Turning the Funnel on it’s side: Madlibs with Ardath Albee

Ardath is one of the best in the business on content marketing. When I was first getting started, I literally read everything she wrote. Over the years, she has continued to be a great resource for me. She is always trying to find ways to teach not just preach which I appreciate. So, with that…I present to you our recent addition of MadLib: Ardath Albee

    1. The b2b buyer is  self-interested, in control, with split personalities which can make them elusive.B2B buyers are committees of people trying to solve complex problems and doing so their own way until they find an option they feel confident enough about to invite vendors into conversation.

    2. The biggest innovation in marketing is flipping the focus from ourselves and our products to our customers and their problems.Seriously. It changes everything.
    3. The coolest thing happening in b2b marketing is  the ability to become a publisher across an expansive set of channels our customers find engaging.
    4. My favorite marketing book is  eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale. You didn’t say I couldn’t pick my own book ☺ I’d also suggest Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey as a strategic guide for content strategy that puts your customer (hero) at the heart of the story your company is telling and helps you understand how to orchestrate progression.
    5. My favorite social media channel is LinkedIn. If you want to know who you’re selling to, it’s a great resource. Where else can you go, ask questions, and get them answered by someone who could become your customer? (in more than 140 characters)
    6. Social media for b2b ischanging the dynamic for marketing. From planned out campaigns orchestrated months ahead of execution to real-time responsiveness, social media demands that marketers learn new skills and adopt new mindsets. Marketing is now a continuum.
    7. b2b video is still pretty bad.Due to the hard-to-illustrate nature of b2b products and solutions, video beyond talking heads is still hard to produce for b2b companies without a large budget or in-house talent. Well, actually compelling video with talking heads is also hard to produce.
    8. In b2b, the idea of a funnel is turning on its side and losing its defined shape. (No reference to Craig, btw) The assumption that we pour leads in at the top and force them to come out the bottom as customers has always bothered me. Buyers move freely and at will into and out of the buying process. A marketer’s job is to engage them enough to have them choose to take the next step with them.
    9. The first thing every marketer should do is get to know your customers. Why is this so hard? I’m not even sure how you develop content for someone you don’t know. Which is why marketers revert to talking about their products and solutions – because they know those pretty darn well.
    10. Content marketing is misunderstood and getting a bad rap. Content marketing is not about creating a ton of mediocre content and pushing it out the door just so that you continuously have something new in front of an audience. It’s about creating content about something your audience cares about that motivates them to take next steps toward doing business with your company. Big difference.
    11. The biggest mistake marketers make is holding on to the way they’ve always done marketing.Marketers must adapt, learn new skills and embrace new channels holistically. Even email – a tactic that’s been in use for years – requires a fresh approach.
    12. The biggest myth in b2b marketing is that a form completion is representative of a lead generated that must be followed up by sales.Nope. Nada. No.
    13. My favorite marketing technology besides marketing automation is analytics. We’ve never had more opportunity to learn about our prospects and customers, their behavior and our marketing performance. But we need to think outside the norm to get the most out of the data.
    14. Besides revenue, the metric every marketer must track is conversion.There are many conversions made during the b2b buying process. What I care about is deciphering what each one means, how it impacts pipeline momentum and how each one contributes to revenue creation.
    15. My most forgettable marketing experience is… I don’t know. I’ve forgotten it. But seriously, it was a client who said all the right things but then refused to execute after we’d worked together to develop a killer content strategy. That was really disappointing.
    16. Mobile marketing is not as high on b2b marketer’s priority lists as it should be.When’s the last time you saw a business person without a smartphone in use? Ignoring a device that’s always within arm’s reach is not a good decision.
    17. The next “hot-thing” in marketing will be sales enablement. Marketers and salespeople will realize that the story really must continue from prospect to opportunity to customer. Marketers must set salespeople up to carry on the continuum and be adept at taking it back at customer acquisition—without a blip at the handoffs.
    18. In 2015, marketing will be a continuous conversation driven by our markets, not a stop/start theme-driven, campaign-oriented process that marketing develops in a vacuum.
    19. Over the next couple years in marketing, I can’t wait to see b2b marketers become better storytellers. A story has a beginning, middle and end, is hero driven and full of obstacles on the way to reaching a goal. If you think about it, that’s what a buying process looks like, too.
    20. Madlibs with the Funnelholic is a brain stretcher! It sneaks up on you!

Ardath Albee is CEO of her firm, Marketing Interactions, Inc., Marketing Interactionsand author of eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale. She helps B2B companies with complex sales create eMarketing strategies that use contagious content platforms to turn prospects into buyers. Follow Ardath on Twitter @ardath421