Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Notes from the "Demand Generation in the Digital Age" Virtual Trade Show

Earlier today, BtoB Magazine hosted a virtual trade show on "Leading Edge: Demand Generation in the Digital Age". The event featured numerous speakers and a well-organized virtual trade show environment powered by ON24. A big shoutout to both teams for putting on a great event and to all the speakers for delivering attention-grabbing presentations (and great content for my live tweets and this blog)!

Here a few takeaways from my live tweets. You may have heard them before but in the spirit of practice makes perfect, here you go again...

In his opening keynote, Joseph Jaffe (@jaffejuice) introduced the "Flipping the Funnel" concept to the audience which advocates that BtoB companies need to get to the point that most of their revenue comes from their existing customers. He suggests 4 pillars for flipping the funnel:
1. Acknowledgment
2. Dialog
3. Incentivisation
4. Activation

You'll know you have flipped the funnel when:
1. Retention becomes the new acquisition - proactive, dynamic, becomes a point of differentiation.
2. Customer service becomes THE key differentiator. WOM can become your best friend or worst nightmare.
3. The real role of social media is retention.

He suggests that in this state cost per referral should be the new benchmark and companies should shift their dollars toward retention rather than acquisition. It's not to say that they should not acquire new customers. The idea is to allocate more money for retention from your overall marketing budget.

Bulldog Solutions (@BDSolutions) and Compass Learning (@CompassLearning) partnered up on the delivery of a case study showing how the Executive Benchmark Assessment works in action. Check it out at eba.bulldogsolutions.com. Everything CompassLearning does feeds the assessment tool to help enable closed-loop lead nurturing. They created a plan that helps move qualified leads through the funnel. This plan focuses on strategic planning, engagement of prospects and conversion.

I want to highlight 2 components of this plan:
1. Viral personas. The speaker encouraged attendees to put in time to build viral personas to understand customers, consider creating at least 1 high-value action for customers and automate marketing whenever possible.
2. Content Center. The goal of this Content Center is to help improve engagement, target prospects based on their personas, reinforce thought leadership and syndicate content.

Lead nurturing should be viewed as an on-going dialog and companies need to think holistically about it [Couldn't agree more!]. Visit bulldogsolutions.com for more detailed info.

Steve Woods (@stevewoods) of Eloqua shared his thoughts on moving beyond demand generation and into revenue acceleration, and examined the changing role of marketing in support of sales. He views marketing as the facilitator in the buying process and as such, it needs to aim at providing insight to sales into the buyer's digital body language. How can marketing help do this? By:
1. Looking at individual prospects and using their digital body language to guide the conversation.
2. Understanding who the key influencers are within the buying team and connecting the field with that knowledge.
3. Providing visibility into your territory based on the lead scoring dashboard, and watching for and faciliating buying interest.

In essence, marketing's role is to prevent leaks from the funnel and successfully help move buyers through it by increasing awareness, being found and by being selected.

Check out Steve's blog at http://digitalbodylanguage.blogspot.com

Charlene Li (@charleneli) closed the event with her views on open leadership. I can only echo her sentiment about the realities of new marketing:
1. It's not messages but conversations.
2. It's not corporate but human.
3. It's not episodic but continuous.

In her virtual tour of the engagement pyramid (1. Watching, 2. Sharing, 3. Commenting, 4. Producing, 5. Curating), she suggested that marketers focus on the bottom part of the pyramid where they can get the first level of engagement and use it to build their foundation.

In an open strategy, learning is fundamental. From there you can Dialog, Support and Innovate.

What are the steps to becoming open?
1. Align openness with overall strategic goals.
2. Reassess the meaning of value. We tend to overvalue things we can measure, and undervalue things we can't.
3. Find and develop your open leaders.
4. Prepare your organization.
5. Be ready to embrace failure. [Note: Music to my ears! Companies need to be ok with failing. It's a learning process, failure is part of the experience.]

What it comes down to is that companies should focus on their relationships and not the technologies. Their strategy should be about the relationships they want to form.

What are your thoughts?

Note: I missed a few presenters so please feel free to embellish this list.

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