International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is annually held on March 8 to celebrate women’s achievements throughout history and across nations. It is also known as the United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace and has been observed since in the early 1900’s.

Great improvements have been made and in the recent years we witnessed a significant change and attitudinal shift in both women’s and society’s thoughts about women and their role.  We do have female astronauts and prime ministers, school girls are welcomed into university, women can work and have a family, and women have real choices.Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg are just the two corporate “celebrity” names that immediately come to mind.

But are we really passed the Mad Men days of social and professional divide between men and women? Annual statistics years show stagnation, only ~15% of Fortune 500 Executive Officer positions are held by women. In the 2013 poll of American workers by Gallup reveals that still, only 23% would prefer to work for a female boss.

americans poll

I know of the holiday back from the Soviet Union days where this day is a huge celebration for all women in the country. Historically, it was a bit like the US Mother’s Day and children give small presents in thanks to their mothers and grandmothers. More recently expanded into celebration of womanhood and all women now feel free to gift each other on March 8th.

women

Be Boring

I think the World around us may have suddenly changed and become visual. After a few years of contemporary supersonic life, accelerated tech revolution and our inability to keep up with our  own lives, something shifted. We don’t have time to read and anymore and we no longer seek depth in the ways we used to. Instead, we resorted to using senses. Did the fast track.

If you keep up with trends in website design, you will notice more and more full-frame versions, easy-to-access structure, exuberant graphics and yes, every blog post is accompanied by an image. Responsive designs allowing for people to see images and interact with content on mobile are now a standard. Even The New York Times, God love them, not the most innovative company, pranced into modern times with the relaunch of their travel section.

This year marks the new capacity for humankind to express ourselves, more openly than before, bit scandalous, sharing our most intimate moments via instagram and connecting with each other visually and in very human ways. Perhaps, it is appropriate to congratulate ourselves on entering a very lovely era of digital maturity? If you are a marketer, or digital designer and you didn’t catch on, you risk being left behind and becoming “boring”.

As if to prove my point, this is the error message on Richard’s Branson website (auto-page). No description needed!

richardbrandson 404 error

The message reads: It’s what they apparently call a ‘404 error‘ (we’re not sure what the previous 403 errors were, but they may also have involved women’s clothes and too much make-up).

Dreamforce 13 Roundup

Dreamforce 13 exceeded any expectations this year. My highlights were joining the American Express kick off on Monday and ExactTarget roadmap / automation discussions (oh, yes, Benioff’s shoes as well!)

Here are my top takeaways from the conference:

  • You need to stay current: New technology constantly changing the landscape and this change is accelerating. Channel priorities are shifting: traditional media channels do not perform like they used to because consumers don’t make decisions the same way they did in the past.
  • Marketing is becoming more sophisticated: Good old ways are over and top skills are scarce. My “native” Marketing Automation and Nurturing 2.0 are very hot topics in the market.
  • Behavioural data is here to stay: The days of narrow demo profile targeting are over, behavior or additional data on prospects / customers sets a new standard as it allows to deliver the “right message to the right person at the right time”.
  • Social is not a channel: It’s official; social connectivity is the way of life. For marketers it means the way of making decisions, reaching target prospects and for software it means having the ability to outfit companies with business-critical information in real-time.
  • Re-evaluate your use of Salesforce: Align your company strategy to your tools. Get an independent review of Salesforce.com and innovate with Salesforce to make sure you get the most out of your investment.

It was a great event, lots to learn. Dreamforce took over the city, but every time I walked down the street around the event, I met 2-3 people I knew. It maybe a huge community (DF was over 120,000 registrants this year) but a very small or, I should say “connected” world.

benioff's shoes

3 Things Executives Need to Know when Switching to Marketo

Upon encountering several sub-optimal Marketo implementations, I’d like to share considerations that Senior Management needs to review prior to adding Marketo to their arsenal of marketing tools.

  1. Marketing Talent. Advanced email, lead management and automation capabilities will cause learning curve for marketers on your team and some may not be receptive to a shift in their day-to-day responsibilities. Ask the question whether they WANT to learn it, assess whether there is sufficient base-level skillset and provision for any external help to guide and ramp you up in your implementation.
  2. Technology Implications. An automation system works hand in hand and “connects” a lot of your data and processes. For example, a webinar attendee will update status in Marketo, receive a confirmation email and data will sync to CRM in real time. This adds requirements in tech architecture, systems integration, and inherently exposes any existing inefficiencies and data issues. The good news, Marketo can help the alignment across the organization; however, you should be aware that automation would impact many parts of the organization beyond marketing.
  3. Change Management. The bottom line, Marketo is not just another email marketing tool. Robust functionality and cutting edge marketing practices that Marketo brings to the table increases transparency in the organization and creates new requirements for the marketing team. The new marketer has to understand data management, sales process (CRM system, if connected) in addition to email marketing, and have the ability to evolve the skills to constantly changing automation practices.

The beauty of Marketo marketing solution is, you can configure to your specific business needs. The downside? If the person configuring it doesn’t have the understanding of all the moving pieces involved and still learning functionality – it creates a lot of inefficiencies. If you made the decision to invest in this solution over many down market providers, change management is important and is key to your success in utilizing Marketo functionality. Ignoring any or all of the points above puts your organization at risk of incurring extra cost, poor reporting and organizational design / collaboration issues.

Lastly, even if you have a talented automation specialist on your team (or hiring one), you will highly benefit from adding guidance from an experienced consultant or consultancy specializing in Marketo implementations. Having exposure to multiple Marketo and CRM instances gives you an advantage of utilizing best practices in an industry that is constantly changing and evolving.

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Here’s what others had to add (this was posted on Marketo Community as a Featured Discussion). Every one is a great addition to recommendations.

“4. Sales goaling will likely be impacted.
I have found that once marketing automation comes up to speed, you may get fewer leads, but these leads should be more highly qualified. The implication is that sales may need fewer leads in order to reach their goals. But this shift may take months before the true results will be seen and the implications may take even longer to interpret.”
~ Patty S, Mktg Automation Specialist at Direct Capital

“5. Data hygiene. We had to look at our data and establish some rules to remove useless records in our CRM and Marketo whom we can’t even really market to anymore and they were just taking up valuable space in both systems. “
~ Michelle Tiziani, Online Marketing Specialist at Institutional Real Estate, Inc.

“6. Specifically for people moving from Eloqua: There are siginificant differences in how Marketo thinks about the data model, automation and analytics that can significantly increase the scope of your initial implementation. Be sure to speak in-depth with someone who understands both systems to make sure you are not taking anything for granted.”
~ Micah B,

“7. Involve your sales team early. A big component to an effective marketing automation system is the handoff between marketing and sales. Your sales leadership must be invested and onboard with the idea of marketing automation, and be willing to drive their team to integrate it into their sales processes. By listening to your sales team and identifying their needs that Marketo may help address, you’re setting yourself up for success.”
~ Jeff Shearer, Manager at Egencia, an Expedia Company

“8. Think Big. Have your team design a project intended for 3-5 years, not for a shorter term. If you’re not yet, but planning on expanding the languages you communicate in, build language into the core of your implementation. Never limit data integration. If you have two silos of data you’ll never know which is truthful. Expect to grow, don’t leave your team pressed against artificial limits.”
~ Adam Waterson, Online Marketing Manager at Planon

“9. Mobilize assets around the implementation team. Yes, you can have Marketo up and running and ready to execute campaigns within a matter of days, but not if everything is left to the person or team doing the implementation. They’ll need IT support to update DNS records, etc. They’ll need design support to create templates for landing pages and emails. They’ll need web support to implement tracking scripts wherever required. They may even need dev support to integrate with any existing service providers or online assets. If you’re prepared for these requests, your implementation will go MUCH more smoothly.”
~ Drew S, Manager of Demand Generation at Spiceworks

“Sales and marketing leadership must be aligned and have common goals. They must agree on what the definition of a marketing qualified lead and sales qualified lead is and agree upon a process to identify and process those leads.”
~ Kristen Wendel, Director Marketing Operations at JDA Software
“Preparation is key.

“Ensure you have planned your approach, mapped out initial engagement programs, have read up on lead scoring using Marketo and have your first pieces of content ready.

If you get the preparation right you can have Marketo up and running and fully operational in a short space of time, and start reaping the rewards that Marketing Automation can bring.”
~ Andrew Mullings, Project Director at Your Sales Team Cloud

“Make sure your Marketing team is educated on important topics such as Email Deliverability to avoid bad consequences at a later date. If you currently don’t have a process in place for this, start it now! The sooner the better.

Also, stay up-to-date with the latest best practices/advancements as the Marketing industry is constantly evolving.”
~ Adam Edwards, Technical Consultant at Your Sales Team Cloud

“I’d add in an additional, perhaps overriding theme as well – the organization needs to be committed to marketing automation philosophy – the tehcnology (even great ones like Marketo) are an aide – you have to embrace the notion of scoring, nurturing, and leveraging digital body language. The organization also needs to be ready to live the data and leverage it for optimization so they can improve their return on marketing efforts – if this isn’t a desire, you might ask if they are ready for MA?”
~ Clinton Cage, Global Mktg Operations Manager at Fluke Networks

“All are very good advice! What I don’t think gets paid enough attention is change management. For many organizations, marketing automation and the core disciplines that make it work – personas, content, etc – are fundamentally very different than the company may be used to operating. Such change is not easy and certainly does not happen overnight. In addition to all the aspects mentioned above, planning for and managing the training, briefs, collaborations and changes in mindset over an extended period of time will aid in the liklihood of a successful implementation.”
~ Mike Turner, Senior Manager at Beechcraft Corp

My New Best Friend – the CFO

Many of my fellow marketers would acknowledge that Marketing as a function was commonly viewed as a cost center. Marketing “spends” the money. Sales “makes” the money. Right? With the automation tools in the market today, things changed dramatically. This New Marketer becomes the center of a company’s revenue engine and yes, takes “magic” out of that black box past Lead Gen activities before a sale happens. New reporting gives deep insights into revenue flow and gets the marketer a seat at the decision table. 

So why friends with the CFO? The Chief Financial Officer is a corporate officer primarily responsible for managing the financial risks of the corporation. Marketing, especially back in the TV commercial days was a big ticket that didn’t always yield results. Or, I should say, we couldn’t always attribute them properly. Automation tools and new CRM systems allow us to create a seamless connection between Marketing and Sales. They bring about transparency, accountability and change the way “success” is defined – from email clicks to actual sales opportunities and revenue. Campaign optimization is also taken to the next level. This revenue is predictable and can be optimized because it is basically driven by Math.

If you are trying to establish successful Demand Generation initiatives within your organization, large or small, make friends with the CFO and your Financial Operations team. They will help you get the funding for the new tools and often can help break down the barriers for adoption.

Fluid or Structure?

After my conversation with Paul, the CEO of GigaOM I was puzzled. What do you mean, you don’t care where your employees work from? And there is no established rule / designated tool to use to communicate with each other? “I am not worried,” Paul said, “People use what they like and then the best solution will be naturally adopted. People make it work.”

When I went to visit the GigaOM San Francisco offices, I saw it in action. People & teams communicate and work with each other in the most real way and respect each other’s “space” (you can use any free spot, so there is no designated desk either). They sit where it works for them at that moment.

I have a certain affinity to creating “my own space” but I decided to challenge myself and try FLUID rather than STRUCTURE. It’s changing how I think and perceive space around me. I find myself more focused, more creative and it’s easier to collaborate on projects. The downside? Well, it’s something new and I am experiencing some healthy anxiety…

Bottom line? I love it! Try it.

The Rules of Consulting

- Fast

- Cheap

- Good

…you can have two of the three…