Are you Ready for Marketing’s 2010 Annual Planning Process?

Have you started planning for your 2010 fiscal year yet? Our best practices study in planning – people, process and technology indicates that the average marketing planning cycle begins about 6 months before the fiscal year end. (for CMO Advisory Service clients, refer to “Marketing’s Planning – People, Process and Technology, IDC Doc. #216134) If you’re one of the more mature organizations, planning will be part of the fabric of your weekly, monthly and quarterly team meetings.

Regardless, a significant part of this annual process is assessment of your current “operational” metrics and development of next year’s projected investment strategy. I define “operational” metrics as those metrics that track your marketing investment strategy, including:

1. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) – such as Marketing Budget Ratio (marketing spend as a % of revenue), Program to People KPI, Revenue per Staff, Staff Throughput (program spend per marketing staff), Centralization KPI (% of marketing investment that is centralized vs. decentralized), Awareness-Demand KPI, etc.
2. Staff Mix (fixed spend) – such as advertising, product marketing, marketing operations, etc.
3. Program Mix (discretionary spend) – such as advertising (print, broadcast, corporate sponsorship), digital marketing, event marketing, etc.

IDC has published a complete taxonomy of these KPIs and staff and program mix areas to help marketing operations and marketing finance executives best manage their investment. (for CMO Advisory Service clients, refer to IDC’s Worldwide Sales and Marketing Taxonomy, 2008: A Blueprint for Cost Control, IDC Doc. #211900)

Tracking and evaluating these KPIs, program and staff mix levels across the organization, over time and versus other companies will best prepare you for your upcoming planning sessions; for management of your resources as well as for increasing marketing’s credibility with other parts of the organization.
IDC’s CMO Advisory Practice is in its 7th year of its Tech Marketing Benchmarks study. If you would like to participate in this research, including receiving a copy of the above Taxonomy, an overview of the results of the study and an invite to our annual marketing benchmarks telebriefing in August, please contact Seth Fishbein at You will be joining the 100+ global companies that work with us year after year as part of this industry study.

Sales Enablement and The Year of the Sales Rep

I’ve spoken about sales enablement quite a bit in this blog, and I’ll continue to do so as marketers improve their ability to better enable the sales process from an internal as well as an external perspective. With this in mind, Clare Gillan, IDC’s SVP of Executive and Go To Market Programs, will share some of her insights in the sales enablement area. . .

Thanks Michael. At IDC’s recent annual Directions event, I gave a presentation titled “The Year of the Sales Rep.” In response to The Year of the Sales Rep notion, an SVP of sales asked me, “Why does this year have to be my year?” “Precisely,” I responded. Let me explain. . . . never have we more needed our sales reps to be successful and never have they needed us more — those of us in sales, marketing, and executive management.

The crisis in sales is driven not by the economy alone but by an evolution in how buyers buy. Sales organizations, in general, have not kept up. The economy heightens a need for change in how the IT industry “sells” — better mapping to how buyers buy.

For nearly 10 years, sales organizations have emphasized the desire to become “trusted partners” with their B2B customers. Nearly every sales organization has been through “solution selling” programs of one form or another. However, only one in five buyers will tell you that he/she is generally approached by sales reps prepared to discuss solutions. Too often, the sales engagement continues to be product led. Further, buyers will tell you that the pre-purchase experience is becoming a more important indicator of post purchase value. Buyers increasingly consider “relationship ROI” as well as product ROI. And, buyers will tell you that, in this economy, they no longer have tolerance for uninformed vendor representatives who come through their doors. The sales rep must come to a meeting prepared to discuss the buyer’s specific business — yet 31% of sales reps are not prepared with even a basic level of Web available information before taking a buyer’s valuable time. Only 16% are extremely prepared — these are the reps positioned to take share for the companies they represent.

The technology purchase decision is rapidly moving from a product decision to a relationship decision. Buyers can generally find a number of products that can do the job and within the same price range. They will select the vendor that will make them successful over time even if the vendor does not offer the very best up-front price. The shift from product-led selling to relationship-led selling calls for a significant transformation of sales — enabled by a transformation of marketing.

This transformation requires marketing to gather intelligence and create assets that better map to what buyers value and then make the intelligence and assets “accessible” at key points along the go-to-market chain for use by sales and partners. This requires researching buyers (and I stress–from the buyer’s point of view), auditing program investments against what buyers value and other related investments your company is making, creating strong content assets (and then making these consumable in a variety of formats), and, finally contributing to a sales enablement process developed in partnership with your sales “partner”.

Thanks Clare! Contact me at for a free copy of a recently published report by Clare entitled “Sales Enablement 3.0: A Transformation of Sales Enabled by a Transformation of Marketing“.

More to come from IDC’s CMO Advisory Practice on the emerging practices in this area of Sales Enablement.

BtoB Marketing’s Response to Social Media: Have we Lost all Control and Impact?

For decades marketing has been desperately trying to connect with their customers in a controlled, one-way fashion. We had control of the brand, all marketing content as well as the traditional channels that were used to communicate with the market. And even on occasion, we cautiously exposed our executives and engineers to our customers while all the time holding our breath that they didn’t say the “wrong thing” that would hurt our image, costing us millions of dollars in marketing investment and countless hours including nights and weekends executing our marketing strategy.

It reminds me of a time when I was a product marketer in the semiconductor industry. I would visit customers quite frequently with our lead engineer. In one meeting this engineer exposed our greatest product flaw to one of our key customers. As I cringed in my seat, I expected the ROI from millions of dollars of investment into the brand value of this product to be instantly destroyed not to mention the lifetime value of this customer as they quickly switched to our competitors’ products. To my surprise, the candor expressed by this sincere engineer did not doom our company’s success at all. In fact, it was a key factor in gaining credibility with our customer, including serving as the basis for a joint discussion and future research to solve these problems in a collaborative fashion. This new problem-solving process served as a key differentiator for our products in a very commoditized market.

What’s the connection? Imagine 100s or even 1,000s of your engineers, developers and/or product managers interacting directly with your customers through their own blogs, contribution to other blogs, interaction through Twitter or countless other social media applications. Sound familiar to anyone?. . . How do we stop this PR nightmare?. . . How do we control them?. . . How do we ensure that they stay on-message with our brand?. . . How can we review every bit of content that they put on the Internet? The simple answer is that we “don’t” try to control them.

Not to say that we should hang up our marketing hat and make wine in Napa Valley. In this new social media model we need to devise new ways of helping our organization to best represent the company while keeping the needs of the customer at the forefront of our communications; and even better leveraging this new found connection to the customer. Some ideas include:

  • Increase your resources dedicated to internal communication. We’ve always said that everyone needs to be a salesperson. With the new social media model, we all have to be marketers as well, more than ever before. [CMO Advisory Service clients should refer to a recent publication entitled Intel Launches a Comprehensive Digital Marketing Training Program for its Global Marketing and Sales Staff, IDC doc. #218416]
  • Ensure that specific marketing staff are accountable for your company’s social media strategy.
  • Don’t “control” the social media strategy, “guide” it (e.g., evangelize, train, share best practices)
  • Provide the infrastructure for your social media “ambassadors” to communicate and interact with your markets (e.g., social media applications/platforms, basic guidelines for communications)
  • Integrate social media across the organization’s existing efforts
    – Develop private communities for customers to provide a self-serving environment for peer-to-peer interaction, as well as providing a great source of voice of the customer for product improvement and new product development
    – Establish public communities on your web site to share insight into new solutions for customers’ challenges; and contribute to other communities (no one will go to your party if you don’t go to theirs)
    – Integrate on-line and in-person social networking strategies (e.g., facilitate collaboration for an in-person event amongst prospects and clients before (on-line), during (in-person) and after (on-line) the event
    – Include social media as part of the overall marketing mix [CMO Advisory Service clients should refer to a recent marketing mix study entitled 2009 CMO Tech Marketing Barometer, IDC Doc. #217640]
  • Ensure that your social media strategy aligns with your customers’ needs. For example, relevant content from independent sources continues to be the greatest magnet for attracting our customers’ attention. Ensure that your communities remain on target to your customers’ needs.
  • Don’t forget performance measurement. Sample metrics for measuring the impact of social media include: customer satisfaction and retention, marketing reach and engagement (e.g., click-thrus, time spent on-site, more qualitative insight such as types of conversations)

Taking a more strategic perspective to leverage the power of new social media channels without stifling their potential will enable marketing to significantly increase its impact on the organization.