Marketing Automation And Marathons: The Will To Win Means Nothing Without The Will To Prepare

While trudging my way through the last few miles of the Boston Marathon last month, I couldn’t help thinking about the similarities between tackling a 26.2-mile running endeavor and implementing marketing automation.

Imagine if you decided to run your first marathon, went over to your local running store to buy those high-performance running shoes, stuffed a few power gels in your pocket, and showed up at the starting line? Well, chances are you wouldn’t achieve your goal. You need to be prepared for how to pace, hydrate, and fuel yourself. You need to spend the time to condition your muscles for the abuse of several hours of rigorous use. And you want to have people along the route to support you.

Over the past few months, I’ve interviewed more than 25 marketing and sales leaders to learn about their experiences in implementing marketing automation platforms. Most of them are using the technology to make it easier to do things they were already doing, like putting out a monthly newsletter, inviting people to their webinars, or capturing more leads and buyer behaviors on their website. 

While this is valuable, it just scratches the surface of what marketing automation can do, which is to help you create a demand management machine that supplies a steady stream of high-quality nurtured leads to the sales organization, a high percentage of which convert to pipeline opportunities. Getting to that outcome takes a lot of preparation because it takes marketing and sales teams beyond things they’ve done before.

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ADAPT To The CORE: How CMOs Can Lead The Revolution In The Next Digital Decade

My colleague, Emily Riley, and I joined forces at Forrester's Marketing Forum to talk about how marketers can prepare for the next digital decade. My message is this. The only way CMOs can effectively lead their organization in the digital era is to ADAPT by embracing a new mental model to overcome the bad habits of marketing. Emily's message is that the digital revolution isn't just a top-down mandate. It's a mission that the entire marketing organization has to embrace at its CORE so that all marketing is customized, optimized, responsive, and empowering.

Tomorrow's Brands Can't Succeed With Yesterday's Leadership

Let’s be clear. I’m not saying today’s marketing leaders need to be replaced. I’m saying your rules need to be replaced.

And the trick to learning new rules is to overcome your mental barriers.

Consider Roger Bannister. He was the first person to run a 4-minute mile. The previous world record of 4 minutes and 1 second had stood for nine years. So many runners had tried to break the 4-minute barrier that scientists actually believed it was beyond the limitations of what the human body was capable of. But in fact, it wasn’t a physical limitation at all. It was a mental barrier. Once Bannister did it, 16 other runners broke it in the following four years. Not necessarily new runners: Many were the same people Bannister had been competing against.

What happened to those runners is what’s happening to you as a marketing leader. You’re having trouble breaking through to the next plateau.

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Attention CMOs: If You Want To Keep Your Job In The Next Digital Decade, Watch These Videos

As a keynote speaker at Forrester's Marketing Forum in early April, I got a backstage pass to talk with some of today's most forward-thinking marketing leaders. Here are two of my favorites speeches from the event.

Dana Anderson, SVP of marketing strategy and communications at Kraft Foods, left us with some memorable lessons about shaking up a buttoned-down global marketing behemoth.

  • Find your swagger. Don't settle for safe and boring. Do something that will make people say, "I want to be a part of that."
  • Be sly. Why waste time and effort battling the entrenched silos when you can just go around the silos?
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Barnes & Noble Upgrades Nook Color Today, Sets A New Bar For eReaders

That's right, I said eReaders. True, it looks like a tablet, runs like a tablet, and delivers a lot of the value that tablets deliver, but the Nook Color's 1.2 upgrade (which is actually a step up to Android 2.2; don't let the numbers confuse you too much) is really a foreshadowing of the future of eReaders, not the future of tablets.

First, the facts. With the new upgrade that will be gradually pushed out to all existing Nook Color devices for free over the next few weeks (or you can download now at www.nookcolor.com/update), the folks at B&N have added some very useful features: an integrated email client, Flash 10.1 support, a curated Android app store (see sidebar), and an improved user experience through a myriad of tweaks. These upgrades make the Nook Color look more and more like a tablet, with a very attractive $249 price point to boot.

Must the iPad now cower in fear? No, not really. Because even at this price point, the Nook Color remains a smaller, less powerful tablet than the iPad. And as we've seen, the range of competitors coming in after the iPad's territory are coming in at higher prices with more powerful features (for example, last week I dropped $529 for an LG G-Slate from T-Mobile with 3D video camera and 4G data plan). The tablet market is gradually moving into higher-power features, not lower-power experiences.

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Highlights From My Latest Report On Loyalty Marketing

We have just published my new report on loyalty marketing: "A New Approach To Brand Loyalty."

From the interviews with more than 50 marketing leaders, we have learned that more than 40% of chief marketing officers (CMOs) admit that their brand loyalty programs underperform or produce erratic results, or they simply do not know how the programs are performing. The survey also shows that for most CMOs, loyalty marketing is often seen as a means to an end, not a strategy, and that their approach, while necessary, has unclear objectives and focuses too much on short-term financial goals.

Other key findings from the report:

  • Marketers are primarily focused on customer acquisition (65%), increased brand awareness (40%), and marketing return on investment (39%), as opposed to initiatives addressing customer loyalty, such as increasing customer retention (31%) and customer lifetime value.
  • The majority of respondents indicate that customer retention (79%) and revenue growth (53%) are the key metrics used by senior management to evaluate loyalty marketing initiatives, as opposed to Net Promoter Score (24%) and customer satisfaction (24%).  
  • Lack of differentiation (91%) and promotional clutter (73%) are seen as the main reasons why loyalty initiatives are often not delivering the goods. For more than half of the respondents, loyalty marketing initiatives are not aligned with the brand they are promoting.
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From Soap To Shoes

I’m often asked how I went from marketing women’s skincare at Neutrogena to Timberland boots for outdoor guys, as they seem to be such different businesses. But for me, they have more in common than you might think. They are both strong global brands, with products you can trust and passionate, involved consumers. My passion is for figuring out what is at the heart of a brand, how consumers connect with it, and how to connect with them — understanding what those consumers have in common and where their needs are different, whether they are in Milan, Minneapolis, or Mumbai or whether they are an outdoor guy or a city woman.

At Forrester, I’m going to delve into these areas: harnessing the consumers’ voice in the marketing process; when you should listen and when you should not; the similarities — how global brands can stay true to what they are, while embracing local consumers' needs; and what this looks like in the virtual age, when global walls separating consumers in different countries have fallen down. What’s the butterfly effect of a marketing program in Shanghai on a consumer in San Francisco? What are the differences — for example, how women consume media differently than men, particularly interactive and social media, and how that affects the media mix. Finally, with so many choices, and so few dollars (or pounds or RMB), how can marketing leaders identify what return they are getting on their spend?

So here’s where I need your help. What are your brand-building challenges? What would you like to learn more about that will help you and your team connect with your consumer?