CMA keeps a close eye on all major business sectors, disciplines, channels and technologies. CMA fulfils its professional development role by offering a Professional Marketing Certificates program as well as conferences, seminars and customized in-house training, the Association’s annual National Convention, and the CMA Awards program.
Hear from leading B2B thought leaders about some key topics in B2B Marketing and learn more at our upcoming CMAb2b event covering everything from trends, technology tools, content marketing and sales alignment.
Three facts should concern Canadian technology companies and their investors:
Canada has not produced a single Unicorn* company since 2015 (*enterprises with valuation > $1 bn)
Canada’s innovation ranking is 22nd (behind Finland, Sweden, Israel, Norway, Singapore, Belgium and Ireland) – all of which have smaller populations than Ontario
Canada ranks behind New York, California and Massachusetts in number of and ability to grow/scale companies (adjusted on a per capita basis)
Since Unicorns, tech innovators and high growth companies are invariably funded by investors, let’s take a look at Canadian vs. US VCs: Canadian venture capital IRR (internal rate of return) between 2007 and 2016 was 4%. US VCs achieved 10% IRR for the same period.
My former employer, then employee, now friend and mentor Charles Plant, who is Senior Fellow at U of T’s ImpactCentre.ca, has a lot to say on this topic.
Firstly, who is to blame for Canadian tech sector startups/scaleups underperforming when compared to so many other jurisdictions? Are Canadian founders/CEOs making mistakes? Or are investors making poor bets? The answe,r is a bit of both, and they tend to reinforce one another’s bias with groupthink.
Investors want high returns. They tend to invest in companies that plan on stellar revenue growth. It turns out that tech companies, anticipating what investors wish to hear, can create some pretty exuberant revenue forecasts. The average annual growth forecasted by tech companies that Plant surveyed was 160% – which is double the average CAGR of all Unicorns! (Recall, Canada hasn’t produced any of those since 2015.) Plant coined this phenomenon, the phantasmagorical forecast.
The groupthink continues. Investors weren’t born yesterday, so their inclination is to hedge on the phantasmagorical forecasts and fund their deals with less capital, less frequently, and at a later stage than their more successful American counterparts. This produces a very predicable outcome: with less funding, the target companies achieve lower and slower growth, reduced valuations and impaired ability to raise follow-on capital. An easy way to eyeball the relationship of investment to revenue growth (and IRR outcome) is the investment velocity ratio (investment $millions/years in business). 35 Canadian tech founders (averaged) believe they’ll need $3.5 million in funding to grow revenue from $1.4 million to $20.7 million over three years, respectively. That’s a velocity of about 1.2 ($3.5 million divided by three years.) Kik Interactive is a rare Canadian tech Unicorn. Their velocity is 112. The Canadian CAGR expectation is an astonishing 144% with investment two orders of magnitude below evidence-based reality.
Successful US tech companies have another thing going for them over Canadian “Tortoise techs”: marketing. High-growth US tech companies raise sufficient initial capital to support marketing spending equal to product development. This 1:1 spend ratio is from Day One of funding. At the point of product launch, the successful US company typically increases marketing spending to a 2:1 ratio over product development.
Not so Canadians. Investors typically fund product development. Marketing comes into play as an afterthought when the product is launched in the form of promotional activity. Market fit and value proposition weaknesses often come to light, spurring product enhancement and redevelopment effort, requiring additional investment. This scenario often leads to an investment down round, or worse. Many Canadian innovations are simply replicated and outpaced by better-funded players. Or the startup fails, blaming “lack of funding.”
The above scenario is borne out by the Impact Centre, which surveyed the presence of a dedicated and qualified head of marketing in startup and scaleup tech companies. Canadian companies love the compromise of “dual role” positions e.g. VP Sales & Marketing, VP Marketing & Business Development, or Director of Marketing (reporting to VP Sales and Marketing.) Job site http://www.indeed.com is chock-a-block with these hybrid roles. Moreover, close examination of VP marketing resumes in Canadian tech startups reveals fewer experienced players with a track record for building growth companies in technology.
In contrast, US technology companies don’t mess around. They employ a dedicated head of marketing i.e. CMO, early on and the resumes are reflective of the mission at hand: success in growing a technology company. Marketing isn’t a useful thing when starting up a tech company – it’s essential.
Five takeaways for startups and scaleups that want to succeed:
Large investment returns (IRR) in tech require high growth
High growth requires high investment velocity – 5-10 times the Canadian average
Spend the same on marketing as development from day one.
Double the marketing/development spend ratio at product launch
Assign a qualified head of marketing with tech startup experience early on
CMA’s B2B Council has rounded up some interesting articles, trends and insights from the B2B industry.
The power of storytelling in business Good storytelling helps people better understand what you're saying and remember the information more clearly. – Shared by Nick Taylor, Senior Director, New Revenue-Strategic Initiatives, Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation.
As technology and automation in B2B marketing grows, there are increasing calls to make B2B marketing more human. This happens to be the theme of CMA’s B2B Council, roughly translated as ‘B2B is B2P, where P is (obviously) people’.
The Big Human Idea
Compared to B2C, B2B almost always comes with longer customer journeys and multi-level decision processes. For long-term success, your marketing and sales people need to collaboratively address the entire journey with the best affordable communication for each critical stage. Sometimes that communication method is best handled by humans, but the message must always be for humans.
Always Use a Human Creative Approach
Transparency is what we currently think B2B customers want, but it’s more complicated than that. What they want is trustworthiness. People trust people who are forthright about their failures, weaknesses or simple differences. Your customers will search for negative reviews or the ‘cons’ of your offering if they aren’t provided by you. Unless your product/service is truly right for everyone, provide this transparency. This may be contrary to traditional ‘never go negative’ sales thinking, but very little of B2B is traditional.
Case studies handle this well because they wrap any negativity in a story that ends with positive business results. Take online collaboration brand Ryver, a team communications digital platform: they have been very successful with their ‘transparent’ creative approach which recognises Slack as the segment leader and pivots to where Ryver is superior.
Strategically Use a Human Communication Approach
Optima Communications runs an ongoing outbound campaign for Purolator, Canada's leading integrated freight and parcel solutions provider, targeting its SME customers. Optima calls less active and inactive customers to find out what’s happening with their business, and where appropriate, offers a discount incentive to re-engage. Registration for the promotional offer is the campaign KPI. The results are registrations in the range of 30% to 40% (on successful call connection) and double-digit year-over–year efficiency improvements.
Optima agents identify themselves as ‘working on behalf of’’ Purolator, not as an employee. In this very human context, the conversation results in the capture of extremely valuable qualitative information:
What has changed with the customer?
Why they have been shipping less or not at all?
What could be done beyond the promotional offer to get re-engagement?
This kind of invaluable learning is rarely provided by customers on their own, or by algorithm.
Why It Matters
There are still things people can do better than machines and your B2B customers are still human. Business to business marketing is still humans marketing to humans. It’s the combination of technology and people applied at the right moments in the customer journey that drives great B2B results.
Smart B2B marketers already understand that all B2B marketing creative should have a human/emotional approach. In the future, they will constantly be divining which parts of their customers’ journey are best addressed by a human communications approach, and will refine their mix of people and technology accordingly.
The traditional go-to-market strategy has commonly included, as its cornerstone, the 4Ps of marketing – product, price, place and promotion. However, today’s economy is a service economy – an industry of intangibles – where the value of the customer experience can only be measured after the service is delivered. Your employees, how your service is delivered, and its delivery environment can have a profound effect on its success – and all of these components go beyond the 4Ps of marketing.
The three additional Ps of Services Marketing- people, process and the physical environment – need to be integral components of any go-to-market strategy; yet, many companies consider them an afterthought, if they think of them at all.
Why It Matters
It may seem obvious that people, process and the physical environment are considerations when delivering a service to market but stop and think about your last unhappy service experience. What made you unhappy? Did the service level meet your expectation (or what you paid for)? How did the employee treat you? Was the employee knowledgeable and empowered to act? Did the place of service look professional? Were you left wondering how a company could operate with such lack of customer care?
As an intangible deliverable, customers may have a hard time imagining the value a company provides before using the service. Marketing a service-based organization has unique challenges but with a little consideration to the additional 3Ps, providing a positive customer experience will result in great opportunities for growth.
In order to ensure a positive customer experience, consider evaluating the following in your organization:
Employees are an important aspect of your service delivery: they have a direct or indirect involvement in the consumption of service by customers
Frontline staff should be continually trained and empowered to make the customer experience right.
High levels of professionalism and responsiveness should be of utmost priority.
Consumption of the service is vital to a positive experience
Build out a blueprint or a map of all the key interactions for consistency and potential fail points with remedies for optimal success.
Build in benchmarks and measurements associated with customer satisfaction for employees to achieve, and reward them when they do.
Physical Environment (Servicescape)
The visible cues to your business – your office, building, service vehicles, furnishings, etc. – play an important role in the experience
The design of the servicescape can have an impact on the perception a customer has of the professionalism and level of quality the company provides.
Ensure your physical environment reflects the image you want to portray: a little does go a long way.
As many companies continue to deliver customer self-serve technologies to reduce operational costs, it is imperative for organizations to map out the customer experience to ensure the impersonal still feels personal and meets the expectations of a physical interaction with a business. The engagement – whether offline or online – must include the three Ps of service marketing where the process is simple, esthetically engaging and most importantly, responsive when customers need assistance.
Source: Essentials of Services Marketing by Wirtz & Lovelock About the author: Nancy Mancini is President & Principal Consultant at Marcom Blueprints Inc.
We all have personal calendars to contend with, especially at this time of year. We double-book social events and try to balance that with overloaded work schedules that leave us wishing there was more time. As we look towards the New Year, we make a promise: Next year, I will be more organized!
As B2B marketers, our brand’s calendar should be no different. Who are the people we need to communicate with? What is it we want to say? How are we going to get the message delivered?
Successful content marketing needs a blueprint, a timeline and consistency. I mean, don’t we all need a bit more of all three in our lives?
Why it matters
Having a marketing strategy for the year will maintain focus for everyone from sales, finance, leadership and marketing. Working with the sales team to develop the strategy may seem counterintuitive, but teamwork makes dream work, and the earlier you have buy-in from across the sales cycle, the better. The more complex the sales cycle, the bigger the need to ensure the strategy is aligned with business objectives and sales targets.
1. Plan your blueprint
Create a 1-page summary strategy that includes:
Who: Audience breakdown
What: Messaging you want to communicate with each audience
Why: Objectives for each audience – lead generation, thought leadership, sales conversion, etc.
How: Distribution channels – how are you going to tap into these audiences? Email, social, advertising, carrier pigeon?
Now print this off, tape it to your wall / partition / desk plant for all to see and share
If you know your audience is technical, interview your engineers on a project that they feel would interest their customers. Perhaps your sales team is hearing things that would be of value to a wider audience. Or maybe walking the floor of your industry’s biggest tradeshow will reveal topics and secrets your customers are dying to know about. Word of mouth is a powerful tool that can be leveraged, especially for B2B, so focus on the means of communication that’s best for your audience.
3. Get organized
Think about your Outlook calendar. Employing a similar calendar for your brand’s content will allow you to look ahead, plan and prepare the people and topics required throughout the year. Taking a holistic approach before the year begins, in tandem with your marketing strategy, will give you the 30,000-foot view of what’s needed, and when.
Create a 2019 content calendar and include:
When you’re reaching out to each target audience
What kind of content needs to be created
When you need to speak to the right people, for the right topic
How you’re going to distribute this content
4. Stay regular, for your customers, of course
The key to success of your content marketing strategy for 2019 is consistency. Google will actually reward you for this. Repurposing content with a refresh counts, so don’t always feel under the gun to develop new content.
Benefits of content consistency:
Establishes your brand as a thought leader
Bolsters your brand identity
Ensures your customers and prospects have new information that helps them be better at their roles
Strengthens your SEO, findability and searchability
Canada’s top marketing talent was celebrated by a sold-out crowd of more than 1,200 people at this year’s Awards Show & Gala with a record 500+ entries across seven disciplines and nine categories, plus five special awards. The evening culminated with the presentation of the Marketer of the Year and Best of the Best awards. From Rick Campanelli as emcee to Dr. Draw’s amazing violin acts, a delicious 3-course dinner, late-night snacks and hitting up the dancefloor, it was an amazing winter wonderland night!
Customer Experience: How to Win by Creating True Value
As businesses mature and markets reach saturation, organizations are looking to develop a stronger relationship with their customers. The CMA’s CX Council set out to understand how brands are redefining their customers’ experiences by challenging the status quo, targeting specific customer groups, and providing different experiences to suit the differences.
Inbox Marketer’s 2018 report highlights the latest email benchmarks and trends and puts a spotlight email performance in Canada versus the US. Download their report to find out how your programs are performing against the latest benchmarks!
You’d be hard pressed to find a brand that doesn’t want to be seen as contemporary and cool. The problem is this often leads to the folly pursuit of cool agencies – and not necessarily agencies that do cool work.
The problem with a cool agency is its source of coolness tends to be a singular vibe. They’re edgy! Dripping in art direction!! Hire that agency and you’ll likely get the same thing over and over again. It’s what they do, because that cool is who they are. I lived this first hand as the creative director of an agency renowned for comedy. Our first instinct on every client was the funny bone. In retrospect, it served us more than them.
A cool adjacent agency, by contrast, may not possess that singular cool. But – here’s the critical bit - they are aces at strategy and creative platform ideas. And only then, relevance in hand, they know just where to look to bring the right kind of cool to your project.
Our agency cleansheet recently launched our CanadaSound album which was rewarded with a Silver Music Clio in the company of Drake, Elton John and Jay Z. None of us I might add can play an instrument, but we had the courage a big idea always bestows and simply went out and found the artists to make it sing.
Hire cool and you’ll get what makes them cool – no more. Seek out a cool adjacent agency and you’ll start with the foundations and creative ideas that will allow your authenticity to find whatever cool your cool should be.
Now, how cool is that.
Neil McOstrich is the Chief Storytelling Officer at Cleansheet
Remember the days when a successful product launch merely required a smart ad campaign and sampling opportunities?
Marketers had a small box of reliable, favourite tools. Today, the tool box is filled with lots of fancy gadgets and power attachments. Some we know how to use, others we are just figuring out (VR, AI). And this sets up all sorts of new challenges.
So, while marketers are focused on rooting around in their tool boxes looking for just the right programmatic buy and SEO strategy to launch the hottest new product, it only takes one hit to your brand’s reputation to undo all your good work. The reality is that it’s not a matter of IF the hit will come, it’s WHEN.
The path is littered with examples:
Johnson & Johnson – The iconic Baby Powder brand (that just happens to appear to contain asbestos) that causes women to develop ovarian cancer, cost the company $4.14 billion in July and a stock drop of 1.4 per cent
The Weinstein company – The producer and distributor of over 80 Oscar-winning films, led by one of the most despised public figures in the US, is going out of business.
Uber – The ride-sharing darling of millennials is embroiled in lawsuits and investigations into sexual harassment alongside executive and CEO resignations.
Trump Hotels - Enough said.
Would you want to be the chief marketer trying to introduce a new product for one of these brands in this environment of mistrust?
The rise of citizen journalism has further complicated communications by providing a voice and platform for “unofficial” media to share their views on your brand. These magnified voices exponentially increase and expand the speed and severity of the issue.
That’s where PR comes in. This all-purpose tool has the power to Protect and Repair your brand’s reputation.
To protect, PR proactively builds long-term, credible value that supports your brand’s goals and objectives and creates a natural conversation with your audiences. Regularly disseminated positive news stories, thought leadership programs and social responsibility initiatives can help put “coin in the bank” and add value to your company’s reputation.
When challenges arise that withdraw some of that value, PR can reactively repair the damage – most effectively if there’s enough “coin” in reserve. Your end users can find reassurance that the problem is probably a blip given your company’s sterling record.
PR is the perfect complement to marketing’s sales-driven and more immediate bottom-line focus. With PR in your toolbox, the end goal is intertwined: sell more great products and services because you have taken the time to reinforce a company that your customers and consumers can trust.
In our journey to master the digital, we’ve neglected the customer journey. This article isn’t about a new technology that will transform your marketing plan. It’s about a mentality shift from “digital” to “digital transforming mediums” that will help make you a better B2B marketer.
How Can Partnerships Be Showcased Through Experiences?
Some corporations are turning to experiential marketing to showcase their partnerships with NGOs and NFPs. Brady Hambleton, VP of Marketing & Analytics at Canada's Children's Hospital and Vice-Chair of the CMA’s NFP Council, shares some great examples of recent experiential activations.
Best Practices in Marketing: Collecting, Using and Protecting Personal Data
Most marketers who use data and analytics work hard to ensure that personal consumer data is used in a legitimate and ethical way – but only to identify markets, not individuals. We asked some of Canada’s leading analytics executives to provide insights about steps that people who work with personal data must take to prevent privacy breaches.
Manitoba’s Accessibility Standard for Customer service now in effect
As of November 1, 2018, any business or non-profit organization in Manitoba that has at least one employee must meet the Customer Service Standard for accessibility.
Read more about the law, watch the training video and use this checklist to review the accessibility of your services.
Rethinking the Role of the CMO
There is a tremendous opportunity for senior marketing leaders to step into the redefined role of CMO Collaborator, leading their organization(s) into a future of unparalleled collaboration to deliver world-class customer experiences.