"I used to be magnetic; now I'm downright electrifying."
That aphorism from best-selling author Jeffrey Hayzlett encapsulates the overall mood at the Eloqua Experience 2012 conference in Orlando.
I recently attended the annual gathering of 1,400 Eloqua employees and enthusiasts. The Eloqua Experience 2012 conference resolved a hunch regarding the current source of marketing innovation. Based on the profile of the attendees and marketing award winners, the most electrifying participants represent traditionally innovative industries: high technology and cloud-based marketing companies. Furthermore, traditional marketers are still roaming the earth in droves, and continue to outnumber the modern B2B marketers. (Eloqua sponsored my media pass.)
Kim Prohaska, marketing automation manager from Vertafore, an insurance software company based in the Seattle area, described the user euphoria this way: "This year more than ever, you could just sense in every session that we are all a part of driving something big—industry-changing big." Vertafore was a finalist for a Markie Award. In its sixth year, Markies honor marketing excellence and compelling ROI from using Eloqua solutions.
As I mentioned in my previous post, many companies still struggle—and lack the courage and self-esteem—to think like modern marketers. As a result, their organization views them as cost centers, not profit centers. Thankfully, the predominantly high-tech Eloqua audience is gradually moving the dial for the masses. They not only dominated the award categories (such as "Extraordinary Email," "Best Customer Lifecycle Program," and "Marketing Center of Excellence"); they led interactive breakout sessions.
Based on my Eloqua conversations and observations, I see four essentials to reaching "Modern Marketer" status:
1. Build "conscious content." Ask yourself "How will this content improve my customers' condition and communicate our unique point of view?" Blogging crappy content three times a week to drive followers is not the answer.
2. Create CMO reporting cadence. Determine what metrics truly matter to your organization, and build a simple dashboard to track and communicate your progress. Joe Payne, Eloqua's CEO, said something during our interview that is worth repeating. "One reason that marketers are not well respected is that when they interact with the board, they don't report results with a regular cadence, they don't use benchmarks, and they don't show the same metrics quarter after quarter. Conversely, when CFOs attend these meetings, they say 'Here's what the balance sheet looks like. Remember what I told you last quarter? Here's the progress we made this quarter.'"
3. Cultivate courage. During Jeff Hayzlett’s Eloqua Experience keynote, he shared examples of how he created tension and transformation at Eastman Kodak. He reminds us that "business leaders are supposed to drive tension. What's the worst thing that is going to happen if you make a mistake? Get your hands dirty." His latest book, Running the Gauntlet, is replete with inspiring stories of courage, and worth a read.
4. Get real about your culture. Be honest about what profit-producing marketing initiatives are possible within your current organization. How do you best describe your culture—is it measurement or results-driven, or activity (events and collateral production)-driven? How have you historically embraced change? What's the burning reason to change, and is it stronger than the status quo? How focused are your teams on customer innovation?
Nicolas Draca, LinkedIn's director of enterprise demand generation, embodies all four Modern Marketer qualities. He encourages marketing leaders to "gain agreement with the VP of Sales and CFO on the percentage of revenue contribution your marketing team is committed to driving." Draca provides biweekly updates to executives across multiple departments. His team went live with Eloqua in January 2012. So far, the results are impressive (and confidential). One key indicator of success is that Draca has expanded his team from two to 20 people within 18 months, and maintains a highly collaborative relationship with sales and finance.
Eloqua faces two growth opportunities: to develop a beachhead in new B2B verticals, and to make a more concerted effort to engage chief marketing officers. They are the most common marketing automation economic buyers. As CMOs wrestle a larger percentage of IT dollars from CIOs (per a recent Gartner Group study), they need to understand digital trends and changing buyer behaviors from a strategic level. One participant, a VP of marketing for an enterprise software company, said "I would only consider returning to Eloqua Experience if they provide more executive sessions. At my level, I don't need to learn how to generate lead scoring reports and improve our email marketing campaigns."
Magnetic marketing organizations implement ideas that originate from polarized ideas and personalities. Electric marketing teams go one step further. They act as conductors who transmit inspiration and ideas through magnetic fields, thereby creating electricity. Which one describes your organization?
Lisa Nirell is the chief energy officer of EnergizeGrowth and the founder of Marketing Leaders of D.C. She has helped B2B companies such as Adobe, Microsoft, and BMC Software grow customer mindshare and market share. Lisa is the author of EnergizeGrowth NOW: The Marketing Guide to a Wealthy Company. Visit energizegrowth.com to download a free sample chapter through EnergizeNews and follow Lisa on Twitter.
[Image: Flickr user LaughingRhoda]