This is Inbound Marketing — and it’s a change

August 19th, 2013 No Comments

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How to Build a Marketing Plan

July 16th, 2013 No Comments

This post was first published on Gaia-VSM, a strategic marketing consultancy for Israeli start-ups.

When running any business, whether a startup or an enterprise business, don’t just start with random marketing activities. You won’t know where you are going. Instead, you need to build an integrated marketing plan.

After building a marketing and messaging strategy, you want to map your marketing activities with your business goals.

Don’t decide you want to be on Twitter or in the media or build a website without a plan.

Your marketing plan should integrate with your entire marketing activities. What does that mean?

According to one definition: “True IMC is the development of marketing strategies and creative campaigns that weave together multiple marketing disciplines (paid advertising, public relations, promotion, owned assets, and social media) that are selected and then executed to suit the particular goals of the brand.” Don’t just think tactics but rather think of all of your marketing channels and how they can work together to meet your business goals.

Do that with a marketing plan.

In order to build a marketing plan, follow these steps:

  1. Determine your business goals: $200,000 in sales per month? 800 sales leads per month? 500 product downloads? 50 blog reviews? 50,000 website visitors?

    Goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound

  2. Decide on the time period. You should build an annual or semi-annual plan, as well as in a monthly plan. While your plan should be flexible, taking into account change, it provides a good framework to make sure that you do not miss any important opportunities.

    In an annual or semi-annual plan, you may want to include:

    1. Holidays
    2. Conferences
    3. Industry events
    4. Industry trends
    5. Company events
    6. Maintenance events (website redesign, media lists created, set ups, etc.)
  3. Determine the marketing channels that you are working with. For example:
    1. Website
    2. Print
    3. Media and bloggers
    4. Industry analysts
    5. Social Media (such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Stack Overflow, etc.)
    6. Community
    7. User Groups
    8. Conferences
    9. E-mail Newsletter and Announcements
    10. Internal Communications, such as other divisions within the company
    11. Sales Collateral
    12. Product
  4. It’s often helpful to create a theme for the time period. For example, a December plan may be End of Year.
  5. Start creating the plan. In the columns, write the time-frame. In the rows, write the MARCOM channels. For example, a monthly marketing plan may look like:
Monthly Marketing Plan for Reach Startup Co. Goals: $200,000 sales/month, 800 sales leads, 30,000 unique website visitors

Theme: Summer Learning

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
Strategy Finalize conference messaging & positioning
Speaking Opportunities Presentation Finished & Practiced Speak at Briforum Email Briforum speech to leads
Public Relations Set up meetings with journalists & analysts Announce that Product Manager is speaking press release and media pitch

Publish bylined article about the challenges of IT in the cloud era in eWeek

Meet with at least 15 journalist & 3 analysts Follow up with reporters post-conference
Social Media 15 tweetable and quotable comments for conference Promote conference & articles

#ITChallenges campaign

Live Tweet conference, offer giveaway to registrants

Pre-confernence Google+ Hangout

Post video recording on YouTube

Comment on blogs of conference attendees

Web/SEO Keyword research for conference Create conference landing page Post conference recording
Sales Collateral Brief sales team about conference Ship brochures, rollups, and display to conference Tradeshow booth at Briforum (staffed by James and Michael) Post-event email to leads
  1. Implement – Start implementing the programs
  2. Evaluate – Evaluate progress

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Marketers Are Stuck

July 11th, 2013 No Comments

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Marketing in Israel vs. the US

May 27th, 2013 No Comments

I recently wrote a guest post for Gaia-VSM, a wonderful company that provides strategic marketing and market strategy development for startups in Tel Aviv. I’ve had the pleasure to work with them as the marketing manager at Typemock. The following is my thoughts on marketing in the US vs Israel.

Marketing in Israel vs US

Israel-Flag-300x225As an American working in high tech marketing who has lived and worked in Israel for almost a decade, I’ve been privileged to see both sides of Israeli and global business, and the differences of high tech marketing in Israel and America.

Marketing in Israel and marketing abroad have some key differences. Let’s understand why this is.

The State of Israel has a total population of less than 8 million and is one of the world’s smallest states, geographically isolated. It’s smaller than the size of New Jersey, America’s fourth smallest state, and has a lower population. Israel’s domestic market is tiny.

Israel is a tiny island. The scope and scale of marketing and running a business in Israel – even one throughout the whole country – is similar to running a small, local chain in the United States. Local business owners in the United States can benefit from networking and community available from neighbors in other states. This networking is not available in Israel, unless you are fluent in languages other than Hebrew.

It takes more market share to become a market leader when your audience is hundreds of millions or a billion compared to less than 7 or 8 million.

At the same time, because Israel is not the target market, Israeli technology firms have been forced to go global from the start. And thus they can look at any market: Europe, Africa, Asia, etc. Businesses in America are more likely only to focus on America and Europe. Israeli tech companies did not suffer as much during the global economic crisis because they were able to focus on the emerging markets, when a flight to China or India is shorter than flying out to Palo Alto.

One of the major weaknesses with Israeli businesses is that there is a dearth of marketing talent who have spent significant time abroad and are fluent in English, and have been exposed to global standards. Unless you have lived or worked abroad, this has the potential to lead to a misguided view of the market. It may lead to a false assumption that Israeli consumers and businesses act the same as markets abroad.

One of the highest values in Israel is creativity. However, this creativity is not always attractive to the target audience and may even be viewed as offensive or inappropriate. This leads to incidences such as this Jerusalem store, as  one American-Israeli comedian  made fun of.

Doggy-Style

Creativity and a lack of English fluency, including cultural nuances, lead to embarrassing mistakes that may work in the streets of Israel, but are offensive or off-putting to non-Israelis.

Israeli startups tendency for early acquisitions and to export their marketing and sales abroad leads to a continual spiral in which the marketing field is less developed. Since marketing strategy is business strategy, this keeps Israeli businesses from scaling globally.

Israeli marketing is also less developed. Always in danger, they are focused on short term campaigns, like PPC and affiliate marketing, and sometimes lack a comprehensive strategy that can get them where they need to be in the short term to long-term success.

While short term is essential, advertising is overemphasized as a promotional challenge. Other forms of promotion do not get the necessary attention.  Public relations and analyst relations is not as common. Startups, in particular, are less familiar with the import role analyst relations provides in getting investment and enterprise customers. In Israel, you can buy the complete printed list of Israeli media for less than 500 NIS whereas global databases like Vocus and Cision cost thousands of dollars.

In America, a business plan is a guideline to follow. In Israel, a business plan is something you have because your investors require but otherwise ignore. However, in an Agile world, following a plan and not deviating from it when circumstances demand has gotten American companies in trouble, whereas Israeli innovation and ignorance of the guidelines has allowed for creative ways to overcome obstacles. This lack of respect for rules has led to great innovation but not as great marketing and business. There are guidelines for marketing. While the Bible may be from Israel, the marketing bible is from Silicon Valley. Geoffrey Moore wrote the marketing bible,  Crossing the Chasm  and  Inside the Tornado  for high tech marketing. Yet, none of Moore’s books are available in Hebrew translation and are not as widely known in Israeli marketing circles.

Hence, there are several important, strategic, key differences when marketing in Israel and in America. When going global, make sure you are aware of these differences.

*Avi Hein made aliya from Washington, DC in 2004. He was the marketing manager at Typemock, a software company making software development tools. He blogs at http://www.avihein.com/. Reach out to him on Twitter at @avihein.
 

Read the article at Gaia-VSM or learn more about Gaia-VSM.

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Strategy needs to be more than an aspiration

May 25th, 2013 No Comments

Procter & Gamble CEO A.G. Lafley explains why strategy has to be more than an aspiration.

In the next few weeks, I’ll be writing a post about how to turn your strategy into reality, with a marketing plan.

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Marketing and the importance of positioning

August 22nd, 2012 No Comments

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This is what the “social media industry” looks like

August 22nd, 2012 No Comments

Social media is a tool to meet business goals. It’s here to stay but it’s a tool that we all need to know. Social media experts role ought to be to consult in organizations (and marketing departments) how to incorporate it in the way proper to their unique business goals. A social media guru is a marketing manager, customer service director, PR director, etc. It won’t (and shouldn’t) stay a role in its own right.

Unfortunately, 8 years after Facebook’s launch, 16 years after ICQ, and 20 years after the birth of the web, this is still what the “social media industry” looks like.

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We’ve got marketing management all wrong

August 20th, 2012 No Comments

We’ve got marketing management all wrong.

We’re defining the tactic – email, social media, trade shows, conferences, PR – without clear goals.

As The Cline Group’s Josh Cline wrote, we’re putting the cart before the horse – running forward before we have the goals or a plan.

graphs and chartsIt’s not a traditional or digital marketing divide. Companies are going to trade shows and looking for MARCOM pros with trade show experience without knowing what trade shows can do for their business and defining what they want to get out of the trade show. They return thousands of dollars in the red and with their pockets stuffed full of business cards and some touristy trinkets. They’re looking for email marketers while buying email addresses, and wonder what their newsletter has done for them, and they are seeking people to create and manage Facebook pages before they even conducting a POST Analysis and defining whether Facebook is the place that their customers are and can achieve your business goals. Then they wonder why they haven’t bought.

This is the way things have been for a long time – except the explosion in digital media and the ability to measure goals immediately and easily with built-in analytics make the status-quo even less acceptable today as businesses can measure their progress with more precision and speed than ever before.

Social media is a perfect example in which many have gotten it wrong. Deciding that their competitive strategy is “social marketing” or hiring for social media without understand what it can (and can not) do for you will not bring results. The age of experimentation is over.

Recently, I’ve seen an explosion in jobs for “social media managers” that don’t define what they expect “social media” to do for the business. Social media is a tool like a telephone – it can be used for all sorts of purposes and there are many different ways and goals it can achieve – advertising, cold calling for leads and sales, customer support, market research, etc.  Are they looking for thought leadership and new website visitors from a blog, leads from LinkedIn (and that webinar or white paper), a Facebook community to energize their existing fan-base, a viral boost of brand awareness from the funny video, or a conversation with their target audience? Even worse, they are frequently advertised as entry level when the job requires both strategy and implementation. These are all different goals which can be done by different personalities and have to be implemented differently.

While it’s important to have dedicated staff who knows how to use the tools, it’s even more important to first define your goals.

If you don’t define your goals first, you won’t get results. 63% of B2B companies are still not generating leads from social media – a goal for virtually any company that needs to drive revenue – most likely because social media is siloed and not integrated and because they haven’t built a program to get leads that includes social media.

Social media is mature and has proven results (Facebook itself is 8 years old, the Web is 20 years old, and online forums are even older) that you should be getting a tangible ROI from an approach that includes social media – whether leads, customer support, market research, or whatever other goal that you define. If you don’t have the KPI, don’t pre-determine the tactic. The KPI must be defined in order to generate the ROI.  At the same time, approaches and tactics are very different depending on one’s goals. A plan that aims to generate “buzz” – i.e. brand awareness among a mass group of people – is going to look very different than a plan whose goal is leads.

While the potential and capability is there, because companies aren’t defining what they are trying to achieve and the business goals defined by the C-suite aren’t adequately communicated to middle- and lower-managers in the trenches, ROI is not seen.

As Scott Opplinger wrote, “They might not get the results they want because they had no idea what results they were trying to accomplish in the first place and in most cases had no clearly defined method for measuring those results had they defined clear goals.”

Before determining what tactics you want, first map out:

  • Your business goals and the timeline you want to achieve it – for example 20% sales growth in 3 months, 33% more leads, 1,000 downloads a month, 10% reduced support costs, increase in conversion from leads to sales, more software renewals, 10 evangelists to write about you a month, etc.
  • Develop your benchmark and your goal
  • Develop the roadmap of how to achieve these goals – the different mix of tactics that will help achieve them, including KPIs to measure your progress
  • Measure your steps periodically and adjust accordingly.

In order to be realized, your business goals require channels and tools such as social media, email marketing, media and analyst relations, SEO, conversion optimization, web design/usability, advertising, and more. But, before hiring an expert in one of those areas, ensure that your marketing management and strategy is developed by someone or a team (like The Cline Group) that understands both the channels and what your entire business aims to achieve.

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Effective Analyst briefings

May 7th, 2012 No Comments

I’ve just completed an analyst briefing today at work and scheduling more.

Here are some tips for how to conduct an analyst briefing.

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The Purpose of Business

March 10th, 2012 No Comments

From Dr. Peter Drucker:

A business enterprise has two basic functions: marketing and innovation

If we want to know what a business is, we have to start with its purpose. And the purpose must lie outside the business itself. In fact, it must lie in society, since a business enterprise is an organ of society. There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer. The customer is a foundation of a business and keeps it in existence. The customer alone gives employment. And it is to supply the customer that society entrusts wealth-producing resources to the business enterprise.

Because it is the purpose to create a customer, any business enterprise has two – and only two – basic functions: marketing and innovation. These are the entrepreneurial functions. Marketing is the distinguishing, the unique function of the business.

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