Archive for the ‘Interesting Data’ Category

Here’s are some interesting survey results that support a CEOs active in social media. The chart comes from a MarketingCharts article.

CEO Social Media

In general, CEOs active in social media use blogs to communicate. From a marketing perspective, CEO blogs do help put a face on a company and they can help with press and analyst relations. They may even help enhance a firm’s credibility, attract new customers, and give the company a competitive edge, but that really depends on the content rather than the CEO’s personality or style.

So while I’d say many of these overwhelming positive figures are the result of serious brown-nosing by the executives who completed the survey, there is real merit to a CEO presence on social media. Unlike lower level employees, the CEO’s message carries more weight and his or her perspective is usually more interesting to a broad audience, especially if they are willing to express an opinion and engage in debates.

From a sales/marketing perspective, is blogging a good use of a CEO’s time? It is for plain speaking, lead-from-the-front, types who engage in product-centric discussions — assuming they can quickly write a blog for themselves, without a PR manager and lawyer scrubbing everything but the buzzwords from it. Only a minority of CEOs have the personality, product knowledge, confidence, writing skills, and computing skills to do that.

About the Author

David X. Lamont is an accomplished marketer of IT products and a partner at Marketingsage, a PR and lead generation firm that specializes in marketing data storage, data management, and enterprise software products. He can be reached by email at blog [at] marketingsage.net. Fellow marketers and IT professionals are invited to join his network on LinkedIn and to subscribe to this blog (see sidebar).

You never know what lurks in those piles of paper in the office. Today, I excavated an old Gartner report entitled “Cool Vendors in Data Protection, 2006.” To refresh your memory, this was the heyday of disk-based backup and nothing was cooler than Continuous Data Protection (CDP). Overcome with nostalgia for heated debates about “true CDP” and recovery granularity held in bars at SNIA conferences during that era, I just had to read this old gem.

Seven years after the coronation of the six cool vendors, only one remains. The other five must have made big bucks, right? After all, Gartner knows best and cool surely pays…..

  • Asempra Technologies sold its assets to Bakbone (acquired by Quest, in turn acquired by Dell) for a reported $2M in 2009.
  • Mendocino Software faded away quietly in 2008.
  • Mimosa Systems was acquired by Iron Mountain in a deal valued at $211M in 2010. Since then, it has been passed through to Autonomy and thence to HP.
  • Revivio’s IP was picked up by Symantec in 2006.
  • XOsoft was purchased by CA in 2006 and rumor at the time suggested that the return was good.
  • Asigra remains as the lone standing vendor of the group, having adapted its offering and message to grasp the opportunities presented by Cloud. Closing the circle, CRN thinks Asigra is still cool, naming them one of the 20 Coolest Cloud Storage Vendors for 2013.

Check back in another 7 years!

 About the Author

Agnes Lamont is an accomplished marketer of IT products and a partner at Marketingsage, a PR and lead generation firm that specializes in marketing data storage, data management, security, and enterprise software products. She can be reached by email at blog [at] marketingsage.net. Fellow marketers and IT professionals are invited to join her network on LinkedIn and to subscribe to this blog (see sidebar).

Living and working in the Silicon Valley as I do, it’s almost inevitable that I meet with a lot of active and aspiring entrepreneurs. On the whole, the early company founders tend to be engineers whose passions drive them to create proofs of concept for their ideas. If the late nights don’t do them in, an embryonic company is formed. Marketers tends not to be added until such time as the product progresses into something feasible and there’s a little money in the bank to launch, communicate and promote what’s on offer. Generally we don’t see this until VCs are involved.

For a lot of early entrepreneurs, raising money is the next hurdle once the prototype is looking good. This is definitely a lot easier for those who are independently wealthy or blessed with a network of supportive, talented friends who’ve cashed out of their last company to EMC, Cisco, etc., but are too young to retire. Aptly- named angel investors supply an alternative.

Although the Silicon Valley is rife with tales of Venture Capitalists and IPOs, less is understood about angel investors, even though they have helped the likes of Google and Apple get their start. A great resource for tracking angel activity is the Halo Report, which is published by The Angel Resource Institute, Silicon Valley Bank and CB Insights. Here are a few quick facts:

  • The majority of angel investment activity is concentrated in California and New England.
  • Internet and healthcare-related ventures accounted for approximately half of all angel investments in 2012.
  • Angel investment rounds are averaging around $1-$1.2M.*
  • Pre-Series A valuations for companies with angel investments average around $2.6M.

*I think this number is a bit skewed towards group angel and “superangel” investors, as many individual angel investments are sub-$200,000, as recorded anecdotally.

 Angel investors are often seasoned entrepreneurs themselves, so can bring passion, expertise and support beyond what you might ordinarily expect from a later stage investor. They tend to be savvy to the fact that failure rates for early start ups are high (about 50%), but are willing to invest across several companies and/or limit their activities to an area of personal expertise (e.g. storage management software, but not hardware) to mitigate their risks, absorb losses and still achieve expected overall investment returns of 2.5X.

Check out:

Angel Resource Institute – www.angelresourceinstitute.org

Returns to Angel Investors in Groups by Robert Wiltbank, Ph.D. and Warren Boeker Ph. D. – http://sites.kauffman.org/pdf/angel_groups_111207.pdf

About the Author

Agnes Lamont is an accomplished marketer of IT products and a partner at Marketingsage, a PR and lead generation firm that specializes in marketing data storage, data management, security, and enterprise software products. She can be reached by email at blog [at] marketingsage.net. Fellow marketers and IT professionals are invited to join her network on LinkedIn and to subscribe to this blog (see sidebar).

We’ve all been duly awed by the Dell buyout announcement. Over the years, the company has amassed quite a portfolio of storage and data protection and management offerings, having acquired companies such as EqualLogic, Compellent, Quest, AppAssure and SonicWall. Although many of these acquisitions brought robust technology and contributed handily to Dell’s revenue, the company never made the transition to becoming a storage company. This begs the question as to what will now happen to these lines as Dell sharpens its focus and remakes itself into a seller of products rather than an architect of share valuations. Only the most naïve amongst us harbors any ideas that the latest chapter in Dell’s story might lead to storage innovation and a bid for leadership in the space.

Only 3% of Dell’s revenue is from storage, with software and peripherals yielding 16%, of which data protection software is a part. The overall business distribution is more even with 30% of net revenue coming from large enterprise, 20% from consumer and 25% each from SMB and public sector organizations.

Anecdotally, Dell does not exercise the kind of account control as players such as EMC, IBM, Oracle, or Cisco.

HP has not been shy in making generalized predatory rumblings about picking over Dell’s portfolio, and I suspect Dell is a subject of strategic debate in many more functional boardrooms too. Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall over at EMC and NetApp? These storage giants, along with the myriad of smaller storage and data protection vendors, are no doubt strategizing furiously about how to woo customers and key talent away.

On the face of things, storage and data protection represent relatively small, albeit growing, potatoes to Dell. But in the highly competitive mid-tier storage market, these potatoes undoubtedly look mighty appetizing. Dell will need to make big moves quickly if it’s going to keep control of its pricey ($24.5 billion) lunch. In any case, the storage market is sure to heat up over the coming months.

About the Author

Agnes Lamont is an accomplished marketer of IT products and a partner at Marketingsage, a PR and lead generation firm that specializes in marketing data storage, data management, security, and enterprise software products. She can be reached by email at blog [at] marketingsage.net. Fellow marketers and IT professionals are invited to join her network on LinkedIn and to subscribe to this blog (see sidebar).

Summary: Marketing VPs and CEOs at data storage and data management firms can use these 5 techniques to generate more sales for the same budget by thinking strategically about how they allocate money.

I think it fair to say that most executives take a tactical, rather than a strategic, approach to the marketing budget. For the most part they take last year’s budget and adjust it up or down or they base it on a percentage of revenue. Then they apply the relatively small changes to their existing expenditures. Accordingly, firms set in motion a marketing program that may not provide them with any competitive advantage. And for most, that’s OK. It is good enough not to be at a competitive disadvantage.

However, it’s possible to gain a competitive advantage at budget time. By that, I mean a small sales-centric firm can “punch above its weight” and generate more sales for the same budget by thinking strategically about how it allocates money.

Strategic budgeting also makes it possible to overcome many of the B2B marketing challenges:

MarketingSherpa Marketing Research Chart:

A worthy goal is to maximize the funds that are applied to lead generation and lead management. What’s a lead? It’s not a web page visit, a click, or a rented list. A lead, according to Marketingsage’s definition is “a sales opportunity-related request with actionable contact information recorded by [you].” These actionable requests are reliably generated by paid promotions such as online advertising, trade shows and email campaigns, especially when supported by product-centric PR and highly selective participation in social media.

Another goal, for business with a resale or distribution channel, might be to increase the funds available for sales incentives directly tied to revenue. For example, paying market development funds to resellers only when they meet a set revenue objective.

Regardless of the promotion or incentive, strategic budgeting usually comes down to applying money to programs and campaigns that have a direct, or highly influential, impact on sales. So if your budget is not increasing, you are really making a decision to take funding from something or someone so you can apply the money to something or someone else that may have a greater impact on sales.

That’s why strategic budgeting is tough. Almost all marketing program and campaign will have their merits and supporters. However, the fact that it tough to do is also the reason why it’s possible for some to out perform peers with the same budget.

With that said, I’ll highlight my top 5 techniques for strategic budgeting.

Calculate What your Promotional Budget Should Be

When you have a revenue target, a lead-to-sale close rate, an average cost per lead and an average customer value you can estimate how many leads you’ll need and the required budget.

For example, if you pay the industry average of $60 for an information request type lead (e.g. white papers download), and your lead-to-sale close rate is 0.5%. You can calculate that you need 200 leads per sale and those leads will cost $12,000. If this year’s revenue target is $10-million and the average customer generates $100,000, you need 100 customers. The 20,000 leads you need for 100 customers will cost $1.2-million in promotions.

Of course, a happy customer can be expected to purchase more and the cost of incremental sales to existing customers will be far lower.

When you do this for the first time you may fund the numbers quite sobering. That’s not a bad thing because the strategic marketer will use this calculation to push back on unrealistic expectations and goals or to justify the appropriate budget for the targets set.

Adopt an Opportunity Cost Perspective

The average cost for an information request type lead (e.g. a white paper download) in the data storage industry is ~$60. As such, you’ll find it helpful to think of each $10,000 that is not spent on lead generation as 166 lost leads.  You can translate that into foregone revenue when you calculate your own close rate and expected average value of a customer – $83,000 using the above example (more if customers have a recurring value).

Thinking in terms of lost leads is very helpful when making judgment calls. For example, should you spend $60,000 to upgrade the trade show booth? Yes, if you think it will deliver a return greater than ~1000 leads – $500,000 in new revenue using the above example.

The same question can be applied to the purchase of marketing analytics tools, paid analyst relationships, promotional giveaways, internal sales meetings, custom creative, etc. If you are the CEO, you can apply this opportunity cost perspective when allocating budget to other departments, rather than to marketing.

Invest Early

If it takes an average of 3 months to convert a sales lead to a customer your fourth quarter promotions are driving next year’s revenue, not this year’s. Therefore a strategic marketer will invest almost everything early in the year to drive sales. Early sales success can be used to justify, and fund, the additional budget required to sustain the momentum later in the year.

Although the data storage and data management industry is not as seasonal as bathing suits and snow blowers, it does have some peaks and troughs that should be taken account. For example, summer months tend to be slower and government and educational customers purchase in cycles. Strategically it may make sense to execute the bulk of your lead generating promotions in the first 5 months of the year.

The word “execute” is important here because it takes 4 to 8 weeks to prepare most promotions – longer for trade shows. Add months and quarters if you need to hire staff, plan and/or build consensus.

Think Talent

Executing lead generating promotions on time with sufficient budget is paramount to success. Your ability to do this will depend on having the right skills at the right time. Therefore, strategic marketers think about talent before they decide whether to hire employees, agencies and/or contractors.

Your choices here are critical simply because talent is likely to be your largest single expense. Typically talent expenses, including payroll, annual analyst contracts, and agencies can consume 60% to 90% of a marketing budget so productivity gains can make a huge difference if savings can be directed into sales programs and lead generating campaigns.

Whether you can redirect savings from increased productivity depends on whether your talent expenses are fixed or discretionary. Payroll is essentially a fixed costs so sales-centric productivity is key. If an employee costing $150,000 per year is spending just 20% of their time on irrelevant tasks, you are effectively forfeiting $30,000 worth of leads. Using the above example, that’s 500 leads that could drive $250,000 in revenue.

On the other hand, outsourced talent is typically discretionary so you can use the services for what you want, when you want, for as long as you want. There usually very little, if any, “busy work.”

Therefore, the strategic marketer minimizes fixed expenses by keeping the number of employees to an absolute minimum and ensuring that the vast majority of everyone’s time is spent on activities that can impact sales. Many deliberately under-staff for 3 reasons:

  • Employees, and everyone who demands their time, are forced to prioritize.
  • To get everything done, tasks will need to be outsourced. Therefore the value and cost of the task will more visible and it will get more consideration (see note on the Opportunity Cost Perspective).
  • Discretionary budget can be more easily reallocated to sales programs.

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Of course every situation is different, but based on decades of experience I’ll offer this rule of thumb:

≤60% of the talent portion of the budget should be allocated to employee payroll, bonuses and benefits and tools (including the VP of Marketing). The most productive teams have experienced product marketers with deep knowledge of the products and industry.

Their job is to manage the day-to-day tasks that cannot or should not be managed by outside agencies. These include liaising with customers, vendors, technology partners, resale partners, salespeople and engineers. This interaction allows them to:

  • Define the strategy, budgets, and timing.
  • Define the product and company positioning.
  • Tee-up press announcements and the outsourced development of sales tools (case studies, brochures, video, etc.)
  • Make decisions about product pricing, sales programs and promotional investments (lead quality, the acceptable cost per lead, tactical placements, events, etc.)

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≥40% of the talent portion of the budget should be allocated to outsourced services such as PR, creative services, media buying, event management and strategic counsel – tasks that are performed better by people with broad media relationships, independent perspectives, and specialist skills. For most firms these tasks do not fill a 40 hour week and specialist skills, contacts and tools make it difficult to hire an effective do-it-all employee. Additionally, many of these tasks need to be executed simultaneously during certain periods of the year requiring bandwidth that just not available from a highly productive internal team.

A highly productive small tech firm marketing a B2B product like storage or data management software can compete using an experienced product-centric VP of marketing, a senior marketing manager, and one full service agency (like my PR and lead generation firm, Marketingsage 🙂

Such an organization would typically:

  • Run 20-25 simultaneous adverting campaigns, including creative, landing pages and lead capture.
  • Generate 10-12 press announcements per year and brief press/analysts each time.
  • Run quarterly reseller inventive programs.
  • Attend 6 or so domestic trade shows.
  • Run 8 to 12 prospect lead nurturing email campaigns.
  • Manage the process for 4 or so interoperability certifications.
  • Author and layout 4 or so white papers.
  • Author and layout 6 or so case studies.
  • Produce 20 minutes worth of videos.
  • Maintain the web site.
  • Maintain a corporate blog.
  • Selectively participate in sales-centric social media discussions.

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Fast, Good, Cheap

You’ve heard the saying: You can have it fast, good or cheap. Pick any 2. For a marketer at a small firm in the storage and data management sector the priority is clear:  Fast and good (enough). Cheap is not the strategic option, even for a cost conscious marketer. Here’s why:

Time is your enemy. The market is highly competitive so a better or less expensive product will emerge soon – maybe before you see an ROI on your current development efforts. This could leave you at a competitive disadvantage with unsold inventory, depressed margins and higher promotional costs.  Additionally, if your firm does not yet have a positive cash flow, time is burning up your available capital. Ask the CFO what’s preferable: spending an extra 20% on an agency that can execute now; or burning 3 months of expenses for the whole company while you go through a hiring or orientation process.

Obviously fast and bad will not win you customers. However, don’t let perfect become the enemy of good enough. Good enough is faster and less expensive than perfect. You’re in the B2B IT market, not the fashion market, so let your competitors waste time and money on custom art, billboards, golf sponsorships, and chotskies while you deliver what prospects want – timely information that helps them choose your product over the alternatives!

About the Author

David X. Lamont is an accomplished marketer of IT products and a partner at Marketingsage, a PR and lead generation firm that specializes in marketing data storage, data management, and enterprise software products. He can be reached by email at blog [at] marketingsage.net. Fellow marketers and IT professionals are invited to join his network on LinkedIn and to subscribe to this blog (see sidebar).

It’s very unwise to pick just one promotional strategy and exclude all others, but it happens a lot among start-ups in the IT industry. Typically, the underlying problem is money. The firm has a very limited promotional budget so they bet it all on a single promotional strategy.

More often than not, inexperienced marketers at these cash-strapped start-ups purchase a list of prospects to email and call. After all, the list is affordable, email is almost free, and the sales team can start dialing on day one. From that same perspective, online advertising is ruled out because it is obviously expensive, it takes more time, and the number of callable contacts is expected to be relatively low.

However, choosing a purchased list over online advertising is invariably a bad bet.

Let’s look at some numbers:

  • Advertising: The more expensive pay-per-lead adverts average $60 per lead. However, while the cost-per-lead (CPL) is expensive, these contacts are leads insofar as they have requested one of your resources (e.g. a white paper). Such leads result in a “warm” contact list.
  • Purchased Lists: A contact on a list costs more or less $5, depending on the criteria chosen. The cost per contact is relatively low, but they haven’t taken any action to demonstrate even a passing interest in your offering. A purchased list is a “cold” list.
  • The cost of email is almost free. It’s usually not a material factor.

A typical click-through (action) rate for cold list is 0.05%. A click might result in a white paper download, a webinar registration, request for quote, or other action that the sales team considers actionable. However, a click-through rate of 0.05% means you need to send 200,000 emails to generate 100 clicks. Those 100 clicks cost $1-million at $5 per contact (of course the cost is lower when you amortize it over many campaigns, but to make the point we’ll leave it as is.)

A low click-through (action) rate for warm list is 1.5%. It can be much higher. Again, a click might result in a white paper download, a webinar registration, request for quote, or other action that the sales team considers actionable. A click-through rate of 1.5% means you need to send 6,667 emails to generate 100 clicks. Those 100 clicks cost ~$490,000 at $60 per contact (again, the cost is lower when you amortize it over many campaigns.)

The net result: Generating a desirable action from the $60 online advertising leads costs ~50% less than generating the same action from $5 purchased contacts because the response rates are significantly higher for warm lists.

Email clicks are easy to measure, but the lesson can be logically applied to other factors. While the cost of promoting using email may be close to free, the cost of promotion using a sales team is not. Because of the significant productivity difference, cost of a sales team employed to call a cold list will be higher than the cost of a sales team calling a warm list.

You can easily test this for yourself and generate numbers for your own business. Your numbers may be higher or lower, but you will inevitably learn that a warm list is considerably more valuable than a cold one.

This analysis assumes your firm has no ethical issues with emailing people who have not subscribed for your messages. Such unsolicited emails may not be SPAM from the legal sense, but they are usually considered SPAM by the recipients. It’s certainly possible that a portion of the 99.95% of email recipients who do not respond to your unsolicited emails will in fact remember your brand and make a decision to avoid it at all costs. As a result, every campaign has the potential to diminish your brand among the carefully chosen audience you wish to sell to.

How CEOs, CFOs and VCs Might Mitigate the Underlying Budget Problem

I get it. The marketing budget of many early-round start-ups won’t support much online advertising. However, that budget crisis is usually the result of an earlier decision to invest other things. Typically, CEOs at these firms invest 90% of their sales and marketing budget in staff alone. They usually start by adding salespeople, but don’t reserve enough cash for the marketing programs necessary to feed that team.

Soloed VPs can’t address this issue because the parameters of their world have already been set by the CEO and board. The result is a failure by marketing to deliver enough high quality leads to satisfy the needs of a relatively large sales team. However, the sales team also fails because they don’t have those leads. The CEO, CFO and VCs fail because of the lost time (multiplied by the company’s cash burn rate) and the destructive interdepartmental politics spawned by the imbalance between objectives and resources.

A more prudent approach is to recognize the fact that sales and marketing are interdependent, not independent. You must invest proportionally in both. You must also recognize that marketing takes time and money and it often precedes the success of the sales team.

About the Author

David X. Lamont is an accomplished marketer of IT products and a partner at Marketingsage, a PR and lead generation firm that specializes in marketing data storage, data management, and enterprise software products. He can be reached by email at blog [at] marketingsage.net. Fellow marketers and IT professionals are invited to join his network on LinkedIn and to subscribe to this blog (see sidebar).

I made my annual pilgrimage to the 2012 Flash Memory Summit at the convention center in Santa Clara, CA. This is one of my favorite conferences and this year’s event was bigger and more professional than ever. There was a lot to see and hear, but I’ll focus on what what caught my attention in the enterprise SSD arena — the market I’ve worked in since 2003 (the year my agency, Marketingsage, started helping Texas Memory Systems with PR and lead gen.)

Seagate’s annual slap-up-side-the-head for SSD vendors

The “Business Case for SSD” keynote by Jeff Burke, Seagate’s VP of Strategic Marketing, made an impression — not just on me. It was also one of the noteworthy topics being discussed at the lunch tables.

Seagate’s presentation amounted to their annual slap-up-side-the-head for the SSD vendors touting the imminent overthrow of hard disk drives — basically everyone in the very large room.

Seagate Chart (myyellow notes paraphrase what was said)

Seagate pointed out that the SSD forecasts have so far been overstated, the SSD sector is a tiny portion of the storage market, and Flash manufacturers could never meet the near-term or medium-term capacity demands of the market. He’s right…but this presentation (and others by Seagate) sure make me think that Seagate may be sandbagging on some real strategic issues:

  • A big chunk of Seagate’s profits come from its high end, higher margin, enterprise HDDs that typically go into arrays. The high-end market is readily moving to SSD because the economics in this performance-centric arena favor Flash over spindles. And, the laptop market is increasingly impacted by Flash-based tablets.
  • Seagate is essentially a vertically integrated manufacturing firm that’s fully invested in HDDs, not necessarily storage (all devices). It faces the Innovator’s Dilemma and may easily become another Kodak if it doesn’t match its lip-service with a big commitment to new technology.
  • Seagate lacks the core Flash technology in an arena where the firms with the core technology may be too big to easily acquire.
  • Building SSD systems causes a conflict with their OEM customers like HP, EMC, Dell, etc.

I don’t think anyone will be surprised to see Seagate make a big acquisition as it moves to secure its future.

Start-ups and the new audience

The keynote by Rado Danilak, CEO of Skyera, also stood out with me. Skyera is a start-up that just announced a box of flash with de-dupe, compression, and technology to extend the life of their MLC chips.

The room was packed. However, the presentation turned out to be an overview of some well touted storage and performance issues.  Frankly, I thought the presentation was too light for a room full of technically orientated industry insiders. But by the end of day Thursday I had met so many first timers, that I now think the presentation may have hit the mark with this year’s attendees. There are a lot of new people learning about the technology, products and market.

Skyera is the shiniest of the new players, but Whiptail came sporting their new look (designed to be more corporate.) The memorable lizard logo was gone. Whiptail also makes a Flash system and uses de-dupe and compression to lower the cost per (stored) gigabyte. I’ve always thought they were smart to focus on solving cloud and virtualization performance problems, rather than marketing boxes of Flash in the face of well established players like Texas Memory Systems and low-cost producers. However, one look at the VMworld lineup shows how crowded the point-solution space  has become.

Another new firm, Shannon Systems, also exhibited. They are one of many new China-based makers of Flash-based products. Shannon was showing another MLC-based PCIe card.

It was good to see these innovative players at the expo, but I’ll bet they met far more industry peers than enterprise customers at this particular summit. This event is better suited to those with an OEM model.

About the Author

David X. Lamont is an accomplished marketer of IT products and a partner at Marketingsage, a PR and lead generation firm that specializes in marketing data storage, data management, and enterprise software products. He can be reached by email at blog [at] marketingsage.net. Fellow marketers and IT professionals are invited to join his network on LinkedIn and to subscribe to this blog (see sidebar).

The Wall Street Journal published an interesting list in its April 11th article called the “Best and Worst Jobs of 2012.” The list was based on a CareerCast analysis that ranked 200 jobs on their physical demands, work environment, income, stress and hiring outlook. Here are the highlights including the top 3, bottom 3 and those jobs we encounter in the IT industry:

1. Software Engineer

2 Actuary

3. HR Manager

8. Online Advertising Manager

9. Computer Systems Analyst

15. Web Developer

32. Market Research Analyst

34. Computer Programmer

37. Technical Writer

66. Mechanical Engineer

70. PR Executive

72. Electrical Engineer

82. Event Coordinator

106. Sales Rep.

116. Senior Corporate Executive

118. Publication Editor

136. Advertising Sales Executive

198. Enlisted Military Soldier

199. Dairy Farmer

200. Lumberjack

There you have it. Software engineers have it best (#1). Selling advertising is a pretty crappy job (#136). However, buying advertising is pretty nice (#8). Pitching stories is OK at #70, but editing stories is not so hot at #118. Those opinionated analysts have it good at #32. And, despite the perks the senior corporate executives rank all the way down at #116. It must be because of the physical demands. 🙂

About the Author

David X. Lamont is an accomplished marketer of IT products and a partner at Marketingsage, a PR and lead generation firm that specializes in marketing data storage, data management, and enterprise software products. He can be reached by email at blog [at] marketingsage.net. Fellow marketers and IT professionals are invited to join his network on LinkedIn and to subscribe to this blog (see sidebar).

As a marketer of data storage and data management products, including those for the emerging “Big Data” market, I was immediately attracted to a a new report called “Marketing ROI in the Era of Big Data.”

This 2012 report by David Rogers and Don Sexton of the Columbia Business School and New York American Marketing Association is not about how to market Big Data products (a topic my firm, Marketingsage, is happy to address). The report is about using Big Data analytics to drive marketing decisions. As the report notes, Big Data analytics is different from “the quarterly omnibus survey panels of traditional market research” that rely on periodically analyzing structured data such as a surveys, click data or sales.

Big Data analytics is “predicated on access to frequent and recent data” from many sources. For many this means analyzing data at near-real-time speeds. It also means the combining of data from various digital media — page views, time-on-site, revisits, clicks, opt-ins, opt-outs, purchases, shopping cart abandonment,  search engine page ranks, keyword usage, link-backs, demographics, perceptions, tweets, likes, shares, etc. It means combining data from traditional marketing tools such as event sponsorships, print advertising, direct mail, TV and radio adverts with digital tools such as email, social network accounts and mobile adverts/apps.

If you are a hands-on marketer, your brain may have just melted down when you thought about what it would actually take to make sense of all that diverse data…even if you had it available to you in real-time. If so, you won’t be surprised to learn that while 91% of senior corporate marketers (at large firms) believe that successful brands use customer data to drive marketing decisions, it’s not happening near as often as some might think. And, if it isn’t happening in the large B2C firms surveyed, it sure isn’t happening in smaller B2B firms with small marketing teams.

Here are some statistics form the report:

  • 65% of marketers said that comparing the effectiveness of marketing across different digital media is “a major challenge” for their business
  • 39% say their own company’s data is collected too infrequently or not real-time enough
  • Large firms are much less likely to collect new forms of digital data like mobile data (19%), than they are to collect traditional customer survey data such as on demographics (74%) and attitude (54%)
  • 22% are using brand awareness as their sole measure to evaluate their marketing spend
  • 42% of marketers report that they are not able to link data at the level of an individual customer
  • 45% of marketers are not using data to personalize their marketing communications
  • 57% are not basing their marketing budgets on any ROI analysis
  • 37% of respondents did not include any mention of financial outcomes when asked to define what “marketing ROI” meant for their own organization

Not surprisingly, the report notes that marketers who are satisfied with measuring marketing ROI tend to use more metrics than organizations that are less satisfied. Additionally, their leaders set measurable objectives for marketing actions.

Accordingly, the authors go on to recommend that marketers should get started with the basics of determining marketing ROI and then move on to ROI best practices.

A Personal View

Although it’s a long way in the future (maybe a decade), I’m looking forward to the day when a marketer can look at a dashboard that reveals what’s going on everywhere, in real-time, especially if coupled with artificial intelligence that  offers some insights into the data. However, lets not forget that such a dashboard is no different from the one in your car. You still have to do the driving. Even with a navigation system that gives you step-by-step instructions you still need to decide where you want to go and avoid all the obstacles along the way.

In reality, the data is only helpful if you define it appropriately, understand where it’s coming from, know what’s driving it and how to act upon it to meet your goals. That’s not a given. I’ve seen many instances where firms analyze marketing data only to draw poor and very costly conclusions because they lack perspective and experience.

For me, the “Marketing ROI in the Era of Big Data” conclusion rings true. It states: “Chief Marketing Officers face a dynamic and challenging environment for marketing today. They will find no simple answers to effectively measuring marketing ROI amidst the growth of big data and new digital marketing tools. Innovative marketing and effective measurement will both be works in progress that require leadership, agility, and constant learning.

About the Author

David X. Lamont is an accomplished marketer of IT products and a partner at Marketingsage, a PR and lead generation firm that specializes in marketing data storage, data management, and enterprise software products. He can be reached by email at blog [at] marketingsage.net. Fellow marketers and IT professionals are invited to join his network on LinkedIn and to subscribe to this blog (see sidebar).

So what does a big advertising budget look like? Here’s what Microsoft, IBM, HP, Apple, Intuit, Cisco, Intel and Dell spent in 2010 according to the B2B Magazine Top Advertiser list (published November 2011).

Microsoft was the third largest advertiser after AT&T and Verizon. They spent almost $250 million in 2010, up 30% from 2009.

IBM was 6th. They invested more than all the other tech firm in business publications and consumer magazines.

HP was 7th and Apple was 8th on the top 50 list. Of the tech firms on the list, Dell spent the least, ranking 28th overall.

What can smaller firms selling data storage and management products learn from this? Nothing! The top advertisers are public firms with extensive product lines that are sold globally.

About the Author

David X. Lamont is an accomplished marketer of IT products and a partner at Marketingsage, a PR and lead generation firm that specializes in marketing data storage, data management, and enterprise software products. He can be reached by email at blog [at] marketingsage.net. Fellow marketers and IT professionals are invited to join his network on LinkedIn and to subscribe to this blog (see sidebar).