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Is martech in a revenue bubble and how soon will it burst?

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Is martech in a revenue bubble and how soon will it burst?


Fasten your seatbelts. This article will be hotly debated. 

The martech industry is actually in a revenue bubble, like the dot-com bubble of 1995 and the housing bubble of 2008. And there’s no telling how soon it will burst. 

The revenue bubble happens when go-to-market teams, and the technologies they use, organize as one central group with one goal: Sales. The role of the chief revenue officer and the function of revenue operations emerged from this.

The problem? What started as a rallying cry for marketers to drive more impact has sadly devolved into a sea of sameness, with business brands that are eerily identical in how they look, sound, and engage customers. 

Before you get too upset, hear me out.

As a career B2B marketer, I’ve always been a champion of revenue. One of my favorite books is “Revenue Disruption” by Phil Fernandez, co-founder of Marketo. Every activity should lead to a sale! That was the motto. 

But the more I worked in marketing, the more I started to see that some of the best companies didn’t focus on revenue alone. There was more to their success, which we’ll explore in this article. 

Without revenue, what’s the point?  

Here’s why the revenue movement became popular. Marketers were tired of being treated like sales assistants. They were sometimes referred to as the arts and crafts department. I’ll admit, the revenue movement did a fine job in changing this perception.

The problem? The focus on revenue is short-term. 

And I may be biased, working for a company that obsesses over customer experience at the expense of short-term profits, but let’s look at both sides. 

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Three powerful, durable spears pierce the revenue bubble. They are community, product-led growth and brand.

1. Community

Community is not, and never should be, about revenue. And while you can tie some attribution to community-led efforts, trying to extract money out of a community is inauthentic. Customers can smell inauthenticity. We’ve often seen members abandon communities that try to milk them for every last cent. We’ve also seen communities help skyrocket companies to become market leaders. Marketo and Salesforce are great examples, but there are many others. There are different skills and competencies required to grow a community, which revenue-focused operators may lack. 

2. Product-led growth 

Product-led growth refers to creating such a good product experience that users refer others, which becomes the primary method of adding new customers. The focus here is obsessing over user behavior and feedback, and implementing quick changes. A short-term focus on revenue (closing big deals) can be counterproductive to this effort. 

You’ve probably seen this first-hand in your organization. A team has dozens of planning and negotiation meetings with a vendor, only to discover that employees have already started using a different platform they paid for with their credit card. 

That’s not to say that enterprise sales and field marketing are irrelevant. Both can drive tremendous growth and awareness. However, product-led growth is tangible proof that there is more to the story than mere revenue. 

3. Brand 

Branding is the most obvious contradiction to the revenue movement. It’s incredibly difficult to attribute deals to branding. You can track branded search terms or ask, “how did you hear about us?” but much of the influence that brand has occurred without our knowledge. Branding is what happens when a buyer needs something at the moment, and your company is top of mind. Brand transpires when a buyer doesn’t make a rational decision based on facts but emotion. 

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For example, I selected my car insurance provider solely because I liked the jingle “Nationwide is on your side.” Such a good tune! As a final example, take 10 seconds and think of your top three favorite companies. Got them? Now the question: Do you think they got to where they are today by aligning around revenue? 

The problem with every employee having the goal of revenue 

The problem with everyone having a revenue goal is that other critical aspects, such as customer experience, can fall to the wayside. Not to mention the historical examples of immoral company leaders who focused on revenue above the customer and drove the company’s reputation and stock price into the ground. 

But let’s take a practical B2B approach. Should graphic designers be given a revenue goal? What about corporate communications? What about legal and those who protect the security of customer data? And to take it a step further, if those roles do not have revenue goals, does that mean that those roles are unimportant? 

Here is where the revenue bubble begins to burst because if everything should be about revenue, nothing else matters. 

But other aspects of business do matter. And successful brands know that very well. 

How to stop the revenue bubble from growing and bursting

The solution to the revenue bubble is tension. Healthy tension, healthy debate and a natural, productive conflict that forces one side back into balance when it gets out of line. Should there be a revenue goal? Yes. But there should be a customer experience goal set in parallel. Customer experience can be measured by satisfaction, NPS, engagement, opt-out, and other indicators that show customers like (or dislike) your brand. 

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Should there be a new sales goal? Of course. But in parallel, there should be a community-growth goal, a branding goal and a product goal not tied to sales. 

Balance your revenue goals with the customer experience and balance sales with your brand. 

To sum up, while companies have benefited from the alignment that the revenue movement has created, they need to be careful not to lose sight of the less measurable aspects of the business that can differentiate a brand in the long term. And while many operators are looking to revenue as the single answer to solve their business problems, the reality is that business, like life, rarely boils down to a single thing. 


Om författaren

Darrell is an award-winning marketer and Martech professional. He was named one of the top Martech Marketers to Follow in 2020, won the Fearless Marketer award in 2018, is a 2X Marketo Champion, and is a certified Salesforce Administrator. He has consulted for several Fortune 500 companies including General Electric and Abbott Laboratories and currently leads marketing operations at Amazon Web Services where he helps empower hundreds of marketers to build world-class customer experiences. Darrell is a frequent speaker at martech events, and regularly posts thought leadership content on Linkedin and Twitter.



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Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade är en innehållsmarknadsförares dröm: 7 lektioner

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Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a Content Marketer’s Dream: 7 Lessons

Updated Nov. 22, 2022

Millions gather to view your content marketing on their screens.

Crowds line up over two miles just to get a glimpse of your content in real life.

That’s the stuff of content marketers’ dreams. And it’s the reality for marketers at Macy’s, the U.S. department store chain that has put on a parade in New York City every Thanksgiving since 1924.

I’m a big fan of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I traveled to see it twice, and I never miss watching it on television. And that’s before I realized it’s all content marketing. Here are some lessons that struck me.

1. Steal ideas – just make them better

Macy’s wasn’t the first department store to host a parade as a content marketing tool for the Christmas buying season. In 1920, the Gimbel Brothers department store in Philadelphia created the first one. Four years later – the same year Macy’s launched its parade – the J.L. Hudson Co. department store started one in Detroit. Though those parades continue today, Gimbels and Hudson’s haven’t been involved for decades. Hudson’s ceased its parade connection when it closed its Detroit flagship in the late 1970s. (The chain was later bought by Macy’s). And the Philadelphia department store was liquidated in the mid-1980s.

Original ideas are hard to come by (some say there aren’t any). Don’t spend all your time trying to create something no one’s done. Look for existing inspiration. You may find content that isn’t living up to its potential – and then you can take the opportunity to do it better.

You don’t need original ideas. Just do existing ones better. That’s what @Macys did in creating its New York Thanksgiving Day parade, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. #ContentMarketing Klicka för att tweeta

2. Stick with what works, adjust what doesn’t

The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade stretched over six miles and featured nursery rhyme characters, store employees dressed as clowns and cowboys, and animals from the Central Park Zoo. A float carrying Santa and a reindeer-pulled sleigh closed the parade.

In the 21st century, the parade traverses only 2.5 miles to ensure a tighter show. It features multi-story-tall balloons that long ago replaced the zoo animals. It welcomes brands other than Macy’s into the act (think Pillsbury Dough Boy and Ronald McDonald). Marching bands from around the country, floats featuring lip-syncing celebrities, and live characters like the gang from Sesame Street expand the appeal.

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Santa’s sleigh and reindeer are far more elaborate now, but the jolly fella retains his almost 100-year-old place in the parade – the final act anticipated by young and old.

When you have an enduring content star, go ahead and tweak it. Don’t use the same old, same old content all the time. Each year, Macy’s creates a curiosity gap: What new balloons will debut? Which will be retired?

@Macys creates a curiosity gap every year as audiences wonder what new balloons will debut and which will be retired, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Klicka för att tweeta

What annual content can you create that entices your audience to return again and again? At CMI, for example, we create content marketing research reports every year. Some of the questions in the research questionnaire remain the same each year, but we add new ones based on our audience’s needs, industry trends, and global changes.

Think about how to freshen up your content by adding new ideas or trying different format.

Think about how to freshen up your #content by adding new ideas or trying different formats, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Klicka för att tweeta

For example, a B2B brand might add a new department focused on remote work to its quarterly magazine. A B2C brand might shoot short, tip-focused videoklipp based on information from blog articles.

The opportunities to adjust your content mix – topic, format, etc. – are endless.

3. Look at things from a different perspective

Let’s get to the truth. Despite the name (and the turkey float), the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has little to do with Thanksgiving. It’s really about the shopping season leading up to the biggest gift-giving occasions of the year. The floats, balloons, and songs all revolve around the red-and-green holiday. In fact, the event’s initial name was Macy’s Christmas Parade. Macy’s, as a business, isn’t focused on the Thanksgiving holiday. Macy’s cares about the timing of Thanksgiving – a month or so before the gift exchanges begin.

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Think about traditional events or activities in your industry. How can you create content that turns them on their head? Let’s say your company has a booth at the same handel show every September. Instead of crafting another evergreen white paper to showcase your thought leadership, use the event as the exclusive release site for a must-have report on industry predictions for the coming year. Make that report the center of your content hub for the quarter, giving it life far beyond the two-day event.

4. Don’t go solo

Macy’s isn’t the only brand involved in the parade. McDonald’s sends up a Ronald McDonald balloon accompanied by his giant shoe car on the ground. Kraft’s Kool-Aid Man crashed the party for many years. Jennie-O’s Big Turkey Spectacular, Dreamworks’ Boss Baby, and Sinclair Oil’s baby dinos participate this year. And brands like Olay, Entenmann’s, Wonder Bread, and Lego host floats. Each branded parade entry is an example of sponsored content.

Image source

Each branded float in the @Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade is an example of #SponsoredContent, says @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Klicka för att tweeta

If a sponsored content model doesn’t fit your organization’s innehållsstrategi, you can still find ways to connect with other companies. For example, accept guest blogs on your site or craft guest content for non-competing brands that have similar target audiences.

5. Interact with your audience

In 2020, Macy’s used its Twitter account to engage with its audience before and during the parade. In addition to previewing that year’s attractions, Macy’s conducted a series of promoted tweets (that’s how they found me, though I didn’t remember to save one to share here). The tweet said Macy’s would send me a reminder about the parade if I picked my favorite parade activity and tweeted about it.

So I did:

Two hours before the parade started, I got this personalized reminder tweet:

When you try to engage your audience members on Twitter, think about inviting them into your account or brand. That requires more than clicking a heart or retweeting. Make it personal. Give them something fun or valuable to share. Follow up with more personalized content.

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6. Scrutinize your language

While I liked Macy’s approach to personalizing Twitter that year, I wasn’t a fan of its use of the word “diverse” in a 2020 tweet intended to celebrate Zeta Phi Beta, a Black sorority celebrating 100 years and making its first appearance in the parade:

TheJasmineBRAND grabbed the tweet before Macy’s removed it a couple of hours after it caused an outcry:

Poor, wrong, or ignorant word choices eliminate any value your content might have had and can hurt the brand. Proofread your content not only for spelling and grammar but also for intent, interpretation, inclusivity, and so on. Macy’s misstep also teaches another writing lesson – creating inclusive and diverse content usually doesn’t require you to point out that it’s diverse and inclusive.

Att skapa inkluderande och mångsidigt #-innehåll kräver vanligtvis inte att du påpekar att det är mångsidigt och inkluderande, säger @AnnGynn via @CMIContent. Klicka för att tweeta

7. Börja smått

Macy's arrangerade inte ett storslaget evenemang 1924. Paradposterna täckte bara två kvarter och omfattade cirka 50 personer. Men det räckte för att fängsla tiotals, om inte hundratusentals, att dyka upp längs den sex mil långa rutten. Även om media knappt täckte händelsen, fick publikens svar Macy's att meddela några veckor senare att paraden skulle komma tillbaka nästa år. (Det var inte förrän paraden gjorde sin tv-debut nästan 30 år senare som Macy's fick nationell uppmärksamhet och drog till sig miljontals fler fans.)

Vilka är dina drömmar för innehållsmarknadsföring (dvs. stora mål)? De kan verka överdrivet ambitiösa, men finns det en minsta möjliga innehållsprodukt du verkligen kan skapa som kan leda till att dessa drömmar går i uppfyllelse? Börja planera idag.

Vill du ha fler tips, insikter och exempel på innehållsmarknadsföring? Prenumerera till arbetsdags- eller veckomail från CMI.

HANDPLOCKAT RELATERAT INNEHÅLL:

Omslagsbild av Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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