Challenging the Status Quo of Marketing Groupthink

Tony Compton, Managing Director
GettingPresence

 

The average tenure of a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) is somewhat short. Two years, maybe three or four. It depends which study you reference. I thought I read it was getting better nowadays. But there’s a long way to go…

Even with the short tenures, CMOs still apply approaches that are:

Outdated. Passive. Common. Routine. Disconnected. Just Because.

Comfortable.

Secure.

of “Careful” Value.

I was going write of “Zero Value” – but that’s not true. There’s some value to what some are doing in marketing. But so much in marketing nowadays simply gets by. And there is value in simply getting by in:

  • Digital Marketing
  • Events and Trade Show Marketing
  • Content and Sales Enablement
  • Product Marketing
  • “Paint by Numbers” marketing leadership from CMOs.

…but simply getting by is not in my nature.

You see it everyday. Fill-in-the-blank marketing. The majority accept, and few challenge. Groupthink. Marketing Groupthink.

That’s how I view far too many approaches to marketing.

Here are five readily identifiable areas that demonstrate marketing groupthink:

1. Digital Marketing

Copy and paste each and every “Digital Marketing” job description easily found populating the ‘black hole’ career sections of corporate websites. And LinkedIn. And others. Digital Marketing has become what? Search engines, keywords, social media maintenance, websites, emails, some writing, some campaigns, some lead gen, some CRM system data upload, some reporting, etc… Your company does it. You do digital marketing the same as the next one, and the next… Why? I dunno. It’s become routine.

Want to challenge the digital status quo? Have your digital marketers put down the electronics and stand in front of the class and tell your corporate story. Or venture out with sales people to talk to customers. Don’t tell me those ideas to marketing groupthink won’t make your digital marketers better at what they do.

2. Events and Trade Show Marketing

Your marketing up to, during, and after your company’s events has become predictable. And safe. How so? Your BIG industry event is coming up. So you pepper your contact db with messages about your sponsored appearance. (So does everybody else.) You promote your event appearance and solicit on-site meetings to drive the appearance of after-show value with high-end opportunities. (So does everybody else.) A sponsored reception, party, or steak dinner may be in the offing. You have your booth. Your paint-by-numbers booth. And you may have a presentation. Or a seat on the ‘cure for insomnia’ panel discussion. Then you (hopefully) dissect your after-show contact spreadsheet to email, call, and solicit. Just like everybody else.

Am I close?

Want to challenge the status quo? Take a hard look at why your company does the events it does. Ask questions. Don’t just take another spot on the show floor and populate it with outdated collateral, spinning PPTs, a ‘cheap’ exhibit, and people who have zero personal communication game. You may also wish to prepare your company speakers before their next presentation. You may wish to turn off your mobile cameras before streaming live video without preparation. Negotiate with event vendors, save money. And leave some of your budget-busting staff at home.

Get serious – and creative – about your events strategy.

This one’s tough. But if you want to disrupt your trade show and event groupthink – you’ll break new ground.

3. Content and Sales Enablement

Content, content, content. Somedays that’s all you’ll read. But it’s the security blanket of the ill-prepared. For terrible slides for unprepared speakers. For endless, text-heavy case studies. For websites that could double as a maze in a corn field.

I’ve never said content isn’t important. But I’ve been around the block a few times in marketing. Content ends up residing on local laptops in all forms known to mankind. Or in a central repository which dates back to 2007. And once the content is retrieved, it’s deflates the person who found it because it’s the same thing Joe used for a presentation in Chicago last week. Outdated messaging and all.

And how exactly is producing all of this “content” enabling sales?

Besides the obvious groupthink approach that sales needs content to be effective?

Want to challenge the status quo? Make sure that those that produce the content can actually use their content. Have them present it as a sales person would: on the phone, on a webinar, in a boardroom, on-stage, and on-camera. It’ll make them better content producers if they experience first-hand how it’s used.

More, it’s wise to make sure that those who are using the content can demonstrate that they, too, know how to use it in multichannel scenarios. (That’s means your inside sales reps and your external business developers. Your marketers, customer service agents, and partners. And your executives.) Be sure to make sure that those who use the content, can use the content.

Because the marketing groupthink approach to content and sales enablement simply dictates creation. And dumping of content. And freelancing of usage.

Of course I’m familiar with sales enablement technology that catalogues content. Customizes content. And delivers content. But that doesn’t mean the end-user in the field can use and present the content. (And those vendors will never tell you that.)

4. Product Marketing

I’ve written about how product marketing could be on the verge of automation. About how it’s become a cookie-cutter endeavor at so many tech companies. I know it’s supposed to be this strategic, go-to-market leadership function, but it isn’t. Not anymore. Not at the companies who copy and paste their product marketing requirements just like the vendor next door.

Follow-me, again, to be sure I got this job’s requirements down: product marketing is to develop strategy, go-to-market messaging, value props, and unique differentiators, have it’s ear to the market, the trends, the competitive landscape, the alliance partners…

Product marketing is to develop content. Draw up battle cards. Unveil material to support business growth. To forecast opportunity. To interface with industry analysts. Understand the buyers. Some subject matter expertise and some public speaking and presentation work.

Toss in a product launch, event, campaign, and marcom support, some sales enablement, with financial and technical expertise, and you’ve got the product marketing picture.

And so does every other company housing one or more product marketers.

Challenging the product marketing status quo is easy. And damn sure should be required.

Last I checked, there are ~5000 MarTech vendors, spanning all imaginable industry sectors. How in the world are you going to break out in that landscape if your product marketing approach is the same as every single competitor? And for those not in the MarTech 5000 – the same question applies. What are you doing differently?

Ideas on how to do so? Sure…

Let me start by saying I’ve seen the problem. Your go-to-market problem. You’ve got good people doing good work with great technology. But where product marketing is supposed to lead, it time and again drops the ball. Change it by:

Preparing your product marketers to regularly visit, present, and interact with customers, prospects, analysts, and the media. Prepare for interactions across all formats. Remote, and in-person. On-camera, on-webinars, and in-person. You’re likely not doing this today. I know because I pay attention. It’s easy to spot. To hear. To see. To read. Get your product marketing communication game tight.

Prepare your product marketing leadership skills. I once sat in on a presentation from one BIG Tech company that was unbearable. They were so proud of a 100+ slide deck but forgot to tell the six remote presenters on a web-conference call how to organize and make sense of it amongst themselves and for the audience. Product marketing is in the leadership role, and took none.

Add creativity. Real creativity. Turn product marketing into storytellers. Stop doing the same events, the same panel discussions, the same public-facing tasks… create a brand for product marketing by doing things differently: creating your own events, podcasts, webinars, videos… separate from the field of product marketing clones. Attack your target audience outside the standard methods of outdated product marketing groupthink.

5. Marketing Leadership

Or should the section be called the “be quiet, accept the marketing groupthink, and just do your job…

It’s the biggest “paint-by-number” and “color between the lines” area of marketing groupthink.

Marketing strategy? There’s a template for that.

The marketing plan? There’s a template for that.

The marketing budget? There’s a template for that.

The approach to events? There’s a template for that.

The quarterly marketing report? There’s a template for that.

The quarterly marketing ops report? There’s a template for that.

The quarterly product marketing report? There should be a template for that.

To marketing videos? Stare into the camera, off-set right, ask softball questions, and overlay graphics.

The approach to webinars and other recorded audio material? Overdo the content, and add one ill-prepared voiceover. Record ‘good enough’ sound to give the impression of using a tin can in a cavernous concrete room.

The leadership approach applied to marketing? So common that you don’t need a template.

Here, I’m busted. You need a marketing strategy, plan, and budget. And you have to report on marketing activities. Those are the current table stakes.

But I’ve sat in those rooms with marketing leaders.

They’re the same leaders who copy and paste last year’s approach to this year’s plan.

The ones who won’t hear of true sales enablement, innovative approaches to content, sales-oriented management styles, and creative, groundbreaking marketing.

Who nod, shake their heads, and clap politely when the next expert dumps useless but feel-good information on them.

Marketing leaders who won’t deviate from standard operating procedure.

Who’ve become infamous for low average #CMO tenures.

This article is over, but I’m just getting warmed up.

I want you to exercise your marketing creativity. Your marketing passion.

And not let it be held captive by a Xeroxed job description or outdated approaches to marketing management.

There are those who accept marketing groupthink. Who want to accept marketing groupthink. No challenges to their way of business thinking allowed.

So you can either smile and go back to your cube, or you can challenge the stats quo.

Challenging means creating.

It means professional #leadership.

It means taking ownership in the business.

Seeing that talent is nurtured.

For ensuring success.

For acting on the need to bring marketing innovation – and professional disruption.

In technology and business practices.

For breaking the business mold and doing something that stands out in the crowded marketing landscape.

To strive for excellence in yourself and those around you.

 

For more on Challenging the Status Quo of #Marketing Groupthink, follow me on Twitter: @tonycompton, @GettingPresence

For immediate #presentation & #publicspeaking tips, visit the GettingPresence website.

10 Signs It’s ‘Amateur Night’ at Your Trade Show

Tony Compton, Managing Director
GettingPresence

25 years ago I tried to persuade a friend to compete on Amateur Night on Showtime at the Apollo. With no luck. He was a very talented rap artist. But he knew (and anybody who watched the show knew) that rappers stood little chance of winning that competition. He thought I just wanted to see him get booed off the stage. (That was a comical part of the show.) I knew where he was coming from, but… nothing ventured nothing gained.

Regretfully, today’s trade shows and industry events bring a new the meaning to Amateur Night. Or Day. Or whatever you want to call it. And it’s so damn easy to see…

Though I vividly recall watching Showtime at the Apollo over two decades ago, a tour of current trade shows would have you wondering if anything has been learned in the last five decades. If there’s ever an industry — an area of marketing performance, corporate communication, sales enablement, lead and demand generation, and revenue-generation —  ripe for innovation and disruption, it’s the trade show and event industry.

Turn on your computer, wake up your mobile device, wander around some convention halls, view the Tweet streams, and within minutes (maybe seconds) you may see what I’ve seen:

1. Two Bags of Junk and a $5000 Expense

Somebody proudly tweeting a picture of two suitcases full of swag (junk) that was (allegedly) to be brought home from a trade show. I started to do the math. One conference registration, plus one flight, plus ground transportation, plus meals, plus hotel, plus incidentals, plus time OOO, plus time wasted on-site gathering this stuff, plus time packing, plus (God forbid) luggage fees = $5000. Maybe more. Probably not much less than that. Gathering stuff is not why one attends a show. More, who is paying those business expenses?

2. Signage, Ineffective

Will somebody please take exhibitors to a baseball game? Or for a long drive on the highway? Look at an outdoor sign, or at a billboard. The companies with bold, simple messaging stand out. You remember those Coca-Cola signs with the logo – and nothing else? Good. So why do a majority feel the need to cram messages and shoehorn every product and company feature onto their 10’ backdrop?

3. Exhibit Space Rich, Booth Poor

So you splurged on a 20’ x 20’ booth. Congrats! But then you populated it with four posts with four monitors, one reception counter and some chairs. Oh, and you placed your logo here and there. Way to break the mold on the creative marketing effort.

4. The Exhibit Hall Copy Machine

When that long row of 10’ x 10’ booths resembles Cellblock D at a Federal Prison, it’s Amateur Hour. It’s tough to ‘break out’ of prison, and it may be even tougher to ‘break out’ in the crowd of endless booths that look the same. No amount of crammed messages on your signage will help. No rotating PowerPoints on a 27” monitor will change anything. And no literature racks with collateral from 2014 will separate you from your confinement.

5. Streaming Amateur Video

Doing Periscope, Facebook, and YouTube videos from trade show booths and convention halls is all the corporate marketing rage. Yet I’ve seen better, more engaging, more original, and more entertaining content on cable TV programs that feature homemade video submissions versus some of the so-called ‘professional’ stuff generated from industry events. I used to wonder if those in charge at some of these companies knew that these types of videos were being produced to represent their company – but then I see some CEOs who have taken part in such productions.

Oh well…just another competitive marketing and trade show advantage given away.

6. Nonsensical Event Imaging

Here’s what I’ve seen: pictures of event speakers next to their eye chart PowerPoint slides while the audience plays on mobile devises. That’s usually accompanied with a caption that reads “Joe really knocked that software demo out of the park!” Anybody notice that the audience isn’t paying attention? Or that the slides are illegible?

I’ve also seen those ‘just behind the scenes’ pictures of a TV interview being conducted for yet another trade show interview. Problem is that angle has become common and faded years ago. It all looks the same and had grown long-in-the-tooth. Plus, it used to be compelling to see the larger cameras, and detailed staging behind some of the bigger, on-scene video setups. Now, a picture behind one person holding a single light next to a small mobile camera on a tripod watching XYZ executive be interviewed just isn’t cool. Or compelling. It’s simple. Mediocre. Average. Played out. Every single interview, from every single trade show, of every single show attendee or industry executive, looks and sounds the same.

7. Public Speaking & Presentation Arrogance

Did you practice giving your presentation before going on-stage? Probably not. Not sufficiently, anyway. Did your colleagues? Doubtful. Did you care more about how you look and sound while giving your speech versus the overly detailed content of your color and logo-correct slides? Maybe you looked at yourself on video to practice before going on-camera from your event?

My apologies, I forgot. What you, your colleagues, and your company do is good enough.

8. The Panel Discussion Recipe for Disaster

Take six high-chairs, six microphones, six ‘just stopping by’ panelists, one moderator, and a handful of pre-planned, softball questions and try to engage an audience for 60 minutes. Or substitute four cozy, comfy living room chairs on-stage. Then take pictures, circulate, and try to sell everybody on the notion that this panel discussion was earth-shattering and ground breaking. One look at the body language of the panelists is all anybody needs to know that it wasn’t.

9. The Self-Proclaimed Self-Important Event Producer

I once had the pleasure of supporting an exhibit for a midsize tech company, at a midsize trade show, in a midsize convention hall. Nothing remarkable about the event itself. 100 exhibitors, maybe. What I do recall is that we needed something from the show producers. Couldn’t tell you what it was or why we needed it. What I do recall is finding the guy who was our contact and point person for the show. He was riding around the hall on one those indoor golf-cart-looking vehicles. He was very busy, and very important. He was friendly-ish. But just couldn’t help at that moment in time. Not right away. You see, this was during booth and exhibit hall construction, and he said (they) were “building a city.”

Relax, pal. It’s a midsize trade show. Not the first human colony on Mars.

10. The Rookies

Yes, I know there’s a first time for everything. That includes attending a trade show and corporate events. But there are those rookies who swoop into town and proudly proclaim that “The Networking Breakfast starts at 7:30 in the morning and I have to be on time!”

Enjoy your breakfast. You, the hotel catering staff, and two others just in from Europe fighting jet lag will have the place all to yourselves for the first 30 minutes.

Trade shows are business investments. Sales and marketing expenditures. Attendees are there to learn, not collect junk from other vendors. Speakers are there to engage, influence, and motivate audiences. Marketers are to help uncover opportunity. All are there as an investment to grow the business. You won’t get there by applying Amateur Night behaviors.

Stand out in the crowd. Dominate the event. Do something that’ll capture the imagination and attention of your competitors, and your target audience.

Have the industry crowd take your picture.

Do that, instead of taking and circulating yet another generic event selfie.

 

Follow me on Twitter: @tonycompton, GettingPresence

For more, immediate tips, visit the GettingPresence website.

How Experienced CEOs Stay Ahead of Post-Event Spin

Tony Compton, Managing Director
GettingPresence

You may think that trade show was a success. Your CEO may not.

It’s the Monday morning after your BIG industry trade show. Vegas, was it? Chicago? Or San Francisco? No matter…

It’s 8:00 am. Your briefcase bulges with stuff acquired at your event. Collateral, business cards, receipts, some event notes in your folder… All representative of the hard work put in by you, your marketing team, sales, and your colleagues who attended the event.

Somewhere there’s a spreadsheet with information from scanned badges from attendees who dropped by your exhibit. More proof of return on the trade show effort.

Then there’s the expense report with your name on it. Gotta get that one in. Plus there are a few invoices to be paid after the show. Have to stay on top of those.

As your cup of coffee steams on your desk, you think about the six-figures spent on that show. Sponsorship, booth, exhibit and event signage, collateral, travel, etc. the itemized list grows long, very quickly. But no reason for concern. Review the event spreadsheet, pop the data in the ‘system’ for follow-up, jot down a few notes, assign the sales and marketing pursuit tasks, and you’re on track.

Then the phone rings. The CEO wants a word about last week.

When it comes to event and trade show reviews, there are two types of CEOs. The first kind accepts the post-event spin (or bullsh*t) from sales and marketing. The second kind of CEO knows better. The second kind of CEO has a finely-tuned radar to see post-event spin coming from a mile away and has the experience to stay one step ahead of the diversionary tactics which try to justify event participation and expenditures.

Come to think of it, there are three types of CEOs. The third type is somebody who thinks they fit in the second category, but don’t. The third type will ask a few mundane questions while believing they are getting to the bottom of event and trade show analyzation. But they’re not. They’re a lot like the first type of CEO, just not as aloof. The third type of CEO sometimes plays an active role in event planning and execution, so efforts to drill into post-trade show analysis may be compromised. This is the ‘good enough’ trade show CEO. On-site presentation without prep? As long as it’s good enough. Stream live video from the booth with no prep? Eh, as long as it’s good enough. Nobody’s watching, anyway… Booth staff unprepared, ineffective on-site branding, poor conference logistics… whatever. Show’s over.

But today, your CEO falls into the second category and sees it all coming a mile away.

Here’s how you know. You’ll be asked: How was the event? …and when you say:

1. “Great! We strengthened relationships with X customers, Y partners, and Z analysts.”

You’ll be stopped dead in your tracks. The opening phrase “we strengthened relationships…” is non-starter. Astute CEOs couldn’t care less about strengthening relationships with anybody at a trade show. That’s not why you went to the show. Sure, it may be a by-product of attendance, and there’s nothing wrong with building professional relationships to help the business, but that post-event answer isn’t what the CEO wants to hear. If you lead with this answer, experienced CEOs know the show didn’t produce real results. And if relationships really were strengthened, save it for the end of your post-event report.

2. “We scanned over 200 people who visited our booth!”

Again, that’s a bad way to start your answer. So what if 200, or 300 or 1000 attendees visited your booth? Who were they? If 100 visited your booth and you scanned their badges, I’d wager that only 10 out of the 100 may be worth pursuing. Especially in B2B scenarios. 10 may be worth pursuing, but it may be that only two or three out of the 10 may have the budget, authority, and need to buy what you’re selling. Maybe. Nothing against the other 98% of the list, but in all likelihood they are lower level employees, vendors, analysts, academics, job seekers, and partners who offer no return on the show investment.

3. “I saw Mr. or Mrs. Celebrity, Politician, or Big Time Business Tycoon Give a Talk”

Great. But unless Mr. or Mrs. Big is buying what we’re selling, referring new business opportunities to us, or demonstrating how we can grow the company, talk about something else.

4. “There was some fantastic entertainment!”

Even worse.

5. “We didn’t get much the way of new leads, but we had to be there.”

Really? Why? What would happen if your company didn’t sponsor or exhibit? Would the world think that you’re out of business? What if your company just sent a few people to attend and work the event, and saved five or six-figures?

6. “We had such a good time.”

Yes, a few in days in Vegas, SF, or Chicago can be enjoyable. The tweeted staff pictures of smiling attendees in front of the booth, at the parties, talking selfies in front of the show entrance all portray a positive image. Now where’s the image of the meetings on somebody’s calendar with qualified opportunities that can be sourced to spending money on this event?

7. “The leads will be in the system by next week.”

Good. But the week after is the start of the holiday season, Thanksgiving in the USA. Then six weeks where half of the target audience is OOO until January 8, 2018. And the next two months are gone. Unfortunately, the CEO, Board of Directors, investors and stakeholders have a thing about sales and revenue. Holidays or no holidays. Time is of the essence. A lazy follow-up approach is not what’s needed at this time of the year.

8. “They had record attendance!!!”

Wow! That show must’ve been the place to be! Except that you have little to show for it because you didn’t know how to stand out in the crowd. Funny how six-figures in event expenditures doesn’t get you very far in a crowd in excess of 100k. Throwing more money at your show wouldn’t make much of a difference. It doesn’t matter if 10 people showed, or 100k. If you didn’t have the creativity to make it happen on-site, what will you do different next time? Better yet, if ‘everybody’ was (allegedly) at that show, we could take advantage of the market.

(Because not everybody was at the show…)

9. “We already signed for next year.”

This answer is usually coupled with securing a spot on the show floor in the exhibit hall for next year, getting some sort of price break, or another ancillary promotional deal. Event producers are slick in the way on-site meetings are held to re-sign for next year’s event. Those pre-set/pre-determined meetings in the office in the back of the exhibit hall or in a makeshift hotel office/hospitality suite get a marketer in line, while in town. And if you miss that meeting, the follow-up booth visit from the sales rep is inevitable.

Unless there was an indisputable windfall of on-site business, it’s not a wise move to automatically re-sign for anything unless that demonstrable return can be reported from the last event. Experienced CEOs know this.

10. “Joe’s panel discussion was amazing!”

First off, panel discussions aren’t amazing. They’re usually boring. Second, what intel was gained from Joe’s panel discussion? What was learned from the other panelists? Third, did our team work the room? Did we speak to session attendees? Welcome them? Interact? Learn anything from them?

If the seat on the panel discussion was simply a way for the show producers to get a sponsoring company to increase their event budget, the astute CEO knows that panel discussion was a waste of time and money.

11. “We got all of this great stuff!”

Most of it’s junk, headed for landfills. Sure, a couple of things will stay on the desk, and a few toys will be given to kids at home. They enjoy it when mom and dad bring souvenirs home after business trips. But most of that stuff never gets read or used, and rarely sees the light of day.

12. “It’s not really a competitive atmosphere.”

I’ve heard this one before, and it still doesn’t sit right.

There are those who would have their CEO believe that they’re company is paying money — good, substantial money — to sponsor and exhibit at an industry trade show that’s in a non-competitive environment. That they are just glad to be there. Glad to see everybody.

Don’t buy it. You may be glad to see everybody at an event, but why would any company spend money simply to show up? Are the other sponsors and exhibitors going to add revenue to your annual report because you took it easy at the event? Will others pay your bills? Stay away from your prospects or customer base? Every trade show, event, conference, user group, and convention is a highly-competitive environment.

Astute, experienced CEOs want business results, business rationale, and sales-oriented answers as to why you sponsored, exhibited at, and spent money on that last trade show.

I’ve devised the CEO-CMO post-event stress test as a template for after show reporting. It’s not a pop quiz, and it’s not meant to be mean, or harsh, or unfair. It’s business. The sales and marketing business of trade shows. The questions need to be asked of marketing, and sales.

Regretfully, that tweeted picture of you and your smiling team standing in front of your cookie-cutter booth snacking on hors d’oeuvres won’t cut it back in the office on Monday morning.

Follow me on Twitter: @tonycompton, GettingPresence

For more, immediate tips, visit the GettingPresence website.

The Obliteration of B2B Tech’s Product Marketing Playbook

Tony Compton, Managing Director
GettingPresence

Quick, somebody sell me a pen! There’s a phone number on my TV screen. It’s in a commercial – RIGHT NOW – and I need to write down the number before the 60 second spot is over. I need a pen!

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, watch the film The Wolf of Wall Street and pay attention to the diner scene about 30-40 minutes into the movie. Stick around to the end as the “pen selling” subject pops up for a second time when Jordan Belfort (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) leads a sales seminar. DiCaprio’s character patiently uses the “sell me this pen” line and holds a pen upright as a prop. After the movie, dig up the handful of articles on this subject circulating on LinkedIn and read about the various perspectives on the subject.

As you’ve noticed, I added a little twist to the “sell me this pen” line. Nothing major, I’m still sticking with the original premise which challenges somebody to sell me a pen. Except I’ve admitted the urgent need for a pen. I need one, and want one, now. Yes, for that cheesy, ridiculous reason of writing down that telephone number on my TV. I don’t care the color of the ink. I don’t care if it’s a plastic or metal pen. Don’t care which company made it, or who their competitors are. Don’t care how big or small the pen is. Heck, I don’t care if the ink-filled instrument from inside the shell of a pen has a case. As long it works. Now. A pencil won’t do, I need ink. I don’t have a piece of paper. Just try writing a phone number on the palm of your hand in pencil.

And I’ll pay.

This article’s for those in sales, marketing, and the executive ranks from the ~ 4,900 companies listed in the latest the Martech 5000. (There are 4,891 companies represented in the graphic, with a total of 5,381 marketing solutions.) I’ve seen the graphic in my LinkedIn feed these past several days, along with a number of innocuous comments from my network about the sheer number of companies and solutions represented in the grouping. It’s truly impressive work to gather and produce that visual.

But now, for those in the Martech 5000 mix, try standing out in that crowd. Yes, the graphic is segmented. But even the individual segments are crowded. So, try standing out in your segmented crowd. And competing in it. And selling your software and services. And winning.

The new Martech 5000 graphic was released on May 10, 2017.

For those among the 5000, your current product marketing playbook became obsoletethat very same day.

Here’s why:

1. Yesterday’s Product Marketing Strategic Requirements Are Now Table Stakes

In the arena of B2B marketing technology, the product marketing function behind selling those technologies has become commoditized. Almost something that could be automated. (I wrote an article about it here.) Job description to job description, all those in search of product marketers use the same language to list the standard requirements of the position: technical aptitude, market experience, competitive knowledge, content creation, industry fluency, sales enabler, analyst whisperer, etc. Cookie-cutter product marketing career listings, all. That’s great, except who has time to spend on activities reminiscent of an academic think-tank than an active, aggressive, product marketing effort supporting a daily revenue-generating machine?

In a former product marketing life, I led a global market assessment for my business unit to support strategic marketing plans for an upcoming fiscal year. It was co-managed with an outstanding colleague in product management. Together, we dug into the business unit with our worldwide team from every possible angle, then presented our work and strategic recommendations to executive leadership. When we undertook the effort, we took a year’s worth of fiscal due diligence and made it happen in 90 days. Today, the business of product marketing in B2B technology is moving too fast, too quickly to wait a year. Or 90 days. Instead of a 12-month effort, I’m suggesting that the effort of knowing everything about the marketing technology arena – and the part your company plays in it – is a day-in and day-out ruthless business effort. Not 12 months, not 90-days, but every single day. For those first time product marketers new to a company, I’d allow three months of market and business orientation to get up and running. To fluently know everything that’s required from product marketing to checkoff that commoditized list. Then it’s time to move on to more pressing matters…

2. Launching, Getting to Market, and Differentiating

These performance areas are now squarely on the shoulders of product marketing. It must take the leadership role of setting the strategic direction for marketing, sales support and enablement, possibly the entire company. These deliverables won’t come out of marketing communication. They’re too busy designing websites, printing brochures, and making sure the corporate logo is being used properly. Digital marketing won’t do it. They’re too busy worrying about search engines, keywords, and social media. And the Corporate Marketing VP is knee-deep organizing a customer conference which looks, sounds, tastes, smells, and feels like every other industry gathering since before Ridley Scott’s original Alien movie burst onto the scene in 1979.

Time and again, yesterday’s B2B tech product marketers have notoriously limped across the go-to-market/product launch finish line. The result is that they find themselves adrift – anonymously lost in an expanding ocean of technology vendors. In the same way I can close my eyes and envision the repetitive product marketing job descriptions, and I can close my eyes and replay the countless number of product marketing-led launches and by-the-numbers offerings that bleed together and fade into the background noise of the industry landscape. It’s unfortunate. Product marketers who know they have good technology, who are well-versed in the feature/functionality of their products, who can provide a roadmap in the blink of an eye and relay stories about the delivery models at their disposal, but – when the time comes to go-to-market – the routine falls flat. The ability to crush the last mile to the market escapes them. Yesterday’s product marketers all employ the same set of activities: boring launch decks, text-heavy webpages, routine road shows, run-of-the-mill webinars, overview demos, predictable content, minimal sales enablement… It’s all driven by the outdated product marketing playbook and its strategy of May 9, 2017. That leads us to…

3. When Marketing Leads are in Stage 31a of the Pipeline, Sales Couldn’t Care Less.

I hope that section title captures the spirit of this section. Because while product marketing obsesses over which marketing lead is in which pipeline stage, and whether or not the lead is being subjected to the correct piece of product marketing-generated content, and if that content is being delivered by the mandatory piece of non-integrated CRM or marketing automation technology… By the time you try to explain all that to sales, they’ve disconnected. Long ago.

Forget that. Sales has to sell. It wants Product Marketing to get to work and do something to help. Anything, meaningful, that helps beat the competition — today.

Experienced inside sales people and external business developers have heard it all before from product marketing. Sales is grinding it out every hour of every day trying to hit their numbers and product marketing continues to preach of enablement, content, and technology from the ivory think tank. Yet after a decade of listening to the promises of all of the above, the song does remain the same. Content goes unused. Enablement sometimes can be nothing more than a stack of electronic stuff uploaded to an internal server. And while bought and paid for technology goes unintegrated, more and more and more vendors try to sell more and more software and services to an uninterested audience of skeptical buyers. Meanwhile, we see the competitive landscape growing.

Yesterday’s commoditized product marketing is in over its head. Sales knows this.

May 9th’s playbook is merely the opening chapter to May 10th’s revision.

Which means…

4. Yesterday’s Product Marketer Can’t Sell Me that Pen

Or software. Or professional services. Or managed services.

Even with an immediate need. Even with money on the table.

The creativity just isn’t there. It’s not there in mediocre presentations. It’s not there in road shows, events, and trade show booths that are long in the tooth with outdated messaging. It’s not there in illegible and outdated websites. In widespread poorly produced sales enablement content. In lackluster market launches lost in a congested world. In siloed, unused technology.

The sales grinder mentality isn’t there. When product marketing never accompanies sales to visit customers or prospects, the grinder mentality isn’t there. When product marketing is missing at the end of the quarter when contracts are due and revenue is counted, it’s not there. And when product marketing doesn’t participate in weekly sales meetings and doesn’t earn the immediate respect of the sales unit, it’s certainly not there.

The true enablers aren’t there. Content is only a modest piece of the sales enablement puzzle. Today’s overwhelming focus is on content, and the technology to delver that content. But can somebody tell me who is responsible for ensuring that the sales people who use the content are able to use the content? To communicate it effectively? To stand and deliver value props – without technology? To have and share a Point of View? To influence, motivate, and generate new business in front of a crowd? Or an executive boardroom?

The executive oversight isn’t there. I see too many corporate representatives (sales, marketing, executives) fumble their way onto the industry scene: poor stage presence at events, sleep-inducing webinars, mundane interviews, bad public speaking efforts. The other day I saw a video from a random trade show booth at a recent event. It was an interview. At least I think it was. Only I don’t think the interviewer or the person who was interviewed had ever done anything like that before. Product marketing should be on top of that before that ever happens. And so should executive management. It should be in the new playbook. Instead, the company will have to live with the filler-language filled interview with head-scratching content – forever.

I don’t remember the exhibitor’s name. I turned off the video after about 10 seconds. The participants didn’t appear as if they were happy to be there. Or really wanted to be there. Or knew what they were doing. Yet it was on-camera for all the world to see.

Why would anybody want to watch that? How was this acceptable to broadcast?

Yesterday’s product marketers could never sell me that pen. By the time they would finish showing me slides about the different colors of the pen and its various inks, and the comparison charts contrasting competing pens, they’d turn over the conversation to a salesperson enabled with case study content from 2013. Meanwhile, my TV commercial is over. Revenue lost.

Make no mistake about it, product marketing is responsible for breaking through and standing out in the sea of the Martech 5000. They, too, are also in sales whether they want to admit it or not.

The product marketer seeking to compete and win in all facets of the B2B tech game can’t be successful working off a playbook designed for a by-gone era. The new playbook must incorporate the old, while adding new game plans for true enablement, breakthrough product launches, sales toughness, revenue partnership, creative and effective personal communication, distinguished go-to-market efforts, and effective measurement.

Not only will today’s product marketers need to know how to effectively market and sell me that pen, they’ll also need to know how to cross-sell me on a blank sheet of paper. To do so, they’ll have to learn how to sit and interact with customers. And that’s not happening in the office.

The opportunity is outside, and so are those other 4,900 companies looking to put you out of business.

Get after it.

Movie Spoiler: Leonardo DiCaprio’s character doesn’t use any PowerPoint slides in The Wolf of Wall Street to help teach people how to sell that pen. At least not right away. Maybe he used some slides after the credits roll, but my guess he didn’t try to cram 100 proudly-developed, officially-sanctioned product marketing slides into a one-hour presentation.

Visit: http://www.gettingpresence.com, or email: info@gettingpresence.com

You Attend an Event, You Own It

Tony Compton, Managing Director
GettingPresence

Ah, Springtime. Another week, another round of “gotta be here” industry events.

Finding the activity from these events is easy. Just find event Tweet streams by hashtag or look on your LinkedIn profile page and eventually you’ll see all kinds of evidence from shows which span the globe: pictures, quotes, comments, etc. from attendees on the scene. Smiling pictures of people at the event are the norm, but pictures of booth giveaways, convention food, and the host city from a hotel room view are also par for the course.

Meanwhile, back at headquarters, the boss probably wants to know why you’re attending that event. I’m not talking about being an employee of a company sponsoring an event or a member of the corporate team producing the event. (Those attendees have their own separate challenges justifying their reasons for attending an event.) I’m talking about being a regular event attendee.

Oh, and let’s cut through the clutter about what an event is called. Trade Show, Convention, Conference, Summit, Workshop, Meeting, User Group… it’s all the same here. If you attend an event, you own your attendance.

So let’s get right to the point. The boss should want to know two things upon your arrival from your event attendance:

1. What did you learn at that event?

2. What were the business reasons you attended that event?

If I’m sitting in the boss’ chair, I’ll go one further:

3. Tell me what you learned, and show me the business reasons for attendance.

Do it without charts, a dashboard, slides, or electronics. And no paper printouts.

Go.

Note I wrote that the boss should want to know, vs. will want to know. Some just don’t give a damn. Bad boss, and maybe you should be the boss or your company should get another one who does give a damn. Or at least care enough to know why you attended that event, how much it cost, and what were the results.

But aside from a few platitudes, I wonder if many event-goers could articulate what they learned at an event, let alone speak intelligently about the business benefits, and results, shortly-after the conclusion of an event.

Here are some reasons why:

The Inactive Event Learning Experience

Go back to that event Tweet stream or review your LinkedIn profile and look at those event pictures. What do you see? Attendees sitting in sessions from keynotes to track breakouts. Some watch. Some listen. Many are playing on their electronic devices. Few learn little of anything. And when one session ends, it’s on to the next. Rinse and repeat. If an attendee has stuck around long enough for the last session on the last day, chances are they’re part of the dwindling group. Many others have left for the airport before the event concludes. It’s standard practice for the conference and trade show industry to conduct “educational” sessions this way. Tidbits are gained, and stories are told. But two or three days worth of cramming an information overload in this type of event format down the throats of stagnant audiences isn’t conducive to effective learning. I know ‘cause I’ve been there, done that…

Speaking of Keynotes…

So you’re an attendee sitting in Row 49 in the back of a crammed ballroom attempting to watch a keynote speaker. The speaker seems to be genuinely interested in delivering a good performance but is somebody using eye-chart graphics worthy of inclusion in the Ophthalmology Hall of Fame. More, the keynote session is wrapped around with cornball entertainment meant for others who clearly don’t get out of the house often enough. Exactly what would you say is of value in that cheesy and cramped ballroom setting?

Shopping, Anyone?

Are you attending an event to wander the exhibit hall and go shopping for your next piece of technology? Newsflash: you don’t have to. Vendors will come to you, at no cost to you. But hey, if getting endless sales pitches and gathering trade show junk that will go from a vendor’s booth, to your bag, to the nearest garbage can is worth your time and investment, have at it. But what are you learning from that exercise? And why are you paying for it?

Ill-Prepared Presenters

There are some phenomenal public speakers in business. But they are in the minority. Most speakers are more worried about the content of their presentation vs. their ability to communicate their content. They’re more concerned with slick slides than audience value, and the learning experience. The end result is a poor attendee experience where little is gained.

I’m all-too-aware that most speakers don’t prepare or adequately practice before their presentations. Heck, most don’t practice their communication skills at all – ever. Either out of fear, or arrogance, or laziness. And most companies do little or nothing to help. But you, the attendee, are still paying thousands to sit in those sessions and learn nothing. Nothing you can deliver with confidence back in the office.

You Attend, You Own It

So be prepared to answer what you learned, and describe in detail the business benefits of your attendance. Because all of that vendor stuff you brought back with you on the plane doesn’t count. Neither does your electronic file of endless slides. Nobody is going to read those. Those pictures of smiling people at the registration counter don’t count. And that smartphone video of the entertainment act is worthless.

If I’m the boss, and you just spent four days out-of-the-office attending an event to the tune of thousands of dollars, you’d better come prepared on Monday morning with clear, concise, concrete answers about your attendance. But taking a look at what I’m seeing on these Tweet streams, what’s going to be learned is that event attendees aren’t really learning anything useful at all – except how to spend money and create excuses for being OOO.

Visit: http://www.gettingpresence.com, or email: info@gettingpresence.com

Exposing a CMO’s Worst Fears

Tony Compton, Managing Director
GettingPresence

I can’t sing. Not yet, anyway. I suppose if I apply myself to a few singing lessons, I may be able to work my way through a few tunes. Country music, or tunes with a lot of Issac Hayes-type soul, perhaps… Sure, I can sing along in my car to my favorite songs from The Police to The Monkees, and I even mouthed along to an all-too-appropriate Tom Petty song while driving on a sunburnt Interstate 75 in Northern Florida yesterday afternoon, but still, I’m challenged in the singing department. For now.

A few years back, my then-girlfriend and I caught a New York City Broadway performance of The Mystery of Edwin Drood at Studio 54. (The famous 70’s club has been converted into a theater.) As expected, it was a outstanding production, and the performances were phenomenal. What struck me the most is how the actors could voice an appropriate British-accent (they’re not all the same, you know) and sing at the same time. And not just sing, sing well. Broadway performance in Midtown Manhattan well.

Days after the show, I mentioned this to friends when one innocently stopped me and said “That’s what Broadway actors do. They’re trained. They practice and prepare for their performances.” A spot-on observation, and I applied that to the working world of marketing.

Because so much is expected out of marketing, yet so little is done to ensure a world-class, top caliber performance in each and every aspect of the department. And exposing this is exposing a marketing leader’s worst fears.

Broadway actors are never, ever, just thrown out on the stage, yet it’s done to marketers all the time. In more ways than one:

1. Public Speaking and Presentations

Ok, way too obvious, but this topic works in the lead-off spot. Chief Marketing Officers are so damned worried about digital this, and content that… That the key element of a marketer’s ability to stand and deliver messages and value props – without electronics – is never coached, trained, or nurtured. Yet all are expected to deliver world-class audience grabbing performances when they take stage. Any stage. But without adequate practice and preparation, how is this supposed to happen?

By the way, the power went out at 7:00 am in my Central Alabama business class hotel this morning, It was out for over an hour. If your marketers had a meeting with a prospect or customer this morning at 8:00 and had to present in a dimly sunlit room with no slides, tablet, smartphone or laptop, what would they do? How effective would they be on their own – on the fly? Would they bag their performance, use the obvious excuse, or still nail it?

2. Voice and Video Production

You read about the dominance of video marketing and hear about it every day. And now you’re treated to the daily drip of stories that highlight how ‘voice’ is the new User Interface.

I don’t have to look, and I can cover my ears to know that your marketing leadership and your internal teams are totally unprepared for either.

Somehow, somewhere, amateur hour has taken over and it that reminds some of the way Kinescope was used in the early days of television.

In plain language… It’s unacceptable to thrown garbage in, and expect audience-grabbing, lead-generating, groundbreaking programming to come out on the other side. No, it’s not acceptable to put two people in an echoing back office and stick them on camera. No, it’s not acceptable to put a boring four-person panel discussion on a streaming media feed and expect people to watch. No, it’s not acceptable to throw digital marketers at a problem when they’re concerned with keywords and search engines and have zero experience coaching talent.

And, no, you’re not going to want Siri, or Alexa, or whatever generic voice Apple, Amazon, Google, Samsung, Microsoft, or Facebook offer to vocally represent your business.

Sticking somebody from your marketing team in the back office with a smartphone camera and its microphone headset won’t cut it. It never did, and it never will.

Video and voice are here to stay at the center of your marketing efforts. They impact everything from Product Information Management to the Customer Experience; from branding, lead generation, data gathering and usage, to marketing, communication, service, and customer loyalty; and from strategic investments, to financial management, to corporate profitability.

3. Sales Enablement

Instead of “Love and Marriage” Frank Sinatra could have sung an updated version of his Married with Children theme song using “Marketing and Sales Enablement”. (Although the syllables are way off. I can’t get it to work with the music in my head.) But you get my point. How are marketers expected to enable sales without understanding what salespeople need and want to be enabled, efficient, and effective? Meaning… marketers aren’t spending time with salespeople in the field. Hell, they hardly spend time with them in the office. And if the entire operation if virtual, forget it. Disconnected marketers sitting in a room somewhere cut-off from the daily sales efforts of people grinding it out is a recipe for disaster. Yet, marketers are supposed to be great sales enablers? How? When exactly does this transformation take place? Again, marketers are thrown ‘out there’ and into sales enablement with unrealistic expectations.

4. Digital Marketing

This one I’ll take in reverse. Just as you’ve seen widely-used, common job descriptions for ‘product marketing’ positions, and the often-published stories of video and voice dominance, now comes the onslaught of ‘digital marketing’ careers. But there are two problems with this. One, digital marketing positions usually aren’t just digital marketing positions, and two, if any positions are truly just digital marketing positions, those people are in trouble. Big trouble.

In my experience, ‘digital’ marketing will inevitably include some, if not all of: lead and revenue generation, creative writing, sales enablement, managing trade shows and events, managing marketing automation, social media and CRM systems, leading internal meetings, staff supervision, recruiting, interviewing, hiring, training and coaching, content production, public speaking, financial management, departmental strategy, product launches, media and analyst relations, etc… Of course nobody is preparing digital marketers to handle much of that list – one that barely scrapes the surface.

Calling somebody a digital marketer nowadays is largely inaccurate. Their work will encompass more than heads-down Internet and social media work on a laptop. But it seems as if labeling marketing positions as merely ‘digital’ is the new hip comfort zone of HR everywhere.

They’re wrong. And preparing nobody for all that those ‘digital’ positions require.

Maybe I’m blowing this out of proportion. The many discrepancies in how marketing is being handled today don’t really need to be pointed out to expose a CMO’s worst fears. It’s not that the marketing team hasn’t been prepared to be public speakers or outstanding presenters, or that they’re not up to the physical, creative, or technical demands of streaming video production, event management, and vocal user experiences. It’s not the unreasonable expectation that marketers are automatically supposed to be sales enablers in a vacuum or that digital marketing is more of a title-in-name-only function.

I think exposing a CMO’s worst fear would be to secure a speaking spot on a Broadway stage and ask for a two hour performance, without the opportunity to rehearse. No prep, practice, rehearsal before going on stage. In fact, this is a good way to expose the worst fear of most anybody on the executive, board of directors, and investment teams.

After all, if a marketer can be thrown into any one of a number of situations without adequate preparation, practice, coaching, training, rehearsal, or resources before being expected to crush a task or performance, why shouldn’t senior leadership be expected to do the same?

Somethings can be outsourced, but marketers are being sorely short-changed by companies when its employees are not afforded the investment and opportunity to do their jobs well.

No Broadway actor would take the stage and sing without daily hard work and preparation.

No senior-level executive would give a speech or presentation without practice and rehearsal.

But marketing is expected to perform at equally high levels with little or no help, across-the-board, in numerous assignments.

While you think about that, I have to hit the road. It’s a beautiful day in the Southern USA, and it’s time for the open road and some traveling music.

And another chance to work on my singing voice…

Visit: http://www.gettingpresence.com, or email: info@gettingpresence.com

The CEO-CMO 1:1 Post-Event Stress Test

Tony Compton, Managing Director
GettingPresence

One business week after any trade show, conference, or regional event concludes, a 60-minute 1:1 meeting between the CEO and CMO should be held. Not a 61-minute meeting, or 90, or 120. 60 minutes, and a not one second more.

Of course, the CMO can (and should) prepare for this meeting and have notes, but no slides, computers, or mobile devices. No technology whatsoever. A whiteboard or a flip chart with markers is acceptable.

During that meeting, the CEO should ask the CMO:

  • All-in, what did it cost us to do that event?
  • How do those costs breakdown?

…tell me about our sponsorships, exhibits, travel, marketing, content, and event technology.

  • What quantifiable business benefits did we get out of that event, for that investment?
  • How many qualified business opportunities were sourced from that investment?

…tell me about them: by industry, region, products, services of interest…

  • What are those revenue opportunities worth?
  • Who is following up on those opportunities?

…how and when?

  • How many qualified business opportunities were helped by that event?
  • Who is following up on those opportunities?

…how and when?

  • How many leads were sourced from that investment?
  • Who is following up on those leads?

…how and when?

  • Which accounts and customers did we strengthen – and protect – by attending?
  • What’s the economic value of those accounts?

—————

  • Are all of the event leads, opportunities, and new contacts in our CRM/CX/Marketing/Customer Service tools?

…including all relevant individual contact and account information?

—————

  • What was our partner involvement in the event?

—————

  • Do we have the content and technology to ensure efficiency and effectiveness in follow-up?
  • Can those in sales and marketing pursuits effectively communicate, and close business?

…without using technology?

  • If not, what do we need, why, and how much will it cost?
  • What will sales say about what you just told me about the business benefits of that event?

—————

  • How effective was our exhibit hall booth, and other branded/supporting locations on-site?

…how do you know?

  • What did we do to drive show attendance, and promote our appearance at this event?
  • How was traffic in our company locations, and the number of visitors?
  • What were there job titles? …from which companies, in which regions, in which industries?
  • Which days and what hours did you work staffing the booth?
  • Which show provider shipped, installed, dismantled, returned, and is storing the physical elements we used?
  • Who from our team helped them before, during, and after the show?
  • Is that company doing a good job?
  • Do we need any additional external event professionals to help produce our next event appearance?

—————

  • How many staff members did we send to that event?
  • What were their specific, individual, on-site responsibilities?
  • Did any of our people speak or present at the event?

…about what topic and with whom?

  • What did their session evaluations reveal?
  • Did you attend our sessions?
  • How many general attendees were in attendance in their sessions?
  • What questions did they ask our presenters?
  • How did our presenters prepare for their sessions?
  • Were our session attendees welcomed at the door by our staff?
  • What did those interactions reveal, and what intel did we gain?
  • What additional market, prospect, customer and competitive intelligence was gathered at the event? …how did you gather that information?

—————

  • What did you personally learn about our industry/marketing/other business areas?
  • Which members of the media did you meet on-site?
  • Did you meet with any industry analysts at the event?

—————

  • What worked and what didn’t work for us at this event?
  • How about for the event itself?
  • Could we have achieved similar results by just sending one or two people to attend?

—————

  • When is next year’s event and where is it being held?
  • Did you sign a contract for next year’s event?
  • Why, and how much will that cost, and when is the first payment due?

—————

  • When is your next meeting with sales about following-up on this show’s activity?
  • Which customers and prospects from the show will you be seeing first, and when?

—————

  • When will you share these event results with the sales, marketing, executive, and general company teams?
  • How are you going to do that?
  • How are you thanking each of your event team members for their personal contributions?

—————

  • If you could brag about any of your colleagues, customers, vendors, or partners who helped to produce and deliver a successful event, what would you say?

Time’s up.

This is a general list that I broke up into sections on the fly that assumes the CEO didn’t attend the most recent corporate event. Not a big deal. There are a few other assumptions, too. But it really doesn’t matter. As you read through this list, you can modify the wording if the CEO did attend the event and make any necessary adjustments in the line of questioning. And if the CMO didn’t attend the most recent event, bigger problems may exist. I would expect most any CMO to attend major company events.

That’s enough for a rapid fire, post-event, 60-minute stress test meeting between a CEO and a CMO. Yes, this back and forth can be achieved in an hour. It’s one hell of a stress test.

The Chief Marketing Officer needs to know the answers to those questions well beforethis meeting. If the CMO doesn’t, or doesn’t want to know, get a new CMO. The Chief Executive Officer should want to know the answers to each and every one of those questions. If the CEO doesn’t want to know, get a new CEO. And if sales doesn’t want to cooperate with marketing (and vice versa) find new business leaders who will implement the lead and revenue-generating processes required for success. You know the process, where sales and marketing actually work together.

I’m sure #sales, #marketing, and #event professionals can add to the list I provided. While you do that, I’ll work on a rapid-fire list of questions investors can ask CEOs about their marketing and event activities, and a third list of questions sales leaders can ask marketers about business development, #content, #communication, and enabling #technology at the end of any quarter.

Oh, and if it looks as if marketers are being given the excessive third degree about the business results of their activities, damn right. They should be.

Visit: http://www.gettingpresence.com, or email: info@gettingpresence.com