I am looking forward to visiting some friends in Napa Valley over the weekend of June 30-31 where I will get to see how the other half lives! 🙂 After that, I will be heading to San Francisco to facilitate a workshop at the Gilbane Conference on June 2-4. My topic: Social Media and the Digital Marketing Platform. Everyone is talking about social media. Social networks are growing by the day with more and more people joining. New networks are popping up all over the place. Companies are challenged with building out community platforms around their products and services. Corporations are trying to figure out what social media is and how to integrate both the corporate communities and public social media platforms into their businesses. Where do you start? Should you be on Twitter? What about Facebook? How do you go about building out a platform solution? This workshop will teach new media techniques, including blogging and social media as well as how all of this ties into business strategies and goals. The session will provide a roadmap for building out and integrating these solutions.

T.J. O’Connor and I are looking forward to speaking on June 25-7: Ritz Carlton-Lodge Reynolds Plantation One Lake Oconee Trail Greensboro, GA 30642 Abstract: Companies are undergoing a massive shift in investment away from traditional media toward online media. New web sites and social networks are accelerating brand awareness and audience engagement. Customers are making their product purchase selections and engaging brands online. While they follow a familiar buying process, the selling process needs to adapt to a more dynamic online environment that you can’t fully control. How do you capture customer value in a complex online environment? The answer is to use new online marketing strategies to nurture and engage your direct and indirect audience across the buy-sell process. opei_newsletter09_spread

When setting out to develop an Internet Marketing strategy, you need to connect the dots between a wide range of business,  marketing, technology and project elements.

A web strategy today involves a lot more than your web site. In the late 1990s it was very much about defining your branded online presence via the web site and related web services and online applications. Today, with the important roll of  Search and Social Media, your brand presence must now consider delivering impact and engagement across the broader social web and involves a far more sophisticated strategy for inbound marketing and lead capture.  With that in mind, if you are about to embark on a comprehensive Internet Marketing Strategy, you might want to get answers to a range of questions. So, here is a list, but let’s add to the list- what have you found as critical success factors and key issues that should be addressed in developing your internet strategy.

1) Market, Audience and Sales Model – You need to define the underlying business model for marketing and sales so that you can tie your Internet Marketing Strategy to business goals:

  • What is your revenue generation strategy?
  • How will you capture market share?
  • Who is your customer and what are their needs, intents and values?
  • What are the major market segments we wish to target?
  • What defines these segments and what are their major characteristics?
  • What is the typical customer life cycle for each segment?
  • What are the various dialogue needs across the life cycle chain and what implications does that have for the business operations model?
  • What are the demographic, psychographic, and channel preference factors of the targeted audience segments?
  • What capabilities will be needed to meet this targeted audience’s needs?
  • Who is the competition and what are their strengths, weaknesses?
  • What is the overall differentiating business strategy to capture market share?
  • What is the closed-loop marketing model and funnel process?
  • What opportunities are being created by the emergence of new media and technologies?

2) Functionality and Services – Now that you understand your core business model and your audience, what are the capabilities that your audience will be seeking to engage your brand online – both at your site(s) and across the social and mobile web?

  • What segment needs and intents will be addressed?
  • What is the unique functionality required? (transaction, database, content, syndication, lead capture, community, collaboration, forms, Configurator, eCommerce transactions, search, customer service, eNewsletters, events, eMail database, browser requirements? Privacy and Security? Accessibility?
  • In addition to basic site requirements, will the project seek to include interactive web platforms (such as logins, BLOGS, Forums, and Q&A chat rooms) in aims to enhance outreach tools?
  • Have you considered strategies regarding mobile devices/ web / social media?
  • Do you currently have any site utilization monitoring tools in place?
  • What role will your supplier play in determining the audience analysis?
  • Design concepts development and selection

3) Branding and Design – maybe you already have a brand identity – including logo marks and look and feel -but  you may also need to develop a “brand architecture” that ties together all your related product and services into a unifying identity – both on and offline.

  • Do you have an overall brand strategy? Offline and Online?
  • Have you a set of creative concepts under consideration?
  • Have these creative concepts been mapped to specific audience needs and/or business strategy drivers?
  • Which existing sites best approximate the desired look and feel? functionality?, info architecture?
  • Do you need a logi, brand architecture or single mark?
  • What are the various branding concepts that will suit our identified target segment?
  • Is the brand achieving Completeness, Transparency, Flow and Dialogue with the user?
  • How will we roll out the branding?
  • How will it be represented and communicated to the market?

4) Content and Information Architecture – How do you arrange your content into a clear information architecture that your audience can understand and access?

  • What content will the business will deliver (media types?)?
  • Do you have readily available content?
  • What effort is needed to design and develop the content? Initial? On-going?
  • Are there content partners and providers/ syndication that we have to consider?
  • Is there an archive of photos or other art that might be used for the site?
  • If appropriate, would the company commission original illustration or photography?
  • What is a representative site map?
  • Is their a wire frame model outlining envisioned experience?
  • How do the navigation scheme and content schema function?
  • are we considering tagging models? taxonomy? semantic models?
  • How should the content be organized for usability?  What IA works best given known constraints?

5) Marketing and Promotion – After you build out your sites, Internet presence, content and services, how are you going to attract the audience?

  • What are our traffic growth estimates and how do we intend to achieve them?
  • What is our awareness strategy, advertising strategy?
  • What are the SEO/ SEM marketing requirements?
  • Are their viral or velocity marketing opportunities?
  • How are you engaging the social web and online influencers?
  • Do you have a print and media marketing plan?

6) Technical Architecture Design – Once you have defined an overall business and functional blueprint, it will be a lot easier to select the right technology foundation to handle your needs.

  • Do we need to address an existing systems/ technology assessment, existing technology?
  • Are there preferred technology standards?
  • What content management and web services platform is required?
  • What are the hosting and managed services requirements?
  • What kind of user volumes will you expect at the site?
  • Do you need listening platforms to gauge sentiment on the broader web?
  • How effective is your audience intelligence platforms and data management skills?
  • Do you need specialized technology for mobile deployment, database marketing?

7) Operating Model – This is a key step to your strategy – defining a core business and process model that will ensure your digital assets and systems are well managed and that your content and services are up to date.

  • What are the operational procedures that will need to be in place to deliver the Internet Marketing Strategy?
  • What are the staffing skills and capability needs? Content? Service?
  • Do you understand what the potential impact on your existing organization will be?
  • Is there a team currently in place for site management? Do they require continuing training and support?

8) Implementation Plan – With all the core business, marketing and technical elements framed out, you can now better layer in an overall project time line driven by critical business commitments.

  • Is there a compelling event or critical implementation date? What is the required time line/ milestones?
  • Is there a project charter?
  • Is there a Business Case in place? Benefits?  Investments?
  • Is there budget to match ambition?
  • Have stakeholders & team members been identified?
  • What are the key assumptions, constraints and risks?
Feel free to add to the list and contribute to the discussion..

With the advent of new media and digital marketing, marketing and sales needs to be joined at the hip. There is a lot of focus now – even more than usual – on sales and the revenue model and how to make it work. With tougher economic times, business leaders are looking with even greater scrutiny at how the revenue model is working and what levers to pull to make it work better. The usual focus is on the sales team– putting in harder metrics and drivers in place to force the issue and make sales happen. The real opportunity, however, is by looking a little more broadly and connecting the pieces that make an overall “revenue architecture” work. There are 100s of drivers for revenue generation – including pricing and product quality – but what is often overlooked is how effective marketing and sales are coordinated to link the complete value change from awareness to closed deals. With the advent of digital marketing and social media models, the line between marketing and sales is increasingly blurred. Organizations need to be thinking less about one-off campaigns and more about continuous conversion strategies across the value chain funnel from brand awareness to closed deal. Successful organizations are using a new marketing model – increasingly centered on using digital marketing platforms to drive end-to-end awareness and demand, nurture opportunities and close business. Here are some elements we see within high-performing organizations- put these in place successfully and your marketing and sales machine should begin to work well: Setting and communicating clear strategy

  • Identifying the differentiated market positioning
  • Organizing the target market into durable segments
  • Tailoring messages and offers to each segment
  • Setting a go to market strategy that aligns resources to opportunity
  • Price your products and services competitively

Driving visibility and awareness

  • Create awareness and brand identity with the right mix of new and old media
  • Become visible digitally with SEO, your web presence and your digital outposts in social media
  • Provide value to your audience across each stage of the buy-sell process
  • Offer a consistent and quality brand experience at each interaction

Engaging across the funnel

  • Use information and tailored offers to nurture prospects across the funnel
  • Work all the channels with your content- web, events, blogs, social media outposts, digital video
  • Maintain achievable metrics for frequencies (e.g. sales calls)
  • Ensure sales force effectiveness – including product/ service knowledge and sales skills
  • Motivate your sales teams effectively based on your target markets and product mix
  • Use your customer evangelists to help you articulate your value
  • Recognize the value of your investments in sales people
  • Increase share of existing clients with crop rotations, continuations and colonization’s
  • Deliver to drive client satisfaction – keep clients from going out the back door while you’re new clients are coming in the front door

We are working with a few clients to build and deploy solutions for Closed Loop Marketing. I was reviewing my materials and presentations in preparation for a meeting next week and thought I would scan the web to see what is out there..  I wanted to see a visual image – or diagram – that painted a good picture of closed-loop marketing.  I found a huge amount, bit very little that was on target with a good CLM vision and captured the key elements of both traditional and new media marketing. Marketing is one of the last business functions to embrace integrated technology solutions to automate the management of marketing logistics.  Unlike ERP and CRM, Marketing Automation is only now beginning to hit the growth curve.  With the advent of new media and the business complexity in managing data and blending traditional and new media channels with CRM/ sales force automation, leading companies are now adopting more sophisticated solutions. New technologies and new approaches are make Marketing Automation more attractive. My google search for images around CLM resulted in quite a number of images – few that made sense for my purposes.

So what is next? I am going to put together the story and make sure it includes a comprehensive view of CLM – in particular –  for this client -from a B2B perspective. Elements of the model must include:

  • Market Segmentation & Targeting
  • Data Management and Cleansing
  • Campaign Management
  • Lead Capture
  • Scoring & Routing
  • New Media, Web and Traditional Channels
  • Business and Audience Intelligence
  • Marketing Dashboard

By focusing on five things, you will  begin delivering projects more effectively and build a better “project culture”. We understand that effective project and program delivery is vital to support the agenda of and organization and that good project management is a critical business skill.  Even in the challenging climate, typically the demand for projects exceeds the capacity to deliver. In addition to good project management, organizations need to effectively manage a portfolio of projects. Different groups within the organization compete for scarce resources and priorities and needs change over time. Too often, we see the same set of issues go wrong in project delivery and we also see the most mature organizations succeed across a number of dimensions. These successful organizations are, in particular, strong at linking projects and programs to business strategies, establishing strong cases for change, and maintaining a good “project culture”. Success is less about the fact that a set of project management standards exist, it has more to do with the quality and commitment of people, the collaborative culture of project delivery (business and technical)  and the maturity of ingrained project delivery practices within the organization. Some of the problems we often see include:

  • Objectives not clear and agreed – too often projects begin without clear direction or alignment on outcomes, business value and scope. No Charter exists that clarify the rationale for the investment and the outcomes expected.
  • Approach is wrong – teams have not taken the time to plan an overall approach that considers the impacts and objectives. The business and  technology change are not fully considered and the approach (e.g. waterfall vs iterative) often does not match business goals and technical requirements.
  • Change not fully considered – a great deal of misunderstanding and confusion occurs within teams and across organizations when program and project objectives and approach are not well communicated and the impact on business is not well understood and managed.
  • Resource not aligned – projects too often begin without the benefit of having the right skill sets and adequate levels of resources on the team. Part time assignments and cutting corners often leads to a lack of progress and late, over-budget delivery.
  • Inadequate project control – the core aspects of maintaining a project schedule, budget and resource tracking is too often poorly managed. Projects lack risk and issue management procedures and quality and acceptance processes . While this is often the first thing one thinks about when considering improvements to project delivery, it can’t be addressed by procedures alone. Good project control requires both the right procedures and the right people managing projects – bringing skills in client relationship management, scope management as well as the mechanics for project control.

So, how can you ensure improvements in project delivery?  The answer is in focusing on an the end-to-end approach of portfolio management, ensuring business change is managed, and delivering on objectives with a credible projects culture: 1) Manage the project portfolio: Before you even begin, ask yourself the question; Should we be doing this project? Successful organizations manage a portfolio of projects well and understand the interrelationships and architecture impacts.  They also establish the clear linkage between projects and business strategies. 2) Architecting the solution and approach:  the project approach and timeline must reflect a complete understanding of both the business and technical aspects – and clarify how the project will be delivered around milestones and collaborative working. Successful projects are characterized by the right mix of management, technical and business skills, as well as the underlying infrastructure. It is also important to select technologies based on business need rather than technology elegance. How well does the solution design fit with the organization-wide systems architecture? Ultimately, a well designed solution that ties into the overall enterprise model will deliver far greater value to the business – as long as you consider the business needs for time-to-market. 3) Setting up proper resourcing and commercial structures: How should the project be sourced? What are the critical skills and specializations? What existing solutions could accelerate the project delivery and improve quality? Who should you engage?  Ensure that you have structured and effective commercial and service interface arrangements with your partnering suppliers. 4) Delivering Change:  Most technology projects are 20% about technology and 80% about business change and adoption. You can’t skip the steps in delivering change- ensuring the project is rational and the case for change is clear and agreed, making sure the project is ready with the structures and plans for success, delivering the project well- with both the business and the project teams, and importantly – making the delivery stick by embedding the changes in the organization. 5) Project Control: How effective are team members and time allocations? Use clearly defined procedures appropriate with to the project objectives. Be pragmatic, rather than bureaucratic. Manage to quality and benefits, while effectively tracking and communicating time and budget with the right set of technology tools and reporting. Successful delivery of technology projects is about more than implementing project management procedures and controls. Successful organizations effectively manage the complete portfolio of projects. They also have more then a set of standards, they have the right people with the good delivery skills, values and collaborative working styles to ultimately build a “projects culture”  within your organization.