December 30, 2013

White Papers: Still King of Technology B2B Content

White Papers are still a staple of the Technology B2B technology content diet. Our research points this out, both behavioral metrics on the web and primary research surveys.
What is a White Paper?
White papers are topical reports, typically 8 – 12 pages long, on issues that require a lot of explanation. Also known as "conference papers," "research reports," or "technical briefs," they are perfect for demonstrating thought leadership on issues vital to your buyers.
But how to leverage them for all their worth?
Remember the mantra: Get found. Get read. Get shared.  
Get found: don’t write what you want to say. Write about what your target market searches for. Research it.  What problems do they have doing their jobs? Narrow this down to the topics and issues that relate to your product. If you execute well--on target and on vernacular--you will get found.
Get read: nobody finishes a badly written white paper. But this isn’t just about good writing. good writing is important. It’s necessary; but not sufficient.  Your coverage has to be useful to be read. Even if you’re engaging, you’d better be useful too--or else it’s just entertainment.
Get shared: this is part tactical and part an extension of the getting read. The tactical part is to make it technically easy to share. Have share links and buttons. Reward readers for sharing.  But remember, they won’t share some thing that sucks, other than to tell other people that it sucks. You don't want that, do you?
Get found. Get read. Get shared. 
Make sure your white papers hit all three. 

December 29, 2013

Account Based Marketing: Are you missing an opportunity?

Many marketing arms at enterprise B2B vendors are embracing all things digital, inbound, social and content based. That’s a good thing. Mostly.

There are, however, scenarios where they may be neglecting or abandoning approaches that make more sense based on resources, markets, buyers and talent.

Does much of your business come from a few companies?
Is it built on sustained business relationships?
Can you gain more from non-sales activities like support and training?

Often, vendors who answer “yes” to these questions are still dedicating more and more resources to (mass) digital marketing efforts at the expense of Account Based Marketing (ABM).

ABM involves targeting campaigns and tactics to focus on a small number of important accounts. The approach may be to target the very large accounts--they are almost an economy of their own! Or to focus on a particular segment that is profitable but not large (in the number of companies). Or in a particular phase of the customer life-cycle--maybe ABM makes sense in your post-sale phase.

ABM can also be a good way to enter any new market--even if you plan to have a more mass-market approach in the long run. In order to learn a market, train a new sales organization, and get some reference accounts, an ABM entry model can speed up learning and optimize your mass marketing. Many startups do this naturally.

Yeah, but what do we actually do?

Much of this is marketing 101. You just focus it on the key business issues facing one or a few targets and tailor campaigns and activities to address those issues. In my experience, the one big difference from the major trends in marketing is that there is more field marketing and in-person marketing--on site seminars, technology days, and training sessions.  You may find yourself breaking some rules too--if you are campaigning to one company, it may make sense to (gasp!) purchase lists.

One critical factor is that marketing needs to work really closely with sales. Which is a good thing! You need the sales input to create targeted content and design prospect specific offers.

Remember to keep it real--offer seminars and engagement offers (e.g.. free assessments) that provide prospect-specific value and get sales reps in the room with real decision makers. There is a great opportunity for c-level meetings between your execs and the prospects. (Frankly, that’s something you should be doing with your customers more often anyway!)

An additional benefit is that ABM may be a smarter way to market with limited resources. Mass marketing with inbound techniques is resource and content creation intensive and requires specific skill sets (like SEO, search, analytics). While you build these, how about directing your current resources at ABM.

December 16, 2013

Bayesian Statistics for Marketing: Getting Started

For a few weeks now, I have been researching Bayesian statistics to wrap my head around the principles and the practical techniques. Intuitively, "Bayesian-ism" makes perfect sense to me, but I want to "internalize" the math and the concepts to feel confident that I am not going on intellectual appeal alone.

See here, here and here for marketing and statistical examples. All fine sources that helped. But it didn't click until I read Bayesian Statistics by F. J. Anscombe in The American Statistician [Vol. 15, No. 1. (Feb., 1961), pp. 21-24]. Get it here.

The fact is, decisions in marketing (or drug development, political campaigns, manufacturing, investment ...) are rarely long run repeat games. The "long run" of orthodox statistics is nice to know. In absence of any other decision frameworks, it is better than nothing. But long run odds of 1/6 don't mean a thing to the Russian Roulette player who just blew out his brains. Or to the brand manager who marketed a dud.

From the 3rd page of the article:
"The [orthodox] statistician will tell [the decision maker] that he is basing a decision on a random sample, and that is rather like playing roulette. In fact, the statistician's recommendations amount to a policy of play, rather like the getting policy of an inveterate gambler--or better, the betting policy of an insurance company. Chances mean relative frequencies of occurrence in a long series of trials.... If the executive had to make a long sequence of decisions about different products, the break-even value for p and the value of n being always the same, then by following the statistician's policy he could be sure that, whatever values of p might occur, his average [opportunity cost] from wrong decisions would not be very large ... the worst it could be being as low as possible.... useful if the executive is at loggerheads with his board of directors or under fire from other executives in the company."
That's a mouthful. But that's it in a nutshell. In the real world, these decisions are not repeat games. Especially true when it comes to the manager's career. So how can she rely on long run frequencies?

Russian Roulette. That metaphor came to me in my MBA "orthodox" statistics class. If I had brought it up, my professor probably [prior: beta (μ | 4, 2)] would have given us a little digression on Bayesian principles.

But I didn't. And it has bugged me ever since. But because we naturally think and decide better with information like, "there's an 83% that the landing page will convert better" as opposed to, "we reject the hypothesis that the new page is the same as the old page with p < .05," I am ready to dive into better decisions.

As I absorb and experiment, I'll post the results.