If you're a company thinking about a corporate rebrand, then you're in the market to hire a creative agency for a new visual identity. Deliverables of a visual identity makeover could include choosing a new set of corporate colors, fresh typefaces or defining a specific photo style that best represents your brand. More complex goals could include all of the above plus a messaging rewrite or a complete pivot in corporate direction. Reasons for a visual identity makeover include attracting investors, your company has scaled, an upcoming IPO, a restructuring, packaging for a sale or you're simply in need of a new look.
Before embarking upon this exercise, understand what you're contracting a creative agency to perform for you by providing a tight scope of deliverables. Some creative agencies are contracted to provide exhaustive brand guidelines encompassing brand messaging and visual identity including everything from Web site design to how your email signatures appear. Others may be contracted for limited deliverables on purpose. And some will deliver only half the job based on vague direction and a loose scope. Awareness of what you're buying with creative agencies is up to you and your own awareness of what you need.
Allowing for a loose scope generally amounts to a creative agency providing style over substance. When a creative agency delivers a stylish ad campaign, for example, and you have a plethora of various marketing execution needs, the legwork of adapting the advertisement style to inbound marketing formats falls upon a mix of outside vendors and overworked in-house designers, should you have any. This introduces a layer of confusion and additional costs as marketing managers struggle to direct teams of de-centralized designers and content providers into deciphering a direction from inapplicable advertisements.
The process goes something like this: Brand specialists will perform research into your industry. The research is used to audit and assess the messaging, market position and visual identity of your competition. This process looks much like a funnel, collecting the performed research at the top end, and combining it with your own company's DNA further on down. The final output at the bottom spout of the funnel produces distilled, topical, and industry-ready messaging in the form of brand pillars and a brand story. This can further refine into a tagline for your company or a series of headlines that combine with photography, typography and color, forming the look of an advertisement. This is a crucial, necessary step in the process, as advertisements are designed to communicate a brand promise, brand recognition and disseminate information all at once. Campaigns are a good exercise and the most expedient vehicle out there for awareness, yet this is where creative agencies simultaneously fail their clients because this is where they stop.
Some creative agencies are forgetting that there's a second funnel that's upside down in its appearance. It takes the distilled output created from the spout of the top funnel and creates a platform to disseminate your message in all of your marketing formats at the "bottom" of the funnel, otherwise known as "brand activation." This is the unglamorous part of the job after the glitzy work of a top-level ad campaign has been accepted by your company. A loose scope in this matter may result in your agency thinking its work is done, and you being distracted by the well-executed shiny object of the new ad campaign. The application of your newly minted visual identity and refined messaging should parlay into the inbound work of white papers, email templates, data sheets, case studies, infographics, industry reports, information-driven Web pages and even social media awareness. Most of the marketing work you perform will be within the confines of informing your customers and potential customers about your goods and services delivered through longer-form content of this fashion, and these are the types of delivery vehicles that are most often overlooked.
As always, it's the devil in the details. Define the scope by creating a list of deliverables you cannot live without, and list those deliverables as a line item in the contract, and this way you can hold the creative agency accountable for them. If you find that your budget is confining you to only specific deliverables, create a plan for activation up front by providing as much information and resources to outside vendors that you can. In this case, more is more, and you will save precious time and money.
Posted by Scott Shultz on 04/09/2018 at 1:51 PM0 comments
Account Based Marketing (ABM) has officially landed in the marketing toolbox as an effective, must-implement strategy for nurturing and winning high-value accounts. According to a 2017 SiriusDecision survey, "ABM programs are maturing, securing a bigger share of marketing budgets; organizations continue to invest in ABM technologies to better operationalize and optimize programs."
But while ABM is an effective strategy, inherent challenges exist and must be overcome in order to realize the intended result of better leads and increased sales.
Three Common ABM Challenges and One Simple Solution
- Challenge: Identifying Target Accounts Across All the Data Noise
Focusing marketing efforts on fewer, high value accounts is the foundation of ABM, but how do you identify accounts that map to your solutions with so much marketing data? And, more importantly, how do you separate the buyers from browsers.
- Challenge: Identifying Relevant Contacts
With a list of target accounts in hand, it's time to generate a customer profile and identify contacts that fit that profile. But where do you start? Who are the influencers and decision makers and how much time will be wasted talking to a firewall of the wrong people?
- Challenge: Producing New and Relevant Content for Engagement
Once you have your target accounts and relevant contacts, you know you need to communicate your messaging or thought leadership, but you don't have the writers or design resources.
Solution: Prophyts Predictive Account Based Marketing
Prophyts tracks the reading habits of millions of employees at companies across the US as they visit Web sites in our network. Using Big Data analytics and machine learning algorithms we sift through 30 billion monthly site visits, identify companies that are actively researching IT solutions, and predict which companies are in-market for a solution in your category.
Then, as a Prophyts customer you're provided with a list of companies and specific contacts at those companies likely to be involved in the purchase of your solution. We even have the in-house resources to develop and design content to nurture Prophyts contacts. Problems Solved.
Posted by David Seymour on 03/16/2018 at 1:50 PM0 comments
In previous posts we've touched briefly on Account Based Marketing (ABM) as a strategy. In today's post, ABM is the central focus.
As a B2B marketer you know the value of cutting through the noise and driving leads that matter, but in this age of cutthroat competition for buyer attention, simply casting a wide net won't meet the underlying goal of all B2B marketers: How do we best set up sales for the win?
What Is ABM?
ABM is a marketing strategy that focuses on a prospect company and -- more specifically -- the stakeholders within that company. Rather than casting a wide net in the vast ocean of opportunity with fingers crossed for results, you're dropping a baited line in a pond with fish you can see just beneath the surface of the water.
ABM Basics and How Artificial Intelligence (AI) Can Help:
- Align your ABM strategy with your Sales team's goals.
- Identify accounts in-market for your solutions.
- Identify buyer personas and how they consume content.
- Tailor messaging to the buyer personas and their pain points.
- Execute coordinated efforts with Sales for maximum impact.
- Measure results and adjust as needed.
- Employ technology to make all of these steps easier and more efficient.
One of the most challenging aspects of an ABM strategy is identifying companies that are currently in-market for your solutions and identifying both the influencers and decision makers within those companies.
Prophyts is an AI solution that identifies companies early in the buyer journey that are predicted to purchase a solution in your product category. Prophyts also provides relevant contacts at the company, and integrates an advertising solution to engage your target audience.
If you're new to ABM or have already implemented a strategy, don't go it alone. We're here to help.
Posted by David Seymour on 02/26/2018 at 1:05 PM0 comments
So in my last post about the buyer's journey I talked about the various stages and the need to reach buyers early in their journey when they're most influenceable.
Given the unique position of 1105 Media as producers of independent content, we recognized that we could identify people early in the buyer journey by looking at what they were reading. We also recognized that to do this at scale, we would need a very large data set of what people were reading and the ability to process this data in a meaningful way. So to help solve this question, we built a skunkworks team of data scientists, cloud systems engineers, product managers, and marketers and built strategic relationships with data partners to deliver a Big Data predictive-intelligence solution to the problem.
What makes our solution unique is the core strength of our approach. We don't depend on access to sensitive internal CRM or marketing databases, nor do we limit ourselves to general data. Leveraging multiple partnerships, we digest the reading habits of millions of employees at companies across the United States as they visit Web sites that are part of our tracking network. Next, using Big Data analytics and a machine learning algorithm, we sift through more than billions of monthly page views to identify companies that are actively researching solutions. We weed out who's reading for the sake of reading versus reading behavior that translates into purchasing prediction. We do this with our patent-pending algorithm that evaluates each company's research activity and predicts which companies are in-market to purchase a solution in a specific product category. We constantly evaluate hundreds of gigabytes of data and compare it to more than two years' worth of historic traffic data that covers millions of organizations in our database to deliver companies looking for your solution.
Imagine the ability to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and Big Data without having to worry about building complex models or being dependent upon expensive database resources. Our models allow a marketer to tap into predictive account based marketing capability as a service. There's zero ramp time for categories that have been configured. And if we don't have your category, our approach allows us to quickly spin one up that matches your products or services. The power of an AI-powered solution to fuel the top funnel of account based marketing needs is now at your fingertips. No longer are you limited to your own database or list that were acquired as leads. Now you'll be able to launch your marketing campaigns that are already segmented and ready to be influenced by your message. But the story doesn't end here.
Next time, I'll discuss what you should be doing with these predictions.
Posted by Eric Choi on 10/27/2017 at 10:18 AM0 comments
"28 Percent of millennials are influencing B2B buying decisions."
- Aaron Dun, SVP, SnapApp Inc
I recently came across a great article by Aaron Dun, senior vice president at SnappApp Inc. and an occasional contributor to MediaPost.com, about the impact of millennials and we should all take heed. In his commentary, "B2B Marketers Take Notice: The Millennials Are Here," Dun points out that "13 percent of millennials are making B2B buying decisions and 28 percent are influencing that decision making."
The take away here is clear: Millennials who now represent the largest generation in the U.S. labor force (according to the Pew Research Center) will have a substantial impact on the B2B buying process.
What's is even more interesting in Dun's article is that millennial buyers engage much later with sales than the older generation and he puts that number at 86 percent. He further points point out millennials want to engage with you only when they're ready. This is in line with the SiriusDecisions number that "67 percent of the buyer's journey is now done digitally," which means the need to reach buyers early in their journey is even more imperative because buyers are the most influenced when they're in the information-gathering stage.
Dun further recommends ditching the standard B2B practice of using lead-gating white papers to build top-of-funnel interest with millennials. Simply put, white papers ranked as the least useful type of content in the early phase of the buyer's journey. Dun's point of view is that "authenticity" and content that speaks to the buyer's process in their terms is what matters.
I could not agree more with Dun. As marketer looking to build engagement, you need to look at your buying committee and interact with how they want to be engaged. It's time to reevaluate the traditional top-of-funnel approach and look at not only technology, but the overall engagement strategy that speaks to your audience.
If you have a different opinion or suggestion, let me know at email@example.com.
Posted by Eric Choi on 09/28/2017 at 12:17 PM0 comments
It's important to understand the different stages a buyer encounters during its purchasing-decision journey because the buyer will have different information needs at each step.
In the Awareness stage, a buyer recognizes it has a problem or opportunity. During this time, its research is focused on editorial content that is vendor-neutral and explanatory. The buyer seeks educational, third-party or vendor-neutral content.
In the Consideration stage, the buyer gives a name to the problem or solution and identifies the group of products that can provide help or opportunity. During this time, the buyer's information consumption is directed toward understanding all available solutions. This could include vendor, editorial or user-generated content. There's a commitment to solving the problem and a focus on solutions and comparisons.
In the Decision stage, the buyer defines its solution, strategy, method or approach. During this time, the buyer is focused on finding supporting documentation, data, or benchmarks to make or support its final decision.
The key take away here is that you have to be able to reach a buyer when it can be the most influenced. In other words, you have to be able to identify and engage the buyer at the Awareness stage. Otherwise, the buyer has already made its short list and in the Consideration and Decision stages, it is often too late to make an impression. The buyer has already drawn up its short list or made a final selection.
What's needed is a solution that allows marketers to recognize buyers early in the Awareness stage. Given 1105 Media's unique position as a producer of independent content, we recognized we could identify people early in the buyer journey by looking at what they were reading.
In my next post I will review how we tackled this problem.
Posted by Eric Choi on 09/19/2017 at 4:32 PM0 comments
I know there's much debate about the 67% SiriusDecisions number. But my point is that the number isn't important. What is important is that it's becoming more imperative to reach buyers early in the buying cycle. Today's sophisticated B2B buyers have access to so much information and so many resources available, most of their learning and decisions happen before they engage a sales rep. Whether that number is 50 percent or 70 percent, it doesn't matter. When the B2B buyer is at the moment of most influence, you need to be there.
At the same time there's been an explosion in MarTech solutions spending, and marketers are looking for ways to see ROI from investments in platforms like marketing automation and tactics such as programmatic ad buying.
We're also seeing the rise of Account-Based Marketing (ABM) that's driving the way that organizations go to market. ABM can be thought of in two ways: First, as a process for identifying a specific set of companies to target for promotional, lead generation and sales efforts based on their increased likelihood to convert to being a customer. This is in contrast to targeting based on simple firmographics (such as company size or industry). Second, a marketing approach that reaches all individuals involved in the purchasing process, not just the decision makers. Most purchases in companies are made by a committee. Marketing and sales efforts should target everyone that could have input (such as those that recommend, specify or influence), along with actual decision makers.
Posted by Eric Choi on 08/25/2017 at 4:16 PM0 comments
Here's a round-up of the some latest rumblings in the ABM blog world:
- According to SiriusDecison's Matt Senator, a common denominator among failed ABM projects is the lack of full-time leader. "If your organization relies on everyone to own ABM with no clear figurehead in place, you will fail," he writes. "You might have a success or two, but these won't be efficient, repeatable or sustainable."
- According to Forrester's Laura Ramos, there's 15 questions that B2B marketers dealing with ABM need to be asking themselves, but the most important one is: What new data will I need to make ABM successful? "Yes, data!," she writes. "Data is king and content is queen in the realm of ABM. If you want to make ABM work, get busy cleaning up your customer data and put better data management practices in place." Find out more about what Laura recommends you do (and don't do) here.
- Think outsourcing your sales reps is a good idea? Think again. "If you are trying to sell into enterprises in North America, do not outsource the SDR function. Full stop," writes Gartner's Todd Berkowitz. "It generally doesn't work very well, and even when it does, you may be providing a less than stellar impression to a prospect during the first direct interaction they have with you." Read more of his reasoning here.
If you've written something that should hit our radar, e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Becky Nagel on 08/24/2017 at 4:14 PM0 comments
At the risk of stating the obvious, delivering greater return on investment should be one of the top priorities for marketers -- meaning that every dollar and resources invested should be maximized to generate returns. Then it's no wonder that account-based marketing is top of mind for most marketers. After all, the process of identifying a defined list of names of companies based on their likelihood of becoming customers and engaging the individuals involved in the purchase process should be straightforward and common sense. Look at all the vendors out there that can help create data models, integrate with third-party systems and generate reports that justify marketing's existence?
In the next few series of posts, I'll reflect on my own personal experience as a marketer in the evolution of e-mail marketing, demand generation and where I believe the market is going now: data-driven marketing powered by machine learning and predictive algorithms to deliver on the account-based marketing promise.
Posted by Eric Choi on 08/15/2017 at 11:03 AM0 comments
When it comes to predictive analytics, the most common use cases focus around the imminent likelihood of something happening, such as customer churn, fraud, a particular purchase, etc.
But that ignores the true power of predictive analytics: It can detect the very earliest signals that something will indeed happen further down the road. Think, for example, of what companies could do if they could identify likely customer churn or a customer's intent-to-buy days, weeks or even months before it happened -- it's a truly powerful advantage in the marketplace. Predictive analytics now offers that for those who know how to use it.
If you're in the business-to-business (B2B) sales and marketing space, you have this ability at your fingertips. B2B marketing strategies, such as account-based marketing (ABM), are especially dependent on early intelligence about a customer's likely intent-to-buy. And now you can use predictive analytics to do just that by partnering with vendors such as Prophyts.
The Earlier, The Better
Early warning a customer's intent-to-buy can make the difference between closing the sale or losing out. Just as likely, it can result in a diminished (or damaged) relationship with an existing customer or a missed opportunity to establish a connection with a new account.
Early recognition of a buyer's long-term intent-to-buy is much more valuable to a B2B seller than detection of imminent intent-to-buy, argues Rajeev Kapur, president and CEO of 1105 Media, a publishing and research company that markets Prophyts, an ABM-oriented predictive analytics service.
"If you go to [a marketing team] and say, "This company is going to buy in the next 20 to 30 days," many times that's way too late. Is there value in that? Certainly, but for account-based marketing, it's a matter of really focusing on the bigger fish, which is the predictive nature of the algorithm and what you can do early in the buying stage. That's the true value," Kapur says.
He adds: "A lot of times, [imminent detection] might be too late for a B2B salesperson."
In fact, detection of imminent intent-to-buy is the analytical equivalent of low-hanging fruit. The events or patterns that signal imminent intent-to-buy are easier to detect, if only because they tend to occur in close (temporal) proximity to one another. Early detection, by contrast, poses significant technological and logistical challenges because the predictive algorithm must be able to correlate events that are spread out over time -- over days, weeks, or even months. The ability to do this assumes a capacity to both collect and process massive amounts of data.
Detecting intent-to-buy early in the buying cycle is much harder than going after the low-hanging fruit, Kapur points out, but it is a prerequisite for successfully executing on an ABM strategy.
"If you're a [B2B seller], would you rather focus your limited resources on someone who's probably already committed [to a seller] or someone who's early in the process? Someone [with] whom you can pinpoint your sales and marketing activities, focusing on growing the relationship. I think the bigger ROI is going to be early in the buying cycle."
The Promise of ABM
Account-based marketing is a tool for combating two frequent problems in B2B sales engagements.
In the first case, sales cycles tend to vary from product to product. A sales cycle for a business intelligence (BI) or data integration product could span three to six months. The longer a seller has to cultivate a relationship with the buyer, the better positioned it will be to close the sale.
In the second case, B2B sales are likewise extraordinarily sensitive to poaching by competitors. A seller could invest several months in building a relationship with a would-be buyer only to lose that sale to a competitor claiming to offer the same features at a lower price. This is where ABM's emphasis on cultivating focused, targeted relationships with the individuals who are most likely to make buying decisions for a company is critical.
"What marketing now has is the ability to go to the [chief revenue officer] and say, 'We just got a whole bunch of accounts from Prophyts that are predicted to buy. These are people who are in-market. Let's focus on those folks and target them properly," he explains.
"Where marketing has an important role to play here is they have to be careful when they give those companies over to sales. Marketing has to do a much better job of nurturing those [relationships]. If marketing takes a pinpoint approach to going after these companies, building up that brand awareness [with influential stakeholders] in those companies, now sales can engage. That's going to drive the close ratio even higher."
The success of a solution such as Prophyts is a function of both the volume and the quality of the data that's fed to their predictive algorithms. To this end, Prophyts sources its data from data providers including B2B intent data provider Bombora, a company that specializes in collecting, processing, and syndicating data for the B2B market. Today, Prophyts is working against a data set of billions of B2B page views. This data set will continue to grow, Kapur points out; as it does, the accuracy of the predictions Prophyts makes will improve, too. In the same way, and for the same reasons, the types of predictive insights available to Prophyts subscribers will also grow.
"Right now, we have billions of page views of data, and I think that's just going to keep increasing. We can keep enhancing the algorithm over time so that it just keeps getting better and better, and the predictions it's able to make keep getting better and better," he concludes.
Posted on 07/18/2017 at 10:44 AM0 comments
The increasing use of predictive models across many sectors is no surprise: In fact, market watcher Gartner has predicted that services using B2B predictive analytics will see double digit growth over the next few years.
We know that companies will want to use data science and machine learning to identify their markets and leads more easily and increase their marketing ROI; however, it's not often easy to do this kind of advanced analytcs in house.
And that's where Prophyts comes in. The subscription-based service enables enterprises to reach potential buyers early in their purchasing journey, even before "they raise their hand as a traditional lead."
Prophyts' predictive ABM platform is powered by a machine learning algorithm that sifts through billions of monthly Web page views and the reading activity of millions of potential buyers. The algorithm uses this data to predict which companies are likely to make a purchase soon in a particular sector. Prophyts then provides clients who offer products in that target sector with the contact information of company representatives who are likely to be involved in a purchasing decision.
The information Prophyts provides "is the foundation of an ABM strategy; it brings predictability to marketing programs and enables marketers to make strategic content and ad placement decisions," the company noted.
Rajeev Kapur, CEO of 1105 Media, explained that after listening to customers, it became clear "that our customers wanted an easier and more effective way to identify in-market buyers early in the process. That is what Prophyts is all about; we evolved traditional ABM from one that is manual to one that is predictive."
This aligns with the trend across industries -- more processes are moving from manual to predictive as models and algorithms improve. Whether it's modeling corporate purchases, healthcare outcomes, or industrial machine failure rates, predictive analytics is continuing to change the trajectory of today's enterprises.
Posted on 07/05/2017 at 1:39 PM0 comments
Unless you're a marketer that has been living under a rock, Account Based Marketing (ABM) should be at the top of your business priorities. This post is not about why or how to implement ABM -- a Google search will give you more info than what you want to know. Instead, I'd like to discuss the ability to engage with companies that are:
- In-market and are early in the buyer's journey through predictive intelligence
- Getting ramped up quickly
- Able to reach their targeted audience with relevant content
Imagine engaging with companies that are in-market to purchase a product in your category early in the buyer's journey. They may not buy from you, but they will buy from somebody. What if you can identify these in-market companies -- before they raise their hands -- and reach them with industry-leading marketing services?
As a portfolio startup of 1105 Media, we've been listening to our customers and have built a skunk works team of data scientists, cloud system engineers, product managers and marketers to build "Project BOLD." After 18 months of development and beta, Prophyts was born. By incorporating predictive intelligence and Big Data, Prophyts can identify in-market companies and contacts to deliver a comprehensive predictive ABM solution.
Content syndication, SEO/SEM, display and content marketing all have their benefits, but they share the same limitation: They require the prospects to raise their hand to say that they're interested. Using a patent-pending algorithm, Prophyts tracks the reading habits of millions of employees at companies to identify businesses and contacts that are actively searching for solutions in your product category.
Finally, Prophyts allows you to target your contacts across multiple channels. OK, you might be thinking, "This type of solution is going to require data guys, IT project managers, CRM, and marketing automation system people and take many moons to implement." The beauty of Prophtys is that there's no ramp-up time. You choose the category that's relevant to your company's products and services and we deliver the companies and contacts that are in-market to you, so that you can leverage your existing sales and marketing campaigns.
Prophyts can help you discover verticals that are currently not on your radar, as well as deliver companies and contacts involved in the decision-making process. Therefore, not only are you starting with companies that are "in-market," you're expanding your marketing database and approaching ABM strategically through better segmentation.
Getting started is straightforward. Companies can sign up for Prophyts by selecting their relevant product categories and immediately start receiving companies and contacts that are generated by our predictive algorithm. And if custom content is of concern, this is where Prophtys can also deliver. We are in the business of creating custom content tailored to your audience. Whether it's a white paper, event or editorial, content is at the core of our business.
Posted by Eric Choi on 06/19/2017 at 2:55 PM0 comments