Browsing Tag


Marketing is in the Middle: Lauren Carlson

The next person in the series, is Lauren Carlson.  I asked Lauren to participate since as the interviews started to unfold from a content perspective, no one was really talking about tools which provide marketers an edge.  Lauren writes about various topics related to CRM software, with particular interest in sales force automation, marketing automation, and customer service and this background clearly made her a great fit to help fill this gap which has emerged in the discussions around marketing being in the middle.

Like all marketers or people around tech – Lauren isn’t formally trained in technology or marketing.  She has a background in the music industry, and when she isn’t writing about software, you can find her running at  Town Lake and singing at local venues around Austin.  So maybe, just maybe I should have entitled the series Austin is in the Middle of Technology marketing with a couple of  other geographies added to the mix, just for fun.

Here is Lauren’s take:

What marketing roles have you had and in what markets?

I am relatively new to marketing but I continue to get exposure to many software marketers, companies and service providers as a journalist. The role I have at Software Advice provides great access to leaders in the community. As a practitioner, I am actively involved in doing search engine optimization.

When you look at your career in marketing, what activities have you found most interesting/challenging?

Targeting the right segments in the market.  Ultimately as marketers, we have to find our niche or audience.  So finding the right audience can often be difficult. Sometimes we have really great content, but if it doesn’t hit the right person, it is useless.

Based on your experience what activities do you think get the most return?

Doing the background research! Certainly it can take a good deal of effort and a bit of time, but it often brings back the most returns. I spend days researching keywords and search stats to better understand my audience. It can be tedious, but when we start to rank for those competitive terms, that’s really when you see the fruits of your labor.

What do you feel is the most important component of a successful marketing gig?

Content. Content. Content. Content drives everything. You can have the most talented people or the best business model, coolest tech, but if your content is bad, you’ve got nothing to keep your audience/buyers engaged.

If you could design the perfect corporate environment for a marketer to be successful what would that be?

It would be focused on collaboration and creativity. Sometimes I get my best ideas when talking with a co-worker or when I am simply away from my desk interacting with others. Don’t get me wrong –  some structure is great, but I think having the freedom to team up or step out of a structured environment can really free the mind to come up with some awesome stuff.

How far is this from reality?

I think that a lot of new start-ups are adopting this environment. Our company is working toward it and I have heard of others that are using this model. I think it is possible in organizations with a legacy in the traditional way of marketing. It is simply a matter of them accepting it and making the decision to adopt it.

So what’s next?

I have personally done a lot of research in the area of marketing automation – a piece of software that automates basic to complex marketing tasks. Companies are beginning to see the value of adding a marketing automation system to their enterprise software mix. However, the issue of adoption is what is holding it back. Software Advice just published a very interesting article from Jeff Pedowitz called, “Why the Marketing Automation Market is Floundering & 5 Fixes to Fuel It.” One of the stumbling blocks faced by the industry is education. We have this great new software, but we have not educated marketers on what it is or how to use it. I think we will see a new generation of marketers popping up in the next few years. These marketers will be true analytical thinkers more focused on process. We still need creative minds, as well. I think when you combine great technology and process with vibrant creativity and ideas, you have the perfect marketing mix.


Twitter: @MASoftwareGuide or @CRMadvice


Invest in Your Customers: 5 Ways to Raise Your Customer’s IQ

Each year we are coming up with market strategies and tactics to help drive new business, but what have you slotted into your strategic plan for the customers you have?   At the end of the day, your customers are essentially your best asset for a marketer – typically drive significant annual revenues, provide priceless word of mouth recommendations and provide insights from the market when we engage them.   So why is it that many organizations relegate customers to a series of automated tools and process which focus on reducing costs, rather than investing in the relationship in their plans?  In fact, if we present anything in our strategy about our customers it’s about reducing costs.   So one of the questions I would always ask myself and my team about their strategy plans was:  “What Are You Doing to Improve Your Customer Relationships and their Market Understanding?”  Not only do I invest in my customers as it relates to the products I sell, I always try to improve their understanding of our shared markets.   After all, an educated customer who is invested in the relationship is typically a more profitable one and more loyal.

Know Your Customers and Know Their Industry

As experts in the markets we serve, we often read more, have access to more information and definitely have more discussions with people in the market than our customers do.  Much of information gleaned is used to build out our personal understanding of the market or the larger organization, but many of us tend to not share these industry insights and market information with our customers.    Not sure why, maybe we are just too focused as marketers to get that next prospect  or feel this information is somehow proprietary info.  Whatever the reason, the industry analyst calls, market trends and other content we get access to is just the type of information your customer’s want/need to be more  competitive in the markets THEY serve.  So on some levels both us, as vendors, and them, as customer’s are sorta “all in it together in this shared market”.

Share the Knowledge Your Organization Has

We have all kinds of info we create to do our daily jobs as marketers which could be re-purposed for prospects and customers alike. We gather all kinds of market data –  whether it’s usage trends on our SaaS platform by industry, learnings from speaking with customers or the information gleaned from the last analyst call, it’s all potentially interesting for your customers.  It takes all of these sources to get a baseline understanding of markets and their problems to get approved projects and build sufficient products.  Much of the information we get is not directly related to our products, but rather the markets our customers are in and could help improve our customers’ businesses as well.

Just as we invest in creating content strategies to putting people in the funnel, we also need to invest in creating content which strengthens our relationships with our current customers to maximize retention, so here are 5 ways to better share the information inside your company and help your customers improve their businesses:

5 Ways to Raise YOUR Customers’ IQ

  1. Blog About Your Customers’ Industries: It’s always a focused to blog about the problems our product solve or advances in technology around the product sector we service since this helps with demand generation. Once people buy your products however, they want to better improve their businesses and compete in markets now that they have solved the problem which drove them to purchase your product.  Not only does this approach help with maintain the existing relationships with your customers, this too will help with the demand side of things.
  2. Recommend online outposts, industry groups and readings: We spend a lot of time focusing on our own communities, but as marketers and product managers we also are aware of great industry resources which help us keep abreast of our customers industries which would be equally useful to our customers and we should share this information – even if we don’t manage these groups or produce the content.
  3. Provide Updates on Industry Conferences & Events: Many of us attend industry events and conferences and often have to right up a trip reports, that very content could easily be re-factored for your customers in minutes.   You should also provide information on events your company isn’t going to, if it would be of interest to your market.  For example, if you go to an event just do a little post on it, whether it’s directly related to your product or not.  Maybe the marketing folks at your customer companies would be interested in that agile preso you saw or the Product Camp presentation you did.
  4. Create a mini educational/informational thing for your customers: Nothing big, basically a very light presentation or ebook-let on an industry trend. While this seems like something we should be doing anyhow, we typically write for non-customers, this should be targeted at customers and shouldn’t necessarily be related about our products or the problems we solve at all.  Think of all the analyst calls and original research you do/content you curate to understand your market, pick just one small topic and put something together on slideshare, scribd or just available on your website. Here is an example I did on innovative brands which took under an hour.

So what is your CRM strategy to raise YOUR customers’ intelligence in 2011?

What’s your CRM Strategy?

Many organizations and individuals have had the opportunity to access and understand their customer relationships, but how does social media change customer relationships? In fact millions have been invested in monolithic implementations which may not be able to manage the complexity or drive value from the changing customer dynamics. Will/does social media drive loyalty or materially revenue? Will your CRM system be able to scale to the need? This post will ask more questions than provide answers. Or perhaps the post will imply answers through the questions.

Significant investments in CRM applications over the past decade and continues to drive improved understanding and value, but is there an expiration date on your CRM application? Does CRM need to morph in to Social Customer Relationship Management? I know it needs to have a 3 character acronym, but nevertheless it may just represent the next Killer App. A CRM application that provides a way to support social attributes of your customer, it involves identity, influence and managing against infinite consumer personas.

So let’s just think about the benefits of thinking social when deploying a CRM solution:


Through the ability to enable customers to manage their own data is a core value of the customer self-service, I know how late 90’s of me, but isn’t this the value of social networks too? Who, Where, Why and How are typically why social networks exist and infrastructures for managing users. The benefits of using Facebook, openID or another identity framework allows for not only better management options, but richer attributes as they relate to relationships and transactions outside of an enterprise. What is the value of where they participate? Is there any value in the content they create? Is this even worth knowing?

Understanding Influence

Customer relationships are complex things – they drive revenue, they impact profitability and can defer revenue and the social customer is a growing influence on ALL of these. If there is a shared identity or a better understanding of the influence of a user, marketers can use this data to prioritize online ad spend and drive a focused social media agenda, rather than the almost product centric or the other extreme – the buzzword shotgun approach. What is the value of linking a customer user to the online rantings of a user on a forum? What is the value of knowing what their interests are?

Customer Persona’s are just Tiers or Use Cases – A new business Model

Old world CRM manages customers by products, groups or companies – not by the myriad interactions which are not unique to a given business, but driven by relationship, interactions and membership. These items effectively are the spatial relevance of a user and the value of place online. As we drive value from online relationships the complexity of a user is no longer the product, the company or service requests a user places, but something else. CRM is so centered on the revenue and costs of a customer, rather than the value a customer brings to an organization.

Where do your customers congregate, contribute and have conversations online and how can a business leverage this would be a benefit of SCRM. How can we prioritize effort, spend and relationship management of customers – more specifically their employee users on the value they bring to the business beyond the credits and debits. This is the challenge or business issue which a Social Customer Relationship Management solution would solve, not just orders and support tickets.

So where is our Seibel Facebook App?