These multi-level actionable dashboards must be able to drill down to the program level in order to report on each program's performance to the target. This is why it is essential for Marketing dashboards to be performance-based rather than operationally oriented. Performance tracking and measuring enables you to focus on those areas that determine your overall business success.Performance measurement and target-setting are important to the growth process. The growth of your company and the growth of your people. When you put performance back into management you will know how the different areas of your business and your people are performing.Want to learn more about setting relevant performance targets? Contact us for a complimentary 20 -minute conversation.

Is Your Marketing Dashboard Out to Get You?

visionedge marketing ·10 August 2017
Most likely you have some kind of Marketing dashboard. Research by experts and us all reveals that most Marketing organizations are producing and presenting some type of dashboard to their leadership team. It is the content displayed in the dashboard that distinguishes organizations who excel at performance management from those that don't. We find that many of today's Marketing dashboards focus more on the how many project/programs are in play, whether these are on time and within budget, and what outputs, such as traffic, downloads, inquiries, qualified leads these programs produced. Often these dashboards result in a tactical conversation around doing more, faster, with less. Dashboards that inform your leadership team what business needles Marketing moves, including how far and how well they perform, generates a more strategic conversation. If you prefer the more strategic approach, then you need a dashboard that is more about performance and value and less about outputs and operational efficiencies.Performance-based Marketing dashboards report on Marketing's impact, contribution and value to the business, not only a single tactic or program. It clearly links Marketing activities and investments to organizational objectives and outcomes, thereby providing a view into Marketing's overall performance. Dashboards that highlight the outputs of marketing functions and activities undermine your seat at the strategic table.How to Create a Useful Marketing DashboardNot all dashboards are alike. We suspect that your Marketing organization, like most, doesn't lack for things to do. The purpose of your dashboard isn't to show how busy you are or how much work you are producing. Marketing runs on processes and it's far easier to have dashboards that reflect how efficient Marketing is performing its routine functions and activities. Operational dashboards primarily track your progress to service level agreements: time, cost, etc. It's easy to see how these kinds of dashboards result in the "more with less" conversation. You know you have an operational dashboard when your dashboard is primarily composed of activity and output measures and metrics.A performance dashboard is really a performance management system. Performance-based Marketing dashboards communicate what and how Marketing contributes and impacts the business. They tell the story of how Marketing creates value. They enable you and your leadership team to know what is and isn't working. They facilitate Marketing's ability to make strategic recommendations and course adjustments. Your well-designed Marketing dashboards reflect how well the Marketing team is performing to the objectives and performance targets specified in the Marketing plan. If your Marketing plan and dashboard are interconnected, each informs the other on a continuous basis.There is an almost infinite number of measures and metrics marketers can incorporate into their dashboards. Knowing which measures and metrics matter, and mastery of these metrics, is crucial to improving and proving the value of Marketing. Performance-based dashboard don't ignore activity, output or operational measures and metrics. These are captured as part of the Metrics chain used to create your dashboard. A metrics chain is the sequence of metrics that forms the links between activity, output, operational metrics, and outcome metrics. It seems rather obvious and simple, right? Yet, among the 2017 MPM Benchmark study population, of the 96 Value Creators (those Marketing organizations that earn 90 or better from the C-Suite for being able to measure and communicate Marketing's value), only 58 of the Value Creators use Metrics Chains; only 60 of the 167 Sales Enablers employ Metrics Chains; and only 55 of the 159 Campaign Producers use chains. Since this data is projectable, this means that 41% of all Marketing organizations lack this ingredient.Value Creators are more skilled at crafting metrics chains. Because Value Creators are better at forging the metrics chains, they have the critical and often missing link needed to connect Marketing to business results. Formulate Metrics chains to ensure your mix of metrics work together. The Metrics chain enables you to craft multi-level dashboards, with each level providing additional granularity, such as data relevant to the program's execution, customer behavior, or regional nuances.Wonder whether your dashboard works in your favor? Use this dashboard checklist for a dashboard review. Create a Marketing dashboard that connects your Marketing program performance and investments to business impact and value. This is the only way to demonstrate that Marketing creates value and is more than an internal service-provider.

Action is at the Heart of Marketing's Productivity

visionedge marketing ·27 July 2017
In a recent article, David Dodd wrote the innovations in Marketing "have promised to improve marketing effectiveness and efficiency, and numerous research studies purport to show that they are delivering a wide range of benefits. But have these innovations really improved the bottom-line productivity of B2B marketing? Can we show - in a credible and convincing way - that B2B marketing is more financially productive today than it was 10 or 15 years ago?" He concluded that it is not. Why is that?Marketers in general believe they are working harder than ever. They are measuring and reporting more often and with more detailed data. They have made technology and skill investments designed to make and prove that Marketing activities and programs add economic value for their organizations. I believe the lack of improvement in productivity has to do with understanding the difference between activity and action.Action and activity on the surface may seem the same. They are quite different. Merriam-Webster defines "activity" as: "the quality or state of being active". Action, on the other hand, is the process of exerting a force or bringing about an effect." Many of us are familiar with the proverb "It's better to do something rather than nothing." So many professionals fill up their day with activity only to land on the never-ending Marketing hamster wheel. In the business world, activity without purpose falls into the category of "busy work." You and your team may be busy doing tasks, but without action the energy and time invested will never produce an outcome by itself. You need action.Action is what achieves our goals; action moves something, such as your business, forward. It has direction. Action is an act that will achieve a result. Action is based on a plan. Our CMO-level customers sometimes admit their organization is so tactically oriented that there is no point in having a plan. There is a set amount of money and it is up to Marketing to invest that money and then show how those investments made a difference. Your Marketing plan guides you and your team's daily action. Your plan is not about executing a list of programs; it's about ensuring each Marketing action is directly related to a business outcome - every day!When you transform your Marketing plan from a list of activities into an action-oriented blueprint you are signaling a change to leadership regarding Marketing's role. You bring the focus to action rather than activity. This approach enables you, the Marketing leader, to determine whether (and where) a new activity needs to be plugged into the "blueprint", and what effects it will have up and across the plan in terms of investment and metrics. Your plan serves as productivity improvement tool. Experts on the topic of productivity all recommend having and working a plan, staying focused on quantifiable outcomes, working to deadlines, and minimizing distractions (a.k.a. as activities) to drastically increase productivity. To improve Marketing's productivity, decide to move from activity to action.

Tuning Up Your Marketing Metrics And Measures: What They Are And Why They Matter

visionedge marketing ·12 July 2017
If you want to demonstrate the importance of Marketing to the rest of the organization you need to be able to quantify Marketing's value to the business. A recent study by Ernst & Young found that only 13% of the CFOs said that the agendas of Finance and Marketing were completely aligned on the issue of measurement methodologies. An essential part of alignment is working from an agreed set of definitions. A recent conversation with several Marketing professionals during a client Marketing dashboard requirementsdiscussion revealed that it is possible many marketers need to understand the nuances associated with measurement. As we were discussing their measurement playbook, they used the terms measures and metrics interchangeably. I asked, "How do you distinguish measures from metrics?" One of the managers countered, "They're the same, right?"Well, no, not exactly. While there is an overlap between measures and metrics, what distinguishes them is important. By definition they are different.Measure How Fast You Are Driving Right NowMeasure, when used as a noun, refers to a unit. It can be a unit of quantity or quality. Note the word unit, measures describe one element. They are concrete. Speed, distance, height, weight, page views, content shares, number of qualified opportunities, number of customers, and number of deals closed, are examples of measures. Some measures are more valuable than others. Some measures can be changed while others cannot. For example, our height is a measure that we cannot change, much to my personal dismay. Weight, on the other hand, is a measure we can change. In Marketing, the number of qualified opportunities is a measure we can change. One potentially easy way to change it is by modifying the criteria. If you reduce the "gate" the number will go up. Deciding whether a measure is appropriate and then whether to invest in changing it depends on the business result you are trying to impact.Metrics: What is Your Dealer's Financing Offer?In a performance-focused environment, organizations use performance metrics to monitor progress against business outcomes and to the effectiveness and efficiency of business processes. Metrics are tied to business performance. A metric when used as a noun is a mathematical function. A metric is typically derived from a calculation that incorporates two or more measures. For example, momentum is calculated by multiplying the mass of the object (a measure) times its velocity (another measure).A good metric is one that be used as a standard of measurement. To establish a metric as a standard you will need some kind of measurement baseline. When a metric serves as a standard, it provides you with a quantifiable way to compare performance, either to previous results or against another entity. In the business world, this could be a competitor or a company you desire to emulate.Ideally this comparison enables you to make a decision. For example, blood pressure is a function of your systolic blood pressure and your diastolic blood pressure. The American Heart Association provides guidelines against which you can compare your blood pressure to determine your degree of risk. In business, we may use a metric such as category growth rate. This metric requires at least two measures across a specific time frame: your growth rate and the growth rate of the category. Customer Lifetime Value is another example of a metric that incorporates three measures: frequency of purchase, duration of loyalty, and gross profit.Why Metrics and Measurements MatterClearly, business decision makers need measures, metrics, and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). Measures constitute metrics. KPIs are a type of metric that is considered essential to measuring, monitoring and improving business performance. KPIs are not a business result. Revenue, for example, is a measure, not a KPI. Revenue is the result of what you do.KPIs provide both insight and direction for performance. It should help you understand what caused the result and facilitate action. A way to determine whether your metric is merely a metric or it is actually a KPI is how willing you are to make a significant investment to make the metric change, for example how much if anything would you be willing to invest to make the metric double? If you would be willing to make an investment to see a change in the "sum" of the metric, you more than likely have a KPI.Think of KPIs as your vital signs. If something goes amiss, you will need to examine your metrics and the associated measures to be able to diagnose the problem and make a course correction. And, like vital signs, there are only a handful that truly matter.Shared C-Suite Call to ActionA shared understanding of terminology will go a long way towards ensuring productive budgeting and performance setting conversations, as well as throughout the year when results are reviewed and plans are revised if necessary. CMOs, when considering Marketing's measures, metrics and KPIs, keep the CFO and CEO in mind. CEOs and CFOs are focusing on strategic investments that drive growth. Marketing's measures, metrics and KPIs should be in lock step. CEOs and CFOs, be clear about the business outcomes you expect Marketing to drive. Work with your Marketing leadership to define the KPIs that are most relevant so the Marketing team will know what data, measures, and metrics to select.

How to Fulfill Marketing's Fundamental Mission of Value Creation

visionedge marketing ·22 June 2017
Anthony Palmer, President and formerly the Chief Marketing Officer at Kimberly-Clark, claimed that, "the role of a CMO is really pretty simple. You can't ever lose sight of the fact that your role is to sell more stuff to more people for more money more often. That has to be the ultimate goal. You also have to inspire the organization to take calculated risks, and inspire the organization to love winning more than they are afraid of losing."Inspired CMOs see themselves as champions and drivers of growth who can anticipate customers, develop their organizations' Marketing capabilities, and figure out how to demonstrate Marketing's impact on the business in terms that matter to their C-Suite leadership team. In fact, the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) should operate under another title: the Chief Value Officer (CVO) since it is the CMO's job to guide and transform Marketing into a Center of Excellence that serves as a model across the organization.What separates those who merely survive from those who manage to thrive? Surviving CMOs tend to focus on lead generation, pipeline management, branding, and customer acquisition. Thriving CMOs, on the other hand, think beyond this and instead increase their stake in growing customer lifetime value and developing long-term customer profitability. Typically, these CMOs lean toward the analytical end of the Marketing spectrum as opposed to the creative end.Are You Perceived to Be a Champion and Driver of Growth?Let's dig down into what makes a CMO thrive. Generally, it begins with three characteristics:Thrivers close the gap between Marketing and the customer by creating customer-centric business strategies and models that allow them to serve as the "voice of the customer."They embrace and leverage data to analyze market and customer trends and strengthen their knowledge of the customer and market to create customer-driven products, exceptional customer experiences, a culture dedicated to value creation. Their Marketing organizations use their data-to-insights business acumen. As a result, they are more credible and their data are more relevant.They take the helm in helping the company anticipate and respond rapidly to changing market and customer needs as well as lead the charge in establishing new Marketing capabilities.Organizations thrive only if they can acquire and keep customers. To put it in a nutshell, we will defer to Peter Drucker who encapsulated the framework of a successful business by saying that the "purpose of business is to create a customer." So, if you subscribe to Peter Drucker's philosophy and adopt Phil Kotler's position that it is Marketing's purpose to find, keep, and grow the value of customers, then Marketing must be at the center of the structure to drive your company's value.Learn more about how your Marketing organization can operate as a Center of Excellence and make Marketing more relevant to you and the C-Suite:Start by reading our How to Guides. We recommend What You Must Know About Marketing Centers of Excellence: A Why and How Primer.Listen to educational recordings. A good place to start is by tuning in to Creating Marketing Centers of Excellence: A Case Study and Driving Marketing Excellence | Virtual Roundtable - BoardRoom Events.Read case studies to learn how a new perspective helped companies make change happen. Take a peek at Case Study 38: Making Marketing Relevant to the C-Suite.
Article by Laura Patterson

How To Make Your Customer Strategy More Than A Buzzword

visionedge marketing · 7 June 2017
Customer-centricity. It's more than just a buzzword; it's more than just a platitude.This concept, while not new, has become one of the most popular topics among today's business leaders as companies explore ways to increase market momentum, customer share, and new product adoption. Yet, the Global Customer Service Barometer survey conducted by American Express found that "just over six in ten customers agree that companies meet their expectations."Why is this the case? Despite their claims that they keep the customer first, many B2B companies remain product-centric. However, making the shift to focusing on the customer can make all the difference. Perhaps you'll find Don Pepper's explanation about difference between customer-centricity and product-centricity useful:* Product-centricity starts with having a product or service that responds to customer needs and then finding as many customers as possible who have these needs.* Customer-centricity starts with the individual customer and aims to meet the needs of that customer in as many respects as possible.Furthermore, research has found that customer-centric companies enjoy greater customer satisfaction. And a Booz Allen study found that businesses that are successful at customer-centricity outperform industry peers two-to-one in revenue growth and generate margins 5%-10% above their competitors.When you shift to a customer-centric strategy, you are building an organization that holds the informed knowledge of the customer and the marketplace at its core. Your organization is aligned around customer commitments, customer relationships, and enhanced customer knowledge. All of which is power. While your products might be able to be copied and your channels disrupted, how well you know your customers and your market gives you a market advantage. While the transformation from product-centric to customer-centric comes with a cost, the benefits you can reap often far outweigh them. Curious to see transformation in action? Read Case Study 36 to learn how we helped Winton Global transform from product-centric to customer-centric with a focus on accountability.Shift Your Marketing to Focus CustomersMaking the shift to being customer-centric takes deliberate action. It means more than just changing the conversation with your customers. It means changing your Marketing organization from the inside out; especially in four key areas.1. Customer orientation. Marketing needs to reorient itself to encompass the entire customer lifecycle. To do this, Marketing leaders must create a data-driven, customer-centric culture as well as processes for transforming data into insights.2. Solutions vs. Selling. A customer-centric transformation means you leave the world of selling "products" for the world of solving problems. This applies to ALL business decisions.3. Front-line vs. top-down driven. Focus on those who interact directly with your customers every day. This means your Sales, Marketing, and Service personnel who are in the trenches. You need to arm these people with the skills, resources, and authority necessary to manage "moments of truth."4. Engineer or reengineer business processes. If you want to transform your Marketing into a Best-in-Class Marketing organization that leverages systems and tools to drive effectiveness and efficiency deliver on growth you'll need to "bite the bullet" and possibly rework every business process, including your Marketing processes and systems. This often requires establishing a fully functional Marketing Ops organization.Marketing Ops: Your Behind the Scenes Wizard for Customer StrategyMarketing Operations serves as the central nervous system. It is the branch of the entire organization that facilitates the planning, performance management, resource management, and tools to support a data-driven customer-centric organization.So what should your Marketing Ops function provide you with to be able to succeed in all of these areas? At a bare minimum, your Marketing Operations function should help you improve your performance in three primary areas:DecisionsInfrastructureAccountabilityThe capacity of Marketing Ops must expand beyond campaign automation and financial governance to a role that drives alignment, accountability, and agility. This is particularly prevalent if you want a Marketing organization that serves as a value creator. By creating or expanding the Marketing Ops role and skill set, your Marketing organization is better able to meet your C-Suite's performance expectations.Use these resources to strengthen your Marketing Ops:Read some How to Guides. We recommend The Role of Marketing Operations in Improving Marketing Performance.Listen to educational recordings. One we would suggest starting with would be the Marketing Ops Technology Summit.Read case studies to learn how a little help allowed companies to make it all happen. Begin with Case Study 38: Making Marketing Relevant to the C-Suite.Research by Deloitte finds that CEOs expect their Marketing leaders to drive revenue growth, own the customer experience, dig in to data-based insights, operate in real-time, and master metrics that matter. To realize the performance targets of the organization, your leadership team wants Marketing to perform better.Customer-centricity. It's more than just a buzzword; it's more than just a platitude.This concept, while not new, has become one of the most popular topics among today's business leaders as companies explore ways to increase market momentum, customer share, and new product adoption. Yet, the Global Customer Service Barometer survey conducted by American Express found that "just over six in ten customers agree that companies meet their expectations."Why is this the case? Despite their claims that they keep the customer first, many B2B companies remain product-centric. However, making the shift to focusing on the customer can make all the difference. Perhaps you'll find Don Pepper's explanation about difference between customer-centricity and product-centricity useful:* Product-centricity starts with having a product or service that responds to customer needs and then finding as many customers as possible who have these needs.* Customer-centricity starts with the individual customer and aims to meet the needs of that customer in as many respects as possible.Furthermore, research has found that customer-centric companies enjoy greater customer satisfaction. And a Booz Allen study found that businesses that are successful at customer-centricity outperform industry peers two-to-one in revenue growth and generate margins 5%-10% above their competitors.When you shift to a customer-centric strategy, you are building an organization that holds the informed knowledge of the customer and the marketplace at its core. Your organization is aligned around customer commitments, customer relationships, and enhanced customer knowledge. All of which is power. While your products might be able to be copied and your channels disrupted, how well you know your customers and your market gives you a market advantage. While the transformation from product-centric to customer-centric comes with a cost, the benefits you can reap often far outweigh them. Curious to see transformation in action? Read Case Study 36 to learn how we helped Winton Global transform from product-centric to customer-centric with a focus on accountability.Shift Your Marketing to Focus CustomersMaking the shift to being customer-centric takes deliberate action. It means more than just changing the conversation with your customers. It means changing your Marketing organization from the inside out; especially in four key areas.1. Customer orientation. Marketing needs to reorient itself to encompass the entire customer lifecycle. To do this, Marketing leaders must create a data-driven, customer-centric culture as well as processes for transforming data into insights.2. Solutions vs. Selling. A customer-centric transformation means you leave the world of selling "products" for the world of solving problems. This applies to ALL business decisions.3. Front-line vs. top-down driven. Focus on those who interact directly with your customers every day. This means your Sales, Marketing, and Service personnel who are in the trenches. You need to arm these people with the skills, resources, and authority necessary to manage "moments of truth."4. Engineer or reengineer business processes. If you want to transform your Marketing into a Best-in-Class Marketing organization that leverages systems and tools to drive effectiveness and efficiency deliver on growth you'll need to "bite the bullet" and possibly rework every business process, including your Marketing processes and systems. This often requires establishing a fully functional Marketing Ops organization.Marketing Ops: Your Behind the Scenes Wizard for Customer StrategyMarketing Operations serves as the central nervous system. It is the branch of the entire organization that facilitates the planning, performance management, resource management, and tools to support a data-driven customer-centric organization.So what should your Marketing Ops function provide you with to be able to succeed in all of these areas? At a bare minimum, your Marketing Operations function should help you improve your performance in three primary areas:DecisionsInfrastructureAccountabilityThe capacity of Marketing Ops must expand beyond campaign automation and financial governance to a role that drives alignment, accountability, and agility. This is particularly prevalent if you want a Marketing organization that serves as a value creator. By creating or expanding the Marketing Ops role and skill set, your Marketing organization is better able to meet your C-Suite's performance expectations.Use these resources to strengthen your Marketing Ops:Read some How to Guides. We recommend The Role of Marketing Operations in Improving Marketing Performance.Listen to educational recordings. One we would suggest starting with would be the Marketing Ops Technology Summit.Read case studies to learn how a little help allowed companies to make it all happen. Begin with Case Study 38: Making Marketing Relevant to the C-Suite.Research by Deloitte finds that CEOs expect their Marketing leaders to drive revenue growth, own the customer experience, dig in to data-based insights, operate in real-time, and master metrics that matter. To realize the performance targets of the organization, your leadership team wants Marketing to perform better.If you're feeling the pressure to meet these rising performance expectations, it may be time to revisit your Marketing organizations processes, tools, data and analytics, alignment and accountability. Find out how here.
Article by Laura Patterson

Are You Rich In Activity Metrics But Poor In Proving Value?

visionedge marketing ·17 May 2017
While surviving CMOs will focus on lead generation, pipeline management, branding, and customer acquisition, the most important ingredient for thriving CMOs is their ability to connect the dots between all Marketing activities and the corresponding investments and business results.If you're like most Marketing leaders, you work for CEOs and CFOs whose performance is evaluated based on financial and strategic measures. That means that you're going to have to support your CEO in their endeavors with the relevant numbers. Research suggests that nearly 9 in 10 organizations "expect their CEO to lead the organization on a strategic growth trajectory." Market penetration, market expansion, product expansion, diversification, and acquisition are among the most common growth strategies. Four of these strategies - market penetration, market expansion, product/market development, and diversification - all require effective Marketing. So, it is reasonable for your leadership team to expect Marketing to play a primary role in developing and implementing these strategies to support the business's growth initiatives.Research published in AdAge at the end of 2016 helped decode today's five CMO priorities. Two of those priorities fell squarely into the domain of marketing performance management (MPM). The first priority was measurement. However, the study revealed that not just any kind of measurement is sufficient. To be effective, you need to be able to measure Marketing's impact on the business. The second priority was the need to do a better job of justifying Marketing investments.AdAge was not alone in shining a light on those CMO priorities. The trend towards more compelling measurements of value was also reflected in a Chief Marketer article that identified six trends for 2017, three of which included some type of measurement: cross-channel measurement, more sophisticated marketing measurement, and real-time attribution. Additionally, a Forbes article predicted that 2017 would be the year Agile Marketing will be taken more seriously. Why? Because "agile marketing results in a measurable improvement in marketing performance."Thriving CMOs Know How to Connect the Dots It is Marketing's job to connect the dots between the work of Marketing and the business results. Yet far too often Marketing's metrics measure activity that does not impact the business. How can you change that? Marketers making headway on measuring their value to the business take an outcome-based approach to their metrics. Operating in this fashion allows Marketers to effectively tether their measurement data to key business outcomes. When done well, the links between activities and outcomes form a metrics chain, which enables Marketing to measure value and impact.Considering that Marketing's purpose is finding, keeping, and growing the value of customer, the work of Marketing--i.e., marketing activity--should focus on creating customer value. Therefore, every Marketing metric must in some way positively affect customer value. Achieving that objective requires knowing the following:The value drivers for your organization. Market share is an example of a common value driver that Marketing can influence.The way customer value is calculated. One of the most accepted methods of calculating customer value is customer lifetime value (CLV), which measures how valuable a particular customer (or customer segment) is to the company over his or her lifetime.The current customer value.The desired customer value.The way Marketing's contribution will be tied to customer value. This is the most critical step. Once the connection between Marketing and the organization's business values (such as customer value) are made, you can then choose a means to measure Marketing's performance within the context of business value.

Centers of Excellence: How to Drive Your Marketing Performance Past the Norm

visionedge marketing · 3 May 2017
The concept of Marketing serving as a Center of Excellence (CoE) within an organization is beginning to see traction. In their recent 2017 Marketing Benchmark Report: Centers of Excellence Key to Boost MarTech Adoption and Maturity, Marketo identified a variety of challenges and opportunities facing marketers that can be more easily overcome when Marketing operates as a CoE. Marketo insists that Marketing organizations must operate as CoEs to eliminate the inefficiencies of being a siloed organization. Recently, the American Marketing Associate declared that "to keep up with marketing's continuous evolution, companies could get a jump on their competitors by creating a "center of excellence."We concur. Marketing CoEs are more than an exercise, they positively impact the bottom line, which is why, back in 2012, we began offering practical advice on how to create a Marketing CoE.How to Drive Repeatable and Predictable Marketing PerformanceA CoE entails more than centralizing your Marketing or consolidating your suppliers. A CoE serves as a way to develop and deploy best practice processes, discover new approaches, and continuously improve the functionality of your operations. In effect, a CoE is at the heart of performance management. At its most fundamental level, a CoE facilitates operational transformation. For Marketing specifically, a CoE provides your company with a way to merge more closely into your markets and make you more relevant to your customers.Gartner defines "a COE as a physical or virtual center of knowledge concentrating existing expertise and resources in a discipline or capability to attain and sustain world-class performance and value." Successful CoEs focus on a specific capability in order to optimize internal processes and resources. Marketing CoEs, to use the vernacular of Allocadia, are about more about how you "run" and "do" your Marketing not how you manage your external suppliers and agencies. In essence, a CoE's primary focus is to push the organization beyond standard performance norms to deliver incremental value.The broader the processes and resources covered by your Marketing CoE, the greater the potential impact on your organization. As it should. At its best, your Marketing CoE will help you see beyond the four walls of your organization to understand the implications of Marketing for customers and suppliers.Perfect Your Marketing Performance with a Center of ExcellenceCreating a Marketing CoE takes a significant investment of aptitude, time, and assets. Therefore, it is critical to establish clear criteria of success for both the operation of the CoE and its impact on the organization. As much as possible, define success in terms of value to business. Some examples include:Enforcing standard processes and best practices to improve time to market by X%, improve customer experience for A by X%, etc.Improving employee decision making, competency, and proficiency in X (such as analytics or metrics selection) resulting in Y improvement on time to decision.Improving quality in areas such as: quality of new opportunities, quality of the win rate, etc.Ideally, your CoE would measure its value in terms of positive changes related to performance, productivity, customer value, competitiveness, and cost - all of which are results that should resonate with your C-Suite. Even so, making the decision to pull the trigger and form a CoE should be based on strategic and business improvement outcomes.Do you need to build a Marketing CoE? If you answer yes to one or more of these three questions, we recommend that you do so.You need to improve specific capabilities for all Marketers that are important to producing mission critical business results (such as growth).You need all your Marketers to have knowledge about a particular area (such as customer experience or customer-centric marketing), and the knowledge is difficult to acquire.Centralized processes would improve performance and quality parameters.CoEs take care and upkeep. As you can imagine, considerations associated with a CoE include scope, staffing, governance, performance measurement, systems/tools, and of course operating budget. Realistically, you should only undertake the transformation of your Marketing into a CoE when you want:Well-orchestrated Marketing strategies based on insights derived from quality data.Informal, consistent, customer-centric approach to Marketing and its associated processes.Marketing that is aligned with the organization's outcomes.Adoption of specific performance management processes.When properly implemented, your Marketing CoE should drive repeatable, predictable, and scalable performance. Are you ready for a reorientation to your Marketing? Begin easing into the transformation with this white paper: What You Must Know About Marketing Centers of Excellence: A Why and How Primer.
Article by Laura Patterson

Who Cares About ROI? What You Really Want To Know Is How Effective You Are

visionedge marketing ·20 April 2017
In our MarketingProfs article, Marketing Activity Metrics Mean Little: Here's How to Really Prove Marketing's Value, we asserted that "marketers need to be smarter about the performance metrics they select." We also found ourselves concurring with David Dodd's claim that "many senior leaders are no longer satisfied with the tactical performance indicators (campaign response rates, content downloads, etc.) that marketers have traditionally used to describe marketing performance." From these two sentiments (and a lot of other research) we have concluded that far too many Marketing metrics are tied to activities and efficiency rather than Marketing effectiveness.A Forrester study, Winning In The Connected World: How Aligning Finance And Marketing Will Drive Business Success, found that CFOs want Marketing to "measure the effectiveness of Marketing" related to the overall organization's financial goals. The traditional metrics of measuring ROI and reducing spend, on the other hand, were at the bottom of the CFOs short list.Marketers making headway on measuring their effectiveness to the business are taking an outcome-based approach to their metrics. Operating in this fashion allows Marketers to tether their measurement data to key business outcomes and drive the organization's financial goals.It is also those same Marketers who are focused on being effective and are able to work the numbers to most accurately track and report on their performance.How To Take Your First 5 Steps Towards Effectiveness1. Own your company's positioningCreating customer value is directly tied to your company's bottom line. Customer value is a financial calculation and it is increasingly seen as a key source of competitive advantage and a basic ingredient for the company's positioning. Effective Marketing organizations know how to create a value proposition that is superior to and more profitable than those of their competitors. In fact, Trout and Ries introduced us to the idea that a company positioned as the leader gets about 50% of the market, No. 2 gets 25%, No. 3 gets 12.5%, and the rest of the competitors split the remaining 12.5%.2. Focus Marketing on real value creation activitiesEstablish and own a sustainable process of value creation. Take the lead on keeping conversations and investments focused on developing a continuous stream of products and services that offer unique and compelling benefits to your customers. Some of your first efforts might include, but shouldn't be limited to, product and process efforts, gaining insight into the needs of well-defined segments, harnessing data and analytics to accelerate efforts within existing markets or creating new markets, and reconfiguring company and/or industry value chains.If your current work doesn't meet the above criteria, discuss where it fits among the priorities for Marketing and readjust.3. Serve as an integral member of the business teamAs marketers, we talk a lot about demand generation, marketing channels and attribution, marketing activities (such as content, social, email, brand, search marketing, etc.) and customer engagement. However, marketers who want to be effective have realized that it takes more. Marketing must also be an integral part of the business.Effective marketers speak the language of business and talk about how Marketing can facilitate business growth by acquiring and demonstrating business acumen.4. Develop a deep understanding of strategyEffective Marketing organizations guide strategy. Strategy selection provides focus and enables an organization to concentrate limited resources on building core competencies that create a sustainable competitive advantage to support pursuing and securing the best value creation opportunities. It provides the guidance and direction for channeling the organization's precious, and often limited, Marketing resources to generate market traction, penetration, and dominance.5. Define measures of success tied to effectiveness, value, and impactWe started this post by saying that marketers need to be smarter about metrics. Hopefully we've made it clear that choosing the right measures is far more important than the quantity of data measured. While there are many ways to approach this task, one way to make sure you keep your focus on the right measurements is to have a Marketing measurement playbook.Your marketing measurement playbook should provide you with a strategic approach for building your measurement processes, selecting metrics that emphasize effectiveness, reporting those metrics in a way that delivers real business value, and executing the right activities to continue to improve over time. To ensure that you are on the right path, contact us to help you develop a Marketing measurement playbook that tells your team not only what to do but how to make it happen.
Article by Laura Patterson

Increase the Value of Marketing by Comparing it to its Peers

visionedge marketing · 9 March 2017
Analytics-based insights derived from Marketing's data have become the lifeblood of both Marketing and the business. These data driven decisions are the critical component in improving Marketing's effectiveness as well as proving Marketing's value to the business. However, in order to formulate actionable recommendations that will be of value to the business, you have to ensure that you are offering insights into the business priorities that are advantageous to the C-Suite. Doing this begins by changing your focus from budget management to performance management and operating as a Best-in-Class (BIC) Marketing Center of Excellence.If data is the lifeblood, Marketing Performance Management (MPM)--which Forrester describes as "a discipline that governs goal setting, monitoring, and continuous optimization of marketing's contribution to revenue and other priority business goals" - is the heartbeat of Marketing. Performance measurement and management requires Marketing organizations to optimize operations and adopt best practices in order to connect their investments to results. For Marketers, it takes operating as a Center of Excellence (CoE) by transforming into a center of competency focused on value creation, customer-centricity, outcome-based planning, and the related analytics to achieve this target.But how do you know that you've achieved this level of excellence? The attributes associated with excellence need to be clearly identified so you know what to strive for and when the target is achieved. Since 2001, VisionEdge Marketing's annual Marketing Performance Management Benchmark study has explored what Marketers who earn high marks from the C-Suite do better and differently than their peers. The results indicate that marketers who earn the high marks are serving a value creator function within the organization.The question, however, remains how do you become a BIC value creator that produces long-lasting benefits for the organization? You begin by benchmarking yourself against the other leaders in the industry with the following criteria:1. Who are you aligned to? Those Marketers who choose to align themselves with the priorities that are important to the C-Suite are critically differentiating themselves from the pack as BIC marketers and giving their organization a longer shelf life.2. Are you measuring what will be impactful to the business? Did you know that even out of BIC marketers, only about 80% transcend other marketing organizations' ability to select the right metrics? Being able to select the right metrics is a result of marketers knowing which business outcomes matter to the business leaders and then aligning Marketing to these outcomes.3. Do you leverage data for a specific purpose? BIC marketers aren't enamored with data because they love numbers. No, data has a purpose. Those who know what data they need, where it is, how to access it, and how to use it will be the ones to make solid business decisions and strategic recommendations.4. Are your analytics descriptive or predictive? BIC marketers are making fast strides in climbing up the analytics maturity model. They are reorienting themselves quickly from implementing descriptive and diagnostic analytics to utilizing analysis for its predictive capabilities.5. Are your performance targets quantifiable and outcome-based? If your performance targets are not aligned to what outcomes the business needs, then they will never be of value. However, even if your targets are already aimed at business outcomes, you still need to pause and ensure that they are easily measurable.6. Have you created a dashboard that is actionable? How to design an actionable dashboard is a massive subject of its own because you need a dashboard to fulfill two functions: allowing you to improve Marketing while simultaneously proving Marketing's value to the business. BIC marketers accomplish this dual functionality by have their dashboards oriented toward mitigating risk, facilitating decision making, and guiding course adjustments.7. Do you pursue excellence? BIC-Marketers do not settle for the status quo. They continually strive to innovate on their ability to deliver business results by working closely with the business to prove their value. For these marketers, becoming a best-in-class center-of-excellence is the force that will continue pumping longevity and relevance through the Marketing organization.Isn't it time if you learned if your Marketing organization has the endurance necessary to operate with a Best-in-Class designation? Take the 2017 MPM Benchmark study and find out. Check out this presentation to learn how you can crack the code on measuring Marketing's impact. In addition, read the 2016 MPM Benchmark Study, How to Make Progress on Your Marketing Excellence Journey.

Focus on Revenue is Not New Marketing Thinking

visionedge marketing · 6 February 2017
Peter Drucker is attributed with saying that --Business has only two basic functions - marketing and innovation. Why is marketing so important? Perhaps the answer lies in Phil Kotler's point of view that:Marketing has the main responsibility for achieving profitable revenue growth derived from acquiring and retaining profitable customers. Marketing jointly and equally shares the responsibility for generating revenue with our very important partners in the sales organization. That being said, I must confess I am confused by the recent emphasis on Marketing being focused on revenue. We now have blogs, websites and roadshows dedicated to the topic of marketing and revenue, but hasn't Marketing always been focused on revenue? I mean, isn't that the job, growing the top line? Did I miss something over the past 30 years?Maybe the reason for the recent surge is that so many marketers have focused on generating awareness and leads without real clarity around how investments in these efforts drive revenue. Today's executives expect more than awareness and a higher number of qualified leads from marketing - they want a measurable return on their marketing investment and they want marketing to be able to communicate how it is relevant. Perhaps, the microscopic scrutiny on marketing that has put marketing in the hot seat has also brought the topic of revenue generation into sharper focus.But here's the rub and the trap. As a marketer, when was the last time you marketed to a bucket of revenue? This is not the question you should ask. The questions to ask are: how many customer "deals", both net new and additional business from existing customers, constitute this number? And how many of these is Marketing expected to drive? Why? Because as marketers our job to help the company acquire, keep and grow the value of profitable customers. This approach allows Marketing to help the organization take a customer-centric approach rather than focus on an internal revenue number.To make this approach work, Marketing needs to translate the revenue number into how many customers and which ones. Ideally, marketing should be informing our respective organizations which customers and prospects to target, because as marketers, we are the ones who are supposed to identifying the best customer and market opportunities from our customer and market segmentation and sizing efforts.Armed with information about the state and size of the target market, their needs and wants, and how our offer best meets these needs and wants, we can develop strategies and programs designed to connect with these customers, increase and accelerate their consideration, and motivate their conversion to purchase.Now as a marketer, you can go about setting marketing key performance indicators and program performance targets that will enable you to measure Marketing's impact on revenue. For example, let's say you need some number of net new customers for a business unit by the end of the year. Before you can set a target for the number of customer deals Marketing will generate, you will need to know the typical sales cycle type and cost to acquire a net new customer for this business unit. This information can then be used to establish a target number for marketing qualified leads, the cost per lead and a target conversion rate for how many of these will be accepted by sales. And before you establish these numbers you will most likely want to set a performance range for how many customers/prospects a program will enable you to connect with and a target conversion rate and cost for these.Driving revenue for the business takes working the numbers, then tracking and reporting on the performance to the numbers. Taking a customer-centric view rather than an internally oriented revenue-centric view and "doing the math" facilitates creating a marketing organization that is relevant, can measure its value, and more importantly affect revenue.What do you think? Do we need a return to the fundamentals? Or are you as surprised as me about all this talk about something that should not need to be said? What do you think is happening to our profession?
Article by Laura Patterson

3 Elements Of Successful Change Management

visionedge marketing ·19 January 2017
We are sitting in a meeting with the CMO and a new marketing operations director from a large, well-established company. They had called and asked for a meeting to help kick their marketing metrics and dashboard up a notch.In the last year, this marketing organization has added various capabilities, including customer relationship management, marketing automation, and marketing resource management systems. The marketing operations director has a staff, which includes the marketing automation and marketing resource management teams.Recently, they've had some measurement adoption issues, so they decided to appoint a dozen of the marketers from their200-person global marketing organization with marketing performance and operations responsibilities, with dotted line reporting to the marketing operations director. Some adoption issues are related to experience and training, but some are more subtle and the result of people who aren't receptive to change. As we listen, I realize that this team didn't take change management into account at the beginning of their journey.No Magic Pill for an Instant ChangeThe size or industry of a company doesn't matter. Every aspect of marketing performance management often requires cultural, process, and skill changes.Many times these organizations underestimate the effort required--they want something fast and easy. It reminds me a little of people who want to lose weight, but they don't want to make any activity changes or diet. They want to take a pill to lose weight, preferably while they sleep, and watch the pounds quickly melt off.Unfortunately, such a magic pill doesn't exist. Even the diet pill companies clearly state, "X pill was designed to be used in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise. Some users may lose weight without changing their diets or exercising, but exercise and healthy eating are recommended for optimal results." And there you have it, most of us who want to lose weight are going to have change--change our diet and/or change our exercise routine.Change Is Part of a Company's ImprovementChange is pervasive in our society and a fact of life in organizations. Change involves making alterations to the organization's purpose, culture, structure, and processes in response to seen or anticipated changes in the environment. It can also facilitate prosperity and growth, even in volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous environments.Effective strategic marketing leaders realize that change is part of the continuous improvement process, and CMOs bent on survival embrace change.Three Elements of ChangeAuthor Dallas Willard tells us that successful change takes three elements: vision, method, and will.VisionSuccessful change hinges on a picture of a desirable future.Vision can provide both a corporate sense of being and a sense of enduring purpose. In 1995, John Kotter, a professor at Harvard Business School and world-renowned change expert, introduced his eight-step change process in his bookLeading Change. Kotter posits that without a sensible vision, change efforts can dissolve into a list of confusing projects that take the organization in the wrong direction. Kotter strongly emphasizes that the vision must be easy to communicate. That is true for marketing teams adopting performance management. The CMO must create the sense of urgency, craft and communicate the vision, remove obstacles, produce short-term wins, anchor the change in the culture, and build on the change.One of the easiest, least expensive ways to create a quick win is to change the approach to the marketing plan, which is an existing process and output for many organizations.MethodOnce you have a vision, the next thing you need is a method.Using the losing weight example, let's imagine that there is an upcoming event in a few months where being slimmer is important, a class reunion for example. You can envision all the benefits dropping 20 pounds offers both in the short term, for this event and, in the long term, for your overall health. The next step is to decide how to lose the weight... Will you hire a trainer and nutritionist? Join a gym? Join a weight loss group?When you work with a firm that specializes in marketing operations, marketing performance measurement, marketing accountability, and so on, they should have a well-defined method you will use and can then adopt.WillThe last item is intention or will. This is probably the most critical for any successful change. If you don't really want change and/or you can't get your team onboard, the probability of success is slim. An initiative is only successful when individuals change their daily behaviors and workflows. Being able to mobilize the individual change necessary for an initiative to be successful and deliver value to the organization is the essence of change management.Here are five important steps to support will:Be aware of the need for change. If you don't think you need to lose weight, you won't.Desire the change. Even if you may know that your life or quality of life depends on making a change (stop smoking for example), you have to want to change. Performance management takes hard work, so the payoff and value needs to be very clear.Know how to make the change. The team members need to know how the change is going to take place and their roles in the change. They need to understand the timing and rhythm.Develop the skills needed to implement the change. Most likely, team members will need skill development, and hands on training is key to adult learning. Include this investment in your performance management budget.Reinforce the change. For the change to be sustained, constant vigilance and reinforcement is vital.In a world where the rate of change is speeding up, the best defense is a good offense. So, master change management by planning for these three key elements: vision, method, and will.

Five Proven Practices For Customer Experience Mapping

visionedge marketing ·10 January 2017
Customers are the most important part of any business; customers are the very purpose of business. Keeping your happy should be at the top of your list of priorities. If your organization is among those that have created customer experience maps, kudos to you and your team! If not, and this is an itch you want to scratch.Before we offer advice for mapping the customer experience, it might be useful to make sure we're all on the same page in terms of what we mean by customer experience. At VisionEdge Marketing, when we refer to customer experience we mean the points of interaction between the customer and your organization. These touch points include, but are not limited to, interactions associated with pricing, purchasing, servicing, payment/billing, support, and delivery of your organizations offerings (goods and/or services).How customers evaluate their experience is based on their perception of the actual performance of the organization at that point of interaction compared to the customer's expectation. James Allen from the Harvard Business School revealed that while 80% of businesses state that they offer a great customer experience, only about 8% of customers feel similarly about their experience. Understanding this perception versus the expectation, and the gaps across all experiences, enables you to create customer experience performance targets and key performance indicators.The Purpose of Creating a Customer Experience MapCustomer experience mapping is a vehicle for capturing the perceptions versus the expectations across all points of interaction, ideally for each customer segment and/or persona. The mapping process should enable you to develop processes and skills designed to deliver an experience that sets your organization apart in the eyes of your customers, hopefully resulting in customer loyalty and becoming advocates for your goods/services.Many organizations often mistake creating a process map with creating a customer experience map. While similar, their focus is quite different. A process map describes your company's internal processes, functions, and activities and generally uses the company's internal language and jargon. A customer experience map describes the customer experience in, and only in, the customer's language. What makes customer experience mapping challenging is the fact that the customer experience is typically quite complex, because it cuts across divisions, departments, and functions.Five key steps to help you create your customer experience mapStart with the universal touch points that can be applied across all your customers (you can create more specific experience maps as time goes on)Make a list of all the touch points. For each touch point write a description, method of interaction, and customer expectation. We have found that this step is best accomplished by:Involving as many people as necessary, including members of your customer advisory boards, to identify all touch pointsHolding working sessions and conducting interviews to capture and incorporate the expected and actual emotional, experiential, and functional experiences for each touch pointDocument your learnings and produce a visual illustration (map)Use the map to identify areas working well and those that need improvement. Focus on those areas that are known as "moments of truth," those crucial interactions that determine whether the customer becomes or remains loyalBuild a plan to address James Allen's "Three D's," which he believes enables organizations to offer an exceptional customer experience:Design the correct incentive for the correctly identified consumer, offered in an enticing environment.Deliver the proposed experience by focusing the entire team across various functions.Develop consistency in execution.Sometimes organizations need help with this, which is why there are experts out there! Be willing to ask for help--it's important to correctly capture your customer experience journey.

What Type Of Customer Experience Do You Deliver?

visionedge marketing · 4 January 2017
Customer Experience (CX) is one of the most highly discussed topics in organizations today. By definition, CX encompasses all interactions across the entire life cycle of the customer relationship. According to a survey by Oracle, of 1,300 senior executives in 18 countries, 97 percent believe CX is critical to their success. In addition, the study revealed a significant difference in perceptions between what executives think about the experience that they provide customers, versus what customers think about the experience that they receive. Only 49 percent of executives believe customers will switch brands due to a poor customer experience, yet 89 percent of customers say that they have switched because of a poor experience.To be effective, a CX strategy must be aligned across the organization and encompass all customer touch points. The survey results found that conflicting key performance indicators and lack of alignment are among the biggest hurdles to achieving CX success. Alignment is especially critical to developing a CX strategy that results in positive, consistent, and brand-relevant experiences for your customers. Your business must align organizational goals between departments and lines of business to facilitate the best customer experience possible.The first step in moving your CX initiative forward is to fully understand the actual customer experience. The saying, "walk-a-mile in their shoes" could not be more apropos. One of the best ways to begin to capture the customer experience is with a journey mapping exercise. This process helps you understand what it is like for your customer to interact with your business. The good, the bad, and the ugly of your customers' experience becomes apparent through this exercise. Once you have the map, you can begin to prioritize your next steps.Customer Experience Impacts LoyaltyHow a customer engages with your organization in order to do business with you is known as your service model. It consists of various touch points that set the tone for overall customer satisfaction, trust and loyalty. These touch points include interactions with marketing, sales, service, operations, product, finance, and so on-from transactions via phone, meetings with account teams, receipt and payment of invoices, to using the website and social media channels. Satisfaction at each of these touch points should be measured and managed because each one influences loyalty-positive sentiment, purchases, references, etc. If the service model meets your customers' needs and expectations, they will be loyal and become brand advocates, possibly bringing in new business for you.To Improve Customer Experience Capture Critical Touch PointsIn-depth interviews and focus groups are two of the best ways to begin collecting customer touch point and experience information. These types of conversations make it possible to identify and understand all the stages your customers experience across the life cycle, and from these conversations you can learn about the specific contact points customers have when they do business with you. The objective of this step is to define the broad stages (such as purchase, delivery, deployment, service) and their associated contact points (trouble tickets, invoices, contracts, etc.). It shouldn't be surprising if you end up with a complex map that includes a large number of stages with a multitude of contacts.Once you have the touch points mapped, the next step is to understand the following attributes for each touch point: frequency, value in the experience, impact on loyalty, and level of satisfaction. Transactional and intercept surveys can help with capturing this information. This level of information will help you associate touch points with loyalty and business impact, enabling the development of a CX strategy that will create a predictable, consistent and positive experience and prioritize to your action plan.

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