When I launched my business in Personal Branding for the CXO community, it drew a variety of responses:
1. “That’s very interesting...”
2. “Is it PR?”
3. “Personal Branding? Wow, that’s very unique.”
4. “Is it the same as Image Management?”
5. “Oh! So what exactly is it?”
6. “Definitely needed!”
7. “Do I really need it?”
8. “My boss needs it. Can you help?”
Questions 2, 4 & 5 jumped out as ‘Important’ & Urgent’, so I’ll start with those.
“Is it PR?”
Personal Branding is definitely not PR. The primary function of PR (Public Relations) is to create a favorable impression among the public, about a company and its products or services, by managing what goes into third-party media. Personal Branding is about helping an individual to evolve into a distinct personal brand through a strategic set of actions. Depending on the goal, PR may or may not be leveraged to augment the Personal Branding effort.
“Is it the same as Image Management?”
No, Personal Branding is not the same as Image Management. Image Management is about “keeping up and managing outwardly appearances”. It would involve – creating impressions, including a strong first impression, where you are seen, how you are dressed, what company and gadgets you keep, your style statement and so on. A Personal Branding strategist may recommend some actions related to Image Management as part of a comprehensive Personal Branding strategy. But it is not compulsory.
Personal Branding is also not...
Personal Branding is also not about making false claims, self-promotion or hyper visibility on social media (hyper tweeple, please take note).
“So what exactly is it?”
Here’s my definition - Personal Branding is the creation of a distinct identity for an individual through the process of discovering, demonstrating and articulating the individual’s unique value-offering.
Discovering – Which means you already have the attributes and therefore Personal Branding does not involve fake claims.
Demonstrating – It is not enough to have unique talents and capabilities. It is important to consistently demonstrate and deliver. So, you first walk the talk.
Articulating – Then you talk the walk. Only when you ‘Do’, ‘Demonstrate’ and ‘Deliver’ will you have the edge to communicate, share and discuss.
Unique – If your attributes, contribution etc., are not unique to you, then you cannot be a brand. Differentiation is key.
Value-offering – Simply having something unique about you, like wearing a pocket watch, does not make you a brand. Whatever is distinct should also be recognized for delivering true value. No value, no brand. A distinct ‘image’ at best.
“My Boss needs it. Can you help?”
I didn’t quite expect to hear this as often as I did. It seemed amusing initially. But I soon gathered that in this question lies a compelling case for Personal Branding (for leaders).
Be back soon to discuss the “Why” of Personal Branding.
In the meanwhile, what’s your question for Personal Branding?
Delivering the Punch: The Final Part of B2B Lead Generation & Nurturing
This is the final part of a four-part series, with nuggets for the beginner from a Practitioner’s Dossier.
Click on the links below, if you missed PARTS 1, 2 & 3
PART 1 - ‘THE HUNT’
PART 2 – ‘THE COURTSHIP’
PART 3 – ‘THE QUALIFICATION’
THE FINAL STAGE: ‘DELIVERING THE PUNCH’
It is easy for marketing to relegate itself into the ‘support’ function, especially in the final stages of the lead’s lifecycle. A good marketer however delivers crucial punches at every stage, including in the final laps, to strongly influence the last mile.
PACKING IN THE PUNCHES: FLIPPING CHARTS VS CREATING EXPERIENCE
Dialoging during the final stages is usually spread over several weeks. This throws up plenty of opportunities to make a significant difference. The B2B marketer must actively explore the various touch points, to create customer experience, to reinforce key messages.
It might be fashionable to huff and puff about doing away with the Power Point. Instead of pontificating, get cracking to make a smart deck. Or make your presentation on a flash demo. Or go the extra length to capture your story on a 3 to 4 minute film to convey your message. This works especially in the last rounds, when it is least expected.
After being short-listed to the last 3 vendors in a multi-million dollar deal, a B2B organization decided to do away with the Power Point for the final pitch. The strategy, capability, agility – everything was demonstrated and brought alive on a video. Everything in the film was specific to the prospect’s business (a world no. 3 in its domain), the problem and the ‘how’ of the solution. When the deal was awarded to this organization over two larger and higher ranked vendors, the film had clearly played a crucial part in getting across the right message, in the right manner, when it had mattered most.
MAKING IT PRETTY V/S MAKING IT CUTTING-EDGE
Every effort goes to make the whole. But stop to check if you have prioritized and aligned efforts with time and resource availability. Theory and methodology are good for generic collateral. Whether it is for an RFP or for the final presentation, pull out all stops to earn credibility. Reducing costs, improving efficiency or increasing customer satisfaction, whatever the promise – show how you will deliver it. Here lies the edge.
THEORY VS REALITY
Every good marketing organization knows that the pitch in the last mile requires a razor sharp approach. The prospect visit to vendor campus affords an excellent opportunity to create a differentiation and make an impression. Instead of the customary board room huddles weaved in with working luncheons and center/campus walk-throughs, you can turn the entire visit on its head as strategic capability showcase program.
Dedicate at least half a day where sales, marketing and your top leadership will take the back seat. Orchestrate an “Expertise where it matters” program and get your project leaders, engineers, developers, customer service reps – the people who will be handling the nuts and bolts of the program – to have solid interaction hours with the visiting prospect team.
WAITING VS ENGAGING:
Once the key discussions and presentations are over, it is time to wait and it is usually the sales team that is in touch with the prospect. However, marketing can come up with refreshing tactics to keep the prospect engaged during this period. A dedicated micro site with high knowledge content and interactive / DIY pages will add a strong element of stickiness and credibility. Marketing should also work closely with sales during this period to address concerns proactively.
Whatever you do, keep them engaged and reinforce your promise in different ways.
WIN OR LOSE - FOCUS ON THE LESSONS LEARNED
Irrespective of the end result, the opportunity to learn is immense. Post deal win-loss analysis is common. However, make sure that you go back to the lessons regularly to absorb, reflect and learn.
When your ‘lead’ does the front-flip successfully to become a ‘deal’ – go ahead, celebrate and reinforce that a good marketing organization leads first (pun unintended) and supports next.
This exclusive guest post was written by Azra Fathima who is a branding and communication specialist and regularly blogs at http://az-azrasblog.blogspot.com. You can also follow her on twitter atwww.twitter.com/azrafathima.
Image Courtesy: duchesssa
This is the 3rd part of a four-part series on B2B Lead Generation with nuggets for beginners from a Practitioner’s Dossier.
Click on the links below, if you missed PARTS 1 & 2
Part 1 - ‘THE HUNT’
Part 2 – ‘THE COURTSHIP’
STAGE 3 – ‘THE QUALIFICATION’
A lot is already written and available on lead scoring and qualification. So, this Part will not be drilling once again into the methodology. Rather, it will add tidbits and insights for the marketer on post campaign lead scoring and qualification.
In the last post, we discussed successful lead courting and ended on the note that a robust lead qualification system is required before declaring a lead as Hot or Qualified!
The ‘signals’ that your prospect gives you about ‘being interested’ will depend on multiple factors.
Here are some nuts and bolts to build a sound framework, to judge prospect signaling, in response to marketing campaigns & activities, and tag/score it accordingly.
1. Lead Definitions: Different companies use lead scoring & qualification terms differently. Make sure you understand the nomenclature and what it means in your marketing organization. A Document Download could be tagged as ‘Warm Lead’ for Organization A and as ‘Hot Lead’ for Organization B.
Clearly define the qualifying parameters for each of the terminologies – Suspect, Prospect, Warm, Hot, Qualified, Opportunity and Converted.
2. Channel / Media Differentiation: Given that marketing campaigns use different media and channels, lead definitions will automatically vary for different channels. In this author’s experience, scoring leads from events / webinars and web traffic is more complex than email and telemarketing campaigns. It becomes important, therefore, to have a clear description, preferably on a Channel-Definition Matrix.
A simple formula that I used - ‘Interest-Involvement-Intention’ served well as a first-level filter. Below are some examples:
- A prospect who registers for a demo and shares valuable information like business email and phone numbers will be tagged differently from the one who simply clicks a link to auto download a white paper. Both are responses to CFA. However, when you check the response against the above formula, you will have a better grasp at response scoring.
- You send your sales people to attend an on-site event. Post a prospect meeting, who do you declare as warm or hot, how and why?
- What web traffic patterns and analytics will qualify a visitor as warm or hot? Get your stats and analytics experts to help you in this process.
3. Sales Sign-off: Discuss, clarify and sign-off the lead scoring process with your sales team. This will ensure that every lead that is declared as Hot, Qualified or Converted – will not only have the sales nod, but will also give marketing immense credibility.
4. Expectation-setting: Expectation setting with sales and other key stakeholders is equally important during a campaign and this has to be initiated by marketing.
Example: Marketing spends big budgets in sponsoring events and securing attendee tickets/passes for sales. Spell out what is expected out of sales, how many prospect meetings they are required to do etc. If this process is not driven and followed through rigorously, crucial leads will be lost and marketing will end up answering a lot of unpleasant questions on ROI.
5. Lead Tracking: Losing sight of a lead especially between various teams of a sales and marketing organization (including pre-sales and cold calling) is a constant threat and hugely frustrating for marketing folks. You’ll need to ensure that the different technologies – CRM, SaaS, campaign management, database management etc., - used by sales and marketing are talking to each other (and if possible, seamlessly). This will help minimize lead management pain. Better still, invest in a single-window technology to feed, update, score, flag and access lead data, its status in the sales lifecycle, next steps and ownership.
Work for marketing does not end once a lead is declared ‘Hot’ or ‘Qualified’. High impact, value marketing will continue, with tailored programs, to support a lead in its journey across every stage of the sales life cycle.
For more nuggets on how marketing can play a key role during pre-sales/bid/RFP, centre/site visits and final presentations, watch this space next week for the final part - DELIVERING THE PUNCH.
This exclusive guest post was written by Azra Fathima who is a branding and communication specialist and regularly blogs at http://az-azrasblog.blogspot.com. You can also follow her on twitter atwww.twitter.com/azrafathima.
This is Part II a four-part series about B2B Lead Generation with nuggets for beginners from a Practitioner’s Dossier.
If you missed PART I – ‘THE HUNT’, click here.
STAGE 2 – ‘THE COURTSHIP’
After the hunt, begins the nurturing of a lead. This is a prospect contact program that requires a strenuous and unwavering focus on every communication that is going out to targeted members in the prospect organization.
So what makes lead courting successful?
1. Content. Customization. Creativity.
a. Content: Knowledge-driven content is powerful ammo in the marketer’s arsenal. Share (with your prospect) insights, data, findings - what you saw, what you observed; your learnings; keep them coming back for more with white papers, articles, reports, webinars and blogs.
Generating knowledge-driven content is one of the biggest headaches for marketing. Ensure that you have a robust system in place that allows your leaders and Subject matter experts (SMEs) to contribute to a calendared content plan.
Marketing can also do its bit for developing meaningful content. Make sure a specialist business author within or hired by your organization is crafting the pieces that are meant to strike at the heart of your prospect issues. Prospect content, unlike routine/generic collateral, has a singular focus – to create stickiness and generate consistent, positive response.
All the research that you did in ‘The Hunt’ stage will now pay off. Armed with insights and info, your lead nurturing campaigns can be customized to the last detail. (Read more below in item b - ‘Customize’).
b. Customize: Every prospect is different. Address them, their business, their pain and your solution individually and watch them (and your sales organization) fall in love with you.
Email campaigns, if done well, will allow for intimate customization. You can tailor your prospect email campaign on every possible aspect – name, title/role, subject line, a recent prospect event (award, speech, interview etc.), industry/vertical, language & spellings.
Here are some examples:
Example 1: “I was browsing your website and was deeply impressed by your highly interactive and user-friendly customer care portal....”
Example 2: A pin-pointed subject line for an individual company - “Supporting ABC to deliver a superior customer experience to its 21 million customers”.
Example 3: Get deep for geo & regional sensitivities. This is not just restricted to differences in (UK & American spellings). For example, using the term “bespoke solutions” is good for APAC & UK and highly avoidable for American audiences. Same goes for “kind regards” for the sign-off. If your marketing organization does not already have one, initiate a repository of words, terms etc., which addresses these sensitivities.
Example 4: Keep the tone conversational – “Hi Barry, last week I had the opportunity of meeting with several executives from top telecom organizations at the XYZ event, in Atlanta. Most agreed that reducing call center staff while improving CSAT continued to be a top priority....”
Ensure that you invest in superior campaign management software that supports intimate customization with minimum headaches and is able to deliver maximum insights with analytics.
Planning content for events deserves equal focus:
- Make the event theme / topic very pin-pointed.
- Practitioner-driven events / webinars are always a big hit. Your prospects will love listening to and getting insights from their peers and co-practitioners.
- Ask a happy client to join you on stage to discuss and present a success story. This will give your organization valuable ‘face-time’ while softening the ‘vendor pitch’.
c. Creativity: Whether reading your email, collateral or attending your events – the time your prospect has is valuable. Look for an out-of-box approach in social media campaigns, product demos, people, venue, agenda, and formats - to make it valuable, memorable and interesting for your audience.
All rules are well-known and understood in theory. However, their disciplined application is key and timing is no different. It comes with an intimate understanding of your business and your customer:
- Do you know the prospect business and purchase cycle?
- What is your prospect vendor’s (and your competitor’s) deal term?
- What are the best campaign months for you and for them?
- Do you know the best days to send an email, or do a breakfast event or host a webinar?
- What would be the best business hour for your prospect to receive your mail or newsletter in the inbox and why?
Receiving positive signals from a prospect during courtship is thrilling and hugely satisfying. But before you pump your fist in the air or do a high-five, make sure that you have a robust qualification system to declare a lead as Hot or Qualified!
Watch this space next week to read STAGE 3 – THE QUALIFICATION
Image Courtesy: katagaci
This is a four-part series about B2B Lead Generation with nuggets for beginners from a Practitioner’s Dossier.
The business of Lead Generation and Nurturing, like account management, is a fine art of courtship... a labor of love.
It requires a thorough and intimate knowledge of the prospect organization; a well thought-out contact / relationship-building plan and oodles of patience and persistence – usually lasting two to three quarters, to help sales bag that $X million deal.
Here are some nuggets, on the strategic marketer’s role for successful Lead Generation:
STAGE 1 – ‘THE HUNT’:
- Organization List. After your prospect list has been whetted by a robust methodology, every prospect account should be profiled in the most intimate fashion.
- Prospect Profiling. Caution! While profiling, do not fall into that monstrous and all-familiar account management template trap here. B2B lead generation is time-bound and therefore prospect profiling requires a different approach – quick, clever and result-oriented.
- Profiling Strategy. While creating the prospect profile, see if you can adopt the – ‘Honey, I shrunk the company’ – theme. Taking a leaf from the Japanese Bonsai craft, you should come up with a full-bodied prospect dossier, cleverly crafted and presented in the briefest possible manner. A craft that every strategic marketer should learn.
- Presenting the Prospect Profile. Using strategic marketing resources, you should compress the entire prospect story (for sales and top management consumption) in not more than 5 to 6 slides.
Here’s how the Bonsai Prospect Profile should ideally look like:
- Slide 1: ‘Standard Overview’ - Key Facts; Key Executives (carefully mapped to your areas of business interest; Spend more time extracting detailed information on SVP, VP and Director level people in LOBs); Recent Strategic Announcements; Revenues & Business Performance; Top competitors.
- Slide 2: Business Overview with key details. Some organizations (especially those in the BFSI segment) are extremely complex in structure. Look at acquisitions, Lines of Business, geo presence etc., and present it crisply. The key here is to simplify. The more complex the prospect organization structure, the more attention you should pay to simplify it and tell the story well.
- Slides 3/4: These will be the meat slides – rich with detailing. These will cover prospect strategy – overall and specific to your area of business.
- Look at prospect annual reports
- Study analyst calls and listen carefully to CXO responses for key take-aways.
- Talk to relevant people in your network.
- Slide 5: The slide that your sales will love – Key Delineations, mapped to specific business opportunities (a product, solution, offering from your organization).
- Avoid an over-reliance on buying lists of key contacts. Marketing, sales and inside sales / cold calling teams should come together to create a focused database.
- Scrub for relevancy & accuracy.
- Slice and dice the contacts by vertical / job title & role / geo etc.
- Don’t forget to get a sign-off by sales on the final contact list.
Was that simple & so familiar? Now comes the tough, but an interesting part.
Watch this space, next week, for Stage 2 of B2B Lead Generation – ‘THE COURTSHIP’.
This exclusive guest post was written by Azra Fathima who is a branding and communication specialist and regularly blogs at www.az-azrasblog.blogspot.com. You can also follow her on twitter atwww.twitter.com/azrafathima.
Image Courtesy: ahylton
I wrote this blog a few days back and it seems that the timing is just perfect. Airtel unveiled its new logo today. I have been a loyal customer of Airtel for the last 4 years and here's my verdict, as a customer - "I don't care. It doesn't excite me. I am not sure what difference it makes in my life." And I want to ask Airtel - "What's in it for me?" I upgraded to a new Android smart phone last weekend and I am still unable to get my mail box set up because Airtel does not have a GPRS support number that can be dialed from a landline. Every time I call their support team they patiently tell me that my phone will not be able to download the mailbox settings, while it is in use and therefore I will need to call them from another mobile. So, till I can request someone to part with their mobile phone for at least 20 minutes, I will be left without a mail box.
That was the customer perspective. Below is a brand and marketing professional's perspective.
The logo is not the brand. Most of us know it. Still, we obsess with what I refer to as brand cosmetology - the theory, design, color/placement protocols etc., of the logo and other brand expressions.
“Thou shalt not place the logo anywhere, except in its lawful recommended position” admonishes the Brand Guideline book.
The question is - who really cares? Customers are not going to look at the blue of your logo and think “That’s a reliable company”. Employees are not going to look at some imagery on your website and say “Wow! They are innovative. I will join them”. Business partners will not see your award-winning logo design and say “That’s a bold, innovative company. We’ll do business with them”. If you have carefully chosen green or yellow to convey something, the customer is still going to see red in a moment of poor experience. A shift in its recommended print position is not going to jeopardize brand loyalty.
Still, brand cosmetology swallows up precious time, money and energy.
What If -
1. We re-deploy our energies to where the brand truly resides – in the experience of the customer?
2. We re-order the Brand Rule Book to simply focus on the non-negotiable principles of customer value?
3. The Brand manager says – “We don’t mind where you place the logo in the ad. But you better not mess with customer experience”?
4. We say no to spending millions of dollars on designing or re-designing the company logo?
5. We do not explain the logo form or color rationale and let each brand experience convey the real story?
6. We do away with the text and theory and let proof points demonstrate our brand value?
7. What if we talk less and do more?
News of the Super Bug, named NDM 1 (New Delhi M-1) broke and gathered momentum in just 4 days last week. We went from mild curiosity to sheer panic. Brand India is already battling issues and negativity – the recent CWG quagmire - among others.
We certainly didn’t need this report to bug India further.
What caused the headlines and the scare was that the Super Bug Report has been published by ‘Lancet’ – one of the world’s most respected Medical Journals. This would mean that the thriving Medical Tourism / Medical Value Travel to India would be hit in a big way.
Quickly recognizing the urgency, Barkha Dutt of 24x7NDTV, put together a discussion on her Talk Show – “We the People” that was aired on August 15th. An eminent panel * was invited to discuss the topic.
What unfolded as a discussion for the next 60 minutes was a worthy example of how Brand India was upheld by panel members from the Indian Medical Fraternity and other professionals in related fields.
Here’s how Brand India was upheld + some take-aways:
1. The panelists simplified the medical jargon for laymen to understand what the Super Bug report was all about. The simplification was underscored by a brilliant prowess in articulation and communication skills by the panel members.
Take-away for marketing folks: Simplify; Simplify; Simplify.
2. While some of the panelists were visibly upset about the methodology etc., they were neither self-defensive nor offensive. With a clear presentation of facts, they questioned the sample size and methodology of the report (just 37 across 2 cities) and asked if this was enough to say that India as a whole has anti-biotic resistance?
They questioned the basis of the Travel Advisory against India issued by the Medical Journal, when, in fact, antibiotic resistance has been prevalent world-wide and has been worrying the medical world for a long time.
They put the question back to the Medical Journal and asked if it had issued an Advisory to UK citizens against visiting UK hospitals when the UK was hit by MRSA.
Without arrogance or false pride, they made a case for Indian Medicine and why Indian medical prowess was equal or higher, and not just cheaper, than any other country in the world.
This panel demonstrated remarkable maturity and restraint, despite the anger and frustration in what they saw as an unfair setback to India’s remarkable and genuinely earned Medical Tourism.
A take-away for our politicians towards Brand India’s up-keep: Please keep out the ugliness of word, gesture and action in your debates and discussions. Brand India goes down every time our electronic media give you air time.
The panel members had the vision to look beyond the negatives of the Report. They unequivocally agreed that the Lancet Study served a more important purpose – that of introspection and speedy action for India in the field of Medical Hygiene – an area where a lot needs to be done.
These members gave their audience something to think about - Have the courage to pause and look for a take-away, even if it the result/scenario is not palatable. Own up and admit to failures; Come together. Collaborate. Take action.
A big salute and thank you to the eminent panel members – you did Brand India proud.
*Panelists on this show included : Dr. Naresh Trehan - Chairman & MD, Medanta-Medicity; K Sujata Rao – Health Secretary; Dr. K Srinath Reddy, President – Public Health Foundation of India; Dr. Ram Subramaniam and Dr. Abdul Ghafur Khan, both associated with Apollo Hospital, Chennai and Dr. Padma Krishnan from the College of Microbiology, Chennai. Also invited was Prof Thomas R Walsh – Professor, School of Medicine, Cardiff University, who led the study based out of Bristol.
Here’s how Brand India was upheld + some take-aways - http://bit.ly/ckgfWv