Mar 29, 2009

Building the Next Generation Company: Innovation, Talent, Excellence

This presentation by John Chambers at MIT took place on October 15th, 2008. Cisco continues to be a very interesting company to watch and learn from.
You’ll need some popcorn when you watch this video but key areas that I found amazing include:
  • Cisco is evolving into a collaborative enterprise utilizing web 2.0 and social networking which allows them to scale, increase productivity and speed to market
  • They focus on market transitions and listen to customers more then what the competition is doing.
  • Typically they have a 3 to 5 year vision of where they are going, and a 2 to 4 sustainable differentiation advantage with a 12-18 month execution timeframe
  • They apply “architecture” thinking to every market transition and opportunity they choose to go after. This opens their minds to new ways to tie things together to solve key industry problems
There’s a lot to this video, but I’ll stop here. I’ve put a timeshift timeline for those that may want to fast forward to sections of interest. This video has been shared from MIT's site.

This presentation would be a great supplement to any business course in the accredited online schools. There are additional resources that may be useful.

2:25 Recession now but plan for the recovery
6:48 The future of countries, companies and jobs
9:00 What Cisco does well
10:45 Next Market Transition – Collaboration
13:41 Phase II of the Internet
15:30 Why invest in Information Technology today?
17:30 Cisco changes organizational structure, culture and hierarchy
21:00 Cisco’s transition to a collaborate enterprise
22:00 Focus on architecture when addressing market transition; importance of cross functional collaboration
25:00 I-Prize competition (shameless self promotion: my team was one of the 12 finalists, here’s an overview of what the experience was like for me)
27:30 New public/private partnerships will become more prevalent and important
30:00 Web 2.0 is taking off at Cisco
33:30 Collaboration, Cisco’s definition
34:12 Future Growth…framework for tracking Cisco’s priorities
34:30 Increasing importance of Corporate Social Responsibility
35:18 The new definition of capitalism
36:30 Cisco’s experience working with China
41:00 Closing remarks and Q&A

Mar 23, 2009

Integration B2B marketing into your business

UPDATE: My B2B Marketing Integration Framework evolves. For an updated version please check out this post. Thx.

What I find is that many companies rush to market with new solutions, services, partners and divisions without spending the necessary time and resources to put their best foot forwards. Here is a phased approach model that may help you keep on course.

The end goal is to institutionalize b2b marketing into your organization. This can be a big challenge depending on company size, patience, culture etc.


If your company has been adding partners on a whim, or adding solutions to a bloated offering watch out! In markets where you are selling complex solutions going to market “half cocked” is a big mistake. You’ll probably go nowhere. Why? Ask your sales rep! Ask your systems engineer! Both of them will tell you that they will not put their relationship and reputation on the line by introducing a new solution offering to an account if they don’t have the confidence in selling it and supporting it.

If you don’t believe your rep or engineer ask your customer! B2B buyers weigh their purchase decisions on three core things: 1) Risk, 2) Knowledge/Good information and 3) Value add. A company flying by the seat of its pants is high risk, ignorant and can’t articulate a defendable value proposition.

The solutions and services being offered must be backed by all stakeholders and a collective effort and commitment must be made by everyone to bring these solutions to market over a sustained period of time. You must have the fortitude to develop domain expertise, competency and capacity to market, sell, implement and support the solutions being brought to market. You need to ensure you have in place programs that communicate, educate and promote these solutions and customer success stories.

A thoughtful approach is to take some time and work your way through a phased process like the one above. You can apply this approach to new services, solutions and practice areas you plan to bring to market.

Assessment – this is where you assess the business, the market, the competition and your customers to determine whether there is a market opportunity (by the way, this is ongoing!). It also establishes a baseline and gap analysis (where you are and where you need to be). This stage is the hardest and most time consuming. It involves extensive listening and collaboration with key people in your company, partners, with customers and prospects. It will create friction, uncover old wounds but it is absolutely necessary in order to bring teams together to bring something meaningful to market. It is the beginning part of forming a collaborative within your business.

Plan – The plan is your playbook of what you are going to do and how much it will cost.

Execute/Manage – Here’s where strategy and tactics meet and you are executing the key tactics identified in the plan. You are monitoring your results, using feedback loops to gather information and tweaking your efforts along the way.

Optimize/Automate – This phase is all about improvement and automating as much as possible (without de-personalizing relationships with customers though). Knowledge needs to be institutionalized and a marketing system starts to take hold in the organization.

It can take 12 to 18 months for your company to become a Phase 4 organization. Using a methodology combined with the two previous planks can help you get there.

Mar 17, 2009

Crowdsourced Ad

This 2007 Super Bowl video is mentioned in Groundswell. Doritos had a contest where the public could submit their ads in a contest. The winner would have their ad aired during the Super Bowl.

Mar 14, 2009

The silver lining for business?

Below is a presentation by Umair Haque, Director of the Havas Media Lab, entitled Constructive Capitalism. He blogs for Harvard Business Publishing. Umair was a guest speaker at the Daytona sessions. Daytona is a marketing agency in Sweden. The fact that Daytona has a “Ted” like conference is simply amazing.

The video below is about 70 minutes long. It is well worth the time to listen and learn about Umair’s beliefs about where companies need to go in order to grow. He uses examples to set context. This helps you see how his theories are “in play” today.

Below the video is a timeshift timeline and links to the reference examples he uses in his presentation. I’ve invited Umair to add any comments or thoughts to this post. But, more importantly, is getting you to provide your thoughts and comments to create a conversation around this really interesting take Umair has on “Constructive Capitalism” and the next revolution which he calls “Institutional Revolution”.

UPDATE: For some reason an embedded Vimeo video doesn't show the slider. Just open a second browser if you want to use the timeshift timeline below.

1:47 What’s wrong with the economy? “Qualitative Difference”. “A shock”
3:15 We are at a crises crossroads with respect to strategy, how institutions interact and exist (the places we work that organize people, processes and deliver value)
10:00 New rules for Institutions and Capitalism are driven by Ideals
11:15 Ideal #1: Exploitation to Renewal

15:15 Ideal #2: Command to Democracy

21:25 Ideal #3 War to Peace

  • Crisis of Conflict
  • Case studies on Guiding Principles: Google and Barack Obama’s 3 guiding principles for the Election
  • Take-away: “Connections, not Transactions”

29:20 Ideal #4: Domination to Equity

38:40 Ideal #5: Value to Meaning

44:30 Where to start and where to head?

50:42 Question and Answer

  • What cultures/countries equipped to handle this change?
  • Won’t Tata become like GM, Ford and Chrysler eventually?
  • Does GDP matter when new models and markets like this emerge?
  • Is sustainable growth a realistic outcome? How is it different then today’s growth aspirations? What does growth mean?
  • Is it possible for large corporations to revolutionize themselves?
  • Will these new institutions produce products and services that are are tools and utilities to deliver on these ideals?
  • Can this “institutional revolution” take hold realistically? Will old ways and thinking be too big a barrier for this to take root?
  • How will protectionism and de-globalization affect your theories and beliefs on Constructive Capitalism

Mar 12, 2009

Has anything changed? Does this sound familiar?

My blog focuses on things that matter from a marketing and social media perspective. After watching this video I wonder to myself how can/are companies addressing the concerns that 12 year old Severn Cullis-Suzuki talks about in this video. A video that is 16 years old! Listen to what she is saying and ask yourself what has changed since then. Here’s what she’s up to today. 

Severn: How can we help you? You are a hero.

Groundswell Blook Report:Chapter Eight – Helping the groundswell support itself

Groundswell is broken down into three parts. Part two (chapters 4-9) focus on tapping the groundswell. The authors provide advice and a strategic framework on how to do this.

Chapter 8: Helping the groundswell support itself

FriendFeed Room: Chapter Eight reference links and case studies from the book. Join the room and start a conversation.

Feature Video: Dell: Answering Questions with Support Forums, Josh Bernoff

How one “critic” (using the Social Technographics Ladder) saved Dell $1M in support costs.

Feature Presentation: Augmenting your Technical Documentation with User-Generated Content, The Content Wrangler

Slides 18-21: Lesson 1-There’s no one best way to organization information
Slides 22-25: Lesson 2-Users don’t care where they get help from
Slides 26-27: Lesson 3-Users are not a homogeneous group of clones
Slides 28-33: Lesson 4-Users are talking about you right now!
Slides 34-39: Lesson 5-Consumers love video and increasingly expect it
Slides 40-44: Required reading

What I learned:
People care, want to connect and help
For you hard nosed right brained people who think that “feelings” and “emotion” have nothing to do with business….think again! Hard nosed analytics and logic are still needed but the human side of business relationships are no different then personal ones. There are people who want to help solve problems because it makes them feel good. Emotions matter and creating a community that cares not only helps your customers it can impact your bottom line.

If your Social Technographic Profile over indexes in the area of joiners and critics and you have a complex product/solution then it is quite possible people are already helping each other out in forums, groups and on message boards. You should find this out and decide how you want to participate.

2) Your company needs to invest resources
First you need to determine whether people are supporting themselves through various social media tools and services. This takes patience, time and money. You need to dedicate a person or group of people to find this out.

Second, once you’ve decided how you want to help the groundswell you need to make sure the community grows and is active. It CANNOT be left alone to run on auto pilot. If someone asks a question they expect it to be answered. Figure out ways to make sure comments get answered within a reasonable timeframe.

Don’t think the technology and community will look after itself. If you want comments on each product page for example and you have 6000 products that means you could have 6000 different pages with questions on them. Think it through. Scale is not just about technology it's also about resources (people, time and money) and your ability to deliver.

3) Make it easy for top reviewers/answer providers to be found
These folks are amazing! Reward them by thanking them for their contributions. Get to know them as people and as potential employees. Make it so they can be found through search on your site.

4) It’s about solving problems, creating connections and institutional intelligence
Whether you use forums, wikis or reviews the purpose is to provide a mechanism that solves customer problems while reducing your support costs. In doing so you are creating direct connections with people who use your products and services.

People who will contribute answers and value add content which is now accessible to all people inside and outside of your organization. Tacit intelligence is what’s in our heads. The greatest fear companies have today is when their talent leaves so does the intelligence they’ve gathered that's in their heads.

Institutional intelligence is different. Forums, wikis and other tools generate intelligence which can be stored and searched. It becomes your company’s brain so to speak. Now when talent leave you have less to worry about.

Mar 9, 2009

Momentum and Insurance


The meaning of “Change”

Taking place in boardrooms across the globe! Lot’s of change?! =)

B2B Marketing Integration Framework – The B2B “Marketing Mix” or 4 R’s of Marketing

UPDATE: My B2B Marketing Integration Framework evolves. For an updated version please check out this post. Thx.

A key ingredient of the Marketing Integration (MI) Framework is principles or what I call the 4 Rs of B2B markeitng.

I’ve used this marketing mix to help me filter and set priorities when it comes to key marketing strategies and tactics. Each “R” aligns with the B2B marketing gears referred to above.

B2B Marketing MIx, 4Rs, March2009

Relevance – What you say and what you offer must be relevant to the markets you serve. The information you share about the problems you solve needs to be understandable and relative to the current and unrealized business needs of your customers

Relationships – Developing and maintaining strong and meaningful relationships with key stakeholders is more important then ever before. Be relevant, build your reputation and leverage relationships to separate yourself from the competition. Communicate with the idea of building these relationships and creating a community

Reputation - Your reputation and your B2B brand is built on the back of your successes and what others say about you through formal reference programs, word of mouth and word of mouse (search results and social networks/media)

Return – focus on producing a return for your stakeholders and your company. Seek ways where every stakeholder will generate measureable returns. A customer may need publicity while you and your partner may need a case study. Figure out how to create win, win, win scenarios

Let’s apply this to a real world example.

You’re trying to figure out how to make the most of your marketing budget. The recession is making you think hard about where, when and how to spend funds.

You’re looking at the tradeshow budget and deciding which event to cut. Try asking these questions (just follow the circle above starting with relevance and then go clockwise):

1) How relevant is this event to customers, partners, prospects and the markets you serve? Is it the most important show of the year to your customers? If so, who attends and why? Do you have anything to say at this event that is compelling? Something that that will position you as in tune with what’s going on in this market?

2) What relationships will this event help create and develop? Will it help a customer? Will it help a partner? Can you strengthen relationships with the media, analysts and thought leaders? Will it damage any relationships if you don’t attend? If so, why?

3) How will you use this event to improve or build upon your reputation? Can you showcase a solution you implemented for/with a customer? Ideally a solution that is relevant and is a catalyst to strengthen relationships important to you and your customer?

4) What returns do you expect from participating in the event? Hard returns such as sales opportunities, feature articles, key account meetings and net new account discoveries. What returns can you provide to your customer? To your partners?

There is an art and science to B2B marketing. I hope that this mix is something that is helpful to you and your company. As always feedback is welcome and encouraged.

Mar 6, 2009

How does a blog work?

I recently met with a technology sales rep who is interested in social media. She has visited my blog before and enjoyed some of my Funny video posts. In fact the Humour and Hope post had an impact on her son. He is a big Obama fan! I may write about the experiences people have with blogs later because it amazes me how a blog post can have a positive impact on someone.

As we talked about my blog I started throwing out words like tags and labels and she asked me “what are those?”. These three words are an important lesson for us folks who are drunk on the social media kool-aid. Many people, potentially your target audience/readership, are just starting to read blogs let alone understand how they work.

I’m very grateful that this sales rep helped me look through her eyes. So, I created a simple Blog Briefing for her and those folks just getting their feet wet. I hope it is useful.

Mar 4, 2009

B2B Marketing Integration Framework – The B2B Marketing Gears

UPDATE: My B2B Marketing Integration Framework evolves. For an updated version please check out this post. Thx.

In my last post, I introduced my Marketing Integration (MI) framework. This framework has six planks that work together in order to align strategy with actions that produce results.

This framework has been developed (it continues to evolve) to help solve key problems that exist in B2B markets where there are long sales cycles, complex solutions & sophisticated buyers.

First of all, sales and marketing is not a dirty word!

With the exception of monopolies, every organization markets and sells something. Most B2B oriented companies have marketing and sales professionals whose job it is to generate results. They have to contact prospective buyers to inform, educate (sometimes annoy!) and encourage them to buy something. Reps need to meet with IT buyers and marketers need to promote “the latest and greatest”. In fact, it is highly probable that the IT buyer has a sales and marketing organization promoting his/her company’s products and services.

But, hang on…there’s a reason why a buyer doesn’t return a call or click on that link!

Now hold on a minute. IT buyers are being inundated with “cold calls” and reps that provide no value (or at least that’s what some have told me over the past couple of months). Heck, those reps just want “the deal” and to play golf. Actually, I happen to know quite a few really good Account Managers (Kimberly, Colin, Sean, Mark, Alex, Anthony, Scott, David…come to mind).

IT buyers tell me that manufacturers and “solution providers” send them to their websites for information (assuming the links still work) but over half the time they don’t get the content they want and need. In fact, they may have a bad taste in their mouths already. As homer would say “DOH”!

There is good news though!

There are extremely good account managers and marketing professionals that do work together to provide value and produce results for their customers and their companies. I’ve been blessed to work with forward thinking reps, open minded executives and great partners like Cisco who support an integrated approach to marketing and sales.

These talented people and progressive organizations have helped me develop my Marketing Integration (MI) framework. This framework has 6 planks. The first being the “B2B Marketing Gears”.

Marketing Integration (MI) Framework – B2B Marketing Gears

GTM Gears

These three gears make up the go to market focus areas for a B2B marketing plan.

Branding and Positioning – If you don’t think branding matters, when it comes to B2B organizations, I suggest you read Philip Kotler’s book B2B Brand Management. Today, you must clearly communicate what you stand for, what you offer and why it’s of value to your customers. The branding and positioning gear covers three things:

  • Identity – brand architecture, guidelines and corporate identity
  • Offering – solution mix and the addressable market(s) it serves
  • Research – feedback and information on/from customers, partners and competitors

Communications and Community – Marketing communications is changing in two primary ways. First, the content we create must be of value to recipients, available in various formats (text, graphics, audio and video) and in sync with the buying cycle. Second, you must allow for interaction and community development. My blook report on Groundswell covers this in detail. Communications must be engaging, educational and interactive with social media playing an increasingly important role. The Communications and Community gear covers three things:

  • Content – create meaningful content that sales enables, informs, educates and builds your brand reputation
  • Presence – use of the web, social media and sales support tools to advance brand positioning and generate demand for information, events and opportunities (sales, publicity and partner attention)
  • Following – create a community of fans (customers, prospects, partners, media and analysts) through multi-channel communications and automation and in real life briefings

Business Development – Business development is all about generating results. This gear covers three things:

  • Demand generation – execution of campaigns and sales promotions that generate, develop and nurture leads and build relationships
  • Customer/Partner development & engagement – create meaningful results oriented relationships with customers and channel partners
  • Sales enablement & advancement – empower the sales organization with programs, coaching and tools that will help them be successful.

These three gears work together but the first gear, branding and positioning, is what gets everything started. I hope this first plank of my MI framework is of interest to you and may help you be successful. Feedback and comments are encouraged.

Next post: The B2B “Marketing Mix” or 4 R’s of Marketing

Mar 2, 2009

B2B Marketing Integration Framework

UPDATE: My B2B Marketing Integration Framework evolves. For an updated version please check out this post. Thx.

I’m a big believer in using frameworks and systems when marketing a company. But not any framework or system. Only the ones that are built based on experience, that have evolved based on trial and error and work in the field (with customers and sales organizations for example). The ones that have flexibility built in them, are simple to understand and act as a bridge between strategy and execution.

Over the past seven years I’ve build such a framework which I call, you guessed it, my Marketing Integration Framework (MI Framework). I use it to help me stay focused, prioritize and set direction.

This framework is used to set direction, establish priorities and align strategy with tactics. The outcome is to establish brand preference and generate business results.

The 6 ingredients are mixed together as we integrate branding and business development in to your company. An illustration and brief description are below.


Figure: The MI6 Framework


  • Today's B2B buyers rely on word of mouth and awareness as their primary means of establishing a list of prospective service firms. The goal of marketing is to establish a unique value proposition and over time brand preference. The brand defines your value proposition, your "elevator speech" and what makes you unique.


  • Professional Services firms, especially I.T. Services and Solution providers (aka System Integrators), need to bring to market compelling services and solutions. The goal of marketing is to clearly define what that offering is, why it is of value and provide proof that this is the case. The offering is a core component of your brands value proposition.

Business Development

  • Professional services firms must constantly develop new business. Translation, they have to sell themselves. The goal of marketing is to create conversations with prospects and clients and position the brand, offering and value as something worth considering for purchase. Alignment and sales enablement is critical. Business development is what generates cash and profit for your business.


  • These are 4 simple guiding principles, called the "4 Rs of marketing", that you apply on a day to day basis that help set clarity in terms of direction and priority. The goal of marketing is use these principles to keep you heads clear and stay focused on what matters in B2B marketing...especially for professional services firms.


  • Building a brand, developing an offering and generating business requires a programmatic approach. The goal of marketing is to establish a strategy and put in place tactical programs to implement it. This needs to be done consistently and over time. Programs generate results, build your reputation and your brand.


  • Having in place repeatable systems make it easy to accelerate execution and measure progress. The goal of marketing is to establish systems that help companies learn, improve, measure and execute in the areas of branding, offer and business development. Systems make it possible to do good things again..faster.