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Lights Out Marketing

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by: Will Schnabel (@wschnabel)
07 March 2008

For those of you who missed it, the annual DMA B-to-B Marketing Conference was held this week in Orlando, Florida.  The title for this year's event was New Marketing Techniques (Leads x Conversion x Retention) = Higher Profits3.

As usual, this conference was filled with thought leaders and experienced practitioners in the area of BtoB branding, lead generation, and overall marketing strategies.  All gathered to share knowledge in their quest to improve their own marketing efforts and generate better returns for their organizations. 

Within this setting, I was lucky enough to be asked to present on the topic of data segmentation and personalization as it relates to ongoing demand generation. As any speaker knows, practice is key, and I had reviewed my presentation a number of times prior to my session. Given the 75 degree weather (as opposed to the March chill I left in Minnesota) and the site of a pool just outside the windows of the conference center, I knew I would have to keep the discussion as lively as possible to maintain the attention of the attendees. However, what I didn't expect was 15 minutes into my presentation, there would be a full power failure. Now, this wasn't just with the AV equipment, or in the microphone going off, this was a full hotel black out. And once the power returned, it happened again...and again.

As I stood in the dark and continued to execute my presentation (helped by a very, very understanding group of attendees) it dawned on me that this was somewhat indicative of the approach more and more companies are using in their lead generation campaigns. Having automated processes that run on auto-pilot, in a 'lights-out' fashion, allows a marketing department to spend more time in high value activities. As well, the timing of when we respond to a prospect should be based on the prospect's timeframe, not ours. The only way to successfully enable that is through pre-arranged, automated campaigns that run around the clock.

This concept was underscored the next morning as I listened to a case study presented by Babcock and Jenkins and their client Ciena. In this presentation, Lauren Goldstein, vice president of strategic planning at B&J, and Daniela Szymczak, marketing cultivation manager for Ciena, highlighted the success of a global, multi-channel campaign as part of a key new product launch. From planning the measurable goals of the campaign, to targeting and list acquisition, to the development of a global theme and multi-mode creative, all the way through a structured nurture program for generated leads, it was clear that the timing and coordination of all the pieces were critical to the campaign's success. By designing a campaign flow which included a series of communication tracks and follow-up activities, they were able to capture and nurture leads in an automated fashion, no matter where in the world the lead came from or from which channel it originated. 

In the next day's luncheon session, Yuchun Lee, CEO of Unica, discussed the impact of the Internet on cross-channel marketing. In his talk, Mr. Lee mentioned that from his experience, leading marketing organizations are executing up to 50 percent of their demand creation activities through automated, 'lights-out' processes.

Coincidental?  I think not. It is becoming clear that well defined, automated nurturing campaigns are the cornerstone of a successful demand generation strategy. And, they allow you as a marketer to sleep well at night knowing you are delivering more qualified leads and increased revenues for your organization. 

All while the lights are out.




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