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Is B2B tech marketing forgetting its propositions’ real audience?

January 22, 2014 Categories: Best Practice

“We’re running an event for CIOs.”

“We want meetings with CIOs.”

“We only want to send the high-value DM to CIOs.”

Enough with that.

You may have read about the series we’ve put together looking at the forgotten IT audience.

In this feature, we’re looking at the IT Operations Director (similar and sometimes inter-changeable job title to the Head of Service Delivery or the Head of IT Infrastructure). After all, they’re the ones who often make the buying decision, and then have to work with it – and are ultimately accountable when anything goes wrong.


The IT Operations Director is responsible for the entire IT infrastructure and the overall task of ‘keeping the lights on’.

So, why aren’t we talking to them more?

A little bit of love

The IT Operations Director is likely to be responsible for the support desk. Have Head of IT Security on their case. And be facing demands from the App Development Director for a more agile infrastructure. With so much on their plate, it’s time marketing refocused its attention on giving these people some attention.

The great thing about the role (for us marketers, anyway) is that it covers nearly everything related to IT, and with a more hands-on approach than the CIO. So where a ‘this will make your life easier’ message might not work with the CIO, it could resonate at a much deeper level with the IT Operations Director.

Watch our SlideShare presentation to really get under the skin of the IT Operations Director (what they’re responsible for, who they interact with, what they care about and how they spend their days).

We’ve previously done similar profiles for the COO and CTO. If there are other titles you’d like us to cover, just leave a comment….

1 comment | Posted by Claire Chapman

Case study: Cisco connects with the public sector

January 2, 2014 Categories: Best Practice

Our recent campaign with Cisco Systems has been featured in B2B Marketing Magazine



The Public Services Network

In 2008, the Government launched the PSN – an ICT procurement framework designed to substantially reduce the cost of communication services across UK government and to enable new, joined-up and shared public services for the benefit of citizens. This will be achieved by creating one logical network, based on industry standards, resulting in a more open and competitive ICT marketplace.

The challenge

Many central government organisations have joined the PSN, but some local government and smaller public-sector organisations such as schools and blue light services have been slow to make the move. It was estimated that up to 40% were not fully aware of the benefits of procuring through the PSN. The perceived complexity and number of stakeholders involved only compounded the problem, leaving many organisations unsure how to progress.

As an indirect supplier to the PSN, Cisco decided to leverage its role as a trusted advisor to educate these organisations about the benefits of procuring through the PSN – ultimately creating an end-user preference for Cisco equipment.

You can read the full case study on the B2B Marketing Website 

No comments | Posted by Claire Lund

Evaluation criteria for marketing automation systems

December 18, 2013 Categories: Best Practice

Planning to implement a marketing automation system? Of course – it’s all the rage these days.

No doubt you’ve already mapped out in detail how you’ll be using it to support your marketing objectives? Excellent!

And built a change programme plan to make sure your organisation will be ready? Pleased to hear it.

But have you put together a list of criteria to evaluate the different vendors to compare the likes of Eloqua, Marketo, Pardot and Silverpop? No? Well then hopefully this list of 60-odd considerations will be useful…

No comments | Posted by Paul Everett

Direct mail: success is in the targeting

December 17, 2013 Categories: Best Practice

b2b direct mail best practice

We all know email’s handy. When we register for anything, email is often the default setting or our first choice over post or telephone. And it’s a cost-effective way for companies to market to their audience too – enabling a wider reach than ever before.

As a result, we receive less and less in the post. The Royal Mail predicts that the number of letters we receive will more than halve by 2023 compared to this year*. This means that when we do get something through the letter box, or a beautifully-crafted package is delivered, it’s always that bit more exciting than just receiving an email.

Take a closer look

To uncover the potential that direct mail holds in grabbing attention in today’s digital world, B2B Marketing magazine has put together a best practice guide with hints and tips from a group of experts.

I’ve contributed a section to the guide on targeting – in my mind the most important part of any marketing campaign.

After all, direct marketing obeys the same laws that govern all marketing. And that states that 40 percent of your success will be down to your targeting, 40 percent to your offer and 20 percent to your creative.

Read the full guide here to find out about getting your data in order, the art of segmentation, and getting past the gatekeeper (more affectionately known as the PA).

The opposite of lazy

Most of all, I want to reassure you that it’s not lazy campaigning to send a mail out to as few as ten people. It’s clever campaigning. After all, direct mail can be expensive, so the more drilled down the targeting, the better.


* The outlook for UK mail, volumes to 2023, PwC

No comments | Posted by Matt Hanks

What’s working in B2B Social Media? (December 2013 update)

December 16, 2013 Categories: Best Practice, Experiments

Wrapping up a busy year (again) for social media, we’ve pulled together a presentation sharing some of the most interesting research into how the B2B audience are using it. There are deep dives into Twitter and LinkedIn best practice as well as pull-outs like the 25 most social CIOs in the Fortune 250.

And there were three big updates in November that will be particularly interesting to track in 2014 (also summarised in the presentation):

LinkedIn showcase pages: these are sub-pages sitting under company pages on LinkedIn. If you have a range of different topics that your audience(s) might be interested in, this is a useful way of separating them out and providing specific feeds on each to LinkedIn followers. By way of an experiment, we’ve set one up on B2B social media: http://www.linkedin.com/company/b2b-social-media

Twitter Ads opened up to all businesses: so anyone with a Twitter account and a credit card can start promoting their tweets or their accounts. We’ve currently got an experiment running on this so we’ll share more in January. One less well-known feature is the lead gen card, which lets you directly capture the email address of a Twitter user (if the user wants you to get in touch, or to subscribe to your newsletter or attend an event etc).

Facebook custom audience advertising now available to all businesses: there’s one particularly intriguing option where you can upload a list of customer/prospect email addresses and target ads to them IF they use that same email address to login to Facebook. There are some big questions about this – how many people use their business email addresses as Facebook logins (maybe more in SMB than Enterprise companies)? How would people feel about being targeted on Facebook? We look forward to testing it to answer some of the questions…

No comments | Posted by Paul Everett

Who is the real Matt Hanks?

December 13, 2013 Categories: Best Practice, Experiments

So the second of our ‘Data, Metaphorically Speaking’ videos has gone live this week. I hope you enjoy it!

I thought it’d be a good time to address a couple of potentially career-limiting questions…

Is the character in the films really me?

I’d say ‘no’ – it’s all the invention of a couple of twisted individuals with too much time on their hands: Tom Upfold and Paul Everett.

But if you ask Tom, he’ll tell you it’s only so easy to write the scripts because he can imagine me saying/doing everything in them. And Paul puts it more poetically:

“…like an infinity pool overlooking the sea, it’s impossible to tell where the real Matt Hanks stops and the Chief Data Smoother begins…”


Why did I agree to do it?

I think data’s going to be the most important discipline in B2B marketing over the next few years. If we don’t start treating it more strategically, then effective marketing will basically grind to a halt.

‘Content is King’ is the marketing catchphrase right now – but if you don’t know who’s accessing your content, can’t keep track of what they do next, and don’t treat them properly when they do get in touch with you, then I don’t see the point in producing it.

Even more basically, if you don’t know who your customers are, who your best prospects are, how they’ve been responding to your marketing, and which marketing activities are working best – and if you can’t tie this in to your sales CRM systems for follow-up – then you may as well call it a day.

And it’s surprising how many people talk about the potential of ‘big data’ who are several years away from properly managing their ‘little data.’

Anyway, I’ve written lots about this in various data and direct mail best practice guides. (There’s a shameless plug straight from the Chief Data Smoother’s playbook!) And when Paul and Tom suggested these couple of videos I did worry that I wanted people to take data more seriously not less. But the point is that I suspect (hope) that these videos will reach more people than any whitepaper will – and anything that gets people thinking about data is a good thing.

It may be a bit tongue-in-cheek (ok, a lot) but I also like the way it doesn’t play on the whole data ‘geek’ idea. I’ve got a team of brilliant people and – with only a couple of exceptions – you wouldn’t describe any of them as ‘geeks’. If data’s going to step out of the back office and contribute more to marketing strategy, it’s like we say in the first film: “we can’t make data sexy, but we can make it smoother”

It’s early days still but based on the comments we’ve had so far I think it’s working. But I am getting a bit concerned about what situation they’ll dream up to put me in next. I’m hoping something based on a set of spa treatments but expect it’ll be boxing or something  like that.

Any questions or ideas for future films, I’d love to hear from you!


No comments | Posted by Matt Hanks

Want to see the CEO? See the COO first…

December 13, 2013 Categories: Best Practice

My mum always told me to aim for the very top.

But she never clinched that lucrative deal with the head of a blue-chip company.

The main reason, apart from the fact she never worked in B2B marketing, is that finding the right ‘way in’ to the C-Suite is a very tricky business. Especially when the real source of power is often somewhere entirely different than the ‘usual suspects’ of CEO, CFO and CIO.

If you’re looking to address the strategic, transformational goals of a blue-chip organisation, there may be someone else you should be talking to – and there’s every chance your competition aren’t doing it properly yet either…

Set your sights on the COO.

COOOften overlooked as a key to opening the C-suite door, the Chief Operating Officer is usually the leading strategist on the Executive Board – the right-hand man (or woman) of the CEO and in charge of bringing the corporate vision to life.

Their day-to-day role is focused on a wide-range of challenges – Deloitte paints the picture of a jack-of-all-trades and a master-of-all-trades too. From reducing operational costs and delivery times, to growing revenues department by department.

If enhanced business models and processes are part of your business vernacular, the COO should the first person you talk to. If your strong suit is carefully considered business transformation, the COO will always be eager to listen.

The thing is, very few marketers seem to know how important the COO really is or how best to talk to them. So, there’s a real opportunity to make a valuable C-level relationship ahead of the competition.

Which is why, following on from our SlideShare summary of the CTO (another often-overlooked contact), we’ve done the same for the COO:

1 comment | Posted by Paul Everett

Data best practice: As featured in B2B marketing magazine.

December 12, 2013 Categories: Best Practice

Really? I mean, really? Are we still having these discussions, 80 years after they launched the Littlewoods mail order catalogue?

Who among us does not recognise the value of data? (In my day, we called them mailing lists.) And yet, and yet…

Our Head of Data, Matt Hanks has contributed to B2B Marketing magazine’s Best Practice Guide on data. As you would expect, it’s a study in common sense, innovative thinking and professionalism.

I’ve been asked to write a blog about it, to bring your attention to it. But it’s touched a nerve, because I get deeply frustrated and confused about attitudes to data, and direct marketing in general.

I came into the industry just as the sun was setting on the golden age of advertising. The term ‘database marketing’ was being bandied around as the next big thing. Then Stan Rapp, the Rapp in Rapp & Collins, published his book “Maxi Marketing”, which foretold a time when all marketing would be micro-marketing on a mass scale.

Well, here we are, 35 years on from that prophecy and we’re still having to persuade marketers to invest properly in their data.

The trouble is, it’s a bit unglamorous. Why pump money into names and addresses – oh, and spending patterns, demographics, tastes and preferences and any number of other refinements – when you can blow it all on a cool animated video to put on Vimeo? Or getting more Facebook ‘Likes’?

I’m a copywriter. I’m as creative as the next man. (Actually, looking to my left, the next man is a woman and she’s more creative than me.) But I’d happily have most of my budget taken away and spent on getting the data spot on.

I don’t want to write copy that lands in the wrong inbox, or on the wrong desk. Or, even worse, have people responding to my content but not being captured, tracked and – as the new jargon has it – ‘nurtured’.

The buzz I get from my job as a marketer (and copy is a branch of marketing – or, strictly, sales) is knowing that today, something I wrote might persuade someone to talk to one of my clients.

But no matter how persuasive my copy is, it’s not going to work if it’s not relevant, valuable and fresh for the person who receives it. So the data has to be right.

Anyway, the point is, read the B2B Marketing Best Practice Guide. Especially Matt’s bit. You can get it here Data: Best Practice Guide.

Because if you’re not making proper use of the single most powerful asset available to you as a marketer, what ARE you doing?

No comments | Posted by Stuart Constable

O2 Enterprise appoints The Marketing Practice in three year deal to handle B2B account

December 4, 2013 Categories: At the Barn

Coverage of our new contract with O2 Enterprise from The Drum:


No comments | Posted by Claire Lund

A big night at the B2B Awards 2013

November 28, 2013 Categories: At the Barn

Some of us are still nursing bruises from the dodgems and hangovers from the celebrations after we picked up the most awards (3 wins and 2 runners-up) of any agency at the B2B Marketing Awards last week. It was a great reward for our team and winning clients at AXA, Atos, Canon and O2.

No comments | Posted by Monika Lazarowicz