Archive for September 2010
Once we’d all finished popping the champagne (ok, actually tea as it was only 9.30am) after reaching this fulfilling benchmark, I thought, well, what next?
Specifically what next for email? My inbox is full of emails from publications, potential suppliers etc, ranging from “email doesn’t work anymore” to “email is the way forward” and everything in between.
My personal, very humble opinion, is that email still works, just as it always has done, in the sense that GOOD email marketing works, POOR email marketing DOESN’T.
Ok, rant over…almost.
We’ve probably all seen the email, blogs and websites that have all hints and tips about what works, and we discuss them earnestly over networking drinks and in planning sessions. So we all know it, but do we all do it?
No, is the simple answer. Which got me wondering, well why don’t we then? Nobody sets out to do a bad email.
I have a theory (based on the aforementioned 200 email campaigns) that it boils down to 3 reasons:
1. Decision by committee - too many cooks spoil an email and dilute the message and original intent with multiple minor modifications that are unnecessary at best, and downright damaging at worst. We need to be stronger, as marketers, to stand up for our beliefs as to what’s right and what’s effective!
2. Succumbing to the number tempation – well yes, we’ve verticalised our message and approach, and we know who will respond, but how will it hurt if we just add another 5,000 contacts to the list of recipients? It will make the sales guys happy….enough said here I think
3. Thinking email is cheap – yes, the actual physical cost of an email campaign is cost effective, but why waste that money by using poorly qualified data for example? Why is it ok not to test email campaigns as you would other marketing channels? Always integrate with other channels! Be clever about the ROI, don’t just blindly follow the opens and clicks list.
I’m sure you all know the above (from painful experience I’m sure), perhaps what we need are lessons in assertiveness rather than email marketing. Yes, I’m being facetious – actually it brings me round to my favourite subject – getting best practice B2B Marketing on the executive agenda.
Until marketers are targeted and SUPPORTED on criteria that results in good quality b2b marketing, then it’s not really going to change. What do I mean? Well for starters:
1. Accept that good marketing takes time to prepare, so approve budget EARLY, accept that time to leads reflects the prep and relationship build time appropriate for your market
2. Create linked objectives between sales and marketing – make it clear where the line is, and what the expectations are – if you have a 12 month sales cycle and don’t approve budgets until March – guess what, no leads until Q3!
3. Create objectives NOT JUST BASED ON LEAD NUMBERS. Yes, leads and sales pipeline is important. But in B2B where relationships have to be nurtured, relationships, reputation and influence are equally as important. Would Proctor and Gamble stop doing television advertising because people don’t rush out to buy the minute the advert is on?
My mission is continuing – I am attending a small dinner on the 27th September with senior marketers from some of the largest global companies, where I am going to throw down the gauntlet – watch this space
If you want to support my B2B Mission, please join our B2B marketing symposium LinkedIn group!
Sorry for the “blog gap” – have been sunning myself on holiday…more about that another time.
Have just been reading reviews of Richard Branson’s new book, Reaching for the Skies. Have also read his blog entry about the same. I like Richard Branson – can’t help it. Listened to the audio version of his autobiography over a 2 month period recently and still listen to the odd snippet when I need motivation – helps when you run your own business, to understand that the stress and the problems are the same!
What I also like about RB (if I may call him that, I’m sure he won’t mind) is his frank admission that he couldn’t have done what he did without help. Which is so true, and it’s also true that it’s quite rare to hear people in similar positions, genuinely admit it.
It’s a bit like that being an agency (or a consultancy I would imagine), you become that person(s) that people couldn’t do without, and sometimes you get the acknowledgement and sometimes you don’t. To be honest, the best relationships and projects come from a partnership approach, where client and agency lines are blurred in the sense that everyone pitches in, and everyone takes responsibility and ownership where needed.
The hardest projects are where the lines are drawn firmly between client and agency. You see it less and less (thank goodness) but it’s still there sometimes – dictorial communication, finger pointing and blame when things go wrong (as they inevitably will when one party feels bullied, as communication is impacted)
What clients can do:
- Submit clear briefs with as much detail as you can provide, never make ANY assumptions about what your agency understands you want
- Respond positively when there are misunderstandings – everyone makes mistakes, and sometimes misunderstandings are down to miscommunication and assumptions on either side
- be clear about how you will measure success, especially if this changes as the project commences
- take a collaborative approach when goals are not met – many factors contribute to the success or failure of a project and are rarely down to one party or activity
- treat your agency as part of the team, motivate them as you would a team that you employed directly
What agencies can (and should) do:
- ask as many questions upfront, even if it feels uncomfortable, better to look daft now than when you’ve worked hard on something irrelevant
- clearly document your expectations at the beginning, especially around deliverables, success factors and contingencies
- keep a consistent project team – too many cooks etc
- provide clear and regular reporting mechanisms, and go through them in person or by phone on a regular basis with the client – who tend not to read complex GANTT’s or spreadsheets
- be a part of the client’s team, go and see them regularly, focus on the relationship
- under promise, over deliver (see, I told you there were plenty of overused phrases here)
Partnership is a term that is overused – and it’s no longer a selling point. You have to demonstrate your commitment to a partnership approach – and that’s where I think RB is so successful. When you read his books, he doesn’t come across as precious about his role – he just wants to get the job done, and put the right people with the right skills to use in the right places. He doesn’t always get it right – and that’s what life is about.