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How Dell Mobilized a Disciplined Army of Social Media AmbassadorsBy Dan Armstrong
A formative incident in Dell history is blogger Jeff Jarvis’s 2005 “Dell Hell” post, which triggered a torrent of negative media and threatened to become a “United breaks guitars” moment for Dell. What’s less well-known is the fact that even before Jarvis wrote his post, Michael Dell was pushing for the company to become more active in social media (which at that time meant reaching out to the blogging community). The Jarvis incident may have accelerated the change, but there was already momentum towards a social media presence.
Dell’s social media efforts started in 2006 with a program to seek out and contact bloggers even if they had not gotten in touch with Dell. Dell found that simply joining the conversations caused negative commentary to drop by 30%, even if Dell staffers and bloggers had agreed to disagree.
As its social media approach developed, Dell created a central body to coordinate activity around the company. This unit—Social Media and Community (SMaC)—provides governance and training to all of Dell’s business units. The governance and oversight is centralized, but participation is distributed. It’s a hub-and-spoke model in the sense that there is regular coordination to share knowledge and best practices. But the spokes—the social media activities within the business units—now dwarf the hub in size.
For Dell, an important question is how social media can support its transition from hardware to services. The social media infrastructure was developed before the PC market tanked, yet it is still likely to yield a competitive edge as Dell develops its newer, solutions-focused businesses.
The perils and potential of social media are greater in services and solutions. A services contract is the start of a relationship between teams on both sides, with peaks and valleys and ongoing problems to be solved. The mechanics of staying close to the customer becomes more complex as more individuals are touched by the project. And because each project participant has his or her own social graph, things about the project that go poorly—or well—have the potential to be instantly shared, creating both risks and opportunities to be managed.
If social media is one vast collection of focus groups, Dell’s social-enabled employees are now embedded in those groups, listening and facilitating. It’s an approach that supports all four imperatives in the ITSMA Marketing Framework: setting strategic direction, meeting customer needs, engaging stakeholders, and strengthening relationships. Companies that seek out and engage customers can get an edge in any market. But when markets are disrupted—when new business models rather than mere product improvements are called for—scrutiny of social signals can help companies start their transitions sooner and get them right faster.
And if one of Dell’s goals in embracing social media was to turn ranters into ravers, the biggest prize was converting the original ranter: in a piece published two years later titled “Dell Hell: The end?” Jarvis wrote that “a company that was vilified as the worst at blogs, social media, and customer relations in the broad sense is now, one could argue, the best at this.”
Rapport, Relevance, Resonance, and Results: The 4Rs of Account Based MarketingBy Rahul Koul, Director of Strategic Marketing, Wipro Technologies
With the growing focus on customer centricity, key account or Account Based Marketing (ABM) can help companies sustain collaborative and profitable relationships with their most important customers. ABM is defined as a process for treating a client company as a market of one. It can yield a high rate of return on marketing investments. In addition, it helps to retain clients, change perceptions, increase revenue, and attract new clients.
Organizations in the IT, services, and consultancy sectors particularly will experience the great benefits from ABM, due to the complexity of the value propositions, long sales cycles, and vast size of client organizations. Microsoft, for instance, was able to use ABM to dramatically increase its account reach and account penetration for enterprise accounts, which drove high levels of client satisfaction and increased marketing’s stature in the organization.
From my own experience, I’d like to suggest four critical success factors of an ABM program that I define as the 4R framework: rapport, relevance, resonance, and results.
ABM can’t be run completely by marketing. Sales has to join in. And unless ABM is built into the account planning process, it will not be successful.
ABM is not mass marketing. It is one-to-one marketing. A deluge of messages will confuse the client. The account team must work together to ensure that the client receives relevant, clear, cogent, and consistent content, and that the team has the value propositions targeted at specific individuals within the account.
Resonance is usually used in the context of messaging. I use it to refer to solutions that resonate with—that is, address the goals of—a range of decision-makers. An objective of ABM programs is to penetrate more deeply into accounts. That means dealing with stakeholders who have different needs. For instance, today, IT purchase decisions are increasingly being made jointly by the business side as well as the IT side. It is therefore essential to communicate the decision in the language of each stakeholder. Your message should convey both the business benefits and the technological benefits.
The most difficult part of ABM is often having the right measurements in place to monitor program effectiveness. Customer satisfaction, revenue and opportunity growth, and profitability are the main metrics to measure the program’s ROI. But other metrics such as an increase in a client’s knowledge about your solutions, improved perceptions about your company, and an increase in client interaction and participation in your meetings or programs are also important to measure.
The growing popularity of ABM shows that it is one of the most effective approaches in B2B marketing. It helps companies build long term, strategic relationships, boost profitability, shorten sales cycles, and improve revenue growth. These hard-to-ignore benefits have persuaded many services companies to embark on ABM programs.
Featured Research: Invest in Technology, But Also Training and AdoptionBy Julie Schwartz
According to ITSMA’s 2013 Marketing Technology Survey, almost two-thirds of marketers believe that they are underinvested in technology. And it’s not just marketers without technology investments that are saying so. Those who don’t have technology say that they need it; those who do have it say that they need more of it.
Agree or disagree: We are underinvested in marketing technology.
Source: ITSMA Survey: Marketing Technology, March 2013
Unfortunately, investment in technology alone is seldom enough. According to a 2012 survey by IDC and software vendor Flexera, companies that buy efficiency-creating technology often end up not using it. In the survey of US, European, and Australian companies, about a third of respondents said that they don’t use or underuse more than 20% of the software that they’re paying for.
Some proportion of this underused technology undoubtedly lives in the marketing department. The reason that it’s underused is that technology—especially software used by multiple people and spanning silos—requires changes in behavior. These changes are often thwarted by inertia, unclear expectations, or ignorance.
The iceberg is an overused metaphor, but in this case it fits: the tiny and very visible piece above the surface is the initial software purchase. What enables the iceberg to float is the vastly larger and less visible investment in training and support. And software implementation is difficult because every company has different processes, legacy content, resources, deadlines, and objectives.
The solution? Train your own experts, using the educational resources provided by software vendors. Or look to external consultants to help during the implementation phase. Most of all, success in implementation is a matter of putting in the time. After months spent evaluating vendors and making the decision to buy, it is difficult to re-engage for the implementation phase. But the purchase is just the beginning. Invest in technology, but also training and adoption.
 Key Trends in Software Pricing and Licensing: The Growing Shelfware Problem, IDC and Flexera Software, April 4, 2012
Marketing Made Simple TV: How Account Based Marketing Can Help You
By Jeff Sands, ITSMA
Jeff Ogden, author of the well-known Fearless Competitor blog, recently interviewed me about what an Account Based Marketing (ABM) program is and why companies need it.
Companies providing enterprise services and solutions have massive customer acquistion costs. One way to boost business profitably is to build campaigns within the customer’s organization, broadening and deepening relationships, and knowing the client almost better than it knows itself. ABM is designed to facilitate this process.
In this interview, I explained:
By Julie Schwartz, Senior Vice President, Research and Thought Leadership
Each month, ITSMA receives a number of queries through Ask ITSMA, a resource designed to give members a quick and easy way to get insight on important services and solutions marketing questions they face. In this column, we will publish some of our favorite questions, along with excerpts from our replies.
Q: Do you have any research on the effectiveness of digital components of the marketing mix for B2B purchase decisions?
A: We’ve found that the buying process is no longer linear, and that decisions are driven more by type of content rather than the delivery vehicle. For example, in the early stages of the buying process, buyers want educational material like short case studies and updates on market trends. In the later stages, they need more specific content like total cost of ownership calculators and more detailed case studies. However, as buyer behavior continues to change, we are seeing all types of content play well at any stage of the buying process. I wrote a blog post that you might find helpful: http://b2bservicesmarketing.com/buyer-behavior/no-need-to-map-content-to-the-buyers-journey/.
The important thing is to disseminate your content via multiple delivery vehicles and have different types of content mapped to the buyer stages. Make sure to document what questions buyers are asking at each stage and develop content to address those questions. Think repurpose and reuse across delivery formats. Be aware of any gaps based on buyers’ needs at the different stages of the buying process and fill them.
For more research on the buyers’ journey, check out the ITSMA How Buyers Consume Information survey reports.
Services Marketing News
For up-to-the-minute services marketing news, follow ITSMA on Twitter: @itsma_b2b.
Upcoming ITSMA Events
The Marketing Leadership Forum is one of the only events designed specifically for senior marketing leaders at technology, communications, and professional services companies. At the Forum, we will explore the issues that matter most to marketing leaders, who are in the midst of harnessing the power of technology and creating the optimal marketing organization so they stay connected to buyers and add real, measurable value to the business. A select group of senior marketers and practitioners will share their experiences, insights, practical tips, and thoughts on future trends.
Join ITSMA’s Julie Schwartz, VisionEdge Marketing’s Laura Patterson, and Forrester’s Laura Ramos for a first-look at the results from the ITSMA/ VisionEdge Marketing/Forrester survey on Marketing Performance Management. You will gain insight into how you and your peers use marketing data, metrics, and analytics to inform marketing decisions and link marketing performance with business outcomes.
Three-Session Online Training Program
As part of ITSMA’s ABM Professional Development Portfolio we are now announcing a new offering: a three-session web-based training program based on the proven ITSMA ABM Framework. These sessions will provide an in-depth overview of the ABM Methodology. At the end of these sessions, the participants will have a good understanding of all of the key components of a successful ABM program.
To view all events, please see our online events calendar.
Recent ITSMA Thought Leadership
How to capture the goodwill from thousands of customer touches while avoiding the risk arising from an undisciplined army of social media participants? Dell’s approach could be called disciplined autonomy: a mix of central oversight and local execution that manages risk while leveraging the power of 100,000-plus employees.
The heart of the boom in marketing technology is software that automates lead nurturing. Implementing automation projects demands strong technical skills. But more than anything else, it requires the ability to closely collaborate with sales to build robust processes. In this Viewpoint, Meagen Eisenberg, Vice President of Demand Generation at DocuSign, describes the lessons she learned from implementing a marketing automation system starting in January of 2012.
A handful of your marketing peers are industry leaders in applying technology to create business value. ITSMA’s marketing technology survey shows what they’re doing to get the most out or their technology investments—what categories of software they’re using, the skills they’re hiring, how they’re reorganizing, and the ways in which their relationships with sales and IT are evolving. Read the survey results to discover how you can up your technology game.
ITSMA’s marketing technology survey shows what your peers are doing to get the most out or their technology investments—what categories of software they’re using, the skills they’re hiring, how they’re reorganizing, and the ways in which their relationships with sales and IT are evolving. In this Online Briefing, Dan Armstrong, Director of Research and Thought Leadership, and Kathy Macchi, ITSMA Senior Associate, share highlights from the research results.
Starting with the mainframe era, there have been four phases of corporate IT and we’re entering a fifth: the SMAC stack. These eras mirror the exponential curve of Moore’s Law: faster, cheaper, and more powerful, distributed, and data-intensive. Every transition point has witnessed the fall of the old guard of companies and the rise of the new. According to Cognizant EVP of Strategy & Marketing, Malcolm Frank, seven rules can help IT services marketers survive and prosper. Read this Viewpoint to learn more.
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