The changing face of Marketing

As the social web evolves and we collectively turn off our ears to unidirectional ads and messaging, the face of marketing continues to evolve. Prospects continually seek to find and pull valuable information and content without wanting to give up much in exchange. How do marketer’s respond?

The new goal is to provide something of value…something so valuable that folks who have never even heard of you or your brand want to share it with their friends. The content that you provide might be a public webcast, podcast, video, white paper, etc. It might be funny, proprietary and valuable research, or something else that will resonate with your target demographic. The idea is to get something interesting and valuable in front of the eyes of some key buyers and influencers within your demographic.

An interesting thing happened this week. Eloqua, a leader in marketing automation, drip campaigns, marketing analytics, and all the traditional fundamental building blocks of marketing did something different.

They created and shared freely a couple of pieces that most marketers will find value. No opt-in. No forms. No registration.

Not only is their content valuable, especially for those marketers just getting started and trying to wade through the variety of tools and how to incorporate them into their marketing mix. More significantly, a marketing automation company just became another living example of how marketers must evolve in order to gain Attention - the first step in the 5 Stages of Customer Acquisition for the Social Business.

AIPEE Pyramid

The Content Grid
This graphic creates a framework for creating and distributing content to align with the demands of the new marketplace. Personally, I have some questions and don’t totally agree with or understand everything in it, but it’s a fantastic piece of reference and valuable as a framework as organizations begin to organize their content strategy.

The content grid

The Social Media Playbook

Click on the image below to download the playbook. It’s built and designed for those new to the Social web, and provides an overview of all the tools out there. It doesn’t speak too much about the strategy of participation, or corporate strategy for actually bringing customers into the corporate ecosystem (critical first steps), but it does provide loads of tactical tidbits and an overview of the many of the leading publicly available tools for use on the social web.

Eloqua Social Media Playbook

Social Media Playbook

Both pieces were done in collaboration with Jess3, the creators who worked in collaboration with Brian Solis to create the now ubiquitous Conversation Prism and the video embedded below – “The State of the Internet”, which contains a dizzying array of facts about today’s internet (or yesterday’s as it is now a few months old, but helpful nonetheless)

Need more examples of valuable content that went viral, or why every company should be creating and providing valuable content? Check out “Three New Roles for your company: Media Mogul”

Have more examples to share? Please post them below.

The 5 Stages of Customer Acquisition for the Social Business (Part 3)

This is the third and final of a three part post.

We’ve been talking about the AIPEE Pyramid over the past couple of weeks. I haven’t embedded the full image of the AIPEE Pyramid on this post, but if you’d like to take another look, you can click here to have it open in a new window, or review Post 1 and Post 2 in their entirety by clicking on the links.

In Post 1 we introduced you to the AIPEE Pyramid, and pointed your gaze toward the enchanting Blue Circled R – the icon representative of desired destination our prospect’s journey: the R Value Exchange.

The Mysterious and enchanting Blue Circled R

In Post 2, we took a detailed look at the 5 stages of the journey up the pyramid:

AIPEE Pyramid Simple

In today’s third and final post, we are going to focus on the following:

  • The customer’s response to their journey up the pyramid
  • The Value Exchange Retention Cycles

(1) The customer’s response to their journey up the pyramid

Humans have always been social. We’ve always told our friends, family, acquaintances and business associates about our day, our experiences, our hopes and dreams, who we like and don’t like, etc. Mitch Lieberman expands on this thought in a very worthwhile post titled Social Just Is…

Word of mouth has been around since, well, before words were written. Once upon a time, all communication was word of mouth.

What has changed is how many people we can tell things to in such a short amount of time. Social Technologies are an amplifier. The spreading of ideas, good and bad, and the repercussions of the spread of that information are now exponential.

Good experiences get amplified – an exponential boost to your brand.

Bad experiences, well, can spread like wildfire, and can do significant damage to your brand and reputation in a short amount of time. Here are some of the top negative PR events of 2009.

But really, this isn’t new either. Bad PR stories have been picked up and spread via the press for decades.

What is new is that EVERYBODY is the media. There is no longer a filter. ABC, CBS, and NBC no longer have the control over what is worth hearing about. Our peers do. You do. I do. Ashton Kutcher certainly he believes that he does.

Information and Stories that are worth spreading will be spread.

You: “Great Brian. But, what does all of this have to do with the pyramid?”
Me: “Good point. Let’s try and tie these pieces back together.”

Up to this point in the series, we’ve talked about how each prospect, one by one, makes their journey up the pyramid. There is a specialized craft in designing our sales and marketing efforts so that we can add the most value possible at each stage in the initial journey with our prospect.

But what if there was such value in what we shared that our prospects began to amplify and spread our content across their networks, at each and every stage of their journey with us?

Seth Godin expands upon this point in his blog post titled The Big Drop Off:

We try so hard to build the first circle.

This is the circle of followers, friends, subscribers, customers, media outlets and others willing to hear our pitch. This is the group we tell about our new product, our new record, our upcoming big sale. We want more of their attention and more people on the list.

Which takes our attention away from the circle that matters, which is the second circle.

The second circle are the people who hear about us from the first circle.

If the first circle is excited about what we do and it’s remarkable enough to talk about, they’ll tell two or six or ten friends each. And if we’re really good, the second circle, the people we don’t even know–they’ll tell the third circle. And it’s the third circle that makes you a hit, gets you elected and tips your idea.

The big drop off is the natural state of affairs. The big drop off is the huge decline that occurs between our enthusiasm (HEY! BUY THIS!) and the tepid actions of the first circle (yawn). Great marketers don’t spend their time making the first circle bigger. They spend all their time crafting services, products and stories that don’t drop off.

GOAL #1: Create and provide maximum value in your content and interactions
GOAL #2: Keep the amplifier in mind. Try and create so much value that people are compelled, almost mandated to share it with their network of friends and associates. Think of it this way: What could you provide to you prospects that would enable them to add value to their network by sharing it?

Hey, I know that most of you are smart savvy innovators – sales, marketing and demand generation geniuses. So let’s fast forward a bit, and assume we’ve done that. We’ve knocked it out of the park. What happens after we get to the R Exchange, and exchange value with our prospect for the first time?

(2) The Value Exchange Retention Cycles

Hopefully the relationship we’ve worked so hard to nurture doesn’t stop there. I’ve highlighted 3 areas where and how further exchange might take place. Let’s briefly touch on each of them.

A. Repeat Transactions

Depending on our business and our previous exchange, we may regularly exchange value in a similar fashion. We may keep getting referrals. We may keep selling the same consumable over and over. The monthly subscription might just keep auto-renewing. It might just take a series of brief, regular “touches” to keep the Value Exchange wheel turning . But remember, in order to keep our customers with us, we need to continue to add value. It’s a post for another day, but access to competitive alternatives has never been broader or easier.

B. Upsell Opportunities (Deeper Commitment)

We’ve had an initial exchange. But, there’s more there. We know it. They know it. There is more dialogue to be had. There are more problems to be solved. You’ll see that the retention circle extends back down into the engagement stage. Deeper dialogue covering Value Discovery, Co-Creation, Deepening of trust are now back in play, and layers of the onion are peeled back as new needs are discovered and new solutions are presented.

C. CrossSell Opportunities (Different Product and Service Offerings)

You’ll notice that this retention circle ventures all the way back down to the permission stage. Perhaps we’ve solved a set of problems for our customer. We’ve added value in a specific area. But perhaps, there are new opportunities for value exchange in areas we haven’t even touched on yet. Areas of our customer’s business that may have different rules, needs, players, politics, budgets, goals, etc. While we’ve exchanged value for one business purpose, we may need to display competency in another area in order to earn permission to engage in dialogue for that need as well.

And that, my friends, brings us to our close.

We’ve taken a look at how to get our prospect’s attention, and facilitate a journey towards a mutual value exchange. We’ve looked at how social technologies amplify everything good and bad, and we’ve taken a brief look at how our relationship with our customers (partners, influencers, etc.) can be retained and nurtured for continuous value exchange.

Now it’s your turn. I’m anxious to hear your feedback:

1. Am I on the mark? How can we adjust this image to more accurately represent how businesses today and in the future can leverage social technologies for exponential revenue growth?

2. What did I forget?

3. Where am I flat wrong?

4. How does this compare with your personal Customer Acquisition efforts today, and your plans for the future?

5. Does the image accurately reflect the concepts and ideas presented in the text?

6. And most of all, I am interested in hearing your unique, unfiltered personal insights, questions, and observations.

Thanks again for your feedback.

- Brian @CRMStrategies

The 5 Stages of Customer Acquisition for the Social Business (Part 2)

This is the second of a three part post.

In post 1, I introduced the AIPEE pyramid, talked briefly about what it was and what it wasn’t, and pointed our attention to R Value Exchange (the circled blue R under Interaction Medium) – which represents our target destination when participating socially for the purposes of Customer Acquisition. If you missed that post – you may want to briefly revisit it here

In this post, let’s take a closer look at each stage and the progressive journey up the pyramid, starting at the bottom, where most new individuals will start their journey with us. (Click on the image to look at a larger view)

ATTENTION

For marketers, here is where we are casting our net far and wide. The key difference versus what we’ve traditionally done is that companies can no longer rely on “shouting” a message. Ads are less effective than they’ve ever been and trust in companies is about as low as it has ever been. The new goal is to provide something of value…something so valuable that folks who have never even heard of you or your brand want to share it with their friends. The most successful viral campaign in recent history is one from Blendtec. Google this to see what they did. There are dozens of other examples as well.

The content that you provide might be a public webcast, podcast, video, white paper, etc. It might be funny, proprietary and valuable research, or something else that will resonate with your target demographic. The idea is to get something interesting and valuable in front of the eyes of some key influencers within your demographic.

Side Note: While I haven’t created a visual yet, also visualize the LIPEE pyramid (where Listening is substituted for Attention). Instead of the company creating compelling content to attract attention, it “listens” to and monitors the socialsphere for mentions of their brand, their core competency, or other key words which might be a signal to engage in “interaction” through Social Channels.

INTERACTION
You’ve now garnered some attention, and have established a little bit of relational capital. Now is the time where some 1:1 interaction might take place. Twitter, blogs, Facebook, some “Unconnected” community participation, etc.

Dialogue at this stage will vary – but the offline equivalent might be saying “Hi – how are you doing?” to someone while waiting for a drink at the bar on in the line at the bathroom at a networking event. There is a shared common interest, and we’ve just been presented with an opportunity for some dialogue in passing. Unless there is something compelling or interesting during that exchange, the conversation will likely be forgotten within 15 minutes by both parties. If there is something of value during the exchange, the natural response is something like “Hey, let’s talk more about that next week”, and contact information is exchanged. We’ve just gained permission to continue the conversation.

PERMISSION
Simply put, the dialogue during our brief interaction was compelling enough. We have offered something of interest and value that the individual have implicitly or explicitly asked to know more about us. Instead of handing them a business card in the offline world, with a few mouse clicks and a URL, we can point them to exactly what they are looking for in the form of pre-existing content. In exchange, they’ve give you permission to follow up to talk more.

Some examples of ways that this can manifest itself are:

  • Subscribing to our blog
  • Inviting us to connect on a Social Network
  • Giving us their contact information in exchange for a white paper, webinar, newsletter, free product sample or trial

We’ve been able to offer something of value and they’ve given us permission to engage with them in more conversation.

*** VALUE ***
This isn’t a stage by itself, but it is the most critical factor to all of them, respectively. If there is something that isn’t graphically represented enough in the diagram, it is the Value that is provided on behalf of our company. You will notice that as the prospect moves up the pyramid, the company must be providing more value in order to enable them to do so. If there is a strong undercurrent that is unseen by the casual observer… the invisible hand of the AIPEE Pyramid, it is the absolute necessity to PROVIDE VALUE at each and every stage of the process. Without it, the climb up the pyramid is simply too hard. It is the value provided by the company that compels the prospect to continue their journey.

ENGAGEMENT
This is where we get the chance to really “talk turkey”, and is likely representative of the transition from what is traditionally known as marketing into the realm of sales. At this same point, interaction that has previously been facilitated by social technologies and platforms now probably transitions to a more “traditional” or “more deeply engaging” channel. There might be a natural escalation in communication channels from social –> email –> phone –> web conference –> face to face. Typically, as we get closer to the most natural form of human communication (face to face), we are likely moving closer to a mutually beneficial value exchange with our prospect. (Conjecture on my part – anyone have any research to back this up?)

This stage could be (and likely will be), another post or two unto itself. But that is for another day. We all have work to get back to.

For the sake of brevity, here is the summary:

The two parties are fully engaged, figuratively “sitting on the same side of the table” and seriously exploring how they can help each other out. Trust has never been deeper up until this point in the relationship. The company’s main goal is to understand in detail what their prospect is trying to accomplish, and either offer an existing solution from their offerings portfolio, or co-create with them a product or solution that helps them accomplish their goals.

EXCHANGE
We’ve made it. It’s nice to be at the top.

We’ve consistently added value over a series of interactions. We’ve established trust. We’ve worked hard on behalf of our prospect to help them achieve their goals. We’ve now earned the right to ask for something. It might be a sale (Revenue). It might be a Referral. It might be a Recommendation. In some cases, it might be all three. We’ve successfully executed an R Value Exchange. But it doesn’t stop there… (It never does).

In the final post, we’ll dig a little more into the Value Exchange Retention Cycles, the potential response(s) of the customer at all stages in their journey up the pyramid, provide some examples of how and when the customer might “skip” stages and get to the top more quickly, and how and when you might consider automating some of your efforts.

The 5 Stages of Customer Acquisition for the Social Business (Part I)

This is the first of a Three Part Post.

“The purpose of a business is to create and keep customers.” – Theodore Levitt

So then, the next logical question is how do we create customers? And once we get them, how can we keep them? While keeping them engaged and developing them into advocates is vitally important and we’ll touch on that subject slightly in this post, the focus here is: How do we bring new sheep into the flock? This will likely appeal most to the Sales, Business Development, and Marketing types.

But isn’t this an old conversation? Has any of this really changed with the rapid rise of Social Technologies? I believe it has, and will illustrate the point below.

Don’t get me wrong. The fundamentals of business haven’t changed – but the tools and technology available to us, and how we can (and will be forced to) accomplish fundamental business goals like “New Customer Acquisition” have.

I’ve attempted to illustrate my thoughts in the image below – called the AIPEE Pyramid. Click on the link to view the diagram in a higher resolution. Special thanks to Mitch Lieberman and Graham Hill for reviewing my first draft and sharing their valuable feedback which have been incorporated into the current draft.

Before we get too far, here are some parameters to keep in mind as you study the Pyramid:

WHAT THIS ISN’T:

(1) A Comprehensive Social Business diagram – there is far more going on in the Social Enterprise than what is illustrated here. The focus is relatively narrow, specifically on Customer Acquisition. Quite simply, how do you have more conversations with more prospects, and provide enough value so that they participate with you in an R Value Exchange? (What happened to creating Customers you ask? More on that below.)

(2) A “One size fits all” solution: Most companies and business models can find value from this illustration. However, it was primarily built with a solution/consultative sale in mind. For Transactional Sales, the model might look slightly different. I am interested in your thoughts on this.

(3) A perfect image: You’ll notice that the image shows Beta Version 0.5. There will be changes and tweaks – hopefully because of your helpful feedback and critiques. Once the pyramid becomes more defined, the image quality will be better as well. :) Consider this a rough “back of the napkin” sketch.

WHAT THIS IS:

A baseline road map of how to successfully find, attract, and engage prospects leveraging Social Technologies so that you may provide something of use to them, and therefore participate in an exchange of value.

What’s our Target Destination?

Before we start breaking down each stage, let’s focus our eyes on the first box under the heading Interaction Medium towards the top right of the image – this is where we’d like to ultimately go.

You’ll notice a blue R with a circle around it. No, this isn’t a tribute to the boy wonder. This is my uber creative symbol for the R Value Exchange. This is our target destination. If possible, we’d like to have as many of our interactions with new folks ultimately end up here.

This doesn’t necessarily always mean that we get money in exchange for the value that we’ve provided. We may receive money (ie. Revenue). We might also receive something of less quantifiable or transferable value – a Referral to someone who might find more value in what we are offering than the prospect we are currently engaged with, or a Recommendation, something that we may use as social proof that we are indeed a provider of value in the marketplace. In the ideal scenario, we’ll receive all 3 – over and over and over.

With that in mind, let’s breakdown each stage, starting at the bottom, since this is where things (generally) start. While I’ll lay this out in a perfect linear approach, it’s important to remember that in real life;

a. There are multiple entry points on the pyramid.
b. Most will abandon their journey before they get to the Circled R for a myriad of reasons.
c. Many could move up and down the pyramid in a non-linear sequence before they reach the Circled R.

This is a baseline. A framework from which to build a basic strategy, and a template from which to facilitate dialogue. In my mind, I have at least a dozen iterations of the the pyramid – but in all of them, this is at the core.

So without further adieu, let’s examine the first stage of the pyramid:

ATTENTION
For marketers, here is where we are casting our net far and wide. The key difference versus what we’ve traditionally done is that companies can no longer rely on “shouting” a message. Ads are less effective than they’ve ever been and trust in companies is about as low as it has ever been. The new goal is to provide something of value…something so valuable that folks who have never even heard of you or your brand want to share it with their friends. The most successful viral campaign in recent history is one from Blendtec. Google this to see what they did. There are dozens of other examples as well.

The content that you provide might be a public webcast, podcast, video, white paper, etc. It might be funny, proprietary and valuable research, or something else that will resonate with your target demographic. The idea is to get something interesting and valuable in front of the eyes of some key influencers within your demographic.

Side Note: While I haven’t created a visual yet, also visualize the LIPEE pyramid (where Listening is substituted for Attention). Instead of the company creating compelling content to attract attention, it “listens” to and monitors the socialsphere for mentions of their brand, their core competency, or other key words which might be a signal to engage in “interaction” through Social Channels.

Tomorrow, we’ll look a little closer at the additional stages, and on Friday, we’ll wrap things up with a summary. I look forward to your thoughts, comments, questions, and critiques along the way.

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