Calling BS on Change Management

Not often that we bloggers pull out the swear words that really mean something. This just in from Bullshit from the World of Change Management:

“Bullshit! What I can tell you from studying this for over two decades is that, mostly (with some major exceptions), resistance to change comes down to one thing: Ignoring the Golden Rule. Specifically, failure to work backwards from the workforce’s perspective…AKA: Failure to be user-centered.”

Hopefully we marketers know this intrinsically … if our users (aka salespeople and customers) don’t like the change, it don’t sell.

But this is a good wake-up call, if you are finding yourself “managing change”, you are probably doing it wrong.

And more than a few people are saying bullshit behind your back.

(Always good stuff from the team at Hacking Work … click thru the link and read more!)

Why are trade pub pumping out more digital products?

Chasing the ‘new thing’ is always tempting … and risky. For the potential consumer of the ‘new thing’, the answer of whether it was the right answer is obvious. That’s why there is so much at stake on a movie’s opening weekend, for example.

And when we get pitches from B2B trade pub salespeople, you can oftentimes sense they don’t even know the true value of their newest e-product, except to their quota.

I had one salesperson show me download numbers for one such product. Numbers were well below three digits in most cases, yet he was calling them good. I don’t have time (or money) to try to reach 100 potential prospects (or really, suspects) with some customized product with a message I’m not sure I have ready to go. Sounds like work, not an opportunity.

So I found this post from advising what B2B trade pubs should be doing these days, titled: The time has passed for revenue-enhancing digital products.

“In essence, trying to invigorate the company by adding more digital products is just going to lead to more fatigue for everyone – and at best provide only incremental revenue gains.

The real opportunity – and the only real option – is to use digital tools to increase the organization’s footprint and prominence.”

Actually, this advice could go for any organization. It’s not an easy task to find the technology that fits with the organization’s strategy, but it’s going to have to be done. Let them do the work, bring me the opportunity. Make me want to line up on opening night, and make it a blockbuster!

How many ‘likes’ will they get?

I’ll be upfront: I really think that Social Media is a FAIL waiting to happen for any industrial B2B marketer who tries when it just doesn’t make sense.

Case in point is this email I received this morning, looking for Facebook ‘likes’:

So the best they can do is hang their hat on the most over-marketed charity (at a total donation of $2,500) to get folks like me who have NO IDEA about their company to follow them on Facebook.

The thing is, this marketing campaign itself isn’t well executed. Not horrible, but it gives me no confidence that their Facebook group is going to be active and interesting enough to ‘like’.

Well, I went ahead and clicked and ‘liked’ just to see what they were doing.

Bad news: I was Fan number 107. Looks like their page has been up for less than a month. (An hour after getting their email, the number has jumped to 109.)

Good news: The fan page ‘wall’ has been preloaded with active content from the last couple shows they supported. Even if most of the users are shills (other employees or family members), the activity may be of interest to folks going to shows frequently.

More likely, I think such a fan page may end up being of most interest to the employees of their company, and the folks that run trade-shows, who have a lot to chatter about at each event.

That said, this still begs the question: Why email people you don’t do business with? Why the charity hook? What is the real benefit to the fans? And is it all worth it to market to 109 people (minus the shills)?

Contact-us forms shouldn’t be WTF moments


I saw this bad ‘contact us’ form today. Then it went to ‘WTF’.

Why is it bad?

  • Well, all the model numbers listed without any context, of course.
  • The really lame qualification questions for “current need” or “future need”.
  • The lack of an opportunity for the prospect to say more than they are ‘interested in’ their products. I can only assume that by filling out the form you will get pricing info.

Then I got to the “salesman to call” question, where one of the two choices is “By Phone/Fax”.
Salesman to call … By fax???? WTF.

Okay, I can only guess that this form was set up with the intent of faxing pricing information (hence the request for your fax number). Certainly this form and method is outdated. And probably they think this form doesn’t perform well, and expect that the ecommerce part of their website is the primary lead collector.

(Yes, they do have ecommerce websites for their different products.) But quite a few prospects, speaking from experience, just jump to the contact-us page to submit what they need.

And when these action-oriented folk hit this contact page, as plain and ordinary as it appears, undoubtedly they are going to say WTF as they attempt to fill it out. They are going to have to HOPE that the normal sales process will get them pricing, or write a plea for what they need in the comments block.

Takeaway: Web forms should anticipate what the visitor wants, and give some expectation of what submitting the form will result in.

This form does neither, and thus fails.

Be in your environment

I was recently at the Semicon/Intersolar trade show in San Francisco. Seven days of walking to and from Moscone Center, going out, attending events, and spending time exploring the city. Except for one trolley ride, I walked everywhere. I doubled-down on ‘experience’ … the experience of the city, and the show.

Last year I blogged about how the show affected me, because of the positive feedback from our prospects and customers. This year I want to tell you about the people on the streets of San Francisco. And I mean PEOPLE, as in street-people.

Experience 1:

After dark one night, about a block from my hotel, alone at a corner. A black man, about a half-a-foot shorter than me, and ten years my senior called at me as he approached, “What you lookin’ for?” He wanted to make sure I didn’t make a wrong turn into a bad stretch of town. As he, Gerald, led me toward a nearby blues club (his idea, I played along), he mentioned he was homeless, and $15 would get him a room at the hostel for the night. I  gave him the twenty in my wallet. As we walked, he told me how a recent break-up had led to his being evicted.

Experience 2:

My last night there, upon stepping out of a bar and considering my path to the hotel, another homeless guy, about my age and height, also black, sidled up next to me and started a pleasant rap/chat. As much as he could go on without me, it was an interactive affair, and we ended up talking. He too, was honest about his situation, and I asked where he was staying. In a tent somewhere (where, I wondered, in the middle of a city). I gave him the two dollars in my wallet. He told me he was studying PHP during the day at a center or school somewhere in town.

Experience 3:

Having a coffee and breakfast wrap outside a cafe, a homeless woman approached. “Dollar for coffee” she repeated. At this point, I had no cash on me. She wandered about ten feet from me to pan-handle other patrons. It was horrible to look at her. She wore only dirty sweats and flip-flops. Her feet were as worn as the flip-flops. She was of small frame, and when she bent over (an action that I can’t explain why she did, but obviously to relieve her tired body, brain, and/or spirit) you could see her spine clearly across the back of her sweatshirt. Then I noticed the large dark ring in her pants … at some point she had wet herself. Her voice was high and empty; she repeated “dollar for coffee” as often as she dared.

Yes, she was hideous. It was hard to finish eating, and I wanted to do so in a hurry! My personal revelation was that no amount of money that would have been in my wallet would have made a difference. She needed thousands of dollars worth of assistance. She was in need of professional help. She needed more than I could give, and my mind was hopeful that SF had services in town to help her. God, they needed to! As I left, she bent over again, to pick up a cigarette butt. Ugh.

Why am I telling you this?

Too many people, too many times, walk past homeless people, street people. Not only because I was new, a tourist, but because I had chosen to be a part of the city environment did I notice and experience these people. As a marketing manager, it is my job to be in tune with the marketplace, and I guess that carries over to other things.

I appreciated the two men who asked me for money because they were willing to meet me as equals, and be honest about their needs. The woman was a wake up call, that not everyone on the street is getting by so well. Maybe my prose doesn’t tell my experience so well, but to me these were memorable interactions.

Bonus link:

One place to encounter homeless people safely is via Invisible People. Mark is formerly homeless and posts short video interviews of people he meets in the street and in shelters. He has several success stories, and each is an exciting victory for him. Most of the time, like me, he can only tell their story. Not every video is a sob story, but a real connection with human beings. Here is a sample:

Social media for B2B (or I have bigger fish to fry)

Sometimes I like to ‘connect the dots’. Ya know, see the big picture from the collected bits of information …

So I bring you three articles from the blogosphere that are instructive, quality posts about B2B marketing and the loathed social media marketing bubble (yes, I think we industrial marketers loath it):

1. Industrial Marketing Is Not Consumer Marketing by Mike Collins

As AJ (see article #2) says about this article, it is great and timeless. Mike identifies the challenges of industrial marketing (over consumer marketing):

  1. Product complexity
  2. Industrial buyers
  3. Bids and quotations
  4. Advertising and promotion
  5. Market information
  6. Industrial market research
  7. Product range

Really it comes down to the fact that we have to be skilled in marketing to a ‘niche of a niche’. The focus on providing useful information in B2B alone trumps focuses taught/required for consumer marketing.

This article is a great raison d’etre for the B2B marketer and back-up for anyone who questions what we do (and why). Go read it.

So, what’s that got to do with social media? Maybe you can see where this is headed. See the next article …

2. Are Social Media Right For All Manufacturers? Maybe Not by AJ Sweatt

AJ saw the same article by Mike Collins and went on a tangent about the fact that industrial marketing is so different, social media doesn’t make a lot of sense:

As I read Mike’s article, I realized it also provides compelling reasons why Social Media – despite its extraordinary adoption rates and promise – just aren’t up to the task of serving as many of the marketing requirements in industrial as they do today for consumer marketing.

Here are 3 weaknesses of social media when used primarily to serve the manufacturing & industrial buying cycles:

  1. Serving Discovery …the effort and resources necessary to ‘push’ messages with the cadence necessary to possibly connect with someone receptive to your product or services at the right time and in context are prohibitive
  2. Serving Research Behaviors …buying events around discrete custom parts manufacturing or capital equipment purchases are episodic to the extreme. They just don’t happen frequently, which can somewhat lessen the importance of the ‘conversational’ qualities of Social Media….
  3. Building/Sustaining your Brand …the traction manufacturers will see using these tools alone to do that will likely be disappointing because an industrial branding message won’t find large samplings of the right buyers on current Social Media platforms…

3. 6 Reasons Social Media Sucks, But You Need to Use It Anyway by Tom Pick

Great article title, and let’s just take a look at those reasons: why SM sucks:

  1. It’s full of self-promoters…
  2. It’s more of a place to interact with peers than to engage prospects…
  3. It’s an easy way to waste a lot of time…
  4. It means giving up one’s privacy…
  5. It’s just another avenue for spam…
  6. It’s hard to measure the ROI…

Tom does offer a tonic to these six sucks, six reasons why social media “is essential anyway”. I’ll not repeat that list, but it does hit some talking points you would expect from the SM blogosphere, although much more contrite and realistic. The point is, there is some positive value, but back to Mike’s article, it depends on the niche of a niche you are serving.

What’s Dave got to say?

Fresh sushi when visiting Japan (not fried)

Here are three cases I think SM may make sense:


  • Industrial products with high user customize/configure needs (programmable devices, for example).
  • Ongoing promotion to your customer base is a stategic part of your marketing (selling ad-ons, upgrades).
  • As part of a content marketing program (which, of course has its own needed justification).

That said, the capital equipment that I market doesn’t fit those cases, and there is a ton of work I could do within my traditional marketing tactics to support future sales … I’ve got bigger fish to fry!

What does the data mean?

Every time I open up Google Analytics, the glance over the home/overview page. A number of stats on this page are averages of user behavior. Wow! Look how busy my website is. However, what does all this mean?

Specifically, these two bug me: pages/visit & time-on-site. Are visitors so busy on our site because they are gobbling up the information … or are they just frantically clicking to find some nugget of info they want or need? In all likelihood, it is some mixture of both, but it makes these numbers pretty much useless for me.

But for those making decisions on data, assuming that they know why it is behaving that way could make some horrible mistakes. Thinking your site is ‘sticky’ when in fact it is horrible to navigate would be pretty bad.

So I direct you to this week’s episode of On The Media. Luckily, with only a glancing blow to Malcom Gladwell, the several stories in this show help remind us of the fagility of data-driven reporting and decision making.

Basically, it comes down to this: we don’t have data about the future.

The most fascinating story is the last, about the Decline Effect. This is from one of my favorite shows, Radio Lab. Radio Lab is great for bringing stories from the unknown, much about mind and nature behavior. In this case, the effect of test data declining for each iteration of a test. Really makes you wonder if being data-driven is smart at all!

Free advice from Google

Lucky me! My AdWords spend finally earned me a free consultation with a staffer from Google. I thought I’d share what I learned:

1. Use the ‘search terms’ version of your keyword screen/report to select to see ‘all’ the search terms being used by clickers. (See below)

2. For well-segmented (aka low-traffic) campaigns that can’t be set to CPA bidding, you can set to ‘Enhanced CPC’ for a more predictive bidding method designed to improve conversions.

3. Leah also suggested duplicating my campaigns targeting mobile traffic only. Makes sense to do this because: 1. Mobile users behave differently. 2. Mobile traffic may not have the same value as regular searchers. (This is something she could easily do for me, that would be a pain-in-the-neck otherwise.)

4. Finally, she suggested revisiting my ads. Yes, I optimized them a while back, but she suggested some freshness may help raise clicks. And, I guess, I might find a new approach that works better, as well.

What they say about free advice:

It’s just nice to have a pro look and agree that everything is pretty much in order and nothing stupid or out-of-place.

(5. Oh, and a final value to Google: she pointed out that my daily-spend limit was too low. I knew that, but was afraid to raise the limit again.)

You can call me marketing

I’ve just started working with a new sales manager for our company. Great guy, but it’s tough starting out. Somehow we need to get a rhythm and teamwork going toward the same goals.

My mind keeps slipping back to this video, one of my all-time favorites from when videos were new and cool.

Yes, it is marketing doing all the hard work, while sales gets to be the showy front-man. It all looks and feels a bit awkward.

However, sales does lip marketing’s words (which you might say is a moral victory, at least). And sales is all-too-happy to show off special tricks of marketing during the solos (ala “Hey! look at this great website our company has!”)

But in rewatching the video, I noticed that sales and marketing (aka Chevy Chase & Paul Simon) end up playing together. Yes, sometimes sales’ horn gets in marketing’s face–that’s to be expected. But they are playing together!

Looking forward to jamming it out, as we get going with our own song!