Sunday, December 10, 2017

Should Telcos be getting a bigger bite of the digital economy ‘Pie’?

The big issue in the Telecommunications industry right now is declining margins. The past several years have been tough for telcos. Their revenue and cash flows have dropped by an average of 6 percent a year since 2010.

These firms can address this issue, by improving the speed of delivery of new products, reducing order fall out and simplifying and improving their customer experience.
When redesigning their value proposition, go-to-market, and interaction model, operators find it increasingly difficult to differentiate between traditional drivers of customer choice. Instead, they have turned to customer experience as the key influencer. For example, Vodafone Germany has transformed their business to enable their path to digital transformation:
“It is the first time we have raised Vodafone’s organic EBITDA [earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization] guidance in recent history,” said Vittorio Colao, chief executive. Polo Tang, an analyst at UBS, said the company’s performance in the second quarter was ahead of expectations in almost every geography but notably in Germany and Spain.
Success lies in reimagining the end-to-end customer journey to create signature customer moments. Companies can accelerate the delivery of a new customer experience by implementing a seamless Omni channel experience, digitizing core business processes, deploying artificial-intelligence platforms to simplify customer interaction, and creating a more agile organization.
What can companies do to alleviate the squeeze on margins and create more value?
Major advances in data analytics, artificial intelligence, network equipment, and other technologies have rewritten the industry’s winning formula. With the newest software and hardware, along with digital-age management practices, mobile operators can achieve breakthrough cost savings and capital intensity while maintaining or even increasing their scale.
Many mobile operators have essential processes that are more complex and labor-intensive, and therefore costlier than they have to be. The Management consultants Mckinsey estimate that just 20 to 30 processes generate 45 percent of the average operator’s operating costs.
There are a lot of Telecommunications providers can do to improve businesses margins operationally. This can also be part of an even bigger over-arching strategy for CSPs to boost their bottom line. For example, increasingly, slow but stable growth Telcos (at Business School we called such businesses 'Cash Cows') are acquiring high growth and high margin content companies to increase their profits.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Adobe Global Marketing Conference

Having fun at the Adobe Marketing Conference, with the AMEX digital Marketing Team

Watching Vampire Weekend play at the Adobe event 

Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas - me at the Money Show

In the last 10 years, I've gained vast amounts of experience attending and setting up a large variety of Conferences in multiple business sectors and diverse locations; I've got good at assessing which are effective and which aren't; using both hard metrics and softer skills - the art and science of conferences. In the past, I've had to justify the budget to my Managers or CEOs so I've had to nail this. However, I'm a bit of a geek and enjoy doing these calculations. Therefore I will do them for my own benefit regardless.

At the Financial Traders Conference at the Money Show at Caesars Palace Las Vegas, I got to stay in the same hotel that 'The Hangover' was filmed in, which was great. I also played Poker, which I learned in the US and Craps. We got plenty of good leads but it was also the kind of crazy testosterone fuelled event that you'd expect from a bunch of financial traders; think 'Wolf of Wall Street'.

The Economics forum in Washington DC was fascinating; Paul Volcker, the ex-Federal Reserve Chairman spoke. I liked the city a lot, although I do like JFK's quip that 'DC is a city with northern charm and southern efficiency'. We were marketing a new Business intelligence tool called Datazoa, to business Economists at Government agencies, Research organization’s and Universities amongst others; our efforts secured new clients from Universities, Banks, and State Treasuries.

I've been to numerous shows in New York City, including Trading Software and most recently the Digital Analytics Association. I was also in Chicago for the Internet retailers conference. I would have liked to explore the city but on that occasion, I was so busy I pretty much never got out of the area my hotel and the event was in.

My all-time Favorite Conference would have to have been the Adobe Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah: We Set up 11 meetings in 4 days, all with C level decision makers at Fortune 500 Companies; Several of which were turned to new logos by our sales team. I went to see Vampire Weekend play live and had to top it off had my best day's skiing in 8 or 9 years, in Park City with a guy from London who now lives in Toronto.

I also made some great contacts on the ski day that I wasn't expecting; for example, heads of business divisions at Bell Canada, American Express, Verizon Wireless and the Gartner Group. 

Photo was taken by a colleague I was skiing with at Park City, Utah - the final (4th) day of the Adobe Marketing Conference

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Creating Sales Growth at your VC backed tech start-up

I have now been part of the Marketing teams of several start-ups that have proliferated and achieved phenomenal success, including:

Visual IQ, a Marketing Attribution Software provider (founded in 2006), was acquired by Nielsen last year, for $2 Billion. 

Zscaler (founded in 2008), a Cyber Security Software company, just had its IPO. Zscaler is currently valued at $30 Billion on the NASDAQ.

28 hands mail manager, part of the Arup engineering group which is an email management tool used by architects and engineers.

I have learned from being part of these successful teams and also, previous experiences in the start-up ecosystem.

Hot Software businesses like Fintech and Cyber Security need marketers
 with smarts, training, experience and drive who can take a business to 'the next level'; whether that means faster growth, more sustainable or more significant revenue or higher profits. 

Angel investors, VC funds and private equity investors all demand individuals skilled in conducting market research, strategy and who understand all areas of marketing, including, of course, lead generation.

Here's my 7 point plan to create a good start-up Marketing Strategy and then to execute it:

1. E
nsure that you are on the same page as the person who has created your marketing strategy or even better, create that Strategy yourself. So many problems occur when CMOs and CEOs or Investors do not agree on this. See 'Why CMOs never last.' 

2. Data; explore this and find out what is going on. Don't just rely on the facts you see. Talk with people, try to establish whether the data you see on paper matches what you are hearing. 

I have dealt with either no data at all or data that doesn't match reality. Don't devote inordinate hours and resources creating complex models using lousy information. 

Even a fledgeling Start-up will inevitably have had many failures already, and you can use this information to avoid making mistakes and model successful behaviour. “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” —Michael Porter (See Porter's 5 Forces)

3. Targets - start thinking about what you are trying to accomplish. 

  • Is the problem that you have a weak brand? 
  • Is it that no one outside your core user group really understands your products? 
  • Do your competitors have an iron-grip in certain Regions or markets? 
  • Is it that you have weak growth? 
  • Are you sinking resources into the same old Marketing investments getting diminishing returns? 
  • Are you accurately measuring your Marketing investments? 
Establish what that core problem is and then drive solutions to that.

4. Create a plan around that. For example:

a. If the problem is that your sales team is not converting your good leads, then bring in added Business Intelligence. A remarkable tool for this is Discoverorg , which has a team of researchers calling companies and finding out information that will enable you to identify opportunities quicker and more effectively.

Additionally, if you are not lead scoring already, then I would suggest you start doing this. The way this works is - your sales team will immediately get alerted automatically when a lead reaches a specific 'threshold' score. 

So let's say that score is 100, then a lead from a company with $1 Billion revenue that has requested we contact them, is 'BANT' qualified and is the right target company and job title, that would automatically become a 'hot lead' at 100 points in your CRM system. 

A lead from a company that is on our target list would immediately be a 10. A Lead from a company that could be a target would be a 5. When that lead has downloaded 3 critical reports in the last week, then it becomes a 30, and so on. 

If the problem is that you lack the numbers of leads needed to start with, then lots of high quality gated content will generate more contacts for your database. 

For inbound, Twitter, Google AdWords, and AdSense, and Bing for both display and search ads are all effective. Linkedin lead generation campaigns are good value, just make sure you target your prospect audience (maybe with the 'matching' tool).

Inmail campaigns work very differently from sponsored content on LinkedIn. So figure out what combinations work best for your business.

I would also work with the Marketing team to create compelling content, from videos to infographics, from case studies to white papers.

Below: Forrester 'Wave report' on Marketing attribution with my company 'Visual IQ' in the top right hand 'Rock star' quadrant.

In the past, we've created great content with Gartner or Forrester or failing that, some other well-known research firm, like IDC. These are high-value pieces of content that your prospects will 'trade' their contact details with you to gain.

One idea that We have done in the past very successfully is an 'Industry report' based on surveys we send out. Usually, I use SurveyMonkey, which I first got familiarised with at Business School back in 2006. 

Below: CMO survey-backed report we ran every year at Visual IQ

Everyone is interested in what their colleagues are thinking about and sending these surveys out can also be an excellent way to reconnect with customers and prospects.

Below: 'The Money Show', Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas, where I ran LMTech's event for our Financial trading software tool.

Another highly effective area of Marketing I've managed over the last eleven years has been events. 

I have had some great successes in this regard, from the Money Show at Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas, to the Adobe Marketing Conference in Salt Lake City, to the biggest Cyber Security event in Europe, Infosec. 

Not all companies employ rigorous financial analysis to the results here, so I have created an edge in this way. I write more on this subject here. 

We've had events that have generated thousands of leads, and business meetings that have gone on the create millions of pounds/dollars in sales.

Content from blogs can be effective. Make sure you optimise the content so it has important keywords to draw search traffic to your blog. Post on social media and wait for referral and search traffic to come to your site from your blogs.

For this 'awareness' part of your content you need plenty of interesting content; think more about great ideas than executing them perfectly. 

Also your prospects value authenticity and originality. Keep blogs real and interesting. People know when they're simply being manipulated to buy something.

I have put together Ebooks, webcasts, industry reports, case studies and infographics, which can all be a good source or leads.

5. Ensure that everyone is on board with it. If the management team is not, then discuss it, and get to the bottom of the problems. 

Once you are agreed on the plan, then execute it relentlessly.

6. Analyze your results regularly, at least once every month and if not sufficient, pivot. If it's not working, be honest about it and try something new.

This is essentially the same idea that I learned in Product Marketing for innovation in my MBA program, the stage-gate process . The beauty of digital marketing is that you can A/B test continually to optimise all your metrics.

A typical A/B test 

Image result for a/b test example

Look at Key financial metrics, like ROMI - Return on Marketing Investment (NPV, IRR, Payback period, Customer Lifetime Value, Cost per Click, and Transaction conversion rate).

Monte Carlo simulation for a new product launch*

*Mark Jeffery Data-driven marketing Using Oracle's Crystal Ball' predictive analytics software with a random number generator, showing 999 possible variations of profit for marketing investment.

7. Finally, and most importantly, encourage criticism and make your entire company a safe place to share information and mistakes. 

You cannot take critical calculated risks without making mistakes, and you can't learn without them either. If you're not failing, then you're not trying hard enough.

Go to my website.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

House of Lords Cocktail Party

My friend and Law School classmate, Joanna Mcdwyer, formerly Head of government affairs at HSBC Bank, who is now Development Director at Newnham College, Cambridge.

Lord Maurice Saatchi, the founder of Saatchi & Saatchi and MC Saatchi, told us He only applied to one University. His message on the evening and now the world's shortest poem was 'LSE made me'.

In my case, I did apply to other colleges since I didn't assume I'd get into the LSE, particularly to study Law, which was highly competitive.

LSE now require significantly better A level grades, than when I applied, at least three A's now. But I'm not sure if that's because the students are higher calibre or because of the grade inflation everyone's been talking about.

Maurice Saatchi got a first at LSE, back when getting a first was very rare. He is also one of the greatest minds in advertising, author of the Iconic 'Labour isn't working' Campaign that ushered Margaret Thatcher and the Conservative Party into power in 1979.

As Maurice said himself, 'I left LSE with my first-class honours degree in economics. They did say to me that I possessed what they called "effortless superiority", and that has always worked very well for me'.

Here's a good piece about how he started in Marketing, working for Michael Heseltine, at Haymarket.

                                                       Lord Maurice Saatchi, below

There were prominent MPs, Peers, Academics and Executives from organizations like JP Morgan, HSBC, Fidelity Investments, Barclays Bank, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, AXA, Zurich, Wells Fargo, BP,  Mckinsey, PWC, and Accenture, at the event, to name some...

On the river outside the reception, from the House of Lords 

Me, outside the House of Lords