Our Blog: What we think – Options and Insights

Good Things Happen When You Listen

Posted at 9:30 AM , March 30, 2011 , by Erik Laurijssen

Outside of delivering a solid working product, the single most important thing a company should do is listen. Listen to their customers. Listen to the marketplace. Listen to the trends of what is coming.

I’m happy to say that Luma Release 10, which went live yesterday, is the result of a lot of listening.

When we started Luma in 2009, the founders agreed that we would create solutions that actually met the needs of our customers, not just launch a solution and try to wedge a customer into it. With Release 10, we continue to deliver on that promise.

With Release 10, Luma customers will see enhanced brand protection capabilities, new dashboards and improved integration. I won’t bore you with a list of every improvement in this release, but here are a few:

Enhanced brand protection

The Luma platform has always had the ability to create permissions for documents at defined user levels. To this, it now adds the enhanced capabilities of:

-the ability to allow or not allow the ability to edit portions of a template;

-the ability to allow or not allow moving and resizing portions of a template;

-the ability to restrict fonts and colors in any portion of a template;

-the ability to restrict products and templates at the user level.

These changes provide more control of customizations at a granular level.

New Dashboards

Luma Release 10 introduces comprehensive, graphical business intelligence dashboards to the Luma platform. With this enhancement, companies will be able to track in real time key platform metrics, including which marketing materials are being used and volumes.

Improved Integration

Release 10 promises increased performance when integrating the Luma platform via a single sign-on. It also provides substantial API enhancements and additional flexibility for integrators, such as the ability to include just the editing and proofing steps of the Luma process in the single sign-on scenario.

If you are a Luma customer, I look forward to hearing your feedback regarding the Luma platform’s new capabilities. If you are not a Luma customer yet, contact a Luma representative at sales@lumacentral.com. They will be happy to listen to your needs and show you how Luma can help.

 

Sales and Marketing Executives Agree: We Don’t Know What Our Channel Is Doing

Posted at11:00 AM , March 28, 2011 , by Erik Laurijssen

At Luma, we try to constantly get a better understanding of what our customers and prospects deal with on a day-to-day basis. It is for this reason that I am happy to say we have found a great partner in Gatepoint Research.

Recently, Gatepoint Research completed a survey on Channel Marketing Optimization, which was sponsored by Luma. The findings are in a word: incredible.

We anticipated that senior sales and marketing executives weren’t satisfied with the lack of control of how marketing was executed in the field, but were still surprised by the large percentage that shared this view:

  • A third of respondents fear that locally developed marketing programs will potentially misuse their brand, logo or marketing message.
  • An addition 25% believe they have poor visibility into the field or channel activities and are concerned about the lack of management reports about field or channel activities.

You can see the complete research results at

http://www.lumacentral.com/site/resources/gatepointresearch.html

Just as Luma is committed to delivering on-demand marketing solutions for the field and channel sales, we are also committed to speaking with customers and prospects about their future needs. Our ongoing conversations with customers as well as research like the survey conducted by Gatepoint Research provide valuable input for our product roadmap and marketing approach.

Why Executives Should Care About Sales and Marketing Alignment

Posted at 7:45 AM , December 17, 2010 , by Erik Laurijssen

Originally published in 1to1 Media's Expert Opinion Section on November 23, 2010. Luma International CEO Kristof Vereenooghe provides insight into why sales and marketing alignment goes beyond buzz words and is something executives should truly care about.

There is no doubt that marketing people are a hard working bunch.  Over the last decade, marketing functions responsibilities have grown while staff levels have mostly stayed consistent or even reduced in recent years.  At the same time, sales teams continue to see expected growth year-over-year and quarter-over-quarter.  All involved in either function will acknowledge there must be a better way to reach their goals and most likely it involves the use of some sort of technology.

There are four key areas companies must address with technology:

1)      prospect and account management

2)      the timing of when leads are received

3)      giving the sales team the right materials with which to sell

4)      measurement

Prospect and account management has been addressed for many years through CRM systems.  For more than a decade, Salesforce.com has been pushing this functionality so that most companies in the US are using some type of technology to manage their prospects, opportunities and active accounts.  How thoroughly they are using these systems differs from company to company.  I would argue these systems are the cornerstone of other technologies.  They are not only used by the sales team to track leads and opportunities, but senior management may review reports that provide measurement on the current sales process as well as the sales forecast.  Executives need to not only focus on today’s revenue, but what is coming in future quarters.  This foresight into what is coming months down the road, or what isn’t on the path yet, is a key driver of the call to align sales and marketing.

Clearly the current trend of marketing trying to force a “better” process, or alignment, onto the sales function isn’t working.  This is because many solutions that claim to bring the two functions into alignment, and thus making them collectively more efficient and productive, ignore what should be obvious facts.  For example, if one department is dictating the process, it is more than likely this new process will primarily serve that department’s view of the world. 

This means if a marketing department is primarily focused on producing leads, its version of alignment will be very focused on the tactical steps in obtaining and distributing leads.  Although this is important, it is a small portion of what needs to be addressed.  Today, there are so many solution providers focused on scoring and sending leads to sales representatives, the question is finding the one that best fits your sales approach and sales team.  There are a few simple, but necessary, questions when assessing these technologies:

1)      How easy or hard will it be to configure?

2)      Does it operate with a separate database, and if so, does that work with your sales process?

3)      Does it integrate with your Salesforce.com or CRM system?

4)      How will you measure if it is successful?

Why should companies care about having alignment of sales and marketing functions at the field level as a goal? And if this is a worthy goal, what are the key components in reaching it?

IDC has research addressing this.  IDC’s 80/20 Rule and the 50/50 Rule research shows that up to 80% of the content Marketing generates is not used by Sales, even though a lot of it is specifically created for Sales and Channel enablement. Additionally, customers say that Sales reps are insufficiently prepared for their initial meeting 50% of the time. Clearly a massive disconnect is at work.

Marketing people need to see what is happening in the field.  Going on sales calls will definitely help this along.  In addition, systems need to be put in place that ensure the people in the field – the ones who are interacting with customers and prospects regularly – have more say in the marketing happening in their territories. 

Marketing shouldn’t be directing all communications to customers and prospects without the input of the most natural subject matter expert, the sales rep or channel partner in the field.  At the same time, putting full control of field marketing into the local salesperson’s hands could result in marketing communications that don’t agree with the company’s positioning and strategy delivered in poor quality marketing materials. 

In addition, most companies have beautiful marketing collateral at headquarters.  In fact, there are probably shelves of it available.  It looks great.  These materials are beautifully designed, have what was considered when they were produced the best messaging, and were very expensive.  Unfortunately, as stated above, there is a good possibility they won’t be used.  Meanwhile, in the field, where the selling actually occurs, the marketing materials often look like they were produced by someone who is not a marketing expert or graphic designer.  The quality may be very poor and the corporate brand guidelines may or may not have been followed. 

The only answer is to align through a system that gives sales the flexibility to personalize or localize marketing, while enabling the marketing people to approve customized marketing materials and offers.  Fortunately, technology has caught up with the modern company’s need to address this.

First, with an extended sales team and channel partners, the best approach is SaaS-based.  This will enable nearly 24/7 access to the system, which is necessary for remote users in multiple regions.  SaaS-based solutions also offer scalability to grow and usually include regular system updates. 

Next, a system with remote users should be extremely easy to use.  If it isn’t intuitive for the end user, the rate of adoption will lag.  Finally, exactly what should be in a system that aligns selling in the field with the overall corporate sales approach?  The system must enable companies to walk the line between empowering their field to personalize or localize their marketing and sales support materials and making sure they adhere to brand and messaging guidelines.

What is needed is a centrally-managed sales and marketing platform where highly-customized templates can be accessed anywhere.  A simple central database is not enough.  With limited visibility into the field, the added control of version management and automatic updates when templates are changed should be a requirement.  When all these parts are in operation, marketing materials move from being sales support to key components in programs that drive new sales.  Having said this, empowerment does not equal autonomy.   In fact, the Luma system has the added ability to configure the platform so that customizations in the field are looped back to marketing headquarters for final approval.  This may not be desired in every situation, but some of our customers have found this added control provides additional comfort. 

What Technology Will Deliver True Alignment

Although we would all like a one-stop solution for all our technology needs, the reality is there isn’t one.  In fact, with such different needs, expecting one company to address the needs of multiple function areas is unrealistic.  Without a doubt, a cocktail of multiple platforms and technologies is needed.  Integration between technologies is necessary for: (1) collaborating through multiple departments, channels and locations; (2) implementing at headquarters and through multiple channels; and (3) accurately measuring what is working and what is not. 

The good news is because of technical developments of the last few years and improvements that are sure to come soon, efficient sales and marketing alignment is possible.  Also, because we are at the point where it is assumed that good technology integrates, tracking and measurement can be more accurate today than at any time previously.   Executives can now see a clear understanding of what is happening throughout their sales and marketing process, how it is affecting revenue today, and how it will impact revenue for quarters to come.

###

You can follow Kristof Vereenooghe’s other insights on Twitter @kristofsaas.

12-Dec Le Journal du Net: Solutions marketing en mode Cloud : penser globalement, agir localement

Posted at 7:30 AM , December 13, 2010 , by Erik Laurijssen

Les solutions Cloud permettent aux équipes commerciales locales d’adapter les documents marketing généraux à leurs cibles tout en préservant l’identité de la marque.

L'idée de "penser globalement, agir localement" est depuis longtemps une stratégie d'affaires bien établie. Cependant, cette tendance a récemment ressurgit dans certaines approches marketing et commerciales. Comme beaucoup de marques et d'entreprises s'internationalisent, il devient vital de rester connecté aux consommateurs, marchés et commerciaux locaux. Par exemple, Unilever a récemment décidé de diviser à nouveau ses équipes marketing Benelux dans le département "food". Les équipes avaient été réunies en 2007 afin de réduire les coûts indirects. Nils van Dam, le directeur marketing d'Unilever en Belgique met en avant le fait qu'il est difficile pour une personne hollandaise  de comprendre les problèmes spécifiques à la Belgique et vice versa.

Mais si les équipes locales partout dans le monde commencent à "réinventer la roue", cela peut être très coûteux pour une entreprise. Une marque se construit avec beaucoup de soin et d'effort. Ce processus, qui prend généralement plusieurs années, peut être compromis si l'équipe locale entreprend de mettre sa touche personnelle dans des contenus liés à la marque - peu importe que l'intention soit bonne. La communication au niveau de la marque doit rester cohérente et identifiable. Dans le même temps, les équipes commerciales locales doivent être capables d'approcher leur audience cible de façon personnalisée pour que cela soit efficace. Ces équipes sont les plus proches des clients et doivent être capables de décider qui doit entendre un certain message, dans un moment donné et via un média qualifié.

Malheureusement, cela peut mener souvent à une friction entre les désirs des sièges des entreprises et les besoins des sites locaux. Cependant, cela ne doit pas limiter la façon dont une entreprise fait des affaires. Le plus important reste la perception générale d'une campagne. L'identité de la marque doit toujours rester reconnaissable, c'est le message qui doit être localisé, pas la marque. Avec une identité de marque propre, il est possible de déterminer différents messages à des groupes ciblés au sein d'un pays donné ou même d'une région spécifique.

L'évolution du Cloud marketing fait qu'il est désormais possible pour les entreprises de mettre en œuvre ce genre d'actions. En utilisant les bonnes solutions, les entreprises peuvent garantir la cohérence de leur identité de marque à un haut niveau. Dans le même temps, les sites locaux ont l'opportunité d'ajuster leurs messages selon le consommateur, le marché ou l'équipe commerciale qu'ils veulent toucher.

Pour illustrer cela, la société Plant Publicity Holland (PPH) est un cas idéal. PPH s'est engagé à la promotion et au marketing du secteur de l'arboriculture néerlandais aussi bien à l'intérieur du pays qu'à l'étranger. Pour la campagne multimédia "Colour your life",  l'entreprise utilise des solutions de Cloud marketing afin de garantir une expérience et une image de marque uniforme internationalement. Et en utilisant des templates disponibles en ligne en tant que service, les centres de jardinage locaux peuvent modifier un matériel promotionnel sans avoir à le créer eux-mêmes. Les matériaux pour la publicité sur le lieu de vente (PLV), telles que les bannières ou les affiches peuvent également être adaptés par les magasins et les centres de jardinage de même que les mailings peuvent être personnalisés par l'envoyeur.

PPH démontre ainsi que les outils de marketing centralisé peuvent être facilement modifiés et utilisés localement. Pour les petites et moyennes entreprises comme les centres de jardinage et les magasins spécialisés, cela signifie qu'ils peuvent accéder aux mêmes outils marketing que les grandes entreprises. En implémentant des solutions "Cloud" dans les campagnes marketing, les PME n'ont plus à acheter des licences coûteuses de campagnes marketing ou d'embaucher des prestataires externes pour personnaliser les éléments marketing disponibles.

De plus en plus d'entreprises se rendent compte des avantages et elles adoptent cette devise : penser globalement, agir localement.

Posted at 5:03 PM , December 09, 2010 , by Erik Laurijssen

Hats off and all that to the planners of last night's Marketing Cloud event at Dreamforce. It was a rainy San Francisco evening, but the atmosphere in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art - the event's cool location - was energetic.

If you don't believe me, check out how growing crowd and how the organizer, Sandra Freeman, used the museum's famous design to highlight Marketing Cloud members. Okay, there is a little self promotion here, since it just happens to be the Luma logo in the photo.

If you were there, I'd like to hear what you thought.

Marketing Cloud SFMOMA

Cloud Computing + Marketing = Marketing Cloud

Posted at 2:11 PM , October 18, 2010 , by Erik Laurijssen

That the influence of cloud computing also reflects on marketing is beyond doubt. Companies that use the cloud as aid to implement their marketing strategies get better results than companies where marketing tool are only implemented in a traditional way. This is, among other examples, the case when results are measured and for the improvement of the efficiency and effectiveness of marketing campaigns.

This is easier said than done, how do you start using the cloud for your marketing campaigns? A common question apparently, because a few months ago a community was established to inform companies about marketing and the cloud. This community, suitably named the ‘Marketing Cloud,’ is inspired on the Sales Cloud and the Service Cloud of Salesforce.com.  When you register as a member, you gain access to practical information about the newest marketing techniques in whitepapers, case studies and webinars. The marketing cloud also organizes city tours in different cities to present the community and the advantages of marketing in the cloud.

The nine partners that set up the community are all cloud- and marketing specialists’ en suppliers of cloud-based marketing services. This gives the members of the Marketing Cloud access to cloud solutions for business intelligence, content management, lead generation, marketing automation, marketing execution, online meetings and virtual events.  

Because marketing is such a complex domain and at until now, a solution that covers all domains does not exist, initiatives like the Marketing Cloud can be very useful. By integrating different open marketing solutions in the cloud, a community like the Marketing Cloud can help companies to solve certain marketing problems and to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of campaigns.

A good place to gather in depth information on how marketing and sales can take advantage of marketing in the cloud is the upcoming virtual conference: The Art and Science of B2B Marketing and Sales, which will take place on Thursday, October 28.  You can register by clicking here.  It will also be available on-demand after this full-day event.

By Erik Laurijssen, CMO and EVP of Platform, Alliances and Channels, Luma Technologies

What We Think is a blog with revolving authors from Luma.

http://www.wikio.com

Who Thinks What