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Seeking Marketing Alpha

Marketing in the Capital Markets

Having my head in emerging markets and cross-asset trading these days, I’ve been finding the term “alpha” unavoidable. TABBGroup’s Adam Sussman recently spoke on investment in emerging markets as a way to achieve alpha. The industry is all aflutter about cross-asset and multi-asset trading as a means to seek alpha. The concept of exceeding benchmark performance permeates our business in the form of whitepapers, webinars, forecasts and executive briefs.

But let’s some of us be honest, that concept is sorely lacking when it comes to marketing strategy. Many companies say they want the most bang for their marketing buck, but when it comes down to it, they hang all their hopes on one monolithic whitepaper or live event. This is similar to what I call “practicing wishcraft” – taking any action to say you did something and wishing for some magical outcome. There’s a difference between spending money for the sake utilizing available budget and spending it to achieve what I like to call “marketing alpha.”

I seem to be on a roll with the specialized terms. Like a marketer (LOL!).

Anyway, as I mentioned in a previous blog post, banks are under increasing pressure to reduce overhead and increase profit margins via technology consolidation. However, since the financial crisis began, companies across the board have been faced with budgetary challenges that have made buyers cautious and salespeople crazy. The new reality is one of longer, more complex sales cycles with today’s web-enabled buyer in the driver’s seat.

Brave New World of B2B Marketing

Unlike the Aldous Huxley novel, effective marketers have moved away from treating customers like cattle and feeding them marketing soma. Why? Because the buying behavior of capital market buyers has changed dramatically in the past few years, rendering the majority of old-school marketing practices ineffective (and as a result, expensive). Truth be told, old-school marketing was about creating noise to be heard over the competition and get in the door.  It used to be about one-way push. Now it’s about two-way engagement.

In earlier times (some might call them “the good old days”), the company with the most marketing dollars often got the most sales, simply because the customer recognized their name. But as more companies enter the race, more companies start making as much noise as possible. The Internet and email make it easier and cheaper to make noise, resulting in a virtual cacophony of marketing claims barraging customers every day – with everyone claiming to be “the leading, number-one, unique, value-added, trusted provider” of “robust, innovative, cutting-edge, high-performance, ultra low-latency technology….”


How can every vendor be the “leading provider”, anyway?

If you’re in marketing or sales and have not heard the terms “content marketing” or “inbound marketing,” then it’s time to start paying attention to the evolving best practices in marketing. The pressure is on for Marketing to support Sales and help to generate revenue. Your performance depends on it.

Let’s face it folks, our customers are not idiots. They’re sick of the noise, and they no longer trust the marketing puffery. They’re also getting really good at tuning out the noise. They use spam filters, caller ID, gate keepers, DVRs and any number of other methods to tune out advertising and marketing messages.

That doesn’t mean they’re not still buying, but they’re getting more savvy. THEY are in control of their buying process. Research shows that most business buyers of technology do all their early research about business problems and possible solutions BEFORE they talk to a sales person. In fact, their buying processes are generally 75% complete before they’re willing to engage with Sales. So how do you go about influencing the buying decision of a buyer who is wary and weary of traditional marketing hype? How do you now differentiate yourself from your competition?

Achieving Marketing Alpha

Content marketing is about creating educational content that helps your prospective customers understand their business problems, gain a vision of how to solve the problem, and build a business case to get internal buy-in. This content can take the form of whitepapers, blog posts, live events or video. As you provide the prospect with high quality content – information that they can rely on to steer their decisions, you’ll gain their trust and have a significant influence over the buying decision. To quote Ardath Albee, author of eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale, “Publishing compelling content builds credibility.” This credibility is what gives you competitive advantage.

At this point, you’re probably thinking, “That’s interesting, but how do I get this great content to the customer?

That’s where inbound marketing comes in. This technique uses high-quality content, strategically placed, that is found by prospects who are looking for it and as a result, are ready to engage with you. (talk about warm leads!). According to inbound marketing specialist HubSpot, “72% of companies who blog weekly have acquired customers through their blog.” As a new form of lead generation, inbound marketing is bringing in revenue for companies who have really dug in and focused on sharpening their marketing strategy.

The question arises, “O.K., now how do I incorporate inbound marketing and content marketing to my process?”

On January 24, I will be discussing this with a panel of the foremost experts on modern marketing in a live web event. These speakers are at the top of their game as authors, bloggers and recognized thought leaders in content and inbound marketing. They will discuss the differences between and the convergence of these techniques as well as practical approaches for getting it done as part of a holistic marketing strategy. The goal of this live web event is to give you clear insight into current marketing techniques, going beyond the hype to what works now.  We want you to be better equipped to build a compelling case to gain the funding to implement these techniques.

I highly recommend that you tune in for this hour long session. You can ask questions in advance of the event and online during the Q&A process. I’ll be moderating, and will be joined by:

It’s No Longer About Marketshare, It’s About Mindshare

The days of “spray ‘n pray” are over. Buyers want to know what’s in it for them, what of value you have to offer them that meets their need. They’re unaffected by perceived market share. They’re seeking a Trusted Advisor to help inform their entire buying process. Achieving that coveted role requires an understanding of what works in this context and directly affects your ability to generate revenue.

Are you struggling with creating an effective marketing strategy? Do you find yourself mistaking tactics for strategy? Are you just a little bit shaky in your understanding of current marketing language? Are you struggling to achieve “marketing alpha”? Join us for:

The Great Marketing Debate Conversation
Tuesday - January 24, 2012
1:00 - 2:00 PM EST (10:00 - 11:00 AM PST)

Click here to register now.

The old marketing model is broken. Time to start the new year with a new foundation for a solid marketing strategy. Here’s your opportunity to learn from four of today’s top marketing thought leaders. They’re passionate about what they do, so the discussion will be quite lively.

Join us, won’t you?