Last Monday & Tuesday I was in Boston at our annual East Coast B-to-B Summit. You can see the official wrap-up report below. In the meantime, here are my personal notes ...
Lesson #1. Marketers = Magpies
IBM's Jacques Pavlenyi said it beautifully: "A new marketing tactic is the shiny new object in front of our face. We go 'That's cool!' and reach for it. But, often there's no data or if data does exist, it's quite sketchy."
That's why his team focuses mostly on what's tried and proven.
I often see marketers pulled off course by this magpie instinct. We're so bored by standard campaigns, so been-there-done-that-got-the-T-shirt, that we forget that prospects are not.
Marketers in new industries or technologies are the most prone to this. "We are revolutionary so our marketing should reflect this!" is the rationale I hear from many of them when they throw the entire quarter's budget behind a new viral campaign instead of better white papers.
Well, guess what? If Jacques, who has spent nearly his whole IBM career in emerging markets, advocates focusing on classic tactics first and foremost *before* launching that podcast glittering in your dreams, then I'm pretty sure he's right.
Lesson #2. Inbound links from content elsewhere
I think everyone in the audience, including myself, gasped when our search marketing Case Study speaker, Dave Martin of Allegiance, said by far the most important SEO tactic of this year is to:
Plant great content about your company or products *on* highly relevant sites that link back to you. That means articles, columns, reviews, webinar transcripts, customer blogs, etc. ... These should all have hotlinks in the *body* of the content (not just at the very end in the author bio).
I've known for years that reciprocal links were not making the grade. But I didn't quite realize how important links within authoritative textual content placed elsewhere were. Now I know.
I wonder how many marketers are running the numbers right now -- compare your annual cost of hiring another writer versus PPC clicks.
I'm also wondering if I should do a speaking tour of journalism schools next year -- encouraging students to consider marketing writing (not copywriting but compelling, trustworthy, SEO-worthy and targeted newsletters, white papers, columns and blogs) as a career?
Lesson #3. Users (vs Decision Makers)
DoubleClick's Lynn Tornabene, who presented a great Case Study about a campaign her team did to turn current bored-now clients into active brand cheerleaders, reminded everyone, "The decision maker who signed the contract often has little product interaction on a regular basis, but gets lots of competitor sales pitches."
Other speakers and marketers I networked with agreed. You have to grow your marketing database to include all those users. If it's B-to-C, it's the entire household. If it's B-to-B, it might be dozens, hundreds or thousands of worker bees.
The worker bees know all about the glories of your product, but they probably rarely think to tell that to management. The only time management hears about you may be when there's a problem.
I think we marketers focus so much on gaining new customers that we rarely budget or consider what our department can do to keep current accounts on board. Getting in touch with the whole user base is the first step.
Convincing management to give you budget for marketing to current clients is the next. Start inventing measurements to connect marketing touches with saving (or renewing) accounts ...
Lesson #4. Networking is worth it
I'm shy enough that it takes a lot to pry me out from my desk. I'm a full-throttle whiner about leaving the office. It's so comfortable and quiet. Travel is a pain. Plus, I have too much to do to take time off right now. Surely I can connect to the people I need to meet via phone and email?
And then I attend a Summit networking party (absolutely dreading every step walking down the hallway from the conference room to the party room.) There's that hideous moment of awkwardness when I first walk in the room. Whom to talk to? Will I look like a geek just standing there?
Then I stand in line to get a drink (per company policy, water or soda.) And within about 10 seconds I'm chatting with everyone else in the line with me, and we're all swapping ideas, war stories and laughter ... and then a minute after that I can't imagine why I dreaded this networking thing!
"This is wonderfully useful. This is educational. This is inspirational. Man, I've *got* to do more of this."
Lesson #5. Go home at 6 p.m. (every night)
After Jeanne Hopkins of Symmetricom made our heads spin with all the campaigns her team got out to turn an entire division's marketing around in just six months, she added one piece of advice:
"Leave at 6 p.m. You have to."
Wow. In many ways, I think that's one of the bravest marketing tactics I've ever heard. It goes against all those long-hours-to-please-the-boss ideas that were ingrained in most of us on our way up the corporate ladder.
Here we are in a world where marketing is constantly challenged -- new tactics, new measurements and, let's face it, more often than not corporate management not completely trusting us. And instead of work harder, harder, harder, Jeanne says, "Knock off at 6 p.m. every night."
Then I remembered one thing. One of Sherpa's own most valuable marketers can only work 30 hours per week. She gets more done in those 30 hours than you can imagine. I suspect the rejuvenation she gets from spending more time with her family is at least partly responsible for that high productivity.
If you know you can work all hours, then, magically, your work will extend to all hours. If you know your time -- just like your budget -- is very limited, it's magical how inventive you can become to make it work somehow.
So, I guess one more measurement is due: Number of nights you leave the office at 6 p.m. I'm gunning for 70% this quarter and then I'll move the bar upward. I hope you'll consider doing the same.
In the meantime, here are two useful links for you:
#1. If you attended, what was your biggest lesson learned? Post it to this blog below.
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