Marketing|Demand Creation Blog: Thoughts on strategy, lead optimization, social media and the digital space

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Confessions of a Number-Loving Designer

I admit it. I love numbers. Please don't tell anyone. I know as a Creative Director/designer I'm not supposed to — so the stereotype goes. I suppose I should clarify: I love numbers that relate to the performance of marketing initiatives.

One of the selling points of a creative career used to be not having to crunch calculus or attack algebra (we weren't so lucky when it came to geometry). We could work up a killer creative concept, blend it artfully with copy and, violá! — an award-winning piece would emerge, dazzling the client (an oversimplification, but you get the idea). Today, where corporate accountability is at the forefront of business consciousness, it should come as no surprise that it's no longer enough to have great creative strategy & execution that the client loves (though that's still part of the equation). CEOs and CFOs are demanding more accountability from the marketing organization: they want to see that every dollar spent on marketing initiatives is generating an [insert number here]-fold return on their investment.

That's a good thing. Before measurement systems were developed and put into place I never had any idea why a campaign that was well designed, beautifully executed and flawlessly distributed brought in no leads — zippo. You're left scratching your head and hoping the next one does better. In a recent multi-month e-newsletter advertising campaign with the measurement systems I designed in place, I noticed barely 1 month into the campaign that we were in trouble: the campaign simply wasn't pulling any leads.

Armed with our measurements, we were able to have a productive discussion with the media provider and hash out changes on both sides that could be implemented quickly to turn the campaign around: we revised creative and messaging, provided an enticing and clear call-to-action in the form of a white paper download, and created an extensive pull-through microsite built with visitor tracking mechanisms in place.

The result? On the first new ad placement we saw a 200% increase in click-throughs to our microsite. 40% of those visitors were also willing to provide basic contact information to download the white paper. Suddenly a foundering campaign had been rescued from the trashbin because of near-realtime tracking. Subsequent ad insertions were adjusted after each run to incorporate new insight and maximize lead generation with the next run. Over 200 prospects were gained for future marketing outreach and lead nurturing by the time the campaign was over.

I still don't like to calculate my taxes and I don't do math brain teasers, but this marketing and creative professional is convinced. We need numbers in marketing & graphic design.

Yes, I love numbers — when they help me do my job better.
Joseph Mann Wednesday, January 26, 2005 Permalink | 0 comments |

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Marketer’s Dream, Privacy Wonk’s Nightmare: IPTV Coming Soon…ish

As far as measurable return on advertising spend is concerned, marketers have had little more than Nielsen’s viewership tracking studies to guide their buying decisions. It stands to reason that with only 14% of marketers surveyed by B-to-B Magazine saying their 2005 budgets will increase and only 17% saying “Brand Awareness” is their primary objective in 2005, a shrinking percentage of dollars would be allocated to a difficult to track mass market media vehicle like TV. For those who are beholden to the almighty ROI (and who isn’t these days?), TV is dead as a viable channel…or is it?

I read with interest an article titled “The End of TV as We Know It,” by Frank Rose in the December 2004 issue of Wired Magazine. He talks about IPTV – TV over Internet Protocol — as poised to be the next big thing. No mere jerky video over the Internet, but totally on-demand TV at broadband speeds on private networks engineered for reliable video delivery. He talks about Hi-def TV, high-speed broadband and even caller ID on your TV (I’m not quite sure what that means). But here’s the part of most interest to this blog — the system will supposedly be able to track viewing habits “as effectively as Amazon tracks its customers,” so ads will be incredibly personalized and targeted with military precision. If you’ve seen Minority Report in which ubiquitous retina scanners immediately ID passersby and serve up ad messages based on their interests, past buying behavior, etc., that’s what I imagine this could become — all served up in the comfort of your own home.

As a marketer I love the idea of being able to know if my intended target audience is watching my ad, perhaps it’ll even be able to tell me the ages of those in the room, or if they are multi-tasking at the computer while watching (like I often do), or when they get up and leave — there’s a wealth of potential real-time demographic and psychographic information to be found there to improve the effectiveness of future marketing initiatives. Perhaps it won’t be as intrusive as all that, but in any case privacy advocates can hold off worrying just a bit longer — there’s a lot of infrastructure upgrading needed for the bandwidth providers and consumers will need to get IP-addressable set top boxes. It seems to be at least 5 years out. Start the countdown…
Joseph Mann Wednesday, January 19, 2005 Permalink | 0 comments |

Friday, January 14, 2005

Grokking Multi-channel Marketing: The Multi-channel Imperative

The Internet “evolutionized” interactions between businesses and their customers. Customers have greater control in defining the type of relationship they have with companies and find greater competitive options to meet their needs. Smart businesses are creating new opportunities to relate to their customers, communicate with them wherever they happen to be and whenever the buying need arises. Smart businesses take mind share away from competitors, leveraging the power of the Internet to deliver superior buying experiences over the lifetime of their customer relationships.

The Multi-channel Imperative means that businesses must face the challenge of serving customers through many channels to realize this ideal. There is a tremendous opportunity to maximize profitability through multi-channel marketing. Moreover, companies with a formal, comprehensive Marketing Performance Measurement system significantly outperformed those companies who lacked an MPM system in sales growth, market share and profitability (with mean performance ratings of 29%, 32% and 37% higher, respectively).1 To complicate matters, enterprise-wide knowledge management and CRM technology are required to remain competitive and provide superior service. Having the marketing communications professionals in-house who can leverage and integrate this data to create actionable marketing strategies for the business is equally critical.

Companies must ask ‘what are the strategies to reach and connect with the customer or prospect wherever we can find them?’ Across all industries, the Web Site has certainly developed into one of the key channels for reaching customers and increasing marketing impact — when it is made an integral component of a broad-based, demand creation strategy that also includes advertising, trade shows, sales support, customer satisfaction programs and other appropriate channels to reach customers wherever they are most likely to purchase. It’s a daunting task to integrate multiple channels and track them all together to measure whether or not the expected return on investment is being achieved, but it’s worth it: in many cases I’ve been able to squeeze 3-5x the returns from a multi-channel campaign versus single-channel campaigns.2

1 CMO Council “Measures & Metrics: The Marketing Performance Measurement Audit” June 9, 2004
2 Thompson, Thompson, McLaughlin. “Thinking It Through.” Informing Arts. 1996. Pg. 19,20

Joseph Mann Friday, January 14, 2005 Permalink | 0 comments |

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

The Devaluation of Marketing and Graphic Design (Part II) – Damocles Sword

In the first post of this blog, I lamented the devaluation of in-house graphic design and marketing in the C-Suite of many companies. That seems to have come closer to home than I’d prefer as I’ve discovered Damocles’ sword hanging above the collective heads of my own internal group in our latest corporate restructuring. We find ourselves pitching for our own jobs, ironically, on the heels of arguably one of the most successful and organized marketing years in the history of the company and that despite major budget cutbacks: we increased our volume of qualified leads 390%; we positioned the company strongly as an industry thought leader through authored articles, TV, radio and “webisodes”; we increased pipeline opportunity dollar volume 316% from $12 million to $50 million; and we built a lead nurturing process and marketing relationship management system tailored to the needs of our business development team.

Given how long it takes to grow a steady lead pipeline in this industry (the sales cycle typically ranges from 10 months to 2 years), it’s perplexing how top management could be willing to walk away from the momentum that has been created — particularly at a time when the competition is making gains, symbolic and real, in nearly every corner of the marketplace. But there it is.

Joseph Mann Wednesday, January 12, 2005 Permalink | 0 comments |

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Useful Metrics: How Hot is that Lead? (Part II)

Calculating the Lead Interest Index (LIX)
In my previous post I mentioned a Lead Interest Index as one useful metric. Here is the methodology I use for calculating a LIX for each new lead: Wanting to keep things simple, I composed the Lead Interest Index of three factors: The Opportunity Launch Date (OLD), the Call-to-Action Date (CTA) and a Contact Channel Adjustment (CCA).

The OLD is the estimated time, as supplied by the prospect, when the they believe they will have a need to launch an opportunity (ie: have a sales team in the field, start a research project, launch a new product, etc.).

The Call-to-Action Date is how soon the prospect has requested some return action on our part (ie: send information, set up a meeting, return an RFP, etc.). Initially this would be from the date of the original inquiry, but would later adjust to the date from the most recent contact as further lead development actions take place.

The Contact Channel Adjustment is a bonus score I apply depending on which inbound channel the prospect used to reach us. You can create CCAs that are appropriate to your business, but in our case, we ascribe a lower bonus score to someone who has called or emailed based on a campaign we did versus someone who visited the web site and completed a Request For Information (RFI) form on the site. The reason for this is that with most of our marketing campaigns we drive prospects to landing pages or microsites with more indepth information and value-added interaction to further qualify their interest. If they have already taken the extra step of visiting a landing page based on a campaign, they have a more informed view of our services prior to contact. At my company we place the highest CCA value on prospects that tell us they came to us based on a referral. By their nature, referrals from a trusted source represent a highly qualified lead channel, since the prospect is already positively disposed towards us and has an interest (cultivating these “brand evangelists” who refer others to our company should be key to a lead generation/cultivation strategy in corporate marketing, but that could be the topic of a whole other series of posts!).

The formula for calculating the Lead Interest Index is as follows:

OLD + CTA + CCA = LIX (%)

Table 1 below describes how the values for each factor are obtained.

Table 1-Calculating the Lead Interest Index

You may choose to use the Lead Interest Index metric to look at a lead for the date it enters the lead generation pipeline, the percent change month-to-month or a variety of other ways, depending on the needs of your business. And of course, the time frames and inbound channels you use need to be aligned to the specific sales cycle of your business.

In the next post in this series I’ll describe a real use example of calculating the Lead Interest Index to follow a lead over time.
Joseph Mann Saturday, January 08, 2005 Permalink | 0 comments |

Useful Metrics: How Hot is that Lead? (Part I)

One of the challenges I have in my job is how to get a sense of where we stand with each lead not only from the moment it came in house (ie: how “hot” it was), but at various points in the lead life cycle.

I created the Lead Interest Index (LIX) to provide an objective measure of a lead’s priority as well as to gauge the interest level of a lead relative to other leads. If sales rep resources to investigate leads are scarce, it may also serve as a guide for prioritization of lead follow-ups. Because interest level may change over the course of the lead development lifecycle, this metric can be seen as a snapshot of a particular lead on a given date.

Since the Lead Interest Index for a single lead event gauges how “hot” a lead is at that moment, a series of LIX data points over time will give a sense of how the lead is progressing (ie: is it “cooling off”?). It can also provide some predictive intelligence to address fall-off in interest of initially “hot prospects” before the lead is lost to a competitor.

Next: One Way to Calculate the LIX

Joseph Mann Saturday, January 08, 2005 Permalink | 0 comments |

Monday, January 03, 2005

Strategic Graphic Design: Think Business

In the business world, graphic design is frequently an afterthought, considered decoration to be added once the strategy has been set. This can be minimized if graphic designers learn to integrate process, incorporate research and speak to their audience in business terms. I learned how effective this approach could be in developing the brand identity for the new wound care product of a medical devices company. Effectively positioning the product to stand out in a crowded category of well-established competitors was only possible because the client believed in taking a strategic design approach from the outset.

I requested to review the market research and clinical studies of the product and studied the competitors' approaches. When designs were presented to the client, positioning each in terms of the business need allowed the client to understand how the identity and packaging would drive the success of his product and made the presentation less about the subjective attitudes each person has about color, type and other graphic choices.

Ultimately, a strategic graphic design approach based on research enabled rapid development (4 days from concept to presentation), made the client happy and launched a brand identity that energized the marketplace.
Joseph Mann Monday, January 03, 2005 Permalink | 0 comments |