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These days the traditional services offered by an agency aren’t enough. Clients want more. As clients build out their capability with internal agency functions, they’re looking to external partners that are more than just service providers. They’re looking for insight, innovation and ways to accelerate their growth.

More and more, clients are bringing services in-house – certainly the bigger clients we deal with. They’re dedicating teams to content, digital advertising and creating, or acquiring, their own internal agency to service their extended marketing teams. So where does this leave the humble old agency? Pretty humble, I’d say.

What we’ve found is that value is paramount, but what does that look like? We’ve been looking at the value we offer and we’ve been speaking to our clients to understand the challenges they face and where we can really support them.

What we discovered was that our clients are doing so much in-house. They’re developing their own capabilities and areas of expertise, whether that be digital experts for advertising, content writers, in-house design teams or dedicated data analysists for marketing performance. With this brings their own depth of expertise, but that’s often either too broad and they’re often only just skimming the surface, or too inwardly focused. To be frank, they’re just too busy to stop, evaluate and innovate.

Our clients tell us they want to do as much as they can in-house. One marketing leader recently told me,

I’m really proud of how far we’ve come, the team have improved so much. We are now delivering some really good marketing, but it’s not exceptional yet. The challenge is we don’t know what we don’t know or what we should be exploiting next.

And there’s the flipside, they’re often too focused on the business and expanding their knowledge about their internal systems and products. This leaves blind spots as they don’t get a wider perspective from utilising the experience of an external partner that can bring deep expertise from a wide range of similar clients and industry knowledge.

What we offer is that, but also the ability to share our knowledge and bring new, effective ways of working that improve, expand their knowledge and offer value. More importantly, we offer time back to our senior clients as they know their teams are supported and that they’ll get new innovations incorporated into their processes. That’s about helping our clients move from A to B – whether capability-wise, culturally or through new processes and analyses.

As part of our discussions with our clients and prospects, their challenges aren’t necessarily ‘how can I generate more leads’, the challenges are typically deeper than that. Here’s what they’re striving to uncover:

1. Market insight, including understanding their buyer, particularly in new markets

As clients are expanding, either through acquisition or new product development, there’s always the challenge of addressing new audiences. Whether it’s a new space that you’re moving into, a new market or shifting from functional to strategic messaging, there’s always the challenge of conveying that to the executive team, the sales team and for it to trickle down to all facets of the marketing department and what they produce.

2. Converting leads at the appropriate time in their journey

For so long leads have been the priority, but we all know it’s easy to get leads if you pay for them. Budgets are tight and need to be used in smart ways, so our clients are looking for ways to only engage with those at the relevant point in their journey – rather than all potential audiences. By being more specific, targeted or using AI to identify prospects who show intent enables better conversion and ensures budgets go further.

3. Personalising the customer experience – yes, even in B2B

Website personalisation has been tried and tested in B2B, yet there’s very few organisations who are really able to pull it off in a way that’s manageable with an enterprise content management system on a global scale. (If you have managed it, I’d love to hear from you). Yet, as marketers, we know personalisation works and if we can improve the experience, the response will be better. With our clients we’re delivering AI solutions that do deliver a 121 personalised website experience enabling us to rewrite the personalisation playbook. The result is more engaged prospects and accelerated time from MQL to SQL.

4. Applying marketing automation techniques effectively

We’ve all got a marketing automation platform, but let’s be honest, are you really getting all you want from it? Most of the marketing leaders we’re talking to aren’t. Whether it’s better email communications sequences, increasing the velocity of leads through the funnel, or pushing the data and getting the management information you need – there’s always a challenge.

5. Volume and quality of leads

Ah, that old chestnut! Whoever has enough leads!? We recently spoke with a prospect who wanted over 11,000 leads per quarter for a niche enterprise software product – that just falls short of madness and the budgets to achieve it would be silly. More often than not, it’s not about ‘spray and pray’, but being more targeted and smart with audiences as well as the demand funnel modelling you’re applying. Digital interactions, AI and the wonderful cookie give us a plethora of information to enable smarter targeting; and virtually every marketing leader we talk to wants that – less wastage, better use of marketing dollars and ultimately higher ROI.

6. Exploiting the latest technology or channels

We’re swimming in a sea of marketing technology and marketing leaders are really feeling it. Our clients and prospects are auditing and reviewing their martech stack all the time – always seeking value, better integration, more visibility and greater efficiency. As a significant drain on their budget, they’re looking to reassess, ensure budgets are maximised and they’re keen to use what they have effectively.

Based on this feedback, services simply aren’t enough. Clients want best practice, insight into what other similar clients are doing, what marketing technology solutions work and how to apply best practice. That’s why we’ve extended beyond simply services to include products that enhance the customer experience, benchmarks that enable our clients to compare themselves to their peers, and products that accelerate growth.

We’re using a suite of demand generation tools, some proprietary, some third party, alongside proven insights methodologies and data analysis solutions. Clients are getting answers, they’re accelerating their growth and tackling their biggest challenges – more importantly, we’re giving them back time, adding capability and bringing innovation into their marketing.

Here are few examples:

  • Personalised one-to-one experiences based around conversations on websites which make the conversion time from lead to SQL minutes, rather than weeks.
  • Identifying those with purchase intent to enable campaign targeting to be laser-focussed using AI.
  • Customer assessment tools that create value for prospects and insights for sales.
  • Time-to-value and ROI calculators for value that prospects can see immediately.
  • Buyer identification framework that overlays psychometric data for improved messaging.

Times are changing. And yes, we still do services and lead gen campaigns. But we now do so much more. Let’s grow wiser, stronger and faster – together.

The post You need more than just traditional agency services appeared first on Modern.

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The 3 Biggest Challenges In Enterprise B2B Marketing

Planning, delivering and measuring enterprise B2B marketing activity is no easy task.

This is particularly true if you’re targeting the EMEA market and your head office is somewhere in the States. We work with marketers that are in exactly this position and they face a lot of common challenges. Here are the top three that we keep seeing time and time again.

1. Localisation (a.k.a de-American-ising)

First and foremost, let’s talk about keeping things local (and I’m not talking about organic cheese). We see time and time again that EMEA marketers working in large global orgs are all fighting the same fight.

They receive a steady stream of ‘global’ (highly Americanised) content that’s targeted at the wrong verticals, written in the wrong tone and using completely the wrong language. Lo and behold, the States are shocked when EMEA campaigns don’t deliver the same results as they do in the US.

And who gets blamed? I’ll let you guess.

Weeding out the wheat from the chaff, setting the right strategy and localising content takes time and thought. But it’s also essential to drive results in your target geos.

2. Process (a.k.a herding cats)

All large global organisations are the same, where multiple departments are involved in getting a campaign out the door. The marketing department, the content team, the social team, the digital team, the marketing automation specialist, the CRM specialist, the dev team… I could go on, but I only have 2 hours left until I have to leave the office to pick up my kid from daycare. In a nutshell, coordinating these departments is a full-time job in itself.

Briefing each stakeholder, managing relationships between departments, following it all through and, most importantly, tracking it all to measure the number of leads and opportunities delivered by the activity is easily the most complex part of delivering any good B2B marketing strategy.

The key is process. Once a set process is in place, tested, optimised and perfected, things really begin to fall into place. Unfortunately, this isn’t as easy as it sounds, but it’s also not impossible. We’ve found that getting this right can be the key to transforming the impact marketing has across the organisation.

Better yet, as an EMEA marketer, it will help get you noticed by your senior leadership team.

We’ve seen it turn heads more than once when the EMEA marketing team delivers new processes and results that blast other geos out of the water. That process is then rolled out globally because it was so successful across EMEA.

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3. Reporting (a.k.a. *cough* promotion)

Because getting a campaign out the door can involve 7 departments (or more?), often dotted around the world, getting an accurate view of the results can be a bit of a rigamarole.

I don’t know about you, but we like to track performance and results daily, especially at the beginning of a campaign. Weekly check-ins are the absolute bare minimum, but when you try to get this info from each department, it can be like trying to get blood from a stone.

The key here is to have a single point of contact managing all departments, with complete visibility of the campaign and relationships with all stakeholders. They can then gather all the data that’s needed and measure the ongoing performance of a campaign. Crucially, they can hold each team accountable and make sure work is completed quickly and measured accurately.

It’s worth mentioning, this person needs to understand how each of these elements works as well, so they can tell the good from the bad and feedback to each team as needed.

So what do you think, EMEA marketers? Did we get it right? Did we miss anything? Leave us a comment about your top B2B marketing challenges or find us on Twitter and let’s chat about it.

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The post The 3 Biggest Challenges In Enterprise B2B Marketing appeared first on Modern.

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Do B2B marketing better

It struck me the other day that we speak with a lot of marketers and no matter what size of budget they have, or size of organisation they are, they’re all struggling with similar issues.

Most commonly it’s lack of resource, followed by lack of specialist skills then lack of budget.

There’s a drive and desire to want to do better, smarter B2B marketing, but in most cases they’re simply hamstrung.

Quite simply, they have to focus on keeping their head above water, fighting off the sales team or corporate HQ, or managing workflow around their own organisations.

The thing that suffers is marketing (and the marketers get a bit demoralised). The minimum gets done through no fault of theirs and results of the campaigns are okay, but could always be better. That’s what I want to talk about today: making simple steps to do better marketing.

In that vein, I’m going to share three things that we see marketers do regularly and how with a little thought and time, it’s possible to improve things to really ramp things up.

The things I’m going to cover are pretty basic and virtually every marketing team in the country has to do them. They’re fundamental to any B2B marketing programme, yet, as I’ll show you, they shamelessly get overlooked.

And whilst we’re good at stating the bleeding obvious, sometimes we fall into the same traps. At Modern, we’re not perfect either. Sometimes we just have to suck it up and get the basic s**t done.

Email is a biggie

With email, whether you’re running a large enterprise or a small software business, everyone does some form of email. Out of everything, this is the area where we see most opportunity for businesses where we’re lucky enough to look under the hood.

Disclaimer: Before I get started, this is the one where we fail. If you’re on our newsletter list, you’ll know that they’re far from regular!

Every business has a database and yes, there are complexities selling internationally with the use of data and specific laws for certain countries, but for the UK, we’re able to send emails for business.

Most businesses have acquired data from some form or another, hopefully legally, but rarely do they put it to good use. The area where we see prospects and clients miss out is with nurture programmes.

There seems to be this ‘three email rule’ and then stop. No more emails, unless the contact gets put into another lead generation campaign that has email as part of it.

My thought is, hang on a minute, you’ve worked hard to get that contact to engage with you. They’ve downloaded your content or raised their hand in some way, and you’re going to stop after three emails?!

I miss sales or lead gen emails aimed at me, all the time. Doesn’t mean my interest has waned. It just means I’m busy! And have you seen how much of a fascist Outlook Clutter is? It even pushes Microsoft emails in Clutter.

Three emails suck. And if you’re going to stop emailing me completely, then you’re really missing out.

We’ve seen warm contacts act on a call to action in an email after 7 touches and as far out as 21 touches. So don’t give up after three. At least take them off that specific nurture programme, but put them into a regular communication about your products or services, so you can keep front of mind.

Going too broad with targeting

There are too many PR people getting into digital marketing and it’s resulting in digital campaigns being too focused on impressions and reach – that’s a numbers game.

It’s broad-brush advertising for everyone and their dog (and it’s expensive).

Quality over quantity every time. It produces better results and is a fraction of the price.

Plus, with the targeting available these days on social advertising, ad networks and trade publications, there is no excuse. Unless of course, you’re doing a huge brand campaign and your audience is everyone (ahem, like Microsoft or Toshiba).

Tracking: it’s still a bugbear for many

I can honestly say, every time I speak with a client-side marketer, they are struggling to demonstrate success. Yes, pretty much every time.

Their priorities are either to demonstrate:

  • To the sales team that they have contributed to the journey of a customer in some way, shape or form
  • They have delivered a certain return on investment
  • A particular channel, i.e. Twitter, is not a waste of time

Many marketers are struggling massively with Google Analytics, or if they’re a whizz with Google Analytics, they’re unable to demonstrate the opportunity or sales value tied back to a campaign. (The latter is a systems issue, common with marketing automation platforms).

I’m yet to meet a client that is doing the reporting and attribution element of a campaign well. The solution, digital marketers are going to have to grip this one with two hands and get on it. There is only going to be a greater need to demonstrate success (or non-success) and that’s not going away. So that’s about skilling up, setting up systems and monitoring and tracking.

Let’s end on a positive note though. Things are changing and marketers are embracing more things. They’re able to do things more cost effectively as the freelance market grows and technology enables faster, more efficient management of B2B marketing activity.

The most important thing though, is getting those basics right, assessing the quality of what you’re doing and starting to do marketing better.

What are your experiences? I’d love to hear about it, let me know on Twitter or LinkedIn.

The post Do B2B marketing better appeared first on Modern.

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The importance of the client-agency relationship (and why it works)

I’ve been an agency girl all my life and have been lucky enough to work in excellent agencies. Back in one of my first agencies, Proximity London, the client services team had relationship training. It was about understanding people, matching similar personality types and marking off various people within the client team – it was smart and it worked.

Back then, I was an account manager with just a couple of years’ experience being paired with the marketing director of a FTSE 100 client. It frightened the life out of me, I feared making a mistake, jeopardising the client relationship or simply not knowing what to say. Surprisingly, he liked me and we got on (and it wasn’t my wit, charm and gorgeous looks that won him over). It was that we were the same personality profile and we just got each other.

The same agency were also smart because they focused on relationships – how to build and develop deeper relations for and with their customers, as well as their own clients. With their customers’ customers it was clever comms plans, cadence and creative customer profiling and segmentation. When it came to their own clients, it was about ‘surprise and delight’ – going the extra mile and building deeper relationships with direct clients so they wouldn’t look elsewhere.

Today, I’m always curious why our clients choose to work with Modern. We often seek feedback because if we don’t know the state of the relationship, we won’t be able to improve it.

We’ve all worked with difficult people. You know, the one that drives you mad, that just doesn’t get it or is simply hard work. Then there are those with whom working together is easy. You get on, you help each other and you’re working towards the same goal. Why do only some relationships work?

When I look at the clients we work well with, there are common traits of those that stay and those that don’t. When we’re at an early stage in the relationship (before contracts are signed), we spend time with our prospects to understand if they possess those traits – because if they do, the relationship for both parties is likely to be much better. Likewise, if we know it’s unlikely to work, we move on. I suppose that’s chemistry – you either have it or you don’t.

So what are the qualities that make the client-agency relationship work so well?

Mutual respect

Our clients know their business and we know ours. They understand their market, customers, products and internal culture. We know how to reach and engage with their audience, as well as how to resonate and other intricacies.

Understanding

Seek out what you don’t know and never bluff it. With complex products and services, we never assume we know. I love the statement ‘never assume, you’ll make an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’’.

Enthusiasm

Work with engaged people who love what they do. If you’re both engaged and enthusiastic, you’ll work harder and faster to the same goal.

Deliver

Do what you say you will, when you say you will – on both sides. Never let clients down, and ensure clients understand that they need to deliver too. We both need each other.

Integrity

Be honest. Be trustful. Foster integrity – always.

I’ll make an assumption that you’re either on the agency or client side of the fence. What do you think makes a great client-agency relationship? Tweet me, or message me on LinkedIn.

The post The importance of the client-agency relationship (and why it works) appeared first on Modern.

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7 challenges for aligning sales and marketing (and how they can be overcome)

In recent times there has been much debate about aligning sales and marketing for improved business performance. In a previous blog, we discussed ‘the difference between B2B marketing and sales’, we noted that each function rarely gives due recognition to the role performed by the other. We also highlighted that companies with closely aligned sales and marketing departments are ultimately more competitive and successful.

As discussed in detail by B2B Marketing, Forrester has introduced the world to sales enablement. That being… ‘a strategic ongoing process that equips all client-facing employees with the ability to consistently and systematically have a valuable conversation with the right set of customer stakeholders at each stage of the customer’s problem-solving life cycle in order to optimize the return of investment of the selling system’.

Put simply – sales enablement is helping sales understand and talk to customers; it provides customer-facing employees with information to help them do their job as effectively as possible.

While not solely the responsibility of marketing, a large part of sales enablement is for marketing to provide sales with the right materials, business insights and quality of leads. These closer relationships by default mean looking at ways of aligning sales and marketing.

So, despite all the evidence and good reason as for aligning sales and marketing, why is it such a challenge? And ultimately, how can those challenges be overcome?

Visibility

Silos do exist within organisation. The bigger the business, the bigger the silo. Each ‘functional department’ has their own set of responsibilities, and the individuals within it often have specific skill sets which allow them to be successful. Despite the ultimate goal of satisfying customers needs and wants (at a profit), a central focus is often lost. In terms of sales and marketing, the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing and subsequently becomes sceptical. Greater visibility of activities and results along with combined objectives is needed to support the wider business goals.

Time

Marketing takes time. It’s a management process that relies on research, information and testing. It’s a strategic process that works, but not always at the desired speed of a sales person. A sales person often has little interest in the planning and detail of a campaign – they need leads, and they need them now.

Qualification

Leads should not be all about quantity. Any marketing department could produce large numbers of leads if they threw enough money at it. That said, setting the criteria for a well-qualified lead takes a two-way discussion to get right. Both sales and marketing need to agree on the appropriate criteria to take a prospect forward and what point the sales team are happy to progress, and if not what gets done with the lead.

Terminology

Jargon. We often don’t realise we’re using it, or that it’s open to interpretation. Qualification (above) is a great example – what marketing mean by a ‘qualified lead’ is often hugely different to how sales might define a ‘qualified lead’. Terminology within an organisation doesn’t always translate well to customer-facing activity – so, without being too clichéd, an organisation does need to discuss, agree and ‘all sing from the same hymn sheet’, particularly when aligning sales and marketing.

Process

It’s clear to see that several of these challenges are about process. Getting sales and marketing to talk and agree on the steps required to meet objectives, which are then implemented, is critical. In B2B, marketing is often reliant on a sales team to get results, therefore mutual understanding and alignment in working practices is critical. Working practices need to be well explained and uniformly supported across both departments.

Feedback

Now teams are talking, they need to keep talking. Time taken by marketing processes can be reduced with good, detailed feedback. Qualification criteria can be refined for enhanced results, with good, detailed feedback. Processes can be improved with good, detailed feedback (get the picture?)!

Reporting

Cohesive, supportive working – towards the same goals – will significantly improve business performance. Reporting together (not in those functional silos) against agreed and combined metrics is key – that will really get them talking.

Bringing it all together and aligning sales and marketing

The need for sales and marketing to work hard together really becomes essential when you introduce marketing automation platforms. Often, without even realising it the two sides are literally thrown together as these sophisticated platforms can’t work effectively and deliver the required result without the other party involved.

Suddenly when aligning sales and marketing through the use of technology (and sheer determination), the result is:
– The left hand knows what the right is doing
– Time to create a campaign is faster (and both sides have the ability to do it)
– The terminology used by both is aligned
– New, more effective processes come to the fore
– Qualification criteria for prospects is agreed together
– Both open up and engage in dialogue and give feedback
– Metrics become unified, reporting becomes transparent and ROI rockets

Simple.

The post 7 challenges for aligning sales and marketing (and how they can be overcome) appeared first on Modern.

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What does a CMO really want?

I’ve had a couple of insightful conversations recently with marketing leaders or CMOs that I wholeheartedly respect.

These conversations validated my thinking about what we see when we work with clients, but it’s good to hear it direct from the horses’ mouth (so to say).

So, in the process, I asked them what they want… what they really, really want.

The conversations were relaxed, filled with honesty and offered unexpected but welcome truths.

These were experienced marketers, top of their game in technology businesses from the US and UK. Some of them run global teams, and some run UK businesses – the commonality being that they both have high growth targets.

It was interesting that, despite the size of the business or the budget, the issues they highlighted were the same.

What’s the issue?

The biggest problem I heard had to be ‘sales and marketing alignment’.

Whatever way you put it, the leads come in, marketing qualify them and pass them to sales, and then sales reject them in some way, shape or form.

This is symptomatic of many things – none of them insurmountable, but it is complicated. It involves systems, process, behaviour management, training and most of all – change and a great leader.

What they found was that they have the visibility within their systems to understand the numbers and drill down. They know whether they’re making their number – so the reporting and tracking are there, but it’s failing at some point.

Where’s the focus?

Most of the marketing managers I’ve dealt with are targeted on leads – contacts that download an asset (or fill in a form on a website).

They’re chasing early stage leads by either activating their own databases, focusing on target account lists or seeking net-new names.

They get the lead count (by hook or by crook), hit the qualification criteria, but then the process falls down and sales complain.

What’s more, their job is getting harder and harder because conversion rates are declining. This is due to past experiences with the inbound machine of (poor) content that has historically delivered a lack of value (and thanks, I gave you my email address for that!?).

There’s a distinct lack of process once the lead is in the system. A nurture programme takes over to push the lead score up so a marketing qualified lead can be determined and passed to sales (or lead development) to start the sales process.

But the sausage machine isn’t working.

With a complex enterprise sale, it’s not a clear process and a few nurture emails aren’t necessarily going to push a lead into an MQL. It’s no wonder that sales aren’t happy.

When sales (or lead development) qualify, I see the process fall down here as well. Those deemed ‘not ready yet’ aren’t tagged appropriately, they then fall out of the process and are sometimes lost completely.

So what’s happening with them? What comms do they get? I like to call these the “inbetweeners” (I’ve been watching a lot of this cringeworthy show recently, much to my distress). They’re awkward, they don’t know how to behave and no one really knows what to do with them!

What’s the solution?

If we spent some time here and refocused the effort a little, I believe marketing could perform much better.

Yes, there are ongoing newsletters, blog RSS emails and new content announcements (oh, a new webinar – again!), but these are process-driven, not customised, personal communications that really offer value.

They’re just standard processes within the sausage machine of marketing automation.

Sales need to get involved too. It’s not good enough to chuck leads back over the fence and shout at marketing for not delivering enough leads. Marketers need to sit down and work with sales to define what the criteria for sales accepted leads are, and what should happen with those that aren’t quite ready yet.

It’s easy to chase the ones that are ripe right now, but it’s equally important to nurture and build relationships personally with those that aren’t ready yet.

Marketing needs you to help them here too.

From what the CMOs say, their teams need to sit down and work it all out. Challenge the status quo and rethink the process.

Let’s take a step back from the content marketing machine and consider how we can really engage a prospective customer (in its widest sense) and develop deeper engagement so that we’re all a bit happier.

[Rant over]

The post What does a CMO really want? appeared first on Modern.

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These days the traditional services offered by an agency aren’t enough. Clients want more. As clients build out their capability with internal agency functions, they’re looking to external partners that are more than just service providers. They’re looking for insight, innovation and ways to accelerate their growth.

More and more, clients are bringing services in-house – certainly the bigger clients we deal with. They’re dedicating teams to content, digital advertising and creating, or acquiring, their own internal agency to service their extended marketing teams. So where does this leave the humble old agency? Pretty humble, I’d say.

What we’ve found is that value is paramount, but what does that look like? We’ve been looking at the value we offer and we’ve been speaking to our clients to understand the challenges they face and where we can really support them.

What we discovered was that our clients are doing so much in-house. They’re developing their own capabilities and areas of expertise, whether that be digital experts for advertising, content writers, in-house design teams or dedicated data analysists for marketing performance. With this brings their own depth of expertise, but that’s often either too broad and they’re often only just skimming the surface, or too inwardly focused. To be frank, they’re just too busy to stop, evaluate and innovate.

Our clients tell us they want to do as much as they can in-house. One marketing leader recently told me,

I’m really proud of how far we’ve come, the team have improved so much. We are now delivering some really good marketing, but it’s not exceptional yet. The challenge is we don’t know what we don’t know or what we should be exploiting next.

And there’s the flipside, they’re often too focused on the business and expanding their knowledge about their internal systems and products. This leaves blind spots as they don’t get a wider perspective from utilising the experience of an external partner that can bring deep expertise from a wide range of similar clients and industry knowledge.

What we offer is that, but also the ability to share our knowledge and bring new, effective ways of working that improve, expand their knowledge and offer value. More importantly, we offer time back to our senior clients as they know their teams are supported and that they’ll get new innovations incorporated into their processes. That’s about helping our clients move from A to B – whether capability-wise, culturally or through new processes and analyses.

As part of our discussions with our clients and prospects, their challenges aren’t necessarily ‘how can I generate more leads’, the challenges are typically deeper than that. Here’s what they’re striving to uncover:

1. Market insight, including understanding their buyer, particularly in new markets

As clients are expanding, either through acquisition or new product development, there’s always the challenge of addressing new audiences. Whether it’s a new space that you’re moving into, a new market or shifting from functional to strategic messaging, there’s always the challenge of conveying that to the executive team, the sales team and for it to trickle down to all facets of the marketing department and what they produce.

2. Converting leads at the appropriate time in their journey

For so long leads have been the priority, but we all know it’s easy to get leads if you pay for them. Budgets are tight and need to be used in smart ways, so our clients are looking for ways to only engage with those at the relevant point in their journey – rather than all potential audiences. By being more specific, targeted or using AI to identify prospects who show intent enables better conversion and ensures budgets go further.

3. Personalising the customer experience – yes, even in B2B

Website personalisation has been tried and tested in B2B, yet there’s very few organisations who are really able to pull it off in a way that’s manageable with an enterprise content management system on a global scale. (If you have managed it, I’d love to hear from you). Yet, as marketers, we know personalisation works and if we can improve the experience, the response will be better. With our clients we’re delivering AI solutions that do deliver a 121 personalised website experience enabling us to rewrite the personalisation playbook. The result is more engaged prospects and accelerated time from MQL to SQL.

4. Applying marketing automation techniques effectively

We’ve all got a marketing automation platform, but let’s be honest, are you really getting all you want from it? Most of the marketing leaders we’re talking to aren’t. Whether it’s better email communications sequences, increasing the velocity of leads through the funnel, or pushing the data and getting the management information you need – there’s always a challenge.

5. Volume and quality of leads

Ah, that old chestnut! Whoever has enough leads!? We recently spoke with a prospect who wanted over 11,000 leads per quarter for a niche enterprise software product – that just falls short of madness and the budgets to achieve it would be silly. More often than not, it’s not about ‘spray and pray’, but being more targeted and smart with audiences as well as the demand funnel modelling you’re applying. Digital interactions, AI and the wonderful cookie give us a plethora of information to enable smarter targeting; and virtually every marketing leader we talk to wants that – less wastage, better use of marketing dollars and ultimately higher ROI.

6. Exploiting the latest technology or channels

We’re swimming in a sea of marketing technology and marketing leaders are really feeling it. Our clients and prospects are auditing and reviewing their martech stack all the time – always seeking value, better integration, more visibility and greater efficiency. As a significant drain on their budget, they’re looking to reassess, ensure budgets are maximised and they’re keen to use what they have effectively.

Based on this feedback, services simply aren’t enough. Clients want best practice, insight into what other similar clients are doing, what marketing technology solutions work and how to apply best practice. That’s why we’ve extended beyond simply services to include products that enhance the customer experience, benchmarks that enable our clients to compare themselves to their peers, and products that accelerate growth.

We’re using a suite of demand generation tools, some proprietary, some third party, alongside proven insights methodologies and data analysis solutions. Clients are getting answers, they’re accelerating their growth and tackling their biggest challenges – more importantly, we’re giving them back time, adding capability and bringing innovation into their marketing.

Here are few examples:

  • Personalised one-to-one experiences based around conversations on websites which make the conversion time from lead to SQL minutes, rather than weeks.
  • Identifying those with purchase intent to enable campaign targeting to be laser-focussed using AI.
  • Customer assessment tools that create value for prospects and insights for sales.
  • Time-to-value and ROI calculators for value that prospects can see immediately.
  • Buyer identification framework that overlays psychometric data for improved messaging.

Times are changing. And yes, we still do services and lead gen campaigns. But we now do so much more. Let’s grow wiser, stronger and faster – together.

The post You need more than just traditional agency services appeared first on Modern.

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The 3 Biggest Challenges In Enterprise B2B Marketing

Planning, delivering and measuring enterprise B2B marketing activity is no easy task.

This is particularly true if you’re targeting the EMEA market and your head office is somewhere in the States. We work with marketers that are in exactly this position and they face a lot of common challenges. Here are the top three that we keep seeing time and time again.

1. Localisation (a.k.a de-American-ising)

First and foremost, let’s talk about keeping things local (and I’m not talking about organic cheese). We see time and time again that EMEA marketers working in large global orgs are all fighting the same fight.

They receive a steady stream of ‘global’ (highly Americanised) content that’s targeted at the wrong verticals, written in the wrong tone and using completely the wrong language. Lo and behold, the States are shocked when EMEA campaigns don’t deliver the same results as they do in the US.

And who gets blamed? I’ll let you guess.

Weeding out the wheat from the chaff, setting the right strategy and localising content takes time and thought. But it’s also essential to drive results in your target geos.

2. Process (a.k.a herding cats)

All large global organisations are the same, where multiple departments are involved in getting a campaign out the door. The marketing department, the content team, the social team, the digital team, the marketing automation specialist, the CRM specialist, the dev team… I could go on, but I only have 2 hours left until I have to leave the office to pick up my kid from daycare. In a nutshell, coordinating these departments is a full-time job in itself.

Briefing each stakeholder, managing relationships between departments, following it all through and, most importantly, tracking it all to measure the number of leads and opportunities delivered by the activity is easily the most complex part of delivering any good B2B marketing strategy.

The key is process. Once a set process is in place, tested, optimised and perfected, things really begin to fall into place. Unfortunately, this isn’t as easy as it sounds, but it’s also not impossible. We’ve found that getting this right can be the key to transforming the impact marketing has across the organisation.

Better yet, as an EMEA marketer, it will help get you noticed by your senior leadership team.

We’ve seen it turn heads more than once when the EMEA marketing team delivers new processes and results that blast other geos out of the water. That process is then rolled out globally because it was so successful across EMEA.

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3. Reporting (a.k.a. *cough* promotion)

Because getting a campaign out the door can involve 7 departments (or more?), often dotted around the world, getting an accurate view of the results can be a bit of a rigamarole.

I don’t know about you, but we like to track performance and results daily, especially at the beginning of a campaign. Weekly check-ins are the absolute bare minimum, but when you try to get this info from each department, it can be like trying to get blood from a stone.

The key here is to have a single point of contact managing all departments, with complete visibility of the campaign and relationships with all stakeholders. They can then gather all the data that’s needed and measure the ongoing performance of a campaign. Crucially, they can hold each team accountable and make sure work is completed quickly and measured accurately.

It’s worth mentioning, this person needs to understand how each of these elements works as well, so they can tell the good from the bad and feedback to each team as needed.

So what do you think, EMEA marketers? Did we get it right? Did we miss anything? Leave us a comment about your top B2B marketing challenges or find us on Twitter and let’s chat about it.

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The post The 3 Biggest Challenges In Enterprise B2B Marketing appeared first on Modern.

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The importance of the client-agency relationship (and why it works)

I’ve been an agency girl all my life and have been lucky enough to work in excellent agencies. Back in one of my first agencies, Proximity London, the client services team had relationship training. It was about understanding people, matching similar personality types and marking off various people within the client team – it was smart and it worked.

Back then, I was an account manager with just a couple of years’ experience being paired with the marketing director of a FTSE 100 client. It frightened the life out of me, I feared making a mistake, jeopardising the client relationship or simply not knowing what to say. Surprisingly, he liked me and we got on (and it wasn’t my wit, charm and gorgeous looks that won him over). It was that we were the same personality profile and we just got each other.

The same agency were also smart because they focused on relationships – how to build and develop deeper relations for and with their customers, as well as their own clients. With their customers’ customers it was clever comms plans, cadence and creative customer profiling and segmentation. When it came to their own clients, it was about ‘surprise and delight’ – going the extra mile and building deeper relationships with direct clients so they wouldn’t look elsewhere.

Today, I’m always curious why our clients choose to work with Modern. We often seek feedback because if we don’t know the state of the relationship, we won’t be able to improve it.

We’ve all worked with difficult people. You know, the one that drives you mad, that just doesn’t get it or is simply hard work. Then there are those with whom working together is easy. You get on, you help each other and you’re working towards the same goal. Why do only some relationships work?

When I look at the clients we work well with, there are common traits of those that stay and those that don’t. When we’re at an early stage in the relationship (before contracts are signed), we spend time with our prospects to understand if they possess those traits – because if they do, the relationship for both parties is likely to be much better. Likewise, if we know it’s unlikely to work, we move on. I suppose that’s chemistry – you either have it or you don’t.

So what are the qualities that make the client-agency relationship work so well?

Mutual respect

Our clients know their business and we know ours. They understand their market, customers, products and internal culture. We know how to reach and engage with their audience, as well as how to resonate and other intricacies.

Understanding

Seek out what you don’t know and never bluff it. With complex products and services, we never assume we know. I love the statement ‘never assume, you’ll make an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’’.

Enthusiasm

Work with engaged people who love what they do. If you’re both engaged and enthusiastic, you’ll work harder and faster to the same goal.

Deliver

Do what you say you will, when you say you will – on both sides. Never let clients down, and ensure clients understand that they need to deliver too. We both need each other.

Integrity

Be honest. Be trustful. Foster integrity – always.

I’ll make an assumption that you’re either on the agency or client side of the fence. What do you think makes a great client-agency relationship? Tweet me, or message me on LinkedIn.

The post The importance of the client-agency relationship (and why it works) appeared first on Modern.

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7 challenges for aligning sales and marketing (and how they can be overcome)

In recent times there has been much debate about aligning sales and marketing for improved business performance. In a previous blog, we discussed ‘the difference between B2B marketing and sales’, we noted that each function rarely gives due recognition to the role performed by the other. We also highlighted that companies with closely aligned sales and marketing departments are ultimately more competitive and successful.

As discussed in detail by B2B Marketing, Forrester has introduced the world to sales enablement. That being… ‘a strategic ongoing process that equips all client-facing employees with the ability to consistently and systematically have a valuable conversation with the right set of customer stakeholders at each stage of the customer’s problem-solving life cycle in order to optimize the return of investment of the selling system’.

Put simply – sales enablement is helping sales understand and talk to customers; it provides customer-facing employees with information to help them do their job as effectively as possible.

While not solely the responsibility of marketing, a large part of sales enablement is for marketing to provide sales with the right materials, business insights and quality of leads. These closer relationships by default mean looking at ways of aligning sales and marketing.

So, despite all the evidence and good reason as for aligning sales and marketing, why is it such a challenge? And ultimately, how can those challenges be overcome?

Visibility

Silos do exist within organisation. The bigger the business, the bigger the silo. Each ‘functional department’ has their own set of responsibilities, and the individuals within it often have specific skill sets which allow them to be successful. Despite the ultimate goal of satisfying customers needs and wants (at a profit), a central focus is often lost. In terms of sales and marketing, the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing and subsequently becomes sceptical. Greater visibility of activities and results along with combined objectives is needed to support the wider business goals.

Time

Marketing takes time. It’s a management process that relies on research, information and testing. It’s a strategic process that works, but not always at the desired speed of a sales person. A sales person often has little interest in the planning and detail of a campaign – they need leads, and they need them now.

Qualification

Leads should not be all about quantity. Any marketing department could produce large numbers of leads if they threw enough money at it. That said, setting the criteria for a well-qualified lead takes a two-way discussion to get right. Both sales and marketing need to agree on the appropriate criteria to take a prospect forward and what point the sales team are happy to progress, and if not what gets done with the lead.

Terminology

Jargon. We often don’t realise we’re using it, or that it’s open to interpretation. Qualification (above) is a great example – what marketing mean by a ‘qualified lead’ is often hugely different to how sales might define a ‘qualified lead’. Terminology within an organisation doesn’t always translate well to customer-facing activity – so, without being too clichéd, an organisation does need to discuss, agree and ‘all sing from the same hymn sheet’, particularly when aligning sales and marketing.

Process

It’s clear to see that several of these challenges are about process. Getting sales and marketing to talk and agree on the steps required to meet objectives, which are then implemented, is critical. In B2B, marketing is often reliant on a sales team to get results, therefore mutual understanding and alignment in working practices is critical. Working practices need to be well explained and uniformly supported across both departments.

Feedback

Now teams are talking, they need to keep talking. Time taken by marketing processes can be reduced with good, detailed feedback. Qualification criteria can be refined for enhanced results, with good, detailed feedback. Processes can be improved with good, detailed feedback (get the picture?)!

Reporting

Cohesive, supportive working – towards the same goals – will significantly improve business performance. Reporting together (not in those functional silos) against agreed and combined metrics is key – that will really get them talking.

Bringing it all together and aligning sales and marketing

The need for sales and marketing to work hard together really becomes essential when you introduce marketing automation platforms. Often, without even realising it the two sides are literally thrown together as these sophisticated platforms can’t work effectively and deliver the required result without the other party involved.

Suddenly when aligning sales and marketing through the use of technology (and sheer determination), the result is:
– The left hand knows what the right is doing
– Time to create a campaign is faster (and both sides have the ability to do it)
– The terminology used by both is aligned
– New, more effective processes come to the fore
– Qualification criteria for prospects is agreed together
– Both open up and engage in dialogue and give feedback
– Metrics become unified, reporting becomes transparent and ROI rockets

Simple.

The post 7 challenges for aligning sales and marketing (and how they can be overcome) appeared first on Modern.

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