Searching for that special strategy that will maximize ROI and generate new customers
The ITAC Think Tank in October explored a subject that’s close to the heart of many tech marketers: how to achieve ROI and find new customers while making the most of your marketing budget. Participants shared their ideas on how to find the ideal marketing mix of their organizations and products. These are some of the key findings from the event:
- The primary objective for marketing today is finding qualifies sales leads.
- Marketing resources continue to be cut, and both digital and traditional activities are constantly being re-evaluated.
- Integrating sales & marketing is more important than ever.
- Sales wants qualified sales leads; and marketing needs resources to find and nurture them.
- Improving communication between these groups is the key to working together successfully.
- Tracking ROI on all marketing activities is absolutely critical.
- With more intel, resources are more efficiently directed to where they’ll have the biggest impact.
This SMA/ITAC Marketing & Sales Executive Think Tank was hosted at HPE in Mississauga, Ontario by Claude Couillard, Canadian Field Marketing Manager. The discussion was moderated by Bob Becker, Principal, SMA.
- Kelly Cusack, Manager, Marketing and Vendor Relations, Benchmark
- Jeremy Freedman, Global Campaigns, Cloud, Dell/EMC
- Peter Kriparos, Regional Manager, Canadian Strategic Alliances, Hitachi Data Systems
- Claude Couillard, Canadian Field Marketing Manager, HP Enterprise
- Jason Bremner, Market Development, Leader – Canada, IBM Canada Ltd.
- Dahl Morrison, Director – Sales, Kloudville
- Dean Coates, Head of PGP Strategy and Performance RAS, Linde Canada
- Melissa Marks O’Dell, Vendor Engagement Manager-Business Development, Softchoice
- Michele Mackenzie, GM Marketing Communication, Xerox Canada Ltd.
Comments from our Discussion
Below are comments from participants at the October think tank. Each event is unique, and the needs of each technology company represented at the event are equally unique. As you will see, there is a wide range of opinions and approaches, and also some common themes. We think you’ll find a lot to consider in these comments from attendees.
What we learned
- Demand generation continues be to top priority. Stay focused on lead generation campaigns.
- Make sure you understand digital body language and track online activity.
- Challenges in all organizations are similar and continue to be difficult, including tracking.
- Sales is our client; our perspective should be that we are all working in a sales environment.
- Learn how Spiceworks and SpiceHeads can help your organization.
What is your present marketing mix, traditional versus digital? How has your marketing mix changed in the last three years?
- Traditional tactics remain:
- Continue to invest in meeting services and more user groups tied to user initiatives.
- Big vendor shows have more breakouts now.
- Roundtable discussions are increasing, specifically for C-level.
- It is important to communicate what you are going to market with to ensure customer understands. Velocity of the message is critical.
- Marketing spend in market intelligence and customer nurturing is all part of the sales pursuit.
- Marketing mix with current clients is typically 80% traditional / 20% digital; while digital marketing is on the rise for prospective customers.
- Big trade shows for new customers are declining.
- Direct mail, incorporating video content, is coming back due to CASL. Direct mail campaigns are complemented with multi-touch follow-up (email and outbound telephone).
- Challenge continues to be finding the right place for customers – where should marketing be in sales funnel? When should sales contact prospects? How far into the pipeline?
- Instead of in-person roundtables, consider engaging on a digital level. This can provide a lot of content, for example take snippets from a one-hour ‘hub meeting’ and use it as a marketing tool as a ‘boot camp’ session to talk to your users.
Engage in group discussions with online communities, such as Spiceworks: “Learn more about how businesses can work smarter by enabling employees to collaborate at any time, via any device, anywhere.”
- From a customer’s perspective, a marketing mix is not traditional versus digital, but rather a mix of the different types of communications from marketing.
- Advertising communication is shifting towards digital demand generation programs, for example newspaper ads moving to blogs – achieving same results but in digital format.
- Corporate communications moving to marketing communications – becoming one.
- Increased spending on paid search to find new customers, including SEO in local communities. Challenges to find ROI continues.
- Brand awareness effort is expensive yet challenging to prove that activity will translate into a sale.
- Organizations with little to no brand recognition are ‘go with the flow.’ Efforts are focused on direct outreach, with webinars increasing. Segmentation is critical.
- Sales and marketing need to leverage with partners – need big names to get new customers.
- Conduct fewer events and partner up with vendors. YouTube videos in story-telling format is increasing.
- Niche industries have limited budgets; brand awareness created through trade shows.
- The sales decision is happening before we even speak with prospects. So, how do we get to talk to them?
- Teams need to build virtual networks and need to have best people for outbound telesales.
- Retention continues to be a challenge; get in front of them before they leave.
What are the biggest challenges between the sales and marketing teams regarding marketing initiatives? What are the best practices to integrate both teams?
- Bring sales and marketing together to build credibility and understanding about what each team is doing. The challenge is that sales are impatient.
- At the executive level, sales can see the value of marketing but at management level, just not interested.
- Both sales and marketing need to understand one another; both have different immediate needs when selling into market. And both need to understand the audience. It’s marketing’s job to speak sales language – not the other way around.
- Marketing needs to see the value in top of funnel – needs to catch hot leads. Better communication between both is needed.
- Define and agree on lead definition with sales-suggested categories:
- Lead #1: “Call me right now” and
- Lead #2: 3 to 4 online touches before calling.
- Understand digital body language, the tracking of online activity (the opening of an email is no longer an indicator) such as time on website, download of white paper, attending webinar.
- Bridge gap by putting the right metrics and milestones in place so that the sales team can invest in its outcome rather than being pushed into quarter end.
- Focus on partners; they are hungry for leads. Multi-touch campaigns are more important than brand awareness.
- To help build relationship, marketing should help sales make decisions.
- Traditional marketing, such as going to ball games, still works for large accounts – essential.
- The challenge of working with sales is that they run on confidence and speed. Marketing should help in providing areas to win in, including building sales’ confidence, to focus on which campaign can take them there. Marketing is part of the sales journey and should go beyond just coming up with ideas to give confidence to sales.
- Marketing to sales is good/bad tense relationship. Marketing needs to create a supportive environment so that sales can go to marketing for ‘ingredients’ to get their job done.
- At the end of the day, everyone represents the organization – something must be sold.
- Strong, accurate tracking infrastructure is needed to measure successes (such as Dynamics, Salesforce, Aprimo and Adobe Experience Manager). Ensure manual intervention is built-in to fully integrate and understand the lead/sales cycle.