Tradeshow and Exhibit Thoughtleaders
"The goal of education is the advancement of knowledge
and the dissemination of truth."

John F. Kennedy

Jeff Tanner's' Articles

The Everywhere/Nowhere Conundrum


The Everywhere Perspective

In todayís multi-channel environment, buyers are everywhere and nowhere, all at the same time.  Whatís a marketer to do? 

Many try to be everywhere all at once. The ROI of that strategy, though, is poor.  Others seem to be nowhere, letting salespeople go it alone. No matter which perspective
|a marketer takes, the everywhere/nowhere conundrum creates its own set of unique challenges and problems.

Neil Rackham, the founder of the consultative selling movement that is now the norm, recently said that many companies struggle with opportunity selection.  He illustrated
the point with an example of a company spending nearly $70,000 on responding to RFPs. By creating a process that focused on higher probability RFPs, the company not
 only made more money but was also able to redirect resources to develop new opportunities. The audience, though, struggled with buying the premise that a company has
too many opportunities. Yet, many marketers do have that problem Ė they perceive that there are opportunities everywhere and the challenge seems to be to sort through

When a marketer believes buyers are everywhere, the pressure mounts to be everywhere. Social media? Weíre all over Facebook and LinkedIn.  Blogosphere?  Blogging
once a week, and tweeting about it, too.  Mobile? Weíve got an app for that. And donít forget trade shows! But sorry Woody Allen, just showing up is no longer 80% of
success in this new game of ubiquitous marketing.

Buyers engage with you in a conversation. When they read a blog, itís like a letter. When they call the call center, itís a chat. When they see you at a trade show, itís a visit.
Ok, maybe they arenít that personal, but they are storing away information about you gained in these snippets of interaction across all of the channels, snippets they want
to pull out and use later.
For that reason, many marketers try to standardize the messaging across channels Ė a good first step. Itís not hard to find examples of conflicting messages like trumpeting
innovation in one blog while tweeting discounts on the newest product. ďIf itís innovative, why are they discounting?Ē thinks the buyer. 

But the basis of a sound multi-channel strategy is a sound data strategy. Otherwise, the marketerís side of the conversation can sound idiotic.  A sound data strategy means
that interactions can be guided by previous interactions. For example, the salesperson who met a prospect at a trade show is likely to have a far different follow-up call than
the salesperson that only got a lead from the show.  Most booth staff are trained to ask a few questions and, if possible, add information to the lead so that it can be scored and
the salesperson prepped for the follow-up. So why not consider how to capture similar information through other channels, such as web-browsing data? 

The challenge, though, is to move that data across channels. One company selling employee testing and screening tools has a strong marketing automation process using
Eloqua as the engine. No matter the electronic channel, data illuminate each buyerís path, where they clicked, what they read, when they saw a blog, or got an email. At each
interaction, the lead is scored and the system makes a decision as to what marketing action comes next. When the score is high enough, the lead is passed to salespeople,
along with the profile built through the interactions up to that point. The prospectís behavior isnít frozen, either. As additional interactions occur, these data points can enter
the Salesforce system, alerting salespeople to further activity. But without a data strategy, each channel would be randomly shouting marketing messages in the hopes that
a buyer was near enough to hear one or two, and would then take some action.

Another illustration of the power of data comes from Esri, a geographic information solutions provider.  First, they integrated their customer databases in order capture the
full richness of the customer. Using this data, they then built campaigns, using Aprimoís multi-channel campaign studio that were more conversational. One result was an
increase in conference event attendance by 25%, leading to further conversations. The overall ROI was over 1000% (not a typo). Data makes a multi-channel strategy possible.

Of course, consistency is messaging strategy is important. Traditional marketing foundations, like positioning and branding, are no less important in a multi-channel environment. 
And just like traditional buying, the buyer engages in each interaction in order to receive a benefit, whether it is entertainment or knowledge. The difference is that there can be
much greater satisfaction when each interaction is built on a previous interaction.

The Nowhere Perspective

When Rackham made the point that opportunity selection was a problem for many companies, the cynic in me immediately rebutted that opportunity identification was a much more
difficult challenge. Many companies struggle with just filling the pipeline, and marketers may feel that they donít know where to look for opportunities.  Buyers may be on the web,
somewhere, or going to a trade show, somewhere, but where? A few scattered marketing campaigns that yield a low response prove the point that marketing has no value Ė letís
let the salespeople do all the prospecting because that works/

Returning, though, to the premise that buyers interact with marketers in order to meet needs, the real challenge becomes how to create an interaction that meets a need.  Did the
booth visitor (prospect)  get what was needed to move a decision along to the next phase?  Did a blog provide an insight that might spark an innovation?  When the interaction
meets a need, other prospects will follow, and that prospect will be back. When you give buyers what they want in communication, they show up.

According to Bruce Culbert, chief service officer with The Pedowitz Group, marketing automation is like a flywheel Ė as a marketing automation solution is implemented, the rate at
which the pipeline is filled increases. Further, channel providers like TechTarget and Penton Media capture data on prospects, feeding it directly into the CRM software used by
their clients. Data gathered from interactions enables better prospecting and searching for new leads.

Conundrum Solved

Data is an important foundation for solving the everywhere/nowhere conundrum.  But simply having the data is only the beginning of solving the conundrum.  Turning data into decisions
and learning from those decisions are also needed Ė because prospects really are everywhere and nowhere.

© 2013 by John F.Tanner Jr